What Parts of My Life Should I Share?

This is a question that people who want to write their life stories often ask. What about the painful parts, the parts that might hurt a family member or a friend? How do you share these?

Some simple guidelines might help you with this important question. First, writing about your own pain is a healthy habit and can give you added insight into your own life. So do not use the excuse that writing about your pain might hurt someone else to avoid writing.

That being said, you don’t have to share everything you write. Some things are too painful to bring up with family members or friends and might cause unneeded pain. Better to write the experience or period of your life as you see it, and then edit out what you are afraid

Buried Secrets

would hurt someone. That way, at least you will have had the experience of writing it, and will have benefited from any insights you gained from the writing.

If you are tempted to leave material that you think will be painful for others in your memoir, ask yourself your reason for doing so. Is it really because you want to hurt someone? If so, take it out. It doesn’t belong. But if it is important to your story that you tell the whole truth as you see it, there may be ways to couch the material in terms that will be less painful to individual readers.

For example, if you blamed someone for the death of a sibling or a parent rather than writing about the feeling of blame, you might write about how lonely you felt after the death, or how unfair it was that the person should die. Focus on your feelings and not on who you believe caused them, and you will achieve a piece that is both honest and merciful.

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