where the writers are
Traumatic Memoirs

I read with great interest memoirs that share an author's trauma, but I understand this is not for everyone. It's important that we, as readers, know our capacity for sensitive material. Anyone who's been traumatized carries a wound, and the writer has no way of knowing how deep it runs or the level of healing a reader has achieved. Often survivors of abuse choose to defer "healing" in favor of burying traumatic memories under protective layers of preoccupation: obsessions, drugs, food, sex, career, family... . Whatever it takes to avoid or ease the pain.

An author's own healing must take priority, and the healing path is long and steep when the wound is deep. Confrontation of trauma and assessment of its causes and effects and the healthy reframing of those circumstances all require a courageous and diligent pursuit of truths that are, unconsciously or deliberately, withheld or camouflaged. The revelation of a previously concealed painful truth can actually change who we are-our sense of self, of identity, upon which depends our  interpretation of reality. For  each of us, It's a unique filter through which all of life is perceived. This identity, our ego, is the foundation of the pyramid of a life's entire experience. Move the foundation, and everything wobbles. What can be scarier?

The pursuit of truth is what's important. If an author is courageous, honest, informed, diligent and lucky, a fuller, brighter truth is opened up. The significance of that truth for her is her responsibility and her risk; the significance for others is theirs. Even when tainted with personal bias, a person's truth is unique and sacred. As long as she pursues her truth with fidelity (doesn't lie or shade it), she is not responsible for how others react to it.

A book is like a courtroom, where the author is plaintiff and the reader is defendant, judge and jury. The ultimate quality of the outcome, of literary effect, is dependent not upon the skill of the author alone, but also, and heavily, upon the qualities and competence of the reader.