Everyone is affected by his or her childhood. Sometimes a father is critical or parents kill a dream, or simply go away. Each scar makes us artists and writers but the effect can also be chilling.
When meditating, I realized that part of me—“the good 8-yr. old”—who wasn’t allowed to play with toy guns and that battle games were verboten, was having misgivings about writing scenes with bombs and terrorism, conflict, hatred and obsession. Once I realized that I could revoke that early decision to be a “good little boy”. then I was free to explore these arenas in my work.
I have also benefitted from dialoging with my hyper-critical father. I have no idea why he hated me writing a novel, but he clearly did. I can’t forgive what he did, but I can forgive the man he was; frightened and angry because he betrayed every dream he ever had, and they were so few.
The novel is helping me grow up, heal the wounds of the past. Strange gift but a gift nevertheless
More about parents: I am fascinated by a book called Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work. The authors argue that when we struggle against our own identities we reinforce what we don’t like. Instead we should accept ourselves however we are, and we find that the very thing that we were struggle against either goes away or is transformed.
I am practicing this right now. Among other things, they think that fighting writer’s block, instead of exploring it, can make the block stronger, not weaker.
The authors, Ariel and Shya Kane, include an exercise about parents.
Imagine you are at a party, mixing and having a good time–then imagine you are transformed into the parents you had the worst time with. See them having a good time–or however, they would act, at this party. See the world through their eyes.
I did–and suddenly accepted that my mother enjoyed being tipsy–and with enough alcohol, pills and megavitamins she could stay loaded for the rest of her life. She died at 62–unable to speak, with jaundice skin and a huge, bulging liver. She had become fat, too. She couldn’t talk and her kidneys were failing too. My father had ordered hospice care but two workers both walked out when they realized she was still drinking and taking drugs.
I think I had taken my mother’s alcoholism as somehow reflecting on me–that she didn’t get sober because she didn’t like her children. That might have been true, but I saw her alcohol use was simply a matter of her enjoying life as best she could.
This exercise was freeing and I am going to use it on my father, too.
If you were taught negative things about yourself and others, I found Loving What Is by Byron Katie extremely helpful. It’s pretty amazing how quickly negative beliefs can be replaced using her four questions.