Sunday, April 10, 2016

I Have Something to Say About This Big Trouble

me at age 6

The title of today's blog is the title of a book that was written many years ago. It was a compilation of essays and poems written by children who lived in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco. These children lived with their parents or relatives in squalid rooms and cheap hotels; they were children born into poverty, often victimised by abuse and neglect, children who were invisible to the eyes of the world around them. They wrote their pieces in order to have a voice. They wrote to bring words to the terrors they had witnessed. They wrote to make themselves heard. They saw big trouble, and they wanted others to see it, too. 

Recently, some people who were close to Stan have made it clear to me that they are not happy about the launch of my book. They have said that the printing of the book, and my promotion of it, has resurrected painful memories for them, and that they would have preferred that I stopped sharing my story when I finished the blog.

This reaction, I must admit, took me by surprise. The last thing I wanted was to cause more suffering.  I had to take a moment to reflect upon my intentions in printing the book, in sharing the trauma and treachery of those early days and weeks once again, in a different venue. I wondered if it must seem to them that I was simply exploiting the story of us in order to find more readers for my words. I felt ashamed that I had written and shared so openly about my journey. I wanted to close the door on it in order to protect them from more pain. 

But then, I stopped myself. I realised that I wanted nothing more from the printing of this book than to bring alive the memory of my husband. I wanted to illuminate his many qualities for those who had not had access to the blog. I wanted to share the big trouble of my grief and the terrible tragedy of my loss in order to help others who had experienced loss, too. My intentions were good, and kind, and grew out of my love for him, and a desire to help others. 

Writers who write from their hearts write words that bring discomfort. Writers write to shed light on the shadowed places that others can't acknowledge or see. Writers write from their own deep wells of pain and joy in order to bring words to the living of this troubled and complicated existence. Writers write to explore the truth, their truth, in the hope that their experience will resonate with the outside world. 

Sometimes, the outside world doesn't want to hear it, particularly if the story relates to them. Augusten Burroughs, who wrote "Running With Scissors", was sued by some of the people he portrayed in the book. Pat Conroy's mother remarked that she was afraid to talk to him, because her words might end up in some 'damn book of his'. Truman Capote lost many friends in his New York social circle after he wrote about them in his stories.  

I have always written about the big troubles I have seen and felt and experienced in my life. I have written about the trauma I experienced as a young child, and how it impacted me. I have written about the people around me, too. Most of my work has been unpublished, and sits, unfinished, in a drawer. I have hesitated to share it with the world. I have not wanted to create more pain. 

I write from my heart. My words dig deep. Sometimes they are raw and difficult to read. But people have told me that my words have helped them to know my husband and me better. They have said that my writing has helped them to open up to their own grief and loss. They have said that my words have helped them to reflect, and think, and to remember to treasure their loved ones who are still alive.

I have something to say about this big trouble. I have something to say about the terrible way my husband died, its impact on me, and on the people he loved. I have something to say about how his life and death changed me, how I went from the euphoria of marrying the man I loved to the pit of despair following his instant and tragic death. I have something to say about how the sangha and the dharma have helped me climb out of that pit, and enter into life once again. I have something to say about the man I loved, who he was, how he lived,  and how his expansive presence left an imprint on us all.

I have something to say about this big trouble. 

And, as long as I am able, I intend to keep saying it. 

the book is available at