How to write my life backwards

by Elouise

No one ever taught me to do this. Not directly. Yet I find myself wanting to write my life backwards. And with a feather, no less!

I’ve already written many posts on my childhood, youth and beyond. I drew on memories, records and old photos to describe my interior life along the way and how all that affected me as an adult.

It’s one thing to describe and reflect upon my experience as a traumatized child in a Christian family. Just doing that has been more daunting and rewarding than I ever dreamed it would be.

Yet when I read what I wrote three years ago, I’m aware of perspectives I didn’t consider back then. I want to name and explore them. Not for my sake, but for the sake of the little girl and young woman I was back then.

Here’s a small example from one of my first posts. In The Shopkeeper, I describe what happened to me that day, how I felt, and how I concluded that I didn’t really need to tell my parents about it and why. I dreaded, for good reason, that the consequences for me would be grim.

Yet now, over three years since I posted that memory and my reflections on it, I have at least one more question. Not for me, but for my parents. It’s simple.

Why did you send me into that shop in the first place?

This was the only shop near the campground we stayed at during those summers. More than likely, one of my parents had already been buying milk there and collecting the deposits. One or both had likely seen the filthy environment and experienced first-hand the unkempt, uncouth old man who ran the place.

I never thought about this back then. My job wasn’t to question my parents. It was to answer their questions—and accept the consequences.

Yet the question remains, and looms large today. Larger than dread about questions my parents would ask, and the possible verdict that I was, as usual, somehow at fault. Or that this wasn’t really all that important when I knew it was.

In going back, I don’t want to retell what’s already been told. I want to give a voice to this young girl that I am. She already seems to believe that no matter how she talks about what happened to her, she’ll be found guilty.

I believe she deserves to be heard, especially at this distance. Her courage astonishes me, even though she didn’t feel brave most of the time.

How to do this is the great discovery I have yet to make!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 July 2017
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