Eleanor Cowan

 

I had no idea I’d write my memoir!

As far as I knew, I simply liked writing about successfully resolving life riddles and unraveling complex knots that once confused me so horribly.

Perhaps if I’d known that I was going to haul open the basement door to my own history, if I’d had a clue of what I was actually up to, I might have turned away.

Now I see that my internal CEO (Creative Energy Organizer) disclosed my purpose to me gently, softly and kindly.  I need only do each day’s writing – not frighten myself with scary outcomes.

I began to write my stories.  One took me back to 1959, the next to 2000, and the following one to 1973. I did not compel myself to follow a horizontal time line of beginning, middle and end.  Instead, I welcomed whatever memory came to me and treated it as a gift. 

I began to place trust in my internal CEO to spin her own unique web, beyond my understanding. 

Slowly, without a conscious plan, my stories gathered to form what I realized was a memoir.

At first, I’d not planned on admitting that the main character, called Bo, was actually me.  And maybe that was a good thing. Maybe it allowed me to write the story from a safe enough distance – a place where I felt protected from criticism, judgement and blame.

Slowly, slowly, though, I came to admit that my writing comprised the story of a Canadian child in a large, unhealthy Roman Catholic family whose unhealed trauma resulted in much more suffering. That child, teen and adult was me.

On more than one occasion, I awakened sweating in the night, terrified about sharing my embarrassing story.  What would my children think? What about my family and colleagues?

One night, anguished, I slipped out from under my covers and lay on the cool pine floor of my bedroom, grateful for the solid support beneath me.  Soon, gentle morning light comforted me. I agreed with myself to simply write the next story that occurred to me - and to stay in the day

I’m grateful for the good direction provided by editors along the way. One of my first editors, though, began to blame me for what she was reading. She began to criticize me for being so blind and ignorant. I decided to let her go. I found more mature professionals who assured me they could handle difficult subject matter. I learned how valuable is editorial maturity when writing difficult stories.

Six years later, the manuscript was complete.  I’d had time to build up the confidence to publicize it and to soak up the good example of creative leaders and activists all around me.  I decided to self-publish. I liked my writing, my editors liked it, and three gifted volunteer readers in Montreal liked it.

Since I was a working woman with a Visa card, I decided to skip the uncomfortable submission process – and honor myself in this way. I said yes to me. 

My writing process confirmed for me that life does indeed write straight with crooked lines.

I've learned to let life be wise and, to let life surprise! 

                                     ***

Thank you for reading and feel free to contact me on my Contact Me page!

Eleanor Cowan, B.A., B.Ed. is a Life Skills teacher and author of her memoir, 

A History of a Pedophile's Wife.   

 Eleanor gladly:

. visits groups to present or public speak about her story

. encourages discussion about recovery from sexual abuse

. encourages writers of difficult stories

. answers questions about her entry into a mature adult world where tears and laughter can and do co-exist.