14 April 2011

The legacy of family

"I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is more than living, for it is being conscious of living." Anne Morrow Lindburgh

So many memories have been dancing at the edges of my brain this week. I am being pushed to remember and think about the past, and I'm not sure I like it. Old songs and pictures and writing memoir essays have opened the Pandora's box that I have struggled all my life to keep firmly shut and locked.

So why does the past feel so close, so much more real than today?...Growing up in a volatile family; misplaced Southerners who never completely adapted to life in the cold North, but moved here in search of better opportunities...Traveling down to visit my maternal grandmother, married seven, eight times, and yet dying alone in Section 8 housing...Visits to Kentucky and my grandfather and step-grandmother; happy, and yet Grandpa still dreaming of his beautiful, yet troubled first wife, my grandmother, until the day he died...My father's family; his mother, part Cherokee but passing as white; his father, first an alcoholic and then a die-hard member of a snake-handling church in the hills of Kentucky...my mother dropping out of high school after the eleventh grade, my father only making it through the eighth grade...

And the family's legacy reverberates through the next generations...I look at the picture of my beautiful grandmother, who struggled as she aged and her stunning beauty faded...I glance at the picture of my other grandmother, whom I never knew, and can see the Cherokee in her long, dark hair and eyes, haunted and tired, wearing a dress made out of sack cloth...I wonder about all these people, related to me and yet distant and disconnected from my life. Does any of this really effect who I am as a person?

Then there's my own life....As I wrap up my graduate nonfiction writing class, I think about the things I've written, the truths I've unveiled and the truths I couldn't bring myself to write about because some things are still too painful to put into words. My struggles with anorexia and its impact on my marriage...my husband leaving because, I believe, he couldn't take it anymore...my hopes and dreams for reconciliation, shattered...traveling down to Florida in one last ditch effort to save my marriage and failing...and yet...

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say... except that I am confused and my mind is swirling with all the mistakes I've made in my life, wondering where did I go wrong and how to move forward...wondering about the possibilities and if I can start over...and find a measure of peace and happiness in my life.


Pen said...

You talk about all the mistakes you have made, but what about ALL that you have done right. I admire so much about you! You're writing, your recovery, your faith....keep it up. You're a true inspiration and I look forward to reading your book one day!

Ashley said...

"I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is more than living, for it is being conscious of living." Anne Morrow Lindburgh

Love the quote.

As a writer, I can tell that you have a gift for words and turn them into something that we can also feel and relate. Even though I can't relate with specifics in your post; I can relate to your sorrow, wondering, regrets, past, fears, uncertainity, and trepidation of what may come.

Once, I heard this from a person (forgot who now) that God will never give you more than He thinks you are capable of handling. So I know you will get through this and come out as a stronger woman.

I agree with Pen; you are indeed an inspiration.

Missy said...

Yes, you WILL start again. There is no alternative...even if you have to start AGAIN next week.
Keep going.
All the pains and hurts will still be there, as they are part of you. But the further you push pass the more at peace withyourself you will be,
I really belive this!

Sensory Overload said...


I agree with everyone here. Simply put; those pains, hurst, thoughts of mistakes made are all just part of our legacy NOW. Look upon your journey as just that. One that has experiences that bring us to and fro, sometimes to places we might least expect or even want; but all in all, they are part of what makes you, wonderfully you.

It is that piece of acceptance that helps us continue to proceed on. And I have no doubt that you; so strong and courageous; will do just that!

Keep at it Angela. The inspiration you offer is so valued.

Be well.


I Hate to Weight said...

it is a very difficult time. and that's never easy.

loss and sadness.

as everyone has said, you will start over -- even if you DO have to then start over again next week.

your courage and wisdom and kindness and intelligence are always evident. may they hold and help you through.


Anonymous said...

Hello, Dear friend!!

The Lord renews his mercies daily, thank you Jesus!!! So, if you can start over with God every day, certainly you can start over with yourself. Holding on to your past mistakes is lies from the Enemy trying to get you down, and hold you captive to your past. It isn't beholden unto you by hapless ancestry.

love R

Tiger said...

have you considered.. seriously... writing a memoir? an origin story? your family obviously has some love stories entwined in the realities of life... your ability to take your personal suffering and give it familiar nuances to the reader is exactly what makes great memoirs. just a thought. hugs

I Hate to Weight said...

just checking in to see how you're doing. i'm thinking about you.

Sia Jane said...

Writing is healing and the fact you have found that is wonderful in itself.
We can't change what we have or have not done, all we can do is take adversity or challenges we faced, learn from them, and liberate ourselves from them to move forward.
So remember to breath, and know and have faith, you will be okay xxxx

Lyn said...

Good luck, Angela. I became an inpatient at 46. The night before I boarded the plane, my husband told me he wanted to leave me. I was in OK for 5 months. I came back, he left me. I started grad school for librarianship. I just graduated. I am 51. Things are good. Different, but better. You will be fine. Different, but better.Really. All best, Lyn

emma said...


Some great observations. It's funny - the past is ourselves, it doesn't just stay there. As someone who's recovered from anorexia but has so many regrets, it would be easy to run away from myself or drown under the weight of guilt. But I love how the Lord talks in Joel of redeeming the years the locusts have eaten - He takes all our mess and all our beauty and makes something wonderful from it. He is doing this in your life and He will continue to use you - even when you can't see it.