As much as I'd like to think that I have not let my past 'create' me, I have to admit that it does influence me.
It's an integral part of my writing that I cannot deny.
When I begin to write a difficult scene and I need an emotion to ground that scene and make it real, I think of an event from my past that brings it to me.
Even so, I often push the past aside and ignore it. I refuse to let it make me into a statistic. I refuse to let my past make me into one of those people who wallows in remembered pain and anger.
Yet, there are still times that it rushes over me full force. It's as if it has taken over, a flashback, a bad 'trip' that suddenly forces adrenalin through my system and I see scenes from past events as if I'm still living that moment.
One of those moments happened to me recently. Sitting here thinking about it again I find my hands shaking and my heart pounding as I type away at the keyboard, channeling it all into words on the page.
My sixteen year old son has not been raised in the same environment that I had to endure. I've done everything in my power to keep it from him, to protect him and give him a better life than I or his father were ever offered.
We went so far as to move our children away from the only place I had ever known as home. I left behind people who still don't understand why I was so desperate to leave.
It's a culture. A way of life that they accept without question.
I didn't want that for my children. Now my son is old enough to go out on his own without my protection and I wonder if I've really prepared him for the world or if my overprotection has made him more vulnerable.
I just have to trust in him. That's a hard thing to do.
I grew up in a culture of violence. He did not.
So when I picked him up from an all ages club a few nights ago I didn't expect his reaction, or mine, to a threat he'd been issued by a grown man. A man who could very well have been dangerous despite the security at the club.
He seemed so blase. As if it wasn't a big deal. He blew it off like it was nothing and didn't seem the least bit concerned.
The innocence of youth. The feeling that you are invincible.
He still has that.
I wonder if I ever had that.
On the drive home he was chatty and happy and said he'd enjoyed himself.
I was seething. My hands shook on the wheel, white knuckled. I didn't see the stop lights or street signs. I was on autopilot.
I was plotting the demise of the man who had threatened my son.
Never, EVER, underestimate the creativity of a mother defending her young.
I'd spent so much of my life 'under fire', defending myself both physically and emotionally that it was easy to slip back into that rage. Too easy.
I had had plenty of time in my youth to plan and plot and work out scenarios in my head.
I was raised as a hunter.
I know how to maim, how to kill, how to butcher a body and how to dispose of it.
Perhaps not a human body, but still.
It was a serious effort to pull myself back from that edge. I wasn't that person. I had made the decision years ago and I would stick by it no matter what.
Later that night I sat down to work on one of my stories. I needed a violent scene, as this was a horror story.
I immediately thought of my reaction to the threat to my child.
That was all it took.
I channeled every bit of it into that scene.
It was violent, it was bloody, it was heart pounding, crow bar swinging, steel-toed-boot-to-the-head action that left me sweating and panting,with tears on my face, as if I had been the one doing the killing.
I was exhausted and satisfied.
My scene was done.
And there it is. My past and all the emotions that go along with it sit just under the surface, waiting to be called on at any moment.
I try to bury it, pretend it doesn't exist, put on a smile and be happy, crunchy granola, peace loving mom who doesn't have any secrets worth knowing.
I'm not fooling anyone.
It all shows up in my writing in one way or other. All the violence and anger and pain makes it's way onto every page.
I'm smart enough not to try and tone it down. It's my Zen, may catharsis, my self expression that prevents me from actually doing the things I see in my head.
My writing helps me be a better person.
It keeps me from being a statistic.
So the next time you piss off a writer remember that you just may end up in one of their stories with your head bashed in, hanging by your heels from a tree limb, with your intestines dangling near your ears.
Be thankful the writer was able to express it in writing instead of actually doing it.