We’ve all experienced opposition, trials and challenges in our lives. Your life story needs to acknowledge that, but not dwell on the negative. Focus instead on how problems were overcome or strength gained struggling with issues (health, divorce, widowhood or unemployment). The goal of writing your history is to help others including your posterity as they deal with similar situations. (Photo of my mom on the right and her sisters l-r: Ethel and Esther. They were each to face different challenges in their lives.)
When I retired at the ripe old age of 60, I decided it was time to finally write my life story. It became a journey of self-discovery and a cathartic trip into my past. First I started collecting photos that I wanted to have in my book. This took some time and served to jog my memory of experiences I wanted to write about.
Almost immediately I felt stuck in trying to explain the challenging parts of my life, namely two divorces and three marriages. But who to better tell this story than me? So I wrote and wrote, then later went back and edited out parts that I didn’t want to share because they were too negative. This exercise was free therapy. I found I didn’t need to share all my dirty linen-JUST the lessons I learned. My dear husband was very helpful with this editing process. To ignore the fact of my divorces was to leave out an important though difficult part of my life. Would any of my children or grandchildren have to face a divorce one day? Probably. Could they learn from my experiences? Possibly.
So with that in mind, I wrote my rough draft, and then later edited. I wanted my posterity to understand me, and in the process I came to know myself better. In writing histories of other family members, I’ve had to deal with other negative issues such as a deceased relative who was an alcoholic. In deference to his family, I never mentioned this fact in his history, but only the effects on his wife who had to work most of her life to supplement his income. He was a talented poet and oil painter, and always wanted to be a radio announcer but had to overcome being born in a mining town with little education or opportunities. I’ve learned there is no need to judge anyone else; someone wiser than us will do that one day. Our task is to capture in words the accomplishments and struggles of others with respect.