5-Minute Autobiographies

I’ve been rereading Deena Metzger‘s book Writing for Your Life, and was reminded of all the writing I had done with her in two workshops at Rowe and two week-long retreats.  The 5-minute autobiography is one of her assignments.  These were written in 1996, before I knew about PTSD.

I was born to alcoholic parents.  I should have been an artist, but they needed a baby sitter and the artist’s temperament was too much for their fragile egos.  I was left alone a lot, I had to figure out how to do my life in isolation, I wasn’t very good at it.  But I did learn how to do friendship, I have good friends, intimate friends, not many, but as many as I can keep up with at the level at which I like to do friendship.  I was smart enough to marry a person who was capable of becoming my best friend and teaching him how to do it.  Now I’m trying to learn how to let the artist live in my life, to give her the chance she never had.  It’s like being pregnant with a whale, or some dark watery creature who speaks a completely different language.  I’m having to move very slowly, be very patient, wait a lot, be content to be silent.

Second Round

The “out takes”: I was nuts.  I was a rebel gypsy Bohemian.  I tore up the napkins at school and left little pieces under the table and the teachers got upset about it.  I had a nervous breakdown at college, but they didn’t call it that: I started sleeping over my homework and went into the infirmary for three weeks.  I was hospitalized while I was in California.  I lost it when my boyfriend left me without a word, just disappeared, and I went to his house and started smashing his windows.  At the Health Center they were all afraid I was going to commit suicide, they filled me full of tranquilizers but I kept trying to go to class.  It was the spring of Kent State and I stuffed the genie back into the bottle, came back east and went into a suicidal depression.  Only many years later did I discover that my behavior was the legacy of my parents’ alcoholism and being sexually abused in my childhood.

— And what I really want to say is … — o yes I was inspired by Deena’s 5 minute left-hand writing (she calls it automatic writing) autobiography.  what stands out?  Blood — words written in blood and pinned to the curtain.  Overcharge  supercharge  cut into the rock and blood will flow like ink.  Passion, passion for the truth.  to follow the trail of the wily red fox.  and then write until words spray out of your ears and the pen burns the paper  cataracts and smoking volcanoes.  Something moves in the depths and whole planets get lost in the boiling flow.  Volcanoes.  Molten rock from the depths.  Where does all this lead — is this my life?  emerging molten from the depths?  Splashing red across a landscape of bitter craters.  Trees won’t grow here for a while yet.

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