Writing the Truth/Anne Lamott and Mark Nepo Guidance

Here’s an excerpt I read this morning in an Anne Lamott piece on Facebook that touched and spoke to me.

 “Yet, I get to tell my truth.  I get to seek meaning and realization.  I get to live fully, wildly, imperfectly.  That’s why I’m alive.  And all I actually have to offer as a writer, is my version of life.  Every single thing that has happened to me is mine.  As I’ve said a hundred times, if people wanted me to write more warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

I was thinking about the topic while writing about not celebrating Mother’s Day (on my Facebook page) https://www.facebook.com/HealWriteNow?hc_location=timeline

As adults with PTSD and/or “complicated” family of origin “stuff” it’s impossible to both “write what you know” and “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all,” but it doesn’t mean we don’t feel tension.

So, in flipping through Mark Nepo’s book, The Book of Awakening, I found he struggled with the issue of feeling mean when he wrote about his life, the impact of the past on him or his struggles. He was 49 at the time.

“So often I have felt troubled and guilty bearing witness to my pain, and yet, not to makes things worse. … But the unshakable bottom of all this is that I’m not making things up. If I have unkind things to say, it’s because I’ve experienced unkind things. And so, my only guide in this witnessing is to be accurate and honest. While I am not a victim, I didn’t asked for certain shaping experiences to happen to me… In truth, if I had experienced different things, I would have different things to say.”

My breathing slows. It’s so nice to know someone understands, especially a super spiritual man with a life, love and career he’s passionate about now.

“What is most healing about bearing witness to things exactly as they are, including my own part in my pain, is that when the voice of the pain fits the pain, there is no room for distortion or illusion. In this way, truth becomes a clean bandage that heals, keeping dirt out of the wound. To voice things as they are is the nearest medicine.”


It’s refreshing to hear from a man who is a poet who has battled cancer and been through two divorces and never stopped being honest, being open and telling the truth.

I’m so grateful to the writers who share openly and honestly and pave the way and are examples not only in how they approach writing, but healing and life.

You Matter Mantras

  • Trauma sucks. You don't.
  • Write to express not to impress.
  • It's not trauma informed if it's not informed by trauma survivors.
  • Breathing isn't optional.

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