Catharsis is defined as the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.
Several years ago, I wrote a mini-memoir about the family and community of my childhood. The central figure in the frame of my story is the person whose life of hardship and want had increasingly begun to haunt me. My mind and heart simply could not let it go. I often found myself writing and rewriting aspects of his life in a compulsive way. It was almost as if I needed to record his life lest it be forgotten. Another impulse was that preserving his story was a way to deserve my life. I needed to pay homage.
One challenge was that he had passed away several years previously. So, there was no closure to be had by communicating with him, by telling him what he meant to me. A second challenge was that none of the people in my current life had a reference point through which to understand the lifestyle and the time on which I was dwelling.
And so, I decided to take the time to write the memoir. It is eighty pages long. It has family photographs as well as images that create the ethos of the time and place. The memoir is my way of bearing witness to a life lived with stoic grace. So, I have been honest and truthful, sometimes radically so.
After I completed the memoir I felt a sense of peace. I felt that I had finally made the down payment on expressing gratitude for an unearned gift. The urge to record, to fulfill an unfinished promise, finally left me.
We can help you write your cathartic story — check out our Personal Historian page.