This I Believe

Paula - Yellow Springs, Ohio
Entered on December 27, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

This I believe: that writing heals.

I once thought that I was supposed to be a nun, that that was my calling. I was afraid, though, and escaped the responsibility of it by convincing myself that what I was really meant to be was a wife, that marriage and family were my duty and responsibility. It was okay to have turned my back on the religious life if married life were really what God intended for me. These were the only two choices I felt I had as a Catholic, as a young Catholic woman: religious life, married life.

What else was there?

There was nothing.

Nothing acceptable. Nothing I had ever been given a role model for, no statue in the front of the church that showed me who else I could emulate.

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee…

Mother Mary was perfect: painfully, impossibly perfect.

Blessed art thou amongst women…

She was the only woman who could be a virgin and mother at the same time. I could not do either; I was no virgin, and I had tried and failed to be a wife.

Blessed is the fruit of thy womb…

I could not, would not, be a mother. I will never have a child, never bless this world with a Savior: there will be no fruit from my womb.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners…

If I am not good, I am bad.

…now and at the hour of our death.

Is my death, then, my destiny?

I tried twice to kill myself, swallowing an enormous overdose in 1999 that the doctor said should have killed me. And I tried again, impulsively, stupidly, in 2001.

What was in me that wanted me dead?

You’d think, with all the help I’d had, that I could have figured it out. Since I was fifteen, there’d been the psychiatrists, the psychologists, the meds, the psych ward…. But all those things for all those years had treated the symptoms and never the cause. I had to dig that out of myself, and I had to do it now. What was in me that wanted me dead?

I had to write to find it. I sat in on a course a friend was teaching called Writing as Healing and started what I thought was an essay. Five years and one-hundred-and-eighty fully revised pages later, it had become my completed memoir: Fruit of My Wound.

I learned through therapeutic writing that all my life I had believed I was bad. And I found, in the end, that I am good.

This, at long last, I believe. I am good.

And writing heals.