Matter of fact. That’s how my writing coach described a few sections of my memoir. I’m writing my way through my high school years, and I’m realizing that I really don’t feel any kind of way about it.
Teenage girls have big feelings, she told me, as if I should know that. I was a teenage girl once, after all! As I sat staring at the words I used to describe the hard things of my teenage life, I wondered if there was something wrong with me. Was I emotionally detached? Stunted, even?
When I was five years old, I worshipped Mr. Spock on Star Trek. I had the Halloween mask and perfected the hand gesture. But most of all, I absorbed the logic.
See, my mother lived in a realm of mystical beings and paranoid delusions. She lived with schizophrenia and a mood disorder, as well as agoraphobia and possibly a touch of OCD. She was a lot, for an infant. And she was totally illogical.
I developed reasoned arguments to refute her wild thoughts. I puzzled my way through logic trees to understand whether her reality was actually real. I learned to remain calm in the face of emotional storms. I learned Buddhist equanimity without realizing that’s what I was doing.
By the time I hit puberty, I rarely felt overwhelmed by an emotion. I had feelings, of course—even the “big feelings” my writing coach refers to—they just didn’t last very long. Whatever chaos was happening, I quickly rebalanced myself and stoically accepted, “this is what’s happening now.”
This unflappability has served me well in life, but does it make for interesting reading? Not every memoir is full of big emotion, and maybe that’s OK for my story. Rather than trying to insert feelings I don’t remember or didn’t have in the first place, I can tell my story honestly. Will anyone want to read it? That remains to be seen.