Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After Page One: Why I Write

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A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire

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Daughters, sisters, mothers, wives. Write for us.

 

In the dream there is a parade, and among the crowd I talk to my uncle, who is now dead.
You were really mean to me, I say, folding my arms.

He laughs, a dry snort, shrugs.

My voice grows in size as the procession backs up behind us, folks in plain clothes twirl metal batons and mill in the confetti-covered street. My words rise above the trumpets and trombones.

You were sexually inappropriate with me.

*****

In real life, the thing I’m talking about happened when I was eight years old and he crawled, three times, like a drunken bulldog from the bottom of the double bed I was sharing with a school friend the night before a family reunion. The men were up all night, outside with beers and booze, roasting a pig; the women washing dishes and playing cards. In the loft, across from my bed, one of my aunts and cousin slept on another mattress.

My friend pushed him away and rolled herself toward the wall. My aunt whisper-hissed, “Don’t let him in the bed with you.” The second time, he was on me longer but again he fell to the floor. My aunt warned me again. The third time he didn’t fall and my aunt had nothing more to say.

*****

Back in the dream, a man approaches, a priest. He says I told him what my uncle did but he didn’t believe me. I shout, my words a gust of wind that sails and snakes through the growing band of onlookers.

It was your job to say something for me, to stand up for me! When a kid tells you they’ve been hurt, you believe them!

*****

Back in real life, the dream came seventeen years after the fact. I don’t normally write about my dreams, but I woke with a sense of victory in my chest and scribbled it down, knowing I’d processed a heavy load. Later that same day, I received an email that an essay I wrote published on Literary Mama. Months had passed since its acceptance, and I didn’t know the publication date. The essay was unrelated to the abuse but contained four incidental words that perhaps held the power to release that dream: “molested as a child.”
It took me a week to make the connection between the dream and the publication, and I kept rechecking the dates from my journal and the editor’s email.

The weave of the two reminds me of why we write. Sure, the word "essay" translates "to try," but there is more beneath that sense of puzzling through an idea or problem. We write to heal, to heap forgiveness on our younger selves that were too frightened or naïve to know any better, to hold responsible those with whom the power rested, unused and devastating.

With that release, we write to offer fragments of recognition and hope.

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Read Samantha's creative nonfiction piece, Origination.

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Join our After Page One series.  We’re looking for 300 to 500-word guest posts that motivate, inspire, and encourage other mama-writers, and we’d love to feature YOUR thoughts about getting started, getting back to a writing project, integrating writing with motherhood, reading, or having a positive attitude.   The list is endless, but here are some questions that might help you get started. We’ll publish a short bio so readers can learn more about you and your projects.


Samantha Claire Updegrave writes creative non-fiction, micro-essays, and poetry. Her work has appeared most recently in Literary Mama, Bacopa Literary Review, hipMama, Stratus Journal of Arts & Writing, and on the Shambhala Sun’s blog SunSpaces. She is an Elizabeth George Foundation Scholar and an MFA candidate at The Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, where she is also an assistant non-fiction editor at Soundings Review. By day, she is an urban planner. She lives in Seattle, Washington, with her partner, young son, and two feuding cats. You can find her on-line at samanthaupdegrave.wordpress.com.

 


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