As I listened to Kay Adams talk on NAMW’s Teleseminar a few weeks ago on Journey to the Self, I was reminded of this question a therapist once asked me. I puzzled over the question. The answer felt as elusive as a butterfly’s wing moving to the next flower. Over the years I’ve become more comfortable with the question "What's right for you, Ruth?" though the answers are still sometimes hard to find.
Kay’s talk on authenticity linked this question to my current writing. At the heart of memoir writing is the self, telling the story of our lives as we remember it, as we experienced it, as we prioritized the events in our memories, and as we emotionally felt it. Our authentic self with our own unique needs and core values is the voice we tap into when we are searching for the inner voice, the real ‘me’ coming up from the unconscious. The story told by this authentic inner voice is the truth, our ‘emotional truth’ that is always guiding us through the scenes and memories. Authenticity has to do with our core values and living in alignment with what is right for us says Kay.
My wise therapist many years ago, was really asking me to drop down into the real me, to get in touch with the core values that were being quashed. He was asking me to come home to myself and ask what is stopping me from living my authentic self. When we feel down, something isn’t right with our core values. We feel stuck, insecure or angry. We need to ask ourselves what core value is not being respected here? In our memoir writing, the voice of our story makes more sense when it comes from our authentic self and our authentic core values.
But how do we figure out what our core values are? And how do they differ from those of our family? This is what confused me about the question: "What’s right for you, Ruth? I hadn’t articulated my true values and distinguished them from those of my family of origin or from my husband’s and his family of origin. Caught in this tangled web, I was floundering.
Since I started my memoir I have writtten about my parents’ core values, but not mine. Before I go any further with my writing I need to do this exercise to see how my core values and my family's differ or mesh.