Writers are advised to “write what you know.”
Years ago when I was trying to save my marriage, I went to group therapy once a week for about a year. The things I learned from the family therapist and the other members of the group changed my life. I am a different person for having gone to group and exploring my way of thinking that was initially somewhat naïve and unrealistic.
Over the years, I’ve put these life lessons into stories I write. My book Secrets is no exception. Kelly Baron is turning forty. Her daughter has just gotten married. She goes home, thinking she’s going to help her mother move into a retirement home.
Life lesson: Everyone feels emotionally two years old.
Kelly opened her eyes and glanced down. The footlocker, the one her grandfather had used during World War II, was in the same spot and still locked with the padlock she had put on it in high school. The attic looked the same. So did her room. She was almost forty years old and today she felt like a kid again—a scared, unhappy kid. The pain and bewilderment of that lost time gnawed at her in a tragically familiar way.
Why was it when everyone around her was changing, she felt stuck? As if she was marking time, neither coming nor going, just being.
Life lesson: You get depressed at the advent of a major change in your life. You are anticipating loss and sadness.
Tackling her bittersweet emotions, Kelly let herself into the house. The front door opened directly into the living room….
The house was as neat as a pin. What happened to that messy child who refused to clean up her bedroom? Kelly stood in the middle of the living room floor, her heart aching for that little girl. Bright sunshine sparkled through a picture window highlighting the swirls of red, green and beige in the area rug. A faint scent of cinnamon clung to the air, probably from the candles on the coffee table.
Kelly walked toward the fireplace and stared at a framed photograph on the mantle of C.B. and Daniel on their wedding day.
My little girl has grown up.
Life lesson: Depression means you are not in control.
“Oh, God!” Kelly gasped unable to choke back the tears flowing freely for the first time in years. She hugged the doll and gazed at the faded poster. “I don’t believe this,” she said to the quiet room. “This is not happening.”
She was scared, fearing losing control.
Life lesson: No one can be counted on always.
“I want to apologize to you,” her mother said in a voice so hushed that Kelly could hardly hear her words.
“Whatever for?” Still on the defensive, she didn’t want to hear an apology.
“I didn’t stick up for you when you got pregnant.”
Kelly made a dismissing gesture with her hand. “That was a long time ago, Mother.”
“But it’s still eating away at you, dear. I know it. You don’t have to say anything for a mother to know.”
“Well, it’s my problem.” Kelly tried to sidestep the issue. “I’ll deal with it.”
So, when you read novels like Secrets, you may be getting more than an interesting story. You might learn something about yourself too.