Public Recognition for Private Scars
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08-11-2014, 01:43 AM
Public Recognition for Private Scars
I didn't sleep last night. Looks like it might be the same tonight. I can't tell this to anyone in real life and it's eating away at me...

In my English class we had an in-class essay with a bit of an ambiguous prompt; write about any sort of situation in which you felt you had no voice.

I wrote about part of my life, specifically my paternal issues and lack of acceptance with my atheism stemming from family/friends, work and school. I gave a first person walk through of my life, explaining my behaviors and what exactly is going through my mind... kind of. I lied in order to cover up my depression and purposefully told half truths so I wouldn't be recommended to a psychologist like I was in middle school and high school.

I also deliberately left out any mention of my maternal issues, because that's where the drugs, child/spousal abuse and mental degradation came into play. I didn't feel like having a mental breakdown in class.

I was about half way through my paper when the immediate feeling of regret set in. I do not talk about myself in this way, and the deliberate use of dishonest writing made me feel extremely guilty. Looking at the clock, I had about thirty minutes left (of two hours). I had to continue or forfeit my paper, which would be an automatic drop from the class (with less than a month left in the semester and a solid A in the class).

I finished my paper and left early. I felt like shit and was dreading going back to class, not just because of what I wrote, but because of how the teacher would react. The stories I shared were real, and extremely personal. I didn't think I could handle receiving a low grade on the paper, or worse, a meeting with the professor about how I need to talk about my problems. Flashback to high school. Multiply my fear with regret and guilt.

I was very close to skipping class altogether, but as I sat in the parking lot I decided I better deal with the issue now rather than wait until later.

As my teacher was handing back the essays, she started talking about writing from the heart, and how it really mattered in creative essays and writing at a college level. Then she said that she had done something she had never done before in her teaching career, she gave a 100% on an essay. She was so astounded by the paper that she showed all of her colleagues in the English department to see if they agreed with the grade, and they all did. She finished with a request that the student who received the 100% please stay after class.

I look down at my semi crumpled essay, flip to the last page and see a giant 100%. Fuck.

As everyone started leaving, it was obvious that I didn't move, so everyone figured it out and started congratulating me. Fuck.

After everyone left, she was so excited to tell me that she wanted me type up my essay so she could get it published in a magazine that discusses modern issues of minorities (racial, gay rights and now atheism). Fuck.

I told her as long as I'm anonymous I'm okay with it, but I'm not. I feel guilty, I regret writing the entire thing and worse, I feel somehow insulted by the whole situation even though I know my professor's intentions are in the right. She feels that other students could be in a similar situation that I am and that my paper could give them hope (remembered I lied about my depression, and I left on a positive note in my conclusion).

I just feel that my paper is a lie, and in effect, no better than using religion as a source of comfort. Although I would never be comfortable enough to share my entire life story on a fucking magazine. Then, if my name ever got out... I don't even want to think about it. Which is why I was a bit upset she showed my paper to the entire English department.

Now I'm home with a mix of feelings. FFS, I'm the only student my professor ever gave a 100% to AND wants to publish me. Yet I cannot tell anyone about this. I'm congratulated for having a shitty childhood. I'm about to publish what amounts to a lie, but with the potential to help people struggling with depression/family issues.

Should I type the essay for publication, or refuse? Why do you think so?
Keep in mind, I would have to submit this with my name on it, only to be published as "Anonymous."

Atir aissom atir imon
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08-11-2014, 02:29 AM
RE: Public Recognition for Private Scars
Was the original assignment a creative writing exercise or a 'journalism' thing?

If the former, you could add a disclaimer at the start of the (to be) published version that "the essay you about to read is a fictionalised / stylised account and not a case study."

If the latter, the disclaimer could be the usual "some event and names have been changed to protect the innocent / guilty".

But, I think you should not feel bad about it. The stuff I've had published, I depersonalise it... those that know me, can read between the lines, those that do not know me, read it from their own perspective and take whatever they take from it... which is often so far from the original thoughts that it's like they're reading a completely different version of events.

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08-11-2014, 02:31 AM
RE: Public Recognition for Private Scars
Just be honest with your teacher. Say that you altered it to make it have the ending you wanted, not the ending you have. Or that the whole truth was much worse, and some things are too hard to share. Would it help you for your own peace of mind to rewrite YOUR story? Doesn't mean you have to share it with anyone but yourself.

For what it's worth, I understand what it's like to have no voice. That would be an apt description of the past 29 years of my life. I'm finally finding it. Hearing other people go through similar struggles is a... painful encouragement? It means I'm not alone.

What I have to remind myself: scars don't mean you're weak, as ugly as they are, you come out stronger. We all have scars - some are worse than others. When I was in the sixth grade, I had the quote "Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle" taped to my wall until I graduated from high school. It still applies.

If you're not comfortable with it, don't share it. Or if you want the whole story published, rewrite it. There's no guilt in saying no, but also realize there is no shame in a painful childhood.

"If there's a single thing that life teaches us, it's that wishing doesn't make it so." - Lev Grossman
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08-11-2014, 02:49 AM
RE: Public Recognition for Private Scars
Oh! And please make the title for your essay... Private Ryan's Public Scars.

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08-11-2014, 02:56 AM
RE: Public Recognition for Private Scars
(08-11-2014 02:29 AM)DLJ Wrote:  Was the original assignment a creative writing exercise or a 'journalism' thing?

If the former, you could add a disclaimer at the start of the (to be) published version that "the essay you about to read is a fictionalised / stylised account and not a case study."

If the latter, the disclaimer could be the usual "some event and names have been changed to protect the innocent / guilty".

But, I think you should not feel bad about it. The stuff I've had published, I depersonalise it... those that know me, can read between the lines, those that do not know me, read it from their own perspective and take whatever they take from it... which is often so far from the original thoughts that it's like they're reading a completely different version of events.

To be honest, not entirely sure. Goes with the whole ambiguous prompt. It's suppose to be entertaining/creative, but draw upon personal experience.

I also am afraid that my name will eventually be uncovered, in which case my family will find out about it. This literally has the potential to destroy any and all family relationships I have.

I like the disclaimer idea though.

(08-11-2014 02:31 AM)Nurse Wrote:  Just be honest with your teacher. Say that you altered it to make it have the ending you wanted, not the ending you have. Or that the whole truth was much worse, and some things are too hard to share. Would it help you for your own peace of mind to rewrite YOUR story? Doesn't mean you have to share it with anyone but yourself.

For what it's worth, I understand what it's like to have no voice. That would be an apt description of the past 29 years of my life. I'm finally finding it. Hearing other people go through similar struggles is a... painful encouragement? It means I'm not alone.

What I have to remind myself: scars don't mean you're weak, as ugly as they are, you come out stronger. We all have scars - some are worse than others. When I was in the sixth grade, I had the quote "Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle" taped to my wall until I graduated from high school. It still applies.

If you're not comfortable with it, don't share it. Or if you want the whole story published, rewrite it. There's no guilt in saying no, but also realize there is no shame in a painful childhood.

My last words in the conclusion were "you're never alone," and drew upon a similar idea of relating your personal pain to that of others in order to realize that no one is ever alone, because, if nothing else, all humans go through the same pain in varying degrees; the ultimate uniting factor.
--Thought you might want to hear that, seeing as how your reply was very similar.

To be honest, I don't trust people. Peace of mind for me would be burning this essay and never talking about its contents to anyone again.

I'm also not ashamed of my past, I just don't like talking about it, whether it's trust issues (usually), or because the few times I started talking about it I was either pitied (which I hate), or forced to see a psychologist and talk about it more (consequently making me more angry and increasing my trust issues).

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08-11-2014, 02:59 AM
RE: Public Recognition for Private Scars
(08-11-2014 02:49 AM)DLJ Wrote:  Oh! And please make the title for your essay... Private Ryan's Public Scars.

Not sure that would work, as I'm trying to keep my name out of the essay, but I could change the thread name...

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08-11-2014, 03:08 AM
RE: Public Recognition for Private Scars
Well, since you're providing the kindling for the bonfire, I'll provide the s'mores.

[Image: maggie-09.jpg]

Just email your prof that you're not comfortable with it being published.

"If there's a single thing that life teaches us, it's that wishing doesn't make it so." - Lev Grossman
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08-11-2014, 03:17 AM
RE: Public Recognition for Private Scars
Publish. You can tell teach what you said in OP, sure she'll be even more chuffed. English teachers are weird like that. But add disclaimer like what DLJ said, good to go. I don't think you're making your shitty childhood into profit, you are profiting from your experience sure, but also your great writing skill. Own the fuck outta that shit.

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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08-11-2014, 03:18 AM
RE: Public Recognition for Private Scars
It's a pity this thread isn't about your beard. We could name it Shaving Private Ryan...

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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08-11-2014, 03:35 AM
RE: Public Recognition for Private Scars
(08-11-2014 03:08 AM)Nurse Wrote:  Well, since you're providing the kindling for the bonfire, I'll provide the s'mores.

[Image: maggie-09.jpg]

Just email your prof that you're not comfortable with it being published.

Not sure I understand the reference, but I have an unhealthy addiction to smores, and as such, this made me smile. Thank you.

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