My mother once told me that everyone carries a burden. All of us have hurts, pains, shames--it’s what makes us human. Sharing the burdens releases some of the pressure caused by shouldering difficulties by ourselves.
I have found I deal best with my burdens when I use them in my writing. For example: When my eight-year-old dog started having seizures, the news from the vet was not good. When we eliminated toxins and major organ failure, we were left with the horrific possibility of a brain tumor.
The only way to know short of an MRI (a thousand dollar test) was to wait. If she did have a brain tumor, she would exhibit personally changes within six months. So all I could do was wait. (The picture to the side is my dog on a river trip around the time this was going on.)
During that time, I wrote about a character who struggled with the same thing happening to his dog. To this day I think he is one of the most interesting and compelling characters I’ve ever written.
In the midst of my contest diva days, this character was beloved by judges because he was all alpha male but he had this marshmallow heart where his dog was concerned. It rounded him out and made him human. Giving a character a burden takes him from two-dimensional to three-dimensional.
After a year of agonizing waiting we knew my dog did not have a tumor. She was eventually diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy. (Er, Idiopathic is fancy doctor speak for, “Gosh, we have no idea why” it is where we get the word idiot.)
My dog takes two medications to help control her seizures. She will be thirteen this November and I’m grateful for every moment I have with her. I don’t have kids so she is my hairy, bowlegged child. If she were human, I couldn’t love her more than I already do.
My point with all of this is that writing is great therapy. I took my burden and shared it with my character. My struggle became his and we both learned how to deal with the burden. As I helped him cope, he helped me.
Have you ever done something like this? If so, did it help you deal with it or did it only exacerbate the problem?