My current reading material is a book by the artist Tracey Emin called "Strangeland". It is a fairly short autobiography of sorts. What I like about it is that she doesn't write in the traditional autobiographical style. The book is made up of fairly short chapters, each one a snapshot of her life or an account of a particular experience. Her life has obviously been hard at times but she has come through it and those early experiences clearly have made her the person that she is today.
Although some of the experiences related in the book are unpleasant or slightly shocking they are not related in the voyeuristic style that some autobiography takes, and becase each account is so short you are left more with a sense of understanding the writer better than before than of reading something harrowing that should have remained private.
I hope that if I ever write my life story that I could do it in this snapshot style. It is easier on the reader, it is more artistic and also means that you don't have to recall every detail of your life. I find that as I get older I don't remember everything about my life but there are some incidents and times that I can recall in great detail. I suppose these are the defining moments in my life - whether they were good or bad.
The sad truth is that we are all affected by our childhood and life experiences, and if our past is full of dysfuntion and unhappiness this can lead to stuggle and confusion later on in life. I do believe though that humans do have the ability to get through these experiences and to an extent get over them - not to blank them out but to let go of blame and resentment that can hold us back in adult life.
I am lucky my life was far less traumatic than that of Tracey Emin or Dave Pelzer, however my family life was difficult and dysfunctional, which in turn led me into some unhappy situations after I left home. I used to feel resentful of this, I longed with all my heart to have a normal happy family, I was jealous of other people who did have this love and support. I have learned over the years though that these experiences have made me who I am now. And although I am far from perfect (too hard on myself etc) I also know that they have given me the stregnth to get where I am today. To bring my son up in a loving and supportive environment, to work and study and the fact that I have done this with little or no support from my family makes me proud of myself.