Why do we write these "misery memoirs"?

Why would anyone want to read about another person's horrible childhood?

One reason: Because our stories are bigger than ourselves.

I read other people's memoirs to feel less alone than I felt when I was growing up. I felt absolutely alone--cut off and different from the rest of humanity. I wrote my own story to extend that same hand to others.

I wrote memoirs of a strange little girl to put my stories into a form that would allow me to sort through my thoughts and feelings, identify and bring them to consciousness, explore them, and to see the bigger picture ~ my life is more than the abuse. For a long, long time I identified strongly with the victim role.

In my article, Child Abuse: How to Move On, I discussed moving beyond identifying as victim, vulnerable, ruined, etc.

The healing process for abuse that occurs during childhood can follow a long, hard road. Many people never escape. They lead lives full of pain, mired in the past. However, those of us who keep seeking something that feels better can become freer and freer as we move forward into a happier life.

I wrote my story, in part, to accept and release its hold on me. I also wrote it to show that one is not doomed to suffer until death, irreparably broken, or any of the other ways I once described myself.

I read memoirs to learn of the discoveries others have made along the healing path. People in active pursuit of a better experience have wisdom to offer others on the path. People who have experienced a lot of pain and have learned to move beyond it often want to help others to feel better, too. This becomes a calling.

In the Child Abuse Memoirs and Autobiographies zone at Helium.com, I assembled a collection of resources on writing memoirs for anyone who might benefit from the project.


  1. Thank you for this Sara many would appreciate this healing process.

  2. I'm currently writing one such memoir, on depression and getting onto Prozac.


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