Did you see Oprah’s recent interview of Meredith Baxter? Meredith has been making the talk show circuit to publicize her new memoir, Untied, and Oprah devoted a full hour to the book. Like many memoirs, Baxter’s autobiography revealed a life filled with personal challenges. She grew up with neglectful parents, faced spousal abuse, took up alcohol for a time, battled cancer and came out as a lesbian. It’s not your typical life.
But unusual circumstances are exactly what prompt many people to write their memoirs. Part of the motivation is that catharsis of getting it all out there and off your chest, and Oprah really nailed it when she mentioned the other part: hoping to save others from the same fate. We all can feel so alone when dealing with hardship. Reading other people’s accounts of how they handled that same difficulty can make us feel less alone as well as, perhaps, showing us ways to solve our problems. Although I don’t remember her exact words, I recall hearing Oprah making a very pointed statement, something like: you hope when you write these things that you’ll help other people who find themselves in a similar situation.
Now and then one of our members confirms that, telling us, “I had a terrible childhood and want my story out there to help others.??? The memoir can serve as a cautionary tale or an uplifting assurance of redemption. If Oprah says so, it must be true!