Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

Dear Me

I’m writing a memoir, not because I’m famous but because the publisher thinks I have a story to tell. If I’m honest, so do I. But there’s the rub. Honesty.

My instinct as a writer is to hide behind half truths and self-deprecating humour, to create amusing scenes that will make people smile even as they turn the page and forget what they just read.

I have no trouble writing about Broken Hill, especially at this time of year when it’s less than a week into spring and temperatures have already hit 32 degrees. Red back spiders are breeding under the watering system, the almond tree is cloaked in blossom, brown snakes have been spotted on the golf course and the open-air swimming pool remains stubbornly closed. See? Easy. Revealing something about me – and my disastrous relationship history – is more challenging.

Several years ago I spent two weeks at Skyros, a holistic holiday centre on a remote Greek island, and for three hours a day I was in intensive therapy, trying to make sense of relationships and why mine never worked. There were other classes on offer, like creative writing or film making, but ‘understanding relationships’ had my name written all over it.

At the end of the holiday we were encouraged to perform a ‘stretch’, something that pushed us beyond our comfort zones. Conquering fear was a big theme. One young lawyer chose to roll down a hillside covered in gorse bushes to prove she didn’t have to be so uptight all the time; John, a gentle man recently separated from his wife, painted his fingernails bright red; someone else sang a solo.

My stretch involved getting up at breakfast to tell the participants I thought they were all exceptional people. I said they were funny, generous, warm-hearted and talented, and they were. That was the easy bit. When I got to the stretch my throat closed as surely as if I’d swallowed a mouthful of superglue, and even now tears rise at the memory of trying to admit, out loud, that I belonged with such a group of people. I struggled to accept I might also be talented, generous and warm-hearted, discovering along the way the truth of that old adage; you can’t love others until you learn to love yourself.

Before leaving Skyros we were encouraged to write a letter to ourselves and leave it behind. The centre manager promised to post the letters several weeks later. I’d almost forgotten the exercise when a familiar letter addressed to me, in my handwriting, dropped through the letterbox one morning.

“Dear Me,” I read. “I never knew therapy could be so much fun.”

My stretch now is to finish writing this memoir…and to have fun doing it!

12 comments on “Dear Me

  1. Adele Hughes
    September 5, 2013

    We only had 2 days & 2 nights with you Deb, but I can assure you we most definitely found you funny, generous, warm-hearted and talented! You brought food to share at our table, you took us into your confidence and we trust you with our story (that’s ‘big’ hearted), you quite obviously have a huge talent for writing and yes.. you are funny, didn’t we laugh a lot!! Keep stretching. Lol Adele

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      September 6, 2013

      Adele, thank you so much for that vote of confidence! I had so much fun with you, and I can’t wait to start writing about you and yours, just a small matter of the memoir to finish first…

      Like

  2. nantubre
    September 6, 2013

    You know what? I’d would certainly get in line for your memoir. I love your writing.

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      September 6, 2013

      Thank you thank you! I’m about to meet the publisher, so let’s hope she feels the same way 🙂

      Like

  3. monsoonwendy
    September 6, 2013

    Loved this post at so many levels Deb. As a masterful self deprecator (whose pretty up herself about her self-deprecating abilities obviously!) I can relate. As one learning about self compassion and love, I relate. As an observer of increased reptilian life in the Hill, I relate. Your memoirs will be a cracker Deb. I love that I have friends who get that (appropriate) vulnerability is strength. And that courage not having no fear, but recognising the fears and pushing on. Love you darl. Enjoy your weekend.

    Like

    • Deb Hunt
      September 6, 2013

      Wendy you make me laugh out loud. You are wise and funny (in such a supremely modest self-deprecating way) and I’m very fortunate to count you as a friend. May we all find the strength to recognise our fears, face up to them and rely on the comfort and support of good friends to help overcome them. Love you too. Love to all at John Wenham’s election party and sorry I can’t be there (I am SO over this election!)

      Like

  4. rubytheblacklabrador
    September 6, 2013

    Good luck with the writing – let it flow and edit, edit, edit:)

    Like

    • Deb Hunt
      September 6, 2013

      Thank you Ruby, wise advice! I’m relying on the words flowing before that editing monkey that sits on my shoulder works out what I’m doing. I’m a born editor, prevaricating over every word but I have to trust my instincts and let it flow!

      Like

  5. Django Zazou
    September 15, 2013

    Yeah, I too hide behind half-truths, but, holy cow, the half-lies I hide behind are fabulous!

    Like

  6. debhuntinbrokenhill
    September 16, 2013

    Django, your half-truths are even more fabulous than your lies…

    Like

  7. chris beckett
    November 10, 2013

    It is positively odd that you “struggled to accept I might also be talented, generous and warm-hearted” . It was perfectly evident to every one who met you in Saudi thirty years ago.

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      November 10, 2013

      How very sweet of you to say that Chris and hello after all these years. Hope life is treating you well.

      Like

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This entry was posted on September 5, 2013 by and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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