Goodbye, Aurelia Plath


It seemed obvious to me that Esther Greenwood was an unreliable narrator, as it seems obvious to me that I am an unreliable narrator. The only truly reliable narrator is the omniscient one, who doesn’t participate in the story.

Seven years after Sylvia Plath’s suicide, her mother wrote a letter to Plath’s editor, describing The Bell Jar as representing “the basest ingratitude.” She wrote that, “practically every character in The Bell Jar represents someone – often in caricature – whom Sylvia loved; each person had given freely of time, thought, affection, and, in one case, financial help during those agonizing six months of breakdown…”

Aurelia Plath mothered a brilliant daughter, who wrote what it felt like to lose her will to live… Of course Esther Greenwood was an unreliable narrator. The purpose of the story wasn’t to accurately depict people and events. The author, herself, described the book as “an autobiographical apprentice work which I had to write in order to free myself from my past.”

I really struggle to keep this blog going – not because there isn’t anything to write or for want of time. I struggle because of Aurelia Plath.

It both makes complete sense to me, and yet it also seems completely ludicrous that people feel hurt, anxious, distressed… over the things I write.

It makes sense because it must seem like “the basest ingratitude” that I write about people who’ve “given freely of time, thought, affection…” and I don’t always paint those people flatteringly. Instead, I write my experiences of the hypocrite boyfriend, hated mother, and doctor who mis-administered shock therapy, or whatever the equivalents of those are in my life.

I understand the hurt of Aurelia Plath, and I’m sorry for it.

I’ve been writing this blog for years now, and I’ve enjoyed the sense of connectedness I feel when someone texts me saying that something I wrote was good or that it resonated with them, but I’ve also hated the feeling I get when someone texts me saying that something I wrote hurt them… or maybe nobody even texts me, but two years later, I find out that so-and-so has been upset at me ever since I wrote… whatever it is that I wrote.

I’m tired.

No matter how I tried not to offend, I offended. It started way back when my roommate accidentally squirted a bunny in the face with water from a hose, and somehow the story I wrote about it hurt her feelings. I guess I didn’t make it clear enough that she’s not a bunny-hating evil person. I really just thought the story was blog-worthy because it included pictures of a tiny bunny.  It never once occurred to me that my story of calling around and finding an animal rescue that would take in a bunny that somehow, unbeknownst to us, hopped into our yard would ever be viewed as an insulting story about roommate.

But that’s the way it goes.

I offended with a post I wrote about how I think baptisms should be. I offended with posts about silly things and posts about serious things. I offended by accidentally revealing secrets that I didn’t know were secrets. I offended multiple people who I felt pretty confident didn’t even read my blog. I offended with theology and humor and even my own sadness… I honestly can’t seem to write anything without hurting somebody’s feelings.

This space was originally created as a refuge. It’s Dorothy Jane’s “Sanctuary from the Storm.” I began writing here when I was “riffed”/laid-off from my job. I began because I’d always wanted to write and I wanted a writing space that was mine. However, the longer I write here, the less this space feels like it’s mine. It seems like the purpose of writing here has been defeated and swallowed up by the needs of real life relationships.

I’m telling you this, because this is going to be my last post here, and it seems rude to leave the room without a wave or a nod goodbye. I think it’s time I start afresh. In a new space. Where nobody knows my name.

Thank you for reading. A few of you have stuck with this blog for something like eight or nine years. I’ve never really understood what kept any of you reading, but I thank you for the “time, thought, and affection.” Now, you’ll unfortunately need to call me up and talk to me if you want a life update. 😉