Pulling Out the Positive

Those who know me know my past. I don’t make it a secret. I don’t wallow or dwell, though I can’t help but carry it with me every day. I do my best to honor it, honor him, accept and learn. It has shaped me as a person, as a writer, as a mother and wife. As a daughter and sister. Embracing the tragedy of my past rather than shunning it, I believe, gives me the freedom to be truly happy. We can’t hide from what has been. It is my devout belief that pulling a positive out of any negative lessens the impact and the power of any tragedy. I have pulled, and continue to  pull, positives out of every negative. The facets are as intriguing as they are beautiful. Maybe even divine.

Since the day he died, Brian has been part of every story I write in some way. Just now, I was working on Waking Savannah, and the absolute truth of that fact hit me right in the belly.

Slumping back in her chair, she blew out a deep breath. Drew in another. Let it go. If Benny and Johanna and half the town knew her story, she had been oblivious to it. No one brought it up, not even after her alter-ego became common knowledge. Conversation did not hush the moment she walked into a gathering.

It happened all the time after Brian died, whenever I walked into a room. All eyes turned to me, pitying and compassionate, and all conversation stopped. It never mattered if they were talking about me or not, because the result was the same. It hurt every time. I did not want to be identified as “that poor girl.” Years later, I would come to understand that from this negative, I pulled out the positive decision of not being her. I became the woman who survived, who thrived, who found happiness after grief. Brian’s children always knew him, and not because of tears and grief. He was Daddy-Brian, not just to his two biological children, but to the two kids I had with Frank. We remembered him with happiness, included him in our lives. How else does one honor the beloved deceased?

And still, that old feeling lingers to this day to a lesser degree, when someone first finds out I had a life before this one. That I was a wife and mother and widow before I turned twenty-two. The instant pity/compassion. The “that must have been really hard.” What does one say to that? “It was.” Plain and simple. But I always fluster, because that “poor girl” gets thrown off every time. “It was a long time ago.” “I try not to dwell.” “Shut the fuck up, you know nothing, Jon Snow.” Okay, so I don’t say the last one out loud, but sometimes…sometimes it’s hard not to lash out. I want to tell those kind souls who have no idea the nerve they’ve tapped not to look at me like that. I can’t stand the pity. I overcame my past to make a freaking amazing life. Don’t throw me back there again, dammit! Not even for a moment of heartfelt compassion.

Writing that line this morning really hit me, which is why I took a break from the story to write this post. I needed to get it out of my head. It’s not like I didn’t know I was writing this piece of myself into Savannah. Like all my characters, she has been a facet of me from inception. It was the visceral response I had to that bolded line above that got me, all these years later.

Unlike me, Savannah kept her past secret for many years, but will she continue along my path? Well, I know the answer to that; you’ll have to wait a year and five months. But I bet you can guess.


Filed under Romance, Writing is Life

15 responses to “Pulling Out the Positive

  1. Beautiful post from a beautiful, strong woman!
    It is hard for people we know and love (or didn’t) to keep out of our stories yet either way their importance cannot be denied. People never really leave us as along as a memory exists.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Terri-Lynne DeFino

    Thank you, Lynn. I am often astounded, when doing a read-back or revisions, by how much of myself, my life, my loved ones, actually made it into the book without me ever actively knowing.


  3. You’re a daily inspiration, Terri. I hope I grow up to be as wise and fabulous as you. (((((((((((((((((((((((Terri)))))))))))))))))))

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We are all the sum total of our past experiences, the positives and the negatives. I think a someone only needs to know you for about five minutes to realize your positive column far exceeds your negative. And that rarely just “happens” to a person. A person (you) makes that happen. Rock on.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Terri-Lynne DeFino

    Thanks so much, Maura. That means a lot to me.


  6. Don has a phrase: “Everything gets used.” It’s true. But it’s one thing to fictionalize an incident from your life and another thing altogether to be able to express the inexpressible. It takes a generosity of spirit that not everyone is capable of. You are. It’s a great gift. Thank you for sharing your gift with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You are amazing. That is all. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love when those real feelings mix with the fictional ones. It’s a guarantee that you’ll get some real emotion on the paper because you feel it inside your heart. Sounds like a good, intimate moment between you and your work. Excited for this last book in the series!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Thanks, Sharon. We have these moments a lot, I think. Sometimes, you just have to acknowledge them or they’ll bug the crap at of you all day.


  9. **It’s not like I didn’t know I was writing this piece of myself into Savannah. Like all my characters, she has been a facet of me from inception.**

    This. And even when a reference begins unconsciously (as they often do) there comes a point where we notice. We are our past & allowing it informs our present & shapes the future. If we change the way we deal with sadness & if we use the experiences wisely, chances they will enhance our writing.

    Bright blessings & love, dear Terri


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