Actually

After I made a comment to a friend the other day, she said, as if to herself, “Actually.” Then she smiled, not derisively, but in delight.

“Did I say “actually” too many times?” I asked. “I actually do have a tendency to overuse the word.”

She responded, “No, I like it. It’s not a word you hear that often.”

Well, if you hang around me, you will actually hear “actually” a lot. Since I actually do overuse the word, I actually have to go through my manuscripts try to edit “actually” out of my work. (See List From Hell to see what other words I tend to overuse.)

I’d actually never realized I had an actual problem until I once played back a blog radio show where I’d been interviewed. And there it was . . . actually. Actually, there were a lot of “actually”s. I don’t remember how many times I said “actually” in that half-hour segment, but enough that by the time the program ended, I was actually appalled.

The next time I was on blog radio being interviewed, I was very careful with my “actually”s. For a while, I actually tried to censor my everyday speech, but somewhere along the way I actually forgot, so now I’ve reverted to overusing the word “actually. Actually, now that I think of it, I even forgot to de-actually my last couple of finished manuscripts.

I actually don’t know why I use the word so much. It could be from my need to always set the record straight, but I don’t know for sure, actually.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Open Letter to Blog Readers

To Whom it May Concern:

This is my blog, and I am allowed to say whatever I wish. When I first began blogging, the posts were impersonal — comments about the books I was reading, the books I was writing, and writing hints I garnered along the way.

mailboxThen, after the death of my life mate/soul mate, I got personal, very personal, explaining everything I was going through. Some people took offense at this, and I endured well-meaning suggestions to “get over it” because I knew my posts were helping people.

Now that my sorrow and loneliness treat me much gentler, I still write about how I am feeling and what I am doing about those feelings. The problem is that people I have met offline read my blog occasionally, which was not the case in the beginning, so I have been censoring some of my posts to make sure I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Well, apparently, I have gotten some backs up anyway, so no more censoring.

If you are upset by anything I say, remember, this is not necessarily about your truth. It’s about my truth. If I feel slighted, why shouldn’t I mention the slight especially if I don’t use your name? The only time I ever use anyone’s name is if the person is well known or an author who could use a bit of publicity, and so far, none of them feel hurt by anything I have said. If you don’t like what I write, if you take it personally, don’t read this blog. If you know me at all, you know I never knowingly hurt people. But I cannot sort out my truth if I don’t mention the things that trigger a spate of emotionalism or a feeling of unbelonging.

And there are a whole lot of triggers.

So what if I still have a hard time being around coupled people? That’s my problem, not yours. So what if I still feel lonely and sorrowful after six years? That too is my problem, not yours. The truth is, missing one’s mate is something that lasts a lifetime. Think of all the good things (and bad) you have experienced during the past six years of your couplehood. Well, guess what? I haven’t had any of those experiences. I have done a lot of interesting things, but no matter what I do, what I experience, how I grow or stagnate, I do alone because my mate is gone. And if that still affects me, what difference does it make to you?

I’m not asking you to feel sorry for me. I’m not asking you to make allowances. I’m not even asking you to notice what I am going through. But here’s a hint: if you don’t want me to write about what affects me, then don’t do things that affect me adversely.

I am a writer. Everything anyone does to me or around me belongs to me and provides ink for my pen.

***

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)