I love stories. Other people’s stories.
What has caught my attention most recently though is, the power in stories. Not just for those who are hearing the story, but for the storyteller.
Maybe I should back up.
What do you mean story?
What makes you, YOU? What is your journey in life? Not just the good, pretty, and sanitized. But the real, the nitty-gritty, ugly, messy. Often those stories are the ones we most need to hear. Rather that most need to be told.
I had not told the ugly side of my story,except a version that was so sanitized that it was hardly recognizable as my own anymore, until recently. I don’t remember how it came out, except it was after church and I was talking with a woman I’d met a few times and it fell out. Not the sanitized version, but a version that let some light in on the mess that is Em.
We got together for coffee later that week and she asked me to retell it. Later on I told my Italian I felt bad, I did all the talking. But my story spilled out of me. The ugly, the messy, the real parts all came out.
It surprised me.
Not that my story had come flying out of my mouth in that way, because I think it was time. My past had been coming back stronger and stronger, haunting me and I found myself rehearsing instances I could go back and change over and over again.
What surprised me was the freedom that I felt in sharing it. The beginnings of the healing of old wounds I had covered and kept hidden.
As I have retold my story, again and again, not always the whole thing, sometimes just parts, I have seen the power it has.
It brings hope to others and I am beginning to be able to face what I have done full on. Not covering it with a filmy, clinging cloak of shame, but pulling it out into the sunlight.
It’s in that sunlight that I’m seeing old wounds healing. Some are turning into scars, but the pain is no longer there. They’ve now become reminders of what I had done, the consequences I now carry, and the freedom I now have.
I don’t compare my story to anyone else’s. I am not them. They are not me. Their story is no more or less powerful, no more or less worthy of telling, of hearing.
Each person is unique and where, how, when and who tells their story and what their story holds is as unique as they are.
The impact depends on the openness of the hearer and their willingness to accept it.
You don’t know how your story will change someone else’s life or change their path.
Be brave, be bold, be humble and tell who you are.
I know I’ve not actually told you my story. I’m working on that. It’s the tension of not over-sanitizing it, but not laying myself completely out there.
The tension of wisdom and innocence. That’s the line I’m trying to find.
Do you have a story that needs to be told?