I’ve been thinking a lot about storytelling recently, having led a storytelling retreat and being deep into a story of my own that has spanned decades. I am realising more acutely that the stories of our lives need to be shared, that to keep them hidden is to discredit and undervalue ourselves.
There is no-one that doesn’t have a story, a life having been lived, a life in progress. A life that is the only one that has travelled this way and in doing so is the only one writing this story. It seems to be so easy though to never tell our stories and for them to live within us like unopened books gathering dust. Perhaps they’re hidden in shame and guilt, perhaps they stay tucked away because we’re afraid of the raw pain they contain. Perhaps we don’t want to walk through the grief that would surface were we to share them.
I’m currently sharing a particular story of my life that has been present for decades. Although it has been spoken before, I have never shared it as I am right now. I’m offering it unedited, raw, as it is for me rather than how it may have been for others within the story. I’m offering it without judging it, without covering up the rage that threads through it, I’m welcoming it ALL, giving it all voice. I’m allowing the parts of it that may feel and behave like a victim, I’m allowing the parts that I may previously have judged as selfish, I’m allowing the parts that may go against cultural convention. It all has a place because it is all present as the story that is mine. It matters… IT MATTERS… our stories matter… deeply, truly, hugely.
I invite you to get present to your own story. May-be there’s something of it that is very alive and present in this moment, perhaps there’s part of it in the past that wants to be revisited so that healing and freedom can come.
Find a safe space to tell it – and that’s really important. It has to be offered into a safe space where it will find welcome without judgement, opinions, advice-giving or criticism. Mine is tumbling out towards two very safe people in my life (one of whom is my own Spiritual Director) but also onto the page in written word, to the trees, fields and the ocean as I swim. I’m connecting with it in my body and letting my body tell the story it needs to tell through movement, breath, shouting, walking, exercising. I’m telling it in my imagination.
Telling our stories with honest, vulnerable authenticity invites others to do the same. Our stories land somewhere out there becoming part of the story of history. They weave and thread with those of our ancestors and become part of the tapestry of what it means to be human. I believe the world wants our stories. I believe that there is power in telling them. I know that as I tell mine I invite Divine Love into every part of it and in that place I am transformed once again, changed into a newer version of myself and set free to become more fully human and therefore more and more alive.
I return to Maya Angelou’s words that have been alive for me…
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.