Today, someone asked me if I ever felt like I’d get to a place where I would no longer feel the need to tell my story. And what would it take for me to get there? I hadn’t thought about it. I’ve spent so much of my life struggling to find the words to express my story that it hadn’t occurred to me that there may come a time when I no longer would feel the need to tell it.
What would that look like?
Sometimes I get to a place where I feel that the story I tell is the same one, over and over and over. I feel like a rat running round and round in circles on my way to nowhere. In the process I get exhausted because there’s nowhere new to go. It’s frustrating.
I believe the reason I tell the same story over and over from different angles, perhaps, but essentially the same facts, is because I am looking for validation; for someone to say that what happened to me really sucked and that my story matters. I want my story to have some influence on other people. Influence. That’s something I lack.
I don’t really know how people gain influence. Maybe when they reach a point where they are able to transcend themselves. But how can you transcend anything when your reality is denied, your story ignored, your voice silenced? So much of my childhood was spent fighting for the right to tell a story that was different from the norm, and struggling to have it be recognized as valid by the people closest to me, my family.
Maybe it will come, that day when I am able to put aside my own trials and tribulations to take on the world head on. I really hope it will. In the meantime, I must keep on telling my story so that it loses its power over me. Through telling it, I am able to witness it from a distance, to draw a narrative that makes sense out of the nonsensical.
Isn’t that why we tell stories in the first place? To take what on the face of it may not make sense at all and weave it together into a coherent whole?
If I were to transcend my own story I would want to devote my life to helping others tell theirs. Because I do believe that in the telling of our lives lies our salvation. This is not about people climbing on soap boxes and devoting themselves to navel gazing. It’s about climbing into the driver’s seat of our lives. We do so by owning our life experience, and we own our experience by the way we name it.
This is what I believe.
In my teens, when I was deeply depressed, one of the scariest parts of my illness was how my memories of my past seemed bullet-ridden, filled with gaps and holes I couldn’t fill for myself. I felt myself dissolving, witnessed it and yet could not seem to stop it from happening.
It was only after the depression lifted that I was able to claim those fragments and started to see connections between them. Some gaps still remain but I no longer live in fear that I will fall into one of them. Instead, I have managed to cobble a path that leads, well, to somewhere.
That I am able to create that path tells me that I am healing. When I am able to walk it without needing to look down, I’ll know that I have transcended it.