I’ve been listening to a lot to talk of telling your story. When we write and tell our stories, we own them. Our stories become grounding and good for our souls. But the Stories We Live are tricky to tell when they involve other people and you wonder, what are the rules there?
The primary question I heard, and have asked myself, is what impact will this story have on the other people in my story and in my life ? And here are the answers I’ve heard. If you need to tell your story, tell it. Don’t worry if anyone will read it because you might not show it to anyone afterwards. But the story needs to come out of you. It’ll fester until it does.
You also need to never share a story that you haven’t resolved. Stories that are still being written, need to stay private. The story won’t serve you or your audience if you are asking them to help you heal it thanks to Brene Brown for that insight). And on the same note, we may also need to heal our life’s relationships with the people in our lives for it to be worth telling. Healing is interesting.
I always loved the quote from Anne Lamott,”Write like your parents are dead.”
And then she added, this,“Remember that you own what happened to you. If your childhood was less than ideal, you may have been raised thinking that if you told the truth about what really went on in your family, a long bony white finger would emerge from a cloud and point to you, while a chilling voice thundered, “We *told* you not to tell.” But that was then. Just put down on paper everything you can remember now about your parents and siblings and relatives and neighbors, and we will deal with libel later on.”
Unresolved anger and resentment aren’t very interesting. You can change people’s names but they’ll still know who they are. Or maybe you need truly no longer care about that person if you commit to telling about them. The bottom line is that you still have to get it out of you. So this will be a matter of editing not of writing.
I found that the stories I had to tell about my sad sack childhood made me sorry for myself but didn’t empower me in any way. I was passing the blame back when I needed to no longer be defined by it at all. Everyone is doing their best at any given time. And as a writer, the best story I have to tell is the truthiest story I have in me.
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