"but these stories don't mean anything if you've got no one to tell them to"
Brandi Carlisle "The Story"
I don't really 'do' groups very easily. Yeah, I've been a member of a church, and actually got into belonging to the community - I belong to a writer's group, but that's a necessity if you're gonna try to improve as a writer. And once, for two years, I was invested in a group of fellow seekers, people who came together for educational purposes, purportedly each of us was there to earn a degree - but on some level, and once the masks were off, we were all there seeking more than that. But, out of fifty-nine years, that's not a lot of experience or time being a 'member.'
Yet for the past several months I've enthusiastically awaited, prepared for, and dived into a group we call the "storytelling group." It sprang into existence from a workshop on finding the mythic in our own stories, a combination of the creative, the authentic, and the time-honored. The workshop leaders wanted to continue the spirit of what started there, and invited some of us to join a group where we would read, or tell, personal 'stories' in whatever form we wished.
This group doesn't feel like something I have to do - but more like an experience that 'does' me - affects me both in the process of decision about which story to share and in the sharing. It's not therapy - the storytelling group - but often has healing effects. It's purpose is not to critique each others' writing, but many times the responses of others to what we read, or tell, does shine a light on phrases or words, or even tones/ colors in our story. In truth I don't know what the people who had the idea to start the group envisioned as its purpose. Maybe they don't know either.
What I do know is I need to maintain and continue participation in this group. I need witnesses for my stories, people to hold up a mirror, to respond to my vulnerability and authenticity (for I find that these open up readily as I write, and read what I've written) from their own places of depth.
See - I've always looked at my own life as too sad, at the incidents and happenings in it as too small - in short - as worthless. In the group however I am learning the value of even my small stories, and learning too to say "so what if it's sad - it's the truth." In this group stories that I've never been able to tell are showing up. Soul level, and soul filled experiences spill out on the paper as I write - seem to shine with their original luster as I speak them.
It's having someone to tell them to, like the line in the song, that gives our stories meaning. The first line of that song, "All of these lines upon my face tell you the story of who I am," breaks my heart. If we don't share our stories, if we've "got no one to tell them to" they batter at us, wear at us, sink into our skin and our souls, creating an ennui that makes us think we're not ok, not really. In the recalling, the writing down (another form or sharing - with oneself) and the sharing with others the story of who I am enlarges, joins with other stories. Cool.