07 November 2011

Telling Our Stories

The Sun Singer - Allerton Park
Just last week I ended regular therapy sessions with the fabulous person I've been seeing for nearly five years.  It was time - I knew it - we'd discussed it over several months, but only just bringing the idea into the room and then allowing it to be there.  Only on the day of our last appointment did I appreciate that it really was fine for it to BE the last appointment.  And that session flowed forward around the decision.

As expected, the Gatekeepers who accompany me through every day came forward in the days following to attempt their usual sabotage, to harass my adult attempts to allow the necessary grief, and to plant the seeds of fear in my child-self.  Yet their attempts to derail me, as I move into a life that doesn't include regularly scheduled sessions,  are weaker than previously.  Perhaps I've "made friends" with them after all. A wonderful teacher once said that this process of friendship with the Gatekeepers frees us to see them for who and what they really are - messengers of protection that we once needed but now can function without.

Or possibly the power of these Gatekeepers to push me into the swirl of worry, of self-doubt, of draining and tiring judgment of my thoughts and actions is weakened because I - instead of closing myself off from others as they want me to do - instead chose to share this important choice and its attendant emotions WITH others.  I told the story, and continue to do so in conversation and interaction with those I care for, and who care for me.

Telling the story to others - allowing them to hear our sadness or anger, our ambivalence (which is quite dominant in this situations), our fear, our joy - is what permits the emotions to move in and through us.  In telling this story (to my wonderful story telling group - among others) not only did my emotions become accessible, but I was able to see this ending in context - as part of the flow of growth and change in my life.  Somehow - for me - experiences of depth and soul do not become 'real' until I tell about them.  Oh, the Gatekeepers hate that - hate my facing reality.  But then they aren't in charge anymore, so too bad.

Telling my story to the group, rather than reading a story I've written (what I usually do) also illuminated that I just might be a storyteller.  I've wondered if I might have the skills of a teller as well as a writer, and telling this to the group confirms - well, at least sends a strong maybe into consciousness.

Recently Louisville received the gift of a regular Moth Story Slam.  For years I've listened to The Moth on NPR, and fantasized about going to the closest slam (Chicago).  Now, voila!, I can attend a Story Slam each month.  Why am I telling you this?  Well, as you can guess, I may put my name 'into the hat' to tell a story this coming month.  After my experience with the small group, this seems like a next logical step - get on stage, tell my story, and be open to the response of an audience.  It may not be THIS story (at least not this month - when the Story Slam theme is "Busted"), but then I've got plenty of other stories to tell that fit this theme.

Will I do well when I do this?  Will the audience come along with me as I tell?  Will I cry, or become confused, or forget the next part (since stories must be told without notes)?  I guess we'll find out.  What I know now is that telling my stories is important for me.  And maybe it's as important for others to hear them as it is for me to tell.

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