was a little girl I would write stories to myself in my mind, narrate thoughts
and actions. I would mix truth with fiction. "As my sister walks away I
feel her anger and want desperately to run to her, hold her, and tell
her the truth. That I love her more than life, and that my
actions--which had hurt her heart--were meant only to keep her safe. But
I had to be strong, and so I let her walk away angry. For her. Because I
love her more." I would think this storyline when I'd said something
snotty and had hurt her feelings.
Part of the narrative was true of course, I wanted to hug her and say sorry. But the reason I didn't say sorry had nothing to do with kindness or strength, and everything to do with fear of admitting I wasn't always "the nice one". As a young girl I knew the value of storytelling, even if I was often using it to lie to myself.
I would also make wishes and then quickly clarify. "I wish I had pretty hair like that girl," I'd think. And then quickly I'd follow up even louder in my mind with,"But I want to keep my family and my personality and my home and have my life. So I only want her pretty hair if I can keep that stuff. Otherwise, no thank you." I'd seen plenty of "be careful what you wish for" stories. As a young girl I knew that stories became reality, and I was careful. Intentional. Even if I was mostly careful to avoid change.
All of my life I have craved and valued stories. Putting storytellers up on a pedestal has been a lifelong habit. While peers were imagining make-out sessions with Johnny Depp or Alyssa Milano, I was crafting intelligent, well written, hopefully impressive letters to my favorite authors. Imagining chatting with them as equals and swapping smart ideas and insightful observations.
And I began sharing with others. First with family, and then with strangers. I learned to know more than only myself through my stories and began to know the world. To see society's hand in raising me, in raising my sons. And to see our hand in affecting society.
Always, I use my stories to discover answers, and always I discover them. Though--wonderfully!-- through the years the answers change.
I invite you to join me on this journey. To tell your stories (whether narrated in your head, written in letters, or told to friends over coffee) with intention. To use them wisely and see their value.
For those of you interested in spending a little time in my stories, I invite you to check out my new book, Spinning In Circles and Learning From Myself: A Collection of Stories that Slowly Grow-Up. Poverty, parenting, autism, sexual assault, mixed race relations--these are all issues I discover my thoughts and answers on, and I'm pleased with most of my discoveries.
Yet, more than anything, I want to know more. To learn more, to gather more stories from different lives and different families. From you, your neighbor, your uncle, and your teenage dog-walker.
So please always feel free sharing your stories!
But I encourage you also to be intentional and honest. Our stories are powerful, and together they create the world we live in.