Men + Myself + God

Tag: stories

There is Medicine in Story (#31writenow, #nablopomo)

by P. Braithwaite

My childhood friend, Marie, sits beside me on the pavement. We are outside of my parent’s house, getting ready to go back to our respective homes. I didn’t expect to see her, but it’s a nice surprise. She pushes her fiery-red hair out of her face and kicks dried leaves around with her designer sneakers. Our shoulders touch. We joke and laugh a bit – pretending it hasn’t been over a year.

“I didn’t make it to your last birthday party,” I offer when there’s a lull in the conversation. “I was kinda going through a difficult time.”

She drags a leaf across the curb with her foot, and I explain that, while she was planning her party, I was separating from an ex-boyfriend and his complicated drug addiction. I gloss over the details, but I share what she needs to know: it was hard to witness a loved one’s undoing.
She lets me speak, she doesn’t judge, and so I share a little more. I talk about anxiety and subsequent panic attacks. I’ve told this story before, in writing and in therapy, but today my story is an apology and a plea. If I could’ve shown up at her party, I would have.

“I had no idea,” she says.

“Yeah,” I offer a weak smile. “Shit happens.”

She laughs at my crass comment, but I am serious. Shit happens. Really stressful and uncomfortable shit happens every day. We are all walking warriors, moving through our lives, and the micro-battles we face stretch us and often test our limits. We are souls having an often confusing human experience, but if I can manage to remember that shit happens, I find the lesson and am able to move forward (sometimes with some time, some therapy, and some good friends).
“I went through a hard time, too,” she explains once I’ve finished. “The summer was really really hard.”
The sun has started to set, and there’s a bit of frost in the air as she tells me about her ex. She shares her journey through abuse, stalking and her decision to finally leave. She tells me about the restraining order and the process of testifying against someone she used to love.

“I went through it all alone,” she says. “I’m proud of myself, but it was tough.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Embarrassment,” she counters. “I haven’t told anyone. I probably wouldn’t have told you if you hadn’t shared your story.”

We both sit in silence, connected by the knowledge that no one suffers alone.

Yes, bad things happen and the goal is to transcend, but the road to collapsing your story is fraught with mixed-emotion. There may be shame in what has happen, or fear of what’s to come, but part of releasing your story involves an exorcism. You’ve got to share it, you’ve got to get it out of your own head. You have to let it out, so that it no longer lives inside of you.
Keep inside only things that you would like to nurture and grow.

There is medicine in sharing your story. There is healing in standing empowered in your story. When you can stand in that space you, unwittingly, become large enough to hold the space for others. Your story, devoid of shame, can help another step into self-acceptance and love.

We all deserve to be heard. There is medicine in both the story and in the kind ears that receive the words.

Today, if you are going through something that feels larger than yourself, share it with someone you trust. Share it with someone who can help you hold the space. Whether a therapist, a coach, or a really good friend, share your story with someone who will listen. We are not our circumstances. The shitty things that happen do not define our true potential. You are larger and more powerful than you could possibly know, and even if you’re not ready to step out of isolation, you’re never ever alone.

Shit happens, but there’s medicine in your story.

Let it out and create the room to heal. 🙂

Psst…I’m away from technology until September 8th, so if you comment I won’t get back to your right away. Sending you love from my retreat. Xoxoxo

SHUT UP ALREADY: The Right to Tell Your Story

by P. Braithwaite

I’m writing this on the subway. I’m tired and irritated and, as if that isn’t enough, I was just bombarded with 15 minutes of religious subway testimonial.

What’s subway testimonial, you ask? Well, it has different forms (sometimes its a crazy woman yelling passages from the bible), but today, an entire gaggle of midwestern Christians came onto the subway and the ring leader (a heavy-set blonde woman wearing a too-tight “believe in God” t-shirt) kept asking the people  in her group, “what’s your story? How’d you come to God?” She said it like she didn’t know their stories, like she was some über cool jazz musician who was bumming a cigarette outside of a bar. It was contrived and awkward and weird.  It was something out of a poorly made public service commercial about the dangers of meth.

It was amusing though. I can say that…

So anyway, off the heavy-set girl went, with her practiced New York attitude, and each young person in her group shared the story of how they came to God. The other people on the subway were captivated and no one seemed to notice the smirk on my face. In the midst of my eavesdropping disinterested smirking, I had the following thought: why are you smirking? How is what they are doing any different than what you do on the blog?  What makes your story worth telling?

I hate when I catch myself being an asshole…

I consoled myself by saying that I don’t trap people on subways and recite blog entries (though I would of I had bigger lady balls), but the truth is we all have a right to tell our stories. We have a right (and maybe an obligation) to stand firmly in our truths and scream them from the mountaintop. Each on teach one, or some shit…

It’s my fear that no one wants to hear my stories or that no one will accept my truth. Smirking at these kids was a silent judgement of myself — see how annoying these kids are, Tia? That’s how people are looking at you. No one wants to hear about God…

So, as I wipe the smirk off my face and lovingly hope those annoying awesome Christian kids enjoy the rest of their “mission trip in Brooklyn,”  I remember the Marianne Williamson quote I heard the other day –every life is a platform.

Every subway is a platform as well, I guess.

How is your life a platform today?