August 5, 2013

My Story is Your Story.

I am constantly affected by the personal stories I hear.

We are affected and influenced by every experience, interaction and event that we involve ourselves in during our lifetime. Our histories and stories are interconnected and interwoven, whether we recognize it or not.

Our differing perspectives are what make our stories unique from someone else’s.

Sometimes we are brave enough to share our stories with others, sometimes not so much. Sharing our stories can create vulnerabilities, and I’m sure we’ve all had our own experiences of sharing with others, only to be criticized, not listened to or invalidated. Some of us close up when that happens, keeping our stories tight to our chest—protecting them and ourselves—resisting those urges to share and make ourselves vulnerable once again.

The point is that the sharing can be risky and it takes trust, courage and grit to do so.

My professional life as a counselor and yoga teacher allows me to bear witness daily to the strength and bravery of people from all walks of life, experiencing life’s difficulties— the challenges, hurts, tragedies, new beginnings, joy, hopes, achievements—you name it, I am fortunate enough to hear it first hand.

In essence, I am moved everyday. How many people can say that?

I get it to hear it all—the part of people’s lives that they’ve held in and, sometimes, never, until here on my sofa, in my office, have they spoken about it until now.

Here we sit, the storyteller and myself—as their witness to their story. I am, so often, in awe of the human spirit, the courage and triumph, the resiliency and the heroism that people employ daily in their quest to live the life they know they are meant to live.

I’ve played with and made memory books with children and teens who, unfortunately, have lost parents to death suddenly and tragically.

Couples working hard to overcome infidelity and generate the hope and trust in each other and their relationship they once had.

I’ve spent time with adults who had not yet processed previous or childhood trauma and are finally ready to unload it from the baggage being carried so that their current relationships can be healthy and fulfilling.

Chronic illness, drug abuse, mental illness—all find themselves in my office. Although labeled, each story is unique and special and deserves to be heard, shared, and valued.

Sometimes the stories just need to be heard—to be finally spoken out loud for validation and confirmation.

Sometimes, new meanings of the stories are desired. “How can I think about this differently, so that I can find strength?” Here is where the storyteller and the witness, myself, co-create a new story—perhaps a preferred story.

Typically, our stories and the meanings that we make from them are only based on parts of our lives. When we re-write our story, we look for proof in our lives that “flies in the face” of the story we no longer want. We make new meanings when we need to find hope, courage, strength and confidence again.

I feel incredibly humbled by the trust in me and in the process. Digging up past trauma and squashed hopes, can be scary, and then to find words for this, makes it feel insurmountable for some. However, when this does happen, the long overdue physiological and emotional release allows for space for new beginnings.

I absolutely love these moments.

It’s in these moments that the personal stories, histories and experiences of others’ become a part of my own. I feel them, just as I would my own, and I hold them, just as I would my own.


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Ed: Sara Crolick

{photo: via Pinterest}


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