Telling your life story is a way to embrace and validate yourself.Putting your life on a page, word by word, deed by deed, is a huge task unless you are six years old or younger. Just going through the motions of self disclosure suggests that your life has value, enough to bother someone else’s eyes and brain for a while. I don’t believe that it’s narcissistic either. It’s not like your self disclosure means that other lives are less important or valuable. Nope, not at all. Actually, self disclosure allows for more connection with another person. Being known implies being vulnerable, however, and hurt folks don’t want to be hurt again, so they choose not to be known.
When I was a kid, my buddies and I hunted for snakes, lizards, birds, turtles, frogs, and anything we could catch in the woods beyond our cookie cutter neighborhood. “Turtle hunting” would be a misrepresentation of an oxymoron; it’s more like “turtle shopping”. You see one, you pick it up. Once I would pick up a box turtle, it would close up with a sighing noise, as if it were exhaling in order to get its pulply bulk into the protective custody of its shell. I’d take these turtles home and put them in a laundry basket or a cardboard box and wait for them to open. Rarely did they ever comply. I’d go in the house to get a drink or go to the bathroom, and what do you know? the turtle would have vamoosed somehow. Houdinis every one. They didn’t want to be known, cooked, or eaten, I suppose. They could not know in their little reptilian brains that I was not a predator
I never expected these turtles to talk to me. Rather, I wanted to see their eyes and watch them eat and blink, okay, maybe say a few words. Little kids believe in the souls of other creatures. My oldest daughter used to play with worms of all things when she was little. She’d talk with invisible friends too. I guess that’s what you get forced into when you are an only child with no close playmates or cousins. My middle daughter told all of her secrets to a guinea pig named Oreo. It must be a genetic gift. Further along the road of life, however, it’s important to be known, to attach to other humans. Turtles, worms, guinea pigs, and most humans do not get this being known thing.
My buddy Clark spent a year of Fridays telling me his life story. It is a wild ride and too big for today’s post. So let me go back to the typical client. “My story is boring or pathetic or goofy or something negative.” Rarely does anyone think their story is worthy, maybe because they struggle with self worth. Hmmmmm, that must be it. “My story is whining and in my family whining or even self examination was not permitted.” “You want to cry? I’ll give you something to cry about.” We’ve heard some of these lines in t.v. shows. Some of us have heard them in person during preschool years. Yeah, the silence usually starts there. Silence reduces the contact points where pain pulses.
“My story is not important enough to tell.” or “It’s too terrible; no one would believe it anyway.” No, every story has its unique parts and twists, just like each tree in the woods has its own grain, knots, injuries, rot patterns and variations. This is something that my buddy Clark has taught me. See, he works with all sorts of wood and makes tables and plates and vases and bowls out of the weirdest wood you can imagine. Because of his gnarled past, I think, he looks for the story in each piece of wood that he works. Silently in his workshop he pulls the story out of each piece of wood with his chisels, sandpaper, waxes, and patience. In essence, he validates and honors the hunks of wood, revealing their beauty. It’s remarkable.
Telling your story requires vulnerability and trust and transparency and courage. It’s not for whimps or shrimps. And you, Blogee? Have you told your story yet?