Telling stories

I turned 28 last week.

I meant to write a blog post on that day. Something heartfelt or meaningful or even something simple but still something.

But between packing, cleaning, moving, unpacking, and attempting to get back into some semblance of normal amidst the chaos in our new house, I haven’t had a single second to sit down, let alone blog.

(I miss writing.)

In thinking back to the past year of my life, one theme weaved throughout: telling stories.

My 27th year was spent telling my stories. I told stories in therapy. I told stories to my husband. I told stories to my family. I told stories to my friends. Some stories were about my grandpa, and about my grief. Some stories were from years ago. But all were ones I hadn’t expected to need to tell.

Over and over again, this year, I spoke the chapters of my life until I could breathe again.

I first reached out. To those ones. I made coffee dates and dinner dates. I shamelessly invited myself over. I texted. I embraced being real.

And then over the next few weeks: I sat in a friend’s living room with her and her toddler. I sat in the passenger’s seat of a friend’s car. I sat across from a friend in a coffee shop. I FaceTimed friends. I talked on the phone. I snuggled under blankets with a friend in her living room and she looked into my eyes and it filled me with love and compassion, and said, “I am just hear to listen to whatever you want to say. And it is so safe, that you can even look me right in the eye as you say it.”

One evening with a friend, we ate and laughed and talked work and life. And then as the hours passed, darkness fell, everything quieted down, and I began to speak. “The thing is,” I said. “The more I keep something quiet, the more I don’t talk about it, the more the days and months and years pass without me speaking of it, the bigger it gets inside of me. Until it becomes this huge big awful  secret, but really, it isn’t. And I need it to not be that anymore.”

“Just say it,” she told me. “You’ll feel so much better once you do.”

And so I did.

A text she sent me the next day contained these words: “I refrained, as you should, from calling it a secret. It’s not and when you call it that you give it far more power than it deserves. It’s your story and for good or bad it’s part of what makes you you. It doesn’t define you as you are in control of that.”

Yes. So much yes to that. I have held onto those words.

My secrets are out, and they are no longer secrets. They are just pages in chapters of the book of my life. We all have stories, and there is no reason – none – to keep them hidden as secrets.

27 was the end of secrecy. I want to spend 28 continuing to tell stories. To more friends, to more people, to the blogosphere. I am learning so damn much from talking.

Like:

It’s freeing. It’s shame-dissolving.

The details matter, but they also don’t.

Talking doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing.

It brings you closer to the ones you speak it to.

People understand, even if they don’t understand.

May we all continue to tell our stories and be freed in doing so. May we allow our friends to hold us – figuratively and literally. May we allow ourselves to heal. May we release everything into the wind. May we continue to speak until we can breathe. May we all make that shift from secrets to stories.

Author
Speech-Language Pathologist. Nature-loving, book-reading, coffee-drinking, mismatched-socks-wearing, Autism-Awesomeness-finder, sensitive-soul Bostonian.

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