Story Medicine for Justice, Healing, and Love
Story work is Justice work.
The dominant culture tells a very small story about who we are an who we get to be. Coming into an honest relationship with our stories unlocks key resources that allow us to challenge the dominant culture’s narrative. Story is how we experience, shape, and therefore change our personal and collective realities. Owning our story moves us from passive characters in someone else’s stories, to active authors of the world we want to create.
Story work is Healing work.
Speaking our stories out loud makes them tangible and thus frees us from having to keep quiet and stay hidden. Speaking our stories out loud allows us to see new possibilities and make new meaning. Speaking our stories out loud lets us know we are not alone.
Story work is Love work.
Story is belonging. It’s how we make our personal and collective identities. It’s how we make meaning of our history. It’s how we build bridges to connect with others.
I believe that we need more true stories. Deeper, more nuanced stories. Stories that make space for all of us and include the whole range of our experiences and emotions. Stories that normalize our challenges and release us from the shame we feel about not being good enough. We need Story Medicine.
I believe that our stories are tender and we need safe community spaces where we can bear witness to and support each other in the good, hard work we do.
I believe that being truly seen is a gift that can change the course of a life.
I believe you are doing the very best you can.
I believe that we need to tell these stories to each other.
And I want you to know that you are not alone.
I want you to know that your story matters.
This is a story I need to hear myself.
My transition to motherhood was incredibly challenging. I was so paralyzed by what I thought I “should” be doing that even in the moments when things were ok, I couldn’t fully enjoy them. I was always on edge, full of anxiety because I knew that at any moment the baby would start crying again. And my brain only ever interpreted those cries as saying, “You are a failure. You are failing me.” And if only I were a better parent, I would be able to get my baby to sleep, and use cloth diapers, and always eat organic, and give her my undivided attention at every minute of every day.
And then one day I picked up the camera to share how she looked with the friend who gave us the outfit she was wearing. When I looked at her through the lens, it was like seeing her for the first time. The guilt and frustration melted away. I stopped seeing her as a problem to be solved and simply saw her in all her her-ness.
And this is the story I am compelled to tell.
When I was a child, my father suffered from bipolar disorder with a side of narcissism. As a result, he was unable and unwilling to see me clearly. When I was with him I was negated. My own needs, wants, and personality glossed over. Unseen. I tried over and over again to assert my own sense of self, to advocate for myself, to be seen. But because it never worked, or worked for long, I also had to learn how to disappear, shut down, and go numb so as to avoid the pain of wanting. Asserting my will made him incredibly angry so it became safer to disappear. Needless to say, it was a hard way to be a kid. And yet, this experience also taught me how to look at a person and see what was really going on. How to truly see someone and know what they are feeling. How to pay attention. How to look deeper into the heart of who they really are.
When we create a broader story of real life, we can see that we’re ok just as we are. We are not alone. We can stop striving to be anything else and just love each other in the best way we can in each moment (even if many moments don’t look the way we thought they would).
Together let’s look right into the center of our hearts.
Together let’s have deep conversations about things that really matter.
Together let’s work to disrupt the dominant culture’s limiting narrative.
Together let’s work to create new stories that are personally meaningful and fulfilling.