There's a great crime series by LynDee Walker featuring the character Nichelle Clarke. Ms. Walker is a former award-winning journalist, so it’s no surprise her first character is also a journalist. Nichelle is witty, loves Christian Louboutin shoes, and has a penchant for getting herself into trouble while investigating stories. Nichelle immerses herself in every story she investigates. She doesn’t do it for the headline; she does it for the people involved. Telling the story is paramount.
When the time comes for her to write the big story, she finds it difficult to insert her own story into the narrative. Having studied journalism, she knows her perspective isn’t what’s important, most of the time.
She’s there to report the facts.
But when your story is a big part of what happened, when you’re the breaking news, the big exclusive, your perspective is vital. You have to say what happened and tell all from your point of view.
Anne Lamott once said, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people want you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
I think of this every time I write a story about something that’s happened in my life, when it includes another person. Even if I feel someone has wronged me, I still feel bad about saying negative things about other people. But our stories are just that, our stories. We own everything that’s happened to us, good and bad. We are participants in our lives, just as much, if not more so, than the people who are players in our lives.
Even if you're not a writer, telling your stories in an effort to heal yourself and help others is a good way to get the ball rolling. No one has the right to tell you that you're not allowed to espouse the bad parts, simply because they include someone else. Sure, there are at least two sides to every story, but you can rest assured, they'll tell their version too. The point isn't to counteract what they have to say. People will believe what they choose, regardless of where you stand.
But if you can help yourself and potentially others in the process of working through life, there's no reason why you shouldn't. When people make the choice to treat you how they do, it's no longer your responsibility to protect their reputation.
“Once you make an event into a story, it’s no longer something that just happened to you. It becomes yours. You control it.” — Gina Barreca
When we live something it’s ours to tell. Whether we speak our truth to heal ourselves, to help others, or for any other reason, it’s our truth the moment it happens to us. How we heal from trauma is our choice. No one, especially not the people who’ve traumatized us, may tell us how we can heal.
Society doesn’t get a say either.
It doesn't matter what the trauma is you've endured, how you choose to heal it belongs to you along with the story. Writing can be one of the most helpful ways to work through healing ourselves, whether we share it with the world or put it in a journal.
We should never be afraid to speak our truth, to own our stories, to do whatever necessary to heal ourselves.
Spending our lives feeling shame for what we’ve been through only adds to the trauma we’ve endured. Don’t allow your abuser, society, or anyone else to keep you from healing. Don’t allow yourself to keep you from healing.
Speak your truth, write your story, heal yourself.