“At some point you will be knocked to the ground. Every one of us will.” With that statement, Sandra Marinella starts her book titled The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss. (2017. New World Library: CA).
I came across this book last week while perusing Amazon for books on writing, so I bought it. Thinking about my own “trauma, illness, or loss” stories, it was easy to relate to the urgency of “needing to tell.” Especially at this holiday season when we naturally meet with or think about family and friends.
Having just completed my annual Christmas update of my family of origin’s “data sheet” (addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, birth dates, anniversaries, and deaths), I was sobered to add yet another sister in the “deaths” column. Preceding her were my brother, one other sister, and three brothers-in-law. So, of the original ten of us, five siblings with five spouses, only four remain.
As I struggled with Excel to get everyone’s names–almost 100–in the proper boxes, memories came to me of years ago when I was growing up in the parsonage with my siblings, and then after we were married and raising our children, and then as grandparents. Some memories, as Marinella states, knocked me to the ground–phone calls announcing cancers, other serious illnesses or life-changing events, and deaths.
I’ve written about most of these things at one time or another, so I liked Marinella’s goal for this book: “to teach you how to find and use your stories and your writing to make your difficulties not only manageable but meaningful.” (p. 6).
Finding meaning in our negative experiences is always a challenge. It’s easier to just grumble about them and sing a “poor me” song. But Marinella reminds us we can deal with bad things that happen to us by “rewriting our shattered stories.” Through the process of writing the thoughts and feelings stuck within us, we can gain insights into ourselves that in turn will “empower us to experience profound personal growth.” (p. 6).
Simply stated–writing down our hurts is therapeutic. Continuing to write them down will propel us from writing to the bad experience to writing through the experience until eventually we will emerge on the other side, free to be, with God’s help, whomever we choose to be.
So, as the holidays flash by, if you feel like you’re being “knocked to the ground,” STOP, take ten minute breaks, and begin writing your stories. For guidance along the way, you, too, can order The Story You Need to Tell.
Whatever you do, give the present to yourself of not staying stuck.