Monday, September 21, 2015

Finding the strength to tell my story

I am writing my story. Why am I doing it? I simply need to work through a childhood I don't always understand, I'm not always okay with, yet still I'm frequently uplifted by. I have a need to be heard, so I speak, and write. If no one is listening, reading, understanding or caring, at least I'm sending it out. Each time I give some thought or feeling or painful memory a home–a space to go that is outside of me– I can breathe a little easier. 

The story of my life may get jumbled or mis-remembered, but it's the emotional memory that guides me and binds me to the multi-dimensional fragments of life and truth. It all may seem confusing and overwhelming and sticky, but I know that if I keep at it, in time I will transcend this massive task. 

I read a lot of memoir, I actively seek out other life stories on a regular basis in order to give myself the strength I need to continue. This is one such story that moved me, this TED Talk from 2012. 

Lemn Sissay is a notable poet in the UK. His story is shocking and humbling to the (surely past) foster care system of the 60's. Lemn is prolific, and inspiring. 

Much can be taken away from this talk depending on who you are–it could be totally different from the person standing next to you. So much of what Lemn spoke about moved me, though I have not been an orphan, a foster child, a ward of the state, or a minority. Some interested in policy and advocacy may look to this account as a means to change. For me, what he's done here, is give me strength.

What right does anyone have to tell their story? I would argue, they are made of their story and so it is theirs to tell, as they have experienced it. It's important to note that sharing our life experience should never be to lay blame, but to unite us, one to another. Saying this is what I saw, what I did, what was done to me, what I felt, how I survived, who I am. 

As for Lemn, he is resilience personified. 

Aside from the great empathy and love I hold for this man, I feel unlimited respect for what he's been through and how he's come through it so eloquently. 
Sparked with Lemn Sissay
Photo by Emma Crouch, Flickr


I connected with these words; 

"I'm reporting back. I'm reporting back simply to say that when I left the children's home I had two things that I wanted to do. One was to find my family, and the other was to write poetry. In creativity I saw light.In the imagination I saw the endless possibility of life, the endless truth, the permanent creation of reality, the place where anger was an expression in the search for love, a place where dysfunction is a true reaction to untruth."

Lemn's talk, to me, illustrates the universal healing power of story, of gleaning forward motion from understanding the past in order to infuse it into strength to go on–no matter what happens.

I too, am reporting back. 

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