Thursday, February 28, 2008

I've been reading all kinds of blogs lately, exploring this form, learning how people use it in their personal journies and how they use it to connect. Tonight I found a blog of a mother, recently bereaved of premature twins, who posed an exercise in her blog. She provided readers with a number of wisdom quotes and asked us to chose one which spoke to us, write about it in our own blog, and reference back to her blog so other's could participate. This seems beautiful to me - a chance to share points of information with people I would never otherwise know of. Her link to the inspiratio post is

The inspiration line I chose is “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou

One of the turning points of my life was the chance I had to study with Dr. Karl Kirsch, a psychiatrist who was both scholar and healer. Karl taught me that, when our personal worst happens, our lives as we understand them shatter. What we most need then is to create a new understanding of life, an understanding that incorporates the loss.

That new understanding doesn't fall automatically upon us like gentle rain, or simply sprout with time. We have to fight for it, pull it inch by inch out of the ashes of the old life. And the way we do that, is by telling, telling, and retelling the story of how our world was destroyed and what we make of that destruction. In clinical terms the railure to tell the story enough times to make sense of it contributes to the symptoms of post traumatic stress syndrome. In emotional terms, it results in the pain May Angelou describes when she writes “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” In practical terms, it is these stories, told and untold, which create one of the strongest bonds among humans.

I ride the bus home from work most afternoons and I watch the faces of those who ride with me, sometimes animated in conversation, sometimes weary, sometimes angry or distressed. I am put off by some of the faces, frightened by a mask of toughness or sophistocated reserve. I see jail house tattoos, designer purses, hear snatches or rap music and conservative talk shows through ear phones. I wonder if I have anything in common with these people. Then my fear and isolation fade as I let myself imagine possible stories behind the facial expressions.

Who lost a child, a job, a love, the sense of possibility? Who is rebuilding and who has given up? I know my own stories, those I've told and those I still keep close, afraid or embarrassed to explore and share. I know others can't see my stories in my eyes. I wonder if they wonder about me, and I feel a connection with people to whom I will never speak through the silent presence of our stories.


Mary J. said...

That is a powerful quote, and I am struck by your explanation and inspired writing in response. What a valuable perspective, there on the bus or out on the street, to help one not to judge but instead connect through the known presence of each others unspoken stories. It also makes me appreciate, as you have poignantly shared, how critical it is in both clinical and emotional terms for telling our stories when life shatters – both in a past event and ongoing. I think of our friends Heidi and Brad as they tell their story on their blog. I think of Diana and her search for meaningful ways to share their experience and impact others' lives through it.

Dixi said...

I agree with Maya's quote. I think everyone has to have someone to listen or some way to let the difficult stories of one's life OUT. Otherwise they circle around inside a person and do harm within. Letting the story OUT relieves the pressure. By talking about it or writing about it, one can often find one's own solution or reason or purpose or else, with a good listener, perhaps be helped to find one. A very thought-provoking blog entry.

A.M.S. said...

Thank you so much for taking part! You've written a fantastic, powerful entry.