My friend Jennifer and I just did a post in our shared blog, Cook Me A Story, about the reading I attended on May 14th, and I feel the need to elaborate on it. The reading made me realize how important it is to tell our stories – honestly and openly.
I read a chapter from my memoir-in-progress. Since I began writing it, I have wondered why anyone would want to read such a story. There is abuse, rape and insanity. There is also humanity, love, laughter and all the other things that make life what it is. In the story, I share my life, my thoughts and my feelings as a fourteen year old girl. To say that there are times when writing these things out have been difficult would be an understatement.
I keep writing, and in the back of my head I keep questioning. Why am I telling this story? I have long since worked through these things. Why am I bringing it all back up?
Then I went to a reading. I read the chapter about being molested by my biological mother’s boyfriend. The audience was silent, caught up in the moment. When I got to the end, there was a mortified pause. Then the applause came – a reaction Jennifer caught in her recording. I walk away from the podium embarrassed, having told a very hard and personal truth to a room full of strangers. I felt everyone watching me, sat back down in my seat and took a long drink of my beer.
The moderator called a break after my piece, and during that time many people approached me and told me how amazing the piece was, and how brave I was for reading it. Someone told me the line-up at the ladies room was full of people talking about me and how thankful they were not to be following me, and how everyone was saying how powerful my piece was.
Powerful. That was the word I kept hearing, yet I didn’t understand it until all the readings were over. A woman approached me. With tears in her eyes she took my hand and thanked me. She gushed about how well written the piece was and told me she wanted to attend every reading I ever did, wanted to join my website if I had one, friend me on Facebook and basically connect with me in every way possible. Then she told me why.
She had been through a similar situation. She had suffered the same harm at the hands of someone close to her. In her house, the situation was ignored. She had never spoken of it, nor heard it spoken of. Until my reading. I freed her. I allowed her to feel, and now hopefully, to heal.
That moment changed me. This woman made me realize that what I am writing about is not only important. It is necessary. My worry had always been that my story offers no solutions to the issues. It is simply a re-telling of events and emotions. Now I realize it doesn’t need solutions. What it offers is just as important. It offers a voice to the victims, it offers solace and companionship and it offers truth.
Sometimes, all we really need to know is that we are not alone.