The Courage to Tell Our Stories

It takes courage to tell our stories.-Christina Baldwin

Discovering this practice of courage… requires a skilled listening, . . . to get under the surface of what is being said. To learn this practice of courage we need time and space to breathe freely, to be vulnerable, to speak honestly with one another. – Annie G.Rogers

We’ve had more than one group focus on the courage it takes to tell our own stories. This bears repeating. We carry ourselves in each story we tell. We carry each other in the hearing. We are revealed in ways we can’t predict or control. Writing is a leap, a fall, a catch, a risk that surprises us in its intensity. To overcome this takes courage.

The women who return to the group overcome again and again. Their stories are not told all at once but in layers, deepening the more times and ways they are told. As the story grows, each woman’s skill grows and the stories sharpen into focus, each woman reflected more completely and bravely on the page. 

We have a woman who has come to every group I’ve facilitated. At first, she would not read her work at all. Every time her turn came around, she’d pass. Then, she’d only share if the group was small, 1-2 women at most. But this time, in the largest group we’ve had in a weeks, she handed her work to another woman to read.

Below you’ll find her work – a story she’s been trying to tell for months.

“I struggle to see”

 Giovanni and my homelessness in my pink icy tent. Tt is quiet after the chaotic noise surrounding me back at the Palmers’, drug talk—drug needs, drug empty. And where do I see me? When Memphis Raines nudges my Steel Reserve out of my hand to climb up and snuggle goodnight as Danny and Giovanni fight for space in the postage stamp-sized bathroom with their old needles. I cannot see myself in there so I do not bother to go in. I don’t know that person in me who would struggle for position in there. Maybe this is best—to take hands with my inner courage, to simply just BE and to not see myself, not bothering to struggle nor even contemplate struggling to clear my vision. It is not the me I want to see. I should be seeing the me who is strong and walks tall, the one who is satisfied with my own company—the me only. The space to see the me who has always been enough, where did I miss the change? How could I not see myself letting myself go? How could I let go of holding my own hand? To cross that main street into what newer mess she wasn’t ready for nor legally needed.


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