For a long time I didn’t feel good about my story. My past followed me around like a pesky shadow I wanted to stomp away. An empty past with titles such as depressed and useless hanging over it.
And even though I thought I had my past tightly locked away in the dusty closet of my memory where it could no longer touch me, its etchings on my soul seemed to define every step I took.
I didn’t begin to face my story until a few years ago when a friend called it out of me through writing.
As a writer by trade I was used to writing about the “acceptable”—topics such as health and fitness, business or the environment. I also wrote fiction and allowed myself to become lost in the stories I created.
But those fictional stories always contained elements of my own life, even when I refused to see it.
When I was encouraged to write the truth about who I was—or thought I was—it was the first time I admitted to those things that held me bound and broken, that kept me in chains shackled to a lie about my true worth.
It began with facing a past of loss and neglect and admitting to the ensuing emotion: depression. I wrote down elements of my story—scars that I covered with one big Band-Aid and I explored those memories, how they smelled, tasted and sounded. And how I felt at the time. I went back in time and told the story, and in doing so I gradually peeled away the Band-Aid.
I did this with several memories, but in particular the ones that had become distorted over time. And a strange thing happened: I started to question my perception of the truth. I considered that maybe, just maybe, there was another perspective. And could I perhaps re-enter my story from that different perspective?
Releasing my story onto the page both birthed and destroyed something in me. It destroyed the power my story had over my life and it birthed a new relationship with myself.
I had never written like that before, from a place of raw vulnerability, and the healing and growth I experienced in doing so have been exponential. And this wasn’t great writing—this was heart writing. It doesn’t take a writer to pour out their thoughts and emotions onto the page (who cares if you misspelled a word?) But it does take bravery.
Since making this journey, I have developed my skill as a journal writer and become a teacher of the practice. In my courses I see people who have never written a word, even those who are afraid to write. But they step into that place full of courage, because they know they want to discover something more about themselves, their story and their purpose on this earth. They are encouraged to share their story, to speak it out, and in doing so I see great relief in their eyes and tremendous support from the other participants.
And there are those who write it out but choose not to share; that’s all good too. Because the simple act of releasing those words onto paper, or a computer screen, or even a napkin if you so desire (although I wouldn’t recommend it) is the process that leads to the birthing of a new story and letting go of the past.
If you are someone who is bound by your story, who knows in the pit of your stomach, that your past is what’s keeping you from your best future, I encourage you to take one step. Make a trip to a store that sells journals; hold a few different ones in your hands, noting the feel and colours of the cover, the smell of the paper, and find one that’s waiting to receive your story.
It’s a journey you won’t regret.
This piece was first published as a guest post for veraraposo.com