How to Tell Your Story
For millions of people, the popularity of writing memoirs have become contagious. Motivational Speakers even suggest that you tell your story In their messages. This month, I looked in the Oprah magazine to find that Oprah encouraged people to “Write your own memoir in six words.” This was a bit out of context for me, but excellent marketing. There is no way to write your memoir in six words, however you can choose six words that relate to some portion of you, that would allow others into your journey.
A memoir like, I know why the Caged Bird Sings, authored by Maya Angelou, and Identity Crisis, Identity Christ Is: A Journey to Love are often filled with stories that have great detail, that may question our own existence, and somewhere in the learning we become entrenched with becoming the great person that we believe we are destined to be.
Memoirs are known to have some tragic real life story of how someone went from the ghettos to God, or how someone overcame an alcoholic mother and an abusive father of some sort. Book Clubs meet regularly to talk about other people’s stories and to share over light refreshments how their lives were impacted by such reading.
Of course each person’s life story is not the same. The intricate details of our minds and how we are psychologically affected by trauma are very different; the process to healing and health become a climactic portion of any story. Who wants anything less than a fairytale ending right? Isn’t that why we crave a continuation of the story? It is why the Fast and the Furious chronicles went to five. It is how we learn to expect more Star Wars, making George Lucas a billionaire.
A Snippet of My Story
If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I am a victor of child sexual abuse, rape, molestation, and emotional abuse. I wrote the first eight chapters of my memoir in 2006 and the Identity Crisis Poem.
I then sat the book down altogether. There it was, all in one sitting, an entire college ruled notebook about my life, parts of me that I had intended to take to the grave. I said a prayer before I let the first hint of ink, drip on the paper. And, after it was completed the only logical thing to do was to tuck it away with the wealth of other unfinished work of poetry that hid, trapped in my closet space. There were words, phrases, sentences screaming to be filled in; little did I know that I wasn’t ready to trail the path that lie in front of me, and so I detoured.
After a failed relationship and additional tragedy, I found myself hearing words from God; instruction to finish the book- finish what was started years before. I struggled for at least one year with whether the book should be released. There were characters in the book, namingly my siblings and my mother that I were fearful that I would hurt tremendously. I cried, and read parts of the book to friends. I kept in most of what I could until others examining the book told me that I had to be more transparent, and that I would have to reach deep down to reveal what was inside without shame.
Writing Your Story
Since I have written my book, people have emailed, called, walked up to meet me and reached out to me on social networks to talk about their own up and coming release or to ask me how I did it. And, the truth is, in order for it to be what God wants, to possibly save or change a life- you have to be selfless, lending all of your faculties to the full use of its literary intent. Most of it is not about fear of a stranger reading about you, it is fear that others who think they know you will read it. The other fear, is that one of the characters of the book will read it, and that you will hurt them. The truth does hurt, especially when it is written down, and duplicated for distribution.
You see, just because you are ready to overcome your past, does not mean that the other people in the book that you have written about are ready to face theirs. Here is the problem with allowing your fear to out-way sharing what lies on your heart; you paralyze your healing process.
Truth #1 – You do not control others’ response
You cannot control how others will feel about your content. You may not be a writer and choose to be a guest on someone’s blog, television show or other form of media that will bring attention to your story. You may choose to sit down and pen your story. However you choose to share your tragedy to triumph, you will not be able to control the way that other people feel who are characters in your story, or readers of your book; listeners of your interviews.
Truth #2- You are not dishonoring anyone by telling your story
I agonized over whether it was godly to share my story because of other people, and what several people said what so true. They said, “Ressurrection, this is your story. It is your truth and if they want to write a story, their story will be their own.” It took many times for several people to say this to me. If I said something bad about my mother, would I go to hell? I take the scripture to honor your mother and father very literal. I believe that we should indeed honor and love our parents. But we must continue to the latter part of that scripture which states that parents are not to provoke their children. When a child is emotionally or psychologically abused, physically or sexually abused by their parents, they are being provoked and not taught how to live according to another scripture which states that we should “Train up a child in the way that he/she should go, and when he/she is old, he/she will not depart from it.”
I had to write about some of the horrible things that my mother has done to me, that she to this day, does not think was all that bad, citing that her intentions were in a good place. I recently wrote My Letter to My Mother: Overcoming Emotional Abuse. And, I have no regrets. I have a good relationship with my mother in that I love and honor her, and she knows that. However, my story is not being told to dishonor her, and she was made aware of that in our heart to heart conversations that we’ve had as of late.
Truth #3 -You will have to have courageous conversations
Talking to your parents, or siblings, about your story is extremely important. You are not looking for their approval but you are looking for them to know that they may be unhappy with what you pen about them. You can assure them that it will be the truth and that the memoir, blog, video, is not about them, it is about your healing and what your healing could bring to others.
Likely, they will disagree. This is very important, that you do not look for their approval. I love my mother, but she is and was emotionally absent. She has grown over the years as I talk to her about different things, but growing up, she was not what I needed emotionally.
She put food on the table, yes but I don’t remember us have a conversation that lasted two minutes. She admits that she did not know what to do with me, and I appreciate that however, that is her story. My story is that my mother was emotionally absent and in my adult years manipulative and emotionally abusive. Does that mean that I don’t love her? Absolutely not.
Truth #4-The process of writing or sharing your story will hurt
Anytime you revisit traumatic events that you must work through and heal from, opening this process will take an emotional toll on you- I don’t care how close you are to God. This process will mature you, but may hurt when you come to the realization that others, especially those that hurt you may not care about your story, much less you sharing it. It may also hurt that you want someone to respond a certain way, that they may not. We cannot control people. Genesis 1:26 says that we’ll have dominion, and mentions various things that we’ll have authority and power over, but people is not one of them. Just as God has given you and I free will to choose our relationship with him, he will not force man to be controlled by another man. We have free will to choose our relationships, with wisdom I advise.
Truth #5- You will never be the same
I can only speak for myself, and my own journey which is a great way to get yourself thinking about your own memoir. You can get a copy of my book here: www.identitycrisisbook.com and I do recommend it for anyone who is writing their own story or overcoming any kind of abuse. And quite honestly, I have had pastors and professionals read the book who find it to be great writing. Most people ask about it becoming a movie. I will leave that up to God and the right opportunity.
What I know is that this process has changed me. I have always been bold, but this was definitely uncharted territory. It took me to places within my own heart that I did not know I would be able to pen. I have matured, and become bold in this area of my life.
For me, it has formed a new career, in that I blog and I am moving into another part of what God has called me to do- speaking. I can see the road ahead, and quite frankly, I knew it was coming, I just did not know how. I am a writer, and always have been. What has changed is not how I have communicated my victory- it is what the healing has done for me as a person.
You may need to talk to your parents to ask questions about things that happened to you when you were a child, I know I did. You may need to take your time while you let go of some attachments to fear, anxiety or other emotions relating to what happened to you. I do not recommend that you push yourself past what you are ready for. It is a process for a victor of abuse, rape, molestation or any kind of trauma to stand before a crowd and speak about injustice, or relive events that took place- especially if the person is walking the street.
Take your time.
Here is a bonus, #6 – Do not allow your perpetrators to silence you.
Many well meaning Christians who have “forgiven” their predators say that the events are also forgotten. If they were, you would not remember them, to share them with others. Many well meaning people are discouraged to tell their story because they fear that their perpetrator will be offended, or hurt if your expose the truth. Well, here is some truth for you. The perpetrator that you are covering for, may have actually committed these acts on someone else, and your forgiveness and selective forgetfulness i.e, fear of rocking the boat could be what helps them continue to recommit felonies- child sexual abuse, molestation, rape etc, on someone else’s child including their own.
I am not telling you to take them to court and put them in jail if that is not your desire and it has been twenty years. I talk about my thoughts about court in Taking The Stand.
However, their feelings should not play apart in you telling the truth about your own trauma. Families have silenced themselves for years, and perpetrators’ actions have lived on generation to generation.
Your predators should not have a choice in your healing, or your voice. Ninety percent of predators know their victims, and one of their techniques is to create, and maintain a relationship with you over many years. It is called Grooming. This technique keeps that police from getting involved because you are confused by the relationship, and it also snuffs your voice. You would rather be loyal to the person that harmed you because of a calculated relationship, than to follow your heart.
In this case, I encourage you to take some time to figure out if you are healed, detached from the entanglement of your predators manipulation; and determine if you’re ready to tell your story. I want you to help others, so please do not use this as a guide or reason to take a step back. Sometimes we have to look at the facts with a fine tooth comb and make sure that we are not being controlled by forces around us.
It will take you to fully embrace your healing before you can speak to others about their healing. As you embark on this journey you will find healing moments along the way. Even I still find myself learning more about myself, challenging myself to go deeper, and deeper to find inward parts that may have been affected by the demonic connections that shaped my childhood.
In all that I have been through, I know that those visitations from God were to protect me, to keep my mind, and to prepare me for my now, and my later. I hope this blog supports you in reflecting on whether it is your time to tell your story- and if not now, when?
- My Letter to My Mother – Overcoming Emotional Abuse (ressurrection.wordpress.com)
- Children cannot afford the absence of a Mother or Father (ressurrection.wordpress.com)
- What Is Emotional Abuse? (againstherbetterjudgement.wordpress.com)
- Did Tyler Perry pressure the victim from Penn State to testify in his Open Letter? (ressurrection.wordpress.com)