This year marks 150 years of baseball, and the Cincinnati Reds were the first professional team. I listened to a wonderful podcast of anecdotes from over the years. One of the best stories was one a man called in and said that it was his great-great-grandmother who made the first baseball uniforms for the Cincinnati team. She had a lot of red fabric so that was what she made the “stockings” out of. That is how they got their name: Red Stockings. The historians on the show were falling over themselves with glee, because this was a verifiable story, through letters, notes, and a headline when the dear seamstress passed away.
It is good to know our stories.
It is equally good to know where our information comes from.
In the antique world, the term is “provenance.” It means that a seller but have authenticated whether that end table truly came from the palace in Luxembourg or if it was made to look like it in the back yard shop.
Tell me your stories. I will listen.
When we set down to tell our own stories, there is often a moral pause in our telling, because we want our memory to be true. And in that pause, we often weigh in the fact that siblings or parents or others around at the time of the story’s making don’t remember it like we do. And we begin to doubt that it happened the way we remember.
This is important, especially when our stories that we are unraveling are hard, abusive, exploitative. When our stories are about abandonment, self loathing, parental abstenteeism, we want to get confirmation.
Barbara Brown Taylor once said in a class that when we write memoir, we don’t need to go back and check in with everyone. Our story is true. Even if it looks different from others who were there. She had a student who dropped a project because she couldn’t get all the '“facts” about a beloved Christmas memory to jibe when she spoke with brothers and her father.
There is an idea, that your story, my story, their story, about the same happening, come together to create a holographic whole. But that doesn’t make any one story less true.
What are your stories? Will they shock? Will they make the hearer weep?
When a client speaks to me of their stories, I believe them. I also know that what is being told to me is just part of the story. It is part of the story that the psyche is allowing to be told, or that holds the least amount of pain, or is mentioned to sway me in one direction or another. As a guide, it is my job to hone my expert skills of listening sharply. When I have two clients, on different occasions, tell me differing things about the same event, I’ve learned to not be triangulated. I’ve learned to just work with what has been offered to work with. Because that is the point of that session. What is the client wanting to reveal at that time? What is being offered as a willing peak behind the curtain…just a smidge….a blink…..to see something.
That “something” is everything. And we can work with that. The bigger scene will escape at some point, and then we’ll work with that. It is really quite a beautiful process.
Your process is beautiful. And it doesn’t have to be perfect before you come and see me. You don’t have to have pledge a statement to be fixed before we can start sitting in the room with the closed curtains. We’ll get there soon enough.
My work with you, with anyone, is an unveiling. A holy process of self revelation. Let’s do that together.
Peace and Joy,