It was the middle of winter. I’d been standing at the end of the lane, waiting for them to pick me up. I didn’t dare be late or I knew I’d get yelled at, or worse still, left behind. It was cold enough that I was shivering even though I had layers and layers on and even remembered my gloves. Finally through the crawling traffic I saw the car pull in and the door opened.
I squeezed in and said good morning. She kind of grunted and then leaned over to the glove compartment. The windows of the car were steamed up from the heat billowing out of the vents, we could barely see out. It was hard to breathe. That’s when she lit up the cigarette.
‘Would you mind not smoking in the car?’. I thought it was a reasonable question but that was all she needed to explode.
‘Who the hell do you think you are, you spoiled brat. What gives you the right to make demands, what kind of child are you’…and that was just the start.
It was hard to breathe from the smoke, the heat and the humiliation. My eyes smarted, I felt shame and underneath all that, my blood boiled.
You know that feeling. You’ve done nothing wrong. But you have to pay for it anyhow.
I guess she was having a really hard day. Years later I realized that she’d been having a few really hard years. And I’ve long forgiven the way she treated me at that time. And I’ve even discovered compassion for the hell she had been living back then.
And yet, I kept my mouth shut for a long time when stuff happened that I didn’t like. I had learned that it was dangerous to say what I felt. That sometimes it’s just better to keep your mouth shut and put up with it.
And I lived like that for years.
I think that’s part of the reason that I tell stories. And why I am so driven to help people tell their stories. If not out in the world, at least to themselves. And I’m so honored and blessed to be able to make a living out of it too.
You see, every story that we live, we have created. In my total innocence, I created a story that telling my truth was dangerous. That speaking up had a huge cost. And I had to take responsibility for how much damage my story caused.
Because shit happens. It’s never personal. And you don’t need to take it that way. I’ve learned to tell my story and speak my truth…..most of the time. Sometimes I remember that child and I forget about what’s truly dangerous. I forget that when we don’t tell the truth, don’t tell our stories, we suffocate.
So that’s my big passion and mission in life. To hear people’s stories. And to help them hear them too. So we can let go of the stories that hurt us. And transform the ones that don’t work for us. And continue to create powerful stories that inspire us. Because when a story works, it can change the world.
What story will you tell today? Share it below