Finally I Will Share My Story
by Iris L. Kitching
How do I tell a story of something that happened fifty six years ago that I could not, so did not, share with my family? I counseled with my pastor in my mid forties and confirmed then my decision to say nothing. What would be the point after all these years? And how would I reconcile what to say, when to say it, and how? I felt I should leave well enough alone. He supported my decision. But, “Well Enough” wouldn’t leave me alone since then I’ve felt the need to get the story out. It had stolen my childhood, had kept me from being the me I should have been, and kept weighing me down.
I had two occasions this year to get the story out. The first was when I published my poetry book, Poetic Heart-Spinning Bumbling Blunders into Delightful Hope and Blessings. In it, I had written a poem — I Said No, But… Anyone that reads those words doesn’t have to guess what the subject matter is. A tremendous relief came over me when I was able to sort through my feelings and get that poem written. Many might have thought I used poetic license or was seeing in my minds’ eye what others went through. Poets surely can write like that to share something compelling or believable. Most reading the poem, however, would naturally assume that I was the victim because of how personal it was. Several women who purchased the book commented of how it brought back feelings. They also said it would help others come to terms with what was deeply hidden within, remarking that it was bold of me to write about it. I felt validated.
The second time I shared my story was a women’s church gathering about six weeks ago. Sharing the story wasn’t planned, but I felt comfortable with those present. The subject I had been invited to talk on was about making ourselves visible in our homes and communities. I decided to put my 4 pages of notes down as I approached the podium and to speak from my heart. I told them this and began. Halfway through the presentation my story was out, amid a few gasps and shaking of heads in shock! It was only a brief mention with sketchy details, but I felt its relevance in how we move past difficulties and challenges to have meaningful lives anyway. I continued on to say how we can still value ourselves, use the gifts God has given us, and determine to make a difference in this world — the original intent of the talk.
I was the last presenter and as the program ended, numerous women thanked me particularly for sharing my story. One elderly lady, quiet and reticent, waited patiently to greet me. She held my hand and started talking. I moved closer to hear as her voice was very soft.
“I sat listening to you and couldn’t believe it … You just told my story! Thank you.” Taken aback, I said, “Oh my.” Then gulping, pausing to look directly at her, and still holding her hand, I added, “I know whatever happened so many years ago was difficult for you.” She shook her head yes before changing the subject to ask how she could utilize tips I gave about being visible because she felt too old to even try. I assured her that in her own way — just being herself — she could make an impact on others.
Two weeks later as I sat in church, I looked to my left and saw a woman on the same row. She looked familiar. Minutes later I realized it was the older woman who had talked to me at her church and told me that I shared her story. A lump formed in my throat as I recalled our short discussion and I fought back tears. At an opportune time in the service I scooted over, took her hand, said hello, and reminded her of who I was. She remembered, squeezed my hand, and then, instinctively we hugged! It was an endearing moment I will never forget. It solidified for me that lots of women could benefit from my story.
I will give more thought and prayer on what to say and welcome the opportunities to share what too many have gone through but not been able or willing to tell. A story that ruined hope, ruined trust, ruined lives. The right words will come, I already know this…and finally I will share my story.
This is my Day 15 Post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community.