“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
That’s one of my favorite quotes, the one from Anne Lamott. Because there’s nothing worse than living through dark, hurtful times and once you (hopefully) escape them still being expected to keep them secret. Or at least to edit out the parts that might possibly slightly offend someone who gutted you. Someone who oppressed you.
No, that isn’t being free, is it? At all.
So I agree. Write your stories. Speak your truths.
It’s freeing, isn’t it? It feels good. To speak your truth. And to know that you have that right to tell your story. You don’t need other people’s blessing to write things that are true (otherwise, most journalism wouldn’t happen, because public officials would never sign off on the critical pieces).
What an uplifting feeling the Anne Lamott quote gives. At first glance anyway.
Because here’s the other half, here’s the flipside, the part that messes people up: You have to let them tell their stories about you, too.
Because that’s the thing. You’re entitled to your story, yes you are. And they’re entitled to theirs. Even if you hate it. Even if you don’t agree. They have their own stories to tell.
And I find this half of the equation, the part that balances everything out, a little harder for most people to accept. Because telling your story gives you a sense of control in a way, yeah?
And letting someone else tells theirs often involves a loss of control.
But that’s how it goes. That’s the bargain.
Because Anne Lamott said that to everyone. Literally everyone. Yes, even the person who tells a version of the story that you hate. She wants them to tell their story, too — the one that you dislike so much. The one you wish no one would ever hear.
But fair’s fair. You’re entitled to your story, and they’re entitled to theirs.