© 2017

My Story: A Metanarrative

April 30, 2017

* This piece was also published on Rebelle Society:

http://www.rebellesociety.com/2017/05/16/deneenebell-metanarrative/

 

I am always extremely honored, humbled, and grateful when a woman shares her story with me. I feel much the same when a woman takes the time to listen to mine. Giving a piece of yourself to someone and receiving that piece are both radical, life-changing acts. There is no return, no backwards-delete button, no gummy pink eraser to take back words already spoken. There is nothing to do but to continue forward. It takes courage and candor to weave the tale, compassion and grace to wear it. To entrust it to someone else is like slicing off a piece of your soul and saying here, have a taste. And then to hold it on your tongue without spitting it out or consuming it ravenously signifies a dignified respect for its flavor--whether sweet, bitter or sour. What bigger blessing, what bigger burden than to have and satisfy such an appetite.

 

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

 

In this past week alone, I have heard several very personal stories from women: the story of a woman’s miscarriage, the story of a woman’s mother’s death, the story of another’s failing relationship … Women share stories all the time, but catch a woman in the right moment, and it is amazing the sacred truths she will share with you.

 

We are open hearts, open books, we women. And our stories can heal. Help us connect. Encourage us to explore. Allow us to express. Our stories are important. And when we share freely, when we give of ourselves, despite or rather in the face of reservation, we are giving permission to other women to feel that same glory, relief, satisfaction, or wonder.

 

Our stories are cathartic and transformative—personally or universally a story can create reverberations that create lasting and lifelong change. When we tell a story, we are casting a stone out into the water.

 

“We don’t have a fixed amount of resilience; it must be exercised like a muscle.”

Sheryl Sandberg, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

 

In telling our stories to each other, we are exercising all of our mental, emotional and spiritual muscles. I am amazed at the lives women live, the strength they draw upon, the joy they create, the pains they live with, the wisdom they show, the things they decide, the sacrifices they make, the love they ceaselessly give.

 

And there are stories only women can tell. Our stories are directly linked to our identities as women — as daughters, sisters, mothers, friends, partners, as artists, laborers, professionals, activists, seekers, and divine beings. Stories show a woman’s character. Her strengths, weakenesses, vulnerabilities, points of view, her light and dark places.

 

Stories are a way to sustain us and guide us through the different times in our lives. LIfe’s seminal events always inspire a web of support through story — birth stories, death stories, first-jobs, weddings, divorces, child rearing, relationship building, regretful moments. Stories of tragedy and triumph. Stories that teach us something or simply make us laugh or feel that we are not alone in our experience.

 

Our stories are also symbolic and told in a variety of ways, not just in words — in art, in dance, in song, music, in our work, in our service to the world and others. Our bodies also tell our stories — our bodies hold all of the 5 0’clock news and never-tell secrets of our lives whether accomplishment or trauma, change or acceptance.


Stories in every sense are how we are remembered and how we remember others.

 

MY STORY ...

 

My story is told

in moments of fire

and the blue dark depths

of truths and fictions

both self-evident and hidden

My story is told

in shame and pride, stops and starts

In the moments I live and die

in all the details of my life

my story is told in body parts, both mine and others’  

— strong-set bones, spiderlike fingers,

Roadmaps of stretch marks, wrinkles and veins

constellations of freckles and dimples along the terrain

tattoos, touchable soft spots, and curious scars

peach-rounded bottoms and pink, fleshy flower parts —

My story is told in births and deaths

rebirths and transformations

In the skipped heartbeats of winged hope

the breaking of bones, the scraping of knees

and other unforeseen tragedies

a shero’s journey, my story

my story is told in the dark, late at night

when no one is watching

And again in the morning light

under the gaze of my dreams

when the dawn is hatching

my story is told in promises,

both whispered and spoken

either kept or broken

a tribute to nothing and no one but the

broken down and battered something of someone

like me if i dared to know her well

My story is told in choices

the consequences of which give me voices

that both croak and sing my singular, complex song

one keening note both soft and long

My story …

My story is told with abandon and equal amounts of

reservation which I reserve for my Self

that parceled off piece of territory that

no one else has a passport to but

whose borders are as open as a book

My story is a map

It is a gift, a journey along my shallow crevices

into the deepest workings of my flesh

My story is one of permission

The consent to be myself

A lotus-flowering of the heart

Opening to both give and receive

Making it at once soft and strong

My story is your story, our story, her story

My story is you, it is us, it is she

My story is We

 

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