I think everybody has a hurt spot. We walk around acting all normal and like our world is sunshine and that flowers are just growing out of our ass, like all is wonderful and fabulous and absolutely magnificent, darling, absolutely magnificent. Maybe that spot is something that happened in the past. Maybe that spot is retreating as a little girl to that tiny place you made for yourself in your bedroom closet, the place with the books and the blanket and the flashlight, the place where you could be safe and small, the place you could go when the drinking started, the place where you could hide from the fact that you were different from your friends, that your dad was different, the place where you could cry in your heart and nobody could see, nobody at all.
Maybe your hurt is happening now, at four in the afternoon on a Tuesday. Maybe you sit in the waiting area in your pretty white robe, leafing through last year’s copy of O Magazine, after having your breast mashed flat and handled by a twenty-something with icy hands and an even icier demeanor, snapping photos that will change the plans you had made for the rest of your day, change the plans, in fact, that you had made for the rest of your life, snapping photos that will make you want to run to those four kids of yours and hug them so hard that they nearly beg you to let them go, photos that will make you envision for the first time in your life your husband with another wife, hoping that that wife will be a good mother to your children and that she will love that man of yours as he deserves to be loved.
Maybe your hurt is neither of these. Maybe your hurt is your roommate getting you out of bed at three in the morning, telling you that your family is here to see you, telling you that they are ALL here to see you. You walk into your living room to the picture of your sister and your parents standing in front of you, your parents who have been divorced since you can remember and are never in the same city at the same time let alone your tiny apartment. They stare at you with tears in their eyes and their faces red and, you wonder if you are sleeping or if maybe you are awake. Then, in your bizarre dream-like state, you process that your brother is not with them. You’re screaming now. You’re angry. Confused. WHERE IS HE?! WHERE IS HE?! Your mother tries, but she can’t. She just can’t. Your sister manages to speak, but all you hear is “crash” and “died.”
Your hurt is your story. We cover these stories of ours. We bury them deep, not only so that we might smile and be friendly and pretend that we are getting through the day, but so that, eventually, we actually do get through the day. Sometimes, though, we cover our stories because other people are involved, because those people may not want us telling our stories. But your story belongs to you. No one can keep you from telling that story. No one can tell you that story is not real, that it is not yours.
I am telling you, however, that while your story IS yours, it does not belong to you. It is not about you at all. It’s about what you’re going to do with that story. It’s about the lives you can impact with that story. It’s about changing or validating the story of another. I was recently asked to share my own story. I was a nervous mess, feeling the need to puke and swear and cry all at the same time, feeling the need to make a quick exit never to return, not just to this room, but to this place, this place of hurt and pain and anger and embarrassment. An acquaintance happened to be in the room. She took my hand, looked at me, and said in the softest, most reassuring voice, “You need to tell your story. You need to tell it because we need to hear it.”