Why the World Needs Your Story

For those of us who find ourselves drawn to the written word, the pull toward pen and paper is more than just a hobby. It’s a lifeline. Many of us flourish when there are words flowing from our soul onto the page — we’re able to make sense of things better when we’re writing, and we think our thoughts most clearly when we write them down on paper.

As unique as the personal writing experience is for each of us, research is starting to reveal a universal reality that many of us have inherently known for a long time: writing about our lives is healing. Several studies point to the fact that when we honestly write about our own lives, working through our questions and challenges on the page, we can experience emotional breakthrough. That’s because when we take time to write about what’s bothering us, the act of writing enables us to see our lives in a new way and release past burdens. Writing can help us reframe our experiences and see ourselves as active participants in our lives, rather than as victims or observers.

memoir

Additional research has found that people who take time to intentionally write about their emotional state “were able to create the distance between the thinker and the thought, the feeler and the feeling, that allowed them to gain a new perspective, unhook, and move forward.” When we write about what’s happening internally, it enables us to parse experience from emotion — and then decide how to change.

Writing is a powerful tool.

If you’ve never taken the time to write your story down, maybe this is the nudge that you need. While writing about our journey and the emotions that we’ve experienced may feel initially overwhelming, the work that it can do in our hearts and our minds might actually change the course of our lives. It can help us to really see how we’ve been living and what it might look like to flip the script in our current story.

Writing can help us reframe our experiences and see ourselves as active participants in our lives, rather than as victims or observers.

And, if you’re already a writer, then maybe this is the encouragement you need to keep going. Keep writing your story down. Keep letting those words pulse through you and don’t stop until they’ve landed in the order and in the way that enables you to uncoil your thoughts. Keep trusting that your story is worth uncovering and rediscovering and rewriting.

And then? Once your story is written down, consider sharing it with a friend, or in a publication, or on a blog. The hope and insight that we glean from writing our stories is never meant to be kept to ourselves — it’s meant to birth that same hope in others. It’s meant to point them to the value and purpose of the stories that they’re living, so that they can then do the same for others, too.

So what are you waiting for?  Pick up your pen; your story matters.

If you want to write your story, check out Ann’s online writing course, Writing with Grace: Memoir. Registration is open until October 6th, and she’s offering a discount to Darling readers: save 10% with the code: DARLINGSTORY. We can’t wait to join you there!

Images via Maddie Greer

Ann is the author of the new book, "Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn’t Give You What You Want." You can find her online on Instagram and her website.

12 COMMENTS
  • Talisa February 22, 2017

    Enjoyed this. Writing has been my chosen mode of telling my personal story/stories, but the tricky part has been that people don’t tend to read as much as they used to. i’m trying video as an alternative, since everyone is on YouTube nowadays?

  • Aysha October 23, 2016

    I’ve recently moved country and started a blog as writing felt like a great way to document my journey – I didn’t realise how therapeutic i’d find it. This is such a lovely post, thank you x

  • Hannah October 19, 2016

    Hi, Ann! We couldn’t agree more. It’s incredible to see how powerful and therapeutic writing your own story can be, and it’s unfortunate that so many young girls and women quiet themselves out of fear or lack of confidence. Everyone has a powerful, unique story, and the minute that we can harness that and spread the word to help heal others, the minute we become stronger both independently and together.
    Wonderful piece, thank you for sharing!
    http://www.newsmacarons.com

    • Talisa February 22, 2017

      I’ve been one of those young women but this year I’ve felt a push to ignore that fear and tell my story anyway. Took me awhile but better late than never.

  • laryne gamble October 6, 2016

    Hi,

    My name is Laryne Gamble.
    Nisga’a woman from the village of Gingolx
    I am 25 years old
    A wife of 3 years
    An education student in the Indian Teacher Education Program at the University of Saskatchewan
    An outreach worker for at-risk youth
    and a sexual abuse survivor.

    I never thought I would define myself as a sexual abuse survivor and at times, I feel as if I am more so a victim, but this is my story that I now have the courage to share…

    My mother refused to allow my biological father in my life, let alone tell me what his name is, but I met him at my highschool graduation at age 17. During all of those years, my mother was married to my step dad and he was someone I knew since I was 4. He is the father of 4 of my siblings..and they all had me call him “dad”.

    But he wasn’t.
    He wasn’t even close to being a “dad”
    He was mentally and physically abusive towards us and my mother.
    And to me, starting at the age of 8..he was my rapist, my molester, my sexual abuser.
    It continued until I was 14.
    When my mother walked into the room, months after he had me take a pregnancy test and he was rubbing my stomach.
    she questioned him, and of course, he lied.
    So after promises of leaving when I told her the truth, she stayed.
    I lashed out, and was suspended from school for possession of weed.
    Before leaving school grounds, I told the counsellor that I wasn’t scared of what my parents would say, as I have consequences that are far worse than anyone would know..And after discussing in depth, I finally told someone that wasn’t my mother.

    From there, I brought to the police to do a statement with my mother in tow. Leon, my stepdad, had to move out of our house. My mother was angry, and it seemed to be more of my problem than anyone else’s. And I tried over and over again to commit suicide, but there was a pivotal moment..a letter to my sisters that saved my life. I wrote “Brittany” at the top, and that’s when I realized I couldn’t leave her behind. So I didn’t…

    Things got bad in my home, my mother used to scream at me about the incident, and I would then lash out at my sister’s who were younger and had no idea what was going on. My grandmother (Leon’s mother) now had her son living with her, and would tell the village folk that my parent’s split uhp because I was too bad…even though she knew what he had done to me. .

    My mother decided it was in my siblings best interest to have their father in their lives, so she sent me to Vancouver to live with my uncle–who was at that year the Native Pride Princess of Vancouver. He had no children, and never had the experience raising a teenager. But that’s where I lived so my family could be together. .

    I was 15 when I moved back to Northern British Columbia..and I moved in with anyone who would have me, anywhere but my “home”.

    I had years of counselling and anger management, I experienced drugs and alcohol. I went to university at the University of Northern BC but dropped out in 2nd year. I was a “gypsy” according to my mother, who had no idea how lost I actually was.

    But I was searching, high and low to find who I was.

    In my early 20’s I found me, I worked so hard, and I really struggled. But once I found “Laryne” there was no going back.I knew I had 2 choices; 1. be a victim 2. be happy. And happy was what I was.

    Doing the best years of my life, I found my husband. And at times, I don’t know how I deserve such a wonderful man. We had many ups and downs, including a miscarriage, and family issues. But he has been the strongest support I’ve ever had in my life.

    Flash forward to July 12th, 2016. My husband’s 28th birthday. It was approximately 3 am, and I was in BC after making a last minute trip from Saskatoon to Prince Rupert for my husband’s grandmother’s funeral and I decided afterwards to go “home” to see my siblings. My siblings and I have not been all together for quite sometime, and the only one missing was my mother, she was away on a business trip. It was 3 am when I woke up in my youngest brother’s bedroom because I felt something caressing my ass. And when I realized what it was, I just couldn’t believe it…

    Leon.

    again.

    12 years later.

    HE after a night of drinking at his brother’s house, realized I was sleeping alone ..took advantage of that and was feeling me under the blanket. When he saw that I was awake, he said “oh shit, sorry” and left my bedroom to walk into the kitchen. After a few minutes he returned to my bedroom, and stared at me through the door he left ajar.

    I faked to cough
    and he left.

    I pushed my brother’s computer chair towards the door and called my husband through wifi on facebook as he was back in SK for work to tell him what just happened. He told me to leave, but at that time it was 4 am and I was on reserve with no where else to go.

    So, I woke my sister. Of whom was very tipsy as we had a bon fire earlier that night but ended up on our gazebo telling ghost stories because it started to rain.. She was drinking gin and tonic which I learned at her age that is never a good idea. I had two rum and coke’s throughout a 5 hour period but I was in a sober condition. I woke her up to tell her what her dad had done…I rubbed her side to say he touched me like this, but on my ass. She held me while I cried and said tomorrow we’re leaving.

    The next day, I brought my nephew to the park as we had a 4 hour drive ahead of us and I didn’t want him to be upset throughout the travels. While we were playing at the park, my step dad pulled up, crying, and apologizing as my other sister just told him what he had done. During the confrontation, he told me reasons why he did it to me as a youth and it was because he “was abused” and that he “fell in love with me”. He even told me why he made my mom leave my “wedding celebration” a year earlier after showing up for dinner and my mom’s speech, and it was because he realized he still had feelings for me. But he said he didn’t remember the night before and asked if he hurt me.

    That was the first time I had a confrontation with my abuser.

    My sister, my nephew and I left the reserve and I spent a couple days with her before flying back to Saskatoon.

    The night before leaving, I told my mother who was still away. She made the same promises of leaving, but she has yet to do so. She told me his bogus lies about why my sister and I left, and to this day I can’t comprehend why it didn’t raise any red flags to her.

    The morning before my flight, 3 days after the incident, I contact the RCMP. I talked to the receptionist, I tried to submit a statement but because the RCMP member wasn’t on duty until after my flight I would have to wait for someone to call me back. When I got in touch with a member I was asked immediately if I was drinking, I answered 2 drinks in a 5 hour period, she cut me off while I was talking to ask why I was calling from Saskatchewan and a couple minutes later she said she will call me back in a couple days as she had a lot of paper work to do.

    I waited nearly a week…

    So, I went to the Saskatoon police department and submitted a written statement. A day later I had a constable call me back to do a video statement for the next day.At the video statement, the constable made a comment about how Leon doesn’t have a criminal record. ?So that thought lingered for quite sometime, as I was brought back to mid teen’s when he had to go to court by mom said I didn’t have to be there so she went without me. I never questioned what had happened there. I just wanted to move on.

    But since this had happened again and he’s excusing himself to why he did what he did. I followed up with the RCMP i initially tried to file with, but again, I talked to the receptionist and she opened my old file to give to the RCMP member, whom called me a week later to inform that he only got 3 years probation for sexually abusing me as a child.

    During weeks of trying to correspond with the New Aiyansh RCMP to get a charge going, my sisters and mother had not contacted me. And one day, I saw a picture of my family having an outing, as if everything was normal. It broke my heart, and I lost my mind. I posted a video on facebook stating news that wasn’t common knowledge–I was and am a sexual abuse victim (that day a victim is what i felt) and I needed extra support as my abuser re-offended. After that was released my sisters made contact, in the worst ways. To the point of deleting and blocking their access to me, and my mother would tell me how much she loved and missed me but won’t call, and if she did, it wasn’t about what was going on.

    I was a wreck.

    But, I have never been the one to play a victim, and my post about being a sexual abuse victim was the first time I found my voice to speak to others about my experiences. Charging him is the first time I had the power to do so on my own.

    And it’s been nearly 3 months and I am still in the process of pressing charges, and I have attended my first counselling session in many, many years.

    And I am reaching out to share my story, because I know there are many people like me who have felt just like how I did, who are struggling, who are lost, and who have been alienated by their families for speaking out. And I want to be their voice, and I want to help others become survivors.

    If you have any guidance of how I can raise my voice, help others and become an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, I would greatly appreciate it.

    My name is Laryne Gamble and I will not be a victim?

    ?

    • Hannah October 19, 2016

      Hi Laryne, this was an incredibly moving story. One that we read several times. If you’re interested in spreading awareness about sexual abuse and how you overcame this tragedy with such strength, we would love for you to write for us. We’re a brand new user-generated news site for millennial women that focuses on the power of sharing a voice. So far we have women submitting news stories that they find relevant, but also more personal stories like overcoming substance abuse and becoming pregnant in the midst of endometriosis. We would love for you to join our community and help others in the process! If you have questions, feel free to reach out on our website (www.newsmacarons.com) or email us (hello@newsmacarons.com).
      Laryne, You are a SURVIVOR. You are strong. You are brave. You are an inspiration.

  • Marie Therese October 3, 2016

    You are so right. I set out to write a book earlier this year and I did (!). But what also happened- and what I totally wasn’t expecting- was cathartic healing that took place for me as I wrote. I’m glad I wrote the book and published it and all that, but! The true value lay in the emotional healing that the process provided!

  • Emma Ruth October 3, 2016

    Thank you for writing this, as I’m working on how to write my own personal story and create my vision, which can be hard in the beginning. Love Darling!!

  • Natalie October 3, 2016

    I love this, especially this quote “Writing can help us reframe our experiences and see ourselves as active participants in our lives, rather than as victims or observers.” I’ve been writing letters to friends for the past few years and I really think it’s helped me understand myself and the world around me more

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  • Louise Johnson October 3, 2016

    Thanks for this Ann! Needed the encouragement today.

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