“What’s the sob sorry you keep telling over and over – to yourself, to your friends. You know, the one about why your life isn’t working out the way you want it….” I don’t remember his exact words, but everyone in the room knew what he meant. We all had that story – running on repeat in our heads. Mine was about a failed relationship. Except I had this idea that maybe it could be redeemed. And that’s the story I told again and again. I was in my early 20’s. All my friends knew the story.
“Write down that story – pour it all out. Like you were telling it to a friend,” he said. We wrote. Silently. For pages and pages. We were given all the time we needed to get the whole thing down. When you finished, you took your story and left the room. Eventually everyone was out of the room. Then we were invited back in.
And this was where the magic happened. We were given the opportunity to read what we wrote to someone who’s only response was to listen actively, maybe with a nod of the head. We read our story over and over and over again. The listeners rotated, and I kept reading my story. Until eventually I started skipping parts. Because they didn’t matter anymore. Then, I skipped larger parts. Other people left the room – I was unsure why at first. I kept reading. Then, I realized. I was done. I didn’t feel I had to read the story anymore. I couldn’t quite explain why, but I got up and left. And just like that, I got over my story.
That was more than ten years ago. I don’t recall the details of that story, but what sticks with me is how well it worked. Last week, I sat in my bed and wrote another one of those stories. Yes, about another relationship. Then I read it out loud to myself over and over and over. But I didn’t feel the same effect. I thought it was because there was no one there to listen.
But this morning, I realized it DID work. I hadn’t thought about him since I wrote it. People had asked about him, and there wasn’t anything left to say. I went back this morning and I read what I wrote, and it had no hold on me anymore.
This morning I wrote and read another one. I have two more in my head that will go through the process in the coming weeks. I spent the last six months getting rid of my physical “stuff” in order to live on the road for a year. Now I’m working on all the other “stuff.” And it’s working:)