the duality of being
If you know me at all, you know that I love specifics - I’m borderline obsessed with them. This, however, is sometimes an inverted metric - especially if you’ve done any 12-step work. Early in recovery, I was told that my story was valuable insofar as it was interchangeable or unoriginal. The point of telling stories wasn’t about being a great storyteller; it was about being of service to the other people in the room. But it was also “don’t talk about heroin or getting stabbed and shot at in AA because you’re gonna freak some wino with under 30 days out”, which is understandable and also why different recovery platforms exist.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not discounting humility or discernment for discretion. But the idea that the only way to be attentive is to forget the self, either in a narrative or a conceptual sense, doesn’t just feel reductive to me; I believe it’s harmful. Time-again I’ve watched marketed selflessness warp into the minification and dismissal of trauma, followed by character-assassination and self-destruction.
That isn’t to say our pain and traumas are unprecedented or that demanding special attention for attention’s sake is healthy. Healing takes place in the balance between minifying and overstating/causing more harm.
I want to dive between the joints and marrow of my soul; to what Yeats called the rag bone shop of the heart. There’s a type of duality that exists there, a superposition of our narratives where they can hold individual truth, intimacy, and meaning while being shared. It’s simultaneously unique and non-exclusive.
What if we looked at every single person’s story as a site of possibly infinite meaning? What if we came to believe that there isn’t hubris or narcissism in thinking our stories might be worth sharing because they’re unique, different, or the same? Telling our stories, actively and truthfully, can be an incredible offering.
How can these words—foreign, familiar, or trite—serve as a bridge between our very different lives? How do I speak to you in a way that you can understand? How can I love you in a way that you recognize?