To write one’s self: reflections on the stories we have to tell

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Don’t write yourself
in between worlds,

rise up against
multiple meanings,

trust the trail of tears,
and learn to live.

             – Paul Celan

 

I have resisted the act of writing my self. Writing about myself. The conceit of imagining that my own experiences hold a value, interest or point of connection for others. I wanted to tell stories, inventions, creations that were removed from the inexorable ordinariness of my own life.

IMGP2477 (1)I am not sure I have that gift. I fear that all the stories I have that are worth telling are real. Not true stories. I do not believe there is an objective truth to the stories we tell ourselves or others. But they are real.

For many years I worked as a storyteller. Not in the conventional sense of the word. I worked with survivors of acquired brain injury and their families. Whether I was meeting with clients, advocating with professionals or leading support groups stories were my medium. I had hundreds of stories, I had a facility for remembering the broad details of the experiences of our clients and their families. Tales of courage, tales of horror, tales of the ordinary and the everyday. I was able to pull out an example whenever I required one to offer warning, hope, validation. And I was able to do so without revealing identifying details.

IMGP2465 (1)As always I was the master of ambiguity. After all that was how I engaged with the world myself. But what is essential in a professional capacity is crippling in a personal sphere.

I have touched at the edges of my own stories, in so far as I am learning to articulate them, in this space from time to time. And I am beginning to wonder whether it is a folly for me  to assume that I have the capacity to make up stories, to entertain with carefully constructed lies.

Or if this mess of a life that has piled up in front of me like heavy wet snow against a plow has to be cleared, examined, transformed into words on a page before I can even begin to figure out if there might be something here that someone else might want to read.

IMGP2461 - Version 2 (1)In the coming days I will officially be two months out from the night a blood clot very nearly took my life. My chest still feels tight, bruised and cracked ribs are slow to heal completely, but I can finally get out and walk with comfort – something that was still impossible a few weeks ago. Rat poison is my friend.

I took my camera out into the neighbourhood this afternoon. The foliage is turning colour, the sky is crystal blue, yet I found my attention turning to the cracks in the road, the fallen leaves in the gutters. I photographed the little things that caught my eye and tried not to think too much.

 

 

Author: roughghosts

Literary blog of Joseph Schreiber. Writer. Reader. Editor. Photographer.

9 thoughts on “To write one’s self: reflections on the stories we have to tell”

  1. Incredibly well written. You truly are both a gifted storyteller and an accomplished writer. I was quite alarmed, though, to hear that rat poison is your friend. The sentence seemed out of place, even amidst your physical pain. In your words and in your photos, I see beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the compliment Kitt. Don’t be alarmed about the rat poison. I am taking Warfarin right now to help dissolve the clot in my lung which I guess takes time. It is carefully controlled in a narrow range – too little and I could be at risk for clots, too much I would be at risk for a hemorrhage. Stroke patients often take it too and, yes, it is typically used to kill mice and rats. I used to work with stroke patients and think that I would never want to take “rat poison” but I’ll tell you I am so paranoid about clots at the moment especially if the one that hit my lung was related to my long trip from South Africa. I want all clot risks minimized for now. So hence my fondness for that particular drug.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The photographs are beautiful! I also understand your desire and your doubt and I think the only way for you to find the answer is to take the plunge and see what happens. You can certainly write well, this blog post proves it!

    Liked by 1 person

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