The story you're too afraid to tell.. (and why you should tell it anyway)
Last week I was clearing out some boxes and came across that notebook again. The notebook that has been crying out to me for over ten years, and that I have chosen to ignore time and time again.
If you consider yourself a storyteller, or even if you don’t, you may have a similar notepad or word document that continues to torture you.
It’s the story that you’re too afraid to tell.
For me it’s the story of a strong young woman, raised in a cult, who undoubtedly felt like she didn’t belong. It’s the story of her falling in love with a wonderful man, but a man that her family would never accept. And, it’s the story of her having to make the decision between a life that felt true to her, or a life that she had lived for 21 years.
So why am I so afraid to tell this story?
Because it’s the story of my mother.
I hear time and time again from people that have an incredible story to tell. They're deeply connected to it and usually, it's a very personal story from their own life or someone close to them.
Yet, we put off these stories, often saying we'll get around to it one day, we don’t have the time now or, we need a couple of missing pieces to come together. I don’t believe this to be true, at least not for me.
The truth of the the matter is I don’t want to tell my mother’s story because I am terrified i’ll mess it up.
Last week, when I found this notepad once again, I sat down on the bed with it in my hand, contemplating my next move. I could either shove it back in my ‘things to sort’ box and lift it up to the top shelf of my cupboard once again, or, I could actually commit to finally telling this story.
I decided on the latter, and here’s three main reasons why:
1. I won’t ever feel good enough to be the one to tell it.
Let’s look at the facts… I've heard this story off and on for 32 years now. This story is my mother’s story and I know she's very happy for me to tell it. I am a producer and filmmaker, my full-time job is to bring stories to life. I have an amazing group of supportive professionals around me that would be very happy to help make this story stronger.
With all that taken into account, I still don’t feel like I am worthy of telling it, and the reality is, I won’t ever feel like I am worthy of telling it. It terrifies me because it means so much to me, but that just isn’t a good enough reason to keep putting it off.
2. Because you never know what life is going to serve up.
In December last year I lost someone incredibly special to me. He was an amazing man that had a very small group of people he treasured and people that loved him in a really unique way. For years I had considered bringing together all of the people in his life to create a ‘love film’, which to me would be a short recording of how these people came to be in his life, and why he meant so much to them. My thinking was that this is something he could pull out and watch if he ever felt lonely or low, and we would all have the chance to tell him what we'd thought for a very long time, that we loved him deeply.
I never made this film and now it is too late. I am sure he realised how we all felt about him, but I have so much regret that I never made the time to do this for him. I don’t want this to ever happen again.
If you feel a story in your heart, tell it before it’s too late.
3. What if I don’t?
One of my most read books over the past 20 years is a book my Aunty typed up, that was a recollection of my Grandfather during his time in World War II.
Did it take into consideration storytelling structures? No. Was it grammatically correct? Not always. Did that matter? Not at all.
I often think where the world would be if the people behind inspirational and moving stories, didn’t have the chance or the desire to tell them. I for one know, I have been changed by stories i've found and I would hate to think that my mother's story could possibly go untold.
I want my children to understand what their Nanny did, and how brave she was. I want their children to be able to hear it and appreciate a woman they have never met, and I want it to be passed on to their children, and their children's children. This story will mean something to a lot of people.
And so I am currently writing the script for ‘Sister Golden Hair - a life that was never meant to be’, and I have set myself the goal to have a short documentary released on the story of my mother by the end of 2017.