The stories we let go of.

When I worked in an adult homeless shelter I heard many people’s stories. It was almost a ritual for staff. Whenever someone was talking about ‘their story’ of how they ended up at the shelter, the staff member would bring the client to my office door and ask, “Do you have a few minutes to listen to this woman/man’s story?”

I always had time for their stories.

They were, in many cases, all they had left of their past. All they carried with them. All they had to hold onto to remind them of who they were before…

…Before their husband took off leaving them with 3 small children, no money, no job, no prospects. For a while, they managed to keep it together. Eventually, the burden, the constant struggle to make a few dollars stretch to cover all the days of the month would take their toll. One drink became another and another until, the children were taken away and they were left, alone. Broken. Searching for release from the pain and turmoil that had become their life.

…Before the car accident that stole their wife and child leaving them unable to comprehend the sheer horror of what happened.

…Before the divorce. The fall from a roof. The fight. The breakdown. The big mistake…

People arrived at the shelter with their stories tightly gripped in memory banks and hands. Stories of how… life used to be.

…We were happy. I loved her. I always wanted to go to college. I had a career. I only wanted to be a good dad. I built things. I was well-respected. I made people laugh. I liked to sing. I painted. I wrote. I took care of people…

They would share their stories and I would listen deeply.

To the pain. The sadness. Sorrow. Regret. Confusion. Disbelief. Anger…

They would share their stories and I would hear the yearning for ‘the way things used to be’.

And when they were done, I’d tell them how sorry I was for what happened. How they must feel lost and alone. So sad.

Yet, no matter how they felt, one fact remained the same. None of us are powerful enough to change the past.

We can only look to today to find the path to tomorrow.

Sometimes I’d ask, “Are you able to let go?”

And they would inevitably reply. ‘Of course,’

Don’t we all believe that? Don’t we all believe we can change, leave the one we love who’s hurting us. give up smoking. find a job. go back to school. get sober. lose weight. change directions.

If only it were so easy.

We all have stories we tell on ourselves.

And when those stories are the only thing we have to hold onto, letting them go can feel like we are losing ourselves. It can feel so scary and overwhelmingly huge we hold onto them as if our lives depend upon their presence to keep us grounded on this earth.

We all have stories we tell on ourselves that hold us down.

Stories that begin with, I can’t. I don’t know how. I’ve never. It’s too late…

Are you willing to let go?

8 thoughts on “The stories we let go of.

  1. Great piece – and a wonderful writing prompt. It’s important to tell our stories – whether out loud, on a page or on a stage; it all starts with waking up to the horrible/wonderful reality of being alive. Every day is a responsibility and opportunity twisted together like wires, one existing because of, held up by and welded to the other – we carry on because we can, and even when we have so little to give, we show by example that life is still in us, and we are still and always worthy of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We all have stories from our past that help us better understand who we are today, where we may wish to go tomorrow.
    We all have stories from our past that are the foundation of the person we have become.
    We all have stories from the past that allow us to take the path to the unknown, the next adventure.
    We all have stories from the past that we may chose not to share, that we do not share, that we will not share, that remain imbedded forever in our subconscious.
    We all have stories from the past … I know I do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beautiful images, and sentiment Iwona. It is the power of the ‘unknown’ stories that is most concerning. On those days when I find myself acting out, I must ask… what buried story am I working off of today? And then, I must listen deeply.

      Like

  3. I loved this blog so true – and I loved your quote – I am going to use it for my presentation – really meaningful for my life. I made the decision to let go a while back and it has been by far the best decision I have ever made in my life, that and trusting in God to lead me.

    Liked by 1 person

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