|Posted on 26 December, 2015 at 9:00|
Just Because We Have a Story To Tell – Does That Mean We Should Tell It?
I guess the answer is probably no. Although having spoken to a number of people whose stories I found extremely interesting, there’s no doubt that some of us would benefit from reading the stories of others.
Take my friend Clive for instance. Clive is 84 and has a lifetime of exciting adventurous stories, many of which are hilarious; whilst others would make your hair curl. I’ve known him for 33 years and in that time he has regaled to me countless events in his life. Yet although I can see he has achieved an incredible amount, he doesn’t think so and has huge regrets about not doing more. Two thoughts spring to mind when I think about Clive's stories, one is how much pleasure others would get from reading about his exploits around the world. And the other is the peace of mind it would give Clive if he read just how much he really has done in his long life.
Recently I met someone whose story was so harrowing I was left feeling extremely angry. Aged 26, he had just been released from prison on licence; which means he has to visit his probation officer and the police every week. If he fails to keep appointments or commits even a minor crime he will be sent back to prison to finish his sentence. On the face of it that sounds fair enough, until I heard how he came to be sent to prison.
A very likeable fella, he admits he is easily led. And combined with a need to ‘fit in’, six years ago he found himself at the mercy of drug dealers. He didn’t owe them money; if he had he could probably have found a way to clear his debt. Much more severe was that once they had befriended him and he felt like ‘one-of-the-gang’, they then used him as a guinea pig to test their untried drugs before selling them on the streets.
For six years they filled his body with all sorts of deadly chemicals, using whichever vein they could find to inject their trade of misery and death. Being sent to prison for a crime he committed whilst off his face from another test, it was probably a blessing as it meant he was able to escape their clutches.
Today he is trying desperately hard to rebuild his life and avoid not only going back to prison, but also drugs and drug dealers.
There is one more person I will mention, whose story I found as interesting as the first two. 55 year old Roger (not his real name) lived in a rundown council estate, where because he was an outsider there were a number of people who tried to make his life a misery. That however was the least of his problems, as for the past twenty years he had been battling against alcoholism.
He first started drinking heavy when he began having nightmares, during which time he saw the friends he once had blown to bits in front of him on the battlefield. The more nightmares he had the more he drank, until eventually his wife could take no more and left him. He remarried again a couple of years later, but the marriage lasted just a year before his new wife also left him.
His family and friends disowned him due to his violent temper, which only surfaced when he had a drink. And no matter how much they pleaded with him to seek help he wouldn’t, always replying that he didn’t have a problem and refusing to talk about it. To cut a very long story short, it wasn’t until he began dating Susan (again not her real name) that things began to change in Rogers’s life.
By chance Susan worked as a counsellor, and thinking Roger might have some underlying problems persuaded him to write down what it was that was bothering him instead of talking about it. This he eventually did, and it was at that point he finally admitted that he had a problem.
He didn’t show Susan what he had written, and she didn't ask. And he still refuses to talk about it, though he does drink less these days; a lot less. He also doesn’t lose his temper or wet the bed anymore. And Susan became his wife.
Within each of us is a unique story that no one else can claim as their own. We don't have to tell it to the world, we could just use it as a form of therapy or personal pleasure. Or maybe we have a story that would entertain or educate; we could even use our story to leave our mark for future generations.
The choice is ours.