Let me tell you a story: several stories, in fact.
Firstly: about me. My wife and I had trouble getting pregnant. It was easy, so we thought. It was a tap that just was turned on or off depending on what we wanted, so we were taught.
But it didn’t work. Now we explored everything from medical intervention to herbal supplementation to the weird and wacky old wives’ tales based in mythology and whispers. But there was one overarching question for us: were we alone, and if not, how did others get through this? The most supportive thing we heard wasn’t platitudes or positive-thinking bumper sticker slogans. They were people’s stories, which humanised the whole experience and showed us that people had made it through to the other side.
Now: about others. Over the years I’ve had people in my life who have had mountains to climb. Issues to face. Truths to accept. Unhealthy addictions. Over-reliance on themselves. Still digging in an already-deep hole. And they haven’t wanted to know about it.
One thing I’ve learned is that stories are powerful. So instead of confronting the issue head-on (which, to be honest, is what I’ve felt like doing with some of them), I’ve told them stories about the issue they’re dealing with, or of someone who has trodden that path before.
And the result has almost been the same every time. People opened up. Stories might disarm or crack open a bolted-down lid, but what they do most powerfully is humanise an experience. Put some context around answers to that dreaded question: “why am I feeling like this?”
That’s where my stories come in. I’ve written three novels now around the issues of dealing with emotional baggage, being honest and transparent in relationships, and working out down which road your life is heading.
If you have a friend, family member or colleague who could benefit from the chance to think a bit deeper about their life, lend them a copy of the book. It will start conversations, and crack open that bolted-down lid.
And if there are any other issues you’d like to see explored, let me know.