MMax Retro Read: [Nourish] Claiming Rights
This “Your Story Matters” sticker is available through The Office of Letters and Light.
When you’ve spent the majority of your life writing, there are certain things you can’t escape. For starters: a full catalog of your past experience, forever available to haunt you in the best and worst ways. I’ve been thinking about some of those things I wrote way back when, some of which are more easily shared than others. So I figured, while you all are trying to fan off the NaNoWriMo-induced MMax withdrawal, I might share one with y’all.
Here’s what I sounded like, at the age of eighteen, neck-deep in Melody Beattie and Iyanla Vanzant, trying to give people the same transformation I’d experience. (Minus the struggle bound up in it. Obviously.)
If you’re inclined to hear more from the pre-twenties, endearingly-kooky-woo MMax, that project is still available here.
Your story counts. Your history matters. It may have made sense to ignore it, to brush it away, to minimize it, in the past, but the past needs to present itself eventually. You have every right to feel what you are feeling now, every right to be as broken and as strong as you are, every right and every reason. The situation you are in is, in all likelihood, not all that you deserve, but you
deserve to claim it. You deserve the right to say, “I am here, and I am here for a reason.” Everything else – “nothing that bad ever happened to me” and “everyone else has been through so much more” – distances you from your truth. Minimizing your story keeps you from accessing it, keeps you from telling it, keeps you from the honesty and the strength inside your experience. Feelings are
reactions; experience grows from the interaction of many, many factors. Your pain, your struggle, is not random. It’s not something you made happen. It’s not something you deserve. It’s not senseless. You deserve help because you deserve recognition. Your pain deserves attention; you deserve to be tended to and comforted. Your struggle is not your fault; it is your challenge, and you
deserve help in facing it.
No one has written a rulebook on how much pain one should shoulder or how much difficulty must be endured before asking for help. Why is your pain not enough? Why is your struggle not justified? Why should you be able to handle this yourself? Even if someone did say so, has said so, why on earth should they be taken seriously? Why wouldn’t you deserve every kindness in the
world, every kindness you can imagine and more? No one says, “Until it reaches this temperature, you should not sweat.” They understand that individuals have different thresholds, different bodies, different levels of activity. Claim your right to need and feel and ask. You don’t have to be alone. You don’t have to handle what others seem to handle. You don’t have to live anyone else’s life,
and certainly not the life of someone as seen from the outside. You don’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to suffer endlessly. You have a right to claim what you’re experiencing, and what you have experienced, and say that for a reason, these experiences have led you to where you are. You have a right to believe you are as strong and as good as everyone surrounding you. You have the
right to know that stoicism and strength are different things. You have the right to know, even as you fight pain and call for help, that you are strong.
No one can know you as well as you can know yourself. No one can tell you what you need, as well as that still small voice within. (A voice, which – for the record – you might find is anything but small and still, which may be dancing and enormous and altogether lovely in a whole new way.) Set down the burden of other people’s standards. Set down the weight of their schedules, their projected needs, their perception. Acquaint yourself with what youneed and what you know. Several billion different lives are being led at any given time. You will not be alone in the one that you choose, even if it’s the one mapped out inside you, the one that seems so risky and so dangerous. You will not be overcome by living, ever. Struggle without aid, pain without hope, a lost voice, a superimposed life – all these things can conquer you, can leave you drained, pained, uncertain about life. Know then that these things are not life. In life, you have the right to support, to hope, to listen to yourself, and act according to your needs. You have the right to live according to your own identity, which means claiming it. You must give yourself the right to speak openly and not be judged. To feel free in life, you must allow yourself the liberty to live.
To feel safe, you must learn how to hold yourself in the quiet moments and how to find comfort in all that is you.
File under: things I still believe.