I was told that telling a story while you’re still bleeding from it puts the audience in the seat of the therapist, or at least, not the receiver. And while I fully hear that and can’t disagree, I was determined to tell the story that prompted my book: The Art of Strength.
After many practice sessions through tears, my coach said I may not be ready. Maybe you should pick another aspect of your story? But he stood by me and guided me through the maze of my emotions finding the places that would anchor me.
When in my final preparations for my book’s signature talk, I passed it by a director friend of mine. His response after listening was, “Beautifully written and beautifully spoken, but I don’t think you want to be pretty. You want to have authority so people take action.” He continued with this instruction, “Underline every verb and pop those verbs whenever possible.” So, I did.
This note was incredible. Accenting the verbs changed the meaning of the story from something that happened to me to something that I owned about me. The ownership peeled back another layer of the proverbial onion of healing.
Without challenging myself to speak the story with authority, rather than as a victim/survivor, this layer would not have surfaced. The surfacing, was messy; but cathartic. In that last 24-hours of preparation I was so blocked I was forgetting the entire talk, not just lines here and there.
My body needed to scream it out of its muscle memory; cry it out of its mental beliefs; laugh it out of its heart’s survival strategies. So, I did.
I screamed, cried and laughed so hard I thought I may not have a voice left for the talk! My body let go of so much emotional tension that I literally felt transparent. As if you could have waved your hand through my body.
“One feels as if One is dissolved and merged into Nature.”
My personal tension template had become fragmented. And for the next day’s talk reorganized; and for future talks restored.
I had to own my story FOR my audience, something I had not yet been able to do for myself.
There may be more layers? In fact, there’s no doubt in my mind that there are. But speaking was a prompt to heal myself for the world.
In this way, my audience was my therapist.