Telling Stories

5 years ago this fall, some really, really bad things happened to me and my family. The details would take hundreds of pages, but after a few weeks of increasingly hard news, I could barely get out of bed. I kept getting really sick. Mostly, I was really scared and really sad. I felt deeply alone and without the ability to make head or tail of what I should do or how to heal myself. I started having flashbacks to painful experiences in childhood and I often felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt stuck inside two life-altering events and I couldn’t figure the way out.

Almost 5 years ago I asked to be on the waiting list to see a lady named Sue. I picked her based on her photo and the location of her education. I may not have attended a real college myself, but I’m a total snob when it comes to selecting the people who are going to hear my stories. Everyone else on the approved provider list looked like Bible salesmen or counselors with a lower-case c. I had already spent too many years with Bible salesmen and lower-case counselors. I was a grown up. I was deep in depression, but I knew what I wasn’t willing to do again. I wanted a bona-fide therapist with an understanding of trauma. I didn’t want to be future memoir material for someone else and I didn’t want to participate in silly theories. I had a story inside me that needed to be told.

I sat in the peachy glow of Sue’s cozy office week after week. I learned the colors of each book on the shelf, the lines of each intricate piece of art, as I learned my voice, as I found a path through destruction. My story came out of me haltingly and then all of a sudden it came pouring out in a rush. Many evenings I talked nonstop the entire 45 minutes. There was so much to say and now that I’d finally found the words, I couldn’t stop saying all of it. Everything in that room felt like home. I don’t have a childhood memory or idea of home tucked away in a happy mental place or in a real box of photos. I know more about transience and change then I do about stability. But now I have an idea of what that must feel like. I know what it feels like to curl up in the same chair, week after week, and feel seen and heard, even when you’re completely falling apart.

I kept returning and I kept talking. I kept healing. I found my own way to peace with events outside of my control. I figured out what I wanted to do with the next part of my life. I let several energy draining relationships go. I learned how to be more connected to my kids and how to feel my own heart. I became a much more stable partner to my husband and a much healthier friend. All of this was possible because I was given the space and time to tell my story, and the freedom to extract my own meaning and my own answers.

I know that I could have gotten help lots of places. I know several people who wanted me to do it a different way and do it a lot sooner. I know there are people who think therapy is suspect–not real science or medicine—and narcissistic. I know that I am here, integrated and fully alive, because I found my way through my story. I also know that I’m here because of a lady named Sue. I am here because my story belonged in that room and was held with tenderness and respect. As a result, I belonged too.

There’s a phrase we use at Vivid all the time. It’s one of our core beliefs and everything we write, record, and create must clear its test. It’s simply this: “Your story belongs.” When Bronwyn and I first wrote those words, we were sitting in her sunny living room on a gorgeous summer day, partway through our first planning retreat. We were in the process of making some amazing new things but we were struggling to figure out how they all fit together and what it all meant for our future. In short, we knew we needed to make a big leap but we needed a clear why. We delved deeper into what we were envisioning for women. There was a thread connecting everything and suddenly we saw it. Suddenly we knew exactly what we needed to do, and how we wanted to do it. We wanted to create a space wide enough for all of your stories. We wanted you to feel, from the moment you entered our website, that you belonged. And we wanted to show you, not just tell you. We wanted to live it every single day.

Bronwyn and I aren’t therapists, trauma or otherwise. We aren’t doctors of body or brain. We are listeners and questioners. We are believers in telling stories and finding the right people to listen. We are path wideners. We are practitioners of connecting women with resources and then letting them find their own why and their own how. We are courageous. We are creating classes and spaces welcoming to women of every menopausal and midlife experience. We are giant-hearted, gutsy, and often a little terrified by the scope of our plans. We know what it’s like to stand outside our story and worry that it’s not enough. We also know the deep-heart sigh of relief when we belong.

Your vivid life, your ache for being heard, your story really does belong here. Welcome. I’m so glad you’re here.

About Annagrace

Lover of food memoirs, strong coffee, intricate poetry, and interesting wine. I am a mother, sister, wife, and loyal friend. I was drawn to create Vivid with Bronwyn Simons out of a deep love for the diverse and intricate experiences of women everywhere. I love watching women walk into their stories and discover and name their essential reasons and passions. I believe that we can heal our wounded, modern stories and live our own beautifully unique versions of Vivid Lives.

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