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When Stories Hurt

1 topic : 4 voices. This post was inspired by something Susan Piver wrote on twitter. “There is a way to write that solidifies your story and a way to write that liberates you from it.” The ensuing conversation was too wonderfully juicy to leave to 140 characters. Tweeting then and writing now are Susan Piver, Hiro Boga, Jennifer Louden and myself. I’m honored to be in their company. Please follow the links, read their blogs, and enjoy their expanding wisdom on the subject.

update: 5 voices. Dave Navarro wrote an incredible post you really should see called How to Stop Telling Your Sad, Sad Story.

shimmering sunflower

sunflower shimmer © 2010 Mahala Mazerov

I’m a believer in the power of stories. They teach, inspire, and heal. Stories can express the depth of sorrow for what we’ve lost. They remind us of challenges faced and overcome. We reclaim our wholeness through stories.

But sometimes stories hurt. They’re like shards of glass wedged in our psyche. They may be nearly invisible, half-forgotten. Then we brush up against them and are stunned by their fresh pain.

We all have stories like this. They drag us to the past even us as we move forward in time. A new event unfolds and triggers the old hurt, making it a little more true in our minds.

We believe we are our stories. They describe our fears, reasons for anger, feelings of being unloved, and our perceived limitations.

Our mind cycles through them, trying to make sense, trying to resolve the pain into a neat package that doesn’t hurt any more. But every time we revisit them instead of finding resolution we seem to drive the shards a little deeper into our hearts.

Here are two truths: We are not our stories. Some things are not resolvable.

Freedom then depends on something besides resolution. Something different than making peace with the past so as to be untouched by it.

One way to work with painful stories is to move beyond the story all together. Move beyond the narrative that only serves to hook us further. We’re talking about this right now in the shenpa course I’m teaching. We’re learning to stay, which means learning to stay present with the pure vibration, sensation and emotion without going into words. (You’ll find some guidelines in this compassionate abiding post.)

Another way to work with stories that hurt is to hold awareness of the story, but make a radical turn outward. Instead of holding the hurt close as your own private provenance, extend your gaze. When you do you’ll discover your personal story is mirrored in the lives of others as far as you can see. Shimmering in Indra’s net.

Staying present to the pain of your experience and looking outward, compassion arises spontaneously.

Now the words of maitri meditation (metta, loving-kindness) swell with meaning.

May I live in safety. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease.

Knowing how my personal pain shackles me, knowing what it feels like to cry, to rage, to doubt myself…

Knowing you want happiness and freedom just as I do, I say with all my heart…

May you live in safety. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you live with ease.

Your story becomes spacious with humanity. Not resolved. Transformed.

Your thoughts invited: What wounding, personal story can you see as a story of humanity?

17 Responses to When Stories Hurt
  1. Hiro Boga
    June 11, 2010 | 1:32 pm

    Lovely, Mahala!

    Resolution has always struck me as one of those concepts that exist primarily in the mind rather than in lived experience.

    Transformation is real, and available as soon as we look beyond our stories to the truth of our shared reality.

    Thank you for this beautiful post!

    Love, Hiro
    Hiro Boga´s last blog ..Tsunamis In the House of WholenessMy ComLuv Profile

    • Mahala Mazerov
      June 11, 2010 | 1:52 pm

      Hello dear,

      In many ways our brains seem to be wired for resolution, making sense of patterns – recognizing the difference between a snake and a piece of rope, for example. I’m sure it’s a protective function, just as we try to protect ourselves from hurt.

      But insisting on it does prevent a lot of “lived experience” and “shared reality” doesn’t it?

      Lovely writing with You, Jennifer and Susan.

  2. Jennifer Louden
    June 11, 2010 | 1:33 pm

    Ah… what a line: Freedom then depends on something besides resolution. I have had to learn this in the last years, or have been lucky enough to start to learn it. I feel such mercy reading your post, such hope. I feel like your pictures of flowers!
    Truly brilliant. Thank you!
    Jennifer Louden´s last blog ..Story Week: Biting ThroughMy ComLuv Profile

    • Mahala Mazerov
      June 11, 2010 | 1:53 pm

      No matter how much I wish otherwise, (for all of us!) we learn to find our freedom because we have to. Then we realize how beautiful the new way is. Mercy, hope, feeling like flowers. :-)

      Thank you for being part of this writing experiment.

  3. Susan Gallacher-Turner
    June 11, 2010 | 1:35 pm

    Your words slipped into my soul, danced softly and came to rest in a new healing space…thank you.

    • Mahala Mazerov
      June 11, 2010 | 1:56 pm

      Thank you for your beautiful words. I see your softly dancing spirit in your art. Simply beautiful.

  4. LaShae
    June 11, 2010 | 1:36 pm

    My heart opened with your words, and for once – soon often, it did not hurt upon opening.

    Thank you.

    • Mahala Mazerov
      June 11, 2010 | 1:57 pm

      LaShae, your words almost made me cry. Heart opening is so often such a raw experience. Staying open, too. I send my love.

  5. Stephanie
    June 11, 2010 | 1:37 pm

    This is bringing tears to my eyes as I am writing this now. Hurt hurts and trying to get past it also makes you realize things you may not want to realize. I am now crying.

    • Mahala Mazerov
      June 11, 2010 | 1:57 pm

      Sweet Stephanie. I think we all try to barricade ourselves against things we don’t want to realize. Then when we open our heart – if we still can – a flood comes rushing in. Please be very gentle with your tears. Know that you’re not alone.

  6. Shannon
    June 11, 2010 | 1:39 pm

    We are not our stories.

    I’ve been reading a lot of Byron Katie lately, and this is the core of her work. Your story and mantra says “transmutation” to me… loving it. Your writing is like flowers.

    Your blog has changed so much since I was last here! It’s beautiful. I’ll be back often :)
    Shannon´s last blog ..Ask the Astrologer #7 – Moon Transits and Lunar ReturnsMy ComLuv Profile

  7. Susan Piver
    June 11, 2010 | 1:40 pm

    “Staying present to the pain of your experience and looking outward, compassion arises spontaneously.”

    Thank you, Mahala, for so elegantly pointing out that pain and wisdom are on a continuum and if we can relax with who we are, all the transformation we could ever need is there for us. xox S

  8. hazel colditz
    June 11, 2010 | 1:41 pm

    mahala…beautiful new site!

    so good to hear from you…and this new post w/hero, jennifer and susan…powerful words of wisdom! you girls rock in force! i’ve read all three and can appreciate all views into pain/healing. transformation from your perspective feels clear as light! to let go of our attachments in mind/body no matter how painful or happy is a constant in our human world…i delight and rejoice in your guidance in benefiting sooo many who come upon your lovley site!!
    will be in touch soon…hazel

  9. Elana
    June 12, 2010 | 6:26 pm

    Mahala, some of my most painful stories have been transformed through staying with them, giving them a place to expand and eventually metamorphose into something totally unexpected and even wonderful. Complete other worlds of empathy are created with the compassion that comes with the awareness that *we all have stories*

    Thank you. : )

  10. [...] For a kaleidoscopic view of this issue (storytelling vs truth telling), check them out. Hiro Boga: Tsunamis in the House of Wholeness Jennifer Louden: How to Be a Writer Who Loves the Gap Mahala Mazerov: When Stories Hurt [...]

  11. [...] is part of a blog flurry about writing with my friends Susan Piver, Hiro Boga, and Mahala Mazerov. Partake of their posts today [...]

  12. Cathy
    June 22, 2010 | 1:44 am

    Thanks, Mahala, for making such a valid point. In my first novel, which I am workshopping into final draft this summer in Taos, I explored the idea of infidelity in a marriage. This was extremely difficult to write, but it allowed me to look at the idea in new ways, to experience the pain that my characters felt (which was different from how I personally had perceived it) and to move through the pain and to a newer, more “loving-kindness” focused understanding of all of the intricacies of a relationship instead of making broad assumptions. Writing this helped me heal, and also opened me up in ways that I never expected. Thanks for your insights – Cathy
    Cathy´s last blog ..Poetry, love, and painMy ComLuv Profile

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