Often, our stories save us.
You know the stories I mean.
When we grow up abused; or bullied; or neglected; or otherwise in pain…our stories become REAL important to us.
Sometimes they’re myths. Sometimes they’re fairy tales.
Sometimes they’re movies. Sometimes they’re TV shows.
Sometimes they’re even music videos.
For me, it started with comic books. I was way into Superman.
Here was a guy who could do ANYTHING he wanted. He could FLY. He could outrun anyone or anything. He was BULLETPROOF. Superman could have RULED THE WORLD if he’d wanted.
But instead he chose to work a day job— and to use his overwhelming power to help people.
That was a story that saved me.
The Greek myths saved me.
Stories of heroes and survivors, trying to stay alive and fulfill their destinies despite incurring the wrath of gods and nations— those themes spoke to me, as a kid who was trying to navigate a world where every day and every social interaction was…sad.
Star Wars saved me.
As a kid of a narcissistic, addicted father, I resonated strongly with Luke Skywalker’s struggle to find the good in his father— and to come to terms with the potentially dark legacy his father had left in his very genes.
Superman, the Greek myths, Star Wars— they all had things I needed to hear, things I needed to know, woven into their very fabric.
I find survivors of abuse and neglect often NEED those tales and heroes to keep going.
We NEED to know that somewhere out there are people who aren’t like the ones we live with or encounter every day.
We NEED to know that somewhere out there, someone imagined a world that was NOT full of pain or uncertainty every day.
We NEED to know that heroism is possible.
We NEED to know that even the most triumphant stories have their dark chapters.
We NEED to know that somewhere out there are people who are just like us— who are struggling, who get hopeless and tired and frustrated and sad— and who persist anyway.
We NEED to know that we are not alone…and, somehow the very existence of those stories makes us understand that we’re NOT alone.
Many survivors reading this know what it is to be strongly attached to, invested in, stories.
Whether it’s mythology or movies, sitcoms or novels, we return to our stories, again and again, even as adults.
In my job as the Trauma Program director at a psychiatric hospital, I wear a lanyard around my neck with my ID and my hospital keys— a lanyard emblazoned with Star Wars characters.
When my pediatric patients see m Star Wars lanyard, their eyes light up.
They know, instinctively, the power of story. The power of myth.
The power of hope.
And that’s what we’re really talking about, isn’t it?
Our stories remind us of who we are, what we’re all about…and they give us hope.
They remind us that, as the saying goes, everything is going to be okay in the end.
And if it’s not okay— it’s not the end of the story.