Letting the Wolf In: Day 3 of 65 ALIVE!

65 alive about stories future story Feb 03, 2022

Beautiful, tragic, tender, terrifying, traumatising -- stories are all of these things. So how do we deal with difficult stories? 

On Day 3 of 65 ALIVE! Elizabeth Ellis and Loren Niemi called on us to step into the discomfort and let the wolf in. They describe difficult stories as those hard to tell and hard to hear.
"Letting the Wolf In: Thinking about difficult stories" is the book they co-authored and in our session they began by speaking to how we try to smooth over discomfort. We distance ourselves from stories that make us feel too much or too guilty, we make rules that certain things may not be spoken, we lie to our children, we are still burning books.
And yet these stories can tell us something important about human nature and what needs to be dealt with. We have yet to deal with the grief and loss, with the tip of the current iceberg even mourning the millions lost to COViD.
The stages of grief begin with anger. We see that all around now. We think we are protecting our children, but as Elizabeth says, they can handle anything when they know the truth. We don't need a new generation of terrified and angry children.
But where to start and where to end? Story is good medicine, but it must be delivered strong, not watered down. If testimony is too stark, use metaphor, tell in the third person, search out stories from other cultures. Be truthful, but be artful, making specific decisions to create the critical balance. Before we had therapists, we had stories and they can still help us now.
Start telling stories of death from all cultures, so we reclaim it as part of life. Offer many perspectives. Make a space for storytelling in this time. Elizabeth offers this cycle --
  • First HAHA -- when we laugh, the heart opens
  • Then AHA -- seeing something new changes our perspective
  • AHHH -- We walk in the shoes of someone else
  • AMEN -- now I'm going to do my part
It takes resilience to face, hear and heal the difficult stories. But this is precisely the work that is called for now.
Here is Jill Greenbaum's harvest of our session. What do you see?

Isn't it time to have a brilliant ally on your side?

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