Random thoughts from an animal-loving French prof / mom of three on things she finds beautiful, funny, sad, or strange.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

We all need a story

"Tell me a story," I said as I snuggled in, both of us having decided to make peace with my insomnia. Somewhat bewildered and probably uncomfortable, he replied that he didn't have any. This, in retrospect, could be the moment our relationship started not to work as well as it once had. Then again, maybe not. He actually had plenty of stories, tales from a life often different from mine, words that I still hold close to my heart. They remind me that just because a story might not end as you'd hoped, that doesn't mean it ended badly. It might simply be that it's time for a new chapter.

People without stories do exist, however. My son is one of them. It's not that his life doesn't have events, moods, feelings, settings, characters. It does. But because the narrative arc did not unfold the way it should have in his first years on earth, he has essentially lost the ability to grasp, much less tell, his own story. He holds it at a distance, trying not only to bury the past, but also to avoid the future. After all, the elements of his early story let him down. Why take that risk again?

Needless to say, this breaks my heart. It breaks for him and all he has suffered. It breaks because his story literally scares him half to death (and yes, I mean "literally" - check his heart rate and pupils during therapy if you don't believe me). What's more, his refusal of his own story has made him resistant to other stories as well. If there is one gift I have always wanted to give my children, besides the obvious one of unconditional love, it would be words. I want them to have not just their words, but also all the rest, the ones that create word-journeys to other worlds. Maybe those words, those worlds, will give them what they need. Maybe they will let them live often happily, always wholly, ever after.

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