I have a good friend who has been through some tough things in his personal and family life recently. He hadn’t returned my calls and I didn’t know how to reach out to help. Fortunately we ran into one another the other day. It was a little awkward and felt like it may be best to say hello and then back off to give him his space. We were in an airport and happened to be on the same flight, so we had a few minutes to talk. Soon the initial surface conversation ebbed, so we started to re-tell the story of a road-trip we had taken together over 16 years earlier. My wife begged us not to go there again, as no one found it as hilarious as we seemed to.
Ignoring her, we relived the memories of exhaustion at driving for hours, and though the landscape was boring the trip was not! In the telling we were wiping our eyes and exaggerating the facts all over again. Within two minutes, any defensiveness, caution, or discomfort had melted away and we felt the love for one another come rushing back to the forefront. We have since had several warm interactions.
I tell this story because there was a friendship re-ignited by a common story, one that was remembered and retold. Years of hurt, misunderstanding, or apathy can simply melt away. Stories are that powerful.
When teens are coming out of treatment, they feel disconnected from their natural support network. They may feel shame, anger, or just confusion on how to talk about their experiences. By having shared stories that are retold between them and a neighbor, an uncle, a teammate, or a sibling, the power of the story takes over and pulls that teen strongly back into their place amongst loving and caring people in their lives. Telling old stories, and sharing the new stories of their life can instantaneously throw up a safety net under them, to protect them in a fragile period of their lives.
In this issue of HomeBase Briefings Bryan discusses how we use concepts from Narrative Therapy in helping families place meaning in their lives through the stories they tell. Roxanne will review the book Like a Library Burning which shows what can be lost when stories aren’t preserved. Dawnie gives you the most simple thing you can do to get stories flowing in your family. And Chelsea shares her own heart wrenching story that turned to triumph in the number of families it has touched. I believe you’re going to feel something in your heart, urging you to share your stories with those you love!
To Family Success and Happiness!