high-school, world domination, and other messed-up stories

high-school

When I was in high-school I was miserable almost every day. I experienced myself as unpopular, uncool, unattractive, unnoticed. Most of the time I lived in the merest sliver of space that seemed an uncrossable chasm: just on the margins of the in-crowd, never quite making it to the other side. It’s true: the popular, cool, attractive, and always-noticed kids were my friends. We talked. We sat at the same table together in the lunch room. I don’t remember ever sitting alone on the bus. Still, I couldn’t quite make it into that undefined, nebulous, certainly-perfect place. I was convinced there was some missing piece or quality or secret that if I could only discover would magically have my entire life unfolding before me in Seventeen-magazine-like perfection, flowers spontaneously blooming across my path, and the list of boys waiting to dance with me growing longer than all the crepe-paper from every gymnasium event stretched end-to-end.

Messed-up, I know.

world domination

As five-hundred people have descended on Portland, OR this weekend for the World Domination Summit, I find myself in that sliver-y chasm again. I know: I could have registered early enough to get one of the tickets. I didn’t. And so, I feel just a little bit left out. Just a little bit on the margins. Just a little bit insecure. Looking through the glass from the outside and wishing again for that missing piece or quality or secret that would get me into that group of cool kids.

Messed-up, I know.

other messed-up stories

High-school and world domination notwithstanding, here are a few more I’ve been known to tell myself. WARNING: these are pretty bad:

  • I will fade into obscurity – book(s) never written, blog never read, Twitter account dwindling, and FB threatening to shut me down because so few people have friended me that I’m just taking up valuable virtual space.
  • Financial doom is certain.
  • My daughters will not be able to find therapists brilliant enough to help them through their their wackadoo childhood, their mother-disgust, their learned pathology.
  • I will not be loved…enough. Long enough. Strong enough. Consistently enough. Passionately enough. And that’s understandable, because I probably don’t deserve it anyway.
  • I have nothing of value to offer.

Oh, and let’s see, there are these:

  • I can’t write. And no one wants to read me anyway.
  • I can’t speak. And no one wants to listen to me anyway.
  • What I do write and speak about is probably only interesting to me.

Believe me, I know better. Voices straight from the pit of hell. Whether from high school thirty-two years ago (!@#$%#), this weekend not in Portland, or on a day-to-day basis, no amount of awareness, sheer willpower, or even excellent therapy makes them disappear. Nor do any valiant, but misplaced efforts to ignore, repress, or dissociate from them.

My messed-up stories are redeemed through the stories of others.

Despite the examples above, which I’ll tell you, I’m loathe to admit, there is another story (well actually, lots of them) that I love to tell – and live. It’s my deal, my passion, my can’t-get-away-from-even-if-I-tried reality: I reimagine and retell stories, predominantly of women, that have been mangled, misaligned, and often just silenced. (All this while simultaneously eating apples boldly, talking to snakes and dabbling in the space between being a dominatrix and a prophet.)

Lest you think the doing of such is completely altruistic, I confess: I tell their stories because I must; because as I do, I am reimagining and retelling my own. My messed-up stories are redeemed and I am, as well.

Two cases-in-point:

Hagar: If you’ve read much of what I’ve written, you know that I love her story. I have (re)worked, (re)written and wept over it – in both grief and celebration. I’ve been unswervingly compelled to tell it in ways that bring her harm as well as beyond-belief magnificence to the fore. And the more time that I spend in her story, the more I am able to acknowledge my harm and my beyond-belief magnificence. In telling hers, I am (re)telling my own. My story is redeemed through hers.

The Woman at the Well: I love her story, too. I’ve (re)worked, (re)written, and wept over it – in both grief and celebration. Told for thousands of years in ways that keep her on the margins, she is actually strong, beautiful, proud, and uber-intelligent. As established in my oh-so-pathetic high-school story above, I’ve done margins. The more time that I spend in her story, I am reminded that I’m not alone and what’s more, that I too, am strong, beautiful, proud, and relatively intelligent. In telling hers, I am (re)telling my own. My story is redeemed through hers.

===========================================================

You and your stories are no different, messed-up or otherwise.The ones that murmur in your ear and remind you that you’re not enough…or maybe too much are waiting to be retold and reimagined. No high-school reunion or weekend in Portland can offer that. But other stories can – and do.

Whether realized or not, the stories (and people) you are most drawn to are the ones that are (re)telling your own – if you will listen. Novels, movies, music, blog posts, even Sacred Texts, and certainly recurring conversations with friends, lovers, family, and total strangers. These are the narratives that invite you to new and as-yet unimagined stories; ones you’d never dare dream, far from messed-up and instead, infused with strength, beauty, confidence, and hope. Redeemed.

It’s not that we never revert to stories of ridiculous self-loathing or other-inflicted pain. Those demons still murmur. But as we allow others’ stories to companion, speak, and guide, ours become ones we want to tell, perpetuate, and live. Redeemed, indeed.

I’m thinking this trumps both high-school popularity and world domination.

Share
Click any and all of these buttons to share! Thank you!

    My writing. My heart. Your inbox. Subscribe.
    Blessings: a (free) gift from me to you. You deserve to hear and know the most beautiful truth(s) about yourself. Sign up.

    { 25 comments… read them below or add one }

    Heather Plett June 5, 2011 at

    This is why I love you. Thank you for daring to say the words on my heart.
    Heather Plett recently posted..Teaching from the heart

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick June 5, 2011 at

    ‘Love you back, woman. Thank you for being here and with me.

    Reply

    Garrett June 5, 2011 at

    This is so beautiful, Ronna, and the zenith of it, how you work with other womens’ stories to gain self understanding and power, what an example you set. I have felt all the insecurities you describe and scarcely am immune to them today, even as I try to relax and not let the world be too much with me. I’m thinking of a girl from high school who might not have considered herself popular. Remembering a teacher saying to her in class, “T_ will you please open your book and at least feign interest,” and how humiliated I would have felt. I see her today and she is a teacher, writer, athlete, beautiful and strong, and yet there are probably moments where she feels disatisfied, enervated, not enough, wrong. I don’t know, it is not for me to say. And Heather said more in 17 words to remind you that you are not alone than I’ve said here, so I’ll stop now. Thank you for continuing to write and be who you are and letting us in on your evolving story.
    Garrett recently posted..What am I waiting for

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick June 5, 2011 at

    Garrett. So generous. So kind. So appreciated. Thank you.

    Reply

    Alisha June 5, 2011 at

    Yes, yes. I know those stories all too well. I was just reading a blog post earlier that stressed the importance of us telling our stories because in doing so we help one another. Thanks for sharing yours–and these in particular which I really needed to read today.
    Alisha recently posted..How to Turn Your Life Into a Nightmare

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick June 5, 2011 at

    Thanks for the kind words, Alisha. They – and you – influence my story ongoing…

    Reply

    Teresa June 5, 2011 at

    Ah, the popular group in high-school! I had no desire to be a part of it, once I saw how they operated, yet I never found a group of my own. The brain-geeks that were my defacto group have not remained part of my life. I’ve never understood people who reminisce about high-school.

    World Domination. Wow. Sounded so cool. Was kind of close. We so don’t have the funds for this right now. And I really am afraid that in attending I’d find myself over on the edges again – not quite part of the group….

    Where does this terrible longing to belong come from? Even when I believe in my uniqueness. Even when I describe myself as fiercely independent. Even when I have walked away from a poisonous family and chosen my own soul-family from kindred spirits.

    I’m so glad you are re-telling these stories. So grateful that you are sharing your own experiences. It feels much less alone this way. Like we are balancing on this high wire of friendship and life together.

    Hugs and butterflies,
    ~T~

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick June 6, 2011 at

    No, Teresa, not alone and…even more…naming the illusions by telling the truth. The longing to belong? We desire it because we deserve it; built for relationship, being seen, being known. It’s harmful when it’s lacking and beyond-gorgeous when it shows up. Let’s stick with places/people that offer the latter, eh?

    Reply

    ORing June 5, 2011 at

    Stories through the lives of others … so profound and so you Ronna. Nicely done …

    I’m being asked to attend a 35 year reunion which I think I’ll skip. Fly to San Diego to hang out with people who remember me more than I remember them just isn’t how I want to spend $1,000.00

    Besides, the group I hung with shook down a couple of guys, okay a few guys and maybe a girl or two for lunch money and cigarettes. Shoulder shrug … what can I say?

    My luck one of the balding overweight Joes will be a retired CHiP who has a baton with my name on it.

    As for the PDX people … my only regret is that I didn’t know about it sooner. Next year we’re putting a group together just to go down and soak up all the luch tables – leaving them to stand in no man’s land or sit on the floor. Chumps.

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick June 6, 2011 at

    ORing? Really?

    And thank you, “The Boyfriend.” for the comment; for the between-the-lines of both what you’ve said and what you understand.

    xoxo

    Reply

    melissa June 6, 2011 at

    thank you, ronna. i feel profound hope after reading this…your prose is filling my well. wild with gratitude.
    melissa recently posted..photo friday

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick June 6, 2011 at

    Mmmm, I’m glad, Melissa. Thank you.

    Reply

    Mani June 6, 2011 at

    I’ve just recently found your blog and have just begun to read your stories. I like your style. Reading this today reminds me of the stories that have always called to me. Like you, I’ve always been drawn to the stories of women. Women like Aphrodite, Isis, Inanna, Kali, and Eve, to name just a few. They too faced demons. They journeyed through darkness, the depths of the soul, faced their fears or even death, and reemerged/rebirthed/revealed through their experience. They speak not only of courage and survival but of integrity, of divine wholeness, gained by the gift of self awareness. Yes, they have often been misjudged, misinterpreted or just flat-out denied. But their stories still beckon, as do ours. They call out for recognition, as do we. I see the threads of them woven into the lives of the women I know today, including my own, which is something that can become far too easy to overlook. I truly appreciate the reminder.

    Thank you for breathing new life into those stories that call to you, and for sharing your own. Thank you for the encouragement to share mine. Thank you, so much, for honoring all of us.

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick June 6, 2011 at

    This is so beautiful and generous, Mani. Thank you! Much.

    Reply

    jane June 7, 2011 at

    apart from the fact that you stole my messed up stories and told them as your own (;-P) i love you.

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick June 7, 2011 at

    No (intentional) stealing involved, Jane. Undoubtedly, universal themes…

    Thank you.

    Reply

    jane June 7, 2011 at

    I was joking Ronna – i know it is just so amazing that the universal themes are there so starkly, in my heart, and in front of my eyes <3

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick June 7, 2011 at

    Yes, I know. And still…uncanny sometimes how stories overlap, isn’t it? All the more reason why they need to be told! When we hear/see them, our own is normalized, we feel less crazy and less alone. All good!

    Reply

    jane June 7, 2011 at

    i so needed to hear this this morning – story is so important in my life and seeing your courage in telling your story allows me to do the same, in my voice and the echoes of that story get louder and louder and start reverberating in the hearts of those who are trying to ignore their story… and it encourages them to listen to their own voice… this kind of courage heals hearts <3

    Reply

    Michelle Grant June 9, 2011 at

    So glad I’ve found your blog, Ronna. I’ve been looking for a place of bare-your-chest honesty, have even thought about starting up a 2nd blog where I would do that … much like using your “telling the truth” template with every post . But I think the blog would have to be anonymous, so as not to hurt and offend family and friends. The things I could write about if NO ONE knew it was me! In the meantime, thank you for this powerful website.
    As for high school (or even college) reunions, I’m a big believer in attending them, no matter how much you don’t want to. Because they are a huge gauge for growth. In the face of all that was difficult in those teen years, you can’t help but see how much you’ve grown, learned and progressed. Which is why we are here on this planet. (A few months ago I launched my blog with a post very much about this topic.) Please everyone, go to your reunions!

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick June 9, 2011 at

    I’m glad you’ve found me, as well, Michelle. When I first started blogging I couldn’t say all I do now. It’s been a long, slow process – sped up by particular circumstances and slowed down by others. What I know for myself is that ultimately I want to be able to say/live outloud what I’d also say/live privately. Unified. Whole. Me.

    Easier said, than done; I know…but certainly the goal and what we all deserve.

    Reply

    Jess June 10, 2011 at

    Oh, man, did reading that high school paragraph hurt & feel good at the same time . . . I think those feelings from that thought process are more familiar to me than the thoughts, so seeing yours so plainly reminded me of how I’ve held myself back thinking I’m not one of the Naturally Good Ones. What’s weird though – those feelings are actually comfortable to me, in that bad posture is comfortable sort of way.

    I’m very impressed with how you re-work these women’s stories to find redemption & hope. I’ve never seen this idea anywhere else . . . it’s so amazingly rebellious & wise & powerful that I’m kinda scared & really awed by your work. Thank you for sharing your voice.

    Much Love!

    xoxo

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick June 10, 2011 at

    Jess: So kind and generous of you. Thank you. And more, I hear what’s in there…this being comfortable with feeling less-than, unseen, not good enough (and sometimes too much). I know those places all too well. Leaving them has been (and continues to be) a long journey. It’s hard work – which is, in part at least, what makes it so worthwhile. You’re not alone in the journey.

    Reply

    Sera June 19, 2011 at

    ‘– if you will listen.’

    So accurate. So true. So important. Why is it sometimes so hard to seek courage, seek that redemption that these stories told and re-told provide? I sometimes have to force myself to return to them: the sources… and in the end my cup always runneth over.

    Yet another universal story.

    It is the illusions you speak of that pull us away… I’m struggling, but I’m on my way, and I will continue to fight this every day….

    The strength in these words, I can’t do without!

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick June 20, 2011 at

    Again, Sera, so grateful you are here…and continue to say so. The telling and retelling of our stories matters, doesn’t it? And in the process – the endless hope that we will create, live, and tell a better one, a stronger one, the one we most desire.

    Reply

    Leave a Comment

    CommentLuv badge

    { 2 trackbacks }

    Previous post:

    Next post: