Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Healing Power of Story

Some friends of mine have been praying for me.
Wow, when they pray, they pray, and stuff happens.
This is what they were praying about and I will tell you what happened.

I have a group of friends that I used to be quite close to a few years ago. Much misunderstanding and unhealthy dynamics with a few and it ended badly. Several still wanted to maintain relationship with me but I found it too painful, and made a clean break from the whole bunch. Lately, I have been encountering reminders of some of these old friends. Seemingly out of the blue. I've been having a powerful longing to reconnect yet a horror of the train wreck repeating and a knowledge that the dividing issue has never been resolved. I need wisdom and protection. If it is God that a reconciliation take place, then He must open the doors. If it is God's will that I have peace and be free from the longing for a reunion, then so be it.

I stayed awake till after midnight Monday night, thinking about each friend I have lost and receiving the same comfort from God I received right after the train wreck. Hymns really spell comfort for me. So I listened to Chris Rice's new album Peace Like a River. Over and over.

In the morning, I was exhausted. I went back to bed for a while, after seeing my family off to work and school. Then my reminder alarm went off telling me it was time to get ready for my lunch appointment.

All the sudden, it hit me: "I am missing out on a real live local opportunity to enjoy a lunch someone here invited me to because I'm all tired and sleepy because sat up till all hours of the night mooning over some lost friendships who live far away and I haven't talked to in nearly 3 years. What the heck am I doing??"

So I snapped out of it and started getting dolled up.

Now you women will understand this prolly better than you men.
Getting dolled up makes me feel good. This was not a romantic lunch date. It was my agent who I have known and worked with for years. This lunch at the restaurant of my choice was my reward for going to an interview out in the boondocks in rush hour traffic. Nice agent huh? Anyway, the point is, for me especially since I have been working at home in my no-makeup gym clothes for the last month, it was a real shot in the arm to get all dolled up in a nice outfit and go to my favorite restaurant in the Galleria district.

Once I got there, my agent showed up with my other agent (bonus!) who also works at the same talent agency. One agent is a man the other agent is a woman. Both of them love me and have been very good to me. I love them too and they know it. So we're eating these fancy salads and they ask, "so what are you working on these days?" and I said I was supervising contractors who repair my house after the hurricane, I was working with a literary agent, and I was writing content and doing project management on a new online retail website. (wink wink y'all know what that website is!)

So they were very loving and encouraging asking me about the literary agent first. They have both known for quite a while that I write novels. Then they said "so tell me about this website". So I told them it was my first time to do the project manager role for new websites instead of the writer role. I explained the stuff I've learned about keeping track of who's doing what and who's waiting for who. The developer has to code so and so before the writer can write such and such.

I'm keeping it all cool and professional. Like I'm talking about just another gig.

Then God said, "tell them the whole story".

So I did.

I started off by saying "this project has been rewarding for a "pay it forward" kind of reason. This project is giving me the chance to combine my hobby and my work."

"Oh really?? That's wonderful! Tell us about it!"

I did not blurt out, "I sell sex toys".

I said, "I had some really bad things happen to me in my childhood. And you know what, I took myself in, sat myself down in the chair, paid my $95 an hour and I dealt with my stuff. And I reached a point where my therapist said, "You're like the poster child for sexual abuse recovery. You should totally write a book." and I said "yes!". I knew from my writing career how long the book writing process was, and I wanted to strike while the iron was hot and get my story out there while I had the nerve, so I started a blog.

They made encouraging sounds, so I continued.

"The cool thing about a blog, is you have a thought, you push send and bam its out there for the world. No query letters. No endless book critique groups. You have a thought. You type it out. You press send. Bam. You're done.

Now, when I first started my blog, I didn't know anything about blogging. I didn't know anything about stats. I was sure that
A) no one was reading this and
B) if they did read it, I would be tarred and feathered.
But you know what? I still found great power and consolation in telling my story. By speaking out. Even though I thought I was speaking out in an empty room, I was speaking. And it felt good to tell my story. It felt real good.

I sat there at the marble topped table of this beautiful restaurant and rested in their gaze. These two lovely human beings were giving me their full attention. Oxygen for the storyteller's soul.

Several months later, somebody told me about stats and I started tracking visitors. And I discovered that people were reading my story. Lots of people. And they were telling other people to come and read it. (open mouthed wide eyed look of amazement) That was a year and a half ago.

How many people? My agent asked. And I told him how many thousands of you dear people come here and read my story. The agents made happy sounds. I felt the same good overwhelming feeling I always feel every time I think of you dear men and women showing up here and reading what I have to say. Y'all have no idea how precious you really are.

I quickly added, "But here's the best part. I get these emails. Women from all over the world write me and say, "I read your story, and it took me 6 times to read it all the way through cause I kept crying. But I did read the whole thing. And I knew it was my time for healing. So I went for counseling, and that was several months ago, and my marriage is doing so much better." Oh my God, you guys, can there be anything better than that?

I just about cried to think of it, I felt so bowled over.

So over the next couple of years, I began to mentor wives, to mentor couples and it was very common for them to ask me for recommendations for toys and accessories.

I glanced up quickly. Neither agent spewed tea out of their mouth or looked like they needed a defibrillator. Good sign.

So most of these couples were dealing with some amount of sexual abuse or sexual addiction issues. So I was very protective of these women. Because I know from my own experience, that the vibe the feel the atmosphere of some of these toy stores made me feel a little uncomfortable. And my concern was that one of these women who had reached a place of healing in her life and was ready to be brave and do something a little spicy for her marriage, might shop at a store that she felt uncomfortable with, and then she might say, "Oh I tried that it wasn't for me." and then she might give up.

"Oh just when she's going for it in her marriage"....they said sympathetically

I nodded. "Yes."

So one time a husband asked me to recommend a store that would be sensitive to his needs as someone recovering from sexual addiction issues, I said, "you know what, I've been an authorized reseller for quite some time, but I haven't done much with it. Now that I know my job is going to be coming to an end, maybe now is the right time to start a store. Let's think about it pray about it see what develops"

In less than 24 hours, I started getting emails with orders. Now I don't even have a store at this point, I'm just thinking about it and I'm getting orders.

The next day, this wonderful couple that own a professional web development company talked with me and offered to help me. They said, "we think what you're doing is a ministry and we want to help you." I opened my mouth and said "Yes! I accept!" Another friend said they wished they could help if they didn't live several states away. I told her, "you don't have to live here to help. Be my virtual assistant." So this team of wonderful people just grew up organically around me!

I am smiling. The agents are smiling. They're totally tracking with me. This feels so good!

This has been a real challenge to me as a writer. And fun! On one hand, it's easy because I'm writing from my heart. How many branding campaigns have I written? I've lost count. The branding campaign for this site I wrote in 48 hours. It wrote itself. And it was fun! And funny! And playful!

They smile. I smile. My professional and personal worlds are colliding and it feels so good!

Some of the writing has been challenging. On one hand, as a writer, I have to write about the products in a favorable way. On the other hand, as a woman who has been in recovery for 16 years, I have to write about these products in a way that shows sensitivity and compassion for those who are struggling with abuse or addiction issues. So I really wrote from my heart. And I came up with a solution. I put the Liberator Black Label products in their own section of the store, and in the welcome message for that section, I wrote: "This is not for everyone. Take what you like and leave the rest. If you've reached a place in your recovery that you're ready to say, "hold still honey, you're gonna love this!" then welcome to this section of our store."

Agent says, "You did not say that!"

I grinned. "Yes, I did."

Agent says, "Oh that's fabulous!" and we both laugh. I feel amazing!

The agents prepare to leave for a meeting. It's a cordial goodbye, and more than that, I feel like something has shifted inside my heart.

So you can see why (mutual friend other agent) says "This is the coolest thing I wish you could put on your resume!"

I'm grinning. Sharing an inside joke.

Agent is dead serious.
"You may feel differently about that someday. I think what you're doing is amazing."

After they leave, I stand there next to our table and take stock of this feeling in my heart. I feel a thrill and a nervous tingling inside my chest. But it isn't fear. It's energy. It's excitement. It's power.
And then it all makes perfect sense.
During the early years of my recovery, I told my story, the sad story of my abuse. Sitting there on folding chairs in support group meetings, I told my story. And every time I told my story, I felt stronger. And here I am today, on the flip side. Telling my story, the happy story of my healing and my business. Sitting there on a cushy banquette in a good restaurant, I told my story to my real life friends who have known me and worked with me for years. And I feel stronger. Much much stronger.

This is the Healing and the Power of telling my Story. Wow.

1 comment:

Marie said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing your story. I think you are amazing too. :-)