Dangers of our Single Stories

I had a beautifully inspiring post, inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ‘s Ted Talk on the Danger of a Single Story, composed in my head. But once I tried to write it. It wouldn’t come out.

I tried again, thinking I’d let myself write something else. Instead, I wrote about the Single Story anyway.

Writing is weird that way.

I can’t promise it’s beautiful or inspiring. But it’s what’s happening for me, now.

I love this Ted Talk. Please watch it.

When the late-night mean-worms crawl in my ear and remind me of something unkind I said or did to someone 20+ years ago, I reflect on Adichie’s thoughts on the single story dangerfield. “That is not the only story of me…” I tell the mean-worm. I’ll then reflect on something I’ve done that was kind.

I try to remember that the mistakes I’ve made are not the single story of me.

I have an ugly, ugly temper. When it rarely comes out, it ruins relationships. But I am also patient–some say to a fault. My temper is not the single story of me.

I can be cliquey. I don’t mean to be. I’ve lost myself in new groups of friends, forgetting to stay in touch with old friends. This has made people feel like I don’t care about them. But I am also someone who will always make room for you at Thanksgiving if you need a place to go. My cliqueishness is not the single story of me.

I get lost in my causes and have lost friendships over clashing ideals. But I have also spoken and written and activated people who wouldn’t have gotten involved, otherwise. My mistakes are not the single story of me.

I was a pretty shitty girlfriend/romantic interest to a number of people in my teens and twenties. I was inconsiderate, insensitive and most of all, expected them to read my mind. But I’ve turned out to be a pretty good wife. My early romantic experiences are not the single story of me. 

By remembering this about myself, it’s easier for me to forgive others.

I dated one dude in college for too long. He made me believe I was too loud and not pretty enough to be serious with. He, who dropped out of college, also insisted that my own college degree was inferior to “everyone else’s” because my alma mater-in his view–wasn’t prestigious enough. I still fantasize about throwing both of my published books at his round face. Sometimes he becomes only his abuse in my memory. I get angry when I hear that he’s well and happy. How could he be happy and well after how he treated me??? It’s an irritating truth that he could be a shitty boyfriend to me, but still a good friend to others. He could have denigrated my own professional ideals, but still be a good worker and make success of his own. I don’t have to want anything to do with him to remember that he may have made a good impact in other areas of his life. It’s not a personal slight to me that other people want him in their lives. What he did to me is not the single story of who he is.  

The relatives who only use our time together to gloat about Trump’s election: They sung to me, hiked with me, took me to the zoo. While their preposterous political views make it extremely difficult to breathe around them, their preposterous political views are not the single stories of who they are. The people who care for and played with me as a child are in there, somewhere.

I have a number of fractured relationships in the Magickal community. It’s a cliche, but cliches come from somewhere–I really feel my blood boil when I think of cruel things they said or did to me or those I loved–particularly when these are people I tried to help. But I also remember that there were good times with these people, too. Laughter at bonfires, late night dinners, incredible experiences under the stars. Their actions are not the single stories of them. 

Our mistakes are not the single story of us.

Others’ mistakes are not the single story of them.

I don’t hang out with my ex and probably never will. I’ve blocked most of my relatives on Facebook and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I don’t see myself repairing some of the broken relationships in the Magickal community. Some things are better to let go. We don’t and shouldn’t overlook behavior that hurts us or invite it back into our lives. Sometimes, even a single story is more than we need in our own stories. 

But it has helped me in my own complicated journey with forgiveness.

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