I'm trying to understand this

Sunday~October 18, 2009

Tell me the story of the day I was born
, he says. So I tell him every detail I can pull from the dusty corners of my cluttered mind and heart. I love remembering that day. It is our story and I tell it, glad for the asking.

He is in awe, transfixed by the words of his own beginning
he sits quiet and still
more still than seems possible for him
His favorite part is the most dramatic
the way we held our breath
to wait for his first breath
and then we cried with him
and held him and kissed him

I finish with a bang and hold him tight, and then I think about how important it is for a person to have their stories told

I see how his eyes light up with anticipation for the most exciting parts of his story. I see the smile pull at the corners of his mouth when I give words to the part where Daddy said over and over there he is, there he is, there he is with tears on his face. He loves that part, the part of his first appearance.

I love that part too.

In the midst of the daily grind, the mundane, the same old, our hearts cry out for stories of overcoming, of emotional upheaval and adventure. We want to feel our stories and have them felt because most of the time we have no time to feel anything at all and we were made to feel all the time but we're not.

So stories are made up.

There are balloon boys and memoirs that are mostly fiction. There are people who lie to save face on talk shows even if the opposite truth is obvious. There's producer-induced drama on reality TV, and now we have an Internet filled with alleged and confirmed story tellers of make believe, claiming their tales are true until they can't because they're caught.

A dream of making people feel, and it being about them.

We are angry and confused, sometimes hurt, making guesses at why someone would do such a thing. Money? Fleeting fame? Mental illness? All of the above? And some of us react rather than respond. We don't take the time to think it through. So that's what I'm trying to do here.

I'm trying to understand this.

I don't suppose this is new. Of course, before television and the worldwide web, there were liars. It's just that now, there are so many public ways to gain the trust of an audience and then stomp on it. And then there are so many ways for an audience to stomp and shout in protest.

What gets me is this.
Failing to see the pure magic in the simplicity of our true stories is dangerous. It leads a person to fear, and fear makes us do a lot of ugly things.

People seem so afraid that without embellishments and dramatic twists and turns, their true stories could disappear

Some people can't handle that fear, for reasons that are a part of their own personal tragedy, exciting enough just as it is. So the loneliness that is fear is winning and they lie in hopes that ears will turn to their words, eyes lighting up.

Or maybe they just simply forget that they are valuable without the lies that are meant to entice and intrigue.

They trade their image for one built on lies, when the truth is that they are already
without the half-truths, exaggerations, or bold-faced lies.
They are more than good enough. If only they knew.

I'm trying to understand this.

67 clicked right here to comment:

Ann's Rants said...

Just grateful. So grateful.

Life is so humbling just as it is, and I feel for those who have to endure these lessons so very publicly.

Sarah said...

so well written. i have nothing to add, but wanted to tell you how beautiful your words are.

Heather said...

It's true, you know.
People care more about comments and re-tweets than they do about the person who spends their time writing. Nicely put, my dear.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

For those of us that matter, and for most people actually, the simple stories, the mistakes and confessions, the every day life without fancy fluff and lights are what makes us feel real. It's what makes us feel.

I'm becoming numb to everything else.


tiff(threeringcircus) said...

I agree.
I have been struggling lately with trust and mistrust issues. One blog (and it's hater blog). I've just had to stop reading both because it makes me feel sad, it makes me feel uptight, it makes me feel as though I can't trust anyone anymore and the biggest thing, if I am totally honest, is that it makes me worried that my own blog, my own stories are not enough.

Your words are beautiful and crystal clear. They speak of a post that I have been trying to write for weeks now but could never find the right words

but yours are right.
They are perfect.

Beth at I Should Be Folding Laundry said...

This is an incredible post, Heather.

Corinne said...

There is so much truth and honestly in this post. It's so wonderful to know that there are writers like you, and so many of us, that write with honesty and integrity. Our truths. It's so hard to look past the liars though - and that's exactly what they are. There's no good reason for any of it. And it makes me so sad - yet hopeful after reading this that there are people who stand up for the greater good. (how's that for long winded...)

MidnightCafe said...

This part really hit home for me: "We want to feel our stories and have them felt because most of the time we have no time to feel anything at all and we were made to feel all the time but we're not."


april said...

Love this. For real.

blueviolet said...

And why is it that we're all so eager to believe these untruths?

Heather of the EO said...

yes. I do think we need to be more careful about jumping on the angry bandwagon. We need to respond, thoughtfully, before we react. Or maybe even just turn away and focus on our own true stories. That would really be best.

Kimberly said...

Different things gain popularity at different times. Fads come and go. I can't wait till it is fashionable to be real and genuine. To embrace the simple truth. To give people, everyone, permission just to be.

I have been the liar. I have been the exaggerater. I have been the one crying out for attention in any way I could find it. Learning the joys of being myself was difficult and painful - because I had to see how foolih I was before I could change. I understand both sides of this. Truth gives me hope, the lies make me so very and profoundly sad.

Scary Mommy said...

God, you're an incredible writer.

BaronessBlack said...

Great post! So very true.
Someone once said to me that true humility is knowing that everyone else's story is just as interesting as your own.
I wish we could get away from the over sensationalised media we have at the moment.
On the bright side, there seem to be plenty of people agreeing with you!

sara said...

this is one of my favorite posts that you've written. Maybe b/c we are dealing with this with one of our boys..trying to make him understand that his true story is enough...

Midwest Mommy said...

If you read my post today I can pretty much guarantee my dog did crap on my frosted lawn. Girl scout honor.

Chief said...

I couldn't have said it better myself. Some times it is appropriate to embellish, to make a fictional story interesting...that is what fiction is. But to take fact and mix in fiction is to hide something you don't want seen.

5thsister said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lara said...

It is a very interesting phenomenon. I've always seen it as attention-seeking, and i feel sorry for those who believe that their truth isn't enough. I especially don't understand creating tragedy for yourself, because I really wouldn't wish that on anyone.

I love how you have brought a new persepctive to it all. Just that we need to remember that our personal stories, our truths, are so important that we must remember them accurately. Sometimes that is hard, when one is given to exaggeration or dramatics for whatever reason. You make me want to be a better steward of my own truth.

5thsister said...

I grew up in a web of lies and deceit. I knew no other way. I felt that if someone knew the true me they could not, would not love me. It's been a long, tough journey but I am now at the place where I am accepting of the true me. Thank you for an insightful and beautiful post. I am very glad I found you.

Manic Mother said...

I don't get it either....never will. There will always be those that cry wolf, and tarnish the credibility of the rest of us.

I have the opposite problem when it comes to my stories though, I feel no one will believe my truth because it is so completely unreal. Maybe that is why it has taken me 29 years to write about it!

I worry though that when bloggers make up stories it will make people less likely to believe my own. I even had one woman accuse me of faking Ezra's Luekemia to gain, $ and publicity. That hurt, and I know it was largely due to that April Rose story.

Liars suck. Let's throw virtual stones at them ;)

Aidan Donnelley Rowley said...

Gorgeous. Diplomatic. True.

Heather of the EO said...

Yes, I think I understand both sides of this. I try to understand.

I'm grateful for your perspective, as always.

Heather of the EO said...

5thsister- Your story, though I don't know it's specifics, are exactly what I'm referring to when I say I try to understand where someone is coming from. Sometimes a person's history can trick them into lying. It can make them feel as if they HAVE to lie to be seen. It takes a long time to overcome, I'm sure.

Maybe I just wish there were more trustworthy people out there, for people to be able to find a safe place to tell their truths, no matter how ugly...so they don't have to lie.

L.T. Elliot said...

This is the beauty of story to me. Truth will always be truth and the heart recognizes it. I chose to see truth. I choose to see the beauty in story. This is why I come here--truth, beauty, and the miracle of story.

Heather of the EO said...

Manic Mother,
It is hard to understand. And actually, I thought of you while writing this, what it must be like for a person with a sick child to find out another person is making up the same story, for selfish reasons, or for reasons born out of insecurity. Or born out of another loss of some kind.

It's hard. But I think we do have to remember that these are simply people making mistakes. Publicly. I hope there's some room for forgiveness, even when that's really hard to come by.

PsychMamma said...

Beautifully written. Wonderfully said. You are wise beyond your years.

Carrie said...

Wow, what a great perspective on this strange issue - I don't even begin to understand it - but what a great reminder to find interesting stories even in our mundane days.

DeNae said...

Is it because we're bombarded with the message that if 20 million people didn't witness it, it didn't happen? Is "reality" everything a cause or a by-product of this unrealistic perception that small lives, real lives, normal lives, somehow don't count?

And how many mothers fall victim to this very problem?

If only we could claim that "my generation gets it", and could approach the task of instilling in the next generation the assurance that who they are, what they become, is acceptable -- without hypocrisy and fueled with the power of pure example.

But even I, in mid-life, still struggle with the question of "is what I'm doing big enough?"

Remebering the beginning of a new life, that moment of perfect miracle, is a great place to find the answer.

Thank you, Heather, for a beautiful reminder.

Kara said...

I love all of what you said, but just want to comment on the retelling of birth stories...my mom would tell us our story on the night before our birthday every year, and I loved it. Can't wait for my son to be old enough- I bet his favorite part will be peeing on the nurse at the age of 30-seconds old. :)

Jamie @ Six Bricks High said...

Wow, Heather, I am so impressed with your writing. You stated this so well. Excellent post!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I think there's a misunderstanding about shelf lives of truth and lies. I believe that when people live or tell lies, for whatever reason, they're tricked into believing the lie won't die. I love the words to this hymn:

Then say, what is truth? 'Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time it steps o'er.
Though the heavens depart and the earth's fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged, evermore.

Maybe people would cling to truth more if they understood and trusted its lasting value.

Nap Warden said...

Wow...I love telling Miss Peach the story of when she was born. I know I've never told it as well as you:)

--It's Your Movie-- said...

Oh I love you Heather. What a perfectly well thought-out and explained post. I totally get what you are saying and agree. You write the kinds of things I am thinking while I am falling asleep but can never get my brain to keep track of long enough to write down.

That Girl said...

Simplicity is the most beautiful truth there is.

This reminds me of a story I read in a Greg Olsen art book. A son of his discovered that Santa was myth. (I dread that day, myself.) The realization naturally led to questions about the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, etc. It was a crushing blow to this young boy.

Then he thought of one more. "Daddy?" he asked. "Is Jesus just a story too?"

And his dad was proud to say that, no, Jesus is really real.

No need for theatrical improvements or plot embellishments.

The simplest truths are the best.

Kristen@nosmallthing said...

There was a weekly (or maybe monthly) bit on a Sunday (or maybe Saturday) morning news show called "Everybody Has a Story." They would throw a dart at a map, go to the city where it landed, grab a phone book from the city pay phone(yes, they still had phone books at the pay phones...yes they still had pay phones...). They would pick a random name from that pay phone and go to that house. And they would interview that person that answered the door. And most of them...all of them...started out by saying "I don't really have a story." And by the end of the segment, there was a beautiful story about a person. Just a normal, everyday person. I loved that segment. I don't know whatever happened to it, but it was one of those things that made me think that I DO have a story, everyone does. And it doesn't have to be this crazy, sad, exciting, depressing, or scary story. It can just be.

I think that is one of the reasons I created my blog, too. There is something there, even if it is mundane. I want my kids to have their stories...all written down. I want to remember how William said I ruin all the fun around here and how that made me giggle because I realized I am my mom and he is me.

I want to remember that I was Kate's hero, for a short time, in grades 2 and 3.

I want to remember how beautiful it is when Ella says her name.

And how much Henry wants to help me, even when he's sick.

That's real stuff, Heather of the EO. Kind of lacking-in-sensational, I suppose. But I like it that way.

I feel sad for the people that don't believe their own stories, "boring" as they may be, are not sensational. Great post.

The Rambler said...

Your words brought a tear to my eyes when reading how telling your son's story.

5thsister said...

I am thoroughly intrigued by all the commentary to this post, too. By and large, I do believe most people try to live up to a moral code. I am ever so grateful I was able to overcome my demons and be one of those.

BTW, I am not sure you are "into" blog awards and such. I was just gifted an award that I'd like to pass on to you. Your blog is, indeed, lovely. Thank you for what you have written as it is allowing me, and others, to meditate upon and, hopefully, grow beyond the comfort zone(s) we have used for insulation against past, deep and buried wounds. God bless!

Laanykidsmom said...

Perfect. So, so loved this. I have been struggling with all the clamoring voices online and realizing I don't really want to be one of them. If it were just us telling our stories...but it seems to be more than that, and your post captured it beautifully. Thank you.

Kelly Langner Sauer said...

I'm reading quiet today; this post is so beautifully written. I am glad I did not miss you.

Heather Sunseri said...

Beautifully put, Heather. I was wondering some of these things myself as I watched the news this morning. You put your thoughts much more eloquently than I did when I first reacted to the top story today. BUT, unlike many, I thought about my reaction before I spread my rant.

What bothers me most is when children are affected by the poor choices of adults and aren't given a chance to learn right from wrong from the adults around them.

Dave said...

"Fear leads to Anger. Anger leads to Hate. Hate, leads to Suffering."

It is sad that people are afraid their story won't be interesting to the world, but they never recognize that to loved ones, your story is always interesting.

Stephanie Faris said...

We've created a reality TV culture in which we suck up anything we can...we turn these media hounds into stars. We reward their bad behavior by giving them a TV show and watching it. The media can be blamed, the liars can be blamed, but we also share part of the blame because we, the public, eat this stuff up. They give us what we want. When we stop watching, they'll stop giving these people platforms on which to thrive.

Heather of the EO said...

You know, I was going to add that in my post (but it was already so long). I totally agree, and then on the other hand, I realize that the Internet, Twitter, blogs, etc and reality TV aren't going anywhere. I do "watch" the Internet, but not much TV. What I wanted to add is that sometimes I have to turn away from ALL of it, to what is right here in my home and extended family, neighborhood. Just shut off all the clamoring voices for a while. Because it's all too much, and much of it is just simply not real or satisfying.

End of long comment. :)

Heidi Ashworth said...

You *are* very much a real writer! I esp love the part about failing to see the magic in our own true stories--wise words, indeed.

Sabrina said...

This was so beautiful Heather!

charrette said...

Our children love hearing the story of the day they were born too. I try to encourage our kids to live in such a way that they won't ever feel like they have to lie about it (as in, nothing to hide) but it had never occurred to me to help them discover the magic of the everyday as an essential part of that. To help them know that they don't need to embellish what is already a miracle.

When I was little, my dad used to regale us with wonderful, hilarious stories from his childhood. I felt like I couldn't possibly have anything exciting to tell my kids. And then I started keeping a journal. And you know what? It's full of wonderful, hilarious stories!

Haley said...

It is so important to tell stories and write down little sweet moments.

It is why I scrapbook. I know when I'm gone my son will flip through those pages and feel the magic we shared through the years.

Very well written today. :-)

Thanks for sharing.

Becca said...

Real. True. Important enough, even without fireworks and dramatic gasps. Truth is beautiful, too.

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

Wow. Brilliant post and such insightful commentary that I can't think of much to add. I think you hit on the crux of it at the end. So many come through childhood with the message (subtle or direct) that we are not enough. The spirit will go to great lengths to heal itself of that wound, and unfortunately without the healing Truth of our Savior, the counterfeit lies of the enemy entice.

Deb said...

awesome post. written with beauty and sensitivity... neither which would be included if i were to write about this topic. i sincerely believe that it is about fame. the whole 15 minutes of fame deal. the more people who 'achieve' their 15 minutes, well, the more people who think it must be easily attainable.

i don't know if these people aren't getting enough attention in real life, or what. it's everywhere... and, i think, out of control.

i think the whole 24 hr news/cable tv is partially to blame. i know i sound like somebody's grandma, but i believe it!

Julie said...

I just love your writing! Keep it up!

Charisse and Holly said...

I'm new here from 5th Sister. I hope you make it to the 52nd comment, because I just found your writing today to be so honest and fresh and inviting and filled with truths. Just what I needed today. I'm a Follower now...hope you stop by sometime soon to visit me at our blog. We love to read, comment, and make new friends. Have a great day. Holly at lifelaughlatte.blogspot.com

Billy Coffey said...

Anything I say here will only take away from these words you've written. So I think I'm just going to say thank you and go read them again.

Kelly said...

This really resonates with me and I'd never have thought of it this way without your help. So thank you so much for sorting it out for us.

I think, for me, I'm so tired of people embellishing or straight out lying all for the sake of "the story," when the truth is what brings us closer. A lie might garner more attention, but the truth is what opens us up.

Again, I just want to thank you for giving me the words that explain how I'm feeling.

Lee of MWOB said...

Oh Heather. Only you can take this topic and turn it into a thing of beauty.

But you know....as much as we all can say "Oh look at where we are...too much tv and internet and twitter...." I can also say that now more than ever before, because I have entered the world of blogging, have I paid attention to the simplicity of others' stories. It's because of this current technology that I am more aware of the simple trials and triumphs that many of us go through and in that way I feel more connected to story than ever before.

And it all goes back to what I think about this ridiculous focus on numbers and popularity that things get skewed. And yes, this was someone's cry for attention. I really do think so. But I also believe she had some understanding of what she was about to do and her sickness is that she became okay with that. That her emotional need outweighed her logical thinking.

I think we need to be strong and realize that the simple stories of our lives are the most important stories to dive into and embrace and uphold and be able to look away from all else that clutters us up and bombards us from tv, internet, film etc.

We have a powerful platform here. A place to use responsibly to transform perceptions, to inspire, to educate. But we also should embrace the power this space holds to simply tell our story. To write, to read it back to ourselves, to print it out for our children, to feel it and to have that be enough.

Heather of the EO said...

Lee, you just said exactly what I struggle to articulate.

I wanted to convey that I believe in this platform too, that I think sometimes we do just need to turn away from any drama and focus on the beautiful and inspiring and true stories that are the reason we're doing this.

I just love you to pieces, lady.

And Holly, I do read each and every comment, always. So thank you for your kind words. So much.

Sarah said...

It's simple, isn't it? And yet so hard to remember or realize. We all just want to be remembered. To be recognized. To feel something. To feel.

I think this is my first time here. And I'm glad I stopped in. Because it really is the ordinary that's so extraordinary.

deb said...

I read your post earlier this morning, and then kept it in my mind while I was putting the finishing touches on today's post. Because it is and isn't about me.
And it's always about something Greater than.
I think if everyone tried to speak and write and act with a 24 hour rule or something it might leave room for grace .

Blessed said...

I don't understand either, I mostly feel sorry for people who don't believe in their own stories and so make up or stage sensational stories - it reminds me of the little kid in the back of the classroom that everyone ignored, acting out just so that someone would notice them. So lonely, so starved for friendship, recognition, that they would do anything for attention, even if it meant not being true to themselves. It is sad.

The only thing I know to do is to teach my children that their story is good enough, and since their story is good enough - they are good enough.

Debbie said...

I'm perplexed by all of this too. I can't even process the bizarre things people do for publicity. I like those of us who are keeping it real and honest.

Roban said...

First of all, I have to commend you on the beautiful story you told your son.... Your words were just perfect and sounds like a real children's book about the day he was born. I love the excitement you bring to the story, the warmth, the heart.

... and yes, it's hard to understand how and why people feel the need to embellish their own life stories. I think most have enough drama and excitement without the made-up variety.

Cynthia said...

I'm not at all surprised. I was part of an online community of women before I started blogging. The more annonymous nature of that kind of site lends itself well to faking all sorts of things. And I've seen a lot of that.

What's sad is that the fake stories harden the hearts of people and that in turn causes support to be withheld or accusations to be made. A particularly dramatic person known for openly bashing my religion supposedly died- her family member posted it. For many pages people of her own faith said awful things about her faking her own death.

In the end, it was true. She had passed away. And one of those women of that awful relgion she bashed went through the thread and collected all the supportive, loving comments and did not include the negative ones and sent it to the family.

Keyona said...

Beautiful Heather, just beautiful. :o)

Mayhem and Moxie said...

What continually amazes me is that you are able to sit down and compose a post like this in the midst of something as life-altering as getting your house ready to sell.

You humble us all with your words and your actions, Heather.


Kazzy said...

It's just like realizing that there was adultery, and sin, and theft before modern communication that let's us know about it right away. All part of the human experience that can be really brutal sometimes, and really beautiful other times.

Beautiful, H. Thank you.

mama-face said...

I think you understand it more than most. I just thought balloon man was an idiot.

Well, I did wonder to death about people wanting to be famous and the lengths they will go to.

Wonder to death? I'm gonna leave that in. :)

Excellent post. per usual. love you.

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