My story matters, and yours does too
When I was invited to the mic at Justice Snow’s storytelling Writ Large last year, I chucked the tennis ball for my dog, Zoe, and shouted yes, into the phone, without thought. Want to do this? Yes! Want to taste that? Yes! Wanna go there? Yes!
Trust and leap.
And then the doubts and questions came: What did I have to tell, worth sharing to a full house? How dare I tell my story? Who was I?
I am Geneviève Joëlle Villamizar. On the outside, I am happy, engaged, with a full, rich life. On the inside, I am still managing the outcome of poor decisions. My life is still tinged by the cycle of domestic violence.
I am not unique. One out of four lives is touched by it — if not you, then your best friend, or her mom, or that quiet cashier, or the girl from camp, or, or, or …
My story is common, unspoken and can inspire one fourth of our nation’s population.
Extricating myself from the cycle, I had a major beef with it: It was yucky, dark stuff. No one wanted to touch it. In listening, few seemed to be able to move from discomfort or pity to possibility. I didn’t speak about it for years for this reason. Talk about a buzz kill.
I also kept quiet because it implicated someone — someone I once loved deeply, with all my heart, and with whom I’ll forever be intertwined. Where does one person’s truth end and gossip begin? What were my intentions in going public?
Silence allows abusers to carry on in private. In telling my stories, I free up energy, I allow flow again. I compost pain, digest grief and heal — denial, stuffing and repression perpetuate any problem and especially domestic violence.
Our stories teach us. In telling my story, I hear in my own voice, the increasingly intricate layers of lessons that will continue to arise, indefinitely.
In telling my stories, I demonstrate fully that fabulous emotional state Brene Brown has given so much cred to: vulnerability. In going there — that raw, exposed state of squishy, awkward pain or sorrow — I create a safe place for you to go there too. We can be strong together.
Sharing stories supports and empowers us.
In honoring the fallibility of humanity through stories, one grows. In doing so collectively, we grow together, you and I. When we grow together, we grow our community, knowing one another more fully. With this communal awareness, we can support one another, helping each of us move into that space of living in the “yes.”
Yes, a beloved treated me poorly. Yes, I allowed it — for a while. And yes, I’ve used all my resources and then some to outrun it. In telling this story publicly last year, I watched people judge me, question me, squirm with me, cry for me and at last — give a rousing cheer for me. I felt heard by my community, receiving at last the validation I needed for so many years.
My story, “How I Discovered Running and a Punch to the Face Made Me a Winner,” shares in triumph. Isn’t that what the human spirit seeks, after all?
I gotta shout, “Yeah!”
Geneviève Joëlle Villamizar is a solo-flyer mama exploring the wilds of human nature in the Bonedale Bubble. You can find her on single track at dawn or her front porch, after hours.