“In order to be authentic, we have to tell the truth.”
Susan Wittig Albert, Writing From Life
If we want to create an authentic life, then we have to be honest about facing the facts of the life we’ve lived up until now, and pull out of it those things that are true about it, good or bad. We have to take them out of the dark places where we’ve hidden them and shine a bright light on them, show them up for what they are, and let them go. What will be left are the things about us that will be the foundation upon which we will build our new authentic life, a foundation that is sure to hold up strong and true for the rest of our lives regardless of what storms may lie ahead.
Having to shine that light on our shadow selves, as Carl Jung called it, and the dark experiences of our past, whether in childhood or as an adult, isn’t easy. It takes courage and strength to slay the dragon. So why not use the tool of writing as a way to truly “slay a dragon?” Take the darkness and make a myth of it.
Myths and legends have been used since the beginning of humanity as a way to teach important lessons to the next generation, and as a means of passing down the history and traditions of a race of people. Many indigenous tribes today, including our own Native American brothers and sisters, continue this practice with stories of the animals and spirit guides that were told to them by their grandmothers and theirs before them. Myths are also a way to explain the human condition, find it’s flaws, and come out of it a hero, as Joseph Campbell taught in his pivotal work on the hero’s journey.
You may think that taking your unhappy or traumatic experience and making a story out of it is a way of not facing reality. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Story is a way to separate the pain of reliving the experience with the chance to finally tell it all in a way that gives us enough distance to look at it, release it, and live the rest of our lives truthfully. The most important part is to make yourself the hero of your story, not the victim. You and only you can slay that dragon. If not, then it is a story with no real ending, because unless the hero keeps coming back again and again to protect you, you are helpless to stop the torment. When you know that the hero is you, the dragon will not dare to darken your door again!
As you can imagine, this week’s assignment, over on the home page, is going to be about writing your own myth. Be brave, be truthful and, above all, be free.
Peace and blessings.