Learning to coat all that is Hard and Hard to Admit in my life with a thick stew of Love & Storytelling.

I make it a priority to tell one ugly story a month.

One Hideously, Ugly, Unflattering Story Every Thirty Days.

You can guarantee that as the 30th prances closer to the front of my calendar I am clearing my throat and looking for someone to sit beside me with a cup of joe between their hands, waiting to hear my Ugly Tale.

Throughout the years I have learned that it is not hard to find an Ugly Tale. Lord knows I have a bookshelf full of Ugly Tales, disorganized and restless, sitting on some handmade shelf within my soul. No, finding an Ugly Tale is not difficult but having the courage to tell one is another matter completely.

I don’t ever attempt to dictate or be right when I write but for the first time in ever I am going to come out and say something I believe with every fiber of my being: We don’t tell enough Ugly Stories. We don’t hold them up to the light nearly enough. We rarely find the time to stop and talk about Tragedy and Hardships unless we know Oprah is covering a tear-jerker of a topic at 3p.m. or a new nonfiction claiming to tell a sad story as if it were the only one has just hit the Best Sellers List.

But I don’t believe we carve out enough time to get Ugly with one another. To tell one another about the times we fell flat on our face or the very first time we realized our heart really did have seams that could rip. Rip Quite Easily. Perhaps we forgot to cover that base in kindergarten as we all held up our valiant pieces of plastic for the first time and checked out Heroic Stories from the Local Library. Someone should have told us then that it is o.k. to speak out loud the things that hurt us most or to acknowledge Broken Stories. That we can have Favorite Things and then Not So Favorite Things that we actually admit to ourselves and others.

Some part of life taught us at a very young age that we should hide away the ugliness, the not-so-pretty stories, as we vow to never grace those spots again with a flashlight or a word.

Fragile relationships. Bitter feelings. Hardships. Resentment. Leftover pieces. Remains of strength. Confusion. Doubt.

You just be strong, buttercup. Hold your head up and get over it. You go ahead and tuck that experience deep into some abandoned compartment of your heart . Deeper than you would the lipstick in the bottom of your purse. And we will never talk of it again.

That is how Ugly Stories go untold. Precious Ugly Stories that taught us everything we know about being human beings and yet we reject them because they make our throats dry and our palms sweat as we attempt to stutter out, “Once Upon a Time.”

Here is what I know:  That we, the crazy messes of skin that we are, have the marrow of storytellers within us.

Something in our DNA makes us cry out for stories. Again and Again and Again. And not just Pretty Stories but Ugly Stories as well. Those are the Gold that Jerk Tears from our Eyelids and Keep Us Pushing Onward. Relentless. Capable. Invincible.

And so I have become quite comfortable with sharing Ugly Stories as if they were animal crackers at  snack time.

Times where I felt pitiful. Or I fell flat on my face. Or I gave up, throwing my hands up and surrendering to a God that has kissed my skinned knees since childhood.

I find it is the only way to clear out cobwebs of the soul. To dump out the clutter from the leather satchel with the one thousand compartments that I refer to as my heart sometimes.

For there are whole parts of my life that I wish I could just sweep out into the open with a massive broom but I haven’t gotten that far yet. Right now I have a toothbrush and I am down on hands and knees scrubbing. Scrubbing Hard. Telling One Ugly Story Every Thirty Days.

Some might call it “moving forward,” others, “starting over.” I call it “carrying less this time around.” Learning to coat all that is Hard and Hard to Admit in my life with a thick stew of Love & Storytelling.

Forgiving myself for the messes I have made. Releasing the power from those Hard To Tell Stories by giving them a voice. A Narrator. A Strong Narrator. Taking them back, out of the night, with the help of a flashlight I find myself clicking on for the very first time.

So come find me and I’ll share an Ugly Story with you.

7 thoughts on “Learning to coat all that is Hard and Hard to Admit in my life with a thick stew of Love & Storytelling.

  1. I absolutely love your blog. My boyfriend is in Afghanistan and I’ve just started blogging, and everytime I come here my heart lifts a little. You are a wonderful writer. I’ve never commented, but I figure now is just as good a time as any. Keep up the great work!!

  2. this is wonderful.

    thank you for sharing your Ugly Stories so that others may have their courage to share theirs as well.

    truly inspirational.

  3. I absolutely LOVED this post. Thank you so much for writing it. It is something I often think about but yet haven’t been able to articulate. I think there is a tendency to want to dwell on the beauties of life–and especially as writers, we romanticize those beauties even more. What we forget is that while we might believe in the beautiful things/people of this world, life is also pretty messy and hard at times. We forget to talk about how we are human and how we have moments that are disgusting, sad, embarrassing, shameful, awkward, horrifying, etc. Yet those moments are equally important in the formation of our identities. Why do we not acknowledge them? Thanks for reminding me of this. Of course, Hannah, you’re always a step ahead in sincerity and wisdom.

  4. You’re right, Hannah. Oh how I wish you were wrong, but you’re right. I make it a point to write some pretty dark and upsetting stuff sometimes, ugly stories that make me feel a little better because I can get them out of my system and tie them up with a bow. My creative writing prof asked us to write an intro for our portfolio, possibly in the form of a self-interview, and one question I asked myself was why I always insist on having such dysfunctional characters. And I said stories are about growth. They have more room to grow.

    Loved this. I hope the book’s coming along well because it sounds like just the kind of story you don’t want to tell but have to.

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