A few weeks ago I took the advice from my therapist (if you don’t have one, get one!) and submitted a pitch to a local storytelling organization. To be honest, I wrote the pitch in 3 minutes and didn’t edit it. Curious? Read the pitch below.
“I walked out of my childhood home, into the garage and saw my blue striped comforter neatly packed into a large Tupperware container in the backseat of my mother’s silver BMW. Just as I was thinking how strange that my comforter was in the backseat of her car, I stepped outside the garage and was greeted by three people. My mother, my new alcoholic stepdad and a stranger. “Today we are taking you to your new school” said my mother. I was then handcuffed to the stranger, an off duty police officer, and placed in the backseat of the car. The only word I said for 7 hours was “Yeah” when I asked if I wanted a sandwich from Subway. When we arrived there were makeshift dorms lining the property and girls dressed in all yellow in case they bolted. As mom dropped me off and said her goodbyes, I said “fuck you”. In my typical teenage angst, I was wearing checkered vans and I am almost certain my hair was black. The more veteran girls went through my belongings and checked for drugs, razor blades and anything else considered contraband. I had 7 pairs of white underwear, 7 pairs of socks and I was issued the yellow uniform. “So I will be here for 8 weeks?” I said. The girls laughed, some had been there for 2 years. This was my new hell for 16 months”
A story developer emailed me back within minutes and we began working on a larger story that would extend 12 minutes.
This experience was everything to me.
I’ve never felt more supported, creative or proud in my life. While the story is deeply personal, I think it is important to share. I want others to feel like their trauma has purpose and that resiliency only arises from experiences like this.
So, last Friday, it was my turn to stand in front of 300 strangers (+ 3 amazing friends who really showed up for me) and share my story. I had practiced my story a dozen times. I recorded myself and listened to it constantly. I began by sharing a very edited and better version of my pitch. Once I got to the middle, I froze. I forgot where I was. Someone shouted from the top of the theater “YOU GOT THIS” and the entire theater clapped. I started again but with a new found connection with the audience.
After I was done with my story, I walked back to sit with my friends and listen to the other 4 stories of the night. Strangers were asking me questions about my story and my experience with boarding school. The one that stuck out the most was this one. I think it stuck out the most because it struck me as something my therapist would ask.
“Do you forgive your mother for sending you there?”
No. No, I don’t. She had an opinion and so do I. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a pretty decent relationship now though. (Love you Mom).
Interested in where I shared my story? Pitch a story to The Monti