How writing about painful moments allows us to connect to readers

It is a question, practically of relationship. We must get back into relation, vivid and nourishing relation to the cosmos and the universe. . . . For the truth is, we are perishing for lack of fulfillment of our greater needs, we are cut off from the great sources of our inward nourishment and renewal, sources which flow eternally in the universe. Vitally, the human race is dying. It is like a great uprooted tree, with its roots in the air. We must plant ourselves again in the universe. D.H. Lawrence, from Lady Chatterley’s Lover

We must plant ourselves again in the universe DH Lawrence #365StrongStories by Marisa Goudy writing coach for healers, therapists, cliniciansWhen I heard Tara Brach share this passage, it would have been a good idea to pull over. How could I keep my eyes on the road when I felt like my heart was tearing open so it could reach out and grab at truth?

When I came home and Googled Lawrence’s words, I found Tara again. This time, seeing her quote him in print in a blog post, I just let the sobs erupt through that jagged hole in my chest.

Wait. Let me pause for a moment. Torn open, sobbing, and all jagged…  A dying human race?

Is this all too much? Is this what you expect from that nice writing coach with the family stories and the infatuation with Irish poetry?

Just for a moment (and maybe longer), the fear and worry comes to the surface

In truth, I think we all worry that our disconnection from the earth and from one another is a problem.

(And, based on what my open-hearted, socially conscious friends and I share with one another, that’s often an understatement - some days that fear is the thief of joy and we worry about everything from cancer to rising oceans.)

And yet, we dance on. Sometimes, we numb out and turn up the music too loud and refuse to examine these concerns. Or, because we have faith that we are planting ourselves in the universe and there is still time for the seedlings to create a new forest before we all run out of air, we take hopeful, inspired action.

But as healers and clinicians, we’re no stranger to the shadow places

For those of us who are healers, for those of us in the vulnerability business, these “humanity is a great uprooted tree” fears are something to be embraced - or at least something not to be avoided.

After all, we know that numbing out and running away never solved anything. Plus, it is because there is a collective sense of being “cut off” that we must offer our work to those who need nourishment and renewal.

Pervasive suffering and separation and the yearning for reconnection is the “why” of our work. Or rather, soothing that separation and bringing an end to suffering is the “why.”

Our marketplace and our economy may be telling us that what passes for relentless optimism - buy more, make more, dig more - is the only way to growth and fulfillment. Instead, we know that “more” won’t necessarily satisfy the “greater needs” that Lawrence wrote about. (Hard to believe the book was published almost 90 years ago, isn’t it? His observations about industrialization and alienation feel so fresh and necessary today.)

We know that true evolution is found in exposing the roots of the pain and the disfunction and that we can consciously, hopefully plant something that will nourish the individual and nourish our world.

Yes, the pain, the worry, and the fear have a place in your writing - and hope does too

You’ve heard about addressing the pain points in your copy. Show the reader that you understand their problems and then offer up your solutions.

Pain has a pace in your storytelling too. It plays a role in your content creation and your blogging.

Allowing yourself to “feel the feelings” and staying open to something like a podcast or a passage from century-old novel that cuts you to the bone will help you create content that connects. It will help you speak the truth that your readers long to hear.

Even in our Instagramable world, people do want wisdom that cuts a little deeper - especially when you also serve up hope and transformation through the brilliant work that you do.

Dare to tell your painful stories once you have done your own healing. It's the healing that speaks to the soul and helps us reestablish a collective root system.

Refusing Fear Despite All the Unknown Tomorrows

Refusing fear despite all the unknown tomorrows #365StrongStories by Marisa Goudy, writing coach for therapists, healers, coaches“You working? I so proud of you.” Sticky palms move from my cheeks to lock around my neck. I still marvel at how much strength is in those tiny arms and how much hug that two year-old body can muster.

It is all childhood trust and wonder. Her words outweigh her in an awesome way. Of course, she is mimicking a phrase my husband and I have offered her and her sister a thousand times in a thousand ways. But in this moment, she is so much more than a sweet-faced parrot. She is offering up the gift I needed right then. She is injecting meaning into yet another morning spent tapping keys and pushing against the digital tide.

At the same moment, Terry Gross’s familiar voice introduced the day’s Fresh Air guest. A man - Charles Bock - had written a novel inspired by his wife’s two year bout with leukemia. Soon, the author was talking about what it was like to throw a birthday party for their three year-old just days after her mother’s death.

I’m making lunch and sipping “tea” poured from a tin pot into a plastic cup. I miss every other sentence of the interview, but I promise myself I will catch the podcast later. But I know I won’t. I know I do not have the time or the strength to listen again. All I can do is spare some splintered attention to entertain one of my darkest fears - that lurking cancer demon that might be destroying this perfect life this very minute.

Even though this story hurts a heart that already feels too sodden and tender today, I do not change the station. After all, there’s nothing special about my pain. My family cancer stories are not so close as to make this conversation unendurable. It’s my childhood friend’s mother who died before 60 and a brilliant woman (who I long to support with more than prayers) who is in the brutal thick of it right now - these are the women I think of as the fear seizes my chest.

Listening began to feel like some sort of test of honor and endurance. Can I hold the exquisite tenderness of my toddler and the terror that we might not always be counted amongst the lucky ones, the healthy ones, the “touch wood all is well” ones?

No amount of prayer or gratitude or pride will guarantee any of our stories have a quiet ending at the conclusion of a one hundred year journey. Switching off NPR and singing along to a forgettable song will not weaken the monsters of accident and disease that might lurk around the next corner.

There’s no way to assure the safety of everyone I love. I cannot force my own cells to behave themselves. But what I can do is make sure that my fear doesn’t steal the sweetness of the next giggle or grown up pronouncement from that little girl’s lips.

All any of us can do is control whether we lose today wondering about an unknown tomorrow.