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  • Jason Wood

Story Power

During a recent podcast interview, I was asked why I decided to share my story. This is a question I receive a lot but this time it landed differently. I paused and took a moment to internally reflect on the past eighteen months.

Perhaps, it’s the fact that I now have a physical copy of my upcoming memoir. Seeing the words that came from my heart now appear on paper in the palm of my hand is a truly incredible experience. It’s given me a renewed perspective on this mission and reminded me of the raw, natural power of storytelling.

Robin Roberts and her mantra of making your mess your message were the catalyst to my own endeavor into storytelling. While watching her Masterclass I realized that the years of pain, hurt, and worry was my mess, but now they would become my message.

My lived experience with an eating disorder was now my message. The pain of losing my parents at a young age, then seeing my entire family and world crumble. This was now my message. My struggle with toxic masculinity and internalized homophobia was now my message. The lonely nights in a run-down apartment or motel room with no money to eat, this was also now my message. My life up to this very moment in time, it was all my message.

I discovered a passion and love of reading at the start of my recovery journey. I read for hours each morning, often memoirs from other folks who have battled eating disorders. I admired their embrace of authenticity and vulnerability. Their stories not only inspired me but empowered me. I realized I was not alone. I was not weird or a failure for battling an eating disorder. I often saw my own story play out in their stories. In a way, these stories helped me better understand my own story.

So as I found myself pondering the podcast host’s question, I thought about the amazing power of storytelling. I mean think about it, these individuals who I had never met were having a profound impact on my life and my recovery. And all it took was their words, their stories.

I immediately realized why I am sharing my story. I am paying it forward. The individuals like Libby Parker and Rachael Steil who bravely shared their stories before me were once strangers and now they are friends of mine. Their stories brought community while comforting me on my toughest days. Their words left an impression on my heart that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.

Now, it’s my turn. I am adding my story to the conversation in hopes that I can help others the way previous storytellers have helped me. And maybe, just maybe, my story will help encourage others to share their stories.

As I wrapped up my answer on the podcast, I closed with an entertaining thought. How cool would it be if we all had a memoir? We all have stories to share. Stories that need to be heard and can change lives. So why settle for just an obituary when we pass on, let’s get to sharing our stories now.


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