In the photo on Facebook she is incredibly beautiful, smiling, and happy. She writes her story to me in private messages. It is short and incredible. Her crazy story fits in only two paragraphs, one hundred words or half a thousand signs. All emotions, events, most of life are composed only in hundreds of words. You can shoot a blockbuster, based on her story, it can be turned into a bestseller. The story of an ordinary woman, who goes down to the subway every day near us, runs to work, is standing in line at the supermarket.
And her story is not the only one, they grow, develop, accumulate, gather in a huge archive, but I, as a priest at confession, don’t have the right to retell them, until these people, who live this cinema-book life begin the stories themselves.
But they cannot start. For the most part, they have for years, centuries, generations, even genetically learned to be silent. But silenced things do not cease to exist!
All those silenced, under-lived and undeveloped ones grow, outgrow the earthly life of people and live own silent lives. In each of us, there live the silent stories of our mothers, the untold lives of our grandmothers. And we, it turns out, are also silent. We’re even joking with fear about these stories.
There are a lot of other untold stories that have accumulated in the personal archive, and they are all different. Each of them is not similar to another, all are special, all are important and all are untold. I have long started to wonder why these stories come to me in confidence, why they are not found anywhere else. While in a conversation with a friend, I have understood ‒ we live in a world of total silence of our stories. They are not in the public space, they are not in newspapers, magazines, books, movies, TV shows ‒ they are not found anywhere. There are many picturesquely beautiful, or cloaked, distorted, and somehow grotesquely absurd stories there. And no real one. Not one, who would reveal the pain and the joy of those women, who decide only to confess in personal messages to a person, whom they have never seen in their lives. And these first confessions and attempts to describe their lives, their experience, are just the first steps out of silence. The first and not very brave. No one hears them yet.
I recently have read a book by an American author, she actually laid out her story ‒ a love story, a story of laughter, joy, love, disappointment, pain, and rebirth. And this book opens and teaches more than philosophical or psychological works. This book opened my eyes to such an important and terrible problem as silent domestic violence. In that American reality, I found out a part of the stories that were written to me in private messages.
We write a lot, we write beautifully, we twist the words well, we successfully pick up the pace, and behind that, all of us hide our real life. And all the television, literature, movies are about the same. And there are millions of silenced problems, important stories in the world. And no one will tell them until we start talking ourselves. And as practice shows, each told story becomes an example. The society is still confident that we don’t have a lot of problems or questions just because no one dares to voice them out loud. But if only one woman will speak, thousands will answer her.
“Tell my story, maybe it will help someone to survive”. This is only her second private message. I never knew or saw her, I never held her hand or drank tea with her. But her story is amazing. Only no one will hear it, because we are silent. We laugh about the other things, we pour everyday words and keep silent about the important things.
I cannot tell all these other people’s stories, because I am just learning how to tell my own.
By Tatusya Bo