Anticipation, Anxiety, and Vulnerability

Kathleen Heppell shares her experience of participating in our Fall 2013 Story Groups. Spring 2014 Story Groups begin February 4.

Anticipation and anxiety danced awkwardly through my mind and body as I drove to the first meeting of my Story Group. My mind was debating itself and there were butterflies in my stomach. The reluctant part of me asked how I got myself into this situation. The excited part of me chuckled gently, recalling that I had registered for the Story Group as soon as I heard about it.

The motivation to participate in a Story Group came from my experience of previously attending The Story Workshop, where we were invited to look at our stories with curiosity and kindness. I signed up for a Story Group because I wanted more awareness, insight, growth, and transformation in my life. Through the Story Group I discovered significant themes and patterns in my writing. I was used to carrying burdens alone. I was far more descriptive of other people’s experiences in my stories than I was of my own experience. It was as if I was standing on the sidelines of my story. Although I often felt missed in my life, I had not realized that I set myself up to be missed until I participated in this group.

My group leaders at the Story Group were dedicated, caring, compassionate warriors on behalf of each member of the group. I appreciated that they presented a significant story from their own lives the first night because their vulnerability invited me to become more vulnerable in my stories. We were able to ask questions about the stories, make observations, and affirm them just as we would be doing with one another in the rest of the sessions.

It was a privilege to hear the stories of each group member and interact with one another. Often another group member’s story would lead me to recall other stories of harm in my life. Since the focus was on the other person, I would note my feelings and ponder them later. And while personal therapy is not required for participation in a Story Group, I believe I got more out of the Story Group because I worked with a therapist. In addition, I am not a writer but I have found writing my stories incredibly valuable for my growth.

Part of what has come from my participation in a Story Group has been writing my story. It has been a process and there have been a multitude of drafts. The first ones were in generalities about what happened and about my growth. Once again, I created a way to say something and put myself in the background. Instead, I have risked being vulnerable—the benefit of participation in a Story Group, where I can be seen and known. Until now, only a few close friends have known what I have shared in Story Groups. Now, I have found a growing exhilaration and freedom that has come with taking the risk to be known, to grow, and to be transformed.

Story Groups are short-term intensive small groups that meet weekly for 10 sessions in Seattle, WA. They are created for the purpose of personal growth and transformation by exploring how your life experiences have shaped you into who you are today. Join a Story Group to experience care and gain discernment on how your personal story impacts your current way of understanding and relating to yourself, others, and God. Spring 2014 Story Groups begin February 4.