Personal stories as told on the internet changed my life.
The Christian Fundamentalist cult I was raised in said I was a slut at ten years old, and it all went downhill from there. I escaped the cult due to being “rebellious” and going to college at a public university in a lovely tourist city in Australia. It was there in my undergraduate sociology class that I met a professor whose lectures and ideas would fundamentally change me, but not until years later. But I kept the things he taught me close to my heart and eventually I escaped, thanks not only to the professor, but to the power of personal stories on the internet.
Trapped at home without a vehicle as a stay at home mom in a foreign country where I didn’t know many people, the internet was my connection to the outside world. These personal stories and the undergraduate sociology professor changed my life. The stories of other women made me see that they had experienced the same kinds of things that I had, and that escape was possible.
Through some heartbreaking situations, I made my escape. It wasn’t all at once, it was a progression as I had spent 28 years brainwashed. Over the past six years, as I have deconstructed and learned who I am without the confines of fundamentalist Christianity, I have progressed further and further towards freedom and a totally new me. This is why I share my own stories: explicit, raw, authentic stories, because I know of their power to change lives.
I believe in the power of personal stories as presented in nonfiction and creative nonfiction, or even a decent fiction book. Stories can change lives like they changed mine, which I why I am passionate in talking and teaching about the power of personal stories to change lives, even if the life we change is our own.
As we Episcopalians like to say: thanks be to God.