I have been a teller of stories, and a listener to stories, but probably never more than when engaged in aphasia therapy. Often, it begins with the story of how the aphasia came to be. Always, it is an important story to which I must pay full attention, not because of the specific details, but because of what it says about the teller. The truth is only what people tell you, and not what may have actually happened. That is sometimes hard to accept, when you know the facts may be otherwise, and you have been trained to be a lover of facts. The story is remembered in the soul as well as the brain. And as a.muse states, it is a way to remember how you got here, and whether or not it is a reality created or experienced matters not at all.
One of my clients just cannot tell me a story in words, yet can take me through his story’s beginning, middle, and end in an expressive pantomime, involving gesture, shifts in body posture, facial expression, and voice tone. He has succeeded in telling me stories about how he beat someone up who tried to cheat him in an alley during his young adulthood, and how his parents had to bail him out of the police station – how he almost had a career as a professional baseball pitcher, but didn’t have the gumption at the time to pursue it – how his stroke and aphasia put an end to a very fulfilling career. His proficiency at story-telling without much spoken language, lets us both learn more about him, and relate to one another meaningfully. It has also gained the respect of his family as someone with a good deal to say about a lot of things.
Our dreams are also connected to our stories, because what we document in stories of the past is related to what we value and hope for in the future. There are reasons why my sister and I remember the same event in our childhood, but our stories about it are completely different. I think those differences also shaped our dreams.
People with aphasia: share your stories.