My head

Under My Skin

May 10, 2016

under my skinOh hi, remember me? I used to blog here about stuff but then I started to sell all of my words. Now by the time I get home I have very few free words left to give you. It kinda sucks but I guess it’s just evolution.

I love my job at the magazine, I really do, and I’ve discovered I have quite the knack for telling people’s stories. I’ve chatted to all sorts of people who have experienced all sorts of life. That’s a storyteller’s job.

And I’m a storyteller.

We chat on the phone and I let down my guard and we’re all just incredibly human for about half an hour while I ask intimate questions about their lives. They shed their skin and they give it to me entrusting me to weave it into a cloak that still fits although it’s slightly different to the skin they gave me.

The young newlywed with Stage 3 melanoma had a beautiful sense of humour and a gentle voice.

The mum who lost herself to drugs and prostitution was inspirational as she got her life back on track. She was raspy, and throaty and laughed at herself.

The mum whose partner was raping her children for 10 years and the story only unraveled when her son tried to kill himself was matter of fact. I believe she had cried all the tears and screamed all of the screams, at least for that day.

So many more stories of babies lost, or longed for. Drugs and violence and sorrow.

I listen to these stories and then I put myself in their shoes and I tell the stories through my eyes. I imagine what their surroundings looked like, what their lives feel like. I imagine myself as them and I write.

Sometimes I laugh, often I cry, and then I turn off my computer and I let it go like Elsa in her ice castle.

Sometimes I get emails of thanks, but I recently got an angry response from someone who hated their story. You can’t win them all.

She had a shocking story, horrific, that needed no hint of embellishment to bring a reader’s heart to their throat as tears pricked their eyes. She may have been shocked at how it sounded to someone else’s ears. She may have been shocked at how her story looked in black and white words.

I felt like I let her down when she was so angry about her story, but then when she asked for money I wondered if her motives lay elsewhere.

There is another mother who I am writing about at the moment. Gathering information, interviewing people, reading documents. This mother is accused of Munchausen by Proxy and had her children removed from her custody five years ago.

I can’t tell you much about the story because it’s so deeply wrapped up in legals it’s as though she no longer exists.

At first, I didn’t know if she was guilty or innocent but I wasn’t concerned because I had the story and it’s a good yarn, but the deeper I dig the more I believe she’s innocent. Certainly she has some people much smarter than me on her side, doctors who can decipher the medical files, doctors who understand the intricacies of this case.

She has my phone number and she sends me messages. She is placing a lot of hope in the story and it has been playing a song in my head. I don’t know if I’ve overstepped the mark by letting her in, but I can only be who I am. I know not how to be any other way.

I got off an official phone call regarding this poor, unfortunate woman the other day which was like smashing my forehead against a jagged brick wall. When I got back to my cubicle I sank into my chair. I breathed out a sigh and I said quietly to one of my bosses…

“This mum,” I said, “she’s under my skin.”

She shook her head….”never do that.”

It’s the cardinal sin. Maybe at journalism school they give you armour to keep your skin armadillo tough, but I wouldn’t know. I skipped that and just showed up one day with my easily penetrable folds of soft pink flesh, perfect for creeping into and permeating the layers.

I don’t talk much about my work, and I’ve only ever once told you the story behind the story before, but sometimes I need to say stuff in order for words to be able to come freely once more.

I also write about boiling eggs, belly fat and relationships so it’s not all human sadness and strength, but a boiled egg never crept under my guard quite the same way.

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  • Reply Zanni Arnot May 10, 2016 at 7:28 am

    What a gift you have. x

  • Reply Glen May 11, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    There will always be something that rattles your cage….keep doing what you do so well honey. You are the consummate story teller and we are your captivated audience. You have an awesome gift Danielle.

  • Reply raphaela99 May 16, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Sending you love. You can get through this. This is what you were in part, born to do. xxx

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