Working in morning radio means you talk about more in the run of a four-hour show than most people do all day. You’re talking about news stories, and things that are trending on line. You’re talking about things that are happening in your listeners lives. You’re telling stories about your own life, pulling on your own experiences and sharing pieces of you that will hopefully connect with your listeners and help them better understand the stories you’re telling.
It’s challenging on a good day – finding those stories, scanning the memories and experiences that I have had in my life and finding ways to use those to fuel the stories we tell on air.
You know what I didn’t expect when I turned my whole life upside down? The impact those changes would have on me as a storyteller. Just about every dollar I’ve made since I was 15 has been for telling stories. It’s my favourite thing to do. I love helping other people tell their stories, but more and more my work in radio and my own writing has me telling my own stories.
In all of my work the challenge has been the same: how do I transfer this idea from my head to yours? And better yet, how I transfer my emotional response to this idea from my heart to yours? Good or bad, happy or sad, all stories are written for the heart – not the mind or the ears.
Now, when I flip through a decade of my own experiences it’s hard for me use them to help relate or connect with other people . It’s just painful to think about the decisions I was making back then, and it’s exhausting to constantly confront how different my reality is now.
Everyday for more than ten years I woke up and lied about a hundred things, and all the time I now spend thinking back to those years just reminds me of all of the people I hurt, all of the opportunities I wasted, and all of the time I’m never going to get back.
I’ve gone back and forth on this a lot over the last year, especially when I was writing the book. Trying to figure out if this much introspection was really healthy or really unhealthy. I still don’t know the answer – and I think a lot of big decisions will come the day I finally know.
Today on the show we were talking about potty training children. I’m standing in the studio co-hosting with two twenty-somethings who can’t even fathom having a child in their life at this point – and I’m immediately sent back 13 years to when I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with my girlfriend and her two year old, and all the stories we share about the nights we spent training him to ‘be a big boy,’ all the 2AM trips to the laundry room because he didn’t quite make it, and the insane joy of standing together and clapping the first time he stood up from watching SpongeBob and said “Guys, I have to go poop.”
I spent part of my morning knowing that the little life I had back then might still be mine today if it weren’t for the choices I started making back then.
Now that I’ve literally written the book on that part of my life, shouldn’t there be some comfort now? Shouldn’t I be able to draw on those experiences and not feel all the guilt and shame that I tried to bury with food for so long? As a storyteller , shouldn’t there be a healthy way to go back and use that material? After all, it’s those stories that made me who I am today.
Truthfully, I don’t know. I think part of accepting responsibility for all of my decisions is knowing there are real consequences, some of them everlasting. My new outlook on life and all the good intentions in the world can’t undo my mistakes, and can’t erase the parts of my story I wish I had been smart enough to write differently the first time.
I spoke to someone who weighed over 500 pounds for more than 15 years – from age 30 to 45. There is no one in his life today that knew him at his heaviest. He’s blacked out those years, he lives in a different city, he works in a different field, and he doesn’t really talk about what he was doing with his life back then.
When I’m having a good day, that seems like a new life built on an old lie and I don’t think that’s healthy. When I’m having a bad day, that seems like paradise.