Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"It's like I'm my own shrink"

The other night, I watched an interview that George Stromboulopoulos -- the CBC television star we memorably encountered at LaGuardia last fall, en route home to Toronto from our whirlwind chicks' weekend in New York City -- recently did with Randy Bachman, classic rock guitarist extraordinaire for both the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive -- and, I might add proudly, a fellow Manitoban :)  (albeit now living on Saltspring Island in British Columbia).  Bachman hosts a weekly radio program on CBC radio called Vinyl Tap, where he plays classic rock records and tells stories about the people behind them. He's written a memoir & a collection of stories from his show, and was on Strombo to promote a second story collection, Tales From Beyond the Tap.

The entire half hour is worth a listen if you're a fan of Bachman or his bands, or classic Canadian rock, or just classic rock generally. The man is a great storyteller, and he has some wonderful stories to tell and observations to make, about a lot of names you will recognize, Canadian & otherwise.

But if anything, just listen to the first five minutes. As a blogger (and before that, someone poured her heart out on various online forums -- and who attended and then facilitated a support group for 10 years, where we encouraged members to tell their stories every time they attended as a way of healing), I was fascinated by both George & Randy's observations about the cathartic and healing power of storytelling, and the new perspective you can gain by doing so -- so much so that I went back & transcribed their conversation, starting around the 2:10 mark [emphasis mine]:   
George: You're in an interesting place now, because you spend much of your time telling stories of stuff that's happened to your or experiences you've had...so you're really living in this... you're not living in the past, you're reliving your own history, and I wonder what you think the impact is on you?  
Randy: (pause) Umm... it's cathartic... it's like I'm my own shrink! (laughs) These are my shrinks (gestures to the audience) -- every Saturday, Sunday, I talk to them,  and I tell them when I met certain people and huge, fun, great things that happened, and also some disappointments that happened. So it is cathartic -- I found in doing this book and the previous book, I felt compelled ... I was sleepless at nights, because when you relive a story and when you write it down, it's quite different than telling it... and a lot of (word?) will say "Write it down, you've got to write down what happened." And I found myself calling a lot of people -- and apologizing for what I did...  
George: ...that's interesting!  
Randy: ...10, 20, 30 years ago, that I didn't realize their side of it. And then I read it in their book. Hopefully they read it in my book. Because when there's this thing and you break up with a girl or a guy or a band or a team or your family, you leave home, you don't really know what they're saying, and they don't know what you're saying after you leave. And you don't know what brought you there, even.  
George: And you don't know what they're feeling on any level.  
Randy:  No...
What do you think? Is telling your story -- through blogging, or otherwise -- cathartic? Is it like being your own shrink??


  1. Yes, definitely, I love that! I certainly know that helping others through a stage I'd already been through was very cathartic - it made me think, figure out my motivations, understand what happened to me and why I felt the way I did, and really was like therapy. (Not that I've ever had therapy, so it might be dramatically different ... you've got me thinking now.) Blogging - and importantly reading and listening to both the comments and other bloggers - is definitely therapeutic for me.

  2. I didn't go any further with the transcription, but he goes on to say that he actually went on to call or write people from his past to apologize to them for things that had happened. Telling & writing the story now, years later, has given him a new perspective on things that he didn't have before; he's better able to understand their point of view. I found that fascinating.

  3. Oh yes, it's very cathartic and reading other people's thoughts and experiences also widen my scope and in some cases even make me realize even more what I've been through or what I'm experiencing. And sometimes I understand my experience even more while I'm trying to put it into words. And for me, it also helps a lot to reread my old posts because they make me understand just how far I've come or how much I've learnt. :-)

    Plus I like the feeling I get once I pour my thoughts/feelings down in writing because then at least I don't have to keep having them circling around in my head - and because sometimes I get more clarity whilst writing them out, then it's all the more reason for me to write. :-D

    And if any of my experiences that I've written can help other people out there feel less alone, then it's even better. :-) So it's a win-win-win-win situation for me to write. Same as Mali, I've never had therapy, though that doesn't mean I never want to try, but because I live in a foreign place (and a small village), it's kinda tough to find a therapist within budget that speaks English he he...so blogging is my cheap therapy option. :-D

  4. Oh yes, yes, yes. I mean, no, a blog audience can't really replace the need for therapy if you need therapy. But I think of it like the yoga I do to strengthen my back. If I hurt my back, I really need a doctor. But doing yoga daily mostly stops me from needing to see a doctor because my back doesn't hurt. The same with the blog.