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  • Writer's pictureJoy Slaughter

7 The Right to Tell Your Own Story


Page 149


Megan clenched her fists. “I told you not to tell!”


In chapter 7, Nathan makes a critical misstep. He confides in Sam without Megan’s permission. This violation of her trust by the one person to whom she had chosen to reveal her situation triggers a wave of rage that uncovers other truths within her.

The need to control the telling of one’s own story cannot be overemphasized.

I’ll give another example.

I was once a birth photographer. Pregnant mommas would hire me to be on call and when they went into labor, I would photograph the birth. You might think that photographs are objective–but they are not. The photographer chooses what is in there, at what angle and lighting, and what is NOT in the picture. It tells the story of the birth from the photographer’s perspective.

Even the smoothest birthing experience is a life-changing experience. Identity shifts. Relationships change. And many times there are aspects of trauma involved. Sometimes births have difficult or even tragic outcomes. All of these things are part of a mother’s story.

Because of that, it’s important that mother’s have the opportunity to formulate their own version of their story before a photographer adds their voice to the process. I (and others) have found that this storytelling needs to take place about seven times before it is stable in a momma’s mind. To ensure that there was time for this to occur, it’s important to many birth photographers to delay the return of the pictures. For me, I waited at least six weeks.

When Nathan tells Sam what happened, he not only revealed information without Megan’s consent, but he revealed it through his own words. She lost autonomy, and she lost the opportunity to tell her own story in her own way.


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