The Power of Storytelling

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do ” – Brené Brown

Early next month I take to stage with a fellow storyteller to share stories about my journey with my mother. My solo piece is called ‘Killing My Mother’!

When I think of the phrase ‘killing my mother’ there are three stories that come to mind. The first story features the statement – ‘I never killed my mother, so you cannot kill me’. This was something my mother often said, as she would beat me in my teens whenever I misbehaved. The second features – ‘You have killed me!’ This was the first thing that my mother screamed when in my late 20s I told her that I was gay. The third features – ‘You made your mother miserable and that misery killed her’. This was what my mother’s pastor told me when I returned to Nigeria in my 40s for my mother’s funeral.

Father and Mother

I recently sat down with my fellow storytelling collaborator (Paul Woodward) to discuss our upcoming performance, our inspiration and intentions….. here is our conversation…..

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Between Two Worlds

The Traveller

I have always journeyed between two worlds,
for that is all I know.
And even though I often long
to simply be in one place and call it home,
that experience feels so alien to me.
And so I continue to travel
– from here to there,
from now to then. More

Daring Greatly with Brené Brown

Ade - Daring

I remember being filled with such excitement and anticipation when in early April I discovered that Brené Brown was coming to London to give a talk at The School of Life. I immediately posted the details on Facebook, and notified a few of the guys who had journeyed with us at The Quest about the event. Since discovering Brené’s work via her TED talks, Darren (Co-Founder of The Quest) and myself had often referred to her research in our work with gay men on the issue of shame, vulnerability and courage.

I got out my diary to put in the date and then noticed that I had another engagement on the same day, which I could not get out of – or could I? I was in the process of starting a monthly group coaching session in June, and our second session would clash with the Brené event. I debated whether to move the session, but everything was already in place and so I gradually settled to the possibility of the talk making its way to YouTube and seeing it there.

Few weeks later as Ernesto, (fellow collaborator at The Quest) told me that he had his ticket for The School of Life event, I silently debated whether I could take my coaching group for an outing to see Brené, but by that stage the tickets were all gone. ‘Oh well, that’s that’ I thought!’ More

Reflections on being Freshly Pressed

Ade FBThree weeks ago, I had no idea what being ‘Freshly Pressed’ meant. I’m rather glad I did not, because such knowledge was bound to have triggered my old chestnut of ‘I am not good enough’, which in turn might have led to me striving and striving to get something Freshly Pressed; all with a view to becoming the illusory and momentary ‘good enough’. Yes I know, what does ‘good enough’ mean anyway? And does being Freshly Pressed really matter? But hey, it’s an old wound I carry and much as I’d like to pretend that I no longer hear its silent whisper, deep down I know that it still rears its stubborn head from time to time, to let me know that I can run but cannot hide.

A couple of days after the Freshly Pressed post, I noticed that my email inbox was filled with tons of notifications of either people following my blog or posting a comment. My immediate thought was that my spam filter was compromised and I decided to ignore them. Later that evening I noticed that @freshly_pressed had tweeted my post. Aww, that’s nice I thought, as I looked though the other blogs that had also been tweeted. I mentioned the tweet on Facebook and got a few ‘Congratulations’, for which I felt embarrassed; ‘its only a tweet I thought, no big deal’. More

When I take off my vulnerability armor and allow myself to be seen…..

Ade - WakeOne of the many things I love about storytelling is that each time a story is told, something is always discovered or rediscovered by the storyteller. No matter how many times I tell a tale, I am always finding another insight or revelation, which always leaves me feeling like I have never told the story before.

One such tale is an encounter that I recently had with a taxi driver in London. In fact, a few minutes after the encounter, I found myself telling the story in a business meeting, and in the days that followed, I must have told it at least once a day. As I reflected on the story earlier this week, I found that I was still uncovering newer depths to the story; very much like Alice, lost in Wonderland and getting more curious and curious!

I have wanted to write about the story for the past couple of weeks, but I had become so enchanted by the oral telling of the tale and somehow felt that putting it to paper might mean that the story no longer unraveled. But as I found myself going through the OutTales archive over the past few days, I noticed that so many of the stories here all have further levels to what has been written, and if I was to write many of them again now, there will be a different pair of eyes and hand bringing new life to the already told tales… More

My Mother & her Gay Son

Some days it feels just like yesterday when I boarded a late night Nigerian Airways flight from Lagos to London. It was January 1988. I was 19 and all I thought about, as I stared out of the airplane window, was: “At last, I can finally start being me. I can finally start living my own life”.

What I did not anticipate back then, was that I carried a huge amount of shame about being gay. Leaving home had not taken away my pain; it had simply travelled with me. It would take me another eight years, before I experienced my first sexual encounter with a man. Until then, I simply denied the ‘gay part’ of me by taking refuge in daydreams and in a church, where on most Sundays, the pastor condemned gay people. When I finally left the church, I embarked on searching for ‘the one’, which sadly only led to one-night stands and ‘short-term’ encounters. I excelled in my career, travelled continuously and found many other outlets to help numb my pain. More

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