Regardless of where we are in life, we all have stories that have played in our heads since childhood. I’m not talking about fairytales and fantasies but our version of our life. Notice I said “version” because your viewpoint may be different from your parent’s or sibling’s. In some respects we make sense of our life through our stories… our history. Take my mother, for example. Whether she was talking about the past, present or future, mother always chose to paint herself as the victim.
She didn’t know it, but her stories played a major role in the stories I told myself and who I became.
One of my earliest stories was that I was an overprotected only child, the product of a strict distant father and a mother who wanted to keep me wrapped in swaddling clothes until I collected Social Security. A big part of me bought into mother’s “my sickly, asthmatic kid” story, but when I was 12 and we role reversed, I threw that story out with the Easter Bunny. By the time I started my freshman year of college, I told myself I could do anything.
Even in the early days of trying on my new “healthy and brave” story, I knew it was designed to make me the polar opposite of my mother. My secret, wanna’ be tuff-girl became a self-fulfilling prophesy. It was the bravado that kept me from crumbling in the midst of a back alley abortion, or giving up my university scholarship and taking a job as a waitress so I could get away from mother and have my own apartment while I paid for night classes at a junior college. On some level I knew, even then, I could go to Hell and back and keep on going. The only thing that mattered was I’d become the antithesis of mother’s little girl who wasn’t allowed to go barefoot or play outside.
Most of you know me only from my blog, and yet you share the most intimate times of your life. I hope you know how honored I am and how courageous I think your are.
The stories we tell ourselves can be our saving grace or, like my mother, our own worst enemies. What are the stories you tell yourself that have shaped your life? Perhaps they served you well in the past, but is it time to let them go? If so, what’s stopping you from writing a new one?
Maybe you need help crafting a new story with a different ending. What if you start by asking yourself:
Where do you see yourself a year, five years or 10 years from now, and what kind of courage or change of circumstances will it take to get there? Perhaps the real question is how will you feel if you don’t rewrite your story?