The stories we tell
The stories we tell ourselves are old. Their grooved ruts run through our memories, often told in the voice of the Critic.
I wrote recently about how I was a perfectionist, not resilient. About wanting my kids to have better coping mechanisms than I had in certain areas. About wanting to control how far along the journey of personal growth my kids are, so they don’t have to struggle with my struggles.
My best friend e-mailed me about my posts. Resiliency, she reminded me, is not only one’s response to failure, but also being faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, and discovering grit and courage and perseverance that you didn’t know you had.
You ARE resilient, she said. You LIVE resiliency. In other words: look at yourself more clearly.
Sometimes the story I tell myself is only part of the picture. Lamenting about my kids, framing my own less-than-ideal reactions as a parent as failures, focusing on the flaws, the cracks, the messes.
This is just another, subtle way the Critic whispers to us: “You are not enough.”
Another blogger Julie wrote recently about Choosing Joy.
There is a difference between being happy and choosing joy. One is passive. Thoreau said, “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”
But choosing joy, like Julie describes, involves consciously choosing to focus on gratitude, presence, learning and growth in the face of both happiness and sadness.
This is how I want to write my story. Not in the mundane scratches and imperfections and wistfulness of How I Might Have Been. But in the glorious, sacred-and-scarred Truth of Who I Am and Who My Kids Are. Present tense. Or Who I Am and My Kids Are Becoming. Present continuous.
And my kids get to write their own stories. They will figure out how to use their innate awesomeness to talk back to the Critic, how to Own the Good, how to live resiliency. How to love and be loved and know they are worthy of love.
The glorious and beautiful truth that I have learned and forget and learn again is that we are always writing the stories we tell. Even if they go deep, even if they have been told the same way over and over again, we get to choose where to focus, how to frame our experiences, how we define ourselves. It is never too late.
We can look at ourselves more clearly, not from the funhouse mirror distorted perspective of those old, old stories. We can tell ourselves the truth without the censoring of the Critic: that we are brave, and strong, and resilient, and worthy.
We can stand in our own light.