I was talking to my 12 year old son the other day and I was complaining about something or other. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way, it wasn’t what I had planned.” And out of the mouth of my babe, my son simply stated, “Mom, that’s not your story.” That drew me up short. I think his statement is certainly one of acceptance, but I’m wondering if there isn’t more to it and as I started to think about it, I realized that there were a lot of different facets to having a story. So bear with me as I dissect it.
We all carry our own narrative about our lives. We are, essentially, the writers of our life story. Too often, we allow others to “hold the pen” so to speak. Parents that weren’t there like we needed them, bullies at school, siblings that labeled us, or friends that rejected us are all pens that scribbled our story. We allow these events, these people, these labels to determine who we are, how we expect the world to work, and what we can expect out of life. Then we get stuck…very stuck.
We find the same actors and we live the same themes, unconsciously until we finally figure it out. Imagine if I have a “cowboy” story, what would I ever do with an astronaut coming into my life? I wouldn’t, so I don’t have those kind of people in my life. What if I had the theme of “never good enough,” guess how many promotions or advancements I would strive for? See what I mean? Our stories are so powerful.
This is the good news. We can use this power for “good” and not for “evil.” We can take the pen back. While we can’t change our past, we can determine how the story goes. We can use our story to hold us back or empower us to live the life we want to. I can be a victim or a survivor. I can choose to believe the labels thrust upon me as a young girl or determine for myself who I am. This isn’t exactly an easy process, mind you, but it is one of tremendous value. I encourage you to look at how you tell your story and if it’s one that inspires you or keeps you stuck.
My son had the understanding that I have to own my story. It is not always what I want it to be. My story is what is. The reality that is in front of me. As I look over my story, I realize that there are a lot of things that I don’t like. I have “skeletons” in the closet. The one’s that make me shudder and fill me with regret, remorse and shame. There are parts of my story that I don’t think were fair, just, or right. There are chapters of mistreatment and tremendous pain. Yet, it is all a part of it. I have to acknowledge that some chapters in my story I don’t like or approve. That is still acceptance.
When my son told me “that isn’t your story,” it was a powerful reminder that if I don’t accept my story as it is, I lose all control to change it. Sure, I could shake my fist at the injustices, the hurts, and the ridiculous decisions I have made. I could allow those events to determine my plot perhaps as a victim or an unlovable and worthless human being. However, I’m positive this is not the book in which I want to live. Those parts are a part of my story, not the whole. How I tell those parts determine what role I play in my life. Does that make sense? I can’t change what happened, but I can change how I tell the narrative.
No one else in the world has my story. I am the only person in the world that has all of my unique experiences and events. My siblings, even having grown up in the same family, have a completely different story than mine. As I really sit and think about this, I think this is so amazing. In my line of work, I listen to stories all day long and I have yet to ever be disinterested. In fact, I am constantly fascinated by the stories of resilience, survival, and determination to have a better life. It’s inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking but never boring. Their stories make me grateful, make me want to be better, and push me to grow as a person on a regular basis.
The amazing part is that you (and me for that matter) have the same kind of story that can motivate and inspire. I have something to offer you just as you have something to offer me. It makes my life meaningful. It makes my interactions with others, with my family, and with strangers have greater depth as our stories merge for that moment. We share the same page though the words may not be the same. I love thinking about this as it inspires me to not only live my best story but to connect with someone else’s. Judgments get shoved aside when I look at it this way. I don’t just see the person, but I look for the story.
I have to thank my son for this inspiration. My son’s “story” helped me become more aware of my own and the importance of really owning it as mine. I hope that my son has inspired you too. I hope that you realize the way that you write your story, how you might “fight” your story, and how truly special and exceptional your story is.
Please leave a comment and share your story! It’s one of a kind!