I’m going to shock you with this revelation. Ready? Here it goes: I’m a writer.
Crazy, huh? 😉
Ever since I was a little kid, words and stories have really mattered to me. So I was uber-intrigued when this book I’m reading (Warrior Goddess Training by Heatherash Amara) challenged me to change the story I tell myself and others about my life. What does that mean? Well, Amara asks her readers to “take a perspective that views your past experience as something that ultimately served your highest good.” And, because I believe that word choice and perspective are such POWERFUL tools to use when taking responsibility for your own wellness while working on healing and recovery, I had to try it out and share the exercise with you!
So here are the old and new versions of a limited life story of mine. I’ve put certain “power words” in bold to highlight the usage of two very different types of vocabularies in the two very different versions of this story. Now, once upon a time…
As a kid growing up in an addictive and dysfunctional environment, I suffered so much. I felt alone, abandoned, and scared a lot of the time. And the experience of this type of upbringing traumatized me in ways I still haven’t uncovered. Why? Because recovery is freaking hard and painful and stressful and who has time to deal with all this crap?!
My teenage years gave me ample opportunity to feel bad about myself. I compared myself to others and felt a deep sense of shame based on the actions of my parents and my family. I was promiscuous and dated lots of people who also came from difficult family backgrounds because I figured that’s the only people I deserved. Why would anyone from a nice family want me?!
In college, I started dating this guy and became grossly co-dependent right from the beginning. He seemed to really like me which was wild because he wore polo shirts and he didn’t drink or do drugs and his parents’ house had a 3-car garage so I figured he was “normal” – he couldn’t possibly be messed up like me! Yeah, how stupid of me. News flash to naive younger me: polo shirts and big houses have nothing to do with addictive and dysfunctional families. And drinking and drugs aren’t the only ways people can behave badly. I stupidly thought we’d be together forever. Then I messed up and got pregnant.
My daughter may have been the perfect baby but I was the absolute worst mom. I was so panicky and fearful and terrified to mess her up like I’d been messed up. Plus my mom wanted to come around and see her and it got me feeling sad and angry and confused. Why did she want to be around my kid when she hadn’t wanted to be around me? Was I really that worthless and unimportant?
I begged my daughter’s dad to marry me because I wanted to give my daughter the family I hadn’t had growing up. I didn’t want to end up raising my baby on my own. He finally agreed (although begrudgingly) but I played it off to everyone like we were a super happy family and then I got busy “playing house” for several years. I suffered two painful miscarriages and life was basically terrible! I watched my dream for the “perfect family” chucked out with the trash and I lost myself in my sadness and bitterness.
My second daughter came into my life at a weird time. I had decided that I couldn’t handle any more miscarriages so I just didn’t need any more children. Plus, as soon as I got pregnant I knew I was trapped. How could I leave and support myself with now two kids?! My husband was such a jerk – he wasn’t emotionally or physically available during most of the pregnancy and I felt alone and betrayed. It sucked really bad to do it all myself. Plus this kid proved to be too smart for her own good. How exhausting!
The abuse I experienced in my marriage was soul-sucking suffering with no light at the end of the tunnel. I was so hurt and so angry. How could he do this to me??? I cried myself to sleep so many nights and vengefully wished he would just get hit by a bus or something.
And through my divorce, I learned that love is a waste of time and solidified my feelings about the unfairness of life. I basically hated everyone and the world went really dark for a long time. I seriously thought I wouldn’t survive it.
Whew. That’s rough, right? Yeah, I know. 😬 How do you feel after reading all of those negative and disempowering words lined up like a firing squad – ready and willing to mow you down? Do you feel the heaviness of it? I certainly do. It’s hard for me to even read it…and I wrote it! But all of it is something I’ve thought or said before. I sound like a huge victim and a little bitty pawn in the game that I have no control over all at the same time. 😳 Yikes. Quickly moving on….
As a kid growing up in an addictive and dysfunctional environment, I became extremely familiar with the individual and extended repercussions of addictive and unaware living. Because of this, a strong desire to never numb away my life and succumb to substances was cultivated in my character.
My teenage years gave me ample opportunity to learn about choices, communication, and expressing myself. It also showed me the potential power of my femininity.
In college, I found the ideal man to help me heal. We connected immediately. Over the years, I would realize just how capable he was of triggering so much of my childhood trauma and therefore enticing me to grow beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined. I quickly experienced a super surprising pregnancy.
My daughter was the perfect panic-button-pushing-baby. Just by being here, she lovingly stirred up every ounce of abandonment trauma and mother disconnection and loss I’d ever felt. Her birth motivated me in an almost other-worldly way to become better and do better because I knew she needed better. She still motivates me to keep growing to this day.
I married the lesson of my life and experienced two miscarriages in the years following my daughter’s birth. I am still in awe at the willingness of my little unborn babies to dip their tiny toes into this consciousness just long enough to share valuable and vital information with me:
Adalyn burst onto the scene like sunshine! Urging me to revel in joy and trust myself.
Jasper showed me that love far exceeds the limitations of this life and nudged me to open my eyes to the aspects of my reality I didn’t want to see.
My second daughter came into my life in the exact right timing and inspired me to do what had to be done whether I was part of a team or not. She taught me to speak up. She take me that I could accomplish far more than I ever thought I could. She took me to Al-Anon for the first time (true story!) And she continues to teach me about the beauty of living life with a tender heart and overflowing buckets of confidence.
The abuse I experienced in my marriage was a catalyst for change in my life. It taught me more about myself, my communication, and my boundaries than anything else ever could have. It helped me see the character defects I had within me and really helped me improve them.
And through my divorce, I learned about grieving the living and loving those who do not love themselves. It was difficult but I’m so grateful. I learned that I can live and love even through heartache and still retain my hope. And in the end, I learned that I can do more than just survive – I can revive my life and my broken heart and my aching spirit by taking it one day at a time and leaning on my Higher Power.
Now how does that second version sound to you? Does it feel lighter? Is there is a difference in how you feel after reading it compared to the old version? Or does the second version irritate you? Maybe it seems too rainbows & unicorns and way-too-toothy grins? It’s okay if it does…
I want to be Bahama-beach-water-clear when I say that this exercise is NOT about denying your emotions, pain, or abuse. And it’s definitely not about minimizing and downplaying your experiences or skipping over the emotional processing of difficult times you’ve gone through. I believe there are stages of healing and recovery and this stage of perspective comes after you feel your pain and express your resulting emotions.
This step – where you rewrite your story – is about claiming the personal power in perspective. It’s about shifting the narrative into faithfulness and declaring that you can see that good came out of the gruesomeness. It’s about embracing the beauty that has come out of your brokenness. It’s about gratefully acknowledging that your struggle, no matter how difficult, forged within you a powerful strength of spirit that can never be taken away.
Rewriting your story is a POWERFUL plot twist that releases you from self-maintained cages and gives you (the brave protagonist of your very own life story) a great victory over the villain. Ooooh, I love those kind of stories!!!
So choose your words and choose your way.
You possess, right now in this very moment, the ability to rewrite your story. And you can do it as many times as you need to do it. Rewrite it small pieces if you’re feeling unsure. Rewrite it all in one fiery sweep of the pen if the old version is burning you up inside and you’re ready for something new. Go ahead and rewrite it a million times if necessary! Just make sure you rewrite it until the words confirm your own worthiness when you read them aloud. Rewrite it until you feel the internal “rising” that opens your heart as you speak the story into the world. And, more than any other requirement, rewrite it until you feel it in your bones that you are free. ❤️