The stories we tell

For years, all I did was fear getting older as stories built up in my body. More important than being told, stories deserve to breathe. Only then can they be set free; only then can they wander off like loose clouds to create space for new ones. Forgiveness is just that.

These stories – we all have them. We keep them in our pockets until the paper crinkles and thins into nothing, and the words all bleed and weep everywhere. Then we write them down again, slightly differently, embellishing certain parts, and read them out at parties or into empty gin bottles that echo in the night. But we forget to say, even to ourselves, what it was that actually broke us. Because we don’t know. We don’t know if it was just one big event, a series of tiny disappointments, or a gesture from 1996. It could have been so many things. Fear sets in through the realization that we don’t really know ourselves. But it’s there for us, when we’re ready to look it in the eye and greet its messy face –  its wrinkles, its edges. We mustn’t try to force it all to leave. It can’t – certainly not all at once.

excerpt from THE COLOUR OF SNOW by Renu 

I love stories. I love books. Part of my love for them is the satisfying resolution at the end. But what about our stories? Do you they ever end? Do we know how to tell them just once, or do we keep remaking the same movie, over and over again. We’ve all seen that film and thought “Why are they remaking this again? Why can’t they do something different, even if it’s not that great?” Sometimes retelling the same story feels redundant and limiting.

I wrote the above passage when I realized how stories about myself were holding me back. It’s true we all have patterns in our lives – things that continue to happen to us as a result of…who knows? Our own behaviours? Bad luck? Bad karma? Who knows?  Maybe it’s true that your mom really was a bitch and she ruined your self-esteem and your life.  And maybe you really are traumatized or broke or damaged. No one is taking that away from you. And maybe things have continued to suck right up until this very moment.

But what now? What’s important to is to recognize what these stories do to us. They hold us back, limit us, and us weigh us down. Sometimes retelling the same story provides a safe identity so we don’t have to move forward or take action into the unknown. Sometimes the stories keep us in our heads to prevent us from feeling the anger, hurt, guilt, shame etc. that swells underneath the story.  The pain is too much, so it’s easier to keep re-telling different versions of the same event without really feeling. But if we had the courage to feel, then we might have the courage to move through it and past the story. 

I’m guilty of struggling with all of the above, and I try to catch myself as much as I can. When you take away all the words, what’s left? Have a look. That’s your starting point.

What stories do you run? What are you getting out of telling them? How are they keeping you stuck? What are you afraid to feel instead? What are you afraid to do instead?

Please feel free to subscribe as I will be writing more of these articles.   

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