I'm a cheerleader of helping my clients create a better story for the life they are currently living. I call it the Re-story. It's like repurposing old clothing items that no longer fit or may be a little frayed at the ends by making it into something with a new purpose. The item of clothing does not need to be thrown away and rejected, but maybe it's gotten a few stains over the years or it's shrunk so it no longer serves your current needs but you just know it's meant to take up space in your closet. Instead of throwing it out or shoving it into a deep dark corner in that overstuffed dresser drawer, we take that item and it's story and we re-story it into something that brings new life back into it. Or sometimes it's just bringing it into the light and air and giving it room to breathe and find its place in the importance of your current story.
When I started doing the work on re-storying my own life I found it interesting that I'd repeat an old story over and over again, wishing I could change the original outcome. (Thank you normal brain for only offering me the easiest solution to safety).
I had been playing outside with my little brother on our broken swing set. His arm got cut on a sharp piece of metal and I ran to the back porch and screamed. My father opened the door and yelled at me to stop making so much noise. He looked down at my bothers arm and he hauled him into the house where he rushed my brother to the emergency room. I can't tell you what happened after that. I don't know if a neighbor came over to watch me or if my sister was at home. I don't know if anyone calmed my fears, held me while I cried or if I was told that it would be alright, that it wasn't my fault. But for years the story that I was telling myself was that I was at fault for my brothers injury and I spent many of those years trying to gain my fathers love and acceptance which always seemed so far out of reach. The little girl in me decided that there must be something wrong with her and if I could just be a better girl, I'd not be rejected, but loved. The wall I built was that I would always have to work at gaining someones love, and I spent years always feeling like I just could never quite measure up.
Over 40 plus years I had the story that I couldn't do enough to truly be loved. Every time I would feel like I wasn't measuring up, I'd close down and hide. I felt like there was a big dark heavy rock sitting on my chest that was plugging up the hole I had that was supposed to be filled by love and acceptance.
One day while working with my coach, I noticed that I always went to this story when I didn't feel like I measured up in my life. It was an attempt to be allowed into the house through the back door, the one my brother was swept up into and taken away to the hospital. I noticed that my childhood mind had said, if you are a good enough girl, your daddy will tell you that you are loved and acceptable and that it was not your fault that your brother was hurt. When I started to rework this story I noticed something new, I noticed that I had continued to try to get into the door in order to be acceptable and loved, and I heard God tell me to turn around.
I realized that if I just would have turned around that the yard we played in was wide and big, full of sunshine and God's love and acceptance was fully available. I couldn't change the story of my brother getting hurt or my father's reaction. What I could do was realized that the pain I was trying to heal had nothing to do with my ability to be loved and accepted because that was always my reality when it came to God's love for me, and over these past few years the healing continues as I've re-storied more of how my father's reaction had nothing to do with my being loved or not. It was a very traumatizing event for all of us. My brother still carries the very large caterpillar scar on his arm.
I was a child, with a child's mind when that event happened. It was traumatizing to witness my brothers broken flesh, all the way down to the bone. I still remember how I screamed. I still remember my fathers angry face. But the little girl didn't know that fathers can yell at their little girls when they are panicking and it doesn't mean that their little girl is unloveable and unacceptable. That little brothers sometimes get hurt and little sisters are sometimes left outside on the porch wondering if everything will be o.k. again.
I've learned to look past old stories and look into what else can also be true. And with my adult mind, I found the strength to remove the big dark heavy rock from my chest and allow love to fill up the space. I no longer have days of feeling like I'm just not lovable or acceptable any longer. Re-storying helped me to heal the little wound from my childhood and embrace a fuller, freer life.
I work with my clients to examine their stories. To discover what else may be going on in the messages of childhood. The created story that does not work for them any longer. How once upon a time the story was built with a protection mechanism that was meant for a little mind that didn't know how else to feel protected. We can't change the past. We can work on building a better story that fills in the holes in our broken hearts.
Girl, You've Got This!