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Rewriting Our Life Stories


I recall the day I was asked to rewrite my Life Story and I mentally responded with “Fat Chance. What should I do? Make it up?!” There were other derogatory adjectives mixed into those sentences, but we’ll keep this G rated for this writing. 

We all have a story – every single one of us. Some are more dramatic than others, but there is no 1 – 10 measurement scale. Everyone’s pain is their own and what you may deem as “not so bad” could have been a horrendous ache within someone else’s heart. But let’s explore our possibilities.

Before you begin with “but you don’t understand…” I will tell you my story in a nutshell.

  • Lost my family at 11 to an auto accident (yes, I was in it)
  • Have been thrown out of a series of families
  • Discovered I had lost the ability to have children as a result of the accident (my one true goal in life since childhood)
  • Lost my second husband to a heart attack before we were married two years

You get the idea and I’m sure you could write your own list as well.

Loss is a part of life but for some reason we are not taught this. We are taught, if you’re good, you’ll be rewarded and if you’re not good, this (privilege, toy, event, dessert, TV) will be taken away for a period of time. 

So as adults when life hands us loss, we think back to what Mom said and think we’ve done something wrong (even if it’s subconsciously).  We didn’t do anything wrong.  Repeat that again – you didn’t do anything wrong.

From the short list above, I have two choices. I can continually play those movies repeatedly in my head (and believe me when I say I have), remembering every tiny detail, focusing on the past outcome, sinking lower and lower in my sorrow, or rewrite them so that I concentrate on what I have taken from the experiences.

Let’s try one. I lost my family at 11 years of age in an automobile accident. So as opposed to relaying the details ad nauseum, the story changes to one of,

…as a result of this accident and how I was subsequently raised, I’m a survivor! Damn, don’t tell me I can’t do something. It’s like saying “Sic ‘em” to a dog. The subsequent events I lived in my life, places I’ve been, and opportunities I encountered could have only been accomplished because of this first major event.  At times, I am strong beyond what others find comfortable, but then again, I am not dependent and will not act that way to make you happy.  Drop me off on a mountain top and I will survive. I am a human and yes, I have my down times as well. I have emotions. I bleed when I’m cut. I am empathetic, sympathetic, and tenacious. I will listen, though I may not immediately respond. Most often, I’m considering a solution. I can problem-solve and make decisions and don’t necessarily need another to do it for me.  If I ask, it’s because I choose.

That’s just a small example of how we can accept the event but change our focus (our story) to what we accomplished from it.

It’s not that we don’t think about it. Unless a person has had a lobotomy, we will think about it, but we can change the focus to where we wish to go as opposed to continually burying our dead and starting over again. Death (or another situation) was one day of their lives (and ours), but their life was how many days? 

Celebrate the life and what you learned from the experience. What positive did you take from it? Yes, there was a positive, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. Find it and allow that to become the focus of the new story.

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  2. Rewriting our life-story is akin to rebirth and waking up anew.

    Funny, I was doing laundry at the neighborhood laundrymat yesterday thinking of how my life since the summer of 2011 seemed like a bad version of Bill Murray's "Groundhog day" with me being the titular character except I am the black, homeless [house-hopping] transsexual that seems to always fall into same pit of job rejection/discrimination, no 'real' family to return home to blah blah blah and then the song, "I Will Survive" came on and as trite and cliched as the anthem is it reminded me that the song isn't necessarily on repeat.

    I grow because my perspective changes, thus so does the story arc.

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