Remember Your Stories
You are so many stories. You are memories, dreams, pains, desires.
But so much of who you are fades into the background of everyday life. You are a routine of mother - friend - co-worker - chauffeur - cook - partner, ... and so many of your stories aren't told through those labels.
And sadly, when you repeatedly forget or dismiss your stories, they start to disappear.
You start to disappear.
As you read this, can you feel that longing to be seen, to not be forgotten, to be heard, to be known and loved through ALL of your stories? It's time to remember who you are.
I hear stories almost every day about individuals who have invisible ailments but seem otherwise healthy or those who carry the weight of childhood abuse but seem perfectly carefree or those who bear the burdens of dreams unfulfilled and lives un-lived but otherwise seem quite content.
I see people everyday who are so much more than I can see.
You are one of those people. (I see you.)
I know - it can be hard to accept your many selves. And it can be harder yet to express all of your selves. It feels dangerous to remember and (gasp) to share all of those stories ... but it is actually more dangerous to forget and stay quiet.
Why is this so dang hard? Don't feel bad - it's hard for everyone.
For one reason: Socially, we reward one another for remaining the same few stories. When we think we understand who someone is, that person becomes safe. You know if they are the type of person to be loved, avoided, or inconsequential enough to just be ignored.
We like one another to fit into nice labels and categories.
We get confused when someone's story emerges that suddenly challenges our categorization of them.
When you learn that someone you once hated is caring for an ill mother and a child with special needs, suddenly you see a human behind the hate.
When someone you love causes you great pain, suddenly you feel aversion when once there was nothing but openness.
When the biker with tattoos and black leather zooming down the street suddenly stops, pulls over, and buys a lemonade from the child's stand on the side of the road, or when a member of the opposing political party speaks out in honest and fierce support of an issue dear to your heart, your categorizations are put into question.
Who is this person, now that they more than they first seemed? Might there actually be something you could learn from her, something that he could teach you?
You know that you are more than you share with us. And that's ok. And (not "but") consider this:
What stories do you hide from us ... or maybe even from yourself? What could I (and you) learn from hearing those stories?
I'll get a little personal here.
I have so many stories to share. There's one in particular that I'd forgotten for far too many years.
It's a story that, quite honestly, I am TERRIFIED to share. Why? Because it is in apparent contradiction to many of the stories I've been telling myself and others for the past decade (+). And like I mentioned above, telling a different story about myself creates tension. Unease. Uncertainty.
I tried to include a succinct version of the story here, but it made this post far too long. It is a story that demands its own space. I will be sharing it with my newsletter subscribers (as an ongoing "thank you" for their attention and space in their inbox) within the next week. (If you aren't subscribed, you can do so by clicking HERE.)
But I left this part in because the point can still be made: I'm not going to push the story back into the darkness.
I considered what would happen if I did.
When I think of the story being untold, un-lived, of dying with me ... I start to burn with passion. I feel in my gut and my bones and my fingertips the very reason why I need to fully remember and express who I am, and why I need you to do the same.
So what are your stories?
They are who you are.
They are the big tales and the small ones - the moments where everything changed and the changes that occur in every moment.
Your stories are your memories. They are your reference books and cautionary tales that instruct how you make every decision that you make.
Your story is the pain that sculpted your heart after your father died, the warmth of the scent of your grandmother's house, the sounds of your first workplace, the tingles of your first kiss, the sting of your first rejection.
Your stories are also every bit of raw material that you pull together to create this moment, and to write the choose-your-own-adventure stories for the upcoming days.
These stories are composed of the things you don't express:
The ignorance you keep hidden because you fear being called a fraud, the curiosity you don't discuss for fear of being judged, the physical aches you suppress, the sensuality you long to feel, the thing you want to do but have never spoken out loud, the trivial annoyances you feel each and every day that you squish down inside like play-dough.
And these stories are the things you do express:
The tale of the breakfast that you savored or rushed through, the posture and movements of your body, the Facebook status you posted, the smile you offered, the thoughts you shared in the meeting and over dinner with your spouse, the dreams your journaled, the meetings you scheduled, the walk you took, even the discussions over the latest t.v. show you watched.
Your stories created you and you are creating your stories.
You have an opportunity in every waking moment to co-create who you are through remembering and consciously creating. The more you forget and the less you participate in creation, the more likely you are to suffer through the same lessons over and over ... and possibly, to even forget who you are.
So why is it important to share?
The more you share, the more likely I am to feel less alone in all of my stories.
We all need to remember that we are not alone in this "multi-self" way of being.
We all need to be able to exhale and say,
"oh, thank god - you? Me Too!"
We don't need to be regaled with heroic tales of suffering or triumph. You don't need to add filters or fillers or anything to try to make your stories more interesting or more acceptable.
Your true, authentic, mundane stories are the ones that matter the most.
How you dealt yesterday with piercing pain of your child who cried out, "I hate you!", how you bear the weight of being the one to clean off the dishes and remember the homework and complete your own assignments, how you were able to show up at work once again even as your heart and your eyelids were heavy, how you felt when you took four and a half minutes to dance wildly in your kitchen to your favorite song, what happened when you pushed through that workout and found a certain strength, or when you indulged in those donuts and learned to let go.
Remember You. Tell us.
Because when you remember your self, you give me permission to do the same.
And when we each start sharing our stories, life becomes a far richer experience for us all.
p.s. As a reminder, subscribers to the BeingBreath newsletter receive extra resources each week - such as this week's link to a video sharing the power of finding your story, and a beautiful blog post by Andrea Scher of what happened when she let her voice (story) be heard.
You can sign up here: bit.ly/BeingBreathSignUp