Save Me The “Sad Back-Story”
I am dedicating this blog to my son who turned 12 yesterday. Several months ago, he said some very wise words for an 11 year-old that I want to share in this story. We were having a busy family day. My children were tired and acting out. I was feeling inadequate. At some point, my son lamented about something going wrong in his day. Though his challenge was an authentic one to him, my mind immediately judged his problem as a “first-world” problem. I slipped and fell right in to an old-parenting style trap. My first words in response to his problem were something along the lines of “When I was your age…” Much to my dismay, he held his hand up (as in “talk to the hand) and he said, “Save me the sad back-story, Mom.”
Wow! It was the exact statement that I needed in that moment. He was absolutely right. He needed my empathy. He needed my support. He knew that the last thing he needed was a story about my past. THE LAST THING I NEEDED WAS MY “SAD BACK-STORY.” Having done lots of intense spiritual growth over that last several years, I knew this to be the case. Yet, I had allowed stress to put me in a reactive and defensive mode, which had yanked me right out of being an intentional parent.
When I was facing my health crisis, I awakened to the fact that I needed to make some fundamental changes if I wanted to be around for my child’s 12 birthday. In evaluating my life back then, I found one of the critical things that needed to happen was that I needed to let go of the past. I needed to let go of the “sad back-story.” The “sad back-story” had become this comfortable, cozy place from which to operate my mediocre approach to life. Like a musty old cushion, I could hide behind how things were in my life when I was a child as a way to avoid living a bigger, richer, fuller life as God intended me to do.
When I was sick, I realized that I needed to put away the “sad back-story.” However, this is not an easy thing to do. After all, it is part of my life’s journey and how I came to be who I am today. Culturally, we love our history and we spend a lot of time recounting stories of the old days as a part of tradition. Tradition is important to help teach our children about the things and people that are important to us. Realizing this, we need to ask ourselves, what are we sharing and what do we hope to accomplish with what we share with our children, our friends, our community, and ourselves? Do we want to continue the story of poverty? Do we want to continue the story of betrayal or abandonment?
My son was telling me that the story of abandonment and betrayal were not serving him. He was absolutely right. He put up a healthy boundary. Yea, son! He needs stories of hope. He needs stories of strength. He needs stories of inspiration. He needs to tell his story and receive empathy and support to move past the challenging moments and perhaps heal in order to transform that experience in to one that empowers him.
In my need to heal, I came across one of the most powerful ways to heal: I rewrote my story. First, I wrote my story as I remembered it – the good and the bad. Then, I went through the story and highlighted the things that went well. I gave thanks for those moments. Next, I highlighted the things that I wanted to change. I gave thanks for each of the scenarios and then I said good-bye to them and rewrote a healthier and more loving outcome for all involved. In this way, I empowered myself. I was liberated from being bonded and held back by the “sad back-story” and to envision a better possibility for me.
In creating a new story, my intent was not to hide or deny what had happened. This personal exercise allowed me to let go of and forgive the past. It allowed me to entertain new possibilities. It allowed me to stand in my truth and engage my personal power to choose a different possibility. I can choose to tell the “sad back-story” as an excuse to avoid life. Or, I can “save the sad back-story” and thrive in choosing a new and better direction for the legacy of my family and me. What story will you choose today?