Owning our stories

One of the most interesting parts of a teacher’s day, especially with young children, is ‘news’ time or ‘show and tell’. As well as finding out about what sport children played on the weekend, what new thing they’d discovered in the garden, certain family secrets came to light. Stories were told that the adults in the child’s family would have been embarrassed to know had been broadcast, even to such a small an audience.

Another aspect of a teacher’s experience is when children ‘dob’ on each other, telling stories of what someone did or said. It was often a laborious part of my day as a teacher trying to get to the bottom of stories, to uncover the ‘truth’, because the ‘truth’ of these stories varied with whoever was doing the telling!

As we look back over our lives, we can see many different stories. Some are ones we cherish because they brought joy or beauty to our lives. Some parts of our story are sad or hurtful and continue to haunt us. Some parts of our story we wish had not happened at all.

Now for a little self-disclosure: I’m divorced.

Divorce was not on my bucket list. Being single, after the initial teens and twenties angst, was not part of the plan. But there it is.

For a long time, I found it difficult to admit that divorce was part of my life story – I knew it was but didn’t really like to talk about it. That is until I read a quote by Brené Brown.

This American scholar, author and public speaker writes that ‘…loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest things we can do’.

Brave? Own my story? These two thoughts really resonated.

So I wrote down various aspects of my life story, focusing on the things that still brought me shame or sadness. Wrote them down, read them out loud…and then tossed the paper they were written on away.

I needed to hear myself admit, to myself, that certain things were part of my story. They didn’t happen to someone else – they were mine. And once I’d ‘owned’ them, they no longer had to power to hurt.

Those personal backstories…we all have them, they impact us all in different ways.

But if we can own them then they don’t have the power to own us.

The past is the past. Let’s own it for what it is…and find power for the present.

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