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The Stories We Live

On the phone recently, my Mom recounted a story about the last time I had a baby. She laughed as she told her version of that fateful day in the delivery room. Her portrayal of me as a labor room dictator was slightly unsettling. Stories can be both comforting and unsettling.

Storytelling impacts, creates, and continues our cultural and individual perceptions of self. I can see how I tell certain stories to remember, substantiate, and explain who I am, where I’ve come from, and what I believe. And I know other people are telling their stories for the same reasons.

And sometimes others’ stories involve me. Our parents have their own purposes for the stories they tell about us. They tell stories to accept responsibility for how lovely we turned out, or to wash their hands of what we’ve become.

Then I considered this. What if we live our lives to fulfill someone elses expectations of what we should become? What if we recreate our realities through others’ eyes and stories about us?

Our expectations of our lives can be powerful in our own heads. But manifest destiny can go well or awry in the hands of our families.  Depends on their intentions.

I proved incapable of earning the approval of one overachieving parent. And in search of the withheld approval, I looked for substitute love elsewhere. I ignored myself and what made me happiest. And luckily didn’t harm myself in the process.

The other parent was a underachiever. And my purpose seemed to be to stay around forever for support. In this instance, my parents’ story of me defined me in a perpetual low self-esteem kinda way.

I believe that we are entitled to tell our stories until we choose to change them. And I also believe we have to be careful to do no harm to others in our story telling process.

The ideal is to be raised with stories of guidance and faith that positively impact our lives. These stories are based on the knowledge that diversity and obstacles make a person stronger.

Eventually, I chose to follow a path and marry a partner to create a positive story for myself and my little ones. Comprehending the power of storytelling, I want to be cautious about the stories I tell to my son (and new child) about his success, his growth, his strength, and his worth. When he plays out the stories, I hope he sees possibility and dignity and pride.

In the end, this story of his potential and strength is really all I can gift him. The stories are mirrors he’ll take with him to tell himself and his family. Self-esteem is the hopeful outcome of the stories.

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6 Responses to “The Stories We Live”

  1. sheryl says:

    Hi Shalagh

    You write so well. I love this post as it is so true. I try and keep all my stories happy and when they are not so happy I like to find the lessons.

    Great post.

    Hope you are feeling fabulous….you are almost there.

    xoxo Sheryl

    • Shalagh says:

      Thank you so much Sheryl. For your compliments, your well wishes, and for getting me. You’re a founding member of my Good Egg Girls Club.
      I feel crappy but I can only live one day at a time til the times up.
      Love,
      Shalagh

  2. Suzanna Kellye says:

    Very well done, Shalagh! Some say that we are a reflection of what our parents raised us to be. I don’t agree. I believe we are what we grow in to as we reach adulthood. Yes, our parents influence our choices, not always in a positive way. But in the end, we make our own choices.

    • Shalagh says:

      Seeing what you’ve been choosing and finding the strength and permission to choose something different, that’s the magic.
      Thanks for being willing to go there with me.
      Love,
      Shalagh

  3. Ish says:

    Something to remember when we tell tales on each other in life and in print…

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