I tend to write about themes I’m seeing in my life and I do this because I’ve discovered that oftentimes, those same or similar themes are running in the lives of those around me. This post is no different, so here’s the “theme”: to be truly happy you have to stop feeding your story and recycling the past.
What do I mean by that? We all have a story or stories about the past and how it all relates to the present. We tend to live in the story and let ourselves be dictated by it. We live in it through letting it define us as this or that. For example, as I’ve mentioned numerous times, my husband suffered a traumatic brain injury almost 19 years ago. Until recently, I did not realize the extent to which I had identified with this story and allowed it to dictate my life. Granted, when you live with someone with a TBI your life is “outfitted” by that outcome. There are things you have to do, a way of life and decisions and so forth that are now so because of this outcome. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m speaking of is the identification of this story as “me”.
To illustrate, a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a new work colleague. We were getting to know one another and in the course of our conversation the subject of Michael (my husband) came up. I watched as the same old words came out of my mouth – “He was in a near-fatal automobile accident. In a coma for 3 weeks, hospitalized for 4 1/2 months….and on and on. He’s fine now, permanently disabled, etc., etc.” In that moment as I watched me tell this story, I realized how sick I was of it . I even had difficulty getting the words of the story out of my mouth. It was then that it occurred to me that I was complete with it. Done! Out of the clear blue sky I had suddenly let go. And in this realization, the story and the past no longer had power over or a hold on me.
The only thing I can figure is that it was simply time for me to drop it. There was no timeline and I didn’t plan on it. And it reminds me of the story of the Buddha, who spent many years seeking enlightenment (union with God). It wasn’t until he came to a full stop under the Bodhi tree, that he was able to let go of it all. And in this letting go he was free. I don’t think anything that dramatic happened to me but I can tell you that it was and is freeing and remains with me. Now I feel courage, confidence, empowerment and contentment in place of the story. Sure I’ll be “required” to tell it and I can do that now from a place of deep appreciation for the yellow brick road on which life has placed me.
As usual, all this is my long-winded way of suggesting that if you find yourself struggling or caught up in a story and you can’t seem to let go of the past then look and see if perhaps you might be identified with this story. In other words, are you seeing that this story defines you – in a way that is holding you back? If yes, then just see that you are doing this. Accept it. By accepting you don’t have to like it. It is what it is. To the best of your ability, look for the opportunity and the lessons being handed to you as you walk through it. See what is here for you now. Breathe into it. Write about it. Cry about it. Laugh about it. Scream about it. If you need to – talk about it. And, when it is time, you’ll find yourself sitting under your own version of the Bodhi tree where you’ll give up the story. For now though, honor yourself, your experience, your story, your journey. Just be with yourself wherever you are.
P. S. There’s a saying that I love coupled with a photo of two people walking hand in hand – “We’re all just walking one another home.” Thank you for being with me on my yellow brick road. Namaste.