I continue to work with my word, story, as I work on discovering my authentic self. I realize that sounds a bit . . . pretentious or perhaps just trendy but I truly feel like thinking about my story has helped me to realize not just the things that have made me who I am but also understand that I have the power to let those things go. Because, really, the things that have happened to me are just . . . stories now. I’m not still going through the trauma of those things, at this point they truly are just stories of things that happened once upon a time.
In trying to work through this and heal some of those things, the other day I did a meditation exercise where I envisioned my current self going back to my previous selves and offering comfort and assurance that all would be ok. It sounds a little silly in the telling of it but in the moment it felt pretty powerful. I visited the little girl who saw constant fights between her brother and stepfather. I put my arms around her and told her that it would get better. I visited the teenage girl who sat up in bed the night the police came to the door with the news of her brother’s motorcycle accident. I knelt by the side of that bed and told her she would survive this news. I whispered in the ear of the young bride who was walking down the aisle, sure she was making a mistake, that choosing love is never a mistake even when it results in hurt and divorce. I put my head on the shoulder of the 31 year old who was standing at the grave of her oldest brother, afraid to leave him there in the cold, and told her he would always be with her. I watched her be led away from the grave by her soon to be husband, Dale, and saw him comfort her in the way she had always wanted but had never gotten before then. I saw the 32 year old who had just lost her mom crying and unable to get out of bed. I told her that it was okay to lean in to her feelings of grief, that they wouldn’t consume and destroy her, and that accepting them was the only way to get through them and come out on the other side. When I felt like I had visited all of those former Caroles, the ones who were hurt and disappointed and scared, I pictured my current self gathering them all in my arms and showing them my life as it is now. Showing them the love I found with Dale, the family that surrounds me, the home that gives me shelter and comfort, the friends and community and support that I experience every day, and I said it’s okay because this is what we have now. I said you are safe and you are loved and those things that happened are in the past.
Did it make the pain go away? Did it dissolve the trauma and grief? Of course not. But did it help? Did it feel like healing? Absolutely. My story is made up of all of the moments of my life, including the traumatic ones, but the good ones and the love, oh the love, it overpowers them all.