Our story, we each have our story, we are all impacted by something.
For some of us it could be growing up with too much money or having parents who excessively doted on us. For another it might be abuse, physical or mental.
The story is also a constant. It is not something that just happens in childhood. As we venture through life things happen, we have experiences and to make sense of them they become our narrative, the story that we tell ourselves about ourselves. They create context.
Owning our story and how it shaped us is empowering. Being the victim of our story is disempowering.
Thinking that our story is somehow worse or better than another person’s story is disempowering.
They are personal stories. They are personal to us. They are our own. None better or worse then another.
I recall a story I watched on television about a young black man Jean-Baptiste Alaize who lived in in France. He was disabled. He had lost his leg. As a child during the Rwanda genocide his leg was hacked off with a machette. That was after he witnessed his parents and siblings being murdered. He was left for dead.
That is a horrific story.
Today he has created a life for himself. He represented his country in the Olympics.
His story impacted and influenced him but it has not overtaken him.
I am sure there is still pain, how can there not be.
Understanding, processing, integrating and letting go of my own story is a journey in acceptance of myself, and of others. There are things that happened that I regret. There are things that really hurt. There are people who really let me down. There are betrayals. There is loss and there is anger. And then there are the things that I did to others.
All of them are my story.
In accepting myself I accept who I am and who I am not. I accept what I did. I accept what was done to me.
Fundamentally I am not a victim of that story and those experiences. They do not define me even though they absolutely influence who I am today.
Perhaps a better word then define is constrain.
Turia Pitt is probably the person who stands out the most for me.
Physically blessed with beauty, an athlete and adventurer she was horrifically burned while competing in an ultra marathon in 2014.
She was terribly disfigured and had to rebuild herself completely.
Today she is an author, presenter, ambassador in a deeply loving and connected relationship with her partner who was also her partner prior to the accident.
Is she defined by it ? she will be forever physically scarred and disfigured from the accident
Is she constrained by it ? – in her own words “ Because of what I’ve been through I know that I’m capable of anything I put my mind to. That’s what tough times teach us.
Does she have challenging days? Without knowing her I would say that she absolutely unequivocally does because she is human and as humans we ebb and flow
She is also one incredibly inspiring human being
My story is multi levelled and multi layered, immigration and losing my country, being part of a cult, venturing into the world of Orthodoxy and being spat out the other side, commercial victories and failed businesses, betrayed by men who I thought were my brothers, losing my brother and only sibling at a very young age, sordid affairs, being divorced more than once, having a motorbike mishap and having my chest torn from my shoulder …..and on it goes.
As I journey into acceptance I accept those parts of myself that are hard to look at. I look deeply into my own eyes and declare “I know you” and “I accept you” and hot tears of love stream down my own face.
Is that a consistent experience? Do I feel present to being blessed at all times? Do I feel in my power? Do I feel grateful? Do I feel blessed?
The answer to all of those questions is “sometimes”
Because life ebbs and flows
What I do make sure of is that I have practices, behaviours and relationships that remind me of my commitment and mostly when I veer off the path or fall off the horse I am gentle with myself.
The screaming voices inside my head have receded and now it is rare that they come out. When they do I can better observe them and they stay internal so that the only person they are attacking is me.
And so today as I write this I do not sit deeply in that space of acceptance. I feel sad, partly inadequate, partly anxious and in fear but I have also had my face in the sun as it rose and I sat in meditation. I have drunk coffee with friends. I have held my daughter. I have expressed gratitude to a mate and I have written from my heart.