The Story You Tell Yourself

It is sunrise again in California and I am reflecting on the last few months of my life. I just dropped my mom off at the airport to fly home to tend to other business. Newsflash, she has a life outside of nursing Mary back to health! I’m really lucky she was able to come. She did an incredible job as most Dr. Moms do alongside my sister and I am much more functional than when she arrived a few weeks ago. I can climb the stairs easy peasy this week–that is something new.

I feel a lot more at ease since she arrived and helped me to process some pretty heavy thoughts I was having. For one thing, I kind of thought I was dying, because I’d never felt that bad before and I imagine death must feel like something close to that. It’s pretty unsettling feeling like you can’t walk or hold a brush to your head or take a shower. Forget climbing stairs, I was scoring my days on whether I could walk to the bathroom or not. Since then my strength has slowly inched its way back. I still do very little physically throughout the day as to not overdo it, but I can feel some energy where there was none before, and for that I am really grateful. I’ve been drinking protein shakes from the naturopath doctor three times a day along with 12 other supplements alongside my normal pill cocktail. I’ve been drinking Chinese tea from Dr. Xu that tastes like ground up birds nest and getting acupuncture twice a week. My B12 was low so I even learned how to give myself a shot…in the butt. It’s impressive. But anyway, it’s helping. All of it, I think, is working in different ways and putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

I notice that every day has it challenges. Mine has different uncertainties and struggles. Will I be strong enough to climb the stairs, will I get to shower, will Monty and me save the world?! And the truth is I just don’t know. None of us do. There is no certainty about what will or won’t happen tomorrow. There is just here and now. And I notice that when I examine my life with clear hindsight and an open-minded eye, I see that it’s not bad. Like at all. It’s actually kind of enjoyable! I’ve gotten to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law that I never would have had otherwise. I’m lucky to have a mom who was able to fly out at the drop of a hat and give me some much-needed help. I get to read and write as I please. (Even though it’s mostly from bed.) I get to spend ample time with my favorite person, Monty, and I get to put my very little energy towards something positive–writing, humor, optimism, and good news. There are a lot of outcomes of this seemingly crappy situation that are not themselves crappy. They’re more like great. And that always gives pause for reflection. But trust me, it’s easy to go the other direction. The slightest tip of the scale and I could see things very differently. Darker. And I have those days sometimes. I could say it isn’t fair. I could say this isn’t the life I wanted or signed up for. I could look at all the healthy people with their functional lives and long for that to be mine. But, like Iyanla Vanzant says, that’s a life path that doesn’t belong to me. So it’s important to let it go. As long as I try to get back something that was never mine, I will suffer. As long as I tell myself a sad story, I’ll pay.

What’s your story morning glory?

We tend to think we know best for ourselves. And many times that’s true. But the problem with the human experience is that we are stuck in the mental limitations of space and time, so it’s hard for us to see our lives in the context of eternity. But that’s the truth of existence. We’re just a small part of something much larger, and we aren’t meant to see all of it at one time. I think we’re meant to just hold on and enjoy the ride, and when it’s a shit show, like my life the past year, you hold on tighter. You pull in people to help. You acknowledge there is something bigger than you, and focus your energy on balance. On acceptance. On inner peace.

The thing is, you can’t just tell yourself a happy story about your life and you’ll be happy. You have to believe the story you tell yourself. For some reason it’s like we’re conditioned to believe the sad story more than the happy one. And through the dark times especially, it’s not as easy to find the pretty things, but they are so valuable when you take time to find them. That’s why acceptance is so important. Once I stopped focusing on the happy life I would have once I got better, and instead focused on how to be happy with the life I have now, I found much more success. And it takes work. I have to remind myself everyday of the things that I am lucky for, and most of the time it’s a no-brainer. It’s family. But it’s easy to forget. To slip up. To fall into the humdrum of life and feel like you’re not where you’re supposed to be. And maybe you’re not. But most of the time, life just requires us to be present where we are.  We already have everything we need, we just have to be aware of it. In The Untethered Soul, Singer wrote that “Life is surrounding you with people and situations that stimulate growth.”So before you judge your life and your hardships, try to acknowledge that this is what you need in order to become whole. In order to become who you are– the best possible version of yourself. It sucks sometimes. It’s hard. Don’t I know it. But if in the end it forced you to grow and become awesome and happy, well then, it’s worth it isn’t it? Maybe it isn’t such a sad story after all.

I’m learning I have to be careful about the story I tell myself. Because if it’s a happy one, that will be my life. But if it’s a sad one, that will be my life, too.

Health, Happiness, Stories.

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17 thoughts on “The Story You Tell Yourself

  1. This post really spoke to me. I’m sure this sounds totally bizarre, but ever since I was a child I’ve been terrified of the idea of “eternity.” Even hearing about heaven and good ideas of eternity scared me. I never wanted anything to be forever. Thinking about myself as a small part of eternity is terrifying. But this post sort of put me nose to nose with the idea and really think about it. And I didn’t melt into a puddle of panic. I didn’t have a life crisis. I’m coming to terms with the idea that some things, like the universe and time, do go on forever, and it doesn’t have to be terrifying. It’s still a little terrifying. But you worded it all very well. I need to adjust the story I tell myself. I hope I can.

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  2. Your blog & your stories tend to pop in my mind every now and then -often when I’m having a rough day with health issues & I wonder how you are doing. I find myself checking in on your blog on my tougher days when I’m fighting off the sad story my mind wants to spin about my life- and I’m looking for a little inspiration &/or distraction. This was a great post for me to find tonight. So, thanks.

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  3. Pingback: To Love and Be Dog « Em Types

  4. Mary, I already Said that you inspired me . But I think now that is more than inspiration. Reading your blog makes me believe that God really really has no limits. I’m treating a serious problem, I’m Brazilian (so far from you) and part of my recovery is coming from your story! Stay Strong!

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  5. You’re my blogging idol. So often you write the things I want to say but you do it so much better than how I feel I would write it. It motivates and encourages me :)

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