I've been incubating a lot of stories, writing every day and keeping most of it to myself. Some of the stories are real and some are imagined. I've written some of them down anxiously, not certain if I want to share. I was speaking with a dear friend about how I like to write about my difficult and challenging experiences only once I'm on the other side of them, once I know how those stories end. She suggested I write while in the midst of experiencing a challenge. I contemplated how that might land differently, with myself and with others. Some people share so openly and having grown up before the dawn of social media, I value a certain amount of privacy. I value keeping certain things to myself. I always want to prevent discomfort if I can and my romantic nature prefers a happy ending.
Sometimes writing about the uncomfortable stuff doesn't even happen for me while journaling. I remember years ago getting into an argument with someone and I was really hurt by their words. I refused to journal about it; it seemed too negative and in complaint. Because I didn't want to energize that, it remained inside me, incubating, as a painful memory that I am only now, well over a decade later, releasing.
Not sharing has never served me well. I have always remembered a quote from the talented singer Ani Difranco:
"The way I look at it, there's nothing private - it's all universal...Nothing's going to be solved if we don't open our mouths."
I've mulled these words over in my mind for years. I didn't open my mouth about many things that were real for me for so long and I've had to do a ton of personal work to discover my voice and my preferences. At the tender age of 43, I'm rediscovering my likes and dislikes and I feel some shame around this.
Reflecting back, I recall how I'd given away my power and allowed myself to dim my light due to the requests of people once close to me. I'm responsible for this because my actions are my choice. I chose not to speak up and say "no" back then. Never again. Thankfully, now I feel empowered, expansive and brighter than ever. The memories are visceral and it sickens me to know I treated myself that way. It's almost as though I am looking at that past Rachel just wanting to hold her and tell that it's going to be ok, that things will get better. The most astonishing thing is, I didn't need to tell her to keep her hope alive because she did. Or rather, I did. If I could change it, I would. I would have made different decisions. Since I'm speculating, I can say that. Of course, I wouldn't be who I am today if I had not experienced those difficult times.
My imagination, just like yours, is vast. As I've been incubating these stories, embellishing in my mind how great my life was when things were truly heading towards rock bottom, I've learned how little I need to be happy. I recently revisited a house I used to live in and I was a little nervous. Things weren't good when I lived there and I worried I might be triggered. During that visit, I only experienced joy and this reminded me that wondering and worrying didn't serve me.
Sometimes a small action such as a simple decision to do something scary can make massive waves. It's all choice and the more I choose to accept myself as I am, the more empowered I feel. This isn't my best writing, nor is it my most vulnerable. I think it's my first post ever without images.
I want to tell you this: storytelling is my medicine and medicine helps to heal and shed what no longer serves. One of the stories I've been telling myself for years is that I'm a late bloomer. To prove this story, my ego often tells me it's not my fault because I've spent so much of my life supporting others in various ways so how could I bloom earlier? I'm working on shedding this story and any blame that accompanies it. Accountability is important to me. The late bloomer story is embedded deeply and it's been living inside me far too long so I'm choosing to let it go.
For much of my life, others told me I needed to 'let it go.' I didn't know what they meant - how was I meant to let things go? Now my niece's favourite song is 'Let it Go' from Frozen and I teach people about detachment at work. I am learning that anything is possible, things can turn around, and that I need to trust.
I will be writing more over the next few months about my adventures with self-love, aging naturally, and living mindfully. I hope you join me for the ride.