The holidays come with a lot of stories each year.
No, not Santa stories. Not Hanukkah stories. Not even family blooper stories, although all of those do get shared as well.
Instead, it’s the stories I tell myself — I’m not giving my kids enough. I’m giving the kids too much. I don’t give the kids enough consequences. I give them too many consequences. If my kids love their stepmother, it means they love me less, and that I am insufficient and inadequate. If they miss their dad, it means I’m not doing my job well enough. I can’t fully forgive him for the hurt he caused me because he doesn’t forgive me either. He doesn’t deserve to be happy, but I do.
I’m not doing enough, there is more for me to do here, and there, and there, and also there. I am only of value if I am doing something. Nothing I do is ever enough to be excellent.
I’m too different for the rest of my family to like me. They just don’t get me, and they don’t want to. I’ll never be the kind of normal required to be loved fully by my parents.
Yes. Those stories. Those scripts. Those tapes. Those records.
And those stories, exacerbated around a dinner table, threaded throughout gift choosing and mailing, card sending, phone calls, and manifested in those fucking expectations, little bastards that they are, leave me feeling . . . conflicted most holidays.
So I typically just draw closer to the truths I feel good about. I close my circle a little tighter to include my friends, and the family I connect with best. I choose to shift focus to what I am bringing into my own hula hoop, and invite in the things I want with intention. And, while this brings forth all of the energy I hope to give and get — peace, joy, friendship, love, generosity — it entirely avoids dealing with the stories. Instead, it simply dog-ears the page for later and skips forward several chapters to the good parts.
It’s avoidance masked in purposeful Activity.
And it’s an easy, feel-good, self-serving, others-serving thing to do. It works in the moment and to some extent the future. It gets me through the icky-feeling, near crying, angry meltdown moments that I didn’t work through on my mat. I like this plan. I know this plan. I can execute this plan.
Focus. Set intentions. Lose myself in task, again.
But you know. . . they’re still there. Un-remedied. Not re-written. Never questioned. Just underlying, unquestioned acceptances of truth, even though they aren’t. True, that is. Those stories are not true.
They are simply the things I tell myself, and allow myself to feel and believe.
The work that is left to be done isn’t to leave the tape running and walk away from the machine. It isn’t to pick up a new book. And it isn’t to simply cut those stories out altogether. Instead, it’s to revise and rewrite them. It’s to deal with them. It’s to look at them, discover how and why they came to be written as they are, and change the script.
And if you know anything about revision, you know it’s a lot of fucking work.
But, I know what happens when I stick to the storyline — the same old shit, the same pain, the same profound sense of loss, and it’s not working for me anymore. Choosing new words, new truths, new habits, attitudes and beliefs will not be clean, or easy, or simple. But it is worth it, because of what is possible when I do.
“I’m only of value if I’m busy” can become “I am of value in all that I am and do.” What is possible in that? Freedom. Space. Purpose. Joy. Rest.
“I cannot forgive him until he forgives me” can become “I forgive myself, and him.” The possibility in that is breath, and grace, and strength. Light, and power, and love. Permission.
“My family doesn’t love me unless I do and say the things they believe and value” can become “I approve of who I am and what I stand for. I love them, and me, as we are.” Healing is possible. Love and kindness and growth and unity can come back into our space. Acceptance can be shared.
The revision is my new task. It must be. These become my new lines, and then I keep repeating them, and practicing applying them, and using them to respond. I keep saying them, over, and over, and over again, until my body, my mind, and my spirit sync up and send the same message. I will practice until I hold new truths, and then I will practice some more.
This year, I’m choosing to shift my attention to what is available to me in the second draft, one line, one moment, one trigger at a time.
I can, because it is time, and it is possible.
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