— Bette Greene
If you are living with an estranged family, you might believe your family members are thinking the worst of you …. because sometimes, often-time, they are.
It’s no good pretending that your family is some idealized version of the Waltons, when in fact, they are behaving more like squabbling adolescents in the story, Lord of the Flies. Why must we pretend that everything that our senses – our eyes, ears, gut feeling tells us is happening … is not? How is ignoring what we see, hear, think and feel is real, good for us? The short answer … it is not.
When people are treating us poorly, it is what it is. Prettying it up, wishing and hoping it was something different does not change what is. Many of us wanted the Waltons. I know I did. But it isn’t what we got and the Waltons is not what is real for us, and thinking and wishing does not make it so. Pretending that people aren’t hurtful … pretending that they aren’t talking smack about you, that they aren’t systematically undermining you, that they aren’t hyper focused on the worst bits of the story in which you star as their presenting problem and their bad guy … is not only helpful for your abuser (it gives them plenty of room and ammunition to keep right on doing what they do) it also keeps you stuck in the past, the past of their perceptions and its also incredibly dangerous for your self esteem.
We can grow up with and continue measuring ourselves against the incredibly toxic and myopic perceptions that other people have of us. These limiting, one dimensional stories or views of who were are can only serve to erode our sense of self esteem and self worth. We are not the one story where we got it wrong. We are not even the story of the 3000th time where we messed up. Some of us didn’t even need to mess up. We were the black sheep, the scapegoat from go.
We are more, MUCH more, than any one dimensional story that someone else wants to tell about us. We are multi-dimensional people with entire lives and multitudes of stories. We have our own histories, our own logic and reasons for why we do what we do, and if no one else wants to hear that our story is bigger than the one they tell of us …. so be it. That’s someone else trying to decide how our world is going to be … and guess what? They dont get to choose how our lives and stories look unless we allow it.
When we begin to heal and recover from all the damage and fallout created in our dysfunctional family, we develop increased insight, self awareness and self esteem. We get in touch with a different story, a different reality, one that is our own. A reality in which we truly are the central character and the star. In this story, we are who we decide we will be, we determine what is important, we decide who our co-stars will be and we determine how we will live our lives.
You see, our life and our story moves on … we are not a static, one dimensional, bit character in someone else’s book. We are citizens in our own evolving, dynamic world of possibilities. We heal and we recover. We write our story. We think the best of ourselves. We move on.