I didn't tell a true story for the first half of my life and have spent the second half trying to rectify that. Sometimes my honesty is off-putting. Some people don't like what I have to say, even though it's true. I've learned over the years through painful lessons where and who are safe places to share my story.
Two of my favorite quotes are:
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” --Anne Lamott
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” --Carl Jung
Those have become more than just words I pin on a board or share on social media. They have become my mantras.
But here's a lesson I'm still learning: Sometimes it's hard to tell your story without telling someone else's. That's been especially trying. Although a lot of who I am is through work on myself, some of who I am...well, I became through my reactions to other people's choices.
Who do you become when someone doesn't love you the way you want them to?
How will you go on when someone you love dies?
Who are you when someone abuses you...physically, mentally, emotionally?
How do you react when someone you love makes choices you feel are wrong?
What if those choices kill them?
Ultimately, we are only responsible for ourselves. Our choices. Our reactions. Our stories.
When Chloe went to college, a friend asked me, "How can you stand it? What do you do?" I said, "Pray that I gave her the right tools."
Isn't that our job as parents? To give our children the right tools to make their own choices and write their own stories--hopefully good ones. It's not our job to shove them into boxes they spend years trying to break out of. It's not our role to tell our children who they should be; it's our role to help them become the best version of who they already are.
Over the past few years, I've spent lots of time trying to shed the lies of who other people told me I was...trying to silence that inner shrew who's always ready with a criticism or insult...trying, as Danielle LaPorte encourages, to remember who I was before the world told me who I should be.
It's hard. My earliest memories are of not being good enough.
A few weeks ago I found out some information that knocked me off-kilter. It affected some beliefs I held dear and made me question if I knew anything for sure.
Here are a few things I know for sure: No matter what choices other people make, I can choose honesty, kindness, compassion, and love. If it's not genuine, I don't want any part of it. When I make a mistake, I can't always change it, but I can always apologize and try to do better. Secrets, lies, and gossip destroy relationships and people.
I am going to strive to accept others unconditionally despite our differences--even political ones. I'm going to keep consciously trying to live authentically and tell my story honestly and wholeheartedly. I encourage you to do the same. The people who aren't meant to help us up will see their way out.
Now...Please. Go. Vote.