I am not what I once thought was mine

I like this passage from Susannah Conway’s book This I Know: Notes on Unravelling the Heart:

We could all spend a lifetime unravelling the knots of our childhood, but at some point you realize the knots are no longer yours. They belong to your parents, and their parents before them. The legacy is long and complicated, the damage passed on through generations, until one day someone finally stops and says: This story does not belong to me. 

So many of us blame our troubles and our limitations on our childhoods — on how we were raised; on how we were perceived or treated as children; on the messages we received or didn’t receive in our formative years; on unmet expectations, emotional disappointments, missing pieces and unfulfilled hopes.

But do these stories really apply to the people we are today — to the experiences we have had in our adult years? Many of us have grown beyond the bounds of these old narratives, yet we continue to cling to them, to let them drag us backwards in our vulnerable moments.

What if we were to let them all go? To say to ourselves, “This is a story, yes, but it is not my story. It does not speak about the person I am today. I am more than that. I have travelled beyond the reaches of that tale.” Would our associated troubles lessen? Would our perceived limitations fade away?

Writes Conway:

The past is just the soil we grew up in, a blueprint we can redraft if we look at it from another perspective. What if we retell our stories, and in the retelling the new tale becomes the truth?

A truth in which we are not a victim, not small, not forsaken. A truth in which there is space inside us for love, compassion, forgiveness and empathy — for ourselves and for the people in our lives.

What if, indeed.

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