My Dad left us when I was 11.
It was also around the same time that my aunt (Mum’s sister) who lived with us and was like a second Mum to me, passed away from cancer. My sister had gone abroad just six months before.
In as much as my support structure seemed to have gone, it must have felt the same for Mum. Or worse.
Dad had taken on a mistress and a new family. Mum had known about his affair for a while. After all, he was only coming home once in a while. Then he stopped altogether. And despite their dialogues, he wasn’t coming back.
He showed up one day at Mum’s place of work to tell her that he wasn’t going on their planned trip together to visit my sister in the UK.
She was devastated. It was a day I remember well.
They didn’t see each other again (except once when my sister got married). This was a time when divorce or having a broken marriage was a huge stigma.
Roll on the years. It would have been over 20 years since Dad left.
My sister and I took Mum out for a coffee. No sooner had we sat down that Mum started to talk about Dad, how he’d left her, how difficult it had been for her and so on.
It was a story we’d heard over and over, time and time again.
I’d usually just listen. But that day, I said, “Mum, you’re in your 70s now, and none of us know when you’re going to die, but we’re all going to die one day. Right?”
“Well,” I continued, “when you die, how do you want to be remembered? Do you want to be remembered as a loving grandma or as a betrayed wife?”
“Loving grandma, of course,” she said.
“But Mum, the story you keep telling is only ever of you as the betrayed wife.”
It hit home.
We all have stories. Stories of hurt, stories of hard times, stories of when we were wronged. Happy stories too. We feel those stories deeply. And everytime we retell the story, we recall the energy of the story too. And with the not happy stories, it keeps you trapped in not happy.
Many people say, rewrite your story, because we are creators of our own reality. And so, rewriting your story can change the trajectory of your future, because you no longer carry the same energy around it.
Yes, we are creators of our own reality. The meaning we put onto things is the meaning we live out in our lives.
But although rewriting our story can be helpful, it’s limited. Because rewriting the story still comes from the confines of our own thinking or imagination.
Rather than rewriting the story, gather the wisdom that the story brought. Because everything in life happens for us, not to us. And once you’ve gathered the wisdom and internalised it, you no longer need the story.
Now, you’re free.