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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Stories We Select/Icicle Pansies

Thursday and the week is close to wrapping up, as is January.  I'm so grateful for how easy the winter has been so far - what a gift!   Even if it's horrific from this point on, we have been spared enduring an interminable winter.  Doesn't it seem, some years, like winter is a six month season when we get freezing weather and snow as early as the beginning of November?  Until last week I still had pansies blooming on my deck!  Granted they're icicle pansies, but nevertheless, flowers in January!!!

This week was a mixed bag for me.  I said a final good-bye to Patrick (I was finally ready).  I had a date.  I hunkered down at work and got a bunch done.  I started writing this blog again.  I'm reclaiming my healthy habits  (good Weight Watchers week so far and daily walks on the frozen beach with Joey), and I had my writing group last night which was a blast.  I wrote a couple of really cool, creepy things, and the thing with the IRS, which has been hanging over my head like a Damacles' sword, is moving to what I hope is a do-able conclusion.  The "mixed" part of the bag is that the date was disappointing, the stress of the IRS thingy, I also said good-bye to Kaveh - we will have three more sessions and then therapy will be a wrap.  I struggle with feeling alone and long for someone to share things with (I would like to pamper someone other than myself!)

With the end of therapy on my mind, what I thought to write about today, is, what is the best way to effect changes in our lives?   People have strong opinions about whether digging back into one's past is useful in the present, or whether those doors and windows should be shuttered tight.   This is what Kaveh says about why deep therapy is necessary for some, the kind where you go back into the swamp of your childhood.
We believe that symptoms form in an effort to memorialize and communicate our suffering and are often solutions to complicated emotional difficulties. Therefore, understanding and self-acceptance often occur in retrospect, by visiting the emotional injuries that trouble us.When we disown our experiences we are left susceptible to repetition of the very experiences we wish to leave behind. So, we talk and remember in order to work towards meaning, self-acceptance and self-determination.
 Patrick recently wrote a counterpoint to that which I quote:
Anthony Robbins had a great philosophy- the present isn't determined by the past, but by the future. One's attitude is dependent upon how she sees the road ahead, not by what has already happened.
The book I'm reading and digging, The 3rd Alternative, by Stephen Covey has this view:
Our paradigms and cultural conditioning make up the story of our lives. Each has a begining, a plot, and characters.  There may even be heroes and villains.  Countless subplots make up the big plot. There are crucial twists and turns in the narrative. And, most crucially, there is conflict. No conflict, no story. Every great story turns on a struggle of some kind: a hero against a villain, a race against time, a character against her conscience, a man against his own limits.  Secretly we see ourselves as the hero of our own story..the role of the put-upon protagonist locked in combat with the antagonist.  But there is a third voice in the story that is neither the hero nor the villain. This is the voice that TELLS the story.  If we are truly self-aware, we realize that we are not just characters in our own story but also the narrator.  We are not just written, we are the writer too.  My story is only a part of much bigger stories - stories of a family, a community, and a whole culture. I might have limited influence on how those stories evolve, but I am very much in control of how MY story goes. I am free to tell my own story....we are not merely "characters."  We are also the narrators, the ones who choose how the story unfolds.  ...I said earlier that our lives are stories in that they all have a begining.  A story also has a middle and an end.  Most of us are somewhere in the middle of the story.  We get to decide how the story ends.
So, me - perched on the pinnacle with the past on one side and the future on the other.   I think I'm in good shape.  I've done the work, as best I could, to free myself from the dark tentacles that reached up from the depths of the past and threatened to pull me under.  I will never be completely free of those influences but they no longer rule me.  It's time to be done with all the backwards scrutiny - therapy complete.  Now I get to be forward looking and choose my reality lens - how I see the world and my place in it.  And I get to shape my future, to write an honest and honorable script and then inhabit it.

William Faulkner said, "There is no such thing as "was" - the past is always with us.  I would add, "Yes of course, we are the sum of the events of our lives, but we are not puppets.  As my friend, Patricia said, "We are the architects of our own future."  We are the narrator and the writer in addition to being the central character.

Maybe the challenge today should be thinking about that whole protagonist locked in combat concept.  Maybe take a moment to outline the arc and conflicts in your life - sketch the characters. Who are the heroes?  Who are the antagonists?  What is the plot, the conflict?   And then step back and evaluate.  Is there a way to zoom out and re-frame the struggles, assess the trajectory, decide if the current struggles are worthy ones, or should there be a change to the narrative? Remember - you're the author - it's always an option to scrap everything and start from scratch, rip up the script, throw it in the trashcan and write something completely new - and better.  Or for the fortunate ones, maybe just a tweak or two.


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