When I was a child, my sisters and brother and I ran wild and free over the land my grandparents took care of.
Almost 3,000 isolated acres, inland of San Diego, CA, bordering Mexico, we were the only ones there. Heaven indeed!
Practically penniless, usually barefoot, always full of imagination and creativity and passionate connection with the land and each other.
And I had my books. Beloved sanctuaries. Stories full of exotic adventures and girls who conquered all sorts of suffering. The Girl of the Limberlost. The Secret Garden. Yes, Nancy Drew.
Heaven Had a Monster
But it turned out that heaven had a monster. My grandfather thought it was all right to incest his oldest grandchild.
One of the results (and there have been many not-so-pretty ones, can I just tell you?!) is that I’ve devoted my entire life, both personally and professionally, to reclaiming myself, healing the sacred wounds, and knowing I’m worthy of love.
Just because I’m on the planet. Do you know that’s enough?
It’s been my life’s work to understand how to live reaching for the stars, rather than be swallowed whole by those monstrous experiences.
Tried drinking for a while. That didn’t work out so well. Got sober, which took a while because I had to drink for a while; then fail for a while.
Eventually, though, I got it.
Finally went back to school, but not ’till I turned 40. I’d never even gotten my bachelor’s degree; my father had an 8th-grade education, my mother was pulled out of the 9th grade to travel with a carnival. Her new stepdad, the grandfather I knew, was a carnie.
Eventually, I finished my PhD. Along the way, I experienced a lot of other educational trainings, including vision quests, and psychotherapy, and astrology.
I learned to meditate.
Feeling my way through it all, I began coming home, to myself.
Here’s how Brene Brown, in “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are,” says:
When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness — the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our stories that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness — that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging — lives inside of our story.
I got to learn how to live from inside my story. It’s been a helluva journey.
In the end, though, I am blessed to be doing work I love, with people I love. I’m immersed in stories, all day long, every day.
And in the process, I continue to re-write my own story into one of redemption, living an authentic life. I understand the power of living from happiness, and enjoying success on my terms.
I’ve been helping others hear the stories they tell themselves for a while now. Most of the stories aren’t horrible ones, full of wretched abuse.
The truth is that simply living one’s life can be a challenging task, until we learn where home is (think Dorothy and those fab red-sequined shoes).
A lovely surprise has been that some folks want me to coach them as they write their memoirs and personal growth books. More heaven.
Your Stories Become Your Life
Because here’s one thing I know for sure … our stories become our lives.
You better know what you’re telling yourself, and notice how well that’s working out for you. Only then can you begin writing a much better story, living into the one that’s been waiting for you all along.
Are you really willing to settle for anything less than fantastic and amazing?