This is where I am.
I sit here with sand lightly blowing across the pages before me as waves toss in their rhythmic ritual just beyond the reach of my beach blanket. The sun shines more than on my skin. As I bask in its warmth, it shines into my soul. I come here often to be present and slow in my full and busy life.
Today I feel peace, but it is not always so. For I carry with me my story. And with that story I carry my understanding of the world and my place in it. My story shapes the way I experience even this moment.
We come into this world being held by our mothers arms, trusting we will be loved and listened to and seen. But then little things and big things happen that challenge that perspective and give us a new view of ourselves and the world we live in.
Maybe we are not listened to when we cry as a baby with needs. We are not understood and comforted when we reach out. We are told that the things that make us sad or mad should not make us sad or mad. Our reality is challenged so we learn to not trust ourselves. We think there surely must be something wrong with us, or we would be seen and comforted and have our reality affirmed. There are many points in our days of growing up where we experience traumas with a small ‘t’. But these seemingly tiny traumas entrench their thick and colorful threads into the tapestry of today.
So here I am.
I am at this particular point in my story. I sit here on the shore in this moment, yet I am shaped by the 58 years that lay behind. Those years contain the story that has shaped my view of myself and others. I carry that view. I look through my story as a lens, just as I am looking through a pair of glasses that tame the bright sun shining on my page. The things that have happened to me over these many years, especially the younger years, have shaped how I relate to myself and my world. My ‘story of old’ continues to shape how I experience my life today, even as I sit here with sand between my toes.
And so I do the work. The work of making sense of my story. Of making sense of it in a way that I am no longer victim to it, but rather survivor and victor and author of it. I take the confusion out of it. I see how it is plugged into my reactions today.
The seemingly insignificant moments that we feel triggered? The anxiety that floods when we open our eyes to a new day? The anger that swells? The fear that makes us feel not very brave at living out our purpose? These internal responses to the simple events or words spoken can seem like they come out of nowhere. These triggered feelings are often not about that particular moment, or event, or words at all. They are not entirely about today. They are attached to our story. They are entwined in the story we have told and have been told and continue to tell ourselves.
It is when we bring these parts of our story into the light that we become more free to be who we want to be. We expose it. We look at it from all sides. We are curious about it. We let ourselves feel the pain of it. And then we can heal and reshape it and write a new story.
And this light-shining? This curiosity and reshaping? When it happens in the context of relationship, things within us really shift. We were wounded in relationship…and it is in the context of relationship that we heal. Having someone with us as we examine a traumatic piece of our story brings light and healing into it, and the moments of today become less connected to it.
After engaging the pain points of our stories with the healing balm of connection, we then operate from a less triggered state of being.
We become more authentically ourselves. We see the world and ourselves differently. In a new light. As we see ourselves and the world differently, we can engage ourselves, others, and our communities in beautiful ways.
(Group Coaching is one of the strategies I use to engage my own story. It continues to shift my way of engaging and experiencing this one and precious life. Contact me if you would like to hear more about the Growth Group I lead here in Santa Cruz.)