Storytelling

The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear.  Fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable.  What he wants above everything else is safety.
— H.L. Mencken

So I’ve been thinking about this post lately.  Not the boy – David’s got that part covered – but the end.  This:  “I learned, eventually, that you have to listen to everything, you can’t just pick and choose the parts that fit the story you’re telling in your head.”

And I was thinking about the story I tell in my head all the time – we all do it, we all tell a story about the life we imagine we live, about why we do things, and what we hope for.  It’s the story we tell to get through the day, because the truth is so often less than we would like it to be.

My story’s about a girl who’s kind, and smart, and funny, and generous.  Who’s successful, by most people’s standards, both personally and professionally.  Whose life is more or less charmed in a number of important ways.

My truth, though, so often seems to fall short of that.  I am often unkind, and particularly judgmental, at least in my thoughts.  I regularly feel like everyone else is smarter than I am, particularly at work, and that I am a heartbeat away from people realizing I’m a fraud.  I haven’t updated my weight loss photo album on Facebook in more than a year, because the truth is, I’ve gained 35 pounds in 15 months and I am terribly ashamed of that, and yet I cannot get it together to take control of my eating.  My so-called charmed life has been scarred by some particularly shitty things, especially early on, and I lack the courage to truly face at least one of them.  I live most of my life with some level of fear of not being good enough while setting such unbelievably high expectations of myself that it’s no wonder I fall short.  I live with the man I want to marry and who I know loves me unconditionally, and yet I spend an inordinate of time and energy fighting the feeling that, sooner or later, he’s going to realize that I’m not quite what he thought.  I drop out of communication with my friends and my grandma for extended periods of time because I just don’t have the energy or the attention span even to send an email, and by the time I do, so much has happened that I can’t bear having to recap it all, so I give up.  That’s my truth.

Is it any wonder that the story I’m telling in my head is decidedly more upbeat?  It has to be; otherwise, I’d never get out of bed.

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9 thoughts on “Storytelling

  1. I’m sorry, but I have to disagree. The shame, the fraud, the fear . . . those are the stories you are telling yourself in your head. That you’re not good enough. That is the lie.

    Take it from someone who, I guarantee, has far higher expectations of herself than you have of yourself: you are kind, and smart, and funny, and generous, and HUMAN. I’m sorry to tell you that you are not perfect. I am also sorry to tell you that, in your flaws, you are not unique.

    We all regain weight. We all lose touch with friends and then feel guilty about it and then feel too lazy to recap. We all worry about not being good enough. We all ARE good enough. We are all human.

    Recognize the lie — the real lie — and then try to forgive yourself for being a human being.

  2. I’m with Mo. It’s not about what you are worrying in your head, it’s about what you’re doing. Actually doing.

    You are getting out of bed. You went to Law School – you were editor of the Law Review!! You are brilliant. Brilliant. (Except for the whole voting for Obama thing – stop – you know you love me) You wanted to quit the first month you were at your job – did you? No. You may have scoured your lease for a way out but you didn’t get out. You stayed and you worked hard and you figured it out.

    You are brilliant and kind and yes, horrible at responding to email! But I love you anyway!!

  3. So MUCH of what you say sounds just like the way I sometimes (often) feel about me! So maybe we are not really as bad as we make ourselves out to be. Maybe we are just like most everyone else, except you were honest enough with yourself (and us) to express it. Which does not make you a terrible friend, employee, lover, granddaughter or daughter. Just makes you a pretty cool person.

    I think it’s OK to be happy, OK to be proud of what you’ve done with your life, OK to make mistakes, OK to not always do your best, OK to wonder sometimes about your future, OK to on occasion give in to your fears and also OK to just let that past go and enjoy what you have today. Which you have to admit is pretty darn OK.

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  6. Listen to Mo, she is quite wise.

    And know that I feel the same way all the time. But what I have learned (mostly from Mo) is that YOU need to accept that no one is perfect and that YOU need to realize and be aware of when YOU are being too hard on YOURSELF.

    I know it’s hard to shut that little voice up inside your head, trust me, I struggle with it every day. But here’s the key, you have already overcome it. You do get out of bed each day, you do love David and recognize that, you do know how to be happy and how to have fun. We all make mistakes, it’s how you deal with those mistakes that matter, not that they happened.

  7. Thanks for reading, everyone, and for the encouragement. Just writing it down, giving it words, has eased my mind tremendously. I don’t know why, when I know that writing is where it works for me, I’ve been such an absentee blogger lately.

    I’m trying to tackle the issues one at a time, so as not to overwhelm myself, and one of the key things I’m trying to avoid while doing that is guilt. It’s so easy to be hard on myself and so hard to go easy. Why is that?

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