“You either walk inside your story and own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”

Brené Brown

A client asked me the other day if we ever truly get past our stories of abuse and trauma. She said ‘I don’t want this to be my story’.

The thing is, I told her, this IS your story.

You can treat symptoms of anxiety and depression, you can release trauma from the body, but in the end fighting our true story is what causes a lot of these symptoms in the first place.

For years I tried to live outside my story – telling myself I wasn’t traumatised, I wasn’t easily triggered, I wasn’t sensitive, that I could keep up with what was expected of me by others.

But it wasn’t the truth. By not acknowledging the fact that my nervous system was sensitive, easily triggered, that I was entering adulthood from a starting post that was further back than many people, I was making life a lot more difficult than it had to be.

This doesn’t mean staying small and remaining a victim. On the contrary, when I finally accepted my story, I started taking care of myself effectively for the first time ever.

I had tried to own my story as a child, I shared excerpts of it with others, and I was told variations of ‘you’re too sensitive’ and ‘you need to try harder’, right after I’d been screamed at, beaten or ignored for a week.

I wasn’t TOO sensitive, I was hurt and abused and abandoned. That’s the truth.

Now I finally own my whole story, I can say no when I feel overwhelmed without feeling like I’m a failure. I can take baby steps with things that others do without hesitation, without telling myself I’m useless.

I treasure my story now because it keeps me safe, even as I stretch my comfort zone. I know what to do to take care of me, taking into account the impact of previous experiences and the state of my nervous system.

Before when I was trying to live outside my story, I was constantly putting my nervous system in harm’s way. I was anxious and depressed and always struggling, trying to keep up with what people without this story were doing.

I took jobs that put me in situations that constantly triggered me. I stayed in relationships that were unkind. I took up hobbies that set me up for failure. I thought if I did these things, it would prove I was ok.

If you have a broken leg, you don’t agree to go hiking in the mountains with your able-bodied friends. You don’t agree to a job that requires you to stand all day.

This doesn’t mean your leg will always be broken, but it will heal a lot faster if you stop acting as though the injury doesn’t exist.

If you rest up and take the pressure off, it may heal completely and you will be able to go hiking. Or it might always give a twinge of pain so you decide to take a job that enables you to take the weight off it occasionally.

Our stories are always changing. Acceptance of what is in any moment is what keeps us truly safe. Stand up for your whole story, honour it, and if those around you tell you you’re playing the victim, know that you’re doing the exact opposite.

You’re taking responsibility for your healing, your well-being. You’re acknowledging the unpleasant truth, embracing the dark and the light. And this means making space for growth at a pace that actually works – for you.

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