Earlier this month my husband and I traveled to Islamorada in the Florida Keys. It was our first trip in nine years that was more than two nights and did not include our kids. We were enveloped in swaying palm trees that created the most soothing white-noise sounds. Clear, calm waters (we paddle-boarded past a manatee!) and bright blue skies. Also - you had to be at least 16 years old to stay at this resort. That was key.
We laid underneath that sky, soaking in all this goodness and I started wondering why it took us so damn long to get there. I started my usual stream of self-pity: both of our fathers are dead, we are the caregivers for both of our mothers, our sisters are consumed with little kids and big jobs. At that moment a ray of sunlight must have struck me or the clouds shifted into a new pattern. I stopped this old spinning record in my head and said out loud, "Oh woe is me, woe is me."
I've had this thought before, but this time my whole body felt it. This old story is not serving me. Little access to family caregivers does not equate a life without vacations. It expands further than just vacations, into everyday life of grandparents at soccer games, grandparents at bus stops, grandparents making dinner in the kitchen. This old story stirs up feelings of jealousy and envy. Fueling these ugly emotions are the ones that are more raw and harder to handle. Loss and sadness. Grief.
This is the first step; simply noticing. Rewriting our stories is a long, slow process. We are essentially trying to rewire the pattern of thinking in our brains. So, I ask you:
What old story is not serving you?
Observe your thoughts from a distance. Try to catch yourself in the middle of a self-pity spiral like I did. Maybe it takes 500 times of your story playing in your head before you even notice it's there. For stories that are deeply embedded into our psyche we may not even have conscious thoughts surrounding them. We might see them as truths, rather than self-limiting beliefs. It's all ok. The fact that you are trying to recognize your old story shows you are committed to new growth.