This is my old story, in a pseudo comic book layout. It is story I had been repeating to myself for my whole adult life. In order to fill the squares I needed to identify the key elements of my life story:
- Emigration – I was told, “you’re really a Dublin girl.”
- My mother’s illness, as well as her emotional needs
- My responsibilities as her substitute parent
- Promises of better days that never came. “In time to come…” and “when we move back to Ireland…”
The stick figures represent, from left to right:
- My father, who was often away from home, travelling for business. When he did come home he brought a big black cloud with him.
- My mother, who was often ill in bed, suffering from various ailments and depression.
- My older brother, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was in his mid-teens.
- Me, holding my new baby brother.
- My other younger brother, and my little sister
Then there were Eckhart Tolle’s words:
“As long as you make an identity for yourself out of pain, you can never be free of it.”
Wow! Stop the presses!
My story was about growing up in a family steeped in pain.
What good was this story doing? Was it helping me – at all?
Maybe it was keeping me stuck and in pain.
Maybe I needed a new story.
I didn’t need to pretend that these things never happened – they did.
And some things were still difficult. But a lot of my life was pretty great.
I could choose what aspects of my current life would define me.
I could choose!
If I chose to build my identity from the pain of the past, I would never be free of it.
And I wanted freedom!