Several years ago, during a particularly painful season in my life, I heard a voice inside that said,
You have forgotten who you are.
I immediately knew on a deep level that this was true. I didn’t know who the “who” was that I had forgotten, but I knew I was lost and untethered to a centered and grounded knowing of myself.
I was drowning in thoughts that rendered me inadequate—thoughts of judgment telling me that I was inferior and fundamentally not good enough.
Can you relate? Feeling inadequate and despairing are sure signs that you have forgotten who you are.
At the root of these feelings are often the stories we have collected about who we are. For example:
- I am a victim of domestic violence.
- I am a betrayed partner.
- I am an addict.
- I am adopted.
- I have a chronic mental health condition.
And while it may be true that you have experienced abuse, betrayal, abandonment, disease or illness (and it’s important to acknowledge these experiences), too often we merge them with our identity. Yet these events and circumstances do not have the power to define who you are. Only you have that power.
Victim labels bind us to a view of ourselves looking through the rear-view mirror, the past of our life. Learning from the past is helpful, but often we fixate on these experiences so extensively that we fail to bring our energy and focus to the present where we are actually living our lives. We also fail to engage with the expansive and limitless view of our future as it is meant to be lived.
If you allow what happened to you in the past to be the foundation and author of the story of you in the present, you are making a choice — either unconsciously or consciously — to give your power away.
It’s time to write a new story.
I invite you to think of your wound (or wounds) as the raw material from which your new story is emerging. A story of resilience, strength, wisdom, and overcoming. A story that is informed, but not defined by, what happened to you in the past.
Your new story has You at the center, rather than what happened to you. It is not dominated by the telling and re-telling of the wound.
If we’re honest, many of us don’t want to write a new story.
The seductive reality is that stories of victimhood are popular, especially now. Caroline Myss calls this “woundology,” and it’s what happens when your identity becomes so infused with your wound that your life becomes a kind testament or shrine to the wound.
When our wound fuses with our identity, we tell and re-tell the story, gather support for our victimization, and vilify or dehumanize the “perpetrator. In this way, we keep the wound alive and nurture it. It’s tempting to make this choice, and it’s painful to acknowledge the truth of our decision.
There is endless support for taking on our wounds as our identity. If you don’t believe me, take just one minute and scroll through your social media feed. It is filled with victim stories. Woundology sells, but it’s a lie. Your wound is not who you are.
Writing a new story requires you to look to your present and have the courage to dream your future. It necessitates that you tap into the power you have to see yourself as the Creatrix of your life. You as the playwright, rather than a no-name, no-lines bit actor in a play that other people, circumstances, and many other events outside your control wrote for you.
Writing your new story invites you to see yourself as the wisest version of you sees you to be, or as your Higher Power or the Divine sees you. I assure you that She/He/They do not see you as a victim, as abandoned, and hopeless. You are a cherished daughter.
What is the story of who you are now? Strong, resilient, wise? What gifts did the wound give to you, and how do you want to live those gifts?
What would it mean to you to write a new story?
© Vicki Tidwell Palmer (2021)