Write a New Story

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)


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Reader Interactions


  1. E says

    I agree with this and this is where I’m at but….it would be helpful if someone would give a little more direction on “how” to do this. Everyone tells you this but no one tells you hiw to go about it. I’d love to write a new story but no idea where or how to begin so here I stand.

    • Mary says

      I found the work of Narrative Therapy helpful. There are two stories: the dominant or external story and the alternative or internal story. We need to trust our own story our own reality rather than taking in other peoples version of reality. It takes strength and courage to become our own per son. But it’s about claiming and honouring our own story; not only what happened but how it was for us, and how it is about what is imprtant to us.that was lost violated or dishonored. Valuing what is important gets us in touch with anger that values us and who we are. We can’t heal without feeling that anger, but it in turn values us and validated our story.

  2. KA says

    Vicki, this is just what I needed to hear today. I’ve been needing to break away from a support group for some time, and have been terrified by the possibility of dealing with my present, on my own. Of making choices that are ineffective and having no one else to blame, of singing my own song and being me with impunity. But, at this point, I don’t think I can live without those things. I can’t borrow against my own time anymore and this has given me so much courage. Thank you.

    • Vicki says

      Dear KA, I am so happy to hear that this is what you needed to hear today and that you’re feeling even more courageous!💙

    • EB says

      Thank you Vicki. Yes, you are right. It is about my story, not what happened to me and I have control over what the future is. I appreciate your encouragement.

    • Mary says

      We have been raised to base our reality on what we are told. The big break comes from basing our reality on what we know. Our inner truth. That his the challenge, to believe and trust our inner reality rather than making itjerboeoples words our reference point. See Glennon Dolyle. UNTAMED.

  3. Peggy says

    What’s the one hoodie you should never wear? Victimhood. Unfortunately it seems to be quite fashionable these days.

    I know about victimhood because I played it out for many years. My wound was my illness (chronic fatigue/
    fibromyalgia), which in reality was a band-aid over the deeper wound of being an unloved child. My folks were the perpetrators. I was the innocent.

    Victimhood stops you from adulting. Its like being permanently stuck at age 8 or 12, or 15 (on a good day!).

    Working through my original wound has seen development of a wise, compassionate, boundaried, expressive, responsible, mature, loving adult woman (who stays in her own lane). This is an incredibly satisfying, fulfilling, peaceful operating space.

    Love your work Vicki. Thanks for all you do and give.

  4. P. says

    Yes! I see so many people who are addicted to their “woundology,” their identities as victims. But it’s dangerous to point that out because somehow if you do you’re victim shaming or something. As for me I definitely want to move beyond.

    • Vicki says

      Hi P., isn’t that the truth?! What you’re describing is why it can be so challenging to move from focusing on the wound and into the life we’re meant to live.

      I love that you want to move on.💙

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The deepest experience of the creator is feminine, for it is experience of receiving and bearing.”

Rainer Maria Rilke