It was whilst having lunch with new friends this week that I remembered I am not my story.
I really enjoy listening to other peoples’ stories; their history of triumphs and failures, joy and loss and the moments they choose to share and believe define who they are. It is a privilege to hear such tales and be trusted not to judge but to listen with an open mind and enjoy a moment immersed in someone else’s world. Though perhaps it is not that I am trusted to not judge but more that they don’t judge themselves for their history, their story, and so it doesn’t matter what I think. I always admire people that have the courage and honesty to just be themselves warts and all.
My journey with my past is an ongoing one and I struggle to admit the recent years of my life when people ask me how I came to be where I am today. I gloss over it as quickly as possible with a series of short sentences that define four painful and embarrassing years of my life because a part of me still feels ashamed. There is a piece of me that is still working on coming to terms with the fact that in the space of four years I was left at the almost-altar by my fiancé just weeks before our wedding, my mother, my best friend, died of cancer and ultimately I lost my career, my home and a whole lot more. Heck, my life was a nightmare at that time and I fought tooth and nail to create something positive from that wreckage whilst also being hideously embarrassed by my circumstances. I have worked on my self-esteem, built a new career overseas and made life choices that have led me to where I am today which is a place of happiness and a lot less drama. I have taken responsibility for my part in each of those moments in my life, I have forgiven others and yet I still feel ashamed to admit it all. I can’t bring myself to say it out loud without turning that series of events into a joke or a flippant tale as I mutter and stare at my glass of wine and shrink into my chair. I am all for listening to other peoples’ vulnerability and stories but less of a fan of sharing mine.
So today I am taking a step away from my shame and a step towards remembering I AM NOT MY STORY by writing that series of events out here. Yes it hurt like hell, it still does on some level, but it does not define me and it changed me in ways I am utterly thankful for. I have more compassion, empathy and understanding than I ever did beforehand and I am adamant that I will use my story to inspire others once I have finished writing it all out in my up and coming book. In the spirit of doing so here is my first admission, with bells on:
I was left at the altar not once but twice.
Yes, you heard me correctly.
I have TWO runaway grooms to my name.
I would like to say I feel less ashamed by saying that but I mostly feel like an idiot. On the other hand though, if one person reads this and feels less alone, less embarrassed by their history, then it was worth it. Ultimately all I want to do is help those in similar pain know they are not alone and speak up without shame. If I could survive all of that, which I did, then they can and will too. Keep walking forwards all and don’t let your story, whatever it is, define who you are.