For a long time, longer than I care to admit, I’ve been pushing the past away — like a coat that no longer fits. I awake in the morning and in those moments when my eyes are still closed, buried in half-dream, I imagine it is someone else’s coat, someone else’s story.
I’ve been trying to tell it, this story, for so long and am stuck. Each time I sit down to write I am pulling rabbits out of hats, performing sleight of hand in order to avoid putting that coat on and owning it. That coat is a coat full of regrets and a past that puts all I thought I knew about my life into question.
I can’t believe that this will always be a part of my story: a condemnation, an indictment, a judgement — all self-imposed. This: that I trusted. This: that I was conned. This: that I loved. This: that I was a chump.
Just this morning I sat with my son who berated himself: I’m a loser, he said. All because I told him to stop dawdling and get his shoes on. All because I was impatient and lost my temper after the, ahem, fourth request. His self-flagellation irritated me more than the fact he dawdled.
As we waited for his bus and after the umpteenth time of telling him that Mommy was upset with his behavior and not with his inherent goodness as a human being, I said, “Child, the more you say ‘I’m a loser,‘ the more others will believe you. Even worse, the more you say ‘I’m a loser,’ the more YOU will believe it.’
He quieted and listened.
“Fake it until you make it.” I said. “Instead of ‘I’m a loser’ try ‘I’m a winner!’. Instead of ‘I’m bad’ tell yourself, ‘I’m good!'”
Negative self-talk vs. positive self-talk. Fake it until you believe the good.
If I’m going to deliver life lessons like this to my son, I should at the very least practice what I preach. Put on that coat, own it like I’ve never owned it before. Wear it with pride. It’s my story, after all.
I can’t believe that this will always be a part of my story: a congratulations, a celebration, a fact. This: I am trusting. This: I am loyal. This: two boys, twin owners of my heart. This: the past only illuminates my path — it is not my future.