Rewriting the Story I’ve Told Myself
My negative self narrative is not my soundtrack.
At the age of 45, I’m not just starting a new chapter in my life. I am completely rewriting the book. From the beginning. The previous draft doesn’t suit me. It’s not my story.
I have anxiety that comes from fear. I have a negative self narrative that spins on a turntable in my head. It’s so familiar, I barely noticed when it started to skip. The skipping began to drive me crazy. A jolt that I needed to turn the record over, get a different one, do something different. Anything. It’s time.
These thoughts have controlled me and my life for 45 years. If I’m going to spend the back half of my life being who I really want to be, who I love, I need to rewrite the story I’ve told myself. It means tearing out what remains of that previous story, the one that’s not mine.
The story I’ve told myself is that I’m unlovable.
Someone very important to me actually told me this once. I heard him loud and clear. I believed him. It became true. It has lived in the back of my head for a decade as a forgone conclusion.
I have spent much of my life bending myself to whatever anyone has needed me to be in order to be lovable. If that love was pulled away, I adapted once more into whatever would bring that love closer again.
Over the course of my life, I have lost so much of myself that I am rebuilding who I am. Brick by brick. My shelter is now stronger.
I am lovable and I have an immense capacity to love. Those that see and understand me for who I am, not who they want me to be, deserve that love. I want to give that freely and with joy.
The story I’ve told myself is that creative pursuits aren’t respectable.
A creative is life is for someone else. Not me. It’s for people who are already famous for doing something amazing: playing music, writing novels, creating artwork. From an early age, I acknowledged that pursuing creative arts would mean life as a “starving artist.” It sounds pretty but it’s not acceptable. We should strive to be doctors and lawyers, not artists. I don’t believe that anymore.
I know a lot of artists. Their lives are not fancy. They don’t have big houses and fancy cars. They don’t vacation in Greece. But, they do what they love. In three years, I plan to join them.
In three years, my daughter heads off to college and I become a full time writer. Setting the plans in place to be able to make this happen has settled my soul more than anything I could have ever imagined.
My life will look very different from what I know now. I have feared that it wouldn’t make sense to other people. What would they think? It doesn’t matter. It’s not their life. It’s mine.
The story I’ve told myself is my voice doesn’t matter.
I have kept quiet when I should have said something. I have held my emotions in. I have backed down when I should have fought. I lost every time I did this.
There has always been something on the line. That something was me. Whether it was at work, in love, or with family, the one thing I stood to lose was me. I never felt that I was worth the fight. Back down, Vanessa. You’re not that important.
Telling myself I was important made me selfish. No. I refuse to believe that, too. It’s called recognizing my worth. Telling myself I deserve respect and to be treated accordingly. I have every right to feel valued. I’m not giving up that right.
These pages don’t exist anymore. Every day is clean sheet of paper. I write what I know. I write what I am. I write what I will be. I do it in my words, no one else’s. When I’m done I read it back to myself and it sounds truer than anything else I’ve ever told myself. It’s my story now.