Friday, March 1, 2013

Everyone Has a Story

A high school teen led two lives, lived two stories. The story her family and friends knew to be true was that of an honor student who played in the band as well as a youth symphony, babysat many children, had a good family life, and liked to hang out with friends. The story She new to be true included all of these things, but also rape, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, which she hid all too well from everyone. She became good at faking happiness and having it together. She was dying inside while living a normal life on the outside. 

When she was in college and the abuse had ended, she finally told friends she'd known in high school about the abuse. They were so set in their story of her life that they called her liar and fake, trying to convince their new college friends she was a fraud. Blinded by their truth, they couldn't see her truth, her agony as they turned their backs on her.

Everyone has a story. You have your story. I have mine. We live our stories every day. Our stories are our truth.

Young Woman or Old?
Everyone has a perception of the people in their lives. These perceptions are based on their own life experiences and how they relate to the people in their lives, as well as the stories others have told about these people. Someone can tell you their story, in detail, but you can never completely know the person's story, because your own story - your thoughts, perceptions, experiences, and judgments -  get in the way. Other things can get in the way, too - what others have told you about that person or presumptions and opinions you already hold can cloud your view of someone else's story. A few well chosen words can change one's perception of a person or situation dramatically.

That girl was blessed to have people in her life who believed in her and her story. Who took the time to see the scars, both physical and emotional, and understand the healing She needed to do. It was with their support that I made it through those days and months and years when I felt like I was holding on to life by a thread and the only thing keeping the thread intact was Love. 

It saddens me when people walk out of friends' lives after listening to others' stories about their actions, their intentions, or their wrongdoing instead of coming to their friend to hear his or her story, his or her truth - instead of choosing to understand their heart.

So many misunderstandings take place because people choose to believe others' perceptions rather than open lines of communication and come to their own conclusions. So many friendships are lost because hate and anger are easier than compassion and forgiveness. Letting others do our thinking for us is easier than thinking for ourselves. Assuming we have the whole story is easier than finding out if we're missing important bits and pieces that might provide a different perspective. Forming our own story about someone perhaps less burdensome than listening, really listening, to someone tell their story, speak their truth.

Again, I find people walking out of my life because they choose to listen to someone else's version or create their own version of my story. Or because they cannot see beyond my missteps to my heart. Years ago when this happened, I was devastated. This time, I realize that my true friends are those who have come to me with their questions, their anger, their frustration, their support, their forgiveness, their regret for having misunderstood, their acceptance of my brokenness and humanness, their honesty about the hurt they feel, their openness to work things out, and their love. With an understanding that we all make mistakes  - sometimes big ones. These friendships are rooted deeply in Real - in Tough as well as Fun; in Empathy as well as Celebration; in Imperfection and Just-Rightness; in Respect for each other's stories. 

This time I find my load is lightened by the loss, the blessings of true friendship a comfort and joy. I know that should I again stumble, there will be people to lift me up and hear my story and set me straight and love me through it all. 



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