The things that we hear as children leave deep imprints in how we see the world as adults and sometimes for the test of our lives. We guard carefully the things that people have said about us. Both good and bad, truth and fiction.
Many of those things are transient and escapable if we learn to question rather than to repeat. To look for the truth and the falsehood in the ideas that we hold deep and dear every time they cross our minds or escape our lips.
I hear myself sometimes as I repeat things said about me as though truths set in stone. I catch myself sometimes as I settle into patterns established for me by someone else. I hear your oldest brother tell me the truths that he has heard pass another’s lips which he holds dear, despite those truths being negative things that make him reluctant to believe a happier thing about himself and his abilities.
I hear women talk about the reasons why their mothers failed to breastfeed, and how those same things apply to them. They cry about their failure and feel deep guilt and regret about not being able to do the thing that they want so badly to do. These are not the truths of their situation, but they are unable to move past the self doubt that was given to them through innocent stories told by loving mothers, and so the natural ups and downs of a normal breast feeding relationship are markers of failure rather than of success and change. Amount pumped, fussy baby, bottle bonding, bad latch, breast blisters, spitup, clinginess, growth spurts, mastitis, growth curves, night time feedings.
I do not know how to teach you to own yourself, your story, to seek the positive, accept only the affirmative, to understand the process of trying, of struggling, of succeeding, of finding your own level of excellence in each area of your life without internalizing the self doubt of others.
Everyone speaks so freely of their failings and their limits, or their fatness or scrawniness, of their weakness and inability. We self depreciate, self mock, angst over the curves we have and the ones we don’t. We assume that we cannot do things because we tried a few times once a long while back and it didn’t happen automatically. Or we struggled a brief while with only unhelpful advice and then deemed ourselves failures rather than accepting that this particular thing might require more effort to master at this particular time than we are willing to devote.
One day when you are all grown up, stand in front of a mirror and look at each part of you. Rattle off the good and the bad as you look. Then question yourself. “Who told me that?” It is a liberating feeling to strip yourself of the sad and negative things, to smile at your reflection and realize that words are not truths. To settle into the shape and form of who you are, and to recognize that all of the little freckles, paleness, crazy flyaway hairs, the crookedness or stick-outedness.. Those are all the subtle little details of our body that make it so that those who love us can spot us in a crowd. So our parents can smile at our faces. So our future husband or wife can trace our faces with their fingers and recognize the shape of us in the dark, or so that they can snuggle up to us in the sunlight and love how unique we are, how we are theirs and they are ours. So that those who love us could never dream up the level of tiny details that form us as who we are. Details that would be lacking in cookie cutter perfection.
People say things in moments of happiness or in frustration. About themselves, about you, about others. Things filtered through the type of day that they are having, or the type of day that you have had, and those things are transient observations of a moment in time, not hard worn truths that are un-alterable by effort or even simply by a different sort of day. Do not absorb negative judgements that are based on a tiny moment in time.
Life is anything but black and white. Life is not even a multitude of shades of gray. It is a dazzling array of colors and shades of textures and of time. It is a fabric in the process of being woven rather than a fossil set in stone.
Even if true today, tomorrow brings changes.
Hold on to the things that bring you joy and that motivate you to do better, be better, try harder, and to fill yourself and your life with experiences that help you grow.
Life is yours to conquer, don’t let the words of others convince you otherwise.
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