Changing Our Stories

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”

― Mary Oliver

I’d venture to guess that like me, you have faced a relationship or two you came to see as beyond healing. Perhaps you tried everything, then reached a point where giving up seemed to be the only next step. Your experience may have convinced you the other party just could not or would not change.

As a coach, I frequently hear similar narratives, so I know they are common. It is interesting that in reaching what appears to be a point of no return, we create an ending to the story (at least from our perspective). Sadly, this limits what can be, and we close the door to infinite possibilities.

I have a story like this, and it involves the father of my daughters. For nineteen years, we have not spoken. This has been painful to our daughters, who have led dual lives between their parents. Over the years, any attempts I made to move past old stories were met with distrust. About a year ago, I came to the realization that his distrust may very well have stemmed from areas I still needed to heal. It was my wish to reach a place in which I could, with all honesty, be open-hearted and in a position to receive.

In the meantime, two important things happened. The girls’ father decided to move to the Austin area, and not long after that, both girls announced their engagements. Clearly, we were moving into a new chapter as a family. Last fall, we approached the first celebration, and suddenly everything shifted. The old stories were dropped, and new stories began. We just became two middle-aged humans navigating this thing called life who happened to share two really amazing daughters.

Just last week, we all joined together in our new home and shared Easter brunch. While everything appeared normal, in truth it was quite significant. As I joined my family members around our table, I soaked in every detail. There they all were Joachim at my side, Sebastian complaining about upcoming finals, Meghan and her fiance, Justin, discussing last minute wedding to-dos, and Kate and her husband, Joe, sharing stories from their weekend getaway to Mexico. All pretty status quo until I made it around the table to the places set for two additional members. And there sat the father of my daughters and his girlfriend, who we animatedly engaged, enjoying it all. To an outsider, it looked as if we had been doing this for years. But the truth is, this was the first holiday in nineteen years that my daughters did not have to make a choice in which part of their family they would be with. This year marked the start of a new way of being for all of us a step toward wholeness and inclusion.

In my sharing of this very personal story, I encourage you to take your inner skeptic off duty and embrace the idea that all things are possible. Place your attention on yourself, and work on your own ability to remain open and unattached to the outcome. By doing this, we can allow for a resolution more magnificent than we could imagine. That has certainly been true in this situation.

Author and psychologist Mary Pipher shares this advice in her latest book, Women Rowing North: “We can’t change our pasts, but we can still change our stories. It isn’t just long histories that influence our lives; it’s also the narratives we tell ourselves about that history.”

I hope my experience might encourage you to consider stories you hold about painful relationships. Instead of writing your own end to the story, might you consider the possibilities of another narrative?

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18 Comments

  1. Auntie Chana on April 28, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Well said! Life is beautiful… if we make the choice.

    • Lauren on April 28, 2019 at 8:03 pm

      You are so right!

  2. Sandra on April 29, 2019 at 10:21 am

    Lauren,

    Thank you for your vulnerability and for sharing such a beautiful story.

    • Lauren on April 29, 2019 at 2:35 pm

      You are so welcome and vulnerability seems to be a work in progress for all of us.

      • Irene G. on May 5, 2019 at 5:43 pm

        I could feel a sense of accomplishment in reading this. I know it’s just the beginning, but I hope your “family” will continue to flourish.

        • Lauren on May 8, 2019 at 9:58 am

          Thanks so much Irene- each gathering is richer. Flourish is the right word for sure!

  3. Allen on April 29, 2019 at 11:30 am

    Thank you for sharing! What a wonderful new chapter to your lives!

    • Lauren on April 29, 2019 at 2:37 pm

      Absolutely Allen and you are welcome. So excited to watch all this unfold!

  4. Sandra on April 29, 2019 at 11:39 pm

    I very much like the new format of your newsletter. It feels warmer and more compelling to open.
    And thank you for sharing your story. It is such good news for everyone in your family and inspirational to me. Open hearts are so much easier said than done. . . Thanks for the reminder to keep considering our relationships.

    • Lauren on April 30, 2019 at 10:32 am

      Thank you so much Sandra. You are so right. It is amazing what open hearts can receive.

  5. Dana on April 30, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. When you turn a page in your life there is always a new page waiting to be descovered and to be lived.

    • Lauren on April 30, 2019 at 10:32 am

      Thanks Dana. Yes and so much to discover on that new page!

  6. Martha on April 30, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    That is such a touching story, Lauren. I shed a few tears reading it! Your patience and courage have paved the way for a very full and rewarding future for your family! What an inspiration you are to all of us.

    • Lauren on April 30, 2019 at 7:40 pm

      Thank you Martha-sorry for the tears 🙂 It was just too good of a story to keep to myself.

  7. traci reiser on April 30, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    Wow, what a heart-warning story. Brought tears to my eyes & made my heart feel like it could burst. I’m so happy for every single one of you sitting at that table (*and for the potential future humans that might one day be at the table with you). Thank you for sharing.

    • Lauren on April 30, 2019 at 7:39 pm

      You know Traci this has been so powerful for each of us in our own way. And will certainly impact future generations!

  8. Christina on April 30, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    What a wonderful new and exciting phase in life! Thank you for sharing!

    And I love the new format!

    • Lauren on April 30, 2019 at 7:38 pm

      So glad you like the new format and yes it is a really lovely new chapter.

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