We all have stories within us. Most of us have many stories.
What are the stories we tell ourselves about love and relationships?
Are you someone who tells yourself that all the good relationships happen to other people?
Do you think that you will never find The One?
Do you spend hours looking at other people’s relationships and wonder how they manage to achieve happiness and security when you find that so hard to do?
Are you on endless websites and apps looking for dates but then hardly ever go on them – after all, you tell yourself they are bound to be a disaster and what type of man/woman will want you anyway?
Do you live in a fantasy land where everything will come right in the end yet you are doing nothing right now to ensure that outcome happens?
Do you feel as if your life is on hold and that you are waiting for ‘that’ person to come along and kick-start it?
If you are then maybe it’s worth how the story you tell yourself about your life might need to change.
Sometimes it’s quite difficult to know what our main story is and yet, somewhere along the line, it’s important to know what stories define us. I only fully realised my life’s tale when I was at my Uncle’s funeral last year. As I sat with my siblings in the pub after the service, I realised that a lot of people were looking at us. There was a general murmur going on. Then one of the men, a very handsome and dapper man in his 80s, came over and said to me ‘are you all Patrick’s children?’
That’s when it hit me. I am nearly 51, over half a century old, yet there I was defined, as part of me always seems to have been defined, as the child of my father.
My father was one of those men; quixotic, clever, popular, funny, highly successful but also an alcoholic. He died 17 years ago, aged only 61, of alcohol-related illnesses. Yet there I was all these years later, still being ‘Patrick’s daughter’ and I loved it. It made me feel special and important.
Yet it has also meant it has been hard for me to find a partner. If you are always a ‘daughter’, how do you become a wife? How does any mere mortal man square up to the memory of my father, even though he was a very tricky human being?
But recently I have been thinking about why I need this story and whether it serves me very well.. This story has, to a certain extent, prevented me from fully growing up and taking responsibility for my actions. I have had to accept the fact that I am not just my father’s daughter. I am me, an adult.
In order to love someone and be fully loved we need to be grown-ups.
Love is a choice. Showing up for a relationship is a choice.
If we hide behind our ‘stories’ we may never move out of our comfort zones.
In the past, it was more comfortable for me to stay single, to keep in my own misery. I told myself that real love would never happen to me. It was only when I realised that I needed to really look at what this story was doing for me and how I could put it back in the past where it belonged that I was able to let a man in to my life.
So, we all need stories.
In this way, I encourage my clients to think about their own stories and whether or not these stories are still working for them.
Is the idea that we are ‘unloveable’ a hang-over from our childhood? There are many times we need stories to make sense of things, just as we did when we were children, and to keep us safe however sometimes our stories keep us stuck. For me, I had to look at what my story was doing for me and I worked out that, in many ways, it was reducing me rather than enhancing my life.
We grow into ourselves and who we are. All those stories are with us and alongside us but they don’t need to define us. We can hold them close and honour them and thank them for the role they have played in our lives and how they are woven in to the tapestry of our very beings. And then we can move on and find other stories, ones that suit us more than those in the past. That story – believe it or not! – can include being loved and loving in return.
by Lucy Cavendish