Colleen M. Doumeng
How do you tell your life stories?
If you have anything to tell me of importance, for God’s sake begin at the end.
- Sara Jeanette Duncan
Have you had the experience of meeting someone for the first time or even someone you may know for a long time and the story of their life goes on and on?
I was just having this conversation with a dear friend the other day. We were sharing about people asking us in a significant health challenge, “how are you” and how we respond. Depends. Some of us give every detail, while some of us have figured out the healing value of making the story shorter.
I remember having to figure this shorter story telling response out when my husband, a local shop owner, was suddenly injured. One day the shop was open and next day closed. And, he was in the hospital for quite awhile.
As I moved about the community or answered the phone, naturally people were genuinely concerned - some about Rene, some about their jewelry and some about me. Lots of talking during a time when personally I didn’t really feel up to talking. It was emotionally draining for me to respond. And in the beginning I know my responses probably felt like I was pouring Niagara Falls over them. I could actually see them recoil. I was living big lessons in self awareness and awareness of others around me.
One of the most important self care practices I did at that time though was showing up regularly to talk to my therapist. He was the person I would tell the long stories too. Every detail, all of my fears. Eventually and within these sessions, I learned the value in shortening my story response so I could begin to heal.
Why was this so important to me?
Because I knew, and I credit my daily meditation practice for this self awareness, that every single time I told our story I was reinforcing its hold on our life in a negative way. I could “physically” feel as I told our story over and over deep fear and the physiological response. Within seconds of speaking out loud I would invoke my self preservation response to an ego threat ~ the fight flight response. Every time! And he had a lot of customers so I remained in acute stress all day! My heart would race, palms sweat, my breath got shallow and I needed to get to a bathroom. Plus, I could see the power of my ripple from the words I spoke. Not good.
My desire to shorten my story response was not because I was in denial of my feelings or denial of what my husband was enduring. To the contrary. I continued to show up everyday to meditate despite not wanting to because I knew I had to turn towards my fear and face it in order to heal, learn and grow from it (which I did!) And, every single day I was surrounded by fearless angels capable of listening to the longer story. Not many but always, always just enough. The right people showed up everyday and everywhere. These angels helped me progress forward and towards my healing.
My bottom line.
In learning how to create a shorter, concise and kind response to each inquiry I was able to let go of what no longer served me. And, meditation, my courage and my discipline to turn inward literally saved my life.
My shorter story version paved the way for our emotional, physical and spiritual healing and became the seed for our rebirth into the new life we both wanted and know is our birthright.
Ps. My beloved, Rene, is healthy, happy and thriving. And, this picture was taken shortly after his rehab one morning where we meditated on top of the holy sacred space in Israel, Masada, right after he led the charge to the top! Makes me smile every time I see it!