I’m going to tell you two stories. Both are true.
Recently I lost everything. My wife, my family, my home.
I experienced my heart break as 12 years of marriage crumbled because I couldn’t do enough to save it.
I failed the person I had pledged to spend my life with. I couldn’t fix her or support her enough. I couldn’t make her love me.
My dog was taken from me. I watched the light fade from his eyes in front of me and I knew we would never go for a walk or ride in the car again.
My lovely house in the suburbs belongs to someone else now while I rent a small unit on my own.
Recently my life changed.
I’ve moved from one chapter to the next. Through the lens of kindness and compassion I saw that it was time for my marriage to come to an end for the good of both my wife and I.
I gave as wholeheartedly as I could for 12 years and formed a bond with another person that will never be broken. With courage I accepted a friendship and moved on from a marriage that didn’t work.
I loved my dog with all my heart and soul. I gave him warmth, shelter and food in his senior years. He never went without every comfort he deserved, we shared a million wonderful moments every day. When the time came he passed gently his paws in our hands, laying on soft bed knowing he was loved. It was my privilege to know such a gentle and forgiving soul.
I am free of debt and obligation. I am free to travel, or not, and can live where I choose.
Both these stories are true. Which one I choose to tell myself, and others, defines my experience.
The first leaves me feeling broken, lonely and sad.
The second fills me with warmth, love, sadness and hope.
Of course sadness is present in both stories. Being sad isn’t a bad thing – in some ways it’s a measure of your capacity to feel.
Would you rather feel broken and lonely or warm, loved and hopeful?
How you tell your story has power. Yesterday I told the first story to myself and I spent the day trying to hide my tears at work. The pain of it was almost unbearable.
Today I’ll tell the second story. It still hurts, I’m still sad but I have hope. I am grateful for the love that has been in my life and will be in my life again. I am grateful for the opportunities that I have now.
I choose to tell the story of what I have learned not what I have lost. I choose to tell the stories of the doors that have opened not the ones that have closed.
In my sadness and vulnerability I know I have courage. I have no shame, only gratitude.
Think about your own story.
How do you tell it? How does that define you? How else could you tell it?