I believe that everybody has a story.
I believe this because I have my very own unique and individual story.
My story is complex. I assume that yours is too.
I didn’t always have that assumption.
I’m sharing this idea with you because you may be holding onto that idea that your life is complex due to your unique story and I’m here to offer you permission to let that go.
The reason you may want to let that go is because when we let that go then we open ourselves up to find people to share our experiences with and I believe this is part of the path to happiness. At least, for me this was definitely part of my journey.
Private versus Secret
One of the things that’s interesting to me about our stories is that the people we know in real life they know parts of our stories. Usually the only one who knows our entire story is ourselves.
We don’t really think about this. We only know the portion of people’s lives that they choose to share.
If your kids and my kids are in the same school then you know that about me.
If you and I run together then you know that about me.
But you may not know anything else. You may not know about my parents, where I grew up, things that I may just have happened at another time or things that we may choose to keep private.
As humans we compartmentalize our lives and how we present ourselves in this way. This can be okay.
I generally value the ability to have things kept private.
Secrets can make life more difficult
Secrets on the other hand — feel different. These to me are things we feel like we cannot or are not allowed to share.
Secrets in my experience are often not all that helpful because we may feel isolated and alone because nobody else knows this about us.
We may have very good reasons to keep things secret. Secrets are not always bad.
I have learned that when you are keeping something secret it can sometimes make our life experience more difficult.
One of the reasons is that because you keep it a secret it is much harder for others to know of your experience in order to help you and it’s harder for you to find others with similar circumstances to feel less alone.
For a big part of my life I felt like I needed to keep some things secret.
In my case I was keeping these things secret because I had been told to do that. This was not something tough to uncover for me. My mom has a mental illness. My dad and all the other adults in my life that knew this strongly encouraged me to keep it to myself.
They did this for a lot of very well-intentioned reasons. There are still tremendous stigmas around mental illness.
I was told to keep this a secret. So I did.
There were times as a kid that I needed help and didn’t ask for it because of this secret. That pretty much sucked. The other thing that happened was that as a kid and young adult I carried an impression that I was different from everybody else in a negative way.
I allowed myself to think that my life was harder and that I was less-than because of this secret story.
I would later discover that I wasn’t quite as unique as I thought. When I made that discovery boy oh boy did my life improve. Which is part of why I share this story.
I carried this around like a weight. Only I didn’t know I was carrying it because I had always been carrying it. I didn’t realize the impact of this until I began to set the weight down.
I talk to people every day who feel that they may be less worthy as adults because they are stepparents or because they are a part of a blended family and this is what I help with.
Blended families are not unusual. Stepparents are not less-worthy.
Do you know about Brene Brown?
I remember years ago I watched a Brene Brown talk on youtube.
If you don’t know her ideas let me introduce you real quick.
Brene Brown is a professor in Texas she’s a prolific author and speaker on the topics of vulnerability, shame and I think leadership.
Two of her most well known books are Daring Greatly and Dare to Lead. You may have read those.
Brene Brown shares deep personal stories from her own life but she is open that she doesn’t share everything. I’ve never actually met Brene but I learned from her the idea that – people have to “earn” the right to know parts of your story.
I think that’s brilliant. It is a big decision to decide who we will trust with the most private parts of our story.
Anyway, as I listened to her give this uplifting presentation it was like a box opened up inside me. The box opened not only because fo the words but because as they showed her speech they showed the audience. The audience of this presentation other people were there in understanding. They were nodding they were crying they were agreeing. It was like something unclicked inside of me that was this realization that I was not unusual for having things in my past. Other people also had their very own stories.
This is one of the most amazing things about our modern life that we can now search the whole globe for people who share our experiences and connect. It’s amazing.
Today, I have a different understanding. I am not alone because I have a story. Everyone has a story.
I’ve got one – you’ve got one- it’s like when Oprah does giveaways “story for you, and you and you”
I don’t actually need to know your story to know that you have one.
There are parts of my personal story that are very dramatic and there may be parts of your story that are dramatic too. Or there may not.
One thing that’s significant for me is that I go through my life with an understanding that everybody has a story and it impacts how they behave.
If you want to share your story with me you can.
Part of my personal journey has been my experience of discovering how wonderful it is to release the burden of holding secrets and shame. For me personally, this was part of learning how to enjoy my life more and if I can help you with that let me know.
It takes trust to share things with others.
When we share our stories that’s one way that people know that they can talk to us.
When I raise my hand and say I am a stepmom then you know you can come and talk to me about being a stepparent. When I share that I’m a life coach then you know you can ask me about coaching.
As we live our lives we may also choose to intentionally shift and change how we present and if our pasts hold unpleasant things we may not choose to share some of those things.
If you post a beautiful photo of yourself and your family on vacation on social media – you usually don’t choose the photos that look bad.
As step-parents and parents, we may choose to tell others about our kids achievements and not when they mess up or don’t do well.
We all know the bad side of this … right?
This sometimes creates a situation where we feel like others have a better and easier life than we do.
That is almost always false.
Even if we know this we need to constantly remind ourselves of this. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of believing that we are different and that because we have stories or we don’t look like a Norman Rockwell painting that there is something wrong or less than of us.
Everybody has a story.
It takes trust to share your story with others.
Knowing who you can trust can be really tough.
Two reasons I’m talking about this today. One is to encourage you to find somebody to support you if you know you have been carrying the burden of a story and the second is to encourage you to always keep in mind that all the people you meet have their own stuff that they are dealing with. Always.
We don’t have to tell everybody our stories. You don’t have to grab a microphone and list your deepest darkest fears to the world.
I was once at a happy hour where a woman told me the very recent story of her boyfriend throwing a chair at her. She said, I feel like I can talk to you. I feel like it’s important that I share my truth. I have always been a person that people like to share their experiences with and I’m careful with that trust. Although telling strangers at a social event your private information is perhaps not my recommendation for how to find a trustworthy helper.
It is very helpful to have somebody you trust to share the weight of your story with.
Secrets and stories can be very heavy. In my experience you may not realize the impact that keeping a secret or not having a support team can have. You don’t know how heavy it is until you set it down.
How can you know who to trust?
Figuring out who to trust with our emotional and family experiences and stories can be tough and it can be scary.
It’s very helpful to find people with a connection to our experience to share with.
I am a stepmom. When you talk to me about your experiences with co parenting and custody schedules and meal drama and kid swaps and holidays. I may not have the exact same experiences as you but I’ve walked a similar path.
Sometimes we want to share our experiences with friends and family for support and this can sometimes be helpful but more often not.
The reason is that most of our friends don’t actually know how to support us in this journey. Instead of support, validation and tools to make things better they may offer judgment and well intentioned but sometimes unhelpful advice.
And even if we find people who have shared our experience like other people in blended families when we share our experiences with them sometimes that isn’t helpful either. When we want support and ideas for improvement we may just find a whole lot of people complaining about how hard it is.
I am in a lot of stepparent online communities and it can be depressing because when people sometimes ask for support what they will get is answers like “this is why I left” or “this life is the hardest.”
Look for helpers who will help you get where you want to go.
There was a time when I was unsure of my path as a stepmom an adult in a blended family and I was very thankful to anybody who was an example of ways to make it work. If you are looking for help to make it work and to be happier you will want people who want to help you with that.
I think it’s a good idea to look for helpers who want to help you reach the goal that you want.
If you want to get a divorce a divorce lawyer is a good choice but if you want to be happy in your blended family that same divorce lawyer may not be the best helper.
I am happy in my blended family. My family is complex and I’ve had plenty of challenges but my goal as a life coach is to I help adults in blended families create a family life they love and be happier. I have a 6-week process that I call “chaos to calm” and a 6 month process I call “Creating your Camelot.”
How can you find helpers?
You want somebody you can understand, somebody who is trained with skills to help and somebody who is offering their help for you to achieve your goal.
When you are sick you go to a doctor not a garden store. At the garden store they won’t know how to help. You go to a doctor because they have the training.
We share private health information with doctors because they see lots of patients and this is the information they need and we trust them to handle it appropriately.
I’m a life coach. I have been trained as a life coach. It is true that there are no official rules about the necessary training for life coaches. I did personally seek out training from the best coach I knew and went through a training process. When I tell you that I’m a life coach I do this so that you have information to decide if you think I’m a good person to help you in your situation.
You are more than just your story
I believe that everybody has a story.
I believe that deeply because I know I have my own story.
I am who I am in part because of the experiences I’ve had and the amazing privilege that really is all the support, education and tools I’ve received in my life.
I also know that I’m more than my story. Which means to me that I know that you are more than your story.
I don’t have to know you or even to know your story to know that you may have a story in your past that impacts a lot of the decisions you make and have made in your life.
I believe that the things, and people and events that happen in our lives shape who we are and how we are able to show up.
I believe that each day we have the chance to work on ourselves to build and create the lives that we desire for ourselves and our families.
If you are in a blended family and you would like to know how life coaching can help and support you reach out.