Posts Tagged ‘perspective’

What’s my story? It’s mine.

 Owning our story

Picture of card with text:  “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” Dr. Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection.

For quite a while, when I saw a quote about owning my story, I would cringe. While I knew that Brené Brown and others meant well by this concept and phrase, it would remind me of a time when people asked me, “What can you own in this situation?” or “What’s your story?” (and story as in “what is the story you’re telling yourself about this situation?”)

I realize now that in some ways, these questions and statements from others may have been more about their perspective and their narrative of me, as in “I think you’re not taking ownership” or “I don’t think that’s what really happening,” etc. It wasn’t my narrative, it wasn’t my story.

We are makers of meaning, and sometimes the stories we tell ourselves about a situation or others are narratives based on something else entirely – belief, a past event, a judgment, etc. These kind of stories are informative in their own way. For me, I think the question, “Why do you think that?” provokes more thought, more discussion than a “what’s your story?” I remember reading Brené Brown’s Rising Strong, and she has a chapter where she gets angry at her husband, and realizes that it relates to a dream she had the previous night. She tells her husband, “the story I’m telling myself is…” And in doing so, she opens up, she opens up another level of honesty, part of how she thinks and how it causes her to react. And I recognize that she is the one claiming this, just as much as she claims her vulnerability and her truth in other circumstances that may appear more tangible.

Going back to the time about 3 years ago, when someone asked me the question, “What’s your story?” I felt volatile, vulnerable. I wanted support; I often got invalidating comments back. I was headed towards rock bottom, and it wasn’t a helpful question for me. It wasn’t a “where are you, how are you feeling, what’s happening for you when you say that?” I often grabbed onto sense and it feel through my fingers; communication was challenging, figuring out where I was and where I stood and how to make a coherent decision felt next to impossible. If my self had a narrative it had been wrapped around a goal, and now that I know longer wanted that, I felt like I was unraveling, as though I didn’t have a story.

My narrative of myself then was different: I felt like I had a number of successes, a number of times where I would rise to the occasion, and then I would crash: my energy, self-esteem, sense of self. I often blamed myself. I didn’t fully know what was going on, but every time I fell I got up again and tried harder. Several years ago, I wrote a lot about my personal growth; when I read it now, it doesn’t ring true to me. Nevertheless, I believed that narrative, and there are pieces of it that certainly held value for me.

When sensory processing disorder became part of my narrative, my perspective on the past changed. It wasn’t a story about trying and failing in the same sense anymore, or about my behavior – it was about the underlying cause that I once had no words for. It was about trying to voice what was going on and people labeling it as something else, a narrative based on misunderstanding. I’ve been working my way, on my own terms, towards understanding, and having compassion for the years of not knowing.

I think owning one’s story is about claiming what resonates personally. It’s about telling my story from my own perspective and allowing the details, as nitty gritty as they may be, to come to the surface.

And, of course, other people can say things to me or about me, and give perspective or feedback that can help me tell my own story. But there are ways to do that without wrenching the narrative away.

In the end, perhaps owning my story is taking the reigns of my narrative for myself; shedding the assumptions and projections; finding what is true for me in the moment, deciphering what is not.

What’s my story?
It’s mine. And I’m still in the process of telling it.


Vision therapy update: Welcoming depth

When I learned I had poor depth perception at my first binocular vision exam last year, I was surprised. “But I do see in 3-D!”

My developmental optometrist, who had gone through vision therapy herself, told me about her experience as she went through the program: “I knew that noses stuck out of faces. But one day, I was like, ‘Wow, noses really do stick out of faces!'”

While I’ve noticed quite a few changes, including feeling more at ease with driving in and greater awareness of objects in my peripheral vision, I hadn’t experienced something like that…until now.

I’m guessing that this has been happening gradually, that this change isn’t as sudden as it seems. But yesterday in my session, I was describing to my occupational therapist about an experience I had the night before, after doing my vision therapy homework: I was reading a book, and it was as if the page had depth, like the words lifted slightly away from the page. And I was a little unnerved, thinking, pages don’t have depth, they have spacing. After reviewing similar exercises during our appointment, I was looking at and out the window, and it was as if the windowsill were moving slightly toward me, and like everything else gained a little more definition, perspective, dimension. Foreground and background gained deeper meaning. I looked at my OT and noticed how the light hit the side of her head, defining the soft roundness there.

When I realized what was happening, my nervous system freaked out. I startled and  felt tears come to my eyes. This visual stimuli felt like so much, and so new.

Today, I’m continuing to notice the greater dimension of the world around me. I find it fascinating at moments, and unsettling at others. I thought I was seeing the world in a certain way, and perhaps to a certain extent, I was…but not like this. In drawing classes, I learned about shadows and perspective and how to create the impression of depth. Intellectually, I understood it. In reality, it looks like I was missing a vital part of the visual piece – I knew what I should see, but perhaps I didn’t actually see it that way.

I stop myself at moments, to close my eyes briefly or to do a quick grounding exercise. I want to savor my growing depth perception, and at the same time, I don’t want to overwhelm my system.

Now, I want to share my experience, to ask: Do you know how that shadow defines the side of your nose? Or how that round wire [for beading/wire wrapping] is actually really round? Have you noticed the intricacies of the weave of that pillow, without touching it? When you look at that cloud, do you see its depth, how the different shades of white and grey make it look like a fortress in the sky?

Deciding to live again: How Nia helped me step back into being.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness month.  In honor of that, I plan to post what helped me decide that I wanted to live again.  I hope to write a series of posts.  This is the first.

Sometimes, I think it sounds flippant to say Nia saved my life.

In any case, it has definitely played a major part in healing my body, mind, and spirit.

I am a survivor, a dreamer, a sensitive spirit. I have wanted to live and feel strongly and passionately, and there have been times where I wanted to give up everything so I would no longer feel so much pain.  In the spring of 2014, I hit rock bottom.

Last summer, I was severely depressed, and trying to put distance between myself and the week I spent in the psychiatric hospital in the late spring.

For weeks, Nia was the only thing that would get me out of bed on a consistent basis.  I would wake up, blurry eyed and sad-hearted to make it to an 8 a.m. Nia class three times a week. The dance studio was the first place where I gave myself permission to smile again.

When I stepped onto the dance floor,
I did not think of myself as suicidal, lost, a failure.
I was simply myself, each step bringing me back into being. My fellow dancers welcomed me, no questions asked, with open arms.

I am now a year older, a Nia White Belt, and learning a routine to teach.  I am still discovering how to live in a way that works for me.

Nia is definitely part of that equation.

A Snapshot: Releasing through Movement

Nia quote

A snapshot from this morning: I’m lying down on the floor in my Nia class. I have finally caught my breath after an invigorating practice. I have tears in my eyes. I feel vulnerable.

It is now one month before I begin my training for my White Belt, the first stage of training that will certify me to teach, if I wish. In any case, it will certainly deepen my experience of Nia. It is just over a year since I first walked into a Nia classroom. While I had found my roots in dance before that moment, I immediately felt like Nia was my home for movement. It has become a source of strength, fitness, community, and overall well-being.

When I cry when I dance, I don’t usually know why. I can follow my train of thoughts, but often they just lead me to an explanation based on rumination. Today, tears came with sweeping movements when I bent over, and then a chakra alignment sound exercise on the floor.

Sometimes it is challenging for me to release blocked or stuck emotions. I tend to carry emotions and experiences for quite a while, and it feels like they can build up like debris inside my psyche and my body. Sometimes when I release them, like I did this morning, I don’t realize how much I was holding onto until afterwards.

Instead of asking questions, which can feel like reaching for what I was carrying, I take a deep breath.  And I let go.

Friday link roundup 6/12

Storm Haruki Murakami Quote

On how forcing a child to hug someone might affect them. I appreciate this from a feminist perspective. I also appreciate this because, as a child, I often backed away if people I barely knew tried to hug me. My parents didn’t force the issue. I’m really glad they didn’t.

As the Women’s World Cup goes on: On Marta Neymar, one of the best soccer players in the world, and how she struggles to find a financially solvent team to play on.

I found this perspective on fitness refreshing.

This article explores whether back pain is more of a Western cultural phenomenon, and why people in indigenous cultures may have fewer back problems.

Ever feel like other people (primarily men) are taking up too many seats or too much space on public transportation? A woman reflects on her problem-solving techniques to address this issue.