Sunday, February 26, 2017

Re-membering Our Life Stories
"How will our children know who they are if they don't know where they came from?" 

I remember once hearing a story on NPR of a someone using a table saw who accidentally cut off one of his fingers. The severed body part flew off into the corner of his shop among scraps of wood, sawdust and other debris. After he managed to stop the bleeding he and his family looked frantically for the missing member of his body so they could take it with them to the hospital to have it reattached.

Remembering is something like that. Sometimes an important part of us becomes lost, for some reason becomes dis-membered. Perhaps our parents or others have intentionally hidden some part of our family’s story from us, kept it a secret. Or maybe we’ve just plain forgotten certain things from failing to review parts of our story. Or maybe we have willfully cut off some painful part of our past we simply don’t want to deal with, or some relationship we no longer want to be a part of.

But cutting ourselves off from parts of our past can be like losing a body part, a member of ourselves. In re-membering we are re-attaching, e-connecting, so that healing and growth can take place.

I often recommend that my clients construct a genogram, a kind of ancestral chart that locates the key players in their ongoing family story. This becomes like a playlist of characters in their drama, men and women who have all in some way impacted who they are, not only genetically, but through their influence on their family narrative, for better or for worse.

The more we can learn about the stories of all of these fascinating characters, the better we can know and understand ourselves, and the better choices we can make about consciously selecting what parts of the story we want to celebrate--and pass on--and what parts we want to remember as reminders of valuable lessons to be learned.

Far better to embrace the story, to own it as it really is, than to seek to distance ourselves from it and thus give it ever more power to impact us in ways we may not even realize.
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