I had two older brothers whom I adored and idolised. I’ve still got them. One has lost his wonderful singing voice and the other has lost his mind. Please don’t tell him about his mind though. He thinks he’s me and that would be his worst nightmare.
They are nine and twelve years older than I am, and so you can imagine what it must have felt like, having just learned about the birds and the bees, to find that your parents had done something mysterious and rude to produce them a sibling. Little wonder they found me to be an embarrassment on one hand and a replacement as the new darling on the other.
How did I feel?
I wanted to be with them.
I wanted to be like them.
I wanted to have black wavy hair and blue eyes like them.
I wanted to wear blue suede shoes like them.
Hey! I wanted to BE them.
Not having any …
They made it clear by their turns of phrase that they were having none of it.
Some examples are called for
ME: What are you doing, Freddie?
FRED: Minding my own business. How about you try it?
ME: Where are you going, Jimmy?
JIM: There and back to see how far it is.
ME: How long will you be?
FRED: ‘slong as it takes.
FRED: Same length as I am now.
ME: What are you going to get at the shop?
JIM: A wigwam for a goose’s bridle.
ME: Where’s Mummy, Freddie?
FRED: Up in Nana’s room behind the clock.
ME: Can I come too?
JIM: Pretend you’re a bee and buzz off.
ME: Look at what I can do now.
FRED: Don’t be a show-off.
What did that do to me?
It left me with a few scars I suppose.
No doubt it made me look for approval from anyone and everyone.
No doubt it made me feel rejected all over again when someone dismissed me.
No doubt it drove me to seek attention.
No doubt (to my detriment I freely admit with some shame) it led me to value sarcasm, put-downs and teasing as a normal way of life. But hey, I am nice to cats and I like ice creams on a stick.
More deeply though it gave me a life-time to work out my own story. I’m no Robinson Crusoe on that island though, am I?
We are the sum total of our stories
We collect everything we see, hear and experience. We can’t help it. There’s this blob of grey pudding in our head that grasps at life with insatiable avarice.
From early days we build up a dossier of stories to which we add our own meaning and that dossier is our unique secret CV.
We hear other people’s stories, funny, sad, true or false and store up our impressions and responses and those meanings become the stories that inform our own values and beliefs.
We observe other people’s experiences; ventures, misfortunes, accidents, victories and we add meaning to them so they too become stories to build our expectations, beliefs and values.
We have our own experiences; ventures, misfortunes, accidents, victories and we add meaning to how they turn out, and those meanings also become the stories that inform our expectations, beliefs and values, you know; doubts, fears, prejudices and biases.
We are brilliant storytellers
We tell ourselves stories day in and day out. We are really convincing too; persuasive, definite, adamant, intentional.
And it’s the truth that most of the stories we tell ourselves are out-and-out rubbish — nonsense, rhubarb, lies, fantasies and balderdash.
- ‘I can’t because …’
- ‘I don’t think like that …’
- ‘I wouldn’t dare …’
- ‘If I tried that I’d …’
- ‘I fail at things because …’
- ‘With my bad luck …’
- ‘XYZ doesn’t work …’
- ‘What would people say if I failed …’
- ‘What if I lost all my … ‘
- ‘I think the reason I didn’t … is because I am …’
- ‘My mother was no good with money so … ‘
- ‘People in my family never succeed at …’
Maybe you could get me to help you discover your story.
Maybe you could get me to help you write your story.
Maybe you could get me to help you deliver your story.
I’m here and I don’t bite. Call me. 0403 181 368