Editing My Story

Though today marks only the 4th day of 2014, I seem to be on a new beginnings binge. That’s the best kind of binge, right? I’ve set my word of the year, I’ve signed up for a healthy food challenge and have also joined a 40 days of yoga group.  I’ve thrown my hat in the ring for some additional writing opportunities and am researching grad school options. Some would say I’m a bit manic about change at this time of year, but there is something joyous and freeing about a new calendar.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  Three times over the last week, I’ve come across blog posts or news articles about editing one’s personal story.  The first, from Martinus at 300 Pounds and Running, discussed the new focus of his blog and his fitness values.  The second, from a fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon blogger, Stephanie, discussed her pursuit of happiness and redefining herself in the new year.  Third, and finally, I stumbled across a story on NPR about the power of editing stories from your past in order to redefine their meaning. The NPR story drove home the idea that a message or phrase I have carried around with me could be changed if I simply edited my own story.

You might be wondering what needs editing in my life. After all, I just finished writing about how wonderful 2013 was for me.  And it was.  I’m far from ungrateful.  But, I carry an underlying story with me throughout life.  Whenever something negative happens, whenever I fail, whenever someone else fails me, I end up in the same awful place, repeating the same awful line:  “I’m never enough.” I’m writing this entry with my leg propped up on a chair, frozen bag of peas icing my knee, which is sore from yesterday’s manipulation at my doctor’s office .  I’m 72 hours out from an MRI to make sure I didn’t tear a ligament.  And all I can think to myself is “I’m not enough.” I trained well, I wore great shoes, I lifted weights, I cross trained. Hell, I set a personal record in every distance I ran this year. And yet, here I am. Hurting, questioning all of it. Never mind that injuries are often just a part of life. That elites get injured, that friends have been injured. I am never enough.

I know where this story started.  I have the beginning of the narrative.  I suppose that others might not know where their story begins, so perhaps I’m lucky in that regard.  My parents divorced when I was young, and somehow, as the oldest of the kids, I felt like it was me who my dad was rejecting when he walked out the door. And, as the years passed and he was more and more unreliable and unhealthy, I felt like it was me that he was giving up on.  Little did I know that it was himself he had given up on.  But, when we’re kids we tell ourselves irrational stories. My story just stuck, no matter how untrue it was. Fast forward to adult Jess and we get: Best friend let me down? I wasn’t enough for them. Boyfriend dumped me?  I wasn’t enough for him. Bad review at work?  I wasn’t working hard enough. Cue endless cycle of self-loathing, self-improvement and metaphorical gallons of bottled up hurt.

This year, I’m editing the story. Unfortunately, I’ve let that ugly three-word mantra rule my life for far too long. The simple reality is that other people may believe whatever they choose to believe. I’m going to continue to move to a place where I do not allow the unhappiness or choices of others to impact what I believe to be true about myself. I’m going to keep reaching out for new opportunities, keep exploring the world, keep moving forward. I’m going to heal from this injury, know that this is a temporary setback. And I’m going to practice, no matter how difficult it may seem, saying “I am enough.”