And which are true? Neither.
Both of these stories: They are mine. And really, we all have two stories. We are heroine and villain. Champion and victim. Victor and loser. Damsel in distress and warrior princess.
We are all things, all at once. And lord knows, since my divorce, how I flip-flop between both. So often unsure about which side is up. Unable to tell what is real and what's the truth.
DIVORCE STORY ONE:
At the end of an inbound flight after a long business trip, her phone dinged. A message from the husband, requesting divorce. There was no saving it. He had changed. She had changed.
So she tip-toed toward the open door, afraid to say anything that would stop it all from happening. And soon, it was over. Years of marriage, everything they'd built, gone. Poof, annihilated. Suddenly, she was alone. Alone in parenting. Alone in money earning. Alone in the carpool lane. Alone in bed. Alone and terrified. Alone with a growing awareness that the life of a single mom is neither glamorous or desirable.
It's gritty and sacrificial. Too much to do. Too many people to care for. Not enough time. Nowhere to turn. No one who wants in. The last on the totem pole in most men's dating minds. What had once been seen as a wide-open arena for reinventing herself, appeared to be only a landscape of devastation. A minefield of solitude. A confusing and empty and void future, filled with uncertainty and desertion.
Loss was all she could see, all she could feel, all she could find. Day in and day out, treading water, spinning, shrinking, embarrassment, exhaustion, unsuret-y, and so on and so on.
DIVORCE STORY TWO:
The day he requested divorce was the day the light broke through. A future so full of anything but this was a welcome change from the day-to-day monotony that had become their relationship.
He left, she stayed. He stopped working, she worked harder. From the barren landscape of her life, she built a business, ground up. Gathered her children around her, showing them that good days and bad days both come and we face them with eyes and heart wide open.
We rest when we're tired. We take deep and cleansing breaths often. And we never get too hung up when our stories stray from the supposed-to-be narratives we once made up in our heads.
She proved herself scrappy, for she could smile with only 40 cents in her bank account.
She proved herself gritty, for she could stare at terror and smack it upside the head with creative solution.
She proved herself bigger and stronger and more capable than even she herself had ever believed. Such happens when you're handed a life you didn't ask for. After all, we all only ask for the easy life.
So being handed the hard life is gift. And she took that gift, and tied a bow on it, day after day, month after month, year after year. Because it was hers, and she was going to make damn good use of the present.
So which story is it? Which is true? The answer: neither.
Because true stories don't follow proper plot lines.
Because real people cannot be captured with paragraphs and quick quips.
Because true life is riddled with a wild swirling of everything. Grey spots and down days, complex and complicated thoughts and feelings and circumstances, weeds and wildflowers. Ebbs and flows and flux and stuckedn-ess.
So stop telling yourself your story. Stop worrying about what your plot looks like or what it's supposed to be or how it comes across at cocktail parties. Because you are not the storyteller. You are the story maker.
And where you've been doesn't much matter.
And who did what doesn't change the fact that today it's you who gets to.
And the forward motion you have yet to make will take you to places you can't even imagine today.
So step. Walk. Breathe. Rest. Rejoice. Cry. Feel. Fear. Wait. Go. Celebrate. Weep. Wonder. Forgive. Try. Fail. Forget. Discover. Move. Run. Be. Live. Fly.
And my god. Stop judging yourself. Stop measuring yourself. Stop defining yourself by fiction. Stop getting stopped up by sh*t that you made up.
Stop thinking that your self-centered, first person perspective is a true reflection of the wonderful, colorful, living, breathing, evolving creature that is you.
Stop with the storytelling. And move forward with the story making. The end. But actually, the beginning.
This article was originally published at Facebook. Reprinted with permission from the author.