As humans, it's natural to create stories in our day to day lives. A friend doesn't return a phone call--create a story. Someone becomes distant who once was close--spin a tale about the why. Most of what we tell ourselves is harmless, but when we use those stories to justify our own bad behavior or give us excuses, the spin becomes dangerous.
I know I've been guilty of this over the course of my life. As an author, I'm always creating stories--writing fiction--so my imagination is ripe. There are times when I need to tell myself, "stop it, this is real life, you need facts, save the creating for work." I've gotten good at stopping myself from writing stories in my mind about real life situations by asking myself, "is this true? do you know that it's true? are you absolutely certain it's true?" Usually the third question trips me up and I stop my mind from spinning.
A situation happened last week, though, that's got the wheels turning again. Someone I considered a good friend had become distant over the past three or four months. When I confronted her about that and some things I'd heard that caused me to question trust, her response was "I don't owe you an explanation."
That floored me...not because I want people to be accountable to me because that is NOT the case (and I honestly could care less about "controlling" anyone else when I have a hard enough time controlling my own life)...but because we were talking about a relationship where I thought there was give and take. I also wanted to stop the story telling of my own mind and get to the root of the issue in order to hopefully move the relationship forward.
In her mind, however, the story she's created is that I wanted to control the relationship by making her defend her choices. That makes me sad because that was never my intent and I would hate to ever make anyone feel that way. But that is the story she has spun in her head. I forgive that. I get it.
I understand stories. They get us in trouble sometimes, lead us astray, distort facts and fog our thinking.
My inlaws think I'm the reason Sean killed himself. From what I've heard from other widows of suicide victims, this is common. The parents of the deceased need to create a story about the why--right or wrong and regardless of fact--they need that spin to protect themselves.
It's hard to combat someone's story. A family member told me things about ME that never happened, but he believes it with a passion that's astounding. Even though it's my life he's talking about, he believes what he "knows" regardless of what I say. His story gives him comfort in some way--provides a pay off that I don't understand.
But I'm sure I have stories, too, that wouldn't pass my three question rule. Stories about why I didn't move when I wanted to and now regret it...about why I didn't get that exercise in today that I swore I would do...about why I don't date...and so on. But I'm getting better at challenging myself when I hear my mind go off on a spin..."is this true? do you know that it's true? are you absolutely certain it's true?"
That third one gets me every time.
About Moxie Girl Musings
Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com