By Angela K. Rider
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott
I’ve spent a lot of my life in search of the truth. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a house of liars.
As a highly intuitive yet logical kid, it was confusing to know the truth of something about my family yet witness the stories told were contrary to the truth. Granted, storytelling as a family member has a lot to do with perception and perspective but it seems my family was especially skilled at manipulating even the evidence-based facts. In other words, the story I’m telling is that they were really good at lying. I say this because hearing my family members talk about their or my own story is like they are outright lying or at least attempting some sort of gas-lighting of my experiences.
I’ve had enough therapy to discern what family dynamics are “normal” and what are not. We’re somewhere in between the “every family has problems” to “good grief that is so f*cked up”. Understandably, some of these dysfunctional stories were created out of coping mechanisms. I get that; but there were also way too many outright acts of deceit, denial, and cover-up. And the collective lie we all were required to perpetuate was that everything was OK. It was very much, not OK.
Family stories can hold us hostage in arrested development and perpetual role-playing. They can continue to define us within our families and in our beliefs and behaviors in relationship with others. As a child, I played the self-preserving archetype role of Good Girl/Peacekeeper/Diplomat. As an adult I stopped interacting with my siblings and have limited engagement with my parents. I’m imagining their story would be that I’m selfish, a judgmental snob, and cold-hearted.
I don’t know and I don’t ask. What they think of me is not my business. My story is that I broke free from a situation and the stories that would have me continue to live the lie that everything is OK.
“We don’t see things as they are – we see them as we are.” – Attribution Unclear
My thoughts now are that life makes us all liars to some degree, especially as a coping and survival mechanism. Even in safe and healthy families, learning the finesse and kindness of a white lie and the discernment of when it’s safe to call out a lie can be effective training for negotiating the bigger distortions of truth in society and how we are socialized.
I don’t actually go around looking at the world through liar-pants-on-fire detecting-lenses. To the contrary, I’m more optimistic and Pollyanna-ish than the exposé of my family liar-laundry would indicate. I share this perspective because there’s powerful healing in the telling of our history and our stories as we experienced and see them.
Our stories can inspire others and connect us, as well as hold us accountable. We all want to be heard, witnessed, and to some degree have our truth validated especially if we had to hide our truth to keep ourselves safe. Telling our truth by sharing our stories can release us from the fear of consequences and the shame of lies. It can also free us to be more than the roles we became in reaction to or because of what happened to us.
My current truth-seeking is in looking to reveal and break free of the stories under the stories that keep me stuck and limited. Not just the arrested development stories that would continue to define me as who I used to be — I’m also trying to uncover the stories about myself that I’ve absorbed from others.
I want to see what is true for me right now without my history and the subconscious influences that would have me censor or limit myself. I also want to see where I’m interacting with others based on some story I’m projecting about them or onto them. Truth and freedom for all.
Image: Angela K. Rider
Angela K. Rider is a retired medical scientist. “That fact is often surprising for those that only know me through my work and blog at SensibleMystic.com,” she says. “I’m seeking my truth while helping others find theirs through my gifts as a Psychic, Intuitive Guide, and Empath. I live and work in beautiful and famously weird Portland, Oregon. It’s a great place to express the diversity of my interests, talents, and skills in my work and life.”
Editor’s note: In a small community of 10 townhouse owners, Lori and I are happy to say we hit the jackpot when Angela and husband Doug moved in to the unit next to ours. Angela is a frequent cat sitter for us and our brown tabby Mabel couldn’t be happier.
Tomorrow: “Have attitude, will travel” by Leroy Metcalf