My sister left a few days ago after a really great visit. We went out, we visited with my kids and grand kids. We saw a show, did some shopping, ignored our diets and basically had some quality sister time.
It was fabulous.
We also talked about family. Hers, mine, and ours. For even though we have always referred to each other as ‘sister’ — we have different dads. Her father passed away when she was a kid and our mom remarried my father when my sister was 13. Three years later she was a fairly horrified junior in high school when the world found out our mother was pregnant (with me). Because back in 1959 no one wanted proof their mother was having sex with any one. But I digress.
The most enlightening bit of information she shared with me this visit was the fact our mother was a pretty awful cook.
Why is that so important? Let me tell you a story that was ‘feed’ to me my entire childhood.
Rumor had it I was an incredibly picky eater when I was a kid. I literally lived on mashed potatoes. Everyone knew it. Epic tales are told about it. My disgust of food was legend.
Then my mother died. My father’s cooking was completely awful and simply inedible. When I was home I survived on Banquet TV dinners. However, I would come to spend a great deal of time at my Aunt’s farm and I would eat any and everything the woman put in front of me. My Aunt was a fabulous cook.
I would also clean my plate any time I was invited over to any of my friend’s homes. The real telling note in my story is this — if I had ACTUALLY been a picky eater — I would never have voluntarily gone anywhere near Banquet TV dinners.
In my mind, I explained this sudden shift of taste buds to the fact that I must have been nearly starving after my mother’s death and had simply gone from ‘very picky eater’ to ‘always hungry waif’.
That wasn’t it at all. It wasn’t me. Ever.
Stop right here and ponder that for a minute.
It wasn’t ever me. I was never a picky eater. My mother was a bad cook.
No one ever told me that. My entire family of origin was happy to buy into the narrative that it was ME. I was the picky eater.
After talking with my sister, I wanted to make an appointment with my therapist just to let him in on the joke. Fifty eight years of my life I believed the lie I was told about who I was simply because the people who raised me said it was so. And they did it to protect their own shortcomings.
I was lucky to have my sisters, even though they are much older, who were in and out of my home life. They are able drop me some grounding pegs here and there. It helps to keep me in the reality of what went on back then, not just what the script in my head tells me. Because that script was written solely by my parents. Everyone’s script is written by the adults who raise them.
People will read this and think — It was only food, what’s the big deal? But don’t you see? I was brainwashed — as a child — to be the scapegoat. Until my mother died and my Aunt — who didn’t buy into that bullshit — told me I wasn’t. And guess what? I really wasn’t.
The light bulb went off over my head so loudly it completely shattered!
Here’s the take away:
What story about yourself did your family of origin tell you? What is it that doesn’t ‘fit’ Real You? Maybe there are many stories they told you. ‘Only children’ are particularly susceptible — I think — because you have no sibling witnesses there with you to help you sort out the fucked up shit. I’m willing to bet you have stuff about yourself and you believe with all your heart about who you are, or were as a kid but contains absolutely no truth.
Examine your narrative. Don’t be afraid to question and discard the stuff you find to be false. Your life is your story. You get to write it, you can edit out the content other people added. Don’t be afraid to get out your red pencil. You have the copyright on this life.
Read more about my Aunt here: