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Words Create Worlds

For me, words like purple-hulled peas take me back to my grandmother, wearing a dress and apron, cooking in the kitchen. I cannot hear the word train without thinking about the long Saturday walks that my grandfather and I took up and down backcountry stretches of railroad. When I hear the word fishing, I recall the days my dad and I spent in a boat together. But other words can create worlds full of hurt, fear, and pain. What do we do with those? Many of us hide those words and the stories they force us to remember. No one likes to hurt. No one likes to think about the things we fear. So, we shut those parts of our stories down. When we have experiences that remind us of the painful parts of our past, we tend to avoid, deny, or get lost in (often destructive) habits or coping mechanisms. If you are a man reading this book, you know what we do best. We lock those memories and worlds away in the dark recesses of our minds. We do not like to deal with things we cannot fix. Am I right, guys? What’s the problem with ignoring the painful parts of our past? Don’t we deserve to be happy? Sure, we do. But ignoring the parts of your narrative that are painful is like tearing pages out of a novel and expecting it to still make sense. It doesn’t work. As hard as it is to recall past trauma, fears, or painful memories, I have learned they hold just as much value for us as the good times. Yes, I said it: the painful parts of our past are just as important as the good parts in helping us grow and become the person we long to be. Let me be honest and say that I struggled with believing this for much of my life. While we will look at those good memories head-on, most of us take a side glance, at best, when our minds awaken to the darker parts of our past. I have learned, though, that one key to finding myself, to knowing true freedom, was to be fully aware of this internal narrative that I carry around. You cannot know complete freedom in life until you understand what keeps you in bondage. A lot of struggles we have with anxiety, shame, lack of self-worth, and a myriad of other issues find their source in the stories we come to believe about who we are. Most of us will wrestle with these surface issues without ever getting to the root of the why, what, where, and how of the inner narratives fueling those struggles. To truly understand the novel, we must read all the pages of the story. To truly understand ourselves, we must awaken and embrace the full narrative that we have written throughout our lives. This means we must work to make the unconscious conscious. It is not easy, but it is vital to us knowing real freedom and complete joy and peace. (Excerpt from the book, We Are All Fireflies)..

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