Chapter Five, Spearheaded by Nancy Glenn
Catch up on the previous chapters here:
Okay! Here we go. Thank you Nancy!
Chapter 5 – The Rumble
Summary and Reflections
“The goal of the rumble is to get honest about stories we are telling ourselves…”.
This chapter captures the premise of the memoir I’m working on. I’ve tentatively titled it “Lost and Found” as it deals with the close to 50 years I spent telling myself a story about my mother that was just plain wrong. In effect, I lost my mother, the relationship I might have had with her, and found her a few years before she died at the age of 91. The story is complex and was built upon a wicked mix of silence and misunderstandings. I will never know the full truth – both parents carried it with them to their graves. Protecting loved ones by denying them the truth was viewed as an act of heroism in their time. Intentions were good. Through a lifetime of rumbling in the weeds, in the muck of half-truths and innuendos, a story emerges that makes sense when viewed through the lens of painstaking puzzle-piecing. Bits of data, bits of conversation, knowledge of historical context, and some well-founded leaps of faith based upon lived experience bring me to a new story, a story of loyalty, dedication, commitment, and sacrifice. I would say this is a story of love. I want to say so and perhaps none of it could have transpired without love. I may leave that to my readers to judge.
There are three key questions that guide us throughout the rumble. I see these as necessary to maintaining focus and pushing us deeper into wisdom and, ultimately, our new, true stories. My goal is to keep these close at hand throughout the writing process to help me to remain open to possibilities. Later, toward the end of the chapter, Dr. Brown adds clarifying questions to help us to explore each question more deeply.
1. What more do I need to learn and understand about the situation?
2. What more do I need to learn and understand about other people in the story?
3. What more do I need to learn and understand about myself?
Robert Burton stresses that our compulsion to create stories compels us to take “incomplete stories and run with them.” Dr. Brown emphasizes that the results “can appear negligible,” but can lead to patterns over time that are destructive to our sense of self-worth and to our relationships. In my lifetime, the repeat of my story about my mother became a self-fulfilling prophecy. It was “easy” to blame my mother, my parents. This was my mantra. I was on automatic pilot with my story. Of course, there was plenty of blame to go around but sticking with my script did nothing to encourage me to step outside of myself, to delve more deeply, to ever question the truth of my so-smart story! It took my reading of Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique to shake me awake, open my eyes to possibilities I hadn’t begun to consider: the context of much of my mother’s life. Revelatory! This kick-started my quest to learn and understand more. If one book could rattle me so, what else was I missing? I felt as if I hadn’t seen the proverbial forest for the trees. What kind of feminist was I after all? Puzzle pieces began to, as if by magic, assemble themselves.
Dr. Brown shares Anne LaMott’s wisdom regarding writing that “SFD.” Spilling our guts on paper, all of it, no polishing. Dr. Brown says “our grown-up selves are good liars. The five-year-old tyrants within us are the ones who can tell it like it is.” I need to just do this. I am so afraid of spilling it all on paper. Better than I used to be but I need practice, practice to really hear my angry, tyrant child!
Dr. Brown provides a set of rumbling topics to prompt our thinking. I plan to keep these close at hand as I write along with my three rumbling questions. Tools for keeping myself honest.
Finally, understanding that the gap between our own stories and the truth is where wisdom and meaning reside crystallizes this chapter for me. This is our rumble, where revolution begins, the path to wholeheartedness.
Up Next: Chapter 6, spearheaded by Maria Rodgers O'Rourke (Maria's first chapter was so short, she's agreed to do a second one! This post will not appear until Thursday December 31. Happy Holidays everyone!)