Follow Janet On Twitter!





Archive for May, 2012

Mama Hummingbird Feeds Her Babies

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Hey kids!

In case you ended up here from YouTube, just wanted to point out the obvious: the hummingbird video has zero to do with my writing. However, studies have shown that 9 out of 10 hummingbird watchers like my books. It’s a really weird coincidence. Spooky, even.



The Power of Story

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Reality is made up of a system of stories. We tell ourselves stories to make sense of the world around us. We have stories about everything and everyone: our towns, family, coworkers and pets. But the most important stories are the ones we have about ourselves.

As babies, we start life without a story, but pretty soon, our families begin to tell stories about us. Heather always sees the glass half empty, Suzie is smart, and Maureen is the troublemaker. Whether these attributes are the truth or not doesn’t seem to matter. One day a child exhibits certain behaviors, a story is told and quite quickly, the story becomes reality.

While we have to make judgments and conjure stories to navigate reality, humans don’t seem to be very good at changing the stories once they’re written. And because of this, we end up interacting with each other’s stories, not our true selves. If you were raised in a good household, your story is probably more or less truthful and therefore working for you. But in dysfunctional households, stories can be toxic and have lifelong negative consequences.

If you were raised in a dysfunctional household, your story was not made with you in mind, it was made to benefit your crazy parents. Kids in dysfunctional households have been trained to disregard their desires and needs because their pleas either went unheard or their needs upset their parents. Their parents’ denial of their abusive/neglectful behavior trains the children that what they perceive is not the truth; the Happy Family story conflicts with the war zone reality. To survive, the children modify who they are — their stories — to fit their crazy parents’ needs, leaving any sense of themselves behind. While these new stories help them survive childhood, the same stories can cripple them as adults.

When you don’t know who you are, you don’t know what you want. When you don’t know what you want, you can’t ask for it. When you can’t get what you want, your needs aren’t met. And when your needs aren’t met, you aren’t happy. Which is why half of this nation is on antidepressants. Our stories make us miserable.

Thankfully, for me, my therapist is helping me rewrite my story. My problem now is trying to figure out who the hell I really am.

To determine this, I started with what I’ve been told about myself. The stories vary wildly. I’m either a great friend or a flake. (Flakiness is the side effect of a writing career; my true friends know enough not to pin me down.) I’m either the best daughter in the world or the worst. I’m a good wife, a good critique partner, and my neighbors like me. I did great in school and got blackballed at every bookkeeping job I had. I’m either a great writer or the worst in the world, who should be fired and never allowed to write another word. To one reader of CoastViews, I was “a short-fused head job” and “a tightly wound harridan.” When I moved away from living next door to my parents, I was “selfishly abandoning” them. When I took care of my stroke-victim sister, I was a saint. And there are a million more stories just like that. I’m either a great person or I’m Satan, thankfully leaning more towards the former.

The main story that people tell me is that I’m weird. Not only weird — people have described me as wacky, a freak, out there, Janet From Another Planet, the list goes on. I gotta say, this is one story I think I hate the most. None of these terms is nice. Weird is not positive. Weird is derogatory. Most people who call me weird seem to be worried that they might lose their social standing by associating with me. Calling me weird is their subtle attempt to distance themselves from me and therefore, not look bad. For whatever reason people call me weird, I don’t like it. Eccentric would be a better term, if we insist upon labels. But one thing I will agree: I stick out.

After reviewing others’ stories about me, it became clear they were not very accurate. Because I am the only one who knows me. And I have to accept this simple truth: all that I am was given to me. I didn’t choose to hate Indian food anymore than I chose to love toy robots. My only job is to accept who I am completely and love myself as I am. So that’s what I’m trying to do: stop telling old stories and write myself new ones rooted in truth.

My entire goal this year is to be authentic. I want the people in my circle to be there because of who I am, not despite it. However, in order to find the people who genuinely like me, I not only have to figure out my stories, I have to deconstruct the stories of others. In the past, I’ve clung to false stories about friends because I didn’t want to face the truth: normally that someone didn’t like me or was mistreating me. But now, no matter who they are, I have to allow myself to see the truth.

I think it would benefit us all — the healthy and the healing — to determine our stories and our truths. Even if we’ve been brainwashed our whole lives, that little voice in the back of our heads knows who we truly are. Continually reviewing and editing our stories to fit our current truths ensures that the stories help to move us forward and not hold us back.

But the transformation of self is a daunting task. My stories are so rooted in my emotional foundation, I feel like I need dynamite to dislodge them. But they are merely stories and as such, can be edited and changed. And I can’t wait to put my writing talents to work on my personal story. So far, all I’ve got is that I’m not weird. In my opinion, it’s a hell of a start.

© 2012 Janet Periat

Site maintained by Laideebug Digital
Laideebug Digital