Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why me?

A little while ago Rich left a comment saying how he often found himself asking, “Why me?” It gave me an idea for a post, because in all the years I’ve had ulcerative colitis I’ve never thought like that. And I think one of the reasons why I’ve never cried up at the heavens in despair, “Why me?” is because I’ve always kind of thought of myself as one of those sort of people that weird or strange or unfortunate things happen to. Of course I was never expecting to get ill, but let’s just say it didn’t come as a complete surprise. And the fact UC is a ridiculous bottom related disease, involving much embarrassment, well that’s just par for the course. Anyway, shortly after reading Rich’s comment I started jotting down a few thoughts on the subject of ‘Why me?’ I never finished writing the post, but on the right hand page below you can read as far as I got. (Click on the pictures to enlarge if you need to.)

Now this week I bought Paul McKenna’s book Control Stress. Which is very interesting and includes some great practical tips on how to reduce stress. One chapter in particular caught my interest. It’s called ‘What’s your story?’ and talks about the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. I think he means that self-narration or self-mythologising thing we all probably do a bit. This part really struck a nerve with me:
Remember, not all stories are negative. If you’ve spent your life telling yourself that you’re a gifted learner, a loyal friend and a ‘get it done’ kind of person, chances are that story has served you well.

But in our culture, the more common stories are imposed upon us from the outside. If you’ve ever been told you’re ‘just not good at maths’, or that you’re ‘shy’, or ‘you’ll never amount to anything’, chances are you’ve struggled in those areas. At some point, you probably took on the story as your own and began repeating it in your head and out loud to others, using the label as part of your identity and building further stories around it.

Now go back and reread those two pages from my notebook. Embarrassingly I’ve got myself down as some sort of freaky big eared, light bulb attracting hospitalaholic. Somehow in my head I’ve turned myself into a real life Gaylord Focker from Meet the Parents for whom life is just one long series of humiliating hurdles. And it’s true, if something not so great happens to me, I just shrug and think ‘typical, of all people it would have to happen to me.’ So all this has made me think I should probably start writing a different story for myself. In this one I won’t be so accident-prone and have strange illnesses. I’ll be lucky and healthy and confident instead. And light bulbs definitely won’t fall on me.