happiness

Change the story she tells herself

Probably one of the only good things about getting older is that it means that the angst filled years of being a teenager are getting further and further in my rearview mirror. The more I watch my daughter step onto this phase of life the more this is confirmed for me.

We had a minor tragedy at the mall today. She had been gifted a small sum by her nana to purchase whatever she wanted as a back to school treat- she’d be able to buy some earrings or a sparkly headband – or whatever tickled her fancy. However, somehow on the way from the car to the store the money got lost.

Her reaction was heartbreaking. She started beating herself up – saying how stupid she was, how she didn’t deserve the money in the first place, and how it was all her fault.

None of this is true. This girl is amazing, she’s got this amazing pure heart and will go out of her way time and time again to help out others.

But no matter how many times I told her this she wasn’t hearing it. She was playing the soundtrack over and over in her head that was telling her she had no value and that all bad things that happen is her fault. She burst into tears and said what do you expect me to think? I was told this over and over for all of my life until we left and came home. The aftermath of the chaos of her childhood, it’s hard when one of the people who is supposed to protect you tries instead to destroy you.

I tried telling the story of how amazing I think she is in many different ways, but it was making no difference. We drove to the grocery store and I grabbed some things for supper, then we went to Safeway to get one more thing. She was tired and sad and stayed in the car so I was by myself. As I came out there was a young guy sitting by the door, head down, holding a sign that said homeless- please give – anything helps.  I had $3 in my pocket and I walked over and gave it to him.

But, as I got into my car with my crying daughter, a backseat full of groceries, and prepared to head back to the home we love; I thought of two things:

One was how grateful I was that we had a tribe to pick us up and help us out when we were left with nothing.

The other was how weird it felt to drive home with so much food and leave this poor kid sitting outside with nothing.

So, I said to the girl that we were both going to get out of our funk, she was going to see what the real value of money was, and we were going to get him some supper. We went to Good Earth and got him a panini, a fresh cookie, and some iced tea. We went back to Safeway and both got out of the car and walked the supper to him. Jenna commented after Mom, did you see the look on his face? His eyes were so sad at first, then he looked like he couldn’t believe that we were doing that for him. I feel so different, even my tummy feels different. I’m glad we were able to do something nice for him.

And I reminded her that years ago we used to buy gift cards for food for some of the homeless people in Roanoke. I said this is who you are. This is the kind of heart you have. When you’re telling yourself who you are – this is it. You give to people, you help people, and you love people. Even when you feel like you’ve got nothing to give, there’s always some way you can help someone else. 

And she said yes – that’s true.

That is happiness. A deep, make me cry, love her so much, happiness.

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2 thoughts on “Change the story she tells herself

  1. Moi says:

    Please tell your daughter to write three things she is grateful for every day. She will make a good habit to keep with her always. Tell her that this day gratefilness is your tribe, feeding a homeless man, and you, a mom who loves unconditionally.

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