Week One Review

Published by Chapster on 2006/3/11 (3063 reads)
"Thoughtfully, the Baal Shem Tov replied, I answer your questions with stories because salvation lies in remembrance. The will to remember may be the first and most important step on the healing path."

- From The Healing Art of Storytelling by Richard Stone

In this session we asked you to prepare a time line. One of the things you may have noticed was that there were times in your life which you quickly and easily recalled. Other times you couldn't remember much at all. These absences of remembrance are as important and meaningful as what you did recall. It's our goal to round out our self-knowledge so that our life review can have fuller meaning.

The time line constitutes the skeleton of your life review. It is very important and hopefully, over the weeks, you will find yourself revisiting and revising it. One aspect that is significant about the time line is that it gives you the opportunity to correlate the events of your life with the events of history. For instance, the impact of the Great Depression was profound and long-standing on our families. Some of us grew up with parents who went beyond frugality in material matters and became obsessed with them. In many cases, the history of our society intersects with our personal stories. This is something to keep in mind.

Also, as you examine your life story, especially in the coming weeks, be aware that our perception of our lives changes over time. Many who have been divorced, for instance, say of their former spouse, "When I first got married, I just knew she was the one for me. Now, I realize that I never even knew her, even over all those years." The sense of connection that was initially there is now absent. So also, an event initially perceived as tragic may, in fact, set us on the path of new hope and meaning.

Sometimes a memory may be painful. Occasionally, they are so painful or haunting that we may attempt to block them out or hold them at a distance. This is natural. We want to affirm the human tendency to push these thoughts away. Denial is a valuable protective mechanism. Still, unless we find some way to remember the event, acknowledge its power over us, and proceed to engage it, it will leave an arena of our lives, and our stories, scarred and troubled. We would not expect you to work through these painful memories in our class. For those who may have experiences of abuse or other very painful events from the past, we suggest that you do not try to re-visit these places alone. Contact a counselor, therapist, or other qualified professional to help you work through these especially difficult areas.

We do invite you, however, to give yourself permission to begin a process of being honest about difficult areas from the past and start to find meaningful ways to take away the power of the episode. One way to dethrone the power of this thorn is to begin by telling this situation in a journal or letter to yourself. Then, when you feel ready, share it with someone you trust who will listen to you. Allow others to share your pain and to affirm your heartache.

One of the most significant ways to expand our understanding of our story is to look at family pictures. They are filled with information. Your assignment this week is to choose significant photos from your past and to select 3-5 pictures that express some important aspect, person, or event in your life. Finally, we have given you a list of questions that may help jog your memories in this coming week. A few of the questions are suggested in the excellent book, To Our Children's Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come, by Bob Greene and D.G. Fulford (Doubleday, 1993). We heartily recommend this book.
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