Family Stories, Emotional Well-being

Family Stories And Emotional Well-being

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Recently I’ve paid attention to how family stories and emotional well-being are related.

My husband was so thoughtful to resurrect a few old family photos. He scanned them into a digital file; pictures of my primal self along with young versions of my mom, dad, sister, brother, and extended family.

I began to share them on Facebook one by one.

Our closed group of extended family members came alive with comments and replies like this:

Is that the house in Mount Zion?

Is Jackie the little girl and Judy the baby?

I remember our next door neighbors had horses.

It’s hard to believe I was ever that young.

Suddenly, our years of distance brought us together. Right there on FaceBook, we connected. We laughed. We teared up. We shared memories of our stories.

It was like a cyber puzzle as we put the pieces of our stories together.

The picture became a little clearer. Our relationships give us perspectives we wouldn’t have otherwise.

There’s a feeling of clarity as we connect with our past and share our stories. Click To Tweet

Shortly after this picture was taken our vibrant, healthy and hard-working dad died from cancer. It devastated our entire family. Mom’s grief was overwhelming as she faced raising the three of us small children. Everyone grieved in their own ways. For years it seemed the story of our dad’s death overpowered the story of his life.

Our Facebook connection brought life-giving memories of our dad. We got to know him through the stories of his sister, nephew, and cousins. We learned about our grandfather whom we’d never met; and how he and our dad were close.

We learned more about each other and our love for one another.

No one wants to relive the painful past. It’s easier to ignore it and tuck it away. Pretend and forget. When we do, we miss out. We compartmentalize. We push down the “negative feelings” and learn to emotionally detach. Or we stay in our heads and isolate.

Our unfinished past is like a computer program running in the back of our subconscious minds. It’s slows us down and keeps us from living purposefully. We get easily triggered by the part of our brain that doesn’t know the difference between past and present. Our neuropathways are designed to connect with the past to create meaning. Our closest relationships are meant to connect and heal. 

Our emotional well-being depends on our connections with ourselves and our relationships. Click To Tweet

We’re meant to have meaning from our past in order to have wisdom for the future.

We’re all worth taking the time to finish the past and live fully in the present.  Our stories and history matter. It gives us understanding and empathy with our younger selves. We see a bigger picture and gain perspective. Each of us are deeply loved by God and each other. Our lives are worthy of clarity and purpose. 

About the photo: Dad with sister Jackie and me in the middle looking under the Christmas tree for more presents.

Favorite lines from relatives about the photo:

  • Yes, that’s how I remember Bill – always smiling, laughing, light-hearted.
  • Judy, now I know where you get your smile.
  • He was my favorite brother who took time to understand me. 

Questions to Ponder

What stories from your family give you purpose today?

 

About The Author

Judy Herman

Judy Herman helps leaders and families create connection beyond conflict through her counseling practice. She writes and speaks about how relationship messes are divine invitations for growing your true self.