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Feeling Down? Essayist Says: Rewrite Your Story |

Feeling Down? Essayist Says Rewrite Your Story Pinay, Essayist, Reflections, Depression, Life, Writer
Jennifer Madriaga

I’ve been thinking a lot about stories. The stories that we tell each other and the stories we tell ourselves. I remember one of the stories I used to tell myself was that I was damaged, unable to be repaired.  Because I believed this story for so many years, I never ever shone my light.  My true self remained hidden because I had bought into a lie told to me repeatedly by others.

Part of me became comfortable with feeling perpetually sad and anxious. In fact, it became my baseline feeling where healing seemed impossible. I was always going to have emotional issues.  I was always going to be suspended in a state where nothing got better.  This was my story.  And I was sticking to it.  Oddly, the story became my security blanket because it was familiar, and this familiarity provided a sense of stability and consistency.  I told myself this story again and again, and others were more than complicit in reinforcing this story.  I was a negative person surrounded by negative people.

These days most people would find this version of my story hard to believe. I was talking with a good friend yesterday, who was telling me that I was one of the most energetic and optimistic people she had ever known. “I just feel better when I’m around you,” she said. “You’re so loving and giving.  You inspire me.” I gave her a huge hug in response.

Pinay, Essayist, Reflections, Depression, Life, Writer

Two faces of the author. She says: “great change has to start with something as small as intention.”

I realize that a big part of shifting into something better is being willing to change your story—to let go of the foregone conclusion and old assumptions about yourself and the world.  For years I was completely convinced in my story of being broken.  My heart felt like it was always on the edge of pain, like I had a large splinter rubbing against it.  When I would have moments of joy and happiness, I would immediately go into worry about losing it. I would experience great fear. When I went into pain, there was almost a reassurance about it, and I could reinforce my old way of thinking, “Well, see! You were disappointed again!  Nothing to do about it!”

For me the shift started with being willing to let go.  It doesn’t mean that I released all parts of my story all at once.  On the contrary, it actually meant that I had to fully live in my old story to realize that it no longer served me. In fact I had to live it so fully that my misery forced me into having to do something to release suffering.  If I wanted something different, then I had to do something different.

One thing that I’ve learned is that the process of changing means having to re-visit things that are uncomfortable and creating a new lens with which to view them. I know now that the things that have happened to me are in fact stories.  But what point of view will I use in re-telling them? And what point of view will I use in writing my new chapters. Each day it’s different.  Each day I have to engage in a fresh dialogue with myself where I decide to say, “This is going to be a good day.”  And then actually mean it.  I didn’t always feel like I meant it when I would say it.  But at least the intention was there.  And sometimes great change has to start with something as small as intention. Related Story on Mental Strength: “I Found Myself on My Way to Joining a Sorority.”

From Left to Right: Jennifer  Madriaga’s Journal, Her Own Shadow, and The Next Bar

From left to right: journaling my discomfort and telling my story; my shadow self; and a thought: can you show me the way to the next whiskey bar?

Jennifer Santos Madriaga, 40, is a Pinay fiction writer, poet as well as an essayist. She is currently working as an event planner at Duke University, North Carolina. She is also an energy healer as well as an intuitive. You can read more about our author in her blogs Jen Madriaga Blog and The Authentic Heart. Her essay, published on the blog Purpose Fairy has over a million followers.

All photos are courtesy of Jennifer Santos Madriaga unless otherwise noted.

Jennifer Madriaga

West Coast origins +Southern Fried upbringing+East Coast funky+Balibayan Shuffling=Expatriate Longing.

Always feeling out of context because the familiar is still foreign.

Belonging neither here or there and yet a true and loyal citizen of the world.

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