In Paul Murray’s novel Skippy Dies, there’s a point where the main character, Howard, has an existential crisis.“‘It’s just not how I expected my life would be,'” he says.
“‘What did you expect?’” a friend responds.
“Howard ponders this. ‘I suppose—this sounds stupid, but I suppose I thought there’d be more of a narrative arc.”
Source: Story of My Life
As I work with the Inner Child Tarot cards I have become aware that while the facts of someone’s life, presented end to end, might not much resemble a narrative to the outside observer, the way we choose to tell the stories of our lives, to others and—crucially—to themselves, almost always does have a narrative arc. In telling the story of how you became who you are, and of who you’re on your way to becoming, the story itself becomes a part of who you are.
This was particularly obvious when I took a photo of my parents and asked my inner child to help me tell a different version to the narrative that has dominated.
In the realm of narrative psychology, a person’s life story is not a Wikipedia biography of the facts and events of a life, but rather the way a person integrates those facts and events internally—picks them apart and weaves them back together to make meaning.
“Life is incredibly complex, there are lots of things going on in our environment and in our lives at all times, and in order to hold onto our experience, we need to make meaning out of it,”
As I looked at this card a wave of emotion engulfed me. At the time this photo was taken my parents were retired and enjoying a period of stability. They finally had their own home and were actively involved in their local golf club. Life was not always so peaceful for them and my memory of the conflict, the raw emotions has coloured my view.
Seeing this helps me to adapt my story, develop a narrative arc by acknowledging that whatever their faults, my parents were, indisputably, guardians of my intellect and creativity. They made sacrifices to ensure I reached my potential and I will always be grateful for this.
Perhaps you will engage your inner child to help you make adjustments to the narrative you tell.