We love stories. We enjoy the telling of a person’s life, the happenings in a dream, great descriptions of people and places. But often, we begin to believe that the stories we know and tell ourselves are the only truths.
We convince ourselves that, because, in the past, when we did this, the result was that, therefore, it will always be that way.
That because the last time you went to a party where you didn’t know anyone, you were ignored and uncomfortable, so anytime you go somewhere where you don’t know anyone, the same thing will happen.
Or that because every time you’ve submitted a piece of writing, it was rejected, you’ll never submit anything again for fear of another rejection.
We all have these repeating stories. And, because they are based in truth, we believe them. We hold them up and say, see, I’m not making this up. When I do that, this happens.
But, if we are truly writing our own life stories, then isn’t it possible to write a new ending, even a brand new story?
I have worn eyeglasses since I was four years old and I have a lot of stories about how getting new glasses is hard, traumatic and always difficult.
There’s the story about the octagonal tortoise shells in fifth grade that had such an improved prescription that I was nauseous for days.
Or the wire framed aviators in high school that were too snug behind my ears, so I bent them and re-bent them until the metal temple broke, but I still wore them, even though they created an open sore on the side of my head.
Or, more recently, the very expensive, digitally-made lenses that I had to tilt my head to the left to find the sweet spot and I had them re-made and they still weren’t right but they wouldn’t give me a full refund.
In fact, in the last three years, I have paid for two different pairs of glasses that have ended up in the bottom of my drawer. So, even though I strain to read 12 point type, and my lenses are scratched and foggy, I’d rather wear a pair that has a five year old prescription than go through the whole New Glasses thing.
And, while, on some level I knew that this was a story that I didn’t have to keep repeating, it wasn’t until a friend said, “But it’s just a STORY!!”
Until she pointed it out, I knew it but I didn’t KNOW it. Or realize that I could write a NEW one…
So while I was in Phoenix, Marika made an appointment to get her eyes examined for a new prescription, so I made one too. And the exam was easy. And we went shopping together for frames.
We looked in several stores and we both found some we liked at an independent optician in the neighborhood, an older man who really knows about glasses and fitting. I took a deep breathe and ordered the frames and he said they’d be ready in a week.
But they weren’t. And then it was Thanksgiving and the store was closed for the holiday weekend and I had to extend my stay in Arizona another week to wait for them.
I could feel my anxiety building and I noticed that I was beginning to sabotage the situation with my thoughts. “They’re not going to be here in time.” “I’m not going to like them.” “This is going to be like all the other times.”
I worked myself into quite a tizzy – should I cancel the order and just stick with what I have. After all, there was probably going to be something wrong with them.
And this is where the story changed.
Because I heard myself telling the old story.
And I realized that I really WANTED these new glasses. I wanted to see better.
So I told myself that it might take some time to get used to the new prescription, but that it would be worth it if I could see clearer.
I took out a big piece of paper and wrote:
I will adjust to these wonderful glasses with patience and willingness, grace and ease.
I will be so appreciative of the better vision.
They’re going to feel good and fit right.
I’m going to love seeing myself in the mirror wearing them.
Folks will notice and like them.
And my neck and shoulder pain will be gone.
I read and re-read these words all weekend, envisioning myself trying the new glasses on in the store and being happy.
The day I picked them up, I closed my eyes before I put the new glasses on and repeated that first line of my mantra, to remind myself to be patient and willing to get used to them.
With a few tweaks behind the ear and on the nose pieces, they were wonderful. I could read the smallest print on the bifocal card and the details on the sign across the street. And I didn’t have a fish-bowl effect when I glanced sideways.
The fact that he took $50.00 off the bill for the delays didn’t hurt either.
It was amazing. Marika and I went to the grocery store and I was reading EVERYTHING out loud, from the big signs at the far end of the aisles to the fine print on the cereal box. No squinting, no straining, no tilting my head every which way to find the sweet spot.
I couldn’t believe how easy it was!
The first time I saw myself in the bathroom mirror, I did a double-take. With a big grin. Yes, they’re big and bold and fashion forward, but not eccentric. And I love having so much lens depth to see near, far and everything in between.
The next morning, Marika and I were sitting outside having our coffee and she said, “I still can’t believe how easily you’ve adjusted to your glasses.” “I know,” I said. “It really is all about the story we tell ourselves.”
But there was a red tenderness on the left side of my nose and the back of the right earpiece was pressing too hard on the top of my ear.
The optician was closed for the weekend so I postponed my departure, scheduled two clients and went back to see him on Monday. I was surprised that he called me by my name. I sat down and explained what hurt and he made some adjustments. The nose piece immediately felt better and the pressure on my ear was gone.
But after I got home I felt a new pressure along the side of my temple. And I started crying. Bawling. Because it was no longer easy. Because I hated this part about too tight, too loose.
Marika encouraged me to go back for another adjustment. She reminded me that they’re just adjustments. That I already know that I can see with them, now it’s about getting more comfortable. I cried some more, then asked her to go back with me. She even drove.
Sherwin, the optician, was just as happy to see me as the first time. He adjusted the right earpiece so it was no longer pressing, tweaked the nose piece to recenter the frame and we left.
Marika asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to walk around and try this for a while?”
“No, it’s good. Let’s just go home.” But as we walked to the car, I wasn’t sure. “Can we just sit in the car for a minute?” We did, and after some more crying, I went back.
Sherwin and I did several rounds of too-tight-too-loose, and when I started to get frustrated, he said, ”Just relax. Take your time.” And in between each adjustment, he shared a story about his son, or the house he is building or he asked me a question about my Mac training.
And then I couldn’t tell anymore, so we stopped. I thanked Sherwin and joined Marika who was waiting in the car. By the evening I realized that, with all of the tweaking, the glasses were slightly crooked and the prescription was no longer in the right place.
But instead of freaking out and crying, I reminded myself that they were perfect before and they could be perfect again. That it wasn’t a problem with the lenses, I just needed to get things adjusted again. And hey, maybe now that I had sharper distance vision, I’d start seeing what I want for my future.
So I chose to delay my departure one more day, and I saw Sherwin again in the morning. He tweaked, he bent, he told me he’s adjusted more than 10,000 glasses since he’s been in business, and that sometimes, you have to go through Texas to get to Florida.
Now they’re pretty close to perfect. And I love seeing so much better. When my eyes are tired from the day, I remember that this is a transition, a process. That I just need to keep breathing and moving through.
And I’m still saying my affirmations, but this time, they’re in the present tense.
I am adjusting to these wonderful glasses with patience and willingness, grace and ease.
I am so appreciative of the better vision.
They feel good and fit right.
I love seeing myself in the mirror wearing them.
Folks notice and like them.
My neck and shoulder pain is gone.
What stories do you keep repeating, reliving? What if you re-wrote it? Please share your comments here.