Does our narrative identity get better with age?

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters  

I’m often moved by the stories my readers share with me here. Most of them start with dramatic cardiac crises, with survival, with the sudden shock of learning what it means to become a “patient”, with the skilled cardiologists who saved them or the ones who misdiagnosed them. Others share personal hardships they’ve been enduring long before their first cardiac event ever occurred. At age 10, for example, Marie sat in her bathtub one day and counted 33 bruises on her small body, all caused by vicious beatings with a wire coat hanger at the hands of both her mother and sister.* In a family defined by alcoholism, violence  and drug abuse, her siblings also suffered terribly. Two of her brothers became heroin addicts and died within months of each other.

Yet what truly struck me about Marie is that she tells her story without blame or resentment or self-pity. She points instead to what has helped her avoid her siblings’ fate. What Marie is quietly demonstrating is how she decided to create her own narrative identity.      .       .      Continue reading “Does our narrative identity get better with age?”

Oscillating narrative: the learned art of re-creating ourselves

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

“We all re-create ourselves; it’s just that some of us use more imagination than others.”  ~ Madonna

Whether we want to or not, we often end up re-creating ourselves after a significant medical diagnosis. Researcher Dr. Kathy Charmaz calls this phenomenon the loss of self after such a diagnosis, a loss experienced while we’re learning to adapt and adjust to this strange new life as a patient. When we try to talk about this painful loss to others who haven’t ever experienced it, most have trouble taking us seriously, or they may want to jolly us out of our current reality.

Yet how we talk about this matters to how we get through it. Continue reading “Oscillating narrative: the learned art of re-creating ourselves”