Once upon a time, there was born a princess with golden hair, brown eyes, and unquenchable curiosity. About everything.
But she was supposed to be a boy.
We have the set-up, the conflict… and we're off and running on my personal tale. Terrifying!
One of the best therapeutic tools ever is writing an autobiography, and I had the privilege of studying under a master of the school of therapy called Transactional Analysis , started by Eric Berne with his popular book Games People Play. It was big in the 1970's and has since fallen out of vogue, but I love it and have found it very useful with a variety of clients. My instructor had us write an autobiography in order to understand our Personal Script, a key component of the therapy method, and I'm wincing at sharing. But the best truth is hard won, so here goes.
I discovered through writing it I had three major “themes” running through my story, which I subconsciously manipulated events to reinforce: the Princess in Disguise, in which I had a Great and Hidden Destiny and was somehow trapped in a family and situation that didn't recognize that; and If It Weren't For Him, in which I cast my husband who I married young (hoping for rescue from the family that didn't understand me) in the role of captor/jailer, keeping me from my aforementioned Great Destiny.
(*wince, wince* I hope he doesn't read this. Oh well, after 26 years of marriage, what's one more round of couples counseling???)
In other words, I saw how I was keeping MYSELF from my own “great destiny” by blaming others around me.
It was terrifying, and liberating. I had no one but myself to blame if I didn't achieve the mysterious greatness I had always felt was inside. And it was the beginning of my creative unleashing.
So, now that you've had full disclosure from a therapist (we seldom allow this. We like to preserve the mystique. I feel like a magician selling trade secrets on how the woman really gets cut in half) I challenge you to write your story.
- Begin with “once upon a time” if nothing else comes to mind.
- Tell it in third person.
- Write freely, as fast as you can.
- Avoid judgement and critique/correcting. This is for you only, so be kind and accepting of how hard it is. Damn it's hard, if you're really truthful. But the third person thing helps.
- Use your Timeline to help you anchor the story.
- When you are done, go back with a highlighter and look for major archetypal characters- the Witch, the Mother, the Hero, the Warrior, the Damsel in Distress, the Wizard, the King. Each of these archetypes may have more to teach you, and we'll explore that in a later post.
Good luck and happy self discovery. Who knows, your Great and Hidden Destiny might be waiting for you!
The good thing about writing autobiographical material is that nobody but you has to see it.
And a big amen to that!
Thank you for the kind words. I really enjoyed teaching IPR thanks to students like you
Ha, so glad Judy tracked you down! I’m a full fledged LCSW in public and private work and a writer now. Sure enjoyed the impact your class had on me early in my career! Aloha and thanks for stopping in!