Skeptical of narratives

[note:I’ve begun to realize that unless I start my writing hour with a free form post, I have trouble starting. I stare at the page. I feel intensely that sense of being ensnared in the day-to-day frustrations, the political clime, my uselessness–

so then, let’s begin this way.]

Last week I texted my older brother and asked, did mom and dad just get tired of being parents? The ensuing text conversation, which resolved to a narration of my mother’s life, infuriated me. Not because my brother was correct or incorrect in his judgement, but because I’ve become skeptical of narratives. Particularly my mother’s narratives, but my own and my brother’s as well.

When at the late of 25 I finally stumbled in to college, Post Modernism was taught as a skepticism of grand narratives. Many things are (of course) encapsulated within Post Modernism, but (and I hope I’m remembering this correctly) when the term was first used, it was in the context of explaining how people viewed the world,and the post modern perspective, then, was one of skepticism.

But for the moment, let’s step away from the grand part and with it, institutions, culture, etc, and just talk about personal narratives.

I’m skeptical of personal narratives because of the way in which we use them to perpetuate our idea of our self. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing: I believe we can harness our narratives for our own purposes, in order to re-create ourselves, in order to move from a negative self image to a positive one.

In my brother’s case, I see how he narrates his life and his past as a series of disappointments. And for my mom I see how her narrations always justify her actions. I see the way lies slip in and are sustained by the narratives.

phew. this thought deserves more processing time, but I’m running out of time.

For myself, I have proactively tackled different parts of my narrative in order to stop thinking in terms of how I’ve failed and how many people don’t like me–but note: even in writing that I think: but I have failed! I can’t lie about my past! So, there, more work to be done.


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