“Your story may not have such a happy beginning, but that doesn’t make you who you are. It is the rest of your story. Who you choose to be.” --Soothsayer, Kung Fu Panda 2
“I didn’t see my mother nor my father. I haven’t met them. No picture. No memories. I’ve been raised by strangers.”
“If only my father was gentle to my mother. They could have stayed together and we might not be here.”
“My mother left me. She even never said goodbye. I don’t know the reason.”
“The couple who fostered me and gave me home have shattered the very idea of home.”
Beginning. Once upon a time.
These are the stories of the beginnings of some of the older residents in CSC. Flipping the pages of their lives into the past would take a lot of courage and relationship. Some chose to seal those pages; while others are open about their once-upon-a-times. In counseling, children often share about their days, their dreams, as well as their past. For a child to paint these stories allows us to help them craft their life story.
“Life story is essential in developing one’s personality, values, and meaning. It’s the integration of reconstructed past and imagined future to provide life with some degree of unity and purpose.” --McAdams & McLean, Narrative Identity, 2013
Although this process may resurface the phantoms of the past, it helps the older resident embrace his/her whole story. By embracing his/her painful once-upon-a-time, it paves the way to acceptance and forgiveness. For some older residents, it was a privilege to hear them express how they acknowledge that no matter how painful their past was, it happened, it happened, it happened. It happened and they saw the collateral beauty of that pain. They are here. They are here with people who love them; who cares for them; who believes in them; who brought back the cape of their childhood; who gives them wings to soar the new horizon.
As our older residents navigate the new waters of independent living, they are more open to building bridges to their past. For some, they have birth families that they can return to; while others are starting to put together the pieces of their beginning. Their new journey is a navigation of mirth and melancholy; hopes and despair; and success and failures. They are now in the process of writing the new chapter, or perhaps, the sequel of their stories. Seeing the collateral beauty, they now have the power to restructure their future and have the power to direct their own narrative— narrative of an iridescent hope.