Your life story
Oh, this one is powerful! A group member recently mentioned this concept and it just really struck me! The idea is that we all have our ‘stories’ that we have ‘written’ in our minds as to what has happened to us. This can be a story from as far back as our childhood or from a recent fight with our spouse. The ‘story’ is the way we see what happened, for example, ‘my father was mean and hateful to me’ or ‘she was trying to punish me’. The story is ‘written’ indelibly in our minds and hearts and we are unable to see it any differently.
Re-Write your story
In order for true change to occur, we absolutely have to be open to re-writing our story. In my own recovery, I spent many years hating my step-father for his critical and controlling treatment of me as I was growing up. I was so hurt from the interactions, I could only see myself as a victim of his harsh treatment. One day I was driving home from a movie with a friend. The movie had brought up some deep pain about my step-father and I was discussing it with my friend whose parents went the other direction in their parenting philosophy. Instead of critical and controlling, they just let her do whatever she wanted to do. She felt unloved and uncared for in the process.
I remember looking out the window as we were driving over a bridge and I gasped audibly when I finally realized that my step-father treated me the way he did because he LOVED me! Wow! It sure didn’t feel like love to me at the time, but looking at it from that very different perspective, I could re-write my story and see my step-father in a different light. Instead of seeing him as a bully and a tyrant, I could finally see him as loving and protective. Okay, so his approach was super unhealthy and didn’t feel too great, but now seeing his intent in a different light, I could change what I had always believed to be negative into something positive.
Hearing the other side
When couples come into my office fighting, I often ask what they think their partner’s intention was in the interaction that resulted in the argument. When I ask, ‘do you really think his intention was to hurt you?’, oftentimes people will stop and think about it and realize that it simply isn’t very realistic that their partner wanted to hurt them. When the story begi
ns to change, that’s when I see people soften, their hearts open up, and a truly loving relationship can begin to form once again. Couples who can’t open their hearts to hearing that their ‘story’ might be inaccurate will most likely not be able to have a healthy, fulfilling relationship.
It is important to report that after my realization about my step-father, I set up a meeting with him. I hadn’t seen or talked to him in about 10 years. I needed to let him know that I didn’t hate him and that my life actually was better because he was part of it. It was very emotional for me, but It released the anger I had carried around for so many years. I was able to let him know that I truly appreciated the ‘love’ he gave me. I know that he did the best he could and I thank him for that.
Once I re-visited ‘my story’ and replaced it with some truth, I forgave him and get that big heavy weight off my heart. That freed me up to live, love, and laugh a little bit easier. What stories do YOU need to re-visit?