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Own Your Own Damn Story

I always encourage others to own their stories, write the next chapter, write characters in and out, and most importantly be the “hero” of their story. Often times, we can make ourselves the “villain”. We can easily be influenced by what others think of us that we allow that perception to take over the direction of our story and the role we play in our stories. The perceptions of others can weigh on us so heavily that we quickly can become “supporting characters” or most commonly the “villain”. 

The past few years as I was helping others own and live their stories, I let others write mine. I allowed lifelong friends destroy other’s perception of me and most importantly the way I perceived myself. I remember the day I found out that these long time friends betrayed me. It was much like a well executed attack of false judgement and ridicule. It was that day I decided I didn’t want these people in my story. It was oddly very easy to cut them out. After the harassment of one of them in particular I was done. They were all gone out of my life forever. I never second guessed this decision because I knew I never wanted friends who are judgmental, closed minded, hypocritical, and cruel. For a while I wanted to erase all the chapters they were in. I hated them. It was a deep hate like I’ve never felt. It was also mixed with disgust about how I ever was ok to associate with people who thought so terribly of me. These people were never friends, and wasted years of my life with this concept of friendship. I learned over time to own these chapters for what they were, just chapters, I still had the control to own my story. I know they will never be in my story again, and those past chapters will be tiny little fillers to show how I learned to love myself more by only allowing unconditional love. The pain has to be included in order for the triumph. I’ve also learned over time to not hate them. I don’t like to feel hate because it only held me back from growth. I feel nothing towards them at this point. I accept them for them like I always have. I just now accept them differently and know they do not have qualities in a friend that I want. I’m a firm believer personally and from a theoretical orientation in my practice, of the concept of unconditional positive regard. It’s basically not being a judgmental asshole. This is something I deserve in a friend.

It took a long time to be able to accept, process, and begin to heal in the ways I’ve shared already. The hardest part and one that is continual for me and many others is I was the “villain” in my own story. I allowed these outside perceptions define me. I knew they weren’t true, and I knew the way they treated me was not acceptable. Yet subconsciously they were still defining me. I should mention during this time I was also grieving the death of my mother after losing the fight to alcohol dependence. For me to weave that event with this would be too hard, but my next blog will speak to that alone. I was struggling. I think I kept it hidden well from most. I grieved in unhealthy ways at times. I needed these friendships during this time, but instead I was attacked by people I perceived to be supportive. I felt abandoned and alone. The things these people did not only hurt me, but they hurt my entire family including my grieving father.  It was terrible, and the ways it affected others were perceived as my fault. I subconsciously took on the role of the villain which I played for years. I isolated myself, I made bad decisions, didn’t treat myself well,  and it was a downward spiral that I felt like I couldn’t stop. It eventually began to flow over to my career. I had no drive and couldn’t manage my anxiety. I would have such bad panic attacks I couldn’t work. I was not being the best I could for my family, friends, and clients. I took some time off, but it would only be a short fix. Over this past summer of 2023, I think things came to a breaking point. The group practice I was with sold out to a money hungry national business who had a bad reputation that was only proved to be true. I felt conflicted being associated with this company’s values which led me to think about my values. Values is an integral part of the therapeutic work I do with my clients, but holy shit I suddenly struggled with my own values and how they were so not aligned with the life I was living and the story I was writing. This sent me down that spiral further until I made some huge decisions that would put me back in the “hero” role. It wasn’t easy and looking back rather impulsive, but why the fuck not! Heroes do tend to be pretty bad ass! I also was in a deep depression, so to even initiate these tasks was overwhelming. Plus my anxiety was unmanageable at times. I decided to really tell my therapist what was going on. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, so yes I was so deep in my shame I couldn’t tell my therapist the full story. He knew the cliff notes version. I also was canceling and not making consistent appointments. I let it all out in a snotty mess of words and cries and yells. He remained calm and silent. I couldn’t stop and it felt so good but painful and then relieving. It was catharsis at its finest. I did this for most of the session. He did share his thoughts and offered me some pivotal insights. He shared he had sensed things were not good and provided valuable perspective. He challenged me to take where I was currently at in that moment with him, and then think about where I want to be. He then said, “then start to fill in the chapters.” I left there with hope which became an unfamiliar feeling. I slowly began this process, and with the help from my therapist have been learning to be the hero in my story. 

The main things I’ve learned and continue to remind myself of as I change my role in my story are:

  1. There are many different roles in your story. Be the HERO!!! Just like your favorite book or movie, life has twists and turns where roles might become confusing. Just remember heroes often face adversity, but they have the resilience and perseverance to overcome. 

  2. You are not the problem in YOUR story. It does not belong to anyone else, so don’t let anyone tell you your role in it. 

  3. You have the right to write your story. If you are living, you have choices all the time to own your story. There’s no right or wrong stories. It’s all about thinking about what you want it to look like, taking action on the things you can, and remembering to be the hero. Some people only belong in your story for lessons, and some people will belong in your story to show you unconditional love. Choose wisely because the supporting characters have an influence. 

  4. Thinking about life as a story can be extremely powerful and healing. It can teach you to love yourself and how important self love is to being the hero. 

I hope you enjoyed reading a bit about my life. Self-disclosure is a grey area from a therapeutic standpoint, but I hope what I shared can be beneficial to your journey as the hero in your story! 

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