Nothing is more powerful than the story a man creates about himself. -Greg Boudle
It took years of enduring the massive pain of wrestling with my emotions, to discover that the source of it was always within me. It was something that I invested my entire life feeding and nurturing and began long before any seeds were ever planted that brought forth my children.
It was my life story.
My magnum opus that I created from taking in millions of tiny pieces of data and carefully assembling them into stories about how I saw the world and how I would survive in it.
It was my personal Bible that I used for all my thoughts, beliefs, and values and the emotions they created.
I could find an answer to any of life’s challenges in my Bible. Questions like “what kind of father would do xyz?” and “what kind of a child would do this to their father?” would be quickly answered by my amazing brain that knew exactly which chapter to reference.
The problem was, the answers I was getting around the challenges I was facing with my daughter didn’t bring forth the emotions I desired. This was not how it was supposed to go according to my story. The story that was supposed to protect me from getting swallowed up by the dangers in the world was no longer doing its job.
In desperation, I abandoned the life instructions laid out for me, on fatherhood in my “Good Book” and resorted back to my primal instincts of “fight or flight.” It looked something like this:
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, I”M F**KING DONE, I WILL NOT ALLOW MY CHILD TO DESTROY ME.
I closed my heart and numbed my emotions with rage long enough to do what I felt I needed for my survival…to shut my daughter out of my life. The problem with that was, the rage dissipated quite quickly, along with the fear and I returned to my same old story with a new scene.
This time I got the starring role as Meryl Streep’s character in Sophie’s Choice.
It was then that I realized what had actually happened. I made a choice between my two most sacred creations; one was this beautiful woman with big brown eyes that was pleasing to my eyes and the other was hidden deep in my subconscious, trying to protect me with rocks and spears in a battle with an enemy who had nuclear weapons.
With my daughter out of the picture and no other place to run, I was forced to turn inward and look at my other creation that had been out of sight out of mind for so long. As I started sorting through the chapters of my life story I began to see how much they influenced every aspect of my life. I was blown away by the compound effect of so many tiny things that had accumulated over the years. Old data that served me as a small boy was holding me hostage as a grown man, simply because I never went back to edit and revise the story.
Science says that over 95% of our actions and emotions are directed by our subconscious mind. That means I was running on autopilot 95% of the time and being directed by a long outdated story that had run its course a long time ago. It was time to go back and do a thorough re-write.
I realized that there were some climatic scenes that I had already previously edited. Scenes where I played the victim of rape and molestation as a child no longer served the strong man I’d become so I rewrote that script a long time ago. It was the smaller scenes that didn’t seem relevant by themselves but when joined with others they were powerful forces that steered the ship in every aspect of my life.
It was crazy to realize that Kathy Jean rejecting me at the 5th grade dance would team up with hundreds of other tiny bits of data to create a story that I’m not valuable to girls. It was even crazier to find out how this same story impacted the frustrations I was having with my own beautiful daughter.
It soon became clear that before I could love my daughter as a whole, healthy man I had to edit the story that was keeping me from loving myself. A story that I didn’t even know existed before she mirrored it back to me.
Things are far from ideal between my daughter and me today. She still struggles with her addictions and I still struggle with my co-dependence. It took me a long time to create the story that directs my life and I suspect it will be a while before I bring it completely up to date. But knowing the true source of my pain enables me to know where to go to remedy it. It also enables me to love my daughter and make decisions as the strong healthy man I portray in my story today.
It’s what she needs and it’s what I need.
Oh, and by the way, it has also taken my other relationships, my health and my career to a level I could have never imagined while living in the Old Testament of my Life.
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