changing the love story

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Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, coming to a plethora of realizations about myself. One of them is how in most of my real love stories, I am a secondary character. Never the one, the main character, the center of the plot.

But this isn’t a “woe is me” post. Rather, I begun reflecting on the role I was playing in creating these stories, forcing myself to take responsibility for the stories I tended to slip into. As a therapist, I so often see my clients refuse to take responsibility for their actions and the roles they play in creating their misery. I get that, because it is tremendously easier to take the victim posture, than to own your shit. It’s exceedingly difficult, which is why most of us avoid it when we can. Because it means taking an honest look at yourself, including all of the “uncomfortable” or “ugly” bits you fight to ignore or deny.

But it’s only when you own your crap you can engage in the possibility of change, of re-shifting the story of your life. So what has been my role in my story? I have not come to a full answer as of yet, as I am still exploring and analyzing… but so far? Passivity, taking on the martyr complex, operating with the tired, faulty belief that I can change someone with my love, and letting past pain rule over my present. I used to throw myself whole-heartedly into the process of love, even though the other party was less than inclined… I believed that maybe they would eventually catch up. But unfortunately, what you often see in people, is really all that you’re going to get. Now I’ve veered to the other extreme of the spectrum, where I refrain from expressing or acting on my feelings, for fear of living out the same rejection yet again. Rejection sucks. And I’m sick of that story.

But that’s the thing about love. In order to hold it, grow it, you have to let yourself be seen by others. You have to take risks. Not doing so will only leave you alone, with a heavy longing eating away at your heart.

Recently, there has been someone that I’ve been having feelings for, and it’s through those feelings I’m coming to a better awareness of myself and how much my past pains have affected me… and how I am still holding onto them like a crutch. For protection? Certainly in agony and fear. But despite the long conversations we have (and how much I have grown to love them) and the strong attraction I feel toward this person, he told me of his past/somewhat current relationship troubles with his ex. In that conversation, I was struck with déjà vu, and it wasn’t until I was driving home that I realized it was because my past, or “one of my sob stories,” was happening again. The girl helping the boy who is still in love with another. The girl waiting to be seen while the boy mourned, and frankly, didn’t give much of a shit to the girl.

The secondary character role was sitting there for me to take.

And it’s there, right there, where we can change the story. Why I always stress to my clients and friends that awareness of your shit is so important. I saw that it’s in those decision points where we can re-shift. So what do I do next? Normally, Younger Anna would wish and hope that he’d acknowledge her and forget about his ex, because Anna has so much to offer too and he’ll eventually see it… and then soon she’d become disappointed, because life doesn’t function like a romantic comedy, and in reality, break-ups are tough. Plus he’s still in love.

As for Matured and Aware Anna, Present Version? She’s not feeling that story anymore. Because even though she does have so much to offer–she deserves to be with someone who will love her, appreciate her, be there for her, and see her for who she is. She doesn’t have to wait for someone to deal with their baggage for her to live her life, because this life isn’t for others to control or dictate. Maybe she’ll share her feelings in the future, or maybe she’ll let them fade as she looks elsewhere for a man who will want and is ready to engage in the process with her. Whichever way she chooses, it will be her choice, on her terms. And regardless she will ALWAYS choose to live life, to seek it out instead of waiting for it to happen.

Because this is my story, and I have the power to change it, to live a different one if I wish. Whatever happens, however the chips may fall, I want say I lived at the end of it all… all the while never losing faith that it will come when it comes along.

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moving past realism

                         writ

Many people say in argument for pessimism that it is “realistic.” Or in other words, “I’m not pessimistic. I’m just a realist.”

In one respect, I see where people are coming from when they say this. I’ve said it before myself. Perhaps they are trying to point out the fact that real life is not like a Disney movie, that simply, shit happens. Things don’t work out sometimes (or many times). There are moments when we will be sad, mad, upset, or lonely, no matter how hard we try to deny them.

BUT. To use this argument as an all-encompassing view of how one perceives every aspect of life is, I would argue, also not realistic. That only shit happens. If you believe that, then it is either confirmation bias, or self-fulfilling prophecy hard at work in you. What we believe, we make things come true for ourselves. Or we only remember events that confirm our views, and pay no heed to contradictory information. Research heavily backs these two viable options up. The truth of the matter is though, life holds both bad and good experiences. Not everything will match or meet our expectations. But there may be occasions when it will, if we actively seek them and let them happen.

I suppose the reason why I am waxing lyrical on this subject is because for the past few months, I have been in a pessimistic mode. It was not until recently I realized how much my so-called “realistic” view was limiting me in my perception, in my writing, in every way, really. As I was working on my novel, I found the same thought sneaking its way through, “This is so not realistic. None of this would really happen. My reality attests to this. Why am I writing this?” Little did I know how that contributed to my writer’s block and kept me from seeing beyond the wall of my experiences. One of the many, many wonderful things about writing is how it yields so much freedom for the writer, to imagine the most fantastical things, to go beyond reality into the infinite spaces of what could be. With that, you can re-imagine, create, discover, open your and your readers’ minds to new ideas and perspectives. You travel to new heights, ones you would never be able to in a confining, physical reality. There is, after all, more to life than your five senses.

I broke free from my writer’s block when I realized how I was constricting myself by not allowing myself to dream past my known experiences and reality. There is more to life than what I know. I should’ve known better. But it was a valuable lesson for me. Life is not just about disappointment, pain and hurt. Although those are there and so important, and certainly needing to be attended to, there is also so much good. And the possibility for good. Such as: through my suffering, I gain my strength and resilience. Instead of re-creating the same “woe is me” story, we should instead ask ourselves, what is the story I want to have? What is holding me back from creating it?

“Reality” only holds you back when you allow it to. With the pen in our hands, we are writing the story of our lives. We always have a choice. And we have the power to lead it elsewhere, if we so chose.