Have you ever thought about rewriting your life from a different perspective?
Quite frequently I fantasize about the past and how I’d change it if given access to a time machine. I’m well aware this isn’t a healthy place to dwell. “The past is the past” and all that. Which is why I was surprised when in one of my latest sessions my therapist suggested I rewrite my love story.
I’ve spent the last several months after the end of my relationship feeling stuck in the past. Wheels spinning uselessly in the mud. And I’ve been under the impression that the only way to move forward is to escape the obsessive thought cycle about the past. Which, in truth, is still true. But instead of insisting I move forward and distract myself like my parents and some friends have done, she suggested I tell her my love story. How did it begin? So in the time that allowed, I recounted how we met, spent a year in a tenuous place of “Will they? Won’t they?” casual dates, and how I felt that I ultimately wore him down and convinced him to be with me.
“How do you see yourself in this story?” she asked. “You keep saying you ‘convinced him’ and he ‘gave in.’ Do you not see yourself as having been an equal party in the relationship?”
And the answer is most assuredly, “No.”
I’ve always questioned our beginnings. And when telling the story to others, would usually fluff it off as a joke. That I had just been “too persistent for him and so he’d finally decided to give it go!” But as I reevaluate our relationship in the aftermath, I have felt more like I was the one to blame. That I’d incited a relationship that was doomed to fail in the first place.
“You say he’d said he wasn’t interested, but you were persistent,” she pressed. “But someone who still spent time with you, doesn’t sound like someone who isn’t at least slightly interested.”
This thought had never occurred to me. I had always chalked up his spending time with me after we’d sat in my car on a rainy Sunday after church and he’d said he wasn’t interested in pursuing our relationship any further to just convenience and loneliness. It was summertime. He was in a new place with few people his age around and trying to connect. And upon reflection, I’d made myself embarrassingly available.
But why did he keep letting me hang around? Why didn’t he ask me to leave if he was uninterested in me? Why did he ask me to make a music video with him that turned into a 6 week project? Why did he suggest trading guitar lessons for video editing lessons?
“You put him on a pedestal in your mind,” she says. “And you looked at yourself as unworthy. But what would happen if you rewrote your story from a place of self-love? How would that change your perception of your story?”
This is maybe the hardest challenge I’ve ever been given by a therapist. Because this is a story I’ve been building and telling myself for 7 years now. And the concept that I’m unworthy of love, well, that’s been part of my story for as long as I can remember.
Since realizing that lack of self-love is a stumbling block for me, I’ve always assumed it’s something I need to change in my present and future story. That I need to change my mindset now so that my story is different than in the past. It never occurred to me to take a look back at my past story and try to see it from a different perspective, one where I’m not the villain or the loser. But one where I’m the plucky protagonist trying to make my way and go after what I want and naturally going to make mistakes.
Perhaps it’s my expectations for perfectionism that make it so difficult for me to see myself that way. That anything less than perfect should be swept away into a dusty back closet, the door locked, and the room labeled “FAILURES: DO NOT ENTER!”
But maybe I need to revisit that room. Maybe they’re not really failures. Maybe it’s just a room full of growing pains and decisions I made that I thought were best at the time.
So I’m going to try rewriting my story. Our story. Some of it I’ll share here. Some I may find too personal to post to the World Wide Web and it will have to remain between just my therapist and me. But I think it’s high time to begin the rewrite.