This might sound like an ominous title for a blog. But I promise it has a happier ending than it seems. One of the most common statements from my clients is that they want to be who they were in their twenties. They had so much energy. They got so much done. They felt so good. They just want to go back to that place where they can get all the things done. I get it. I was the same way in that third decade of life. My trauma was bubbling underneath the surface, but my controller was strong. They were super-strong. They would push through the futility and the flashbacks to get things done. They were competitive with all the others, but they knew how to survive in a traumatic world. That meant, they could survive almost anywhere. It was like a reality survival show, but in real life. I was exhausted, but I was staying one step ahead of the past.
But then something changed. The constant running started to catch up with me. It became harder and harder to push through. The body started to show signs of abuse with chronic pain and illness. The anxiety ramped up as the controller started to lose control. Depression became more common as the futility seeped through the holes in the controller’s wall. The old me was disappearing. And that’s when the big trigger happened. It is different for everyone. Some don’t have a big trigger. It starts to shift anyway. But some do. They get too sick to keep going. They have children. They experience an abusive relationship (or a pattern of them). Their addiction gets too big to hide. They lose their job. The trigger can set off a strong depression. That futility tells us there is no point. There is no way to hold all this trauma back for good. We made an attempt at life. We tried. But we just can’t do it. We can’t hang with the rest of the people. Something is wrong with us.
For me, the big trigger was the birth of my children. It set something off in me that I never expected. I think my controller just figured they would control their way through parenting the way they did everything else. But these little boogers weren’t so controllable. (All the parents are nodding.) I started to hear the messages from my futile parts. I suck at this. I am trapped. I can’t do this because something is wrong with me. I am being punished. These kids are going to blow my cover. They are going to show the world who I really am. And I have to keep that quiet. Depression and anxiety took over like never before. My controller longed to go back to the old me. The old me was unstoppable (or so I thought). The old me was exactly what society wanted me to be. The old me was safe. Maybe that’s the most important thing. I couldn’t keep myself safe this way. But this change was not the catastrophe my controller was making it. As a matter of a fact, this was a gigantic step forward to where I am today. Here are a few of the reasons I am telling you that “not being who you were” is a good thing.
You were much more miserable than you remember. The controller loves to tell us that things were perfect when we could run ourselves into the ground. But that’s not the truth. Living from the mind is a constant race against self. We wake up in the morning and start making lists. We can’t sit still for five minutes. We can’t slow down. We might not even be able to sleep. We wake up each morning wondering how we will have the strength to make it through the day. It is a form of torture. It is self-abuse. And it is not okay.
Your body will not last long if you keep living that way. You might be thinking that you don’t care. I know I have spent time feeling like there is no point in staying on this planet much longer. It doesn’t seem to be a very nice place. This is especially true for those of us with abusive relationships. We can’t find the good people and isolation sucks. So why stay? But for whatever length of time you are here, it is better spent without physical pain. And constant self-punishment will always bring pain. Avoiding our traumatic emotions is not worth the physical pain it causes.
Living for safety will get you nowhere. The controller makes decisions to keep us safe. But these decisions are not how we want to live. They are not coming from an authentic place. We will make the decisions that bring us the most money or get us the most powerful friends. But those decisions mean we sell out our true interests and even put ourselves in harm’s way if our powerful friends use that power against us. Fear often has a way of manifesting itself. Our decisions need to come from a different place. We can live for a while in that inauthentic place. But we are going to keep coming back to what we really want out of life.
So don’t believe it when the controller tells you that the current you is not as good as the old you. Allowing emotions does not make you weak or crazy. Taking care of your body does not make you lazy. And your age does not make your life over. The best decisions aren’t going to come from a safety-obsessed mind. They will come from a grounded, emotional, connected self. And that self can only be found when you leave behind the old you and remove the mask you have been living from. A new life can start when we aren’t who we were.