I love a good movie! Every time I see one that really captures my attention, I’m always looking to understand what it was within the film that made the experience. Was it the story line, the acting? What connects me in that I have all these feelings around a particular character? What was it that either touched me, or turned me off? An actor really in tune with the role they play can cause the viewer to identify with the part. It’s as though what we are seeing on the screen in front of us, is somehow real, and no longer just a movie.
Similarly, there are scripts and themes in our lives where we cast ourselves, and others in roles that either allow the character to develop, grow and mature, or remain stuck and confined to what we’ve become accustomed to seeing. Why and how does this happen?
Someone was describing a strained relationship they had with a family member. The source of the strain stemmed from emotional mistreatment as a child. The underlying pain was in relation to substance abuse witnessed early on creating, then leading to anger, sadness, frustration and intolerance toward her parent. Feelings borne from powerless she felt at a young age.
Having been frequently silenced and shut down in youth, she reinforced the idea of her own powerlessness with that parent into her adulthood. In the process it allowed him the power necessary to control the relationship as he saw fit, and maintain it as such for years. Each cast the other in roles that characterized the negative unchanging nature of the old relationship.
Regardless, to the fact that the young girl is now an adult, she was unaware that the script initially designed for her as a child served the purpose of putting her in as powerless of a position as the family member with the addiction. That family members addiction, was a behavioral consequence to the powerlessness over his own pain.
Needless to say, as an adult, she too became avoidant: responding to him in superficial ways that continued to disable her voice, and keep her trapped in the script of her youth.
Here we have an adult, playing her former child self, all these years later! It’s not believable because the script does not adjust for the obvious growth that’s easily observed physically, cognitively, and intuitively. The difficulty here lies with the roles we maintain with certain people, under certain circumstances. They become our source of comfort, even through discomfort. Providing identity. It keeps us connected to whom we were in spite of the ongoing changes taking place within us.
Growth can be scary. It means we have to “let go, to let in,” what will change us for the better. When we type cast ourselves into being someone we no longer are, or do something that doesn’t fit our character, it can feel even more painful then the actual experiences that created the pain to begin with. When we continue to keep up with roles that don’t account for the changes taking place within us, we remain SMALL.
The truth is that as we continually change, we can never be what we once were. That old self inevitably comes to pass because growth is a function of the present. When we stop recycling the old, we can create the space necessary for who we currently are.
In recognizing our ability toward true creative control over the script of life, we allow ourselves choice around the “stories” we will then use to define us.