I remember the moment I shifted. My identity, that is. And that simple event turned me in a completely different direction and marked the beginning of the long road back from addiction. Up until that shift, not only was I locked up in a treatment center, I was locked up in “my story.” And my story is what I had come to identify with.
Here’s the dilemma. If someone is telling you to give up who you are (changing everything you think, do, eat, drink, and hang out with), then it feels like the “person” who lives like that has to go away. It’s like a part of us is dying. No wonder we hold onto our story “till death do us part!” Who wants to die? But as we choose to hold onto our old identity, the self-destructive thoughts and patterns associated with that identity will continue to spiral downward and out of control.
In the beginning of my stay at the treatment center, I was distracting myself away from the effects of therapy by creating a standoff game with the staff. (It fulfilled my need for significance and to run away, right?) They were tough, but I was tougher.
Eventually, I “got it” that something was going to die. Either my story was going to have to die, or my physical body was going to die from addictions. That’s why I had been drinking all those years and was now struggling with anorexia. That’s why I was locked up. It was a battle till death and I just didn’t want to let go of who I was. And no one was going to force me to. At least I had the comfort and significance of that control!
(And besides, I had a GREAT story. Might as well milk it as long as I had a captive audience!)
I was born into the Witness Protection Program. Sort of. I was born June Perry and I was immediately adopted. So yes, the government sealed my records, gave me a new name and a new birth certificate, sent me to a new city, and gave me a new family. They had a different story for me.
What a script! I got it all! Did I hit the jackpot! My adopted parents were Ivy League educated and provided me with an absolutely magical, storybook childhood.
It was a privileged life that included private schools, traveling internationally and summers up at our family’s sleep away sports camp on a lake in Vermont.
In my teens, I lived at a prestigious equestrian boarding school. One morning, the Head of School took me out of class and escorted me on a plane to fly me home. When I arrived, my parents informed me that my (very first) boyfriend had shot himself in the head and was dead. Imagine an IED exploding in your brain. Every day.
My life made a dramatic U-turn off of a cliff. Drowning in an endless list of addictions and self-destructive behavior, fueled also by the fact that I was a victim of incest growing up with an alcoholic father and a cold, distant mother who admitted she suspected what was going on (and didn’t stop it), it would take decades, a close call with an overdose, and a lot of hard work to learn how to turn my life around.
Which brings me back to my identity issue. Clearly, I had been victimized by events early in my life. However, I grabbed that fact and adopted it as my identity. Then, like it was a football, I held on to that identity tightly and ran with it! I was determined to score a touchdown and no one was going to block my way.
But that wasn’t all. With both my thoughts and behavior, I attracted to myself, and created, even more victim circumstances into my life because … I got this, right? I OWN this victim story! I even dressed “my story” up in a rebel’s outfit. You know, to be cool and to look like I was in control. I was a female James Dean, complete with the chain smoking cigarettes! Yup, I was going to make this THE ultimate victim story of them all! And I was heading for the Super Bowl!
But I was on the wrong team and running in the wrong direction!
What was the moment where I shifted all that? Getting outside of myself long enough to watch everyone else who was stuck in the treatment center. Maybe I couldn’t see the insanity of my own drinking and my crazy addictive thinking, but it was impossible to miss it in everyone else.
Yup. We were a sad bunch and it was not a pretty picture. We showed up to this exclusive “members only club” (the treatment center) and there was a glimmer of hope, but like perfect victims, we all had a long list of people and events in our lives to blame. It was everyone’s responsibility except our own. Welcome to the excruciating world of being stuck.
It was the first time I really saw and understood the victim mentality, and I vividly recall the moment I made a decision that I was no longer going to be that pathetic person. That was the lifesaving, fundamental core shift.
The problem with blame and the identity of a victim is that it is a totally powerless mindset. Getting over addictions is all about creating rituals to build your inner strength and to become empowered, but first you need to OWN the responsibility of choosing a new identity and then to choose wisely this time!
I knew I had to fight like hell to overcome all my battles, so I decided to adopt the identity of a warrior, and then I borrowed a technique from the Navy Seals: extreme ownership. No more games. Nobody else could win this war for me. It was up to me to use the insight and the tools that had been given to me.
If we want to change our lives, we need to change out stories. It’s our stories and old identities that keep us stuck. Let go. “Divorce your story and marry the truth,” as Tony Robbins would say. Then grab a new identity and rewire your brain with new thoughts, new beliefs and new patterns that match the fabulous new you.
And then run THAT football all the way to the OTHER touchdown!
Nancy Dye is a RMT (Tony Robbins and Cloe Madanes) breakthrough mental skills coach and resilience trainer specializing in emotional strength strategies and the fundamental core shifting of identities, values, beliefs, stories, and rules. Trained as a strategic interventionist using Tony Robbins’ powerful strategies and techniques, Nancy provides rapid results for people who want to transition forward into lasting transformations and peak performance. For coaching to overcome adversities and addictions, or to learn about her new emotional strength and resiliency training program, “Unflappable”, please go to https://elitelifestyletransformations.com/unflappable–ultimate-mental-skills-book-.html or email her at NancyDyeSiCoach@gmail.com