My dad walked out when I was two years old
Perhaps as life a defining moment as a two year old can have although my memories of early childhood don’t directly suggest it.
I don’t remember any feelings of fear or abandonment and I’m not conscious of any echoing through my life.
I guess I may have been young enough to not be directly affected. I’m sure I was indirectly affected.
Although having had two daughters go through the same age I find it hard to believe thats true.
It’s often thought that WE are a collection of our memories and in particular our traumas and I guess my early trauma is as good a bench mark as any for this.
One of my clients told me about a fascinating project he was involved with around collecting accurate eye witness testimony.
The science behind the study was that if the statement was taken outside of the first 15 minutes it has become inaccurate.
It’s not that the memory fades it’s that we begin to make neural connections with all of the other memories in our brain and in doing so we filter them through our values and beliefs.
I remember being 5 or 6 years old (this age could be wildly inaccurate) and being excited to see my dad for a trip to the zoo like he was just a visiting relative. I don’t remember feeling bitterness or disappointed around it or my life circumstances.
I remember being a little older and being bitter and angry as I couldn’t do some of the things my friends with two parents could.
I remember later finding it difficult to talk about without a frog in my throat.
I remember years later again being angry again for the way I believed my mother had been treated.
I remember meeting him in my mid-twenties and feeling sorry for him. A man whose demons were forever shouting down his better angels.
Each time I reflect, each time I go within, I find a different memory not just of the “event” which in truth I don’t really have but of my life since and the impact.
I see how to blame an individual for all my have nots is to blame them for all my haves.
To blame them for all my weaknesses is to blame them for all my strengths.
I see that to hold resentment, anger, bitterness, is really just to make my own poison and then drink it too.
I see that the stress we experience today isn’t a measure of what’s happening but of what happened and our constantly revisiting it with the same level of thinking that caused it.
I see that if you feel like life is overwhelming you right now it’s not because of mental weakness and it’s not because of reality either.
It’s because the lense through which you have been trained to view the world is one that has you on high alert to a threat that either isn’t real or isn’t half as threatening as your brain is telling you.
And the great news is, this is infinitely changeable by constantly challenging and re-evaluating and re-defining how we see the world.
The past will never be within our control, the good news is how we see it isn’t factual, we can change the story.
And the stories we tell are always within our control even if what happened isn’t.
The CEO’s health coach