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The Power Of Adopting A Persona

The Story Of The Dark Wolf

By Gary RagnarssonPublished 11 months ago 4 min read
The Power Of Adopting A Persona
Photo by Grégoire Bertaud on Unsplash

Many moons ago --it's always good to open with a pun-- I was in a bit of a dark place. My marriage to a woman that I'd known since childhood, intimately from 16, was breaking down, and for the first time in my life I became aware of the fact that nothing lasts forever.

That childish naivety of 'nothing ever changes' came crashing down around me, and I had to face myself for the very first time. Look in the mirror, relive my life, analyse my actions, and say: "You failed. You fucked up. You're a dickhead. And you only have yourself to blame."

You see, it wasnt as if I was an absolutely terrible person, or some aggressive, hyper-masculine, misogynist type that exected the world to do everything for me while I drunk beer and judged everyone. Rather, I had a chip on my shoulder. I carried around resentment for a 'missed' 20s, and paid very little attention to those things that I hadn't missed at all. The blessings of childbirth, the rare gift of total trust and faith in a young woman; innocent, committed, and caring.

I started to develop unpredictable IBS, which led to a deep depression over the course of a few years. The anxiety revolving around 'what if i need a toilet while I'm out?' led to me not eating certain foods, staying in all the time, never touching alcohol or nurturing friendships, and most of all, not working or progressing in a career.

I couldn't join the military as I'd always wanted, not a chance. I couldn't maintain a normal job. I couldn't enjoy meals out like my family did. I couldn't go to pubs, get in a scrap, and roll in at 3am with the rest of the twenty-somethings in this town.

I got skinny, I got weak, I got resentful... and somehow, I beleived I'd never lose the things in life I did have. So I pretty much ignored it. Looking back now, it makes zero sense. You'd have thought gratitude for the things you have would outweigh the want for things you never had, especially when it's your own agoraphobic arse --Ooh, another pun!-- is the one convincing you that you can't do those things.

But nope, I let the darkness consume me, (as I have many times since), and I lost the one thing I never beleived I would. By pure and unbridled neglect. Entitlement. And the misplaced, immature belief that things stay as they are regardless of your actions. The simple analogy would be to compare love to a plant. It needs sunlight and water to grow and thrive. Starve it of attention, surround it in darkness, and forget to water it, and it withers, shrinks in on itself, and eventually dies. The same goes for people.

Side Note: Maybe, if that plant is lucky, someone can come along and revive it. If they re-pot it, give it love, and put it in a sunnier spot. And thankfully, somebody kind did that for the one I killed.

I realise now that this sudden and (somehow) unexpected breakup has been the root cause of a deep lack of trust and faith in relationships since, which again, is couter-intuitive, when I'm aware enough to see where the blame lies. But alas, that is a story for another day.

Enter 'The Dark Wolf'

Gary Holdaway was broken. He was depressed. He was sick. He was hurting. He was lonely. He had no friends, little energy, and no concept of which way was up. He didn't really know how to deal with his partciularly difficult baby son without the presence of his mother, let alone how to ever go about fixing any of the things he had broken.

And then something happened. I dont know where the concept came from exactly, whether it popped into my mind from nowhere, or I had read it in some kind of book, but I had this idea to adopt a 'persona' of sorts. Much like invoking the archetypes of certain Gods and figures from mythology, this persona would see me associate with traits 'Gary Holdaway' simly did not have.

Like a superhero name, or a famous warrior from a fantasy series or middleage epic poem. Enter The Dark Wolf: strong, brave, handsome, well-dressed. fun and driven, wise and intelligent. The perfect father, the caring friend, the role model for all those that crossed into his lifepath.

And that, over time, is who I became. Suddenly, life became easy. Lifting heavy weights wasn't a chore, going out with friends wasn't a worry. I found friends, many actually, and started to become seen as the 'motivation and wisdom' guy across social media. I was confident, handsome, and well put together.

This 'Dark Wolf' inside me became me, so when I told myself that The Dark Wolf was strong, I became strong. When I told myself that he was wise, I became wise. I evolved myself in every way, across every metric, to the point of being paid to coach others through their lives, because I changed the stories I told myself.

I found myself too disenchanted with Gary Holdaway. He only received shitty self talk. He got worse because of it. But The Dark Wolf... well, he thrived! And I think I need to bring him back.

The Dark Wolf, But Different

Yeah, I Definitely Need Him Back

I don't think 'The Dark Wolf' will serve me quite in the same way as he did before, and Gary Ragnarsson, is simply a cool sounding writer-name with a nod to my Viking heritage.

So I'm on the hunt for a new persona to adopt. Something that invokes the strength and courage of Thor, the wisdom, cunning, and calculating calm of Odin, the fun-loving playfulness of Loki, the self-care and kindness of Baldur and Freyr, the nurturing spirit of Freya. The Ass-Guardian --no that doesnt sound right at all... I'll workshop it.

Until then, if you find yourself in a dark, or disenchanted place, try implementing this persona technique. Most of the hardships we hang-up on are simply the stories we tell ourselves, and it can be extremely powerful to tell yourself better ones.

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About the Creator

Gary Ragnarsson

Deep thinker, stoic, and writer from the UK, sharing everything from philosophical insights to my most intimate, personal stories.

In a world consumed by chasing more, I’m over here embracing less on purpose.

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Comments (4)

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  • Babs Iverson10 months ago

    First, thank Judey! Judey shared this on Vocal's Raise your voice Thread! Second, your story is fabulous and fantastic. Lastly, loved your lines, "The simple analogy would be to compare love to a plant. It needs sunlight and water to grow and thrive. Starve it of attention, surround it in darkness, and forget to water it, and it withers, shrinks in on itself, and eventually dies. The same goes for people"

  • i like this story ,you can see my story clic here

  • Judey Kalchik 11 months ago

    As a young child I decided that my birth name (Judeth) had the word death in it, and as my mother had died when I was 3, I knew it was my fault. So I told everyone that I was only Judey. As an adult I still spurn Judeth- she is likely older than I, dresses fastidiously, has a head of iron gray hair pulled into a bun, and frowns as untidiness. Now that I am undeniably closer to the bottom of the hill in my life than the start- I am trying to learn from her, because she's surely seen a thing or two. What I am trying to say is that you described this perfectly. And whoever you decide (or brand) yourself to be, keep the wolf close by.

  • Paul Stewart11 months ago

    This is all kinds of brilliant, Gary. I'm glad you left mentioning "Ass-Guardian" to close to the end of the piece because...I'm still smirking at that! There is some great wisdom and musings, as always! Well done! I still think Gary Ragnarsson has a cool sound to it!

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