I was moving deeper into my journals and detailing the days of my youth and my young adulthood. It was not long before this when I lived in a life that was clearly not meant for me.
I was stuck in a pattern of living and thinking and more to the point; I simply could not see me in any other way than I was.
There were times when I looked around and wondered how I ended up where I was. How does this happen to people? How do people fall into their life this way?
Life was a puzzle to me because of all things to change, the toughest thing to change is our belief system—therefore, if I believed this was the best I could be, then so it goes. This is all I could be.
If I believed I was flawed or unlovable and unwanted, then so it goes. If I believed that I was going to fail, and I mean wholeheartedly believed I would always fail, then so it went, and I failed.
However, the more I outlined my life; the more I learned about the connection between my assumptions and opinions. I learned about their connection between the deceptions of my perception.
Pain is an excellent teacher. So is fear. So is shame and humiliation. The more I journaled the more I began to realize my relationship between all of the above.
Every decision I made was based upon the avoidance of anxious ideas which were crippling at times. In fairness, I just wanted to get along. I wanted to be comfortable. I wanted a social life too. I wanted to have fun the same as everybody else but in the midst of my mindset and insecurity, I was trained in my opinion that life was different for me.
It was clear that all roads led to rejection. My moves were shame-based and fear-based. Any decision was based on the fears or concerns of exposure or humiliation. In short, I was trying to protect myself and yet, somehow live my life at the same time.
In an effort to discover the origin of my anxiety, whether conscious or subconscious, I had to connect my thought patterns and their pathways, which lead to my trained opinions and subconscious beliefs.
I would find myself, trying to get through the day, just so I could go home and write.
The more I revealed the more doors opened to new concepts and personal understanding. I was healing. I was feeling a sense of self, which was incredible to me because I was gaining a sense of confidence.
I started to realize that much of my concerns were not even real. They were based on the belief that all things and all people are the same.
If something happened once then it could and will happen again—and if I wasn’t careful, it could happen again and again.
But yet, in doing my best to avoid my fears, still, the symptoms of my fears and their outcomes continued to repeat themselves over and over again.
I used to wonder why I had the same kind of friends. I would wonder questions like, “Why do things always happen to me?”
Why did I always find myself in the same situations and why I would always ask myself, “Why me?”
“Why me?” was huge.
I began to question if I deserve this or not, to which the answer is an obvious no; however, insecurity is blinding.
I had no idea what “Trauma” meant. I never thought much about the shock or the wounds to the very nature of me.
I certainly had no idea what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was —at least, not really. I thought this was something that only happened to soldiers and people returning home from war.
I thought this was something that only happened in extreme cases; however, as I detailed more about my youth and the violations of my personal space and body, I realized that trauma is person-based.
Of course, the cases will vary because experience varies. But the more I detailed the pains of my past, the more I understood about the moral injuries I sustained along the way. And suddenly, a light went on. I began to understand more about my own behavior. I knew more about my fears and my concerns amongst the crowd.
I would come home to my little crappy computer and detail my thoughts as best as I could. I wrote in streams of consciousness, which meant I just allowed my words to take on a shape of their own, which was not only healing —but freeing.
I would pour myself a cup of coffee and turn off the world. My room was small but suddenly cozy. I felt comfortable here. Or, better yet, I gave myself the permission to be comfortable here.
I had spent years in therapy. I underwent intense, inpatient drug treatment for drugs and alcohol. I was in three rehabs, and two of them twice.
I struggled with suicide and had subjected the attempts. I lived with shame. I saw me as flawed and imperfect. I believed that I was unworthy —and since this is what I believed, there was nothing in the world that could change my belief system.
I believed this way because I assumed if one person could treat me badly then so could anyone else. This is the real crime of abuse. This is the real crime of bullying. It is not just the instance; it is the aftermath the refuses to let go. This was a revelation to my experience and interpretation of my past.
I was about to write something openly that I had only shared with a select few. This was too much for me to hold onto anymore. I had to get this off my chest. I just had to otherwise, I would always remain stuck.
I was young when this happened. Unaware, the same as any kid would be, I was unsure of what was happening at the time.
I was too young to make the connection between appropriate and inappropriate touch. I was just excited to be welcomed as company. I was just happy to know that someone wanted to spend time and pay attention to me.
And it came to me one day, like a painful moment of awareness. I’m not sure how or why the memory surfaced —all I remember was the degradation of shame. I remember the idea of being used, almost as if I were just a “Thing” for someone to play with, as if I, myself, were a simple equivalent to a basic rag doll.
But what about the attention? What did this say about me?
I underwent an intense moment of personal disgust. Why would someone do this to someone? Was it me? Was it them? And I knew it was them (intellectually) but a piece of me allowed the shame to turn the blame inward (emotionally).
I recognized this violation of my boundary, which altered my perception of my boundaries. This changed the way I viewed people as well as the way I viewed myself.
Of all things I always wanted to be most, I always wanted to be strong. But how could I be strong if I believed I was so incredibly weak.
I wanted to be tough. I wanted to create an image, which would cause people to think twice before imposing themselves upon me again.
And that was my life before this moment; always trying to be impressive but above all, never once feeling impressed with myself.
I didn’t want to be smaller than anyone. I didn’t want to be afraid of feeling victimized again; therefore, I went on the attack. I created a personality, which was a lie, I admit, but at least I could hide behind this false representation of me and not feel so goddamned afraid all the time.
I learned what PTSD is. This was an injury of the heart. This was an insult and violation of a boundary which no one was supposed to cross.
In my panic to overcome, I only sunk deeper into what I called “emotional quicksand.” The harder I tried to get out, the deeper I sank.
This is why I chose to get high, by the way. I was trying to bury this and feel a sense of detachment. I tried to euthanize myself on a daily basis, more and more, until quite literally my addiction almost killed me.
More than anything, I believed I was alone. I believed I was diseased in some way. The more I journaled, the more I released the toxins of my secrets and the possibility to set myself free.
I began to understand more about the bias of my opinions, which was held in regards to the concerns of my past experience. More accurately, I was afraid of feeling that kind of shame again. I was afraid to be betrayed again, which was interesting to me because I began to realize the patterns of trusting the wrong people. I realized the times I saw warning signs but ignored them because with all my heart, I just hoped “This time would work out.”
Sometimes we lie. Sometimes people lie to us. And sometimes we accept lies as truths because we like them better, which is why we allow the warning signs to pass because in all honesty, we’d rather the lie be true than the truth itself, by which, the more I detailed this about myself, the more I learned how to improve.
Since all of my plans and strategies were based on emotion and rejection—I recognized the patterns of seeking approval and placing my trust in people that did not deserve my time or my trust.
I tried to sway people. I tried to please. I tried so hard that I never understood the absolute freedom we feel the day we decide to walk away.
I had spent much of my life, seeking approval, looking to make people like me or want me around to the point where I would allow myself the abuse just to be entertained by attention. This is the problem with low-self worth. I had no idea what I was worth and how valuable I truly am.
I spent much of my life, trying to create me as a person. I wanted to be someone. I wanted to have status. I wanted to be “That Guy” —the one that everyone liked.
I tried so hard that I sacrificed my own self; I sacrificed my time and my dreams. I sacrificed my desire and aspirations, my time, my trust, and I sacrificed my effort on a life that I was chasing —but more accurately, I sacrificed my life to the point that I felt as if I had no life at all.
And all the while I just sat there and wondered one thing: “Why?”
On the day that I journaled about this, I remember the emptiness of my apartment. There was nothing to decorate the walls or absorb the echo of sound. I was alone. There was no one around but me and my painful recollections. I looked at the details of my life, which were sad and hurtful.
My Father, The Old Man, was dead. My Mother was living in Florida and her health was steadily declining. My Brother was doing his own thing with his family. My number of friends had dwindled down to a scattered few.
And it was here that I realized there was no one that could save me, except for me.
I had been to therapy. I had been on medication which neither made me feel better or worse. Instead, I felt this stagnant feeling of not being good nor bad, just unenthused and sexually dysfunctional.
If I was going to learn to live with me then I had to learn how to take care of me. I had to draw a line in the sand. I had to make a commitment, which I did, on a daily basis.
Each day, I made this a point to write my thoughts. Some days, I would enjoy writing simple poetry. Sometimes, I wrote short stories, based on actual experiences in my life. And the great part about this is I was able to write myself as the main character and recreate myself as the hero.
This was my way to remove myself from the ideas of being unremarkable and becoming nothing less than remarkable.
There were times (I remember) when I practiced my speeches to different people in my life. I would rehearse my goodbyes and practice my responses, just in case there was a response from anyone else.
I used to think about running away as a kid. But it is true about what they say: I thought more about running away as an adult, than I ever did as a kid.
I used to think nice guys finish last but I never realized this was only because nice guys realized they didn’t “Need” to be first. They weren’t racing or trying to get over. That was for people like me, afraid of missing out or being taken advantage of.
Of all my fears, my biggest fear was to be the mark. I was afraid to be the one that was vulnerable. I was always afraid someone was looking to get over on me or take advantage —and let’s face it, the world can be that kind of place sometimes —and sometimes, I could be that kind of person too. I think we all can.
The freest I ever felt was the day I decided to stand up and walk away. The freest I ever felt was the day I started to rebuild myself from the ground up. Piece by piece, I began to fill my empty apartment, which was metaphoric and meaningful to me.
The small things I did and the little daily achievements began to add up. Suddenly, the room was not so empty. And neither was I.
Suddenly, I was not so weak. The day I decided to take my life back was the day I decided to greet my freedom. I gave myself a pass. I gave myself a pardon from the things I could not control or fix. I decided to say farewell to the old me and to move onward.
I made the decision to say hello to the person I have always wanted to become. And that’s me.
Sure, I cried. Sure, this hurt. Sure, this opened up old wounds but at least I knew what I needed to heal from. At least I understood more about me and why I lived and behaved the way I did.
Finally, the rehearsal of goodbyes was over. At last, it was my turn to start to live my life as I chose to do so.
There was more to do and more to feel but at last, once I gave me the permission to do this, I was free to feel my way, on my terms, and nobody else’s.