To be honest, the idea of change was unthinkable to me. I say this before going forward but I say this with a purpose. I say this because I had lived a certain way for such a long time and to me, living any other way seemed impossible. I lacked the energy to change. I lacked the belief that I could change; therefore, I lacked the drive and the ambition to make a change.
I say this because this is my truth. I explain this as my truth; however, at the same time, none of this was true at all.
I only believed it was.
At some point, I came to the understanding that I subscribed to the deceptions of my perception. I had given into the inaccuracies of my assumptions and lost myself to the wrong interpretations. I lived in the constant model of my trained beliefs; therefore, I believed in my anxiety. I believed in my depression. I believed in the catastrophes of my thinking and the tragedies of assumptions. I believed in this wholeheartedly because this was the direction of my trained opinions.
I was my personal definition of the word “Bias,” which means I lived in the constant state of submission to what the dictionary defines as my particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling or opinion and thus, I submitted myself to unreasonable and irrational ideas about you, me and the world as I knew it.
I thought money could solve my problems. I thought that if I looked differently or performed differently that I would be okay. Or better yet, I thought that a geographical change would fix my problems. If none of these worked, then perhaps it was my job. Maybe it was my work life. Maybe it was the fact that I lacked the gusto of true passion. I had no direction. I had no zest. No zeal.
At best, I had habits that erased my thoughts in small doses, which eventually increased.
I have lived in regards to my thinking and depression for nearly my entire life. However, eventually I came to a turning point. I turned around and I straightened out. To be clear, drunk or high, clean or sober – I never believed that this would be possible.
There was a night where I found myself sleeping on a bench in one of the neighborhood parks. I chose this place because there was nobody else around. This place was known as the “Tot-Lot,” which was where the little kids played. Most of the crowd from my town was on the other end of the park, but not me. I was alone here. I chose this spot because I could slip into my nod and allow myself the feeling of my cocoon-like state. I’m not sure how I ended up here nor am I sure how long I was nodding on the bench. Either way, I was warm in a cold climate. I was out of this atmosphere. Suddenly, I realized that I was no longer alone.
I noticed there was a girl who was sitting nearby. She was from a different crowd. Or more to the point, she was a pretty girl from the popular side of the school’s cafeteria. She was well-known and well-liked and for the moment, she was alone (like me) and crying by herself.
Something in my head told me that I should move. Something told me that if someone else came around, they might consider that I had done something to her to make this girl cry. And that could result in a beating and I was done with taking beatings.
I got up and started to walk away. I apologized for being where I was and I started to leave but somehow, something caused me to ask if the girl was okay.
This was a person who would never talk to me. And when she did, nothing she said was nice or kind. Usually, she was with her crowd of pretty people but me; I was from the other side of the crowd. I was one of the local knuckleheads and to her (and others), I was nothing more than a teenage junkie. To them, I was a bum. I was a burnout. I was a loser.
I’m not sure how the conversation started. First, this is an old memory but secondly, this is a heroin memory, which I agree is an altered memory. However, this part is clear.
“What is that like?” she asked.
“What is what like?”
That stuff you do,” she responded.
I am not sure if she knew what I was doing. I am not sure what she was thinking but at the same time, I could not believe that someone like her, a person who everybody wanted – I had no idea why would someone with all of her advantages want to do what I was doing.
In fairness, if I was sick at the time or in need, I would have tried to turn her on to a dose. I’m grateful this never happened. I’m even more grateful this conversation took place because this became something that later shaped my levels of understanding.
There was a pause in our social differences and for the moment, we were simply two people who were talking about life. She was telling me what it’s like to be her. She was telling me things that I had heard before yet, she was telling me things that I would never expect to hear from someone like her.
We talked about the pressures of the crowd and the fact that real friends are often fake friends. But hey, what could we do?
Be alone? Be a person without a crowd?
To be this at a young age is to be a person without status, which was something that I understood.
“Why would you want to do what I do?”
I asked this without specifically defining what I was doing.
The truth was that like me, she wanted to quiet the thoughts in her head. Even if only for a minute, she wanted to cancel her feelings. She wanted to stop all of the pressures and more than anything, she wanted to stop the ideas of impending doom. She wanted to stop thinking and predicting that something will always be wrong. In fact, if something is always going to be wrong then fine, at least let’s take something that makes this easier to deal with.
This was years ago . . .
Fast forward to another time in my life. I was an acting recovery coach for a client who I was hired to escort for one week. I recall the first day and how we started to talk. This was a person who was well-known and somewhat famous. He was valued in his circle of influence. He could afford anything he wanted. Money was not a problem. He worked in the field of his choice. He was an amazing writer and to me, he was an incredible wealth of knowledge. I saw him as a person who lived a desirable life and as the days moved on, I found that our conversation was no different from the talk I had with the girl in the park.
Even now as I write this to you, I recognize that I am approaching the 31st year of my sobriety. I am clean and sober and I am a person who lives with the results of depression. I have lived with other challenges, such as social anxiety, irrational fears, rejection-sensitive disorders and the automatic assumptions that the worst will always happen.
I was never able to imagine the actions it would take to remove myself from any of these equations.
I never dreamed that someone like me would be where I am. Even now, I still question where I am. However, at least now, I can recognize my thinking and decipher between beneficial thoughts and unhelpful thinking.
I never believed that this would be me. I never imagined that I would be a creator of support programs. I never believed that I would be a speaker or an advocate. I never believed because I never believed in any vision that was different from what I habitually chose to see.
(See what I mean.)
Imagine the action:
I now find myself in a favorable position. I am working on programs in a corporate setting to help people feel better, live better and to find their direction in life.
If asked, I would have never believed that any of this is possible.
And yet, it is possible.
I know it is . . .