I ought never regret the experience of pain and suffering. Through these experiences I have learned the most valuable lessons in my life. 

I have been scared my entire life. I have been terrified of making mistakes and never recovering. But most of all, I had always been afraid to tell people how I actually felt. There are multiple reasons why I feared this: I didn’t want people to think I was weak, I was terrified of rejection – I just wanted to keep a smooth course and go unnoticed.

When I reflect on my past I don’t identify with much of anything. Some things that I once believed just don’t make sense to me any longer. Some things I’m still learning, I’ll never stop learning. But the one thing that I am most ashamed of is my inability to ever tell people what was going on in my head. I was selfish, I didn’t want to disappoint people, I wanted to be the person others thought I could be. I could play the part pretty well for awhile but inevitably the charm wore off and I was left alone, deservedly so.

The fact is when I think back to past experiences I don’t even know what I was keeping secret.  As more time passes I think I just never felt like I was ever good enough for anybody. I didn’t want anyone to see the part of me that was terrified so I showed a part of me that didn’t care. Somewhere in my mind I think I knew that would be enough to eventually push people away.

To be honest I don’t really like thinking about how I used to be. I can’t relate to my past – my memory is sometimes lacking. Sometimes I just remember the despair and in a way I think at the time I designed it that way. My idea of fun was running away – even when I was around people I was, for all intents and purposes, alone.

The reason I am writing this is because through all of this, through years of lying, depression, substance abuse and later minor memory loss, I have become someone I honestly never thought I wanted to be, and I absolutely love my life. I think of the passion and intensity that I have today – it’s pretty wild. My emotions don’t swing up and down and they are very clear to me today after years of not really feeling anything. When I speak about my life now I get so excited that I often begin to tear up, not out of sadness but because sometimes it seems unreal. How could I have turned out this way? How could a person who tried almost everything to destroy himself be at peace? Why did I have to put myself through so much pain to find happiness?

In all honesty, much of this past year has been a complete mystery to me. I don’t have any secret formula – I am not unique any more than anyone else is. Sometimes I think the reason my appreciation for life is so intense is because I know what the opposite feels like. When I think of what I was doing this time last year, what I was feeling, I think that I would have to be heartless to not be overjoyed for each day that comes to me. Whatever the reason is it is not all that important. What I find to be of much greater value is the very clear notion that good can come out of some very dark places.

I may have taken the longer path, but what my path taught me was how I don’t want to live. I am reminded of what my life can turn into when I don’t take advantage of each day. It has also taught me that I don’t want to live with regrets any longer, and quite frankly I don’t really have any in this new life. I am open and honest with people today, I can allow myself to be vulnerable without fear. I am able to do this because I am honest with myself and I trust my motives. I don’t set out to hurt people.

Most importantly, I am no longer afraid of the future. I have worried that no woman will love me because of my addiction – I have worried that if I have kids I’ll pass my addiction on to them – I have worried that I missed out on a certain future because of things I did in my past – In the past 10 months I have worried about all of these things for about 30 minutes. The fact is, today I know something about myself that I never knew; I know who I am.

Most of the time I don’t even know what I want but I know what I need. I focus on each moment so that I am able to enjoy each day and so I am prepared for the future, whatever it may hold. I may put myself in the position to be hurt from time to time but it is the only way I know how to gain what is most important. I am no longer confused about who I am or what I am doing. Perhaps I am too intense at times but at least I know that my intensity has direction. It has heart and love. I let the future be whatever it will, and I’ll be myself.

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