I spent two years on the streets and the moral code I started with broke down further as one by one my objections to the parts of my life as it was fell away. I left the streets with a modified moral code, one that said At times I will do this to survive. A lie, because they were not things I did to survive, they were things I did to stay in that situation: That situation where I did not have to take any responsibility for myself or my actions; that place where the world and my view of it never changed and I could always point to my succession of failures and point out that it was because the world was against me, society. If not for that who knows what I could have been.
All bull, all lies and that is how we keep ourselves in our circumstances. Lying to ourselves, but I already told you. Lying to yourself is impossible, so what is the truth? The truth is that we ignore the truth. The truth requires sacrifice, action, real work. A lie is right there on the lips. It rolls off. All that it requires is your own willingness to stick to it. I spent two years on the streets where I did things that were completely against my moral judgment, or so I thought, where I used drugs daily, drank alcohol daily, engaged in risky circumstances daily, and I did it because I did not want to admit that I was there because I had lead myself there. Because I wanted to be there, or I believed that I should be there. That is my upbringing and that is not so different from yours, is it? Are there things you can relate to? Have you engaged in risky things to get the drug you wanted? Broken the law? Gone to jail, prison, and mental institutions? I have also. Overdosed, tried to commit suicide, sold your body to a stranger? I have done those things.
I have known many people in that same situation and I never met one person that had arrived there alone. Yes, they did bring themselves there, but they also had help, the same way I had help. A deadbeat father, no roots at home, and early drug and alcohol dependency, low self esteem, strangers who were more than willing to take advantage of me and lead me down paths that would help them to use me. In that sense we had help getting to those places. Don’t think I am not acknowledging all the people that steered us, but you are the captain of your own vessel, and your feet; one in front of the other led you there. You could have walked another way or even walked away and you did not. I know that is the truth because it was for me. Unless someone kidnapped you and held you slave or hostage you could have walked away; like me you did not.
The reason why I keep bringing it back to you and I is that there can never be any real, lasting work done until you acknowledge the fact that you made your own decisions. Yes, it is embarrassing. Yes it means telling the truth after many lies and it means it may not be believed. Yes, it might even mean there will be consequences over and above what you expected or thought you could handle. Yes, it might also mean you will lose some things. Yes, it means that many of the relationships you now have will end.
This is not a joke. This is not just another reaction to your problems. This is sitting down with or without help and working through the lies and deceit in your life to get to the truth, find some answers, set a new course, and believe me, if that truly is your goal this is one of the things you should prepare yourself for, loss.
Loss will come. Loss will begin the instant you begin to pull away and it is the major reason so many fail: Whether it is pulling away from an addiction, an abusive relationship, a risky lifestyle; or the edge of a thousand foot drop. It means changes are coming. It means you will lose the comfort of sameness, of being with others that also suffer, of suffering because you have come to believe you deserve to suffer. That sameness, that suffering, is sometime all we have allowed ourselves to keep from the wreckage of our former lives and to lose that it must seem to you as it did to me that the world is ending, and in many ways that is true.
When you throw out the poisonous stuff there will not be much left. When you throw out the relationships that help to keep you in your situation, that entire world will be gone. When you go to work to earn a living instead of flagging down cars, shop lifting, selling your body and soul, it will be a world that you might know nothing about at all. So in that sense your world is ending and the one that is coming is one you will fail in unless you are prepared for it. Unless you have sat yourself down and had that talk, figured out where you want to be and told the truth about where you are and where you have been.
Are we all equally lost? No. That is another misperception. We all have different temptations; we all have different demons, compulsions. All of us have commonalities too, but that doesn’t mean we should lump all of our circumstances together and make common decisions for all of us. I have been in treatment programs where I have seen that approach used and it is hopeless. It is breaking down with your car and then walking down a road that parallels the main highway. You can see the main highway and cars zipping by. Help is there, but there is a twenty foot high fence topped with razor wire in between your road and the highway. You will never get there. That is because what you need is not the same as what I need. Your wants, goals, future, will never be the same a mine. Think about it. If that were the case, if we were all that common in our needs, marriages would never fail. We would understand each other. One trip to jail, prison or rehab would be enough and it isn’t. That is why you must sit down and have that talk with yourself. Figure it out. Get it straight in your head before you ask for help to make the changes you are going to make and there are reasons to do it that way.
The first reason is you may make some decisions based on what you think you know that turn out later to be wrong. They become wrong because you learn as you change and we come to realize that what was right yesterday is not right today. And you will change. You will change because even in your circumstances you change every day: Every minute. If you tried to stay the same you couldn’t. Everything that touches you changes you. You think you are static because you do not acknowledge that change. You stay in your circumstances because at some point in your life something happened and you froze, slapped a coat of paint on who you were then and called it good enough. It wasn’t good enough. Not even close.
At around the age of five I was molested by and aunt. I don’t say that to shock or disgust you I say it to illustrate my last point. The abuse was ongoing and at some point in there I stopped growing. I considered it everything I could do to survive what was coming each day and so I stopped growing mentally. I slapped up a few defenses, whatever a five year old can, mainly to cave in, admit I am worthless, go through the pain and get it over with. I stopped my path to the person I was supposed to be and became that little person I was at that time for many years: With just those basic defenses to protect myself. My views of women stopped developing and became based on her actions and so the hatred I felt for her dominated my feelings about women. I became a man who acted like a child; thought like a child, behaved liked a child. A child cannot live in an adult world where they are expected to be adults. So I was rejected. No one was going to stop and take the time to talk with me, get me to see what I had done; was doing. I was rejected and that was all that I felt. The world made no sense. I had no mechanisms to help me survive. Alcohol and drugs seemed to provide answers and so that is the road I took. I had relationships that did not last because I was a child playing at being an adult. I had chances to prosper, trust was placed in me, and I failed again because a child is not up to those tasks.