Many times in my adult life, my goals and dreams just seemed unattainable. I would become overwhelmed with the number of steps or obstacles in the way of a goal, and would decide to quit and dream another day. A lot of years operating this way and I had lost my desire for all things new and had gained enormous shame, guilt and regret. Along the way I told myself I was a survivor having been dealt a tough hand. I told myself that the success I had achieved in my childhood was brought through my incredible talent, toughness, drive and perseverance but I could no longer measure up due to tragic circumstance. I didn’t want to admit or even think that I had become a quitter. It took a lot of pain and complete desperation before I could see that. The truth was I had been blessed with natural talent but that was where my success story began and ended.
I won the lottery as far as God-given gifts are concerned. From the start, I had a personality that craved kinesthetic stimulation; I was good at most things I tried; I was naturally bright; I liked people so they usually like me; my family nurtured all my needs and encouraged every dream I had. Later, my story was that I was misunderstood and had been pushed too hard to do things I didn’t want to do, I was emotionally repressed and the equivalent of a trophy child. My story was total crap. I created my drama and my hardships, but through the years I leaned on my story for comfort in times of failure. Therapists were excellent at co-signing my bull shit. I developed the lie and made it so believable that I came to believe it! I hurt and bled by it!!!
The progression of all this was sadly simply. The first time I threw up intentionally it was a conscious decision and I had a plan. After vomiting, I would call my best friend and tell him in order to get more attention from him. At the time, the attention I wanted more of was on the friend level. At sixteen, I had the same angst that most sixteen year olds had. As everything and everyone around me was changing and developing at the same time, it took focus and attention away from me. Life showed up with a few deaths of loved ones, two at their own hands, and I felt lost and alone. All I wanted was a little more attention and some comfort from my peers. So when I told my friend what I had done and received disappointment and a stern lecture instead of sympathy and understanding, I was really angry. I didn’t tell anyone else. Instead I made another decision to throw up more, believing that if I did and it became frequent enough my friend would have to notice and care.
I knew nothing about addiction and certainly had no idea that I would soon be a bona fide addict. Within two months I knew I had lost control and could not stop puking. Within a year I had started drinking. Within two years, I knew I was an alcoholic, a bulimic, and majorly depressed. I became isolated and angry, and I could not cope with life. My solutions didn’t make sense to me let alone other people. The next few years drained me of any usefulness. It went a little something like this: I’m uncomfortable in my new school and struggling to make new friends. Bring me home and let me rest a semester. You tell me I can’t dive. Lock me in a psych ward. I’m failing school. Send me away. You sent me away. I'm never going back to school. You say I have to go to work when I’m depressed. I quit! You don’t love me and you think I’m mean. I’m an awful human and I hate you too! I have no friends and my family is always worried. I want to die! You want to help me. You can’t. it’s too late. I’m hopeless.
Thirteen years after that first decision to vomit, I considered my choices: end my life or continue to live my miserable one. My trips to the psych wards and rehabs had become normal. For me it was easier to be institutionalized than it was to function in the free world. ‘Hanging on’ for another few years just didn’t seem possible. By no virtue of my own, I managed to hold on just long enough.
Almost three years ago, a woman came into my life and taught me how to show up and be present every day for days and days in a row! I learned how to act better than I felt, to do what I said I would do, and to put one foot in front of the other no matter what. Somewhere along the way, I developed a sense of perseverance. I gained my spirit and my self-esteem back through right actions. I lost the shame, the guilt and have no regrets. You see, what I didn’t know back when I was lost in it all was that all was not lost. I didn’t know that I could and would accomplish more in this life than I could even dream up. I didn’t know that one step would bring me to a new point of view with new strength and new purpose. When I went back to school and was close to getting my degree, my brother kept telling me to just get a win. I didn’t realize that this idea would carry me through almost all of life’s challenges. Take one step and be amazed at what the next one will look like. By receiving my diploma, I opened my future to a whole new life and all new dreams. From there I began another journey which spring boarded me into another and another and another. I got sober and had no idea what I wanted to do or be, but I found that answer too. The woman that taught me so much three years ago said this, “I have never found my purpose by thinking about what my purpose is. It’s only in taking some action and doing something that I realize I have a purpose”. It was through my actions and the little wins that I found all my dreams were possible.
Today I dream big and keep my purpose simple. I try one day at a time to do the next right thing, to seek and share my truth and to never never never quit. Every day I find time to love, laugh and pray. It’s a dream come true.