Emotion Gratitude Hope Life

Reflecting on This Last Year of Transformation

August 9, 2020

It’s been a few months since my last entry. Hard to believe the summer has nearly come and gone. 2020 has truly been one-of-a-kind so far. The world outside is ravaged by COVID-19 and civil unrest throughout the world paints the picture of an uncertain future. Sometimes I wonder how long society can endure in its current and broken state before the unthinkable manifests. Hopefully, it is still too early for such an apocalyptic notion.

While I’ve found myself pondering the affairs of humanity more than usual these days, I’ve also been quietly reflecting on my own life lately as I approach some notable milestones this month

I find it truly mind-boggling that the end of this month will mark 3 important anniversaries.

The first is losing her—the only woman I’ve ever loved.

It’s hard to believe that an entire year has passed since then. Everything still feels so fresh in my memory and in my heart. I still think of her almost daily but I carry with me a certain acceptance towards this new reality (which I suppose is not so new anymore).

While it’s taken a year to reach this point, I cannot help but be grateful for so much. First and foremost, for the love that we shared. For the times we were able to spend together. Last but certainly not least, the healing, growth, and the awakened quest to be a better man that she inspired in me. Even though she has moved away from me and onwards with her life, the seeds that she cultivated within me have grown slowly all this time. Now they reach for the heavens—tall and fortified—rooted in the depths of resolve and experience. 

I am so grateful for this growth in me and the inner peace and freedom I enjoy today because of this and because of her. Never could I have possibly imagined that such devastating loss would ultimately become the catalyst for me becoming the person I have always wanted to be.

I only wish she could’ve have known me as the person I am now and not the broken, selfish, and toxic person I had been in the past.

Despite everything, I still feel immense love for her. A genuine sense of care and adoration. My eyes swell when I think of the pain I caused her. My heart aches when these thoughts playfully torment me.

My only solace—my only comfort—is knowing that I will not be able to inflict any more damage because she has left me behind. I support her decision. I encourage her happiness. I want nothing more than for her to find the love and joy that she deserves.

I wanted to be that person to give her everything. I held her love in my hand but it was fragile and I tightened my grip too hard out of my own fear, pain, and selfishness. In doing so, I broke it into pieces that could never be mended. 

For fuck’s sake…

I’ll never forgive myself.

The second is deciding to return home—to a friendly ghost town

When she left, I made it my intention to get as far away from this city on the West coast as possible. I made the move initially to accommodate the changes in her life but my heart never belonged there.

How was I to get back home? Money was tight. I had nowhere to go. I had a good job in this new city. Was there even anything to return back to? I realized I couldn’t make the move until the new year so I made a plan for the next 6 months to focus on work, getting in better shape, and becoming a better person.

Surprisingly, I found myself with a strong determination and dedication to pursue these things. I knew I was fragile and vulnerable because of my emotional state. I knew it would be easy to fall back into the misery of depression—drinking and smoking myself to death in a frenzy of fear, regret, and all-consuming hopelessness and anguish.

I think it was this awareness though—knowing how close I was to falling off that edge—that inspired me to take a few steps away from it.

And so I did.

I kept a routine. I went to work, I went to the gym, I went to bed and then I’d wake up and repeat. I stayed busy. I focused on improving. Despite that though, as soon as I stopped moving, everything would hit me like a tidal wave. The fear, pain, anxiety, grief—you name it. I told myself to address it in small pieces and only for a fixed amount of time.

So each night before bed, I’d smoke some weed to dull my emotions slightly and help put me to sleep. But in this state, it became a safe haven to discuss with myself the weight I carried each day but did not address.

I would talk out loud about the pain, the grief, the anxiety, the fear, and the sense of loneliness from the absence of the woman I loved.

I would do this for 20 minutes but no longer. Then it was time to retire for the evening and I would go to bed and awake to face a new day.

When the weekend rolled around, I would unleash all of the accumulated emotions, energy, and sobriety by going to this filthy dive bar and getting completed trashed. The next day I would spend recovering in bed. Then I would return to work on Monday and repeat the process.

For those 6 months this is how I lived. While perhaps not the most perfect strategy, it was one that worked for me and one that allowed me to persevere. It ultimately brought me to that point 6 months later where the time had come to return home.

I had set my intentions and then I took steps—no matter how small—each day to get there. Now this my prize. I returned to my hometown this past March. While it certainly feels very different, and in some ways empty, my heart is at peace here and it tells me this is where I must be.

At least for now.

The third anniversary: the day I truly decided to do better and be better

When you lose the most important thing to you, thoughts of how it could’ve been saved float around in your head like a sea of bubbles. There is no escape.

There were lessons I could’ve never learned without making such grave mistakes. Despite the fact that I wish they had never happened, I have to acknowledge the role they’ve played in inspiring me to be a better person.

I never, ever want to repeat these mistakes. I never want to be the person I used be. I want nothing to do with my former self. That person caused so much pain for himself and for those he cared about. I will not allow such reckless suffering to rampage unchecked in my life anymore. 

In this last year, I have exercised more regularly and consistently than I ever have in life. I’ve lost 25 pounds. I’ve regained my self-confidence. I’ve regained my self-esteem.

In this last year, I’ve removed smoking cigarettes as a regular part of my life. Sure, I still indulge on a rare night of drinking but this is worlds apart from sucking those bastards back all day long for 13 years.    

I’ve drank less this last year than I have since I turned legal age 13 years ago (holy shit I’m old now). The drinking is still my biggest vice and I’m not done the work that I need to do in reducing the role alcohol has played in life.

But every day I get closer. Much closer.

In this last year, I’ve made more money than I ever have in my entire life. I’m not rich by any means but the first time in my entire life, I’m out of poverty.

In this last year, I’ve grown more as a person and have become closer to being the person I have always wanted to be, then at any other point in my life.

In this last year, I reduced the weight and power that depression and anxiety had over me for my lifetime. For the very first time in my life, my depression feels small and my anxiety feels manageable. For the first time in my life, I feel some sense of control.

As I reflect back on this last year and all that has happened, it truly blows my mind. Especially how despite the pain, fear, and anxiety, I somehow managed to conquer it all. It has instilled me with a particular confidence and a sense of resilience that reassures me there is now nothing I am incapable of surviving. 

I have seen first hand how hardship and adversity can literally be the catalyst which transforms and transcends you into something better and new (if you let it).

My heart is still heavy when I think back to the past and what I have lost but it is also now counterbalanced by what I have achieved and the person that I am becoming.

This past year has certainly been the most transformative of my life by far. For the first time in my life I feel as if I am truly living, as opposed to merely surviving off the scraps of life. Perhaps now I can hear my true calling. Perhaps now I can open my heart and help others as I have helped myself.

Perhaps now, I can be a voice of encouragement and hope to those who have suffered as I did. And maybe—just maybe—love may find its way into my life again… where redemption can be made possible.