You know, I just had another read through of the post I wrote on my birthday. In it I gave a few examples of things that had started to make me feel like I was being acknowledged for things that I’ve done. When I wrote that they were just meant to be tiny examples of things that had made me smile and built me up a little but, reading it now, it seems like I’m saying I feel this way for those things alone. I’m not. I guess I’m just starting to actually like and respect myself again. Fact is, I used to hate myself and with good reason too. I know what you’re thinking, how is it possible that the owner of the world’s biggest ego could hate himself? Well, just like everything else that’s larger than it should be on a human being, the ego was faked to cover up that fact. While a lot has happened in my life to make me less than happy with the person I was turning into, the turning point came to me on Valentine’s night 1997. At that point in my life I was considered the best in my profession by many people, having the physicality and mental faculty to do any task I was set and the experience to be respected by the managers. Of course, those managers made one very bad mistake – they let me know I was the best. You know what it’s like when you’re a teenager and someone lets something like that slip. I knew I was the best and had no problem telling people about it. I’d never been short of girls before but my confidence attracted more than I could possibly handle, not that I didn’t give it a try, and this became the subject of a running joke between me and my workmates. Which is how I found myself entering Valentine’s night with a different girl on each floor of a three floor club and the challenge to give all three of them a romantic night while keeping them from knowing that they weren’t alone in my affections and still doing my job. It’s a hell of a story, full of comedy moments and near misses as well as a surprising ending, and I hope to tell it to you someday, but that’s not what this post is about. No, this post is about what happened that morning.
I was getting ready to do some last minute promotions work in the day and looked at myself in the mirror as I did my hair. For a moment it was like the mirror was the portrait of Dorian Gray, and I saw all my sins played out on my face. This thing looking back at me couldn’t possibly be what I’d become, could it? I was disgusted. The night before an ex-girlfriend of mine had passed away and I’d partially blamed myself for not helping her when I had the chance. I see that so clearly now, but back then all I saw was the person I’d become and how he destroyed everything he touched. That moment became the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and it was a condition that would plague me on and off for over a decade. I managed to find the negative in everything and, while I was optimistic enough to know these things wouldn’t always happen, part of me blamed myself whenever anything bad did happen. I’d blame things on how I used to be, who I used to be, how I treated people, and the mystical “I obviously deserved that in some way”. I threw myself into my work, a place I knew I could do no wrong and became better than the best. People from all around the country soon started requesting me to come help them out for a night and offering a premium price for it. Sometimes I’d get lonely or need a bed for the night in a strange town and be easily able to pick up a girl for the night by summoning a version of the confidence I’d had before, but I always felt like I’d done something wrong afterwards and bailed out before things could go any further and they could get hurt by me. I know now that I probably did more damage that way, but I honestly thought I was doing them a favour at the time. It would be three years before I risked having a serious girlfriend again. However, I’m a warrior and I don’t give up, so I overcame the problems that affected me eventually, adding new problems along the way and then dealing with those too. I’ve looked back at key moments from my past where I’ve been faced with a crossroads and gone one way instead of another, and rebuilt myself from the ground up in some respects but not the way you’d think. I look at those crossroads and I know I chose the right direction almost every time. It may not have taken me to a good place but the mere fact that I’m identifying these moments and wondering if I made the right choices means I’m on the other side of that and can continue going. In the case of February 13th 1997 I know damn well that I did the right thing. That girl didn’t starve herself to death because of me, she did it in spite of me. I didn’t deny her any help, she refused to take it. Many other times in my life I’ve chosen the right path and allowed others to convince me I was wrong, and I’ve rectified this in my mind now.
I look at who I’ve become now that I’m a grown man and, overall, I’m happy with that person. Sure, there’s a couple of extra pounds in places, and I’m not as smart as I used to be, but I’ve still become a phenomenal person. The younger me wouldn’t have liked me one bit because I’m calmer than him, smarter than him and I’ve done more than he ever has. He’d look at some decisions I’ve made since I grew up and wonder why I made them, never once understanding anything outside of his own realm of influence. But there’s one thing I do know he’d be interested in – my friends. He’d look at the group of people I surround myself with and be astounded. You see, we all have problems in our lives but my friends are the sort who’ve dealt with their problems on some level and come out the other side as some of the strongest people I’ve ever known. Mentioning no names there are people who’ve lost everything to drug and alcohol addiction, people who’ve seen their home countries torn apart by senseless war, people who’ve suffered mental, physical and even sexual abuse as children, eating disorders, spousal abuse and many other horrors of the modern world. Those are extreme cases of course, but every problem can only be measured by what you know so any problem could be of equal import with the right person. Each and every person I count as a close friend has had or is dealing with some huge problem that I can’t even imagine, nevermind be able to handle myself. These people have come out the other side of their problems and they’re still smiling, still joking around, still good people. It’s an honour to know each and every one of them. They’re my friends, my confidants and, like me, they’re warriors.