so today is my 50th birthday. I don’t usually care much for birthdays, they are just another day to me, but apparently this one is supposed to be a big deal. and it is. sort of I guess? It sure is interesting to reflect back on the last 50 years and see how far I have come. Even 25 years ago life was drastically different. 25 years ago to the day, I had only recently ended my period of homelessness, but it would only be another month before I would be fired from my job for missing yet another day due to legal issues that repeatedly landed me in jail. (ok, “legal issues”, while accurate, doesn’t really describe what was happening. I just wasn’t taking care of business and it kept coming back to me). anyway, 25 years ago I was nearing the end of what I consider my first Dark Ages – meth addiction, homelessness, unemployment.. they were all a part of my daily life.
Why? Because I hadn’t dealt with any of my issues and was still in “escape” mode. I didn’t really want to take part in life – I hadn’t really experienced any of the good stuff.. just beatings, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and lots and lots of drugs and alcohol. It would be another year before I shipped out to boot camp in an attempt to change my life, and between my birthday and that day, I spent most of every day trying to find work and worrying about how to feed myself, my wife, and my stepdaughter.
Today? Today is much different. I have a clean credit report (it’s not great yet, but at least all the bad stuff is gone), I have a car, I own a house, and I have a 6 figure salary doing something that I’m both good at and enjoy (usually).
I told my therapist yesterday that I’m still working on improving and she stopped me right there and asked me “aren’t you happy with where you are?”. I responded with “yes, but I can always improve” and she just looked at me and asked a simple question… “if you were watching a beautiful sunset, would you think ‘this is beautiful’ or would you think ‘well it could be better'”? And I have to say she had a point. Then she asked me again, “are you happy with who you are”, and said it was a simple yes or no question.. no “but..”, no lawyer speak, just a simple yes or no.
That wasn’t an easy question to answer.. there are so many factors involved in “happy”, so many things that *could* be better despite so many things that are *already* wonderful.
We only had an hour, so couldn’t quite dig deep enough to figure out why it was so difficult for me to simply say “yes”. After all, I have accomplished a lot. Especially for somebody who had such a rough start in life. But I don’t feel like I’m “there” yet. Despite everything I have and everything I have accomplished, I don’t feel settled. I don’t feel like I can stop moving forward.. so what is it I seek? I wish I knew.. “better” is so nondescript it really means nothing.
And sadly, I know I’m not the only one out there who feels this way. I think those of us who were abused, beaten, and raped, are always seeking something better. Something happier. Something different.
So this year I’m going to really focus on slowing down, enjoying the world around me, and appreciating the fact that if I take a moment to stop seeking something different, bad things aren’t going to happen. This is the year I put everything I’ve learned from many many years of therapy into motion and try to accept that I am good enough just who I am.