Potential is found through discovery. When I was a Senior in high school, it seemed to me that I was headed in the right direction and my future was bright. The difficulties of my childhood had been overcome and worst days were behind me. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There were many times in my life that were pivotal in the development of my current status. I look back on the times I wish I had made different choices, or acted with more for-thought, and wonder if it could have happened any other way.
I was counting on becoming someone other than I am. I believed I was someone else. I was unable to perceive, but with such great perception, I missed what was right in front of me.
During elementary school, I used to go to the resource room in the middle of the day. The teacher spoke loudly that it was time for me to leave the other students behind to go to a special class by myself. It seemed I would spend so much time alone, but this wasn’t my choice. They said I had perceptual problems. I had a learning disability. The truth was more complicated. I am bipolar, but it was more. My parents were going through a divorce, which impacted me greatly, but it was the constant crisis in my mind that distracted me from making mundane choices.
I still struggle to understand the nature of my existential dilemma, which had been aided by substance abuse in an effort to protect the pain. It has taken time away, I have gotten older and regret the time I lost. I wish I was further along than I am. I have just 10 months clean and very proud of that, but wish I hadn’t had to devastate myself to learn a lesson that seems so obvious to other people.
It comes down to what I wanted and how I saw best to achieve my goal. The goal was to feel no pain, but it seems enduring pain is a part of life. There are some things that can’t be avoided. The rain must be weathered so that nourishment and beauty can bloom. I learned too slowly that some of my beliefs were flawed. The perspective I cultivated didn’t served me, but it kept me distracted from the pain I was enduring without realizing it. I wasn’t doing anything to change the cause of pain. Just subduing it.
Understanding has always been important to me. Lessons and insight are easier for me if they happen over and over again. 1993 was my Senior year of high school and had figured it out only at the end of the journey. It seemed people liked me. I was accepted, in a band, on my way to art school, having a girlfriend, my own car, good looking and appreciated by my teachers. I had overcome only after so many years of torment in school – the fights, the bullying, getting an A on the Physics final exam. Like a movie, those challenges had been met. And most of all, I had time on my side. But a lot of time, I made mistakes, missed out on opportunities, hurt friends and family, been irresponsible with money and health, risked my life with foolish whimsical impulses.
When I think back to the year I turned 18, from age 45, I have regret because I wish my choices had yielded different results. I don’t have a family or a solid job or living situation or love. I have a lifetime of experience, which is what i valued. A romantic view, that with all romance, ends in tragedy. A good story needs ups and downs, otherwise the payoff isn’t as sweet, whatever the outcome. The real value of what I take away from the 27 years since then is wisdom. I wish it had come sooner, but I’m not sure I could appreciate the significance of the knowledge.
Many things escape my understanding, which again, may seem obvious to others. Like who to trust or who it is safe to love, or what does it even mean to love someone. Romance seemed to mean fulfillment at one time, enlightenment seemed to offer freedom. Music was like a dream. Art was a philosophy with an identity attached. But how do you nurture desire, a motivation to motivate, a purpose to the depression that constantly lays in wait?
It is the day after Christmas and has hit me quit hard. This time last year I was addicted to cocaine and spent the day alone with a plate of lines instead of turkey. I need to remain grateful that isn’t where I am today. Writing this with gratitude is a productive place to put the pain. To admit being depressed, but channeling it.
I don’t know where I will be exactly, but I have ideas about where I want to be. I want to perform my music. I want to make movies and documentaries. I want to speak about mental illness. I want to inspire others to do what brings them joy. I want to live in the woods within reach of culture. I want a happy, healthy comfortable life that may still offer a difficult future, but at least I have a firm base with security. I believe it is important for me to know what I want. I wish I wanted to be in love, but I’m not sure I do. I’m not sure how easy it is for me to trust or want to be around other people. Time will tell, so I focus on what I am sure of. I want to be sober and create. Perhaps the echo of 1993 is calling out right now, but I’m still contemplating what I want to say when I pick up the phone.