Ad Nauseam

When I first read the review of my book on Amazon describing it as “cookie cutter” I took offense. It hurt my feelings.

At the time I was writing to help get myself through a point in life where I felt stuck and was desperate to escape. Those cookie cutter ideas were the words I needed to get through another day. It was what I longed to hear from someone else … only I didn’t have someone else. I had to be that someone.

I was the only person who could help me get through.

On the outside I projected an image of happiness and success, all the while on the inside I never felt happy or successful. I had no emotion. I wasn’t happy or sad. Just bored. Blank. Empty.

I was searching for something to fill the void.

I traveled the world. I jumped out of airplanes. I climbed mountains. But no matter where I went or what I did I could never escape the feeling of complete emptiness and disconnect. Nothing seemed to do anything to alleviate the problem. I felt like I had no purpose in my life. All of these things I had done and was doing felt meaningless.

So I wrote.

I wrote cookie cutter advice to myself and shared it with the world, hoping in my words that maybe I could be the voice someone else needed in their life. Maybe I could inspire other people who felt the same way I did. The lost. The hopeless.

I think most people go through a phase in life when they question their purpose in this world. “What the fuck am I doing here?”

I ran far and wide, doing everything I could to escape from the person I was … trying to be someone else. But everywhere I went, there I was.

So my writing and advice is “cookie cutter.” Maybe it was. Maybe it is. But I wasn’t writing for anyone but myself. It’s what I needed to hear at that time in my life. I needed those words just like some people need a joint after work. I needed to find a way to get through another day of my life. I needed to feel like I had something to work towards and some type of purpose.

I’m still not sure what the point of life actually is. We’re here. We spend all of our life trying to survive, only to die anyway. That brief glimpse of time between two eternities is all we get. No repeats. No second chances.

If we aren’t happy, we need to figure out how to be happy. I’m not saying happiness is the point of life.

But being happy sure as hell makes waiting to die a lot more enjoyable.

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A Train Wreck of Choice & Circumstance

That’s all life is; a train wreck of choices and circumstance.

Every day we’ve had to make choices based on the circumstances of our life at that moment in time. It’s been that way ever since we were no longer shitting in our diapers. Sometimes we felt in control of those choices and other times it seemed like we didn’t have any other alternative.

Each of these decisions has led to exactly this moment. Whether your life is perfect or totally miserable, it’s this way because you chose for it to be this way.

If your life is good, you’ll agree with me. You know that everything you have today is because you worked hard to get it. You know there were times when you wanted to quit and it felt like the struggle wasn’t worth it. But you persisted and here you are. Everything might not be exactly as you’d liked it to be. But you’re okay with that because you know you’ve done your best and this is what you’ve got … what you’ve earned.

And if your life is shit, you’re going to argue and outline all the reasons I’m wrong. Or explain why you’re the exception. You’ll call me names and say I don’t know what I’m talking about. You’ll say I need to try living in the “Real World,” as so many people just like you seem to enjoy labeling their lives … as though there’s some alternate dimension I’ve been occupying all these years.

I know bad things happens. I’ve been through a lot in my life.

I was raised in a broken home by an alcoholic mother and a multitude of abusive men who came and went like the weather. My father committed suicide when I was in the third grade after I admitted to my mom that he’d been sexually abusing me. I used to blame myself for his death. It’s still hard sometimes not to feel responsible.

I’ve been homeless, sleeping at friends’ houses until I was no longer welcome. I had no other place to go. Sometimes I’d stay the night with complete strangers that my mom would meet in the bars. I was twelve when I first smoked pot and I started drinking and doing drugs regularly as an escape from it all a few years later. I was arrested and put in jail at eighteen.

I’ve lived in the “Real World.”

I didn’t like it.

Changing my life didn’t happen overnight. It happened slowly, one choice at a time. The choice to get clean. The choice to go back to school. The choice to get out of debt. The choice to travel. The choice to live life on my own terms. The choice to seek adventure. To find happiness. To be honest and vulnerable to hurt.

Even though none of us can control what happens to us, we still have the power to influence the outcome of our lives by how we react to any situation. Stop being a victim to the circumstances of your life. Don’t just be the product of other people. Choose yourself and begin creating a life you never thought possible.

It’s your choice.

Sometimes it has to Hurt

At some point in the past, you gave up control of your life and ended up here.

But now what?

How the hell do you change it?

After being in a relationship for many years, I couldn’t do it anymore. On the surface, our relationship was perfect. Outside looking in, no one knew I wasn’t happy. People only saw what I wanted them to see. I didn’t want anyone to know I wasn’t in love. I didn’t want to disappoint them.

So when I decided to leave, it hurt a lot of people.

My family. Her family. Friends.

It hurts to lose the people in the periphery of life; the people I’d grown to care about over time. When I heard that the children were asking why I wasn’t at Thanksgiving that year, it tore me up inside. I still think about them often and wonder how they’re doing.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care … I just wanted to be happy.

And my need to be happy … to feel love … hurt a lot of people.

It wasn’t a decision made in an instant. I’d struggled for years trying to convince myself that I could fall in love, yet it never happened. Lie as I might, love isn’t something I could force myself to do.

The pain I caused has no doubt faded, and I know now that leaving was best for everyone. I was able to find love and leaving also allowed love to find my ex. It was something she deserved that I wasn’t able to give her.

The point is, change usually means doing shit that hurts like hell.

It’s easy to fall into a routine and get comfortable. Even if things haven’t worked out quite like we thought they would … even if we aren’t happy. We just accept our situation as if we have no control over it. We allow ourselves to become powerless and afraid to change. Victims of circumstance. We convince ourselves that our dreams are too dangerous; that it’s better to just “play it safe.”

Our dreams become just dreams…

Whatever you want out of life, you have to make it happen.

Even if it hurts.

Especially if it hurts…

It’s been my experience that it’s often the things in life we’re most afraid of that are most worth doing. It still hurts to know how much I hurt so many people that I care about.

It still feels selfish to have hurt other people just so I could be happy.

But sometimes it has to hurt.

Sometimes it’s worth the pain.