I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
It has always been about what I could get. I mean, even my first girlfriend was more about social status than anything. She was cute but I didn’t really know much about her. But I got to strut around the neighborhood casually dropping humble brags to my friends about having to get back home to call my “giiiiirlfriend.” And when I got a little older it was more about the sexual conquest. Sure, I dated people seriously and was even in love once or twice but mostly it was about how often and where we could have the most sexually adventurous hookups.
Human nature prevents of from fully embracing change. Of course there are plenty of people who feel trapped when they are living in one place too long or at the same job or with the same person, but generally that is reserved for younger people privileged enough with the means for such wanderlust. And as a person who grew up with a substance abuse councelor as a mother, one of the first things she taught me was that addiction prevent emotional growth. Gambling, sex, drugs, food, alcohol – these are what addicts turn to when faced with difficult and stressful life decisions. Genetics, faulty wiring, and ineffective parenting prevent us from acquiring coping mechanisms, so we go to what helps us forget. And when we attempt to forget, we shy away from change – or more specifically, evolving emotionally. And it is completely understandable. As a survivor of childhood abuse I can tell you that it was so much easier to lose myself in dating, sex, and the company of women than it was to think about the evil that snuck into my bedroom at night.
As I fumbled my way into adulthood and watched the grey hairs sprout from my temples, I wondered when I would finally feel whole. It’s funny, when you’re a kid people are constantly telling you, “You’ll understand when you get older,” about everything. But the truth is, unless someones is there to help you see, you probably won’t. You’ll simply grow into a confused adult with more grey hairs. But like many of you, I am an over-thinker. People like us tend to shy away from change and opportunity if only because we over-think the outcome. What happens if we fail? We will look stupid and it will be a waste of time. What happens if we are successful? Then we will have to change our lifestyle and I like waking up at noon and binge-watching Netflix all night. So I spent decades chasing women, having sex with women, and surrounding myself with women – I would have been the envy of my childhood neighborhood. And yet, I was still a confused adult with a head full of resentment. So I started writing. Not because I thought I was any good and not because I thought I could help anyone but because I was frustrated that no one came to my rescue to help me make sense of it all. And as the years passed and I continued to mash out words on a keyboard, I was consistently surprised at what was revealed on my screen. It was then that the moments of abuse came to light. Memories so far repressed that I had literally forgotten about them for decades. And when those 2am thoughts crept in and there was no one left to sext, I was forced to confront the misgivings of those who were supposed to look out for my well being. And slowly but surely, I looked to anonymous sex and online hookups a little less and I started to feel not so much happier, but a little less sad. And as the sadness began to wane, my vision became clearer and I started to learn that the key to filling my life with more happiness was not to see what I could get from women, but what I could give. Support, respect, insight, compassion, a solid and positive foundation of mutual friendship – these are what began to make me feel whole.
One of the few things I have learned through this journey is that sometimes people are lucky enough to find a person to point us in the right direction – but unfortunately, most of us don’t. Most of us flounder and fumble our way through life, taking advice from all the wrong people, perpetually confused and subconsciously taking that confusion out on everyone else or hiding from it in a comfortable haze of addiction. We can no longer afford to waste minutes, hours, and years waiting for someone to be our hero. And while we might be damaged goods, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have the courage within us to confront those awful memories. Because despite our genetics, faulty wiring, and ineffective parenting, all of us have a hole that can be filled. And while my hair has grown progressively more grey with the years, I have learned that everyone is looking for someone to help them make sense of all of this. And you are either the person who takes advantage of that vulnerability or do what you can to help them see that there are still good people left in this world.