Over the years since I started becoming a new person, I found that one thing is true of almost everyone who wants to become a better person. In the beginning, and at other times through our development, there’s a sense of helplessness. How can I change? Where do I start? How can I do this when no one will support me? When I first had that realization of how messed up I was and how much I wanted to be better, I felt utterly helpless. I had over a quarter century of bullshit and pain and bad choices and abuse and bad habits to deal with. How could I possibly change all that? How could I be anything other than what I was? I wanted to change so bad it literally hurt at times (I cried and lost sleep and was nauseous a lot.) but I didn’t know what I could do.
I felt even more helpless because I knew that there wasn’t one single person who was going to help me. I couldn’t afford a therapist and didn’t trust them anyway. All my “friends” were just screwed up, alcoholic, drug-addicted posers as was my boyfriend. His parents were delusional, my family had always been nothing but a herd of liars and abusers, and none of the people I knew online at that time really cared much about me. (I came to find that was partly my fault.) I was all alone in this, and I had no idea where to start.
I think the first few months were the hardest. I knew I didn’t want to be the person I’d become, I knew I was good on the inside. I knew I was smart and talented and loving and really amazing. I spent a lot of time being resentful of every single person that had ever hurt me, lied to me or just been generally shitty to me or to others in my presence. I resented and hated everyone I lived with, and what made it all worse was that I had very little money, no one to turn to, and no way out of the life I was living. I was trapped and alone and broken almost beyond my own belief. I was terrified that I’d never see change, that I’d die in this life.
I actually tried to take it all back for a while. The fear of facing it all alone, of trying to be a kind of person I’d never seen or met, one that would be an outcast among those I did know, was almost paralyzing. I was all on my own. People would hate me. And that was if I could make the changes I wanted, which at the time seemed almost impossible. So I tried for a while to forget that I’d wanted to be a better person. I tried to just fit in, get along, not think. It didn’t work.
Once you realize that you have issues and you light that internal flame of wanting to become better, you can’t put it out. It’s always there, flicking at the back of your mind, churning in your stomach. No amount of denial or pretending or drinking or drugs can make it go away. So I spent some time bouncing back and forth between denial, fear, anger and depression. I really wasn’t making any progress. The desire never went away, but I couldn’t seem to find a way to act on it.
Eventually, I just got pissed. I felt like I had to do something. That fighting spirit that had kept me going my whole life, that had brought me back from the brink of suicide more than once kicked in. I kept telling myself “You’ve got to get your shit together. You can’t let them beat you. You’re better than this!” And so I’d have moments where I felt I was making headway, and then I’d fall back into that helplessness. It cycled like that for a while. My life actually got worse before it got better.
I realize that telling you my life was a roller coaster that got worse before it got better might make you think that this is something you don’t want to do. Why go through that? The thing is, it’s not that bad for everyone. I really was alone and trying to deal with decades of mental and emotional abuse all on my own. Self-help wasn’t really a thing back then, I couldn’t read information online or buy books or get support the way people can now. If there were resources, I certainly didn’t know anything about them. The process of healing doesn’t have to be hell for any of you like it was for me. What you should really take from my story as I tell it to you is that even when it is hell, even if you’re going it alone (Which you’re not really, you have me if nothing else.) you can get through it. You can become better, no matter what you’re facing.