I was walking my dog, no screens attached, when it hit me.
I have an idea about myself that I have held silently throughout my life (without being critical of it or sharing it out loud for others to poke at) that has been at the root of some of my biggest challenges.
Now I feel like sharing it, as a gesture of care and apology to my inner child. I also hope that others might see this pattern in themselves, or find hope in their own capacity to see things as they are, rather than be trapped in a limited pattern of thought.
I won’t make it to 20. With no guidance, I will be dead or in prison, no doubt about it.
I won’t make it to 30. The depression that settled in at 20 will overtake me. It is likely that I will drown in my grief and addictions.
I won’t make it to 40. This is when people have their life settled. I have done a hard reset on everything and have nothing to hold on to. How could I possibly survive this?
I won’t make it to 50. Even though I have crossed the bridge of having children, I do not have the benefit of years behind me. I crossed the world to start a family with a stranger. I have not done right by my body. I will be one of the “he was so young.”
Approaching that mark this year, I was convinced that I have unaddressed “comorbidities,” and so when the pandemic catches up to me, I will join the many laid waste by COVID-19.
Many things in my life have either fallen over or never stood up because of these beliefs:
>> I have been absolutely sh*t with money—no house, no assets, and debts I left behind that I cannot even think about.
>> I crossed the world to start a family but the children were not enough to keep the relationship going. I can look at the decades I thought I wouldn’t make it through, and each one had a significant relationship attached to it, now fallen away.
>> In my 20s, the freedom afforded by living in New York City allowed me to explore amazing job opportunities, but I squandered them by not having the wisdom to consider any of them for a career. So, I fell into work that almost did kill me through stress and burnout.
>> In my 30s, I started to explore my spirituality, but I dove in without experience, mentors, or emotional awareness. I can honestly say that when I was the most performatively spiritual, I was probably at the lowest point in my personal behavior.
>> I have been a bypasser extraordinaire. I imagine that a lot of this comes from a lack of self-worth, but all the things that could have interrupted me for the better, like therapy, writing, or exercise, I just let go because I was somehow either too busy or too above the need to know myself. Absolute garbage.
Today, things are different. A bit. I started working in spiritual care last year, and it fills my cup every day. It is not too demanding in time, and I can imagine staying with it until I, gulp, retire. I work in aged care, and let me tell you, even when it’s all going well, it is not where people imagine they will be.
I have started to have a play with that, imagining myself in their position. This demands that I imagine myself at 70, 80, even 90. A bit challenging for someone who has lived decade to decade not thinking he would survive the next.
Most of these hangovers will ease and be healed. I have started living as though “compounding” matters—just because I missed the benefits before doesn’t mean I cannot reap some in the years to come.
And I forgive myself. That terrible pattern that set me up for many so failures did not come from a place of self-hatred. It came from lack, trauma, and growing up in deep ambiguity, uncertainty, and no one around to point to a future where life is possible.
I forgive myself, too, for not recognizing that there has always been something on my side. In those moments where I faced dark, agonizing moments of absolute hopelessness, I have time and time again been whisked away. I see that pattern now too, and I’m living in a way that honours that part of my life as well as my future.
I parent well, especially considering what I received (and did not) as a child. One thing I know is that it is important to apologize to children when you f*ck up. As we do. There is much to gain in that act:
>> Respect on both sides
>> Acknowledgment of wrongdoing and the harm inflicted
>> The wisdom in calming down and reflecting
>> An openness that even in our care we are also fallible
>> An understanding that we will keep children safe and loved, even when the hurt comes from us
To start the process of acknowledging and healing this pattern, I am committed to apologizing to my inner child, who created this thought as an expression of care and safety. I say sorry for the losses, for the emptiness, for the lack of guidance.
I tell this child that we have some wisdom now, some skills, compassion, and inner knowing. We will get through. And life will be better for it.
Even if I am cut short, life will be better for it.
I love you, little one.
I am sorry that you could not imagine a long life. But it is in front of us now.
Let’s walk to it, together.