This is a guest submission from Sabra Kay
Before you read her post, I wanted to share the email I got from Sabra after she sent me this post. I really admire her willingness to put herself out there for all to see.
“I pretty much let loose with all of it, so I am going to hit send and be done with it. I feel grateful that I found your site. I am honestly terrified that I am putting all this stuff out there, but I know that it is time for me to be me. If I can’t do that then I will never know what it is that I am really supposed to be doing. I feel like I have a path, and if I am authentic and I keep working, that path will be revealed.”
Underachiever. Loser. Addict. Chickenshit. These are some of the words I would have used in the past to describe myself.
Did I have dreams when I was a kid? I don’t really remember. I guess my dream was for people to like me. I was that kid in school, the one that confused the teachers. “You’re so smart, I don’t understand what the problem is.” Well, neither did I.
First off, I did not believe that I was smart. I liked school, I really did, but I just couldn’t focus. I would daydream all the time. If the subject was interesting, I would soak it up. I read every book I could get my hands on, but I barely made it through school.
My Friend, Addiction
Life was not easy for me growing up. I am a survivor of abuse, both physical and sexual. School was a nightmare for me. I was the dorky kid who followed the “cool” kids around but didn’t fit in.
It only got worse as I became a teenager. Like many kids in high school, I experimented with drugs and alcohol. The problem was that I fell in love with them. When I used, I wasn’t scared or awkward. I could focus and I could talk to people without feeling like I was going to die. For a few years all I did was party. I got myself in some pretty shitty situations, and at one point I decided it was time to grow up, so I did.
I got married, I had kids, I had jobs. This is what I thought I was supposed to do. My parents were really hard workers, and they had strong opinions of what life was supposed to be about. You worked, you struggled, you sacrificed. If you worked hard enough, you would be rewarded with some money in the bank, a nice house, a new car. Maybe some cool toys. I tried my best to do this, but I always fell short. I was never happy. I pretty much felt like I sucked at life. After my second marriage fell apart, I found myself once again in the company of my old friend; addiction.
Fast forward a few years. I am homeless. I have nothing. I have sunk to the bottom and I am not sure if I can pull myself back up.
Somehow I did. Realistically, it is a miracle that I did. Once you have gotten to that point, it is statistically unlikely that you will recover. I did though. Deep down inside I guess I knew I would, because I am a survivor and I always have been. I cleaned up and started to pull it together.
I learned some things about myself. I learned that I had anxiety, anger issues and post traumatic stress disorder. I learned that I was scared shitless nearly all the time. I didn’t challenge myself, I rarely took any healthy risks, and I seldom followed through on any of my ideas or goals. My self-esteem and self-worth were pretty much non-existent.
I continued the inner work, and realized that I had been living my life on autopilot, and that it was a defense mechanism that at one time had kept me safe. I had to learn to let go of that, though, because it no longer served me.
I also had to let go of being a victim. The victim mentality kept me trapped. I blamed everyone else for my problems, and I gave others way too much power over me. I resisted making decisions for myself, instead looking to others to make them for me, then getting resentful when I didn’t like the outcome.
I had to learn to be accountable, and to take responsibility for myself, my decisions and my life. It wasn’t easy.
Finally A “Normal” Life. But Not What I Want
Fast forward again. I have a decent job with my own little cubicle. I have an apartment. I have a good life, but I am still unsatisfied. Something seems missing, and I know that I could be doing more. I want to help people, people like me. I decide to pursue a degree in psychology and human services.
I thought that I eventually wanted to get a master’s degree in social work and be a counselor.
I wanted to make a difference. I started down that path and enrolled in school. I got an internship, and then a job at a social rehabilitation facility for adults who have co-occurring disorders. For awhile, I felt good. I soon realized, however, that most of my job consisted of bullshit paperwork and unproductive staff meetings. Lack of funding meant that people were getting low-quality care. And, I was still an employee, something I had never been very good at. I would come home from work exhausted, stressed and miserable.
I frequently worked the graveyard shift, which meant that I had a lot of downtime. One night, I was looking up something online, I don’t even remember what it was. I came across Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Workweek site. I ended up buying the book that night and reading it on my phone. I became inspired, with so many ideas my brain was spinning. The day that I left that place, I vowed I would never get a job again.
I have so far kept that promise.
Finally On The Right Path
So here I am now. I am 43 years old and for the first time in my life, I feel like I am on the right path for me. Not the path that I feel like I “should” be on, or that others think I should be on, but my very own path, that I have chosen. I am not sure exactly where it is leading me, but I have a tremendous amount of belief that it is leading me right where I am meant to be.
Yes, sometimes I am filled with regret over the things that have happened in my past, for the mistakes that I have made and for the time that has been wasted. I know, though, that everything I have been through has made me who I am today, and I like who I am.
I don’t care who you are, how old or young you are. I don’t care how much stupid shit you have done or how many mistakes you have made. We all have a past, and we all have our demons. It is never too late to start over and to follow your dreams.
You aren’t too broken or too worthless, no matter what you are feeling about yourself. The voices in your head are lying to you. You can tell yourself the truth. You can start right now, today, and do something different. Your past does not have to define you, or your future.
Sabra is currently a freelance writer and blogger. She has many passions including travel, photography and a relentless pursuit of knowledge and personal development. She has been clean and sober for 8 years and her dream is to find a way to help others knock down the walls and perceived limitations that keep them from living their dreams.