It’s been almost 7 years since life started getting really, really tough. I made some pretty significant mistakes and entered a dark time in my life. Counseling was never offered or required of me, but I sought it out on my own. I’ve been going to counseling for years now, and have learned very much about myself. I presently see both an MFT and a Psychiatrist, and both of them have helped me enormously.
It’s not always easy to face what lives within. It hasn’t been for me. The truth is this: for much of my life, I felt as if the rules just don’t apply to me. I’ve felt as if I’m special, and can decide for myself what I’ll do and won’t do. I’ve learned, the hard way, that I’m very wrong about that.
I have also been self-centered for a good part of my life. When life hit rock-bottom, I couldn’t comprehend how many other people were impacted by the fallout. I did comprehend, rather well, how things impacted me and a small handful of others, but there are friends in my life who were also hurt. I was angry with many of them until a wise man that I know brought to my attention that others lost ME.
Others Lost Me? Huh?
It is my opinion that inside any person who publicly displays a large ego is a man (or woman) who actually has very low self-esteem. Admittedly, I only say this because it’s true in my case. I’m not saying that I have no confidence in myself, because there are certain things in which I feel very confident, such as the work I do for a living. I’m good at what I do, and have a lot to offer to customers. But overall, I’ve often felt as if the glass of what I have to offer others, in my personal life, is not even half-full.
When I looked across a table at a man verbalizing the friendship that others lost when my life turned dark, I was surprised. He mentioned a close friend of mine, who hasn’t spoken to me in awhile. The man in question is a leader. He’s someone I greatly respect. In the past, I held him up on a pedestal and felt that I was always learning from him, even when I didn’t choose to follow his advice.
But I never once thought that man needed me in any way. I never once felt as if I offered anything to his life. I felt like a taker and almost like a charity case.
The man across the table told me that simply wasn’t true. He’s known the person in question for many years, and put proof in front of my face that I did indeed offer quite a bit to this great leader.
Tears came to my eyes. I suddenly knew that what he said was true. And I felt sorrow that this person lost a friend who did indeed contribute to his life. I felt sorrow that I’d never realized this before.
Saying No Isn’t Easy For Me
I recently learned to start saying, “No.” That’s been so very difficult for me. For many years I felt as if I could save people, but I can’t. I just can’t. I finally realized that when I try to save others, it’s often me who’s brought down, rather than others raised up. That does nobody any good at all.
So I learned that there are a few people I have to cut out of my life. Not because I wanted to do so – I don’t like it at all – but because I needed to do so. When I had them in my life, I wasn’t able to raise them higher. When I tried to do so, my efforts failed.
Letting go is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I don’t like it at all. But I see, through counseling, that it is sometimes the right thing to do.
And I’m listening, for once, to those who see things more clearly than I see them.
Long ago, I thought I’d taken responsibility for all of my actions. In some ways, I’d definitely done so. But there are levels to “taking responsibility” and I’ve lately leveled-up a few.
Counseling… is… amazing. But only if a person is willing to get really, really honest… and to listen, even when it hurts. It’s been hurting a lot. But when the pain goes away, something better remains. Something that feels liberating and pure and makes a person feel as if some of the pieces of the inner being are being put back in place.
I’ve recently been asked to speak again, and feel as if I’m ready. The message is going to be quite different this time. The topic won’t be singular. A lot has happened, and the God I know can use all of it for his good.
Along with life lessons that have been pounded into my brain, formal education has been a huge blessing to me. I’ve obtained two degrees in the last 2 years and am presently working on a Masters in Business Administration, with an Enterprise Information Systems specialty. Surprisingly, it’s a course that challenges me and forces me to study harder than I have in any other academic endeavor. I’m loving it (and my grades are good – WOOT!). What this does for me is something that I can’t put into words quite yet, though I’m sure they’ll eventually come. It’s a very positive experience.
Help Me Become a Good Man, Father
This is my prayer. I want to be a good man. I want anything that conflicts with that goal to be rooted out, even if the process is painful. I just want to spend the rest of my life being a decent human.