I am becoming one of those people I used to despise. People that were eternally positive, always viewed the glass as half-full and were able to be grateful for the mundane used to piss me off. How could they be so happy all the time? I just didn’t get it. To say that I was resentful would be an understatement. It was envy, really, and I masked it with a false sense of superiority – actually looking down upon them for having boring, uneventful lives. In reality, it was I who was missing out on life.
Denial is a dandy defense mechanism. It allowed me to take my lumps and attribute it to my chosen lifestyle of non-conformity, rebelliousness and recklessness. Because I chose to exercise my “freedom” I had an extremely high threshold for pain and took pride in the fact that no mater how bad it got, I could take it. It was only after years of living life on the fringe that the pain (emotional as well as physical) got to a level that some changes began to take place.
I sometimes feel guilty that my life is so good today. Where I once was full of self-pity and would lament “why me,” I ask myself the very same question in absolute amazement. Some exceedingly traumatic events have occurred in my life, and I don’t believe chance had much, if anything to do with them. That means that there was a cause, a reason why these events took place. Part of my changed outlook was in determining what the cause was.
It didn’t happen overnight. It was not a sudden flash of inspiration or insight. It didn’t come to me in one single moment of clarity. I had to get beyond the years of denial I had lived in and see beyond myself to realize that there was one cause and one cause only for my apparent “bad luck.” My disenchantment with life, my disillusionment of what it was supposed to be and my lack of direction, purpose or respect for those that were following the rules and “getting it” all came from the same source: Me.
I have written about this before and will repeat it here again. Entitlement. For some reason, I got it in my head at a very early age that my life was supposed to be good. I’m not sure why, but this was what I thought. I did what I wanted to do and when it came to any sense of responsibility, good enough was good enough. I was never happy, never satisfied, always wanting – no, needing – more. Whatever it was, I couldn’t get enough. As a result, my expectations were never met.
I took most everything for granted. Everything was based in monetary wealth. I measured myself by the “stuff” I had. No matter how much I had acquired, I always felt deficient. I used to say, half-jokingly, “sure, money can’t buy love, but it can rent it for a while.” The problem is that when it came to love, friendship, personal worth, self esteem, community, etc, I felt that the way to measure the man was to look inside his wallet. I had the best friends money could buy and ironically enough – the true friends were underpaid. Fortunately or not, there weren’t too many of them.
If it sounds like I was a terrible person, I would like to say that perhaps I am being too hard on myself. Oh, sure there are those that may say I am not being hard enough, the point is that although I can look back and see what my life had become, it was not in anyway intentional. I mean, I had no clue as to how, when or why my perspective had become so materialistic. I was not exactly what you would call arrogant nor was I particularly rude or disrespectful. I was simply living by what I thought the rules were and, by and large, associating with those of the same ilk. I knew there were those leading productive, successful lives – I just didn’t think I had it in me.
So things have quite obviously changed. It feels like it has been a very, very long time since I have had a bad day. When in reality not long ago it was difficult to call even part of a day good, this amounts to a monumental change in my life. I have surrendered to listen to what that small inner-voice has to say. That voice is referred to as many things from a conscience to God, but whatever it is (I’ll save my thoughts on that for another time), it only wants the best for me and directs me to that end.
There is, of course, so very much more to it, but boiled down to the essential truth (the real truth, not the truth according to James Frey), this is the foundation of my optimism – and my wealth. The deal is that if I stay present, accountable, speak with honesty and walk with integrity, them I get to live happy, joyous and free. Sign me up!