by Sean Cuddihy
Sometimes when I look back on my addiction there is a point where I get sick to my stomach with regret. I can see and feel all the people I have wronged. From stealing, lying, and manipulating, I lived in a state in which some would call hell. To put it in laymen's terms, I was a scumbag. But what do we do when the result of the terrible, malevolent, selfish actions we have done is the exact reason, from those same actions, that has made us an incredible and beautiful changed human-being? If I did not steal, I would not have been arrested. And in my cell; that's where my biggest breakthroughs happened. That's where I made my decision to change from a pessimistic, negative, self-loathing human being into a positive, confident, self-loving human-being. It is quite the enigma.
I have hurt a lot of people. I have done a lot of things I am not proud of. But if it were not for those things I would not have my life in the positive upswing that it is in today. Everything is interconnected. People do terrible things to us, and we do messed up things to other people. But if we are all learning and growing from these terrible things, maybe they are not so terrible after all. Maybe there is no such thing as "terrible things," maybe there is just things that happen to us and it is our job the learn from them.
I believe these circumstances become terrible when we have our eyes closed. Having our eyes closed can drop us down into a state of self-pity. I have spent many many years in the depths of self-pity. As far as I can tell, as far as I can see, when one is in the depths of self-pity you miss the teachings that lay in front of you. And what follows is nothing but complacency, depression and anxiety. There is another option other than being in this hopeless state of mind, as mentioned earlier, it is paying attention and learning. And it takes utter and complete honesty with oneself to be able to learn in troubling times. Honesty proves to be very difficult. Why is that? In my experience, this is due to the fact that our minds are extremely powerful. I can absolutely believe, with all my heart, that something is true and have it turn out to be a hundred percent false. Obtaining this honesty is a difficult task and takes continuous checking oneself and all the facts involved. If this honesty can be achieved, self-pity is on its way to dissipation.
After we can obtain honesty, the other path, the path of learning in despair, is taking disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, anger, jealousy, fear....etc....etc...and transforming it into a period of beautiful evolutionary growth. There is truly no moment that is too heavy for us in which we cannot learn from. It does not matter the situation. It does not matter the circumstance. It can and will teach you something if you allow it to. It's the self-pity, feeling sorry for myself, “poor me,” “the world does not understand me” attitude that keeps us from learning in our struggles. Now, in my experience, this will not lessen the pain. It will not make the path and journey easier. But, what it will do is give it meaning. And that's what every humanbeing longs for.....meaning. We cannot just run, we cannot escape. As we all know the attempt of running and escaping leads to more pain and more trouble. It leads to addiction, it leads to materialism, it leads to neurosis, it even leads us to more drama. There is no escaping. There are two options 1) Self-pity or 2) Keep your head up and learn.
When I broke into my girlfriends house and stole from her, when I manipulated and lied to her… I hurt her more than anything else has ever hurt her. This eventually led her to call the cops and get me arrested and then I was put in jail. This was one of the most difficult times for her. Being in jail was one of the most difficult times for me. But we both decided to learn and grow from this extremely difficult situation my actions put us in. We both decided to pick ourselves up off the ground, open our eyes, and pay attention. Not only can forgiveness stem from this state, but thankfulness can also show itself. Imagine an entire world filled with relationships where people learned and paid attention when tragedy, mistakes, and fuck-ups occur. Imagine the individual benevolent growth that each and every one of else would uphold. Pay attention when struggle is with you and maybe you'll realize that struggle is illusory.