Is our whole the sum of our past

Posted: September 28, 2011 in Mental Health

I have been thinking about my past recently with regards to where I’m going and how I can get there, it involves a lot of soul searching and recrimination but also some self discovery about the things I have gone through and come out of.
People see themselves differently depending on where your at that day, on my worst BPD days I am the spawn of stan and deserve only the worst punishments possible, every thing I did as a younger man haunts me and I cannot stand to realise what I was back then, I have been racist, sexist, fascist and almost all the other ists you can be, these times were usually when I was ta my undiagnosed worst and I could quite easily forgive myself as I wasnt in my right mind back then, yes I can use the old mental health card and probably with some justification but when I sit and talk to the youngsters I mentor I dont polish the crap, i tell them the cold hard facts about the way things can be, no mention of mitigating circumstances.

I use my experiences good and bad to help me with my mentees and its once Ive tried to explain things to them I realise just how crap things were for me back then. My estate was tough and the need to be able to defend your patch meant I grew up tough, yes I could have walked away at times but it served my purposes to gain a reputation which I now tell my young people how hard it is to stave off a bad reputation and how easy it is to lose a good one, I never considered this at ll back then, I was happy to have the adulation of friends and the respect of potential enemies, it felt good and the things I did to ensure the status qup would turn most people away but at the time and in the situation I was in it all seemed so logical and correct. If I judged everybody as harshly as I judge myself I couldnt speak to these youngsters at all, I wouldnt want me anywhere near my kids and couldnt see what being with me might offer them anything but bad vibes.

saying this I can now look at everything with a fresh pair of eyes and see what I really do have to offer those kids, I am stronger and more focused than some of the other people churned out of my estate and I never succumbed to drugs or organised crime whereas lots of my friends did. when i tell a young man about anger and its downside then i do so with some authority and they can believe me when I say what can result when you let your anger out inappropriately can a teacher who never said boo to a goose really do that, when I tell the girls about self esteeem I can do so with the knowledge that I have hated myself intensly at times and wanted to change everything about myself at times, is it likely that anyone would ever really want to say that to a teenager? I can let these youngsters know that I have been through the same stuff, in different ways but essentially the same things just in another time. yes context has changed with the advent of the internet and texting but bullying and namecalling is the same regardless of why its being said, violence has the same effects and being kicked out of education has the same ramifications, if not worse these days.

In the end I realise that everything I have been has created the man I am today, the violence and abuse may have been terrible but in the end they didnt stop me from growing into the man I am now, I may be an ex thug, ex bastard and essentially a bad egg but I do things now that I can be proud of, things I wont list because by doing so it would invite praise and thats not what I am about, my kids have nothing but the best I can give them, not always the best there is but I cant do anything about that so why beat myself about that. If i was to pass today I would be missed for good reasons, the young people who expect me on a tuesday, the others who need my help on other days, my fellow group therapy friends and hopefully the other people I volunteer with, yes there will be those who are pleased to see the back of me but that number is diminishing and if I live long enough I might even get that down to single figures. So yes we are a sum of our past but thats part of the equation not the whole thing and how much of the equation it really is can be changed by what you decide to do from today onwards, as I always say be proud of what you are and stop worrying about what youre not.

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