I’ve had quite a few life changing experiences over the span of my 38 years of life. Some positive, and some negative; although every negative life change brought with it a hard lesson to be learned, and that lesson was helpful as I moved into to the future.
The first life-altering experience I had was being diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia. I researched it on the Internet, taking in every source that told me living past my 30’s wasn’t a good outlook. That I’d either have killed myself or been taken away by whatever brand of toxic ailment I was indulging at the time. As a 21-year-old, I felt pretty defeated before I had even had a chance to begin. It was life-changing because the fire that I breathed from my belly, that raw passion and enthusiasm that made me who I was, it was like a Tsunami had just crashed over my fire and extinguished it for good.
Surprisingly though, as I look back it was probably the best thing that happened to me in my life. If I hadn’t been told that something was wrong with me, I probably would have continued the same trajectory and before long ended up in hospital with alcohol poisoning, or worse, dead. It saved my life, and not because it extinguished my fire, but it made me more open to receiving help when I needed it rather than telling whoever tried to help me at the time to fuck off. I always knew the life I was leading wasn’t the best one, deep down, at the core; I knew I could be better, but I didn’t know how to reach out and grab it.
The second life-altering experience I had was when I entered into working with charities. I started as a client, as someone the workers helped, as someone who needed advice and guidance and set on the right path to betterment. This was the first place where I met *actual* people that understood exactly what I was going through, had walked in my shoes and made the same mistakes I did. It was the first time ever, that I felt like a sane person.
This is where I realized that my whole life I had been a lie, the things that I had been taught from a super young age were just downright wrong and incompatible with emotional health. This is where I began to pull my socks up and started to get really stuck in to the meat of things. I had many life altering experiences there, from realizing alcohol had stunted my learning capacity to understanding that the reason I couldn’t stick with women was not because of their lack of understanding but because of my refusal to learn and look at them as people too.
My whole life had revolved around me, so having someone else in my life was – different.
And yet the most notable experience I had was when I had worked my way up to Project Management. I was overseeing projects in many districts and had many volunteers and clients under my wing. My manager there loved putting me into the most difficult situations that she could think of and then talking to me about them afterward.
I remember one time she had me speaking on national radio to the BBC about digital safety. Yes, through her I learned the most empowering lessons of accepting my feelings and being at peace with who I am. We were big on self-empowerment there and as I helped others work through their difficult life situations, I was also getting support with mine.
My Son has changed me beyond recognition. His birth and Autism diagnosis helped me understand and plug a lot of deep holes in my childhood. Why I was ridiculed more than my other friends, why I was never confident with social interactions, and why I could never quite understand social cues. They baffled me; turns out I became really good at them as I spent most of my youth insanely studying body language and facial expressions on a subconscious level. I am now not afraid of conflict in the slightest through a lifetime of disciplining my son!
The latest life-changing experience has been I’ve started hanging out with a lot more men. Beforehand I was a male feminist, intent on helping men relate better from a platform that I had built from the foundation. I had a horrible dad, my mother was a good woman, and in my subjective reality men were bad and women were good.
Not to mention that we’re constantly barraged by an unparallel amount of men doing wrong in the media.
Previously I had this narrative with my subjective viewpoint, the media, and the work that I did – however as I’ve taken a step back, I’ve realized that men, or at least the majority of men, are also good. If I look at all my friends in high school, the friends that I have now, the men that I work with, and my family – these people are good, honest men. Nothing like what I had experienced as a kid.
So, I speak for men now, and I speak passionately for men.
It doesn’t mean I’m a misogynist, oh no, I still keep by me a strict guideline of moral values when it comes to treating women and young girls properly – it just means I won’t be falling into this whole narrative that men need saving from themselves. What is an ideology without a reasonable amount of scrutiny, huh?!
And as of that?
This is my life up until now. Challenging my biases daily, and questioning everything!