I Like Me
I had an interesting experience this week in therapy that I thought I would share. Jane asked me to imagine a Being Erica -esque situation (though she didn't use that phrase, she's remarkably short on pop culture references) in which I could travel back in time and relive my life from childhood. How would things be different?
I responded, without hesitation, that I would find every one of the little shits that tortured me as a child and young man, and knock their teeth out with a wooden baseball bat. I would hunt them down even before they knew me and bludgeon them within an inch of their lives. No one would would be allowed to fuck with me again.
This was no surprise to her really. We've spent a lot of time going over the terrible things people did to me when I was young. Some of it psychological, a lot of it physical, all of it horrible. From teachers, to students, to kids and counsellors I met at summer camp, these people inflicted damage that shaped who I am today: bitter, angry, distrustful, and suspicious. It's the source of a lot of my own conflicts when it comes to understanding my own emotions and believing those of others.
But then she suggested something interesting: Imagine instead that rather than going back and reliving my life with the memories I have now, what advice would I offer Younger Daniel for his years ahead?
This presented a problem: without all of the years beatings, fear, and bullying, what kind of person would that Daniel become? Would he have had the courage to uproot his life not once, but four times and build a life on the other side of the world? Would he have been strong enough to run for a seat in the BC Legislature, or campaign on national television against CCTV? Saving Young Daniel from the fate of my childhood meant reshaping his future -- and I couldn't do that to him.
I am forced to accept that the person I am is the result of those terrible years, and so I wouldn't spare Young Daniel any of it. Instead, I would offer him the following advice: "The world is shitty and full of assholes, and if you're going to prosper, you're going to have to accept that and move on. They will always be assholes, but you will be better."
I like me. I like my life, and who I am. I like my bitterness, my anger, and my distrust. It's given me strength in areas where I've seen others buckle. I won't claim that I have everything figured out, but knowing this about me is something new, and I wanted to share.