Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.Nathaniel Hawthorne

Beyond School

School was effectively a disaster. When I left aged 18, I knew that I had to live up to the expectations of my father and set about my life with a grandiose arrogance that would superficially support my early attempts at work and relationships. Underneath, I was like a duck paddling against a stream in flood! Boorish behaviour would mask an acute shyness of women and a total inability to process any sort of difficult feelings and emotions. I simply had no innate knowledge of how to deal with intimacy and the word ‘love’ was only ever used to explore an increasingly voracious and degrading sexual appetite. Childhood pain was starting to resurface and manifest itself in ever more dangerous sexual practices. Without even realising, I had become heavily dependent upon sex as a way of ‘medicating’ the emotional challenges and realities of adult life.

My twenties and early thirties were a lonely place. I sought to mask emotional pain with a variety of sexual ‘medications’. Some people turn to alcohol, others to drugs; for me, it was sex. It is important to understand that the physical ‘manifestation’ of addictive behaviour is the only thing that sets addicts apart! The underlying reason anyone turns to some sort of compulsive ‘fix’ is to medicate an inability to healthily process negative feelings and aversive emotions. With the proliferation of the Internet, of mobile technology and of lowering patience thresholds, many are finding themselves ever further from any chance at authentic connection, let alone the chance to develop emotional peace.

I was choosing to stop life’s pain dead in its tracks, instead of working through and learning from my interior turmoil and outward ‘acting out’ behaviours. As life became more complicated and testing, so too would my sexual agenda. I had no idea who I was. I watched my peers settling down and getting married whilst I searched for ‘the one’, the woman who would save me and fix all my problems. It took 36 years before I finally realised that no one could ‘fix’ me. I became overwhelmed with confusion. Why was my life seemingly going nowhere?

The Turning Point

My life was completely unmanageable: calm on the outside and yet lost, confused and unhappy on the inside. I followed this increasingly erratic, secretive and self-destructive path until one particularly courageous woman finally decided she’d had enough. She bravely confronted me head-on about the secrets I was keeping and the hurtful compulsivity I was pursuing. It was Monday 14th June, 2004. Someone finally choosing not to accept my dysfunctional behaviours triggered a 30-year emotional time bomb.

How did this particular woman finally ignite the explosion? I believe it was her gentle, unconditional love. Her leaving me triggered my acute fear of abandonment and exposed an ocean of deeply hidden shame around my belief that I was incapable of love and unworthy of being loved. The painful truth of facing my utter abandonment of ‘myself’ was devastating. The explosion broke the dam that had been holding back 30 years of pain and feared inadequacy. It exposed a total lack of self-acceptance and sent me clutching at the very fibre of life. It left me collapsed into decades of unshed tears and impulsive thoughts of taking my life.

Treatment

I stumbled into a treatment centre on 8th July 2004, a day that both saved and changed my life in equal measure. For the last 14 years, I have been rebuilding and defining my life from emotional ground zero. I have been cultivating an inner peace and a self-acceptance I never imagined let alone understood prior to 2004. I have been developing the capacity to believe enough in myself that I no longer hunt desperately for another person or another external activity to ‘fix’ me.

I’ve learnt to open and explore my own heart, my own tenderness and my previous struggles; with curiosity, acceptance and appreciation. So much more of me is now online, available and present to both myself and to deserving others. As a result of this self-discovering, self-learning journey, I have found that my relationships have changed. From the way I interact with people to the way I can now so genuinely look at people, something’s very different. I now see their hearts, their tenderness and their struggles and am devoted to helping people discover and cultivate their own lasting inner peace.

 

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