• David Sales

Learning to Walk

I found myself more reflective this morning than usual. I guess coming out of a week of emotional unrest and disappointment has something to do with it. Another month of sobriety has passed and soon it will be an entire year. It's hard not to look back.

I've kept busy, used the tools I now have, and as always, hard times pass and I come out the other side. Surfing through these emotional dark times is becoming easier and at least now, I don't do stupid things when in the depths of them. I know I am getting better and my life, at least the one inside my head, is much better than it was for so many years. I am grateful for that.

It is becoming clear, when I look at the rest of my life, there is much work to do and I know that I have to fill in some emptiness that remains. There is a fine line between pushing for things and letting those things come when the time is right. I'm trying to walk that line, learning as I go, understanding there is an inherent risk involved and I will be vulnerable to rejection and disappointment. It frustrates me that at my age, perceived rejection effects me in such a significant way. That part of me has existed for as long as can I remember, and it is a part of me that is very young. There is no maturity in that part, and he remains shy and awkward.

Through my teens and for most of my adult life, I countered these deep insecurities with alcohol and by projecting a false character - like an actor on a stage, trying to be whoever people wanted me to be. Now, trying to just be me - the authentic me, I felt like that shy, young kid, with little confidence that anyone will ever like me.

My history has provided voluminous evidence that the real me is quite undesirable. Regardless of one's ability to be a great actor, it just not sustainable to always stay in character and the authentic person eventually reveals itself. In my case, when I tried to introduce the real me, people have run for the hills. Quite understandable, and I don't blame them. Each time, this provided me another affirmation that I was not enough. Not enough for anybody, not enough for my family, and not enough to expect anything good if I let the world see who I really was.

When I reflect on this way of life, I am filled with much sadness. I have spent years beating myself up, believing in my fundamental unworthiness as a human being, which hurt people I had given my heart to and caused devastating injurious pain to myself. It is hard not to feel much remorse and regret, but I am trying to move on. I have accepted that I cannot change the past as we don't go through life with a magical eraser. I would need an incredibly large one any way. I have today, so I trudge along, trying my best to be authentic, striving to be better, and remaining hopeful that a better life lies before me.

Attempting to end one's life changes many things. For me, it uncovered some disturbing fundamental realities that ruled my heart, and under the blinding light of such desperation, it gave me the gift of personal truth. I found no redeeming value in my existence as it was, but I didn't want to die. I just wanted to live a better, more valuable and meaningful life. Today, 11 months after receiving that gift, I am working toward that daily. I would like to be farther along in this project of David 2.0, but all I can do is remain focused on doing my work.

As I've written before, I will never again allow fear to make my decisions. While it remains frightening to emerge from the shadows, fear of rejection, disappointment, or failure will not push me back. I will embrace the uncomfortable vulnerability as a necessary price for the hope of love and connection.

I'm going to make mistakes, my nervous awkwardness will sometimes get in the way, but I will learn from it. I don't yet know how to do this, therefore I can't expect to be good at being me right away. 11 months may seem like a long time, but since I've been alive for 646 months, it's really not.

I guess I'm just a 53-year-old toddler learning to walk on the floor of authenticity. Excuse me for knocking some shit off the coffee table for a while.

Love you guys and as always, be kind to each other... we need more of it in the world.

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