I’m going to start this article out by telling you a tale about two men.
One was very successful; he made more money than most of his peers, held two separate licenses, graduated with honors from college, published books and articles, and was looked up to by many.
The other was downtrodden; always bouncing from one job to the next, a twice college dropout, had blown through hundreds of thousands of dollars, was a well-known player of women and gambling, and couldn’t go a day or two without a substance that altered his state of mind.
Both of these men are the same. Both of these men are me. I have been both of these men; not only at various points in my life but congruently, as well. There’s nothing harmonious about leading a tortured, private life; but there is hope and knowledge in breaking free of such a life.
When I was in my early twenties, I dropped out of college. Twice. It wasn’t until I was thirty years old that I decided to go back and obtain my Associate’s Degree in Funeral Service. After graduation, I was now in debt (after going half a decade without so) and making very little money.
Because of the aforementioned dropping out of college, I made money and blew it faster than it even touched my pocket. Just the mere presence of having a dollar to my name incensed me. I had to burn it. I had to blow it. I once had a short-lived poker-playing “career.” I made tens of thousands of dollars from it, only to spend even more on a life of excess. This went on for a looooooong time.
Been there, done that. Sound familiar yet? We all have regrets in life and money. But wait, there’s more.
After getting my act together by going back to school and becoming a licensed funeral director and life insurance agent, I began putting immense pressure on myself, personally, privately, relationship-wise, etc. In some ways, I was making up for lost time by doing as much as possible in life as fast as possible. I was burning myself out. I attended every seminar and conference I could within funeral service. I volunteered to teach and train in every poker playing and writing course I could.
I have published three books and have been a part of numerous online websites dedicated to mental health, funeral service, and poker. Each one left me feeling as if I could have, and should have done more.
I’ve slept on gas station floors, outside in the woods of parks, in my car, strangers’ basements. I have also slept in $ 1,000-a-night beds and paid whatever the cost was to enter a club and drink as if I was someone famous. I have slept in mansions and used to own a condo, merely a couple of years after not having a place to live at all.
I was a great funeral director and embalmer. No employee or owner could speak about my work ethic or interpersonal skills. I put everything I had into every grieving family I met and served. Unfortunately, I knew this and would bounce around to whomever the highest bidder was; always wanting more and thinking a new challenge or location would satisfy me internally.
It never did.
I would become more stressed and self-medicate in ways you can’t imagine. On the surface, I was everything anyone could look up to. Beneath the skin, I was a deadly, toxic person, someone no one should get involved with.
Everything suffered. Everyone paid the price. No one more so than myself. I was letting others down, sure, but at the end of the day, only you are responsible for your actions. It was put up or shut up time. I stopped lamenting on my past transgressions of saying “I wish,” or “What if,” and started saying “I can,” and “I will.”
And I did.
I’ve never been more successful than I am now. I have a career that satisfies me both financially and serves a purpose by helping grieving families. I’m now married with two stepsons. I read, write and create still, but at my own pace. I’ve been sober for almost 6 months. I live my life on my terms, and no one else’s.
If I can do it, you can do it.
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