Lots of us kind of gave up on creating the life we want. 

Maybe once upon a time we believed we could be whoever we want and do whatever we want— but then we lived a couple decades. 

And we realized that life had other plans. 

Painful things happened to us. We got our hearts broken. We were treated poorly. 

We were hurt. We experienced loss. 

Our physical bodies were injured, or otherwise developed pain that we then had to live with every single day. 

Over time, many of us lost any last scrap of hope that we could influence our life circumstances all that much. 

We came to believe that our life was going to be about managing pain and dealing with lack. 

For me, it was about realizing that for the rest of my life, every single day, I would wake up and have to manage my vulnerability to depression; my vulnerability to addictive behaviors and substances; and the fact that my executive functioning— my ability to pay attention, make decisions, and follow through— is severely compromised by my ADHD. 

There will never be a day when I wake up and DON’T have to manage my depression, my addiction, and my ADHD. 

No matter what breakthroughs I experience; no matter what skills I learn; no matter how much time passes. I was still dealt the hand I was dealt. Those are still the ONLY cards in my hand. 

On top of that, growing up, I had experiences that exacerbated some symptoms that I was already vulnerable to. I was sexually abused. I was bullied and excluded by my peers. My relationship with my father, who was a brilliant, narcissistic alcoholic, was complicated and painful. 

It’s not a competition, and I know that other people had it “worse.” But that’s not the point. 

The point is, I don’t have the option of NOT having had the past I did or the vulnerabilities I do. Neither do you. 

We don’t have the choice to opt out of who we are and what we’ve experienced. Anybody who says we do, is selling something. 

We only have the choice of whether we are gong to deal with our past and vulnerabilities— and our pain— consciously and purposefully…or whether we’re going to let our past our pain, and our vulnerabilities run the show. 

Once upon a time, I believed I could be somebody. I believed I could create a life. 

Then, life happened. 

For a time I came to believe that, because of the things that had happened to me and the things I now had to deal with every single day, that life was unavailable to me. 

That made me feel hopeless. That thought was central to why I wanted to end my life once upon a time. 

But I don’t believe that anymore. 

What I do believe is this: we have to manage exactly what we have to manage. We don’t get to opt out of it. 

But we can STILL feel many of the things we want to feel. 

What I didn’t understand once upon a time was, the reason I wanted certain things and experiences in my life was because I wanted to FEEL certain things. 

I thought the only way I COULD feel certain things, was by having certain experiences. I thought I NEEDED to life the life I wanted, the life I envisioned, to FEEL those things. 

What I understand now, and didn’t understand then, was: there is no guarantee that certain experiences will lead to certain FEELINGS. 

Moreover, the FEELINGS I wanted? I can STILL experience them. 

They might have been EASIER to feel if I’d had the life I wanted once upon a time. I honestly don’t know. I didn’t get the chance to live that life. 

I only have this life. 

So I made it, and continue to make it, my business to create— consciously, purposefully, consistently— those emotional states I want to FEEL. 

I have learned that there are LOTS of experiences that can generate the FEELINGS I want to feel. 

It may have been easier to feel those things on a consistent basis if I didn’t have the past or the biology I have. Again, I don’t know. I’ll never know. 

But I am not gonna let somebody else— abusers, bullies, any voice from my past— decide what I am and am not capable of feeling right here, right now. 

This isn’t the life I would have chosen. This isn’t the biology I would have chosen. I didn’t have the past I would have preferred. 

But it’s what I have to work with. 

And I’m gonna make it work. Watch me. 

One thought on “We have to work with what we have to work with.

  1. I’m watching. I’m proud of you. I admire you. And! I’m joining you in that determination and philosophy. Thanks for being a beacon, Doc! I sure appreciate it. 🙌💜⚡️


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