In my early twenties, I had all these unconscious behaviours that would drive me to a tipping point. I was masking everything with drinking, drugs and trying to be other people – so I wasn’t authentic at this point in anything I was doing; because I wasn’t happy with the person I was. I had no idea what was going on.

It started to build up which ended up looking like an explosion, similar to mentos going into a coke bottle. And it became a really dark point in my life at the time. Where suicide seemed like the only answer.

Even though I felt overwhelmed and desperate, I knew that trying to end my life was messed up and before I went through with it, I had this internal voice say “This is meant to be, but not how I am meant to go.” That helped me change course.

As a man, it can be shameful if I’m not good at something. It’s a shadow I can carry. For me to be aware of that shadow, I remind myself I’m enough the way I am. At the time growing up, there were all these social cues having to fit in “this / that basket” so it’s labelling myself because of my identity. But to have people accept me for who I am, I have to accept myself first. And what helps give me a good reminder, is when I surrender. Because I find surrender, the acceptance of resistance.

Validation was driving every bit of behaviour, it would fall into every aspect of my life. Now that I have awareness around it, I don’t have to rely on other people’s validation for anything I do. It’s a great feeling, a beautiful feeling. It’s a release, and still an ongoing work in progress.

Everything from the stories I was telling myself to the wounds and shadows I hadn’t processed created a lot of issues with feeling unworthy of love and powerlessness. When I’m not present, I’m either living in future-focused living which can be anxiety or past-focused living which can be depression and when those two are working together it’s like a mental tug of war. But when I’m in future-focused living in particular, I start to tyrannise people, more myself. So when I’m present, I’m feeling loved.

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