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Behind Bars: When you lose almost everything, the only way to go is up

By Brian Wood - | Apr 11, 2016

I imagine few people experience as dramatic a change in life as has transpired in mine. I have lost family, friends, home, career, dignity and almost everything else I once had in a very short time. This isn’t rock bottom. That was 4 years ago when I was sneaking into empty houses to spend the night. To use a sports analogy, I’m in a rebuilding stage. I had a pretty good run for a while, though. Before addiction; pain killers, drugs and everything that followed, I had led a fairly charmed life.

Even though I made the negative decisions that pushed everyone away, it was disappointing to discover how few people stuck by me through all of this. After a while, though, I started seeing some of the positive aspects to the situation. Of course it still hurts when I think about friends or family members on a case-by-case basis, but there is something liberating about having so few ties.

No doubt I’ve been humbled and am perhaps a little jaded, but I no longer define myself by who I associate with, what circumstances I grew up in or what I accumulated. I’ve been forced to find a measuring stick of worth other than financial success. I’ve been given the opportunity to reinvent myself. Now, I’m not advocating for people to go make some really poor choices in order to get a break from life, a fresh start and a new perspective, but losing just about everything hasn’t been all bad. It put me in a position where there is only one way to go, and that’s up. That could be the reason I feel like I am accomplishing so much.

I’ve taken a hard and honest look at myself and analyzed my strengths and my weaknesses. I’ve had a lot of time to observe others and decide who I want to be and who I don’t. This is almost certainly a healthy exercise for anyone at any time, but it sure was easier for me after being stripped down and given time to reflect. I’m surprisingly at peace with all that has happened. I have had help from positive influences in my life, and for that I am thankful.

I can’t quite say I’m grateful for this entire experience; perhaps I would have matured the same way without this “mid-life crisis” over time. I’ll never know. I can affirm I’m more comfortable in my own skin now than I was when I was out there experiencing a moderate amount of success. I don’t like calling my drug addiction and life spiraling out of control a “mid-life crisis,” as that makes me feel old, but it sounds better than “utter failure,” which would probably be a more accurate description. I might just be like the ever-optimist, focusing on the good things that come from a break-up.

I’ll be starting over in some areas of my life and rebuilding in others. While that is very intimidating in its own right, there is a certain intrigue to it. If there was a reset button in life, I wonder how many people would hit it. How many would have cause to hit it but wouldn’t, for any number of reasons. How many would be better off if they did?


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