A messy life sometimes leads to a messy room. Scanning my luxury cell, I feel overwhelmed with boxes, unopened mail, and clothes scattered. My only place of comfort is the bed which is uncomfortable for sitting or sleeping.
I knew the end would be lonely, but I didn’t realize my conclusion would be a wasted life. My children owed an apology for bringing them into the world, and a wish they were born to a better mother. Acknowledging my failures and admitting my life a total failure was a disturbing epiphany, a rude awakening.
Having children brought out the fighter in me. I had to protect them. What I didn’t realize was I needed to change our environment to a positive, supportive community. Instead, I fought to change theirs to what I believed would give them the chances I never had. I wanted the best for my children even if it meant sacrificing my happiness. However, the best part of anything comes from feelings of love and so most memories are grounded in emotions and not material things.
My mother is a fighter, and through her, I had a fighter instinct. My father was the opposite. Through my father, I learned compassion and empathy for those less fortunate. He changed our diapers not my mother.
After my mother was forced to care for us because of his death, she provided a roof over our heads and food on the table. Something she never let us forget. None of us have criminal records, and we have advanced degrees. Not having received love herself or education, she knew no better. I have few happy memories of my childhood except times spent with my father and youngest brother.
Growing up without affection or ever hearing the word love, affected me in ways I didn’t understand until a few years ago. Having Catholicism branded into my brain, I learned to feel guilt, shame or discomfort in every compliment or experience of joy. What a life!
Losing my father and my best friend (my little brother), the two people whose love I could consistently count on made it difficult for me to trust. It felt as if the rug was always being pulled from under me the moment I got on my feet. I followed through on my promise to be a doctor. In the process of keeping that promise, my world started to unravel in profound ways. I could not control the emptiness and deep melancholy piercing my soul. Even in the midst of close friends, I felt incredibly alone and disconnected.
I wanted kids to carry on my father’s genes, but I didn’t want to have them out-of-wedlock, so that meant marriage ASAP then kids as I was turning 30. If I had waited, I might not have been able to have kids as I had early menopause.
When I got married, my self-esteem was at an all-time low. I didn’t look for love just any man who showed me love and kindness. After Yale I was shell-shock, my residency was brutal on so many dimensions. I didn’t attend my medical school graduation or celebrated completing my residency. That was my passive-aggressive response to seven years of training where I learned about evil people and felt bludgeoned into wearing a mask to be accepted by people who innately despised me.
Foolishly, I hoped marriage would offer an opportunity to start over and forget the pain of the past. I didn’t put much effort into selecting a mate, and no one told me bad marriages caused irreparable damage. Seems obvious but I was a clueless young woman. Yup, my life was one big mistake after another. I’m sorry for my children because they will bear the brunt of my foolishness and selfish behavior. They didn’t ask to be in this world or to have a crazy mom.
What are the lessons learned from a wasted life? Please don’t be me and let your life be a total waste. Listen to your body and that little voice inside you called intuition. If following your intuition leads to failure then that failure was necessary for your growth. Trust your intuition over other people’s advice.
While you cannot choose your family or your childhood environment, here are some things you can do to avoid the pitfalls of a wasted life.
1. Take time to know and understand you. The only way to do that is to love and trust yourself. Take time to do things you enjoy as well as time to reflect. Start with a journal of gratitude. At the end of each day focus on things that made you happy that day even on those days where everything seemed to go wrong, find three simple things that made you thankful. That simple act of journaling gratitude can be a powerful force in channeling positive energy.
To find inner peace and make good choices you have to learn to love yourself first. #SelfLove #SelfAcceptance
2. Material things don’t bring happiness or inner peace. It also doesn’t define success. When young, as tempting as it may be and especially if you come from poverty as I did, don’t waste money on material things that depreciate. Often material things become baggage, tying you to a past long forgotten. Spend money wisely on investments that grow in importance as time passes. Spend time investing in an environment filled with love.
When I first started making money, I wanted clothes because I grew up wearing hand me downs. I don’t recall wearing any clothes that were bought just for me. If clothing or jewelry was new, my mother claimed it. When I was married, I used shop therapy to mask my pain and unhappiness. At one time, half my closet was filled with clothes, shoes, and bags that still had the tags on them not because I intended to return them but because an occasion never came up for me to wear those clothes.
Today I can’t give those clothes away fast enough. #InvestInLove
3. Surround yourself with positive, trustworthy people who respect and believe in you. Your environment eventually defines you. Surrounding yourself with reliable people who respect and believe in you is a way of creating a strong foundation on which to build a prosperous future for generations to come.
I didn’t think and so surrounded myself with trees instead of people who inspired or cared about me. In the end, I found myself alone and without anyone to trust. #BuildACommunityOfTrust for yourself.
I survived adulthood because of the good graces of friends and strangers I met along the way but didn’t take the time to know. Many who helped were strangers; in my mind, they were angels sent by my father and brother to comfort me during the darkest moments of life.
A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn. – Unknown
Learn from a person whose life was a big mistake. Don’t make a mess of yours! This time I didn’t make the turn and it’s too late but not for you.
Here are some of my favorite inspirational quotes: