Have you ever felt that way? Ever look at yourself, your life, your family, your finances or your situation and wondered “How did it get to this point? What happened? How did I get here?” I know I have. Many times.
Sometimes this is positive, other times its negative. Things happen slowly at first and then all at once.
I have been addicted to drugs and alcohol, homeless, in abusive relationships, had tens of thousands of dollars in debt, been employed with great companies and moved up quickly, I have hung out with millionaires, been in management positions, and been unemployable. I have been a leader, a mentor, a thief, a liar, a great friend and a terrible one. I have been an example of what to do and an example of what not to do. I have visited many different spectrums of life, and by all rights – if life was fair – then I should be dead or in jail. But by the grace of God I’m not. So I am here to tell the tale.
So you are probably thinking that I am in my 40’s, wrong. I am in my early 20’s and I have now been clean and sober for 20 months. Everything above is true. I can identify with a lot of things that most people my age have yet to experience and hopefully never will.
The question of “How in the world did I get here?” is a very familiar thought of mine. It is probably the single most common thought that I have had over the course of my life.
I thought it when I was kicked out of the place I was living and was trying to decide which park I should sleep in that night. I thought it when I couldn’t quit drinking, living in a homeless shelter, stumbling to work two hours late. When I was with a man who was mentally and emotionally abusive, alienating me from everyone who cared about me, committing crimes with him, in a constant state of fear and anxiety – and yet I couldn’t bring myself to leave him – I wondered how did it come to this point?
At 4 months clean and sober, paying my own bills, being independent and holding a job for the first time in years – I wondered How did I get here?
Working for a company that helps women like me, I was continuously promoted until I held the highest position available all in less than a year – I wondered “How did I get here?”
And many other times – but you get the point.
Since this has been such a pattern in my life – I thought that maybe it deserved some more attention. Maybe I should dig into this question and figure out the answer – since I have never really answered it before. It has been more of a grateful statement or a hopeless thought. So after delving into it a little bit more; I’ve realized it is all about choices. Decisions and the actions that follow them. That’s how I got here.
See as I think over my life, the things that have happened and experiences I have had – I realize that it has all happened because of choices that I have made (or have chosen not to make) and the consequences or results of those decisions.
Would I have become a drug addict or alcoholic if I never chose to drink or use that first time? No.
Would I have been homeless had I not chosen to use my bill money for other things? Probably not.
And the same rule applies for all the other situations in my life where I have asked myself this question. Somewhere in all of it – I made a choice, or I chose not to make a choice – therein making one. Which means that I am not a victim – I am the captain of my own ship so to speak. I have been where I have been because directly or indirectly I chose to be there.
This is great news. Because I also see that most of the choices and actions that I took were not huge, life changing decisions at the time they were made. They were small, seemingly insignificant choices made over time to get me where I was. If this is the case, which I believe it to be, then that means that I can figure out where and who I want to be in life and then begin to develop the seemingly small daily habits that will get me where I want to go. So long as I stay committed and consistent I will get where I want to be. Just remember – as Holger Spiewak says “If don’t know where you’re going, you’re already there!”
And that’s how I got here!