One of the biggest issues I’ve been trying to deal with in writing this book (‘Breaking Radio Silence’) is trying not to come off like I’m totally perfect and I did nothing wrong and all that bullshit. I don’t want to come off as holier-than-thou and woe-is-me, too so I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of ways not to do that when a thought came to my mind: where were my mistakes made?
Recently, I’ve begun to ask myself where mistakes were made in my past. I’ve been looking back at decisions I made and trying to think through them. As I’ve been doing that, the question of whether or not a mistake was made came to my mind. Now of course hindsight is always 20/20 as the old saying goes so looking back isn’t easy because of it. Looking back means I know how my decision played out and I don’t know how my other decision would have played out at the same time. Most of all, I realize I made a lot of decisions out of fear, pain, and for other people more than myself. And that I really didn’t take the time, or I didn’t have the time to think things through before decisions were made.
One example of this that came to my mind recently was the decision twenty-seven years ago this August to sacrifice a lot of my own life to help care for my mother because I knew she was going to die of cancer. I made a decision back then not to talk to anyone about my decision or that God-awful moment of clarity I had because my words would have been torn to shreds. Maybe not right away but it would have happened because no one would have truly understood the magnitude of what I was trying to deal with back then. And a lot of people when confronted with something they don’t have any idea of or any knowledge of tend to react badly to people who are carrying around that knowledge. Also, sacrifice is not an accepted way of dealing with things despite being told sacrifice is noble and good as I found out back then, too. I think I made the right decision to keep all that to myself and try to deal with it on my own just because I don’t think anyone else was ready to deal with it.
Another decision I’ve looked back on is not pursuing more of a social life and building friendships. That was a mistake that I won’t make again. At the time, my rationale was that I felt like people would have mouthed off even more to my parents and tried to convince my parents that if I developed any kind of a social life I would abandon them. I knew my parents were already taking shit for me living at home and pursuing my writing so I didn’t want to add to that. The mistake was not believing my parents would have stood up for me even more than they did and that I also had the right to stand up for myself too and tell a few people to fuck themselves to Hell and back. I think if my parents and I had stood up and done that I think a lot of people would have slunk off with shit in their pants because my parents and I would have called their bluff. That decision was also a mistake because it kept me from potentially finding people who could have provided the comfort and support I desperately needed back then, too. Again, I won’t make that mistake in the future.
At the time any decision is made, no one knows how it will work out. I know I can overthink something to within an inch of its life and things can still go sideways and down a mountainside. I look back on those decisions in my mind and I can say I could have made a different decision and let things go sideways all to hell and still survived it. But in the end, I made the decision I did and I’ve with the results since then, too. That doesn’t mean I can’t learn from the decision and I’m beginning to think the word ‘mistake’ doesn’t really apply here either. I say that because I made the decision at that time based on what I knew and what I felt.
This is why the phrase ‘everyone else is just as full of shit as I am but that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person’ changed my life so much. It was admitting I wasn’t perfect but that no one else is either even if they say they are or act like their shit doesn’t stink at all, too. As the concept behind the book ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ has evolved and continues to do so, I realize it’s a book of lessons learned. I’ve begun to learn you don’t have to do things like you did before just because you did, or because you think people won’t take it well if you do things differently. If someone doesn’t like the direction I take with my life, that’s on them and as long as they keep that shit to themselves and don’t get in my face about it, we’ll get along with just fine. And yes, that does include me going at it alone.
I’ve heard that we learn more from failures than we do successes. And that is true because success just teaches you that something works. Failure teaches you what doesn’t work and why that is then gives you the knowledge to move forward in a different direction. And sometimes a mistake is subject to interpretation.