I can honestly say that I could have picked a better group of friends at certain times in my life. Although I have good memories of the past, and many of the things that I did with my friends brought happiness and satisfaction, I also have terrible memories. When I was in my mid to late teens, I allowed people to run over me. Really, I thought I deserved it. I won’t go into telling you why I had these thoughts, but I will tell you about how I was treated, and how it made me feel.
I ran with a group that had no limits or boundaries. There are two certain individuals that stand out in my mind who played a big part in my life of poor self-esteem, poor judgement and thoughts of violence and crime. These two individuals were a huge influence, and being in the mental state that I was in at the time, as well as a lack of stability at home, I blindly walked beside these two people, indulging in things that would scare a lot of kids. Actually, I was scared a lot of the time.
Even though my childhood was not that great, I did find things that I loved to do. I loved to skateboard. I loved to ride my bikes, and also took up rollerblading. I lived and breathed these things in my early teen years, but then I met a skateboarder who was changing his direction. I truly saw this kid as a friend, and because we had the hobby in common, I ended up where he was a lot of the time. His parents were rarely home, and we were left unsupervised a lot. His sister was older, so she would be at their house while the parents were away. As soon as their parents would leave though, the people, drugs, music, and terrible ways would show up. It was all new to me, and I would consider myself a pretty decent kid, up until that point.
The partying started. The smoking came first, then the drugs, then the crowds that were also doing these things, then the gangs, then the theft and violence, and so on. I was no longer an innocent kid just having a good time on my skateboard, I was in a different world. As time passed, I met different people, with nastier habits and darker ways, and followed their lead into the sinful lifestyle. The other guy I was talking about showed up, and led me into even crazier and scarier events, ways and habits.
I remember being scared a lot. I remember while the others I ran with were so full of excitement, I was there with a straight face, while sweating and sometimes crying. I was called a p—y most of the time. It seemed like everyone but me was having a great time. The only thing I really enjoyed was the numbness that the drugs were bringing in my tormented life at home, and in the crowds I was running with. The rest was a complete nightmare. Most of the choices I was making were mainly because I wanted to fit in, somewhere. The crowds gradually became full of older people, with harder substances, riskier situations and more frightening scenarios. I started running with, truly lost people. I was losing myself as well.
I felt so low at many times throughout all of those years, and my self-worth was so low that I would do all kinds of weird things to cover up that pain. As I moved into my late teens and early twenties, my depression deepened, and my hate towards the world did too. I don’t have much to say about my father, but if it wasn’t for him I never would have gotten away from the hard drugs. He gave me a place to stay, and I landed a good job. I was making good money to be right out of high school, and I was not on the road to nowhere with the extremely lost anymore. Even though I had these new positives, I still had the negative attitudes that I had learned in those days of running with the bad crowds. I still had other drug and alcohol issues. I still had major, undiagnosed depression. I developed a bitterness that was so consuming that I started saying whatever I felt, good or bad, to anyone. My parents, my boss at work, my family or whoever came along that needed to be told. Those days made me hard. Those days messed me up. The people and experiences shaped me into a pretty hateful person. Not to mention, my family was also so screwed up that it gave me good reason to continue being bitter. I had a, “f–k the world, and f–k you” attitude.
What a shame. What a devastating way to live.
You know, I am writing this today because I had told my wife a story about a time where I was at a friend of a friend’s house. My “good buddy” was telling his friend that I was such a puss that I would do anything I was told. His friend told me to, “lick the floor, lick the carpet.” I said no of course, but after being held down and being told until I do I wasn’t getting up, I licked the carpet. Good friends, huh?
I suppose the lifestyle and experiences in my life during those times made me a hardened man, but through those experiences, I am who I am today. Easier. Peaceful. I have healthy boundaries for myself, and nothing but loving people all around. I just pray for the harmful ones, and stay away from drama. I keep the Lord and His ways close. I don’t have many friends, and for good reason. But, I do have the right friends. I care about myself enough to never let the old ways have control over me, even though they creep up at times. So, you see me writing about the Lord, and pain, a lot. The pain is written out for others to see, with the hope of someone reading coming to know what the Lord can do for the hurting. We sure don’t have to always live in the past, with all of the hurt it brings. We can change, and live for today, in loving ways. We can let the hardness go, and let the softness take over.

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