Few things make me as happy as receiving email from readers or listeners to tell me that something I’ve done has been useful to them. I’ve been very happy and humbled to receive a number of strongly positive messages in the last couple of weeks about my first three podcast episodes. So far, though, this one which I received about today’s episode is my favorite: “I wanted to let you know your podcasts are healing. I’ve had Lyme disease for a few years and yesterday I was diagnosed with major depression. Your story about your Dad is going to help me at counseling tomorrow. Thank you.” It’s not often that we know when we influence others, so I really appreciate those of you who have taken the time to tell me such things. I hope that something I say can matter to you. I appreciate every one of you.
The first time anyone suggested to me that my father had been abusive to us, I was angry. I was about 26 or 27 when my youngest sister brought up the possibility that he hadn’t been the wonderful father I imagined. I was very angry with her and refused to even consider the idea.
It took me years to break through my denial about what our family had been like. It was difficult to give up my delusions about my father and look at the damage he had done to me.
The old cliche says that “hurt people hurt people.” By the time I realized what he had done to me, I was forced to face the fact that I was perilously close to becoming exactly what he was. Was I hurting people?
The narcissist who had spent my entire life shaping me taught me more than I realized. Could I turn into a malignant narcissist, too?
By the standards I set when I was 25, I’m a failure today.
But if I had done all the grandiose things I planned back then — and gained immense wealth and power as a result — I would have been a complete failure by the more mature standards I set for myself today.
It’s a paradox. I had to lose everything I once valued — and I had to wander in the desert for a metaphorical 40 years — to finally arrive at a place where I feel qualified to even start living a life worth living.
I have struggled through years of what felt like defeat and exile. I felt as though I had blown my chance to do the things that matter to me. But something has changed.
I’ve realized that I am entering into my best period yet — intellectually, creatively and emotionally. I am finally where I wish I could have been at 25 or 30. I had to take a long but necessary detour — and I’ve finally arrived at the start of my life.