By Richard Bleil
She was raped by her father for many years, since before she was a teenager. He was a well-known attorney and leader of the community, so she was certain that if she had turned him in, nobody would believe her. She dropped out of high school, ran away and became involved in drugs. She couldn’t afford to pay for them, so she and another young woman lived with her dealer, who would pimp them out to make up the cost of the supply. One day, he came home, exceptionally angry because he had been “harassed” by the police, and was convinced that one of the two had sold him out. She watched as he pulled out a gun, and shot the other woman in the head, the one he had chosen at random to end. Although she saw the entire thing, the police did not prosecute, because they did not have a “credible witness.” She knew right then that she had to leave, again, and get off of drugs, or die.
She’s my hero.
You might think that this is the start of another story of mine, but it is not. By the time I met her, she was living alone, had been clean and dry, legally changed her name and was putting herself through college as a fellow chemistry major. Since then she completed her license to become a veterinarian, and finished her doctorate in veterinary science.
I’ve known people with some incredible backgrounds. She worried about what I would think of what she had been through, as a former prostitute and her involvement with drugs, but my attitude was then what it is today: a person’s history is only important in that it makes them what they are today.
Your history is only important because it makes you what you are today.
We all have things in our past that we wish we could change, some secrets so dark that we dare not even let them see the light of day. Yes, that includes me. But our past doesn’t matter, and even if it did, there is nothing we can do to change it anyway. What does matter is what we do with our past. Can we learn from our past mistakes and successes? Are we stronger because of the good things that happened, and bad?
Think of all of those mistakes you’ve made, all of the bad times you’ve had, and all of the people that have hurt you. You have survived all of them. You made it. You win. So fear not. Find your courage, and try what it is you have been afraid of. Whatever happens, can it be worse than what you’ve already been through?
You’ve got this.
I’m not sure for whom I am writing this. The reality is that I need to remember these words as well. My all-too-recent past includes an extensive failed job search. Far too far over the hill, I have more experience than ever before, and I can’t find a job. My whole life, I’ve had a “normal” career, with a guaranteed paycheck and benefits, and now I can’t find a job to save my life. After well over a thousand applications (and probably closer to two thousand if not over), and I can’t find a job. Something is wrong.
So what does one do? Well, my background is interesting; it includes academia, industry and even government work. I’ve been a professor, administrator, industrial chemist, and even author. I have experience in education, accreditation, administration, environmental testing, and more. So, I’ve decided to go into business for myself.
And what’s the worst that can happen? Maybe I won’t make enough money to eat. I’ve been there. I’ve been so poor, in fact, that for a time I was eating once every two to three days, and what I was eating certainly didn’t constitute meals. Maybe I’ll become homeless. Yup, been there too.
My opening services can be expected to be of interest to attorneys because of my forensic science experience, publishing companies because of my writing and editorial services, dietary supplement companies because of my experience with buidling quality control labs, and even environmental companies because of my experience with environmental testing. These are some amazing opportunities, with the potential to be very successful. And yet, here I am. That little kid who heard his entire life that he couldn’t be successful, and took those negative comments as challenges. So, okay, challenge accepted.
My past is giving me the courage to face the future. And if I should fail, the current will become my past, with lessons for me to continue even from there.
We, you and I…we got this. Don’t we?