When I was about 30 years old my life began falling apart for reasons I couldn't explain. I was suffering with depression, but I didn't know why. I knew I'd had a rough childhood that included physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, but so did others and they didn't seem any worse for the wear. Turns out a lot of people were as good as I was at hiding a lot of pain.
I chose to examine the first 30 years of my life in the effort to resolve the unresolved and move away from all that had held me in a place of insecurity, fear, and self-loathing. I'd say I was desperate to move on, but I really had no idea of such a goal. To what and from where? I was, however, desperate to move – at all. So I took hold of an old adage by George Santayana and sent it careening through every darkened crevice of a life I barely understood: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
I wasn't terribly supported for it at first. As I would later find out, some people who also had skeletons didn’t appreciate being reminded that they had them, even if it is by way of someone else minding their own business as they go about the business of minding themselves. I was told by several people that mine was an unnecessary trek, but mostly I was told it would be a long road with no guarantee that I'd be any better off for it.
In Zoo, Edward Albee said, "It's one of those things a person has to do; sometimes a person has to go a very long distance out of the way to come back a short distance correctly." So I set out to explore, navigate and negotiate with my own past. I didn't know it at the time, but I was pioneering my own life. Looking back, this explains why I felt hopeless, lost, and exhausted while at the same feeling curious, excited, and exhilarated.
Some were merely curious about how or if I'd make it, while others were hopeful I'd get wherever I was going so they could follow. They must have thought I was mad, though, because I kept making what I thought was one turn in place after another. Turns out I was on a sort of spiral staircase, so while I did revisit problems, memories, and issues over and over, I did so at an ever-increasing level of skill. And again, I didn't know that's what was happening until I cleared the clouds, looked out over the vastness, and realized I wasn't just better off; I was better.