Dear Dr. Archer,
I doubt there's enough to tell you my life's story. I'm 37 years old, a divorced father of two wonderful children. I'm also an ex convict -- I served 8 years in prison and three years on parole for breaking and entering when I was 21.
I was raised in a single parent home, as my father passed away when I was three. Mom was never home, and my siblings were the ones primarily responsible for raising me. So, when I got the notion that life was about partying and sex, my life was on a path to nowhere but prison.
I was in third grade and was a daily pot and cigarette smoker. When I was 15 I was admitted to a long term, inpatient treatment program. I was clean for two years, but started partying again a couple of months before I turned 18. I wanted to enjoy the money my father had left me. I basically blew 20 grand on cocaine and partying in two and a half months.
I didn't have a notion of what life was supposed to be like, so my only desire was to make sure I could afford to get drugs so I could have a good time. What a waste. I have had many forms of therapy dealing with several areas, from sexual abuse as a child, anger management, cognitive drug therapy.
When I was having issues with self destructive cycles, I learned how to trace thoughts, feelings and misconceptions. I learned what empathy was and how to employ it. I learned to be self assertive, respect myself and others. I was taught the principals of "Locus of Control," although at the time the term was not used. I have developed a very strong internal local control.
For 20 years I have been on a path to making me who I am today, a person I like and most people like, as well. This is a huge surprise, because when I was younger I didn't give a flip about anyone. I'd steal from my mother, grandmother, siblings, neighbor. I didn't care what happened to me; I lived in the moment.
Today I consider myself a success story, or at least I’m trying to be. I haven't had a sustainable job in over two years, and because of my mistakes when younger, cannot manage to get a well paying job. I've decided I know more about the mind than anything else. I lived through the changes and I'm grateful. Maybe I can help others figure themselves out like I had to do.
I finally did the FAFSA, (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), and got approved. I'm a full time student at Argosy University Online, out of Arizona. I'm finishing up my second class, PSYCH 180, Interpersonal Communications skills. Due to my past experiences, I did not gain much from the class except to realize I have become lax in my efforts.
Well, that's all I have for now, I’m checking into a poker tournament.
Congratulations on turning your life around! I definitely consider you a success story, as well. Smoking marijuana and cigarettes as early as the third grade? I'd like you to read my most recent blog post, "Four Things You Need To Know About Addiction"
What you did was a very difficult thing to do, but you persevered, making yourself better in the process.
Congratulations again, Aaron. Best of luck in your future, and I also wish you success in your poker tournament.