I used to have nothing left to look forward to in life. I thought the only major milestones left for me were retirement and death. I was just killing time while I waited for the grave. My life was empty and meaningless. I was full of nihilism.

Now, it feels like my life has only just begun. It’s a cliche, but I’m born again. Every day is full of adventure. I don’t want to waste a single day. My life is full of meaning and purpose. (This is true most of the time… I still have occasional bad days).

I used to think drug addicts were pieces of shit, the lowest of the low.

Now, I realise that some of the best people in the world are drug addicts (at least the ones in active recovery). They’ve been to hell and back and survived. And they understand what it’s like inside my crazy head.

I used to think only idiots seriously believed in spirituality or religious ideas. I was a closed-minded scientific atheist.

Now, I’m a lot more open-minded. And humble! There’s so much that we simply don’t know. Curiosity and agnosticism seem much more appropriate than blind certainty. My current belief system takes ideas from science, religion and spirituality. I even pray to God most days!

When I was off my face, wasted on drugs, and exploring other dimensions within my mind, I thought that was the high point of my life… feelings of euphoria. I used to say to myself, “If I could feel this way all of the time, my life would be worth living.”

Now, I try not to label feelings as good or bad, they are what they are. I’m learning not to chase after pleasant feelings or run away from unpleasant ones. I’m learning to accept life on life’s terms, rather than trying to escape from it.

I used to dislike responsibility. In fact, I crafted many aspects of my life to minimise my responsibility and optimise my pleasure. And ironically, pursuing this path didn’t make me happy (except in short bursts).

Now, not only do I see responsibility as necessary for myself, I’m actively leaning into it! I actually want to be a responsible adult! When I feel proud of myself, it’s so much better than temporary feelings of euphoria I got from drugs.

I was incredibly selfish. I often ignored the consequences and impacts of my behaviour on others.

Now, I’m learning to be less selfish, to focus outside of my own head and be more caring towards others.

I used to beat myself up for my perceived failures. I made myself feel awful, worthless, pathetic. At its worst, I made myself severely depressed and suicidal.

Now, I take each day one at a time. I try to make each day just a little better than the last. Some days I’ll slide backwards, but overall I’ll make progress. I’m learning to be kind to myself. I forgive myself for my mistakes, and I try to learn whatever lessons life present me.

I used to feel very alone, most of the time. I rarely left the house unless I had to.

Now I’m part of a wonderful community of people, all helping each other. I belong.

I spent huge amounts of time distracting myself with food, the Internet, videogames and (sometimes) porn.

Now I seek what’s meaningful (not just fun or easy). I have the Courage to face my dragons instead of running away from them. I embrace reality rather than chasing fantasy.

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