Mine is a life that was transformed. Can’t say it’s a rags to riches story. I couldn’t bear the cliche. For me, the transformation has been more on the inside where you can’t see it. Though now it’s developed far enough that the transformation is visible on the outside. That’s how change works. It starts with the smallest parts and works its way out to the bigger parts.

You see, like most people, I was raised to believe I was crap. Yes, my parents fed and clothed me, and got me to school. I got to enjoy vacations and Christmas holidays with family. From the outside, it must have looked really great. From the inside it was hell. I guess you would say my family was a “normal dysfunctional family.” So why was my experience of life so awful if I was born into what would be privilege for many?

When you believe you suck, the world seems all to happy to oblige. That is, if you think you suck, life will suck. I fell into the common trap of believing that the crap I got from the world was the world proving my inferiority. The joke was on me. After all my complaining and suffering– and by suffering I mean panic attacks from the age of 6, social anxiety, physical illnesses, abuse, poverty, chronic pain, broken bones, fears and failure… I’ve stared down the barrel of a loaded gun, hurled through the air at 100 kilometres an hour, and faced a foe twice my size and three times as mean, besides– and still, after all of this suffering, I have learned that the world simply reflects back to me what I believe about myself. No wonder! I don’t know that self-hatred could run much deeper than my own at that time. When I understood this principle, I transformed.

Do I claim to have it all figured out? Goodness no! The process of ongoing discovery makes it much more interesting. I am, however, generally free, and now have the very cherished pleasure of sitting with others also longing to be free. They say we can’t undo the past. In ways, no. But we most certainly CAN be released by the effects of it. For me it has been a combination of education, skill-building, support and faith. What nobody told me, however, was that the greatest growth would come from honestly seeking to help others. Where my family abandoned me, I can be there for my own children. When others come to me laden with self-loathing, and we spend some time together… sometimes laughing, sometimes crying… we both grow. I cannot tell you I would do it all again, but at the same time I could not help others had I nothing in common with their struggles. Today I am free. One of my greatest joys (besides my three sons) is getting to witness the transformation of others. It’s bitter sweet, to be sure.

Day by day my life continues to heal. I walk when I should have been crippled for life. I accomplish the things I set out to accomplish. I’m clear about who I am and why I’m here. My faith is ever-increasing. It’s finally okay to be me. For this I am grateful. But more than this I am grateful to be in a position to help others achieve the same.

Alas, I am a painter… first of paint… now of Souls. Doesn’t get much better than that.