As usual, I was taking some time to reflect on some things going on in my life – trying to gain some clarity and insight so that I might develop a plan for forward motion.

It was interesting because as I was thinking about things, a past conversation came to mind…and with it some painful truths.

I was living upstate New York at the time.  While I was in the City visiting family, a very good friend of mine  – let’s call him Bomber – (whom I’ve known since I was about six and he was seven) came by my grandmother’s house to see me.

Just like old times, I went inside and grabbed us a couple of drinks and we sat out on the stoop and talked.  We talked for hours about everything – life, love, politics, how much our ‘hood had changed.  And then he asked me the ultimate question: OK, what are you doing here?

Not fully understanding his meaning I gave the only answer that made sense to me at the moment, “I’m visiting. It’s a long weekend, so Hubby and I decided to drive down. I don’t get it,” I continued when he started shaking his head in disbelief.

It was a gesture I’d come to know too well in our years of friendship: how can someone so smart be so slow?

“No mama, what are you doing here? Like this?  Our lives are nothing alike.  I dropped out of school in seventh grade and you got your masters.  I think I’ve volunteered like four times in my life, you help people all the time.  I never left the ‘hood, you move like every year.  You got married, you make good money.  How did you get here? We got the same problems. How the hell did that happen?’

I had to admit, Bomber had a point.

Throughout our conversation we shared what bumps we’d hit along life’s hiking path.  We talked about our money issues, housing issues, relationship woes and downright stupid choices.  But what he couldn’t understand was how I had made so many different choices and still landed in exactly the same place as he did.  It went against everything we knew.  When two people do two very different things, they should get very different outcomes.Well…not exactly.

You see, Bomber and I had indeed made different choices in our lives, but we had something very important in common – we thought very similarly of ourselves.   Bomber will be the first to admit that his choices in life reflected his poor sense of self-perception. Me, on the other hand. Growing up, I always talked tough and walked tough, but I spent most of my younger years trying to outrun rejection and abandonment. In fact, the only real difference between us was that the poor choices I made were so private and subtle I often missed them myself.

That’s how I’d gotten there.  I didn’t believe that I deserved all the things I desired.  I honestly felt that if I took care of myself I was selfish, if I asked for nice things I was greedy, and God-forbid I want someone to love me wholly and completely (mind, body and soul)…well, that just made me a needy, neurotic, nymphomaniac!

I seriously thought these things about myself.  It’s sad to know just how much pain I was in back then, but it’s laughable to consider how I viewed myself.

Oh, c’mon – I can’t be the only one.  How many times have you thought something about yourself that you just HAD TO laugh at later because you realized just how ludicrous you must have sounded (if you ever told anyone aloud) or just how disturbed you must have been to be around someone who might have actually agreed with you!

So – you know it always comes down to this – how did you get here?  How did you get where you are today?  Whether you absolutely love it or you loathe your current space with ever fiber of your being?  How did you get there?

When did you make the decision that this is where you were going to be? Who/what brought you here?  Did you have a revelation (are you still waiting for it)? Is there something you wish you could do differently (or do again)?

Consider this – my friend asked me this question almost three years ago.  For three years this question has haunted me, taunted me and kept me up at night.  I didn’t have an answer.  At the time, I had no earthly idea how the hell I had gotten where I was – I was too busy doing precisely what had gotten me there in the first place.

It was not until almost a year ago, when some overhauls took place in my personal life that I started to take inventory of my own actions. If time is currency and energy is an investment I was putting all my currency into the wrong things because my return was god-awful!

It’s usually at those moments, at those points, when you realize something different needs to happen.  It’s usually when you feel at your absolute worst, when you say “I have to do something,” that you suddenly realize that you’ve been doing something…you need to do something else.

Take some time today, tomorrow, at any point this week and ask yourself: How did I get here? If you’re where you want to be – great…if not, consider doing something (else) about it.  Wishing you great luck in everything.

mz. iscis malone