I was 18 years old. I did a Voluntary Year of Social Services.
I worked in an elementary school, helping kids with their homework and playing with them in the breaks. One day during summer break, I walked through the hallway on my own and spotted a black PlayStation portable lurking out from one of the kid’s backpacks…
I took it.
I stuffed it in my pants and walked straight to my car, depositing it in the trunk. I felt bad and also excited. I thought about the new Nike’s I could buy myself now. In my head, I noticed the lyrics of some rap songs I was listening to. Stealing seemed O.K. to me.
When I came back to the school, everyone was astir. The theft had been recognized. I was asked to find the thief. Of course, I never found him…
I never told anyone about this for almost 9 years.
I suffered from a major crisis in my twenties and I asked myself why I have such a bad self-image and why I don’t trust my own best advice.
One evening, I sat down and I wrote down all the things I did that are “bad”.
The theft came up for the first time in years. I had buried the memory deep under my general mental clutter and now looked at it from a distance.
I decided to do something about it. I knew I had to. If I ever wanted to grow past my childhood limitations, I had to come clear about this.
So I took action.
First, I wrote my old boss.
At the time of the theft, I worked for a company assigning volunteers to schools and other facilities in need of support. She never responded. I later learned that she had been fired… for stealing loads of money. I found that somewhat funny.
I reached out to someone else at that company. She responded and invited me over. On my way there, I felt like walking to my own execution. I was terrified. My legs felt like pudding and my breath was shaky.
When I got there, I told her everything I could remember…
She did not kill me. In fact, she thanked me and was happy that I intended to come clear about this. I wanted to make amends. She suggested that I donate some money.
I pondered this idea for a while and I wanted to get in touch with the family itself. She said that she can’t help me with this. I decided to go a little further.
A few weeks later I drove to the school where I stole the PlayStation.
My mind resisted the idea as hard as it could. When I got to the parking lot, it took me 45 minutes to move. I thought about what I am missing out on in life by keeping this issue unresolved. Still, my body would not move out of the car.
Finally, I started a countdown. 5-4-3-2-1, O.K. I opened the car door and moved towards the entrance. Now I knew I was going to be alright. I went straight to the teacher’s room. A lady approached me. My heart felt like jumping out of my body. I told her that I want to speak to the principal and that I stole something.
She looked at me in a surprised and, I imagine, harsh way and told me to wait.
A few minutes later I was called into the principal’s office. I took one deep breath and told her the whole story. She remembered this. It was her first year at that school. She remembered the boys name: Kevin.
We talked for 15 minutes.
I told her why I am doing this and how I feel about this now and why I think I did this in the first place. She promised me to connect me with the family… and she did.
A few days later, I got an email… the sender: Kevin’s mom.
My heart froze for a moment.
She wanted to talk to me on the phone and gave me her number. I waited two days. Finally, I took my phone and dialed the number:
“Hi! This is Marvin. The guy who stole your kid’s PlayStation.”
To my surprise, she seemed happy to talk to me. She told me that we all make mistakes some time. I looked in the mirror while we talked, not sure why. At the end, she told me to let go and forgive myself. She said that she forgives me. We agreed upon me paying her what she paid for the PlayStation. I gladly transferred the money and with that… I reclaimed part of my strengths…
I hung up and smiled and slept like a baby.
I am no hero… hell, I am a coward most of the time.
I don’t want credit for this story. I even think I should not post this because I can somewhat use it to show people how honest I am now. Use it as marketing.
This is not my intention.
My intention is to show you that, only by facing your past, you can live a life of your design in the present. You need to free yourself from your mind by facing the situation in which your mind has made up it’s current beliefs. Tell the truth. Come clear about whatever you have to come clear about. Tell the whole story.
Your past incompletions hold you back more than you can even be aware of.
This takes some courage. We are all afraid of uncertainty.
We are afraid of the uncontrollable flux of the moment, so we chose to hold on to our beliefs and thoughts. They give us some sense of safety.
In the end, this is an illusion.
There never is any safety. Just in the mind. In reality, the world is always changing.
If you want to feel relaxed, don’t settle down. Face what you want to avoid the most on purpose. Volunteer for abuse, so to speak. Face your demons. Face what you haunt yourself with in your mind and stand up to it… in the present moment.
Only by increasing the tension for a bit and allowing the feeling to take all the room it wants to take, you will feel relaxed later on.
So real relaxation and a fundamental feeling of ease does not happen by staying at home.
It develops from dealing with what you don’t want to deal with.
This way, you learn that, whatever happens, you can deal with it and the reality is never as scary as your story about it.
You will be fine.
So, the road to feeling at ease leads through cranking up the un-easiness a notch, on purpose… and being fully willing to face whatever happens.
P.S. What is it you have to come clear about? Is there anything you avoided to deal with? Come out of your self-made prison and share your story here.