By Damien Knight
*Some Names changed to protect identities
- Are my personal priorities in order? What am I neglecting?
2003 Answer: For the past six years *Rōnin and what I wanted from him was my main priority. I neglected God, family and friends. Sometimes I even gave up my own needs for his. Ms. S notes: Good you can recognize this now as unhealthy.
2018: Yes, I feel my priorities are in order now. My children, education, and home are my focus. I have hobbies and have had romantic interests, but I have done my best not to be consumed by them. I am not sacrificing me on the altar of other people anymore.
- Am I as healthy as I want to be? Do I treat my body well?
2003 Answer: No, and No. I don’t eat a whole meal needed to obtain vitamins and minerals. Last year I started smoking. I don’t get a healthy amount of sleep either. Ms. S: What can you do to improve on this? Answer: Slowly eat more foods. Get good sleep. Quit smoking.
2018: No and I am trying. I still have sleep issues, diet issues but I stopped smoking in 2006. I quit drinking in 2009. I exercise, keep a schedule and have tried different diets to lose the weight I have. I take meds and keep appointments. I regularly get vaccinations when needed.
- Who are my heroes and why? Am I anyone’s hero?
2003 Answer: Jesus is my ultimate hero. He held me when I would cut on myself and made me see I’m not worthless. My Dad is my hero because he rescued me from my abusive and neglectful mother and became a single father with three kids. My Step-Mom is my hero because she taught me unconditional love and raised me like I was hers. She truly is my Mom. Damien’s Perspective Today: Yes, she raised me but while I am grateful and love her very much, there was a clear line between me and ‘her kids.’ I have no idea how hard it is to raise step-children, moreover those suffering as I did. She taught me so much. My Grandma is my hero because she watched me for two years while my dad was away. *Morgana is my hero, Ms. S: Thankfulness, Gratefulness is a great virtue! Because she taught me tolerance by accepting me when people here did not. *Celeste is my hero because he continued to support me when others said I was a hopeless case. Josh, Brett, and *Rōnin are my heroes because they came to my aid when I thought no one would accept me anymore. *D.T. is my hero because even though he had autism he was on the student council and was a decent actor. Albert Einstein is my hero because he was thought to have delayed speech and was a genius. Edgar Allan Poe is a hero for his mastery of poetry even during bouts of seeming manic-depression. He is in fact one of the most famous American poets. Ms. S: True! Ben Franklin is my hero, because he created so many scientific innovations and his family line shows evidence of ADHD meaning he perhaps had it. Ms S.: A diagnosis isn’t a limitation! 😉 He was a great iinventor, philosopher, and politician I do not see myself as anyone’s hero. Ms. S: Why Not? Damien’s Answer: Back then I had a shattered self-esteem. I was so torn down I just couldn’t imagine other’s admiring or looking up to me.
2018: My heroes have really changed. I have come to idolise scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson. I still love my parents but that young naivety where parents are gods and can do no true wrong is gone. It devastated me when Steve Irwin died as I admired his passion and love for animals. I look toward people like Harrison Ford, Josh Gates, Jeremy Wade, and Sam Neill for inspiration. Am I a hero to anyone? Maybe, perhaps my kids. I know that my kids are my heroes for all they have gone through and keep going through. Yet they shine like a light.
- Is there room for more love in my life? What steps am I taking toward that end?
2003 Answer: Yes, I could use a lot more love because all I do is hate. Ms. S Comment: What does that do to the human heart & spirit?? Damien’s Answer: Hate is a venom to the blood it boils inside and leaves you bitter. I am working toward this by learning forgiveness and becoming tolerant.
2018: I have so much love from my family. My kids fill my heart with joy. Forgiveness and tolerance for those who have caused me pain would not show me how to love. Unconditional love is the eyes of my children looking to me.
- Do I spend too much time worrying about things I can’t control?
2003 Answer: Yes, I am aware I do. I always want control of my moods and how other people act. I fear when I lose control, because when I was young, I had no control over what Bonnie (my biological mother) did to me.
2018 answer: Yes, but I try to remember that as long as I do my best on the things I can control, the things in life that I can’t will care for themselves.
- Can I stand on my own two or do I need someone to take care of me?
2003 Answer: I need others to make me good. I am very needy, and I’ve always felt the need to have a lover, so I can feel loved. Ms. S Comment: How can loving yourself first before seeking a relationship improve your life? Damien’s Answer: First off, you can accept and love others without loving yourself, learning self love requires having the love and support of others. Most people learn this in childhood because they are given love by parents, for those of us without love and support in childhood we seek it in the eyes of every lover, friend and self-made family. How can I learn to love myself first if I am not being taught what love is? I took my family for granted. Damien comment: I was often gaslighted and made to feel guilty for things I should not have as I was the child. I hope my kids never feel the way I did here. I took no real strides to be independent so I could take care of myself when the time comes. Ms. S Comment: How can you take those steps? Damien’s reply: Back then I had no clue or way. Eventually, I took independent living courses, and I already had taken Home EC and Life skills. I was more prepared than I knew. One thing my parents did was teach me hard work and how to cook. I was readier than I knew.
2018: I most certainly can and have for the past 5 years. I have worked jobs, attended college and raised two strong, intelligent children.
- Can I see things from a different perspective? When did I last walk in someone else’s shoes?
2003 Answer: Yes, I have learned to see the world through the eyes of others. Yesterday I had a heated discussion with my roommate, later I mentally put myself in her place to understand what she was trying to say.
2018: I absolutely have walked and saw through other’s eyes. I used to be conservative and religious. My eyes have opened, the experiences of people outside my own are valid. More than that many of the people I was taught to ignore or lifestyles I was trained to “fight against” I have seen needed open minded understanding and protecting from the majority.
- Do I put too much pressure on my loved ones? Do I put too much pressure on myself?
2003 Answer: Yes, and yes. I expect my family to just forgive me immediately after every time I’ve come home from placements. I always expect to much of them and give too little in return. I also expect too much of myself. For a long time, I wanted to be popular and thinner. Ms. S Comment: Would these superficial things make you happy? Damien’s reply: No, not entirely but losing weight and having friends would improve both physical and mental health. The issue back then though was I was already 98 lbs and unaware of all the friends I had. I was already popular by that point but just did not value me.
2018: I don’t think I expect that much from my family, just to do what I asked them. I still put a lot of pressure on myself. Mostly I expect to get good grades, home-school, work and essentially get everything done and very rare I ask for help doing it all. The dam breaks and this year I have asked help, sometimes this has benefited me but once it actually caused me more trouble. My advice don’t ask Mormon’s to help you clean house, back biting snakes they can be.
- Do I hold too much anger in my heart? Are there any grudges I’m willing to let go?
2003 answer: Yes. I held too much anger. I’m very resentful. I want to give up all my resentment toward my family. Ms. S Comment: How do you plan to do this? Damien’s Answer: Ultimately the best way to let go resentment toward people is by accepting that no matter how much you wish they will not apologise and that so long as you remain bitter, they hold power over you.
2018: I still hold a good deal of anger in my heart. I have no intention of letting anger go or resolving grudges. I have moved past that. Instead I accept that I am as I am and who I am.
- If I had an extra hour of free time a day how would I spend it?
2003 answer: I would spend it writing.
2018: Same honestly.
- What is my goal for 2004? Have I taken my first steps to accomplish this?
2003 answer: My goal is to learn more Spanish. No, I haven’t worked on it.
2018: My goal would be for 2019 and this year I hope to simply finish rewriting my novel. I have been working on this.
- Have I given up on goals and dreams I wish I hadn’t? Can I pick up where I left off?
2003 answer: I wish I hadn’t stopped playing the flute. I can’t start again for the reason I stopped, the arthritis in my hands. Ms. S Comment. Are there other instruments you can learn to play? Damien’s Answer: I was learning to play guitar back then and have picked back up guitar.
2018 answer: I guess there are things I gave up on, acting, swim team, small dreams, and hopes I couldn’t keep going but I am actively pursuing my biggest passion Paleontology and so I have no regret or desire to pursue the dreams I sacrificed.
- Am I having enough fun? Do I do something to laugh at every day?
2003 answers: Yes, and Yes.
2018 answer: Sometimes, I am very busy in classes. Some days I just don’t have time for me.
- What’s the best part of me that no one else sees? What can I do to share it?
2003 answer: I would suppose the best part of me is my compassion. My strong feelings that say I must do something for others. I want to share my compassion and do so by volunteering to help people. Ms. S. Comment: Best parts of you: Your compassion, Your integrity, Your passion, Your tolerance, Your intelligence and Your creativity. Damien’s Comment: Thanks, but it asks for the best parts others can’t see.
2018: I wear my soul on my sleeve the good of it and the darkness. I hide very little of my being. My shattered confidence though has overshadowed the good traits inside me.
- What’s my outlook? Do I embrace new experiences, or do I avoid the unfamiliar and stick to what I know?
2003 answer: Ms. S. Comment This is a big part of life: Stay challenged, active and always expand your horizon. My outlook on life changes with my mood. I love a good challenge though. I always do something new. Someday maybe this summer, I may go surfing. I’ve skateboarded which I never did until last year.
2018: I have embraced “The Secret” in many areas of my life. While the philosophy isn’t a perfect philosophy, it has helped my outlook stay motivated and positive even in negative moods. I love doing new things, going new places and just being able to experience new stuff. The unfamiliar is scary and there are times I want to avoid it but I can conquer those fears.
- Are there any apologies I need to make? It there anyone I lost touch with and want to call? What’s stopping me?
2003 answer: I need to apologise to my sisters. I also wish to contact my old best-friend Katie. I haven’t because I don’t have her number.
2018: I am sure I owe apologies to people. At the same time, I will not keep going through life apologising to people. I have lost touch with lots of people and met lots of people. I am satisfied with the way life is. I have no desire to pursue lost friends.
- Am I happy with my relationship with god? Am I as committed as I would like to be?
2003 answer: I’m finally rebuilding my relationship with God and I feel great. I could be more committed and strive to do so.
2018: I have recently returned to the Unitarian Universalist church. As for “God” I have long since left the path of repression, stagnation, and destruction that my former beliefs held me and am committed to myself and that is thee most important commitment of all.
- Have I ever been held back by fear of failure? What’s the worst that could happen? The best that could happen?
2003 answer: Yes, I have yet to board on ramps. The worst that could happen is I could break a bone and since I don’t have a helmet, I could crack my head open. The best thing that could happen, get the thrill of my life.
2018: Yes, I have been held back by failures. Yet I also have worked to overcome my fears of failure. The worst and best things aren’t even worth weighing anymore. I am beyond worry over failure.
- If I could start my life over again what would I do different? What would stay the same?
2003 Answer: I would have told Eddie no when he asked me out. My best friends I had would still be the same.
2018: I would have confessed my love to Ashley, as I had before but instead of pursuing a relationship I would have remained friends. Seeking more only permanently ruined our ties. Otherwise all else stays the same I am not one to live in regrets.
- Do I make the most of everyday?
2003 Answer: You bet!
2018: You bet!
- Could I push myself harder at home, could I stand to catch up a little?
2003 answer: I need to do both. I push my parents to the limit and I don’t try enough.
2018: I have papers to grade, assignments to assign, posts to post. Yes I could but why stress myself. Rushing only means I hurry my projects and not produce quality.
- Am I good about granting myself life’s rewards, celebrating accomplished goals?
2003 answer: No, I am not. I just move on to my next goal.
2018: I try, especially if it was a goal I worked hard to achieve. I will celebrate after which I raise the bar.
Ms. S Comment: You did a good job being honest and introspective with these questions. Great job!
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