The past few weeks have been hard. I lost my job because of a disagreement with the supervisor, and I had to beg for money for diapers and wipes, and scrap up food so that my fiancee and daughter could just eat. It feels like every time I gain some ground and start getting some footing in life, I just lose it all back. Something happens and it feels like I’m all the way back at the beginning. I feel like I’m in a dark place.
I think my dark place is that I’m afraid that I’m not going to be able to provide. What if I’m not a good father? What if after eighteen years of raising my daughter she hates me because I did a horrible job? What if something goes wrong and I can’t handle it? I don’t want to lose my daughter; I don’t want to lose my fiancee. But what if I turn out to be like my dad and I stop caring, and I start taking my anger out on them?
All the what if’s—that’s what kills me. “What if?” “What if?” “What if ?”
I normally don’t go to this dark place anymore. When I was doing drugs, I was in a dark place—I was walking this world blind. As I wrote in another piece, when my then-girlfriend, Jazmin, started helping me remember the good that I had done, and showed me love, I got out of that dark place. And now I have a daughter and fiancée to show for it. But here in the past few weeks I’ve been back in that dark place.
There is one thing that’s different this time, though: I’ve got some light. Jazmin and Izzy are my light, a reminder that not everything is going to hell, that there’s hope for humanity.
For instance, with Izzy, no matter how mad I get at her, I can never stay mad. And her laugh, that’s what makes me able to get through. It’s not always peaches and cream, but the way she lays her head on me, that makes everything all right. That makes my world centered. Usually it’s off-balanced, but when I got her in my arms there is peace and tranquility. The world brightens up.
What gets me up out of bed in the morning are the two most beautiful girls in my life, Jazmin and Izzy. Jazmin is my battery, the one that gives me the power and strength to keep going, and Izzy is the light. Together, they make a flashlight that lights up this big, dark, scary world for me. It used to be drugs that brought me happiness, now it’s my fiancee and daughter.
And the way I look at it I’m here as a protector, a father, a lover, and a fighter. I will fight for my family. Because for all the stuff outside of my control, there are still things within my control. And I can make changes for the better. For instance, when Jazmin was pregnant with our baby, she had a health scare and we didn’t know if the baby would live. I did what I usually do in times of crisis: I prayed. I told God I’d quit smoking if the baby was born healthy. And as soon as Jazmin had the baby, I quit cold turkey and stayed that way for several months.
Or take the time I quit meth. The night before I told Jazmin about my meth habit I prayed to God, and I told him, “Let me tell this girl and if she accepts and loves me for who I am, I quit.” It’ll be a sign, I said. And when she accepted me, I quit meth.
If there is anyone else out there fighting the what if’s, here are my suggestions.
First, listen to the what if’s, just don’t let them control you. You do want to pay the what if’s close attention. Because if one of those what if’s happen, you want to be prepared. But at the same time, you don’t want to dwell in it—it’s going to be like an anchor to your foot, and you’re going to go to into a bottomless pit.
Second, focus on how you can make other people happy. For me, that’s my fiancee and children. If you’re like me, sometimes you don’t enjoy the little moments. But when you do, it gives you peace—it centers your world. Focusing on them helps me remember that I’m here as a protector, a father, a lover, and a fighter. I will fight for my family. And I’ll make sure they have a great time while I’m doing it.
Third, keep persevering. Do what you can. No one can ask you to do anything more. Just do what’s in your power to do. If your woman is upset, you do what you can and make her laugh. You be the man. And this battle is winnable, you’ve just got to make it to the end. It’s kind of like how back in medieval times when a kingdom was under siege they would shut the gates, take all their food inside, and pretty much wait it out. And sometimes the people inside the castle would win because they were better equipped, and sometimes the people on the outside would win because they were better equipped. But if you fight your hardest and you put your heart and soul into it, you’ll always win. You’ll always come out the victor. You might have a few bumpy paths. But you’ve got to try. You can’t just give up and lay there. You’ve got to fight for what you believe in and what you need.
Fourth, know that you’re not alone. From the moment you’re born, you’re given a blank book. Yeah, some guidelines are set out for your life, like how you’re going to grow up. The way I see it, when it comes down to it God gives you a pen and says let’s see what you can do with it—and he’s always there. You just prayer away. I know that not everyone believes in God, but if you are, just remember that if you need help with something, and no one is there to help you, there is always going to be that one person, in good or bad, who has your back. It’s just sometimes he wants you to fix yourself; he wants to know that you’re going to try.
Don’t let the what ifs rule over your life, even as you prepare for tomorrow and look for the good. And remember: you’re not alone in this fight.