I recently wrote a piece for a book. I had to write a letter to myself at age 16.
It was quite an interesting exercise. Of course there is a lot one could say to oneself at age 16. Lots of advice, lots of hints on how to avoid pain, crazy people, STDs. But actually I believe that if we arrive somewhere in life where we are happy with ourselves and our lot, how can we have any regrets or wish anything in our past to have changed? For even the most awful, painful bits have contributed to the person you have become today, and therefore changing or wishing any of it had not happened would undermine or alter your present state of bliss.
I really do believe that, I think. But of course, having the opportunity to write a letter to my little scared, unformed, 16 year old self got me thinking. And I have to say, as I do in the letter which will be published in the book, that there is a person who played quite a large and very destructive role in my life that I think I could have happily not met and still ended up where I am now.
We all have patterns in our behaviour and our desires. Sometimes we don't even understand these patterns or become aware of them till many years later, perhaps even till after we have conquered them or broken the cycle. I can see several patterns in my life and behaviour from this great old age of 45 looking back through the ages. The one I keep focussing on recently, since I wrote that piece, is that I have repeatedly tried to fix angry people. In some way I felt that I could help them, maybe even that their anger was my fault, and it was my duty to be with them and help them get better. Of course that is all a load of bollocks. It wasn't my fault that they were angry. It probably wasn't their fault either. But I would never be able to fix or change them, and in trying they would only make me miserable, and in one case try to destroy me.
The reason I did this was it was familiar. I grew up with anger, with a parent whose rage was so present that I thought it was normal, and that I could affect a change in for the better it if I tried really hard. Of course my attempts were probably red rag to a bull and made the situation worse, which I suppose led to a vicious circle of me trying harder and them being more angry and frustrated and taking that out on me, and so on and so on.
It was many years and several adult realtionships later that I saw this pattern and I stopped it. And so I wish I had never met a certain young man at the after party for the first night of Titanic - the Musical in New York in 1997. I wish I had walked away and notspent so many years trying to fix him and putting up with his shit. I think I would still be in the happy place I am now without that experience.
Maybe I should have known. I mean, come on. The show was called Titanic, after all.