When we came onstage to get our awards, we had to select one question to answer.
The question I selected: “What advice would I give my 22-year-old self?”
That night I only had a few minutes, so I’ll expand that advice to myself. My answer then was as follows:
“You know that girl you met in 1972 when you both were 16 years old and you said you couldn’t stand her and didn’t care if you would ever see here again? Well, she is going to be your wife and life partner. She is going to be your rock and pick you up when you become a broken man in 1992 at the age of 36. She is going to be your ‘ride or die’ woman. She will always be by your side.
“Don’t be afraid to deal with being a childhood sexual abuse survivor. It was not your fault! You are OK, and you are not alone.
“Someday you will share your story to help others around the world learn they can heal. You will help them to realize we aren’t alone and we can do some incredible things with our lives, despite our pasts.”
If I had more time onstage, I would have also told my 22-year-old self the following:
“Life goes fast! Don’t spend so much time worrying about the past and things you can’t control. Don’t let imaginary fear stop you from trying new things. Trust your gut. Know that some people will take your kindness for weakness. Really believe in your dreams. Never give up.”
I am blessed that God put a spirit of joy and laughter in my soul, and I didn’t let my childhood trauma take that from me. I am blessed with a loving family, incredible loving friends, and people who have been very supportive and helpful in my life and career.
I never dreamed when I was 22 years old that I would have the journey of life I am enjoying. I have been broken to as low as one can go. But because of love; faith; grace; mercy; encouragement from many; hard work; having an incredible wife and kids; and having the will to see it through — I keep staying the course.
Life is awesome and never give up. We are stronger than we realize.
Keep enjoying the journey of life. Picture life differently and make it your reality.