Life changes can be hard, even when they’re obviously worth it

by Adi Jaffe Ph.D.

When I was still living on the dark side I was surrounded by people who supported my way of life – the customers who bought my drugs, the other dealers I sold drugs to and their customers, my connections who relied on me for their millions and all my friend and using buddies who trusted that because I had an endless supply they could get high forever. Hell, I even paid the rent for my recording studio in cocaine.

Drugs had become my way of life. But it wasn’t always that way.

My own drug dealing started with small-time weed, and later ecstasy selling mostly to friends that I would get high with myself. That circle of friends kept growing with my ego and drug supply and within a few years it would have been tough for me to say that I was selling to get high.

First signs that a change is needed

But somewhere around the time when I’d turned that corner I had some good friends who came to me and told me me that I should stop. They told me that my life had gotten out of hand and that it’s obvious that things are moving in the wrong direction. They offered their help to get me out of my new lifestyle and even offered to let me live with them rent free until I could get back on my feet. But I found some lame excuse saying I couldn’t afford to quit selling drugs, that everything was okay, and that was it. No one tried to talk me out of dealing for a while…

Years later I would find myself alone in my recording studio in the few solitary moments away from all of the people who constantly surrounded me sitting in the glow of the red lights that filled my studio. I was high on meth, as usual, but even so I was asking myself how exactly I’d gotten to that point. I had no real friends and no connection to anything real as my life revolved around drugs, money, women, paranoia, and guns. I knew something was wrong but I was in too far and down too deep to dig myself out. Or so I thought.

Everything changed when a SWAT team stormed into my house early one Saturday morning more than two years after that solitary moment in my studio and more than three years after my friends reached out. In jail with a $750,000 bond I couldn’t pay for I knew I had to change careers.

The question is: What took me so long?

It’s true, most people aren’t confronted with the sort of pulp fiction reality I was living in, but many find themselves living a life they don’t want and can’t seem to find their way out of it. The issue is just how far down are you willing to go before you feel your hand is forced. For me, it was facing 18 years in prison, I hope you have an easier ride.

Changing the direction of your life is hard

Sure, it’s easy to tell someone to leave their work if they’re unhappy or divorce a spouse that no longer seems compatible. Obviously it’s much harder to do either of those and I’m certain that leaving is not always the best way of dealing with a situation you’re not happy with. Running is only the answer sometimes but there are often better solutions.

Like what you ask?

If you hate your job, talk to your boss. Don’t purge your feeling about the company you work for but instead tell them what you dislike about your work and what else you feel you can do for the company that will make you happier and more productive. They’ll appreciate the honesty and the determination you show in doing that and if they don’t… well then you don’t want to be working for them anyway.

If your marriage isn’t working out as you expected, have a real conversation about the problems, get some counseling, put some real work into it. No one ever said staying with the same person for life will be easy but if you don’t confront your situation it’s certainly NOT going to get better. As the James Baldwin quote says: “Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

In the process you might just get the best friend you had wanted and the job you’ve been secretly wishing you’d had.

The reason these things are so difficult even as they’re so logically necessary is the exact same reason a car is difficult to stop. Momentum.article continues after advertisement

It’s easier to keep working in a crappy job or stay stuck in a joyless marriage because to change means applying force in a different direction and everything in your situation is fighting against that. It’s the same thing that kept me dealing drugs after my friends pointed out to me just where I was headed, after my first arrest, and after I myself knew that I needed to get out. The cops took care of the stopping for me.

Hopefully, you can heed those early signals and make the tough decision. The consequences of not acting are severe, even if they take a while to show up.

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