Tom's Story

I knew I was different when I was five years old and enamored with the eldest son in the movie The Swiss Family Robinson. By the time I was twelve I knew what that “different” thing was. I remember praying that one day it would make some sort of sense. Otherwise it was just some sort of cruel joke or random unfortunate circumstance. It may have been the 60’s but the sex, drugs and rock and roll attitude had yet and most likely never would taint or enlighten the conservative midwestern town of 20,000 people I grew up in.

I spent years trying to be the person I was “supposed to be,” by my parents, society and most of all myself. Fear of my beingWe can’t change the hand life dealt us, however, we do get to make choices that will determine how that hand is played out. who I am lead me to alcohol as the only way to cope with the feelings I had forced down inside of me. The fear and the anger and the hurt. The feeling that I was somehow inherently flawed. The certainty that I would always come in second best. Finally there wasn’t enough tequila north of the border to drown my pain, but trust me I tried.

Finally,  I was spiraling down into a dark pit of hopelessness, isolation, and fear. For the first time in my life I truly understood the meaning of the word "despair."  It’s no surprise that I found myself in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Through AA, a determined soul searching and a brutally honest assessment of who I was, but even more importantly who I wanted to become, I climbed out of  that dark and terrifying place.  It was in those  I believe, I truly believe, we know who we are meant to be the moment we are born. The hitch in that giddy-up is that this was also the moment the rest of the world—our family, society, our friends—started telling us who we are supposed to be. rooms I heard a woman, sober several years and quite successful say,“I didn’t quit drinking to have mediocre life. I quit drinking to have a miraculous one,” and I knew that I wanted that. I learned that if we are ever going to have any chance of moving forward, of creating a miraculous life and becoming the person we were meant to be, we need to learn to forgive.

We need to forgive those who held us up to the unrealistic, unwanted and at times even impossible expectations of “supposed to be.” It is by forgiving them that we are finally able to forgive ourselves for not measuring up to those expectations. And it is by forgiving ourselves that we set ourselves free. Free to become the me we were meant to be.

So, trust me when I say that I am aware that things don’t always go as planned. I get it. We can’t change the hand life dealt us, however, we do get to make choices that will determine how that hand is played out. No matter what our sexuality or race or religion we all deserve to realize our dreams. We all deserve to become the person we were meant to be.

I don’t have the answers to all of life’s questions, but one thing I do know for sure —endings last as long as we choose and beginnings begin as soon as we are willing to start..

Together let’s find the courage to embrace our true selves and share that self with the world as we fearlessly, happily and proudly say, “This is who I am!”

Shall we begin?


Interview with K.C. Armstrong of "World's Most Amazing People"