A story of adversity. Reject or Resolve? – ‘Mikey Boy’ becoming ‘Mike the Man’ (Part 1)

May 1, 2017


As young boy Mikey’s mother left home, taking his sister, but leaving him alone with his step-father. Mikey’s dad had died when he was a baby. Although kindly, the step-father could not cope and Mikey was pushed into foster care.

Through no fault of his own, Mikey found himself frequently having to move homes. Sometimes his foster family had children or sometimes they changed their minds or goals. Sometimes they were abusive and simply could not cope with the shy and awkward, often resentful boy, whose withdrawn and sullen response to his challenging circumstances made him a target for the bullies.

Mikey soon learned to override the initial fear of these bullies and fought back. This had two impacts on the teenager’s life: he became aggressively angry and he also  came to believe everything bad that was said about him. That pattern or sense of fear did not leave him for a very long time, haunting him and making him overly anxious, but more on that later. Just now, that fear of not being good enough of feeling under threat, negatively affected his self-efficacy or belief in himself. Mikey felt like he had been cursed and slipped slowly into trouble with the law.

Then a trigger moment happened. A kindly policeman simply challenged, the now young man, to “take charge” of his life. The policeman interjected into Mikey’s stunned silence, telling him the well known story of the two wolves who battle inside each of us. One is the fearful, angry, bitter, self-pitying and nasty wolf, the other a kindly, energetic, grateful and hard-working wolf. “Who wins? The one you feed.” The police man explained. Mikey paused and reflected.

At this point he could have gone one of two ways, resentfully rejected the prompt and slipped further into self-pity, anger and addiction or resolved to pull himself up and choose a different route.

Reflect now:

When was the first time you experienced an overwhelming adversity, conflict or failure?

What was the nature of that event or situation? Was it gradual and slowly draining or unexpectedly sudden?

What coping strategies did you employ?