My greatest teacher has been my own experiences. The lessons I have learned through experience have been more valuable than anything one person could have taught me. I have learned about love through experiencing it and sharing it. I have learned about betrayal by being betrayed. I have learned about loss by losing. Reading about someone else’s loss in a book may evoke sympathy, but it is shallow, a shadow of what it is actually like to experience personal loss. Most all of the painful lessons I have learned, I have chosen, I have initiated. I have lived the life of a young alcoholic woman. I have been to jail for a crime I committed due to drug addiction. I cheated on many partners, and left them. I learned that I can’t escape myself no matter how far I run. I’ve learned that actions have consequences, sometimes bad, sometimes good. I’ve learned that life is not black and white, but like the yin/yang symbol, there is darkness in light and light in the dark. The lessons I have learned through life experience I will remember, because they rest physically in my being. Past experiences without the emotions attached bring wisdom. My experiences have made me wise. At times, this has been at the expense of others’ happiness, however; and, my own. I used to always look at the pain and hurt I caused others, and discount my own pain as a form of punishment that was warranted. Now, I see my own value, and look with compassion on myself in those situations. I feel compassion for others and myself, and forgive myself for what I have done. I am picking up the pieces of my soul, peace by peace, through meditation and abstinence in addictive behaviors. My spirit is being healed for the first time, ever. I am beginning to feel intact, complete. I haven’t felt this way since I was a little girl who lived in the present moment and lacked for nothing, and played all day long.