Rob Sirstins

 

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona to a young teenage mother. Because of her addictions my mother couldn’t care for me or my  4-year-old sister and a few months later a family in Utah adopted me. My adopted family is loving, caring, and changed my life forever, but as I grew I started to realize I was different.

Due to the color of my skin kids bullied and beat me in elementary school driving me to find an outlet. I did find that escape in the form of sports. I excelled physically when it came to competition, but it was only a temporary fix to a much larger problem. I always had an immense amount of pain and anger, but couldn’t place where it stemmed from. Eventually I realized I was born into rejection and then placed in an environment of rejection that left me lost.

I thought my pain and anger would subside when I signed with a Division 1 university to play football, but I soon found out that could be taken from me as well. Just two years into my career I was in a career-ending car accident.

I eventually married a wonderful young woman, but I brought unresolved rage, anger, and unhealed traumas into my marriage with me, and it ultimately contributed to the decline and eventual end of the marriage after just four years. While the marriage failed the relationship was a success considering I had my beautiful daughter because of it. My ex-wife and I continue to have a positive relationship and I have the great pleasure of seeing my daughter nearly every day.

The pinnacle of my darkness and depression hit three years after my divorce. Within a month I lost a close friend to suicide, lost my  job, the home I was about to purchase for me and my daughter, had to put down my dog of 13 years, and even had my heart broken by the first person I trusted to give it to since my divorce. I had lost nearly everything and none of it had to do with my life choices or because of addictions, but rather because it was time for me to grow. The notion that I didn’t belong was once again compounded and crystalized in my mind. I had to try to pick myself back up and I started taking jobs below my experience and education level and felt as though I lost, yet again, stuck in limbo with no way out.

A few more years passed and I seemed to be stuck in the same place: directionless with an ever growing darkness and anger inside me. My second business was on the verge of collapse and I was struggling to hold onto relationships.  My pain, despair, and hopelessness had hit a breaking point and brought me to a crossroads: I could either continue to sink deeper into this pain and darkness to the point of destruction or I could make a decision to heal.

I decided it was time to heal and let go of my past once and for all. As I moved away from my traumas and failures I was able to see my pain from a new perspective and realized these devastations were actually vital life lessons. Thanks to this difficult path through life I have gained the power to empathize with others and help them get through life’s greatest struggles. I  have come to realize that the greatest obstacle standing in the path of our happiness is quite often one’s self. I say it’s up to each of us to change the narrative we’ve created in our own heads to start us on our path to realize our potential, but only if we’re each willing to put in the work.