What decision do you most regret in your life?

Spending too much of my adulthood trying to be someone I'm not & can never be.

I grew up in a very abusive & neglectful setting; it was chaos & danger all the time. I have done & seen terrible things. When I was 12, one of my mother's boyfriends stabbed me several times whilst trying to sexually assault me (I stabbed him right back & survived sexually unscathed). I frequently lied, cheated & stole to survive.

When I was old enough to work & get someone to rent me an apartment, I started my long slow climb out of poverty & eventually clawed my way up to upper middle class. From the outside, I looked like any regular white lady from the surburbs, but I really had almost nothing culturally in common with my "peers." At 30, I married a very nice man & we bought an adorable little house in a beautfiful little town. We had a dog & a cat. Then he started to talk about kids & everything fell apart. I had my IUD removed & as that was happening I remember starting to panic, thinking "this is it. If you do this, if you have a child, you are trapped here & you'll never get out." We seperated almost immediately after I had this thought & I left for a city 3k miles away to start a new life.

It's been 4 years since my old life ended. It was hell at time, absolute mind bending, excruciating, pass the xanibars style awful. I was completely umoored. But eventually I started to figure out who I actually am, rather than who I tried to be for 35 years. I found a path where I could actually acknowledge & integrate my past into who I am now, rather than just trying to stuff it all down & be a different person.

I am not normal. I am far too intense, I am ridiculously hypervigilant, I am bleak. But I'm also tough as fuck, have unparalleled people reading skills (you develop those early when your life depends on it) & can laugh at literally anything. I can pick most locks & am unbelievably good at shoplifting (which obviously I don't do anymore, i'm old). I was a medic in the fire service for years - I can pump your heart for you if it stops & I never panic in an emergency. But that's mostly b/c I can shut down all of my emotions with no effort at all, it's easy to stay calm when you have no adrenaline response. I am hugely flawed but also hugely proud of the fact that I didn't end up where I should have: addicted to drugs, prostituting myself, in jail, in the gutter. I'm beyond fucked up but I'm also pretty amazing, and I'm very ok with that. I'm thrilled with it actually. I know who I am & what I want.

I live with my fiance in Boston now. He comes from a background very similar to mine. His family was a mess, his mother is seriously mentally ill, he has been homeless, been a drug user & dealer, he's been in jail. But he's also the most charming & capable person I've ever met. He also got himself into a very prestigious & competitive private school & is frighteningly smart & well educated. He's a guy you want in your foxhole, if you know what I mean. He understands me b/c we come from the same place. To the world we appear to be a couple of successful liberal white people living in the most liberal elite places in the country (we live about a block from Harvard), but to us, in our world, we're just a couple of discarded street rats who will absolutely swing a skateboard at your head if you try that shit. We understand each other, we come from the same place.

I wasted so many years & so much mental bandwidth trying to build a life on a lie, trying to be a person I thought I was supposed to be. I could have saved myself (& my ex husband) a lot of tears, grief & anger had I stopped pretending a lot sooner.

/r/AskReddit Thread