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  • Writer's pictureStefan Neff

From Zero To Hero Chapter 1

How it all began...

Since I was a little child I wondered whether there was more to life than just breathing in oxygen, eating food to survive and basically just existing from day to day.

I grew up in a household seeing my parents looking at life like a glass half empty instead of being full of love and joy.

Happiness for me was when I looked into my parents eyes, but I could never tell if it was happiness that was looking back at me.

As a child I loved making fires in our beautiful open fireplace, just staring at the flames as they moved so eloquently between the wood. It carried a wonderful heat towards my face and I loved the feel of that. But on this one day, I was in my parent’s room playing with matches since they had company in the living room. I started a fire on top of their mattress accidentally. In a panic I ran down to the living room and sat quietly on the floor. “ I smell smoke!” my Dad said.

They ran into the bedroom and saw Dad pulling the mattress out the window. I watch with a puzzled look on my face. “Did I just do that?” Now time for the truth, my father knew it was me and was so mad at me he pulled his belt from his waist and started hitting me with it. I was screaming “NO, NO more!” And finally the beating was over. When he stopped hitting me he looked at me and his anger drove a stake right through my heart and stayed there for a very long time. The look on his face was so enraged that I thought my time on this planet must be over.

There wasn’t a lot of love in our family and my parents never seemed to show much love towards each other. It seemed like hatred and emptiness ran their lives. I heard anger in my parent’s voice pretty much every day. Of course there were good times in my life, but they were few and far between.

When I was three I discovered wine. It seemed to make everything feel good again and I would steal glasses of wine and get drunk when company came over. My parents would find me passed out in wood box and would put me to bed. Nothing was said.

Inside my heart I ached for a life that I didn’t know existed, one where I felt loved and appreciated. Was that even possible?

Of course, there were good times in my life, like the time when I asked for a nice shiny new bike for Christmas. When I got it, I was so excited that I wanted to ride around the farm until the sun sunk slowly past the horizon and day became night. Those were moments of pure joy in my life.

My parents had a few moments of joy together, like when they had a vision of building an amazing garden with fresh vegetables and apples in the fall ready to make fresh apple juice, but those moments were far and few between.

There was one night at the age of 5 when I had enough of their constant battling and I told my parents stop arguing. I stood up on a chair and spoke with a loud voice, “Why don’t you love each other? Why do have to be so mean to one another?” I remember the words that my Dad said, “You don’t understand the reason we are arguing.”

My Mother said, “ Why don’t you tell him the truth? Why?” The room went silent. You could hear a pin drop for miles. I told them the truth but my father didn’t want to express his true feeling. He only knew how to express his anger, with the words that hurt.

I will never forget my favourite childhood joy with my father. It was the summer of 1983. I

was 14 years old and we had planned an 11 day camping and canoeing trip on a famous lake that was known around the world. This was one of the most memorable summers of my life. My Dad, his brother, our neighbour and also tagging along was my little brother. The trip took so much planning that it seemed it would never come. We did a lot of preparations before we left but it was all worth it. It turned out to truly be a journey of a lifetime.

I wish I could describe the magical feelings I had during those 11 days. I wish my entire childhood had been as amazing as the moment I saw my father in his element, living a simple life in the wilderness. I wish time could stop right at that moment so I could savour the feeling of joy we had together as father and son. He was a really great protector and provider of knowledge. We camped out, ate under the stars and grew a strong bond between us. I will always cherish that time and hold it in my heart forever.

When we arrived back home, life went back to the way it was before. I felt like nothing was good enough. I constantly looked for the approval of my parents, never thinking that I should be satisfied with the love and approval from myself. I was grasping at straws, trying to get my hands on any glimpse of happiness that came my way. Trying to recreate the feeling I had

when we had gone camping, but it was no good. I felt empty and unfulfilled. I didn’t know what to do or how to fix it. I thought that maybe this was just the way life was.

When I was 14 years old my older brother got me to try some pot. I liked it and started drinking at 15. By 18 I had moved out and started using cocaine. I was high for 1 year straight because I had finally found the good feeling that I longed for. But it only lasted as long as I had the cash to keep it going. I tried to keep myself working, feeling good and getting high but it was hard. I gave up and moved back home, because that was at least a guaranteed job for me.

In my 20s I thought there must be more to life than going from one relationship to another. I was basically sleepwalking through my life at this point. I wandered aimlessly, looking for the answer and finding none. Day in and day out, I was yearning to find my truth.

All the fears that I created in my own mind & influences from my parents, came forward into my relationships and I was trapped into playing them out time and again. Was this serving my own growth? Absolutely not! Why was this? But how could I change it?

Each relationship started out amazing, or so I thought. But the truth was, there was nothing amazing about them except for one or two magic moments here and there (just like my parents). There was a lot of anger around my relationships and that was the true cause

of pain in my life. I seemed to be unconsciously seeking out painful situations all the time.

As I moved from one relationship to another with no real meaning, it seemed like I was living a life without any purpose or direction. How was I supposed to find the real reason why I was on this planet? What was my purpose? How could I finally find the truth within my own life?

I found my need for approval started reaching out to other people that I met on a daily basis. I was looking for happiness through someone else.

Look forward in reading chapter 2...

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