The Adventure That Is Life

I was the oldest of four boys, and after our father died, mother supported us by taking in sewing. We were quite poor. I got an afterschool job as the janitor in a factory; it was the only way I’d have any money.

what's-your-storyAfter a couple of years I got bored with that, so I beat the pavement to just about every business in our small Ontario town. I found a job hammering nails. The cut in pay from $.40 per hour to $.30 per hour was worth it for the new experience. Unfortunately, this was to be a short-lived adventure; my new boss found out I was only 13, and child labor laws kicked in. I went back to my afterschool sweeping and toilets and kept a low profile…

My mother had always wanted me to go to university, but she died in a car crash when I was 16. Nevertheless, the janitoring and summer jobs financed my big adventure of going off to university. I was the first from my mother’s side to do so.

I had come to realize by the time I was 12 that I could choose to look at my life as a series of crises: drowning and resuscitation, abduction and torture, abduction and sexual abuse, father dying, poverty, my teacher labeling me “slow.” Alternatively, I could choose to look at my life as a series of adventures: solo hiking and exploring, hitchhiking to Toronto to spend a week each year at the CNE, long bicycling adventures, building a boat and riding the spring floodwaters amidst the ice jams on the local river, learning to hunt with a 12-gauge shotgun. I chose adventure over crisis.

When you are confronted with a life event, you are given a choice as to how you interpret it. And let’s face it; life has its ups and downs.

A “down” could be a disaster like a marriage failure… or the opening for the adventure of remarriage. I’ve been blessed with that adventure twice.

Another not uncommon disaster is a job loss or business failure that leads to the loss of your hard-earned material possessions. However, losing our business, our house and our vehicles cut our material ties to the east and led to the adventure of starting over on the west coast. Without the business crash two decades ago, my adventures in writing might never have begun.

Family is one of life’s big adventures, and three of my adult children dying in the last five years have been tragic. However, the time before each one died was one of deep mutual reconnection and re-bonding as we said our goodbyes… and that has been another blessing.

The nature of adventure changes with the lifecycle. I gave up motorcycle adventure touring a couple of years ago (downgraded to four wheels) and am now much more focused on my healing work and internet outreach work.

I invite you to reflect on the positive adventures of your life that have arisen from the ashes of the not so positive.


 – About the Author:

Psychologist Dr. Neill Neill maintains an active practice on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, with a focus on healthy relationships and life after addictions. He is the author of Living with a Functioning Alcoholic – A Woman’s Survival Guide.  Get a copy of his free report “Codependency and Alcohol Addiction” at,

Mental Abuse Information

Mental Abuse information –

Both men and women in  relationships, families and social circumstances can inflict mental abuse.

Stereotyped beliefs, myths and behaviour about roles for women and men  in families, relationships and social environments, and about what true love is,  are often at the root of mental abusive behaviour. Women in our culture are  often socialized to be accommodating, to believe that it is their job to care  for others at their own expense and to please men. Men are often socialized to  believe that it is their job to protect women, to be in control at all times and  to “call the shots.” However often it is the reversal of these roles, which can  also cause mental abuse to be present for male survivors.


Please click image to enlarge for better viewing.

Many young  women and men believe that they must be in a relationship to be whole. They  believe that they should devote themselves totally to their partner, often to  the exclusion of other relationships and interests. Jealousy, possessiveness and  sometimes abuse, is seen as a sign of true love. Believing that any  relationship—even an abusive one—is better than no relationship at all, leaves  individuals without the support that they need to leave an unhealthy  relationship.
Remember, mental abuse escalates. Mental abuse can and  sometimes does, turn physical.

Fear and seeking help –

All types  of abuse leave you frightened. The fear may not be limited to a fear for  physical safety. The fear can be more shapeless. You know you do not feel strong.  You do not feel as if you can take risks. You do not even believe it is  acceptable to try.

The abuse can start slowly, and perhaps not even feel  like abuse – just a simple “it’s all your fault” here and there. Be warned that  mental abuse is often the precursor to more.

Unfortunately the classic tale  of mental abuse is often followed by physical abuse, and then sexual abuse. And  typically the cycle is that the abuser, at some point, apologizes for the abuse.  Then comes the honeymoon period during which things are relatively fine – and  then the abuse starts all over again. People who have grown up in abusive  homes can easily duplicate those experiences in their adult lives. If you grew  up in an abusive family, you know how frightening and hurtful the experience  was. Do all you can to protect yourself and your children in the way that your  family did not or could not when you were a child? If you were the victim of  abuse as a child – you know only too well how much that hurt – you do not have  to re-enact your childhood pain in your adult life. You do not have to treat  others as you were treated.

Typically abuse, once begun, only escalates.  Unless the abuser accepts responsibility for his/her behaviour and seeks  professional help – it is quite likely the abuse will continue and worsen.

There is help. There is support. No one deserves to be frightened,  terrorized or helped to feel hopeless and helpless about themselves and their  lives. The police, support networks and shelters take mental abuse just as  seriously as physical abuse.

HANSM– About the Author: