ADVICE: “Should I Feel Bad About My Past?”

Every week, New York City’s own party messiah takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution in his new weekly advice column in The Village Voice. Read the latest edition of Ask Andrew W.K. below or by clicking HERE.

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June 23rd, 2015

Dear Andrew W.K.,I’ve done some bad things in my past. Most of it was many years ago, but I committed a few more recent sins that were even worse and ended up getting me into serious trouble and really hurting some people close to me.

For the first time in my life, I decided to really try and become a better person. I’ve cleaned up my act a lot over the past six months, and now I feel like I’m genuinely turning over a new leaf. I’m being the person I knew I always could be, and if I keep my demons in check, I know I can live a good life.

The problem is, some of the people close to me who saw me at my worst just won’t let me forget about my old ways. They keep dragging me back and digging up my old mistakes, sometimes in a joking way, and sometimes in a way that’s cold and insulting. I desperately want to put the past behind me and be free of that time in my life. I know I made a lot of mistakes and I realize I hurt some people, but I need those people to forgive and forget if they really want to see me move forward. People don’t realize how depressing and discouraging it is to have to keep thinking about all that bad stuff. It almost pulls me back into my bad behavior.

How can I get my close friends and family to let my past go?

Forward To The Future

Dear Forward To The Future,

There once was a gentleman who was a severe addict. When he was under the influence, he tended to be mean and rude, and he generally misbehaved in the ways you’d expect. This went on for several years, and during one of his worst moments, his belligerence was captured on video during a national TV interview. He acted terribly to the show’s host and the people around him. He eventually cleaned up his life, but that TV interview lived on and became somewhat notorious. And our ever-improving technology gave it new and extended life on the computer, much to his dismay.

He managed to never watch the interview, despite hearing lots about it from friends and concerned associates. He just couldn’t bear to see himself in that state, so he refused to view the footage. However, after a handful years of being clean, he found himself losing his way and falling out of step in his efforts to hold onto his integrity. At the crucial moment where he would’ve gone back to his old ways, he had a flash of soul-searching brilliance and decided to sit down and, for the first time ever, watch that video. He said it was the hardest five minutes of his life. But it was almost magical how quickly it shocked his system out of the dangerous direction he had once again been heading towards. He realized he never fully faced how awful he had been back then. He realized he had never fully faced everything about himself. He was completely devastated, but forced himself to watch that short clip over and over again. It was agonizing, humiliating, and nauseating, but he watched and re-watched until he memorized ever word and movement and unfortunate micro-event in all its embarrassing detail. He says now that his decision to watch himself at his worst ended up saving his life. He’s even gone so far as to keep the video loaded on his computer and cell phone to watch whenever he needs a sobering dose of perspective and clarity.

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Photo by Dave Musson