By Gaetane BordersCan people change? Can an abuser change their ways? Can an addict ever stop abusing drugs or alcohol? These are questions that I am often asked in the line of work that I do. These questions have also been hotly debate for years, as it seems that everyone has their own opinion. So…here’s mine.
Yes, people are capable of change. I certainly would not have embarked on a career as a psychologist if I thought any differently. However, there is a caveat, so allow me to rephrase my statement. People are capable of change…if they recognize their behavior as problematic, and they want to change.
Yahanseh Nyghtstorm is an example of this, as he is someone who has defied all odds and was successfully able to change his pattern of behavior. His story is quite remarkable and also inspirational, because most people who would have experienced a fraction of what he has might have become a statistic.
Yahanseh was reportedly raised in a home that he describes as “abusive.” In addition, he shares that he was raped by a camp counselor at age eleven, and became homeless by his late teens. Consequently, he battled depression and post traumatic stress disorder in his adulthood. He attempted suicide, was admittedly a batterer, and was twice divorced. No doubt, Yahanseh made countless mistakes as a husband and father.
That was then. Today, Yahanseh is a changed man. It took hitting an undeniable low, however, to get to this point. He sat in a hotel room, alienated from his family, and it was then that he made the grim realization that he was alone and unliked by those who mattered most to him. Thus began his impetus to change.
Since that moment of clarity, Yahanseh began the long process of mending the ties that were once irreparably broken with his kids and ex-wives.
[I] had to stop the abuse cycle and change the way he reacted to life’s' challenges and disappointments. [My] change had to be so prolific that it would be undeniable by all that knew [me]. [My] honest and difficult self analysis manifested itself when [my] former second ex-wife and [my] children, nominated [me] for the "Unsung Heroes' Award" for Fatherhood.
What Yahanseh managed to do was no small feat. In fact, it’s something that most are incapable of doing! However, changing himself was not all that he was inspired to do. He is on a quest to help other men make the necessary changes for the sake of their families as well. His book, 7 kids and 2 Ex-Wives! How fixing "ME" fixed my Broken Family was written to help men change through self-analysis, and by offering a “blueprint of sorts, on how to begin to change the way they interact with their former wives or girlfriends for the betterment of their children.”
His correlation between fatherless homes, child abuse, and domestic violence fuels the seminars that he provides largely for free to the community. The premise is to encourage men to "fix" themselves for the sake of their families.
Yahanseh leads by example, and uses his own story as a testimony that change is possible. One point that he eagerly shares with his seminar participants is that he is thankful that he was able to mend his relationship with his oldest son prior to his sudden death. Had he not changed, “the precious time and experiences he had with his son, teaching him positive life lessons and building a loving relationship, would have been lost.” Thankfully this was not the case!
No…change is not easy. It requires a continuous process of self-analysis that may, at times, be uncomfortable. However, as Yahanseh discovered…in order for people to see you differently, you have to behave differently. I hope that everyone, man or woman, is inspired by Yahanseh. However, more than anything…I sincerely hope that the inspiration leads to a desire to make any necessary changes…before too late.
Gaétane F. Borders, Ed.S.
Certified School Psychologist
For more information about Yahanseh Nyghtstorm including how to order his book, please visit www.nyghtstorm.com