Do you have something that keeps you up at night, be it a lapse in judgment or a mishandled situation? Fortunately, these things don’t need to define us, there is always a way to make good.
To explore this we sat down with Adrian ‘Eddie’ Masih, a man who was brought to the brink of suicide when confronted with some significant life challenges, leading to the breakdown of his family and ultimate imprisonment. In this make or break period, Eddie decided to make use of his solitude by re-building the structure his life was missing. For Eddie, exercise provided this structure. Once out of prison Eddie used what he learned to help other struggling people find their path through the development of fitness programs.
If you’re looking to learn more about making a fresh start, Eddie is definitely the go-to guy.
So, Eddie, you’ve had your fair share of ups and downs through your life, can you talk about what instigated your path to change?
I really needed to change because I was on a path of destruction. Once I was arrested, I realised instantaneously what I was doing was wrong. This might sound crazy, but I always knew one day I was going to end up in prison – it’s just intuitive being raised in a space where maybe a third of my friends have done some sort of time, whether that be in juvenile detention or prison.
There was a period of time when I was younger that my secondary income was providing drugs for friends in my circle. I wasn’t standing on a corner or anything, I was just the go-to guy for everyone in my friendship network. It all led me to prison.
It was the wake up I needed. I had to accept that I couldn’t have a dualistic life. I believed many people led double lives, sometimes even triple lives. Y’know, they have one life in their household and they have this other social life. Everyone I talk to, I say that you can’t truly live a dualistic life because, rest assured, it’s going to crash, and when it does, everything will end. You’re wise to choose one path and stick with it – that’s where stability comes from.
How did prison allow you to make that change?
I guess around seven months into my jail period I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment – which came from [a place of] clarity. I think we all need clarity and clarity comes [more easily] from solitude. Clarity comes when you have an opportunity to rejuvenate, reflect, process, understand, and so forth. Once you get that opportunity, you’re able to gain the clarity you seek. Which allows you to start mapping out everything [else] in your life.
Knowing what prison is like, what would you go back and tell your younger self?
I have always been a strong-minded person. Once I pick my direction, that’s where I’m going. I’ve always been confident in my choices. As a child, if you told me not to touch something, I’d be the child to touch it. This transformed into my adulthood but now I’ve learned to grow from that, I’ve learned to listen, and I’ve learned not to be stubborn.
If I could say something to my younger self it would just be to listen – listen to the people trying to help, take a moment to eat your pride, and just listen.
How did prison help you? Was it instantaneous?
I was seven months into my custody. I felt I’d learned all the lessons I needed and was ready to go home. However, the people who control those decisions – they disagree, there was no getting out early. So I’m six months further down the road. Again, I think I’m ready to go home – I felt I’d learned all that I needed. Again I was wrong.
It wasn’t the truth. Because no matter how much you’ve learned there’s always room to keep growing – I had to come to terms with that.
So moving forward is continual growth. Even during the two years I’ve been home, it’s been a journey.
When do you know you’re ready?
There should be no second-guessing when you’re ready to make the change, and the first step is to be in a place with no distraction, and no noise. That’s how I could make that fresh start.
But you don’t need to go to prison for that, right?
No. We all need some solitary time to reflect on things. You can do this by talking with friends and family or getting professional help. You just really need to look inwards to find your clarity and your direction.
When you’re inducing your body with bad habits or negative space, you’re not going to get the clarity that you need.
Was there anybody that you needed to apologise to on your way towards making a fresh start?
Yeah, my mother, my friends, my wife, my son, everyone.
I’ve taken the time to give my gratitude for the support and love I’ve received through my hard times. When I go home today, I’m going to send messages to the people who are the backbone of my development. I want to remind them how grateful I am for them.
Is it easier to say sorry when you’re older or younger?
It doesn’t matter, age is not a factor. It’s the challenge you have within yourself to be able to say sorry.
However, sometimes sorry is not enough – you can apologise all you want but if you’re not backing it up with action, then you’re failing. That’s what my mum used to tell me.
What do you think of when you hear people say, I have no regrets?
I think it’s immature to just say ‘I don’t give a…’. That’s never the right attitude.
I think if you’ve made good on your mistakes you can say it. But for me there are always negative things – I regret hurting my mum. I regret hurting my friends, I regret hurting my partner, and I regret hurting myself.
Is there any way to reconcile these regrets that you have?
Everything starts with acceptance and realisation of what it takes to make amends. The biggest thing to do is not hold grudges, you’ll just infect yourself with bad energy. Yet when you forgive someone, you’re already halfway to reconciliation.
It’s helped me. Forgiving everything has released me. I don’t have any ill feelings towards anyone, I just accept people the same way they have accepted me by giving them a second chance.
And since your fresh start how do you now start your day?
How do I start my day? I start my day by giving thanks. Being grateful for everything that I have and everything I don’t have. This is how I live my life.
Eddie now works as a program coordinator with Redfern-based personal trainers Confit, to see more from of our ‘Making Good’ series, check out our interview with Eddie and his friends and family here, and if you want to read more from Rapt check out our article on ‘fitting in’ with ex-con turned social worker Robbie Maestrecci here.
Still keen for more life-changing stories? Revisit our interview with Sam Shadid, Club President at Central Sydney Wolves on ‘How ‘sports ball’ can change your life’ here.