It is difficult to change who you are once you have lived a certain way for years, even decades. For people who struggle to lose weight, for example, part of the problem is not that the workout routines or proper nutrition is difficult on a day to day basis — but actually changing the lifestyle to become that in which those routines are the norm and the nutrition is a healthy one is the challenge. This is just as difficult when, for example, a person is trying to break away from a bad way of living — a criminal lifestyle, gang membership, or similar affiliation.

When a person is trying to break free of a former lifestyle, it is important to wipe away things in daily life that would help or encourage a return to that lifestyle. Smokers will throw away all of their cigarettes, naturally, but will also change routines and locations of activities to avoid being reminded of times they were tempted to quit — I can attest to this as a former smoker.

In the area of leaving behind a criminal lifestyle, people will quite often relocate, abandon old friendships, join positive groups that encourage community building — anything to get away from their criminal past. It is therefore particularly impressive when you see the lengths to which former White Supremacist Bryon Widner went in order to put behind his hate filled past.

Mr Widner sent his “patch” back to his skinhead group and threw all his other belongings denoting his former life onto a bonfire but the couple struggled to find a solution for his facial tattoos.

They scoured the internet but the surgery was so complicated and expensive that they started to investigate homemade possibilities.

He said: “I was totally prepared to douse my face in acid.”

Strong words from someone who once was so full of hate and came to regret it. It is touching to think that Widner would have gone to any extreme to make a clean start and that he did not have to really get burnt. Reading Mr. Widner’s story is an inspiration — how many bad traits do we want to put behind us but get bogged down because of countless excuses that we make for ourselves?

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