I've been in the same breathless quicksand, Jim. You should see my poetry from back then, all about burning corruption from within, deserving death, and being worthless. I was raised by and among missionaries in South America. It's not "war" in the same way as you're thinking of war, but the militant self image was very strong in our mission (and in the other organisations I've interacted with and read about in missionary histories). We were saving the world, which was worth every sacrifice of family, friends, etc. We were surely in the right. The beliefs and social arrangements of those we intended to save were wrong. There wasn't much dithering over when to step in and change people and systems because we represented God to these poor people who were so lost and confused. I call it a Savior complex now. And it sounds like you spent lifetimes in a similar mindset. So when my foundation shattered that was one of the core pillars of my self image that went in flames with it, especially the deep certainty that I was worthless because I couldn't fix other people. At the same time, "saving people" is one of the stronger elements that survived the breakdown of my world ... sometimes a little too much of it survived, I'm realizing. There is a core of truth to the path of helping others (protecting the weak, saving good things from destruction, fixing problems), but it isn't one where we take over for others, essentially replacing their will with our own. The key (one I'm still learning to discern) is finding those who are already ready for the change, yet without the insight and resources needed ... and investing just enough to help them move forward, but not so much that they fall under the illusion that we are necessary for their strength and progress. Always remaining equal to others, though with different strengths and resources. Rather than becoming "Saviors" or "Gurus" or "Authorities" to which they must submit, reminding them of our own need for growth and noticing where we can learn from them, also (for all can teach or reinforce at least one lesson). Being too high above others, even out of a desire to help them, will erode their sense of free will and blind them to the necessity of continual growth and progress in their own right. Once individuals delegate their growth to "greater people" they no longer take responsibility for themselves, then blame the great for not being "great enough" to fix their problems. No room for hero worship, because we all have weaknesses. Pedestals prevent others from seeing their own ability to aim for the target and grow into similar strengths, skills, and gifts. It also diverts them from noticing the hard work, time, and nurture that lead to reaching that point on the path. And it blinds them to how our weaknesses damage others, as well. Thus all the shocked "it could never be!" when this or that admired leader turns out to have taken advantage of their followers or treated those outside of their circle to various forms of suffering. S&S separates our views because he seems to see false belief (as I put it) as a core quality of self, while I see it as a mindset that corrupts the core self. I'm of the opinion that we are all light at the core, only how much of that light manages to extend through us into the world is restricted by the number of layers of false beliefs blinding us to our purpose. So, yes. The other side of falling into quicksand is discovering a path custom designed for you. It includes what you've learned from all the mistakes you've made. In fact, it could be said you would be a less effective ambassador of light if you hadn't made those mistakes because what you learned from those experiences has hammered the core substance of you into a shape that is needed in this world. Now that you're breaking out of the mold that confined you to your previous role, you're not sure what you have now been shaped to do. And nobody can tell you that except, perhaps, your spiritual guides (who do not hate you, by the way). I'm not "done forming" yet. I still face points where various beliefs melt down and I discover a new, lighter perspective from which to interact with life's problems. Each meltdown gets easier once I notice what's going on, possibly because I've experienced the pattern before so I know it's not the end of the world. There will be a benefit on the other side. Even incomplete, my soul's "shape" now comes with the ability to reach into certain, specific individuals and help them shake off the beliefs that trap them so they can find new and better ways to interact with the world. Not with everyone. Some don't resonate with this approach so someone with a different history must step in to fill that role ... because it is their past that shapes their light in a way that they can reach in and communicate clearly to those I can't support using my own story. Note: even if I meet someone who needs my story, they're not always at a point where they're prepared to apply it, so there are a lot of nuances to this process. Like I said. I don't get to be anyone's Savior. Usually I'm explaining where my own mistakes and false beliefs led me into a similar trap to the one they're struggling to escape. Once they see how I found my way through it gives them just enough information to create their own path. They thank me. I thank them for finding value in experiences I'm not particularly proud of. There is meaning, even in failure, when the lessons learned help us and others avoid continuing along that path. So your future options are likely going to be rooted in your mistakes and what you learned from them. But now that you're free of your false beliefs, your gifts can be applied in far different ways than you've applied them before. I like to tell people that everyone's greatest strengths and weaknesses are merely two sides of the same coin. A strength applied inappropriately is a weakness, like using a hammer to polish china or a soft cloth to fix a dented bumper. The problems that you see ... that make you feel so helpless ... there is something constructive you can do about them. Part of the reason you can see them so clearly is because you have at least one of the gifts necessary to contribute part of the solution ... only maybe in a completely different way, using a different approach than before. I can't tell you what that is. You're the one with the ability to see and act in that space. The shift from a foundation-less sense of uselessness and confusion for me had everything to do with my attitude toward others. Instead of coming from a place of neediness and reliance on someone to guide me I learned to see that I own my self and my will, and do have much to give. Then I gradually discovered where what I have to offer is needed (by experiment, mostly) ... and then where qualities I hadn't even considered to be gifts ended up being necessary to others (by asking whether I might contribute something useful instead of assuming they're worthless traits). I'm still uncovering what that means, how to develop my gifts into useful skills, how to know who is ready to make positive use of my contribution and who isn't, etc. I'm constantly diverted into worrying whether I'm wasting my time, moving too slow, doing it all wrong. But the truth is, I've supported people in ways that they claim have changed their entire future path for the good. I don't have the right to overwrite the significance of their growth and gratitude with my old self-sabotaging belief that I am worthless and have nothing to offer because I make mistakes, too. Only believing that blinding lie can make me truly useless, because the result of that belief is never offering or trying or giving in the first place. I can be generous because I allow myself to believe that I am intrinsically designed with a gift that pours out abundantly to others. I will never run dry so long as I don't fall into thinking it's possible to take over someone else's will and replace their connection to the source of life with myself. (Which I tried to do for several lifetimes. It's a difficult lesson to learn.) I make mistakes along the way. Amid regret, I learn from those mistakes. The process refines me into someone who can contribute insight in some new aspect of life. Maybe eventually I will end up shaping into someone who can't reach the people I help now, but instead most effective amid others who I can't yet help. If that's the case, someone else will come along to fill the space I grow out of as I learn from my mistakes. Do you see? None of us is useless, no matter how mistaken. The moment anyone begins to regret they also become capable of taking the past and refining it into growth. None of our experiences need to be wasted. In fact, the only way to waste them is to deny ourselves the chance to learn from them and grow. In mythology they talk about it as turning lead into gold. It's called transmutation. This is the soul's path. You've recognized that your past has resulted in a great weight of lead. It's your choice to create meaning from the past. Nobody else can do it for you. When you do, you will discover that you now hold a treasure of great worth. It takes work (and a willingness to make and learn from even more mistakes) as you discover how to create the gold you can invest in the world. But it is worth the process. Hopefully something in that will be useful to you.