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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — Aaron Rentfrew’s Instagram page shows a strong, happy, confident man loving life in South Beach.

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But things weren’t always so picture perfect for the former bartender turned marketing consultant. Now, he’s sharing his story of survival to remind people their lives have meaning.

Aaron loves to work out and meditate each morning at South Pointe Park in Miami Beach.

“South Florida is whatever you make of it,” he told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana. “Beautiful place, beautiful weather. I love the beach. Beautiful energy here and I love it here.”

But he didn’t always live a life of peace and positivity.

“I remember a relatively normal childhood, but around the age of 14, things started to change. I started to have thoughts, memories. And these thoughts started to dominate my mind. I locked them away for a while,” Aaron said.

But at the age of 15, he decided to tell his mom about what he was thinking and feeling.

“That’s when she let me know that I had been molested as a child.”

Aaron says his molester was the teenage son of a close family friend.

He was 4 years old at the time of the abuse, but the revelation as a young teen sent him into a tailspin.

He turned to drugs and alcohol, spent a year in foster care, and moved to Miami after high school looking for an escape.

Aaron says he eventually hit rock bottom more than a decade ago.

“I can remember this like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my living room. I had been awake for a day or two. I had really bad anxiety. It was 9:00 in the morning, the sun was out, and I was sitting there and I had a gun in my mouth,” Aaron explained. “I was in this place where they had construction and there were noises. And I remember thinking, ‘No one would hear this. And no one would care.'”

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But someone did care.

Aaron says something in his mind told him to call a friend, and that friend dropped everything to help.

That selfless act has inspired Aaron to work toward improving his life and devote himself to helping others.

“Me helping people not only gave my life meaning, it helped me to grow and to cope with my situation,” he said.

He wrote a book called “Turning Point,” a step-by-step guide for feeling better about yourself to reach your full potential.

And he documents his mind and body transformation on social media.

“When I’m able to connect with people on their level with their problem, I’m able to turn what was my biggest weakness, this thing that almost killed me, into my biggest strength, and use it as a tool for growth,” he said.

And while today, Aaron is the one giving advice, he’ll never forget the best words of wisdom he’s ever received.

“The best advice I ever got is, ‘If you want self-esteem, do esteemable things.’ And for me, self-esteem has been a big part of this. It’s the key to my resilience and self-love.”

And his key to surviving.

Rentfrew will be sharing his message of self-love and second chances at “The Lab Miami” in Wynwood on Monday, February 27th.

For more information, click here.

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To follow Aaron’s journey on social media, check him out on Instagram @lets_live_right.

Lauren Pastrana