Sometimes people wonder if I worry about sharing too much of myself. I am often given a little warning to remind me that once I put it out there, anyone can see it. I am sure, if I am fortunate enough to have people read this, that you may be thinking the same thing: Is it smart for him to be so honest about all of this stuff? What if somebody found out and judged him without knowing him?
To be frank, I have these thoughts as well. I sometimes wonder if I’ll look back and think that I should have kept some things private regarding my mental health and addiction. It is worth noting that I have thought tirelessly about this topic, the pros, and cons, and continue to write because I continue to feel better, and I believe others feel better from reading it. Mostly, as long as those two things are happening I will continue to be open and honest about what some believe should be hidden.
Perhaps the most compelling reason that I write openly is that I do not want people to think that I am broken in any way – or at least any more than anybody else. I do not like the stigma that goes along with people who deal with anxiety, depression, addiction or any other number of mental health issues – The idea that something is wrong with me bothers me. I come with a warning, and I know and accept that. But I am not someone that people need to tiptoe around – I am not unbalanced. Rather I am a constant work in progress – I am someone who devotes much of my time to self-improvement not so I can be like everybody else but because I want to be the best version of myself.
Mainly, however, I write this for myself, for the person struggling and for the people struggling to understand someone like me. I do not get angry when people judge me; rather I hope they will be able to see that someone who is confident, social and intelligent can also be a recovering alcoholic with anxiety & depression. I want people to see that I am just as capable as anyone else, and the fact that I am in tune with my emotions makes me more dependable not the other way around.
I am someone who takes pride in being pensive, compassionate and understanding. I am someone who would not trade my life for anybody else’s, and I think that is what I want people to know. I do not write so that you pity me; I write so that I may celebrate what my life experiences have taught me. I am not sorry for who I am – I do not want to trade my mind in for a new one. This is not to tell you how wonderful I am; this is to inform you that people who suffer from addiction and mental health issues are just as capable as anyone else in living complete and impactful lives.
This is to tell individuals who are struggling that there is nothing inherently wrong with you – that I see your potential even though it may be lost on you at the moment. This is to tell anyone that doubts someone like me, that worries if I am up to the task or wonders if I am reliable that they are in for a surprise. I write so that anyone who thinks someone like me is fragile, weak or timid can see what someone like me is really like. I write because I believe in the power of words and because I want you to know me.
I continue to write because I believe that strength comes from having a thorough relationship with yourself, knowing yourself to the best of your abilities. I believe that what is seen as a weakness to other people is the very thing that makes me strong. I write because I am a writer, and this is who I am. I am here because I feel that by keeping things hidden I am admitting that something is wrong with me, and I do not think there is. I want people to feel comfortable talking to me, knowing that I am not here to judge anyone. I want to continue communicating with people – I want to be close to people. I believe that problems can be worked on together by sharing experiences and by listening to one another.
I do not ask others to understand me or to agree with me; rather I ask that you support my path the way I support yours. I can help without trying to fix; I can love without needing to know it all. I want to follow your path in life, so I support you with love and compassion. I stay here because you make me stronger, and I want to contribute to your life in any way I can. I write to those who identify with my struggle; to you, I write because I know you very well. You may question my compassion and my intention all you wish – I only ask that you pay closer attention to my actions, and there you will see my real purpose. In my eyes, you see compassion and kindness because to look upon you is to stare right back into myself. I know shame and I will not tell you how to handle it; I will tell you that the shame I felt never needed to exist. The sadness and misery did not need to be experienced alone for years and years. However, for me it did, and yet I am still here. I will not tell you how to live your life but if you let me I will show you how I live mine and how my shame and loneliness has vanished so I know that it can vanish for others as well.
In the eyes of each sufferer, I see myself staring back. I am compassionate to you because I know you are scared, tired, and you feel alone. I stay here to remind you that you are never alone – you are a part of me now; a part of my past, my recovery, and my future. You do not need to remember my name, my face, or my words – my past is just a past – a bridge to nowhere. I ask instead that you remember my love, tolerance, and compassion. I hope that when you are stronger, you remember that someone showed up and listened to you when you were suffering. When you wish to reach out to me and thank me for showing up and listening, I ask that you instead turn and give your love to those who still suffer. The world I know needs love and compassion – for the sufferer, we can always find a deep compassion if we are willing to look into their eyes – such powerful reflections shine from the weariest bodies.