A few years ago I started to write about the changes I was making in my life. I talked about depression and addiction and the struggles and accomplishments I was encountering. I was determined to tell my truth, mostly as a way to motivate myself to keep going, but also to start a conversation with other people who are going through the same thing - to give other people permission to speak their truth and find comfort from others.
I have learned so much since I started sharing and not all of it is good. Not all messages were met with compassion and not all conversations became a platform for positive connection as I hoped. Sometimes I would post something and then quickly take it down. I would tick-tock between pride and shame about the things I put out there. Sometimes people would say negative things, or accuse me of being an attention-seeker. Other people would interpret things in a way I did not intend and I could not accept it. I wanted to erase the interactions that didn’t go my way. I wanted to control the externals, but of course this is impossible. Growth and evolution require making mistakes and trying again.
I realized this morning as I jogged along thinking about life, that I have been selective about what I share. As much as I have tried to put it all out there, I have held back on the things that might contradict the image I am creating for my best self. I am pointing out my flaws, but doing it carefully. I realized this morning this goes against my reasons for sharing. It is just another way of being safe or of self-promotion - like people posting selfies and telling stories with snapshots with no context.
So here are a few truths that keep me up at night still. Here is some of the real me. I am telling you this because I want to relieve myself of some burdens and so you can take comfort in knowing you are not alone. We all have our issues and not all of us will find comfort in sharing. For me there is some freedom in telling the truth.
Death: I think about death constantly. I am afraid of it, yet intrigued by it. If my husband doesn’t text me back I think he is in a car accident and then I play out all of the scenarios of my life without him. I fear the pain that comes with death, particularly my own. How much pain can a person take? How does that work? What is consciousness? How will it serve me when my time comes. Is there a soul that transcends my skin-suit? When I am depressed I romanticize death. I think about how much I want to leave this world. Then I think about my kids and hate myself for thinking that way. I still feel guilty for being a bad friend to Alex, who died when I was 12. I wonder if her soul resents me and I wonder if I am wasting my life, having been giving the gift of staying alive, when her chance was taken away.
Addiction: I still wish I could drink wine sometimes. I feel jealous of other people who don’t have addictions. But then I think about how everyone has addictions and how lucky I am to be sober and to be free from the cycle. I catch myself doing relapse thinking and wonder… will this ever go away? Will I always have something inside me that craves the escape that alcohol gave me? I coach people every day about how to overcome addiction, yet I may never be fully recovered myself. I know this gives me an advantage in that I can relate to the struggle of others, but I still lay awake feeling like a fraud.
Independence: I am ashamed of my salary. I have never made enough money to support myself or my family. Even when I lived on my own in my twenties and had a decent job, I lived beyond my means and did not manage my finances well. This lack of independence weighs on me daily. I am grateful to the people who have supported me but my intention is to change this situation. I worry my depression will hold me back from accomplishing this. Perhaps this thinking is what has held me back all along. I know I am smart enough to make good money, yet, I have never done it.
Mental Health: I resent being on medication. There is no shame for a person with diabetes to take insulin, yet I struggle to think a person with low seratonin should take SSRI’s. I am constantly looking for ways to blame life circumstances for my mood, rather than accepting that my chemicals are insufficient. I cannot believe that chemicals effect my personality. I keep believing my thoughts should be independent of my chemicals… even though I continue to learn this is not true. What I teach and what I believe does not always align.
Friends: I think people hate me. Even though I have no real evidence of this, I constantly tell myself a story about why people dislike me and how they try to exclude me and avoid me. I know… that most people do not give my existence enough thought to try to avoid or invite me to anything at all. They are wrapped up in their own lives and really do not care enough either way - but this is one of my insecurities. I am constantly working on this. It consumes me a lot of the time.
Inspiration: I still believe I am special. There is something inside me that knows I have a lot of motivation, drive, insight, intelligence and compassion and that I was meant to do something wonderful with it. On a daily basis I am recognizing more and more opportunities to put my unique gifts into practice. My jobs are a better fit for my skills. My connection with my husband and kids is deepening and I am loving life more than I used to. I am grateful more and resentful less. I am evolving. I am a work in progress.
YOU: I do not know who will read these words or how it may affect you, but my hope is that you may feel some of the relief as you read this, as I am feeling as I write it.