I admit to my life openly and I do this to rid myself from the weight of my past. I do this because once I own myself, the weight of my judgment can dissolve and the ideas of shame, blame, guilt or regret can be wiped from my daily programs.
Rather than allow my past or my past results to be flagged or drawn in front of me as a mark of humiliation; I have chosen to embrace my old results. I embrace them as a process of learning—and therefore, no one can hold this against me. No one can ever charge me for mistakes that I am not brave enough to mention on my own.
It is interesting to me that by pointing out my truths, there are those who seem to see this as a call outward. But no, my call is not for help or support but instead, my call is my allowance for me to speak out for myself.
We live in a world that is packed with judgment. We live with stigma. Even when we are told to be “Stigma free” the fact remains that stigma is still real. Our internal biases are real. So If asked about me, I am honest. I am forthcoming about my mistakes. I am open about my insecurities. I am up front with my dilemmas and my shortcomings. I have a list of character flaws that I own up to. I have made poor choices and embarrassing decisions. I have my share of shame and personal humiliations. I have a list of inappropriate things that I did, due to my personal pathology; and do you know what? No one has paid for this more than me; therefore, no one has the right to charge me for this.
I have defects in my personality, which I address and look to improve. Furthermore, I admit to the linkage of my past relationships. I admit to the need to be wanted and included. I admit to the desire for being liked. I admit to my fears of social rejection and to my irrational fears and anxiety. I say that I admit this and I admit this openly and yet, oftentimes, people see this as a plea or an opening for advice. Instead, my objective is to expose truth, which I agree that when it comes to personal perception—my perception is not always true; it’s only true to me.
I have spent years trying to find new ways to formulate my life and break free of the ties that hold me back. I have spent decades trying to find relief from my own thoughts or ideas. I have been on one side or the other of the mental health table for my entire life. I say this now; I say this both loudly and proudly that I am human with faults and all. I admit to times when I took advantage of situations, inappropriately and then found myself caught with egg on my face. Yes. This was me. But it’s not me today and anyone who chooses to hold me to this is only doing so to claim me, which is something that I do not allow. The old Ben might have allowed this. But the Ben I am today does not allow for this.
I admit to the hours—or wait no; I admit to the lifetime I spent looking for acceptance and trying to please others. I admit to the connections with rejection that had me place myself as a lower priority. At times, I have settled and accepted a lesser value because I was unaware of my worth and unaware of my ability to endure and find the life I’ve always wanted.
I admit to my fears of letting people down and my concerns that I might not be welcomed if I didn’t “Go along to get along.” I admit to my worries of being alone and “Unwanted” I admit that I was (and still am) afraid to “Suck at something new,” and that my old programs of people pleasing has often mapped out the direction of both my personal, intimidate and professional relationships. Therefore, I write about this openly to “Tell on myself” so-to-speak.
I do this to be outright and forthcoming—not for attention or for advice or for any reason. I do this because I have earned the right to be who I am. I have earned the right to be honest and open about myself.
I have earned the right to tell on myself without shame.
I have earned the right to face my fears and challenge my assumptions. I have earned the right to cry or hurt or be truthful with my thoughts. I have the right to do this, regardless of someone else or their comfort levels with my honesty. And more, I have earned the right to speak openly about myself because there are people out there (hopefully reading this) who are finding comfort with the idea that they are not alone. My hope is that there is someone reading this now who sees that life can be exhausting at times, and that yes, love hurts, life hurts and that life does not come with guarantees.
I have heard from people in private messages and in public forums and read their long, drawn out ideas and thoughts of advice. I have listened to people sell me their unsolicited words of wisdom, yet, I suppose they see this the way they see this. And to me, their interpretation has nothing to do with my intention.
I go back to a memory of mine at a 12-step meeting. The format of the meeting was called a round-robin, which means one by one; members go around the room and share their thoughts on the topic. I am a firm believer in sharing honestly; even if this does not show me in a good light. I am not at meetings like this to be stellar. I come here to work on my sobriety and therefore, if there is ever a place to be honest; a 12-step meeting would be it. I’m not here to look good or sound good. Instead, I view meetings as a place to be honest and truthful with my thoughts. I view this as an opportunity to be forthcoming—not to look good. Otherwise, if I’m not honest, the option of looking good or sounding good becomes severely depleting.
After the meeting, I was addressed by a young man about my thoughts. I was listening to his suggestions and then suddenly, I realized he thought that I was a new-comer. He asked how many days I had, which, at the time; I was sober for more than 26 years. He was cheering me on to count my days because my answer was, “I don’t know.” There is not supposed to be any hierarchy in meetings. No one should ever claim to be better or know more. Instead, we are supposed to be a collective stream of help and support but sometimes, ego slips in.
After explaining that one day, “You’ll learn to get this,” and by “This” he meant sobriety, he explained “The next thing you know, you’ll be sober for 30 days, then 60,” and he read the list, all the way up to me being clean and sober for one year.
I told him, “You sound really knowledgeable. How long have you been sober?” His answer was either six or nine months. Then he urged me to consider the days and try and count them again.
He wanted to “Help” me.
I was going to allow this to end without embarrassment but when he pushed for an answer; as if he was the teacher; as if he were the person of authority who has been around; as if he was the one to know—eventually, I had enough of this and I looked up as if to think and calculate the days.
“How many days do you think you have,” he asked.
I answered, “I don’t know. How many days fit in 26 years?”
With his eyes opened widely, a look of both embarrassment and shock came to his face.
He asked me, “You have 26 years?”
I answered, “Did you want to teach me something else?”
Our conversation ended rather quickly. And he never addressed me the same way.
I am still sober. I will always be this way because this is who I am supposed to be. And I know this now. I know this because I know who I am, both the good and the bad. I am Ben and this coming September 20, it will be my 49th year of celebrating my life and who I am; and more, it has taken me decades to be able to say this comfortably.
It is true; people listen just to come up with the strategy of what to say next. There is always someone looking to respond with an answer or be “Helpful,” or so they say. There are people who are unaware of their comments and how what they project is about them. And that’s them. That’s fine.
I have enough to work on with handling me . . .
I used to take advice personally, “What do you think I am, stupid?” And there are times when I still think this way. But rather than harp on my imperfections or care about someone else’s perception—I am honest and I am open.
I am teachable too but I am not so proud anymore that I believe that advice or someone’s projection is personal.
No, this is about them. So to you I say this:
Never be afraid to be you. It’s too exhausting!