Let’s Talk…

We spend most of our lives asking questions, and when we don’t get answers, we feel as though we’ve failed.

Personally, I think we’re asking the wrong queries. Think about it, what are the most common issues we ponder?

  •  “Why can’t I find love?”
  •  “So many others seem to have done it, why can’t I ‘make it’?”
  •  “Where is my happy ending?”
  •  “Why do I feel so alone, even in a crowd?”
  •  “I can’t seem to shake my demons, what’s wrong with me?”

Today is Bell Let’s Talk day, a movement that is supposed to be all about opening up and sharing our pain, our insecurities, our humanness, but we need to keep the spirit of this day alive all year round. Sadly, there’s no statute of limitations on suffering. “It’s just a phase” doesn’t apply to our inner demons and challenges. 

But since today is all we have, let’s get to my simple, yet-hopefully-effective message. I’m not a licensed mental health professional (hard to believe I know) nevertheless, as a mere lad, I literally stood on the precipice of oblivion, desiring nothing more to end what I perceived as endless suffering.

I had no idea what suffering truly was.

I’m a (mostly) grown man now, with a wife and daughter and responsibilities – and a ton of perspective. Most days I feel as though I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded but never again will I let my demons take control and direct my actions. Ironically, I’ve made my home in a city famous to the outside world for its natural beauty, but with a dark secret: Niagara Falls becomes a watery grave to lost souls at least once every two weeks.

Forgive my apparent insensitivity, friends, but when it comes to this particular subject, the truth is more often hidden than spoken by the authorities in Niagara. No one wants tourism to suffer or for others to be inspired enough to become copycats. And so you won’t see these watery suicides discussed in the news; they’re merely swept under the proverbial carpet as life literally goes on.

I can’t judge the wisdom – if any exists – of this policy. But then again, it’s not my place to do so, even though it sickens me more every day. I just wish my fellow citizens would ask why this keeps happening here. I wish we would ask where exactly society went wrong for so many of its members to seek oblivion rather than a better life.

But it occurs to me that those aren’t the right questions anyway.

The right question, the only one that matters, is this…

Who am I?

Answer that query, friends, and you’ll be amazed how quickly everything else falls in line. A defined sense of self gives one courage to speak those truths we often fear to the point of paralysis. Truths like…

“I’m gay.”

“I’m an addict.”

“I’m lost… and I need help to find my way back.”



So I’ll go first: Who am I?

I am a survivor of a home that was broken in more ways than one.

I am a survivor of a childhood assault.

I am a survivor of a teenage suicide attempt.

But most of all, more than anything else, I am a husband, a dad, a productive (mostly) member of society who doesn’t drink, smoke, do drugs or inflict willful harm on anyone else. (Unless my writing counts.) And at the end of the day, the most important answer to the question, “Who is The Hook?” is this…

I am proof that things really can get better.


About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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37 Responses to Let’s Talk…

  1. Nice to know you that you’re a dad.
    Surviving suicide and assaults, I guess they scarred you pretty bad. Is it where you get all the humour from? I think scarred people are the ones who tend to make people smile.

  2. colemining says:

    Thanks for this, Hooky. All our stories have import – and sharing them is a productive way to come together. I’m with you re. the suicides. I feel the same way here whenever there is an ‘injury at track level’ on the TTC. And yet most of the people on the subway do nothing more than complain about being late for whatever appointment they need to be keeping. We lose our human element if we don’t speak frankly. I appreciate this reminder, my friend.

  3. susielindau says:

    Wow! You’ve been through a lot, Hook.
    I’m done with surgeries and I’m almost over the flu. I’m a thriver.

  4. Brilliant! Simply brilliant. “Who am I?” Yes – that is the question to ask. Reaching out with unconditional love and support is something anyone can do. And being brave enough to ask for help is sometimes scary, but so worth it. I didn’t realize that fact about the falls, but it’s not surprising, much like our Golden Gate Bridge. Thank you so much for sharing your triumphs.

  5. Marion Hardy says:

    Truly beautiful Hook. You are a survivor yes but also a kind, funny, talented good man! xo

  6. Mark Myers says:

    Good stuff! You are so much more than just a gnarly hook!

  7. nbratscott says:

    Damn! When you get serious, you’re almost as interesting as when you’re funny! Seriously though, at 62 and retired (kind of) I’m just starting to work out WHO I am. It’s a difficult task, but I’ve got help!!

  8. Rosemary says:

    A beautiful and thoughtful piece. Your empathy really shines through. Thank you so much for sharing the world through your eyes. I, for one, am honored.

  9. I loved this piece. Your kindness and sincere concern for others comes through every work you write. (Well maybe not EVERY word). You have been and will be an inspiration for those who have to believe things will get better. God loves you, Hook and so do I.

  10. I’m a childhood survivor of abuse (three different instances) and I am a survivor. I’d like to believe that adversity made me who I am today, as much as my childhood sucks. Life is full of pain, but it’s also full of great things…it’s important to try to focus on those and hopefully when bad things do happen, we’ll be able to get through them.

  11. You are a strong man and an inspiration.

  12. curvyroads says:

    Hear, hear! I, for one, am so glad things got better for you, and that you are here to educate, charm, and amuse your audience!

  13. Tara says:

    Well done. We all have shadows within, but it’s how we treat them that makes all the difference. Live in the light, I say! ❤

  14. Takes strength to say all that stuff and still have a sense of humor intact.

  15. shimoniac says:

    The more I find out about other people’s childhoods, the more I treasure my own. Good for you, overcoming those incidents. And good for you to testify about them. Knowing that they, too, can make it might give even one person the courage to overcome.

  16. Britt says:

    I’m so grateful you are here, writing, and being all Hook-ish and wonderful.

  17. Life is about choices. You can choose to be a victim, or you can choose to be a survivor. Thank you for choosing the latter…. the world is better of because of you! 😘

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