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 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.