About two years ago, I made a decision that changed my life forever. Much as the Hockey Player, Theo Fleury, in the video below and many others I have since met, I chose to leave what I now call Mainstream life and taking off my mask. I had no idea what I would face in doing so. I only knew that I was so tired of pretending.
I knew for me, it was time to as Theo says in the video, "Play Your (My) Part". At first, I felt I was in a free fall. Then, as he also says, "Trauma is the string that binds us all together". I have had many say "Me Too", as they confess to me their struggle with mental disorders, a family member who suffers, or trauma that has turned their life inside out, where my speaking out has given others permission to speak.
I must humbly admit, that I felt this journey would transpire faster insofar as getting my book Searching for Grey published and other things I planned. What I have found however, is the process is not one that you can rush. There is no corporate ladder to climb on this journey and the shedding of years of “fake it til you make it” I had to release from my mantra.
When I encounter the most incredible people, people who have faced insurmountable odds and overcome them, they challenge me to keep moving forward. A mentor of mine last week, looked me straight in the eye and said, "When are you going to choose to let go?" You see. I thought I had let go. He blew that theory to pieces by stating the fact that I was still clutching my symptoms and making excuses for why I wasn't ready to go certain places yet, I was so mad at him for saying that! He exposed yet another lie I was telling myself, the lie that I was doing enough. Had I not spilled enough of my guts? However, it's not about gut spilling. That was what he was telling me. It's about release after you spill it. It's about the freedom of moving forward without the baggage.
I am speaking to someone who needs to come out of the shadows of hiding, pretending, wearing the mask as I did my whole life. The weight is killing you. Just as Theo says in his video, he had a gun in his mouth. He was ready to check out. The accumulation of trauma over time can draw us into the fantasy and seduction of suicidal ideation. We DO NOT feel sorry for ourselves. I really want you to get that! This is a fallacy that people think, as they believe that those of us who suffer to the edge of finally taking our own life, do so because of the pity party. This could not be further from the truth. Are you willing to hear the truth and accept the simple fact that suicide comes due to exhaustion? Those who commit the ACT are just so damned exhausted from pretending to be okay. They're exhausted from the drain on themselves, their family or loved ones. Our families, our spouses are tired of watching us go through the motions of life without connecting; the secrets that must be kept; the hidden things we force them to live with because we refuse to face our demons, leaves them in a self-imposed jail handcuffed to us. Our trauma symptoms spill out onto those around us.
I do not know her, have never met her, nor am I trying to pretend to know her motivations. I am simply saying in my personal opinion that a woman like Kate Spade, if she truly was suffering from untreated depression, or other mental disorders, yet trying to keep up the facade of the Empire she built, I can see her wanting to check out. Again, I am not acting as if I have knowledge, as I do not. I just want to state that I guarantee you that it was not a pity party that made her take her life. Not in the least. This is what everyone around us must understand. The signs, the symptoms of a suicidal person speak very loudly. They're usually NOT words however. When people moan words about suicide, wanting to kill themselves, this is usually when you don't have to worry. I know it sounds inside out, but I know it because I live it. Those who do make that choice, that final decision, usually do not speak about it. They just do it. The sad thing is loved ones can look back and see a trail of breadcrumbs leading to the ACT, but because they didn't hear words, they did not respond to the Silent Cries. Therein lies the tragedy of suicide.
We kid ourselves that we are fine! I was not fine! I was in my own self-inflicted hell of "I don't need help". When I finally awoke to the fact that God would no longer allow me the luxury of hiding out, I made a choice. I felt Him pulling me out of the depths of a cesspool of denial and washing me off, cleansing me of so many things, then setting me down again, as what I now call Alice 2.0. Who the hell was I? Victim or Victor? I was forced to face myself as never before. The scripture says that God makes beauty from ashes. He makes all things new.
The freedom I have today of not worrying about how people may see or knowing that I suffer symptoms of prolonged Complex PTSD and other disorders, no longer plagues me. My family is free to speak and not have to make excuses, cover or lie for my inability to present "normal". There is no more cover up! You can talk behind my back because heck I've already said it or I really don't care if you don't get me. It's not a flippant attitude, rather a Radical Acceptance of who I am. I can no more change the fact that I went through certain things that caused extreme scarring on my being, and then you can change things that happened to you throughout life.
We are all on this journey called life. Some get through easier than others do. Some suffer unspeakable pain of all types. Those people who suffer are in my wheelhouse now. I move freely amongst them as we journey through healing together. There is no shame, judgment, no fear. You see when you speak truth, all that was hidden; the lies, the cover-ups, the fakeness must flee. I have been hurt many times these past two years in realizing the truth that “hurting people, hurt people”. That will not prevent me from continuing this voyage however. There is no forcing another human being to grow through their "issues" faster. The ones I have reached out to help who have "ghosted" me, blocked me on Facebook, unreturned calls, not shown up to meet, are not ready yet. They are allowed to have their own moment when they are ready to launch into this healing process. It is one thing to acknowledge you have a problem, quite another to deal with it.
Speaking of dealing with it, one of the sojourners I have met on this path has been Dr. John A. King. The name of one of his many books is "Deal With It". It speaks to the depths of living with Complex PTSD in a way that one would speak coming out of the fiery Gates of Hell. The things he has overcome are things that would have left many for dead. Dr. John speaks as he does because he has a right to. I am learning in this new culture that those who have truly conquered the atrocities life has dealt them are my new Heroes. I have replaced Money, Fame, Fortune, and Attractiveness with Rawness, Authenticity, Transparency, Courage and Humility. I have made a decision, that if you do not walk in those latter things, I do not want to walk with you. I can make that choice. It is no longer healthy for me to walk in fear, shame, and hiding. It drags me back into Old Alice and that is not my direction.
I call it the mirror experience. The scriptures refer to it in James 1.24 “For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was.” That speaks so loudly to my being. The fact that once you have faced who you are in that mirror of reflection, you cannot with clear conscience return to who you were. My challenge to you this New Year is BIGGER than a resolution. It is a call to ACTION. I am challenging you to look in the mirror of your reflection and decide if you are willing to help others by playing your part in this journey. What do you have to bring to the table in helping others heal on this planet? Are you willing to stop allowing pride, insecurities and fear hold you back from the position you can take in helping others face their demons? Demons of mental illness, a child who committed suicide, incest, rape, physical abuse or domestic violence, it matters not what. If you have a story, I hope you choose to share. It is through the sharing that others find healing, are inspired to help along this journey toward living a more fruitful and connected life. May God be with you, may He bless you and give you strength, courage and tenacity to take that step.
With you on the Journey, Alice