November 3, 2013

Telling our secrets, sharing our pain takes away their power


By Jack Smith

I’m reminded of something my late father once said to me after I got busted for a night of drinking. I probably wasn’t even 21.

Trying to wrap his naive mind around what we’d done, he asked how many drinks I’d had.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged, preparing to lie. “Three or four?”

“Four beers!” he shot back excitedly. “What kind of idiot would drink four beers in one night!”

If he only knew....

Since I’m still working through self-esteem issues and this novel idea of self-compassion, I often question why I do certain things. Well, most things.

Take writing this blog and sharing my darkest secrets. Talking about your problems isn't something his generation understands.  I can almost hear the wise voice of my father asking, “do you really want to do that?”

Most of the time, I do. The reason I do it is simple. I write to help me cope and give others hope. 

I’ve been dumbfounded and inspired at how many people from all walks of life have written me to share their own stories of pain.

Let me share a few.

There is the old friend from college who dropped out of professional school and all but gave up on life due to debilitating depression and crippling anxiety.

He wasn’t sure he would live, much less be happy. Just as he seemed destined for failure and a life of what could have been, he took a chance with an inpatient program at the suggestion of a doctor. He reluctantly did it, and It saved his life. Now he’s happily married, has a child and a career.

A friend I’ve known even longer shared her battle with anxiety, agoraphobia and panic disorder. “That spells HELL,” she wrote.

I will soon write a blog post on two remarkable women who suffered from eating disorders. One nearly crossed the threshold of death, but she recovered and later crossed the finish line of a 170-mile race, raising money and awareness for her cause. Theirs is a story about hope, perseverance and the remarkable resilience of the human spirit.

More than anything else, I write because God called me to do it. Lying in the hospital bed a few days after my overdose, I prayed to God and asked him what to do.

He put something clear and unmistakable on my heart that morning. Tell your story. Tell your story and use it to reach others in their hour of need.

So I did. Never before has God spoken so clearly to me. It later led to a spiritual transformation that I will share at the right time. I am still in awe of it every day.

Knowing I had to tell my story, I went home from the hospital and put my name on the onemanswar blog for the first time. And it has changed me forever.

I discovered what many already knew. Our secrets lose their power to torment us when we tell our story. I also found that when we drag our problems out of the dark and into the light, they suddenly seem more manageable.

That’s when we realize we aren’t alone and we don’t have to do it by ourselves. This blog has been the best therapy I’ve ever done, and it hasn’t cost me a penny.

Thank you for being a part of my recovery and allowing that to happen.

I look forward to telling more about my story but also the story of others. I hope you will in some way connect to each of them.

Grace and peace.