I’m naturally a relatively quiet person when it comes to what is going on in my head. I take time to process. I think it through. Then I sit on it. Then I speak. Unfortunately for me, if it is something deeply personal, I may never reach the “speak” stage. It has been that way since the beginning for me.
However, it continues to be something I work on.
And as such, it is important to be transparent. And open. And honest. If I’m going to be a good husband and father and teach my daughter that emotions and feelings are okay, then I have to be okay expressing mine.
I’m posting this article on September 2 and it isn’t by accident. On this day, 19 years ago, a friend of mine killed himself. If you do the math, I was 16 years old. A junior in high school. He would be the first of three over three years. None of us will ever really know what happened and why. But here is the truth about me. I was a depressed teenager. In those years, I had deep moments of despair, anger, isolation, and sadness. I fought the inner demons. And often.
I particularly remember a very dark week in the winter of 2001-02 when I stopped eating, held pills in my hand, and looked outside at the freezing frozen earth outside and considered my options. On another occasion I held a sharp knife in my hands. And still on another I remember being behind the wheel and having the dark demon encroach into my thoughts.
Suffice it to say, those have been my darkest hours. But I came through. And I’m not worse for the wear. I’m better.
And today is good. I’m a constant work in progress, but I try to do better each and every day. A friend and I were texting a few weeks back; someone I’ve known for a long time. And I simply told him that I loved him. And he said the same. And then he followed that with a statement for more important and valuable and it reminded me of one of my most important jobs as a parent. He said he is raising his son to know and understand his emotions and to share them.
We have to do better as parents and fellow adults. It’s okay to have feelings. And damnit, it is okay for men to hug and express their affection for each other. Life is too short to not express yourself.
I’m good today. I still have rough days but never to those dark valleys I once roamed. I’m free of that demon. And it is my job now to ensure I stay where I am and pull others up.
Be kind. Be human. And know that each moment is a chance to extend your arms and embrace someone who you love and care about.