I was told those words twenty years ago as I began my long, slow climb out of alcoholism and towards recovery. It wasn’t until seven years ago, though, that I took those words to heart and decided to let people know the real me.
I grew up in a family of secrets. I had a wonderful childhood but still, lurking in the closets and in the shadows were the lies….the unsaid….the hidden festering cancers that always threatened to tear our family apart. “We just don’t talk about those things, Bill.” Those were the words of my mother when I would ask about inconsistencies within our family story, and so the open sores grew larger and larger, and the sickness grew worse, and eventually the lies became the truth, or the truth became the lies.
And now everyone is dead except Little Billy, and Little Billy refuses to play that game any longer. Secrets will kill me. If I am to continue on this road of recovery then I need to be honest and allow people to know the real me. I have tried to do that these past seven years, and I think my writing reflects that.
I have had people praise me for my bravery in writing about my past. It is not a pretty picture I paint. I have been homeless. I am the drunk in the gutter living for the next life-sustaining drink, and I am the man you never want a loved one to love. I wish it were not so but it is, and I cannot hide from reality simply because it is not flowers in the spring and laughter at the carnival.
I cannot undo any of it. There are those who will hate me for the remainder of my life and probably well past my death, and I have to accept that. All I can do now is be the best person I can possibly be for the rest of my life. All I can do is grow as a human being and practice compassion and empathy and love.
If my story helps others who are suffering then it will all have been worth it.
Today I am happy. Today I love and am loved. Today I am free of the secrets.
Have a blessed day my friends, and thank you!
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”