In my work as a youth addiction counsellor I talk to my young people about that voice in their head, the voice of their addiction, that speaks in lies. It tells them they are not worthy, not loved, not capable and leads them down the path to numbness and destruction. This voice blocks out the light and love in the world and makes them think there is only darkness and loneliness.
I encourage them to engage in acts of resistance -- truth telling, showing up, feeling feelings, and doing hard things. And they do. They show up with their broken hearts and speak courageously about their painful lives. They let themselves be seen and known. They fight for their lives, until they can't, then they don't, and then they bravely get up and start fighting again.
There is a voice in my head too and it also deals in lies and blocks out the light. It's the voice of fear. It keeps me afraid that one day there will be too many drugs, too much sadness, too much pain and one of those precious souls won't be able to get up and continue the fight. This fear convinces me to keep my emotions under wrap, to not speak up, and not to push too hard. Because what if I do and they stop confiding, stop showing up, stop trying? The fear wears me down and then one day I catch myself thinking that if the unthinkable did happen, at least it would end this painful cycle.
I also need to engage in acts of resistance -- truth telling, letting my real emotions show, and doing it scared. So I do. I keep loving them fiercely, I let them see me cry, I tell the truth, and ask the hard questions. And even when the darkness threatens, I hold on to the light of hope.
There's not much of a difference between me and these kids.... we are all doing hard things and doing it scared, trying to bring light to the darkness with our honesty and authenticity.... we are all messy and beautiful...
This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!