Facing Myself
By: Alex “Bruce” DuBos

I've been trying to be honest with myself. I long for companionship. To feel wanted. Physically and emotionally that's something my mom was always able to convey to me. She loved me, but not only that, she was happy when I was near. You could see she was physically very happy when anyone of us was around just to visit and be there. Emotionally, however, I saw so much of her distaste and sadness coupled with her frustrations and disappointments for herself, and the masking of her accomplishments for her failures, that eventually I started to focus on those things too when I would visit. In turn, I began projecting that negativity inward and onto myself, following up by doing the same thing to myself physically.

I stopped taking care of myself. I stopped talking with people. I shut off my emotions, not letting anyone see my sadness, my depression, and my anger. I wasn't eating, I stopped exercising, and could barely sleep, all the while drinking more and more and smoking so much weed to try to kill the pain that I only brought back old health problems that I thought I outgrew. I wouldn't ever let her see me cry. Even though I always did and usually while in the home or even in her room. I never showed it. At least not to her. I didn't want her to see how much of a mess I'd become, how lost I felt. Least of all, I didn't want her to blame herself for my condition when she didn't do anything to deserve it. I made up my mind long before then that I would be strong for her. That I would face all that I had to, for her. But I never anticipated the cost. The cost of hiding from one's emotions.

And when that day finally came, I took the way I was feeling about losing my mom and numbed it by taking care of myself even less (which I didn't think was possible), and getting more fucked up, being more in my head, all the while running from the pain, yet simultaneously harboring it and drowning in it. I felt like an empty shell of a human being. Stretched thin, grasping at straws halfheartedly trying to piece myself back together. Instead of feeling the pain, I cut it off and hid. I was lonelier than I had ever felt before, emotionally cut off, physically a wreck, half trying to deal with the emotions whirling inside of me without talking about them to anyone, while the other half was trying just to stay alive. I was so unhealthy, not eating hardly anything. Getting fucked up whenever possible. I was a mess. I didn't feel like there was a way out. I felt unstable. Unstable and on a rickety ass top trying not to wobble over. This has been me for the 8 months since my mother passed away. Drunk and stoned, stressed, burned out, nervous, insecure, and incredibly sad and depressed, perched atop all of my goals, wants, dreams, fears, and doubts I had put on hold for my mom. All those things seem reminiscent of an old life.

As of late, though, I've felt more stable, I feel like I've managed to climb down from that mountain of hell I've created for myself and face my demons head on. I've been trying to keep growing while I've constantly felt downplayed, blocked, dragged down to my knees by my fears. They’ve been pitting me against myself as I look at all my insecurities and in turn become frustrated, disappointed, angry, and sad all over again. But now, as I'm seeing these doubts and emotions, I realize I've seen them before. They were already present when I started this journey into madness, only then I didn't know what to do, so I hid. Now I'm looking them in the face and understand that I'm looking at myself. I've only been focusing on the fears and insecurities and have blinded myself to what is truly inside of me at my core. Instead of looking only at the negative aspects of my life, and in actuality those of my mom's life too, now I'm starting to see a pattern to it all. While trying to hide from the truth and sadness, I've actually cycled through grief in my own roundabout way, creating the space to step back with perspective and see what I have become. I can finally try to understand. To understand that it's okay to feel sad, to feel doubts, fears, insecurities. To feel anything at all. That in fact it's better to feel than not to feel. To be vulnerable and let yourself truly fall apart is the only way you can ever build yourself back up.

And yet, vulnerability was an aspect of myself I did not want to see, let alone show to others. But I’m beginning to understand that how I deal with my vulnerabilities is what differentiates who I was, from who I'm becoming. I see now that I can grieve, I know how to feel, I can empathize, and I can overcome. Because in all my weaknesses and struggles, I am resilient, I am courageous, and I am strong. Strong enough to see my mom's strength in all her shortcomings. Resilient enough to make the best with what we had even though it saddened and disappointed us on the best of days with the ever dismal truth hanging low over our heads. And courageous enough to face that truth head on.

I used to think that my mom bestowed all these virtues in me, but now I've come to believe there is no circumstance. They've always been inside me, and she just knew the ones to nurture. The ones that would see the other shortcomings I placed on myself, and try to move past them. To survive and thrive, to love and grow. And by god if these realizations and this journey hasn't shaped me before, it sure will now. I feel a little less broken, and a little more whole. Maybe there is hope out there after all.