You have probably noticed by now that I post under my first name only. You see, I wish to maintain a certain degree of anonymity in order to feel safe talking about deeply personal issues. Let me explain:
I am a very proud person. I have never been able to talk about my problems. Hell, I’ve never been able to talk about myself at all. For over a decade I’ve hid the fact that there’s anything wrong with me. In my personal life I maintain at all times an appearance of strength, success, and stability.
My pride has served me well. Armed with a tenuous, yet powerful sense of self-confidence, I have achieved a degree of financial success and stability for my family unusual for someone my age. But this pride inflicts upon me a terrible price. I’ve suffered with undiagnosed, mistreated bipolar disorder my entire life. I’ve never sought help or treatment because treatment is weakness.
Admitting I had issues was simply not an option. There were no issues I told myself. I did what many proud people with a problem do – I drank. And I drank. And I drank. For years I drank as much as I could, and when I wasn’t drinking, I was wishing that I was.
Then children came, and children have a way of making you evaluate yourself, your past, your future, and your own upbringing. I found myself to be unworthy of the unconditional love my daughters naively bestowed upon me. It took 3 years, but this inadequacy finally persuaded me to admit I have problems, and to seek treatment.
I started this blog for a couple reasons. First and foremost, I’m scared, and I need help. I wanted to see if there was anybody else out there who was going through similar issues, and if there were, I wanted to connect with them. To my great relief, I found I was not alone. I’ve come to meet many great people suffering through similar issues in the very short time I’ve written this blog. Communicating with you has been one of the precious few sources of help, relief, and joy I’ve found since embarking on this path.
Secondly, I realized I would need a place to deal with my thoughts as I worked through this. Alcohol had been my constant companion for suppressing my problems for so long, and I knew if I was really going to kick the habit I’d need a healthy outlet.
This blog seemed like a good way to achieve these goals; and by remaining anonymous I could strengthen myself in safety, and one day, I’d be able to share my story with friends and family from a place of success – as someone who had already walked the path, and had returned to help others still struggling along the way.
And now with all that said we can move on to the titular betrayal.
You see, this blog has a Facebook page to help connect me to you, and you to other people who are suffering. Facebook owns Instagram. Unbeknownst to me, Instagram suggests pages to the personal friends of the owner of the page. As a result, three people from my personal life became aware of this page, and by extension my very secret, very personal problems.
I was shocked, and more than a little terrified; I felt compromised. Naked. I was not ready to talk to these people about this. I’m still not.
But I thought, these are people I trust, it’s OK. The wife of a great friend, who I recently really met for the first time (Hi Tess!). A friend from home who stood at our wedding (Hi Steph!). And lastly, my cousin.
My cousin is the perpetrator of the titular betrayal, and the person to whom this post is really addressed.
She apparently saw fit to tell my aunt about this page, who quickly told my parents. My mother called my wife, apparently filled with concern for the deeply private revelations she was reading from her son.
I wonder, how did you possibly think it was OK to share this with anybody? Did you seek to embarrass me? Was it out of some ill-conceived attempt to help?
I identify myself with members of the LGBT community who have been outed to loved ones before they were ready to share that deeply personal, stigmatized part of their identity. Coming out is rightly viewed as an extremely difficult, emotional, and important part of someone’s life. It is something everybody has the right to do on their terms, when they are ready; and if they’re never ready it is also their right to keep that to themselves.
The internet is filled with stories of those who were outed as gay, lesbian, or otherwise non-cis to loved ones before they were ready, and against their wishes. Tragically, many of these stories end in suicide, and now I understand why.
I feel I have been outed. I feel exposed. I feel like a child again, denied the decency of even the most basic privacy. A child who needs to spend hours running from home on a bicycle, just to get some moments of solitude to try to process all this shit.
Alcohol was my outlet. Now that’s gone. This blog replaced it. And now I feel like that’s been compromised. This is no longer a place where I feel free to speak openly. Now where do I turn? To you? Why would I ever do that now?
Upon hearing the news of my outing this morning I walked off the job. I got in my car, and the child was back again, running away, trying to find shelter. I raged, I lost my voice, I cried, I tore my shirt, I damn near drove into a ditch. I almost drove to the bar.
Then I did what I’m best at. I buried it, composed myself, and 15 minutes and 1 shirt change later I was standing and speaking in front of a group of 50 – none any the wiser.
It’s exhausting living like this, being bipolar, being in recovery. I honestly don’t have any more energy to give to this post. I’ll substitute eloquence for succinctness, and simply close with this: