The shame attached to vulnerability is one of the reasons why so many overtly depressed men don’t want to talk about it. [i] According to Dr. Brene Brown, the one thing men cant be is not strong, they cant be vulnerable. Look at the photo to the right. Bruce doesnt look very vulnerable does he?
Unacknowledged vulnerabilities seldom cooperate and stay buried, however; they tend to rise up and exact their own toll. [ii] This to me is when I could no longer “depress,” the emotions that I had stuffed down my whole life, and boy did they ever exact their toll. My world was torn apart, never to be the same again.
There are things that I did that I am not proud of, in sobriety. I don’t need to reiterate my shame and spill my guts here, but it is important for my healing to own what I’ve done. I will give you a couple of examples.
I hope you disagree vehemently with what I did in particular in the first example, because I do.
One of the biggest regrets of my life is how I treated our dogs after we got them. We got two dogs at one time, two little eight-week-old puppies. By this time in my life, my depression was almost like a whack-a-mole thing. When it would rise up in one area I would try to suppress it and it would then just rear its ugly head somewhere else.
Well I found a release. This is the insanity of my dis-ease. One of them in particular wouldn’t mind someone other than me. So instead of being patient with it, and loving it through it’s fear, I beat it. I understand the pack mentality of dogs, and understand that there is an alpha, and that the others aren’t the alpha. But my way of trying to get this dog to “mind,” was brutal, unnecessary and downright mean. People also saw this who should not have been subjected to the trauma I created by my actions.
Instead of exposing my lack of knowledge in how to train the dog, and getting help, I resorted to the violence that was perpetrated against me to try to get the dog to submit. I perpetrated against that puppy the same violence I saw when I was a child being perpetrated against our dogs when they wouldn’t mind and against me when my father didnt think I was behaving in the way that he expected me to. I was that angry man you see here.
The second example is my inability to work once the depression hit and became overt. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to work hard. For the longest time in my life I’ve been able to take care of my responsibilities. Once the depression became overt, clearly overt in 2008 I lost the ability to work like I did.
I have more remorse and regret because of my inability to take care of my responsibilities that I had helped create. I am intentionally abstract about this. My reasons are private and don’t need to be reiterated here.
The hugest blow I have ever had to my ego was not the loss of my career as an attorney. That will be a future post itself. That whole journey was about the ego. The biggest loss I feel and suffer with to this day is the loss of my ability to take care of my responsibilities to the others who I was responsible to. My depression made them unwilling participants in a journey that has been very painful and has taken a toll. Not just on me, but on them. I pray that they have all they need and they heal from this trauma that my illness contributed to.
I forgive myself for what I did that was not loving and for not doing what I had lost the ability to do.
[i] Terrance Real I Don’t Want to Talk About It. P.148 [ii] Terrance Real I Don’t Want to Talk About It. P.148** Please, if you could, say a prayer for the Fanatic!