I’m tired of living in fear.
During one of my earlier attempts at recovery, I worried constantly about how soon I would be able to get back to work, whether I should tell people where I had been, and whether this part of my story would interfere with my getting jobs or clients in the future. When I was diagnosed with a form of bipolar disorder, I wondered how this would affect my professional life as well.
When I entered treatment this time, it was a very different story. I no longer obsessed about going back to work, because I was now broken enough for it to be clear even to me that I wasn’t going to be capable of it for a while, if ever. I was more forthcoming to family and friends about what I was doing, because at the time I no longer cared about any consequences of this.
Years later, as my life continues to grow and change in recovery, I again face questions around how open I want to be with my history. Not This Song has been largely anonymous up until now, although I don’t imagine it would be too hard for someone to find out my real name if they were determined.
But the different facets of my life are starting to come into conflict. Some of the things I write are more than self-expression; they have the seeds in them of ways I’d like to be useful in the mental health and recovery fields someday. It’s not easy for me to own up to these dreams, but they are there, especially since I have education and training that is relevant.
I’m going to start using my own name on what I write. There, I said it. I don’t want to be giving a presentation and referencing my own work as if it isn’t mine. I don’t want to juggle pseudonyms. Above all, I don’t want to deny or hide the essential quality I have come to appreciate about myself and my niche: that I am a counselor and an addict and a person with mental illness and a writer.
I am making peace with the fact that this decision may cost me some jobs in the future, or cause other complications. I’m more concerned with the possibility that it will be harder to remove my ego from the equation when writing. Perhaps I will think too hard about how something I write is going to be received, instead of focusing on being authentic. I trust that I’ll find balance around this, although I am sure it will take effort to maintain.
In the past couple of weeks–ever since a stolen-content issue that really got me thinking about the future–I’ve been consulting with family, friends and recovery peers about this process. It’s important for me to respect the traditions of recovery programs, and I will continue to do so by never naming any specific fellowship when speaking of my journey. My readers know this type of fellowship is one part of my life in recovery; this is nearly unavoidable. But, out of respect, I’ve decided to take down some very specific posts.
This is all, in some ways, a selfish decision, and I hope my readers will forgive me for it. It hasn’t been an easy process, and there has been a lot of anxiety and second-guessing involved. But I believe it’s what I need to do to open the door for whatever my future holds; to live more fearlessly and own the mosaic of my identity.