One day, 5 months after being found dead in a baseball field, I was out of the hospital and stumbling through my first day back at University. My teachers organized a meeting, in which they expressed their concern for the traumatic experience that I had, and offered their support to me if ever I should need it. They then went on to tell me how this experience was a great thing. A character building opportunity that would only make me a stronger actor. That this life changing experience was going to inform and elevate my work. “We are looking forward to what you can make with this on the stage”.
It seemed that people thought that because I had “seen the other side” or “been through some serious shit” that I had become this inspired, spiritually connected human being destined for greatness. Paradoxically, at the same time, it seemed like people expected nothing from me at all. Anytime I needed to take time off or not be involved with something I was immediately excused without question. I felt the weight of this imposed double standard and was cornered by it. During this time I wrote this in my journal:
“If I died today they would commend my few accomplishments, and speak to my bravery and perseverance… but if I live, and pursue my dreams I am expected to reach the stars.”
My story, as dramatic and serious as it is, deals with issues that apply to everybody. “Everyone has their shit”, is a lesson I learned spending time in the hospital. Mental or physical, psychological or metaphorical, there is a chip in everyone’s shoulder. People apologize to me, “Sorry, I shouldn’t be complaining, it’s nothing in comparison to what you’re dealing with”. Like my issues are so bad that divorced families and eating disorders aren’t serious. We all face these challenges, no matter how big or small society makes them, they are real and they need to be addressed.
The wounds that are visible are pitied and the ones that are invisible are ignored, but no matter where your hurt lies, my problems and yours have one thing in common. The need for a future. A future with this new problem in mind, a new you. How you recover from this experience does not lie in the rumours of your small town or your high school grad class. You will have to make sacrifices and become very honest with yourself. In struggle there is always something to hold onto, and something to let go of. A fine balance between ignorance and obsession, anxiety and denial, this is the challenge of recovery.
In “The Recovery Series” I am going to be talking about the recovery process. Whether you have a heart condition, or a bad week at the office, these posts are for you to commiserate and contemplate with. A place for sharing and ideas to be heard. I welcome all conversations and really looking forward to bringing light to this under-discussed topic.
Thanks For Listening.
Photo credit to Levi Hildebrand.