Fast forward to November 2016 and my deep internal battles were about to be exposed. I was about to learn how one could become to feel significantly insignificant. As significant as I would become as a ‘story’, it would be five days before anyone from the AFP would ask me whether I needed any support. A stark contrast to the concern I was later told existed for my health.
Reality of my worth to people I valued set in.
While this drew the full gamut of emotions, over the coming days, weeks and months, as time moved on so too did my desire for understanding – less of why people I had metaphorically bled for would now disown me when my greatest battle was beginning, and more of how does a seemingly normal, loved, successful and smart guy find himself in the depths of a ‘knowing’ self-destruction.
I had known for a long time before November 2016 that something was wrong, but I understood very little about what it was and even less about what to do about it.
I knew one thing for sure though – I needed it to end. That could have been solved (for me only) very quickly.
I was in the depths of struggle with depression and gambling addiction and neither was my biggest issue.
It became apparent that my ‘And One Other’ was not just a metaphor but was me. A second self that was at times as far from my own awareness as it was to others. A version of me that was never talked about. There was an honesty needed that I couldn’t find to confront it - this secret version of a man not understood by me, but most definitely within me. I may have become Externally Bulletproof, but I was Internally Brittle.
I was not yet prepared for what was needed to fully understand, accept and defeat what was before me (and I wouldn’t be for some time) but I was even less ready to give up.
I have lost over a million dollars, my career and my reputation and, in some macabre twist, it could become the best thing that ever happened to me.
I am neither happy, nor proud of this statement.
I wish I had never lost a dollar, let alone a million. I worked tirelessly at a career full of challenges and threw it all down the toilet and I am more ashamed of hurting, lying to and manipulating my family than I may ever recover from.
But I am alive and have been gifted the opportunity to change. To change my life, and potentially save others.
Depression and gambling have cost me almost everything I have – family and loved ones, friends, more money than I would like to count, my dignity and very nearly my life. None of what I have done, or those I have hurt, need excuses – and none will be offered …..
…….but a deeper understanding of the inner thoughts, the actions and reactions of someone who has taken this rocky road may well be the antidote to someone else’s pain, may offer hope to others knowing that their thoughts, feelings, actions and struggles do not make them a pariah, may allow loved ones a deeper understanding of these afflictions and the actions of sufferers and, while I am far from ‘fixed’, an insight into the research, knowledge, practises and support that has given me hope that not only will I succeed in this battle, but that I will, in perhaps some dark way, be a better person for it.
My life, as with yours, has been filled with external influences. Some greater and some less than others. Some more forceful and some subtle but everything bad, just as everything good, that has happened in my life, I am responsible for. I have made terrible choices and taken dreadful actions tens, hundreds and thousands of times during dark periods of my life. The next phase of my life needs to be focused on ensuring those choices shape any legacy I leave.
Being Externally Bulletproof but Internally Brittle is the not the story, it’s the path.