2 min read
01 Nov

 want to shed light on a topic today that often gets overlooked or thrown under the rug. This formation of identity in adolescence into emerging adulthood. As a teenager I had a vague sense of who I was and the direction I wanted my life to go until I became suicidal. I didn’t just lose my identity in those moments of darkness because it became my identity. When all your thoughts become focused on one thing and one thing only, it consumes you. Death and dying became my macabre identity and I used it as a reason to hate humanity. Against all odds I survived my own inner struggle then enlisted in the Army. 

The purpose of basic training is to break you down and build you back up as a soldier. Once again you lose all sense of your identity to become a soldier. It’s the worst possible feeling that you experience not once but twice. When you enter, and when you leave. When I left the army, I lost all sense of who I was once again. I had no safety net, no circle of friends. It was me starting my life over with a new chapter, but alone. In that emptiness something has to fill the void. Unfortunately for me and many other veterans, that void is filled with booze, drugs or other destructive habits. My identity became one of bitterness, anger, and alcohol. A dark triad indeed. Bitter about my experiences in life, angry at my lack of understanding who I was, my purpose, and where I was going. There was alcohol, a solution in the pain. It filled me up, made me more sociable and less cantankerous. It took the edge off, and I felt like I gained a sense of who I was. 

Alcohol however is a bringer of empty promises and robs you of everything you hold dear. I lost good memories of who I thought I was and who I could be. Swallowed whole by that endless void that screamed more, more, give me more. I became a blob of chaos and darkness that I embraced because it coddled me into a self-fulfilling prophecy. That I was worthless, and wanted to die, the same embrace I felt almost a decade ago as a teenager. I can't tell you how many times I've felt nothing more than static noise. You know the noise I'm taking about when the wrong channel is on or when the tv’s used to space out at midnight. When I thought about myself, my identity and who I was, that is all I felt, and heard. There was nothing there and I had no answer to give. 

Just when I thought I had fought my final identity crisis, or crisis of life and faith, I turned the corner once more. I bumped into a stranger that looked like that static noise, they were all blurred out and I had no idea who they were. That’s what I saw in the mirror most days. I talk a lot about hating what I saw in the mirror, you know why? It was more than just seeing myself as a drunkard who wanted to die, but couldn’t bring himself to take his own life. It was because when I looked in that mirror and saw that unrecognizable static of a person, I cried, I got angry. Because more than anything I wanted answers, I had questions that echoed back in my face and it felt like shards of glass landing in my head. Why couldn’t I recognize the person in front of me? Why were they silent when I asked them who I was, why wouldn’t they just fucking answer me? No matter how many times I pleaded with them or got on my knees and cried they never moved, never blinked. I felt like a fool screaming at a shadow who was never going to respond. Talk about the pinnacle of insanity. 

Ill end with this. I hope someone could relate to my words, my experience and my process. The longer I am sober, the more pieces of my identity begin to fit into place. Over time that shadow has revealed himself to me more and more. I can see my face once again, and I know longer feel a deep loss inside my soul. I kept looking for answers within me that I didn’t have, couldn’t grasp or understand. My higher power, and others in recovery have given me the answers I needed, day by day. I pray that you find the answers you seek, I pray that void is filled with light and love rather than hate and chaos. I pray that you find yourself in sobriety, recovery and feel fulfilled. I pray we never have to look in that mirror and see that static noise of a shadow. 

With much love, 

Mack   

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