“You’re so brave for publishing your book and sharing your personal story.”

“You’re so courageous for speaking publicly about your family’s story.”

“You’re brave for your candid story-telling.”

These are statements I am hearing a lot from others since I decided, over a year ago, to publish my book, Seeing through the Cracks, on the social media site, Wattpad. It’s free to read online for anyone who might find my personal story helpful in their life. I didn’t want to wait for a publisher to pick up my work and put it in print. I felt the message needed to be heard, as soon as possible.

And yes, I have to admit that when I first released my book it felt like I was handing my diary over to the world, and I felt somewhat exposed. But I wasn’t revealing anything out of the ordinary; I was disclosing many of the thoughts and feelings so many parents have also had while raising their own children. I was narrating how I, like so many others before me, have muddled through this journey of nurturing our children, in the hopes we’ve done a decent job, and eventually turned out responsible, kind, and conscientious adults. And like others, I made mistakes along the way. My journey may look different than another family’s in some ways, but the intention and outcome is the same for all of us.

While assisting my son through his deep suffering, during the toughest phases of his video gaming addiction, I reached out and asked for help from others, I shared and expressed my discomfort and my fears, and I looked for as many support systems as I could muster. I was desperate to make his recovery a success, but I couldn’t do it on my own, and neither could he. And each time I was met with comfort, empathy, and many offerings of support. Not one time was I judged in a negative way, not once was I met with rejection, and never did I hear anyone tell me that I should just try to manage the situation alone.

What I learned is that once a person hears your story of pain, it is human nature for that person to react with compassion. 

So, why do we believe that we need to be brave to share our deepest thoughts, feelings, worries, and emotional pain? When I hear someone tell me that I am courageous, it tells me that they believe that we need courage to ask for help. And that’s just not okay. It is the reason so many remain silent in their suffering.

We need to get more comfortable with sharing our personal stories because each time we do, we learn about love, we can begin to heal, and we can help someone else who may be going through a similar situation. I believe, in my heart, that I have a social obligation to share, to create awareness, and bring to light a hidden epidemic that very few are discussing. I need to find others who understand video gaming addiction, and I need to let others know that it is okay to share, that they are not alone. In numbers we can create many more resources, in talking we can discover other ways to overcome, and in opening our hearts we can provide a much larger support system for each other.

I’m not brave. I’m human. And in my human-ness I am committed to being transparent, to be a source of information, and to be a safe place for others to walk this journey alongside me. So, when you hear my story, appreciate that my openness simply opens a door for you to share, as well.