Is my story is too ugly?

Not too long ago someone said to me, “I would have you speak but we decided on a more uplifting story–someone in recovery.”

I think it’s great to feature someone else’s inspiring story of recovery. I applaud that and I enjoy those stories, too. But not at the expense of implying that my family’s story about Charles is too ugly to share. That it’s unworthy. I never leave an audience with no hope even though I lost the most precious thing in the world to me.

No one fights harder for change than those of us who’ve lost our child or children. No one is more relentless, more determined, more passionate.

My story has warts. We were imperfect as parents. We did some things right. We did some things wrong.

Parents of those in recovery were also imperfect. They did things right. They did things wrong. And their outcome was different.

They know that one relapse could mean then end. That any day their fate could change and they’ve learned to appreciate what they have right now. They are aware of how fortunate they are. And I’m so thankful.

Every loss by suicide. Every loss from substance use disorder is painful to me. Same with all the other grieving mothers and fathers.

We don’t want this to happen to anyone else. We don’t want anyone else to join our ranks. The club is big enough already. And we’ll do anything to prevent it which includes telling our story–to keep it real so others can learn. Even if these stories are painful to tell. And even if they’re not pretty.

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

10 thoughts on “Is my story is too ugly?”

  1. How many eloquent and emotionally naked comments here. All I can add is that if the person who made that comment to you Anne Moss was suddenly wearing our club “ugly” shoes, they would not think that.

  2. We all learn and grow when hear others’ stories. I commend you all for the strength that you demonstrate in sharing both the victories and the defeats, the ups and the downs, the joys and the sorrows. When we read your words, we grow in understanding and empathy – and that we all need. Thank you for your courage.

  3. I personally find the so called ugly stories, the sad ones, the tragic, the heart wrenching how-can-i-go-on? experiences the ones that truly pierce my soul and move me to change.
    Take Vincent van Gogh. Many forget that one of the most famous, highly influential, powerhouses of modern art, a giant of humanity quite frankly, someone with the ability to inspire and change others point of view & was able to enlighten *millions* of ppl by the gift of beauty in the form of his observations & his art. Not only struggled with addiction, was in a mental health hospital for a year, only sold one painting during his lifetime, often remembered by the masses as “that guy who cut his ear off”, battled big time depression/anxiety & who ultimately shot himself at the age of 37….*that* Vincent?
    That “downer”? That *human being*? Gives *me* hope.
    Anyone in “recovery” knows its all present tense. Day to day. It is not recovered. There is some big time thinking errors in the traditional recovery culture by some members.
    So what if that person who was chosen to speak, in “recovery”, what if they messed up a week later? What if in a moment of despair or panic or darkness they relapsed & got back on heroin?
    See, would we look at them as a “loser”? Well what if 3 days after that binge they came to & said “NO!” & stopped. They slipped, recognized the mistake, & decided they knew that road & cut the use off cold before hardcore physical addiction set in.
    Listen, I look at that person as a mammoth of courage & of inspiration. One, two, 10 mistakes, 100? Fine! should not define anyone’s sobriety.
    What matters is that you keep trying.
    Say out of 365 days you have 362 sober. The 3 days you weren’t do not take away from 362 you were. Traditional recovery is obsessed with counting days & while celebrating anniversaries of sobriety are great. Beating yourself up over the ones you aren’t has gotten a lot of ppl off track.
    I myself have gotten a bit off track on my comment, ha!
    No one EVER has this beast of depression/anxiety/addiction/mental health beat! If you think you do, watch out! It’s coming for ya! It’s maintenance. It’s a marathon not a 100 meter dash. It’s also about compassion. Empathy.
    Because some of us may lose this battle, there are valuable lessons to be learned by EVERYONE’S story. But *especially* from the precious ones who fought, who fought so fucking hard, the sensitive ones who fought until they couldn’t anymore, those ones have special morals in their stories. The darkest tragedies have the brightest lessons for us who are somehow scraping by….if we pay attention to the ones who “lost” we may gain by their sacrifice, it’s a gift for us who have been through the darkest hour to see the dawn. But if you think you’re over it & you got it conquered & its time to go on tour? Get ready!
    The people who have survived the greatest heartbreak known to humanity aka: losing a child & are doing their damndest to heal & wake up, shower, get dressed & go about trying to save help just one single fellow human being from addiction/mental health struggles are the ones who inspire me. Them & the ones we lose. *We* lose. Their gift is still here.
    Famous or not. We all are unique & have talent.
    Vincent, Charles, Kurt, Val (my kids grandfather)…

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