The Imperfect Art of Coming Out

by Bill Brenner on February 3, 2015

As new readers find this blog, they often ask the question I’ve heard many times before: Why the hell did I out myself? Wasn’t I afraid people would blackball me at work? Don’t I worry that I’ll be defined by my struggle with OCD above all else?

It’s a fair question.

Mood music:

First, let’s get the notions of courage and bravery off the table. Some have used those words to describe what I’m doing, and I appreciate that. But I really don’t think it’s that. Like I’ve said before, my grandfather parachuting behind enemy lines at the start of the D-Day invasion was courage.

I’m  doing this more because the point arrived where, for the sake of my own sanity, I had to start being myself as openly and honestly as I can. Honesty can be tough for people who deal with mental illness and addiction. But I decided I had to do better.

Read more on this in “The Liar’s Disease.”

Admittedly, some of the motivation is selfish. We OCD types have overdeveloped egos and tend to go digging for attention. It’s hard to admit that, but it’s the truth. Being open about that forces me to keep myself in check. It’s also an invitation for those around me to call me out on acts of ego and selfishness.

The biggest reason for doing this, without question, is my faith. I realized some time ago that when you toss the skeletons from your closet into the daylight, they turn to dust. Big, sinister stigmas become very small indeed. Then you can move on.

I didn’t arrive at this viewpoint easily. It took years of dirty work.

With my faith comes a need to serve others. In this case, I accumulated experiences that might be of help to other sufferers. Sharing wasn’t exactly something I wanted to do; it was something I had to do.

We’re all in this together. Many good people have helped me along the way. Trying to help someone else is the very least I could do. In the final analysis, we all help each other.

Getting it all out of the head and into this blog has certainly been helpful, so thanks for indulging me.

Did I risk my career to do this? I don’t think so.

That said, I don’t think I’d be doing this if I still worked for The Eagle-Tribune. The newroom’s culture wouldn’t have allowed for it. I have no idea if the culture has changed, but I suspect not.

I’ve gotten a ton of support from those I work with. That was true when I started this five years ago, during another job, and it’s true today, in my current job.

Does that mean everyone should put their demons out in the open as I have?

It’s not going to be the right decision for everyone to make. There are a lot of honorable reasons for people to keep their demons private. In many cases, the veil is what you use to protect others as well as yourself. But my veil blew away in the storm that was my life. Walking forward without it was all I could do.

As the line in Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home” goes, “My life is an open book, for the whole world to read.”

For my own development as a human being, I think it’s best that way.

Close to My Heart by EddieTheYetiClose to My Heart” by EddieTheYeti. Read more of my ongoing series with EddieTheYeti.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bert Knabe February 3, 2015 at 10:11 am

You’ve displayed a lot of courage over the years – some of it as great as that required to jump into battle at Normandy, though it may not seem that way. Making the decisions to wrest control away from your OCD and addictions and going through with it, the decision to turn your life over to God and going through with it, and the decision to write this blog and going through with it – all are examples of courage. To name just a few.

Many people make the decision to take control, to change, and to use their troubles to help others. Actually doing it is where the courage comes in. Acknowledge your courage, just don’t let it go to your head. :^)

just jone February 3, 2015 at 2:46 pm

I second that (above comment). “I second that emotion” 🙂

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