I Share My Struggles To Help Others With Their Own

by Colleen Dilthey Thomas
Originally Published: 
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My life is an open book. I write about it a lot. I share (perhaps overshare) very intimate details about things that a lot of people probably wouldn’t. And I do it in front of millions of people — strangers. The world knows I have an eating disorder. I have talked about being a recovering alcoholic. I’ve exposed my marriage and how it’s not perfect. I have even aired the dirty laundry about my kids having behavioral issues like ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. And I have no regrets, or intentions of stopping telling my stories.

When I first started to be honest with myself about who I am, it was hard. I felt alone in my thoughts and in my struggles. I didn’t realize that there were other young moms who were binge drinking the way that I was. I didn’t know if I could really quit and if my life would be okay after I gave up booze. But I took it day by day and then year by year, and now I am into my second decade sober. Today, I’ll tell you anything you want to know. I am happy to discuss the fact that I drove drunk when I shouldn’t have and I am lucky to be alive. I’ll tell you about going to work so hung over that I could hardly sit at my desk. I’ll discuss how drinking caused me to fight viciously with my husband and that it could have ended our marriage.

I know pieces of this may sound familiar to some people. That is why I talk about it.

I want people to know that they are not alone. I have been where they are, and I am empathetic to their struggle. I want people to see that you can recover. Perhaps my sobriety can serve as a fire to someone that they really can say goodbye to booze. Maybe they will see that life can still be rich and fun and entertaining without a wine glass in your hand. Maybe I can help.

After I started to talk about my drinking problem. I felt renewed. I felt free. I felt like I was finally being myself. I also felt confident about talking about other aspects of my life that are hard. I shared my struggles with body image and eating disorders. I know that there are millions of women who face this same problem everyday. We are conditioned to hate ourselves and to try to be something we are not. That struggle is real, and I am there. I live it every day. So I talk about it. I want other women to feel a sense of camaraderie. I want them to be able to say, there are others like me. I am going to be OK. I am not the only person who feels this way. I want them to feel validated.

I really made myself vulnerable when I started talking about my kids. It is one thing to admit that you have personal struggles, but to come out and say that you feel like you are a bad parent is a completely different animal. No one wants to believe that their children aren’t perfect and that they have trouble parenting them. When I got real about motherhood, I felt that I had exposed a lot of dirty secrets. But you know what I found? There are thousands of parents just like me who have children just like mine. These parents felt a sigh of relief reading my stories about my kids with ADHD and ODD. They realized that behavioral disorders are much more common than they may have thought and that there are large networks of people willing to support you. I made wonderful connections with communities that I didn’t even know existed because I purged my frustrations in an essay. I am so grateful for that.

I share because I want my kids to know that they should be 100% comfortable living their truths and talking about them. Their lives and their struggles are nothing to shy away from. Life is hard. No one’s life is perfect. And if they try to tell you otherwise, they aren’t being honest with you. There is not a soul alive who hasn’t been through a tough time. We all have our ups and downs and sharing your own difficulties with others, may actually help someone.

I am not ashamed of who I am. Everyone has baggage. I may have more than most, I don’t know. And honestly, I don’t care. I am who I am because of the struggles in my life. I am not defined by those struggles by any means, but they have certainly helped to mold me. The way that I deal with life’s challenges and learn from them, that is what makes me who I am. Not the fact that life isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows. No one’s life is. And that is the reason that I share.

I want people to know that they are not alone, that there is hope. I want them to know that life is hard and that is perfectly normal. If someone can take just some of that away from me, baring my soul and exposing my entire ugly life, then that makes it all worthwhile. I am not looking for accolades. I don’t need anyone to tell me how inspiring I am. I am just a mom who struggles, just like you. And if my struggle helps you to deal with yours, then I am happy to keep telling my truths.

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