After all this time, I still don’t consider myself to be a writer, although I have published a memoir and I do write articles occasionally for websites and magazines.
I am a daughter, sister, wife, mom, soon-to-be-gramma, friend, neighbor—I’m no different than anyone else. The topics I write or speak about often make others uncomfortable: alcoholism, mental illness, toxic relationships, childhood trauma, suicide. And even my own personal mental health breakdown at 48 and my road to recovery. There isn’t one experience I have reflected on, nor one word I have ever typed or spoken, that doesn’t come from a place of complete and utter love.
I had an article published on Elephant Journal for the first time a few weeks ago: Why I Hope Johnny Depp “Wins.” I was incredibly proud, as typically my work is featured on addiction or mental health websites, and Elephant was on my bucket list.
I was not surprised by all the reads on this subject (8,000-plus in a few days) nor the hundreds of comments on Facebook, as society has been emotional about this case. People are and continue to be very divided on this relationship. I could tell some were bothered by the headline, with many not even reading it or noticing that there is a difference between win and “win.”
What I wasn’t expecting, and what took me by complete surprise, were some comments against Elephant Journal.
“I expected more from you EJ and how could you post something like this!”
This is nothing more than “Clickbait,” said one, a “sh*t-show,” said another.
I read more than a few others that were disappointed in Elephant and leaving the site. What struck a chord with me was the gentleman who said “this is the opposite of mindfulness.”
It is easy to forget sometimes, when we watch the news, read an article, or listen to a podcast, that these are all real people. When we order popcorn and enjoy a night out to watch a movie based on a true story or read a memoir—these are real-life experiences. These journeys are not always light and fluffy, filled with kittens and butterflies, and what all of them have in common is an emotional connection and the potential for a powerful lesson. Even the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial. That is, if you let it.
Life can be messy; we all have pain and challenges. I am extremely proud of how far I have come in my own personal journey. Talking about addiction and abuse, whether emotional or physical, is not “clickbait.” It is important. My greatest friend was an addict, my brother, who lost his brave battle at 39 when he took his own life. In fact, right now about 21 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Their lives, and the lives of those who love them, are affected each and every day—but their struggles are not playing out on national television.
I also ended a relationship with someone who had narcissistic tendencies after decades of trying to make that emotionally abusive relationship work. I loved this person very much. This lived experience does, at times, give me a different point of view on some topics. When I see Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, I don’t see celebrities. I see real people, just like all of us, who have challenges to overcome. Reading stories and having different opinions is amazing; that is what is wonderful about Elephant Journal. It challenges our minds, our beliefs, and our hearts.
Just like my article on Johnny and Amber said, there would be no winners here. What we all can do is learn from their story, or at the least, gain insight as to what others might be going through. We can acknowledge and get help for drug and alcohol addiction and realize the impact it has on others. Or we can get support for ourselves if we are in a toxic, destructive, emotionally abusive relationship that is bad for our health, happiness, and spirit to live our best life. All of this takes courage, strength, insight, and change.
That is the definition of mindfulness. For me, anyway.