Josh Hamilton

Putting Myself Back Together

(Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash)

Josh Hamilton publicly shared his authentic self and it cost him his job as a teacher and coach. He shares how he is coping and charts a course for moving forward.

 

Nine months ago, I sat down in front of a blank screen and with tear-filled eyes I began, for the first time, to write openly about my mental health. The article “Falling Apart Together” was my attempt to be honest and open, publicly, about the strain my job as a teacher and competitive acting coach was having on my mental health.

Nine months ago, I felt like I was at rock bottom.

Nine months ago, I was attempting to encourage people to help one another as we fall apart; together, as one, rather than as individuals.

Nine months ago, I was a teacher.

Nine months later, I was forced out of a job I loved: teaching and coaching.

Nine months later, I am having to learn how to put myself back together again.

Moments within the past three months have been a blur at times and I rely on my journal, emails, and friends to help piece it back together. For the sake of the reader, though, allow me to crystallize the last 90 days and how I got to the point of being pulled completely apart in order to illustrate how I am going to put myself back together.

A year and a half ago, I watched a student struggle through a sexuality crisis. The student was confused, scared, and sought my advice. I had no idea what to say. All I could do was listen and assure the student that everything was going to be alright.

That incident challenged me, for the first time, to address my own issues of sexuality. I started meeting with a trauma and sexuality specialist to address the childhood sexual trauma and same-sex attraction I had felt for years.

That student changed my life forever by pushing me to confront myself.

What I discovered was that the childhood sexual trauma that happened to me had shut my brain off to same-sex attraction as a response. Fight or flight? My mind chose flight. So, after several months, long conversations with my wife and mother of my children about these feelings, we came to a big decision in our family. I came out, and our family came together even closer.

 

Deciding to be my authentic self cost me my job. This moment broke me in every way imaginable and I spent countless nights wondering if it was just easier to go back into the closet.

 

Deciding to be my authentic self cost me my job. This moment broke me in every way imaginable and I spent countless nights wondering if it was just easier to go back into the closet.

Now, I am sitting at home unemployed and deep in my own thoughts. For months, I would cry without warning or notice. I would stop eating. I would not leave our house. All I wanted to do for months was end my life. Some days, I still do. But I am choosing to battle back.

I was a teacher for a decade. A decade of work, relationships, friendships, and the joy of going to work each day was all stripped away in an instant.

I fell apart. Alone. Now, I am learning how to put myself back together.

In the darkest of hours when no light seems to bleed in, I get in my truck and drive. I love metaphors and my rearview mirror is a great reminder of the future. I can see the last three months in it still, but I also spend most of my time focused on the road ahead.

What I have discovered in therapy is that, through trying to give so much of myself to others, I neglected myself. As the old saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” I was trying to give so much to so many that I ended up hurting myself and failing to do the one thing I strive to do each day: be the person I needed when I was younger.

Regardless of the outcome of the past few months, I find peace knowing that at least one life has been changed since I wrote that article in March of 2019: my own. Putting yourself back together is never easy. Some days, just getting out of bed and taking a shower you count as a win.

I am not sure what the next few months, weeks, or even days has in store for me, but what I do know is this: I have come through worse storms and this too shall pass.

If you find yourself using every ounce of emotional and physical energy you have to pull yourself together each day, know this: you are not alone. I am you, you are me, and we can put ourselves back together, together.

 

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