The battle within – Alan’s story

On a cold day in December in 1984 my life would change forever. I was 11 and had a verbal altercation with my mom. She wouldn’t let me watch a show I really enjoyed, that wasn’t what I needed actually. I just needed her to acknowledge my needs as her oldest child. She didn’t, I responded to her telling me no with an idle threat of going upstairs to kill myself, her next words changed my thoughts and actions deeply. She said fine, whatever you want to do. Who says that to their child even in jest? It was at that point that I realized there was no love here! If there’s no love than what am I doing here? I decided in that moment to show her, I grabbed my purple Karate belt and made sure to do the job right. Karate belts are real long, I tightened the belt and kept wrapping it around my neck as to make sure it wasn’t going to come undone. My face was the color of Eggplant and I said goodbye to me in the mirror. I went into my bedroom and lied on the bed as the last breaths left my body. What happened next wasn’t as shocking as it probably should have been, instead of feeling cold or dead, I felt at peace, with this warmth in and around me. God spoke to me like we had been friends forever. Alan what are you doing here? Well, there’s no love in my family so I made a decision to leave. Alan, you have a really brave soul and I need you to go back. It’s going to be hard and it will suck a lot but it will be worth it.  There is so much life left for you to share with others and an example for you to set. Those weren’t really the things I wanted to hear at all… Next thing I knew I was back, my mother standing over me in shock.

My mom came upon me unconscious, and seemingly lifeless. In a fit of panic she slapped me across the face, it left a mark on my face that didn’t go away for over a week. That is what happens when there is no blood left, I had to lie at school when people asked me what happened… I wasn’t a good liar and DSS had me taken out of my mothers care and put into Judge Baker Children’s Center at Children’s Hospital in Boston.
I spent 3 months there, going to counseling individually and as a family with my mom and younger brother and sister. After my time in the hospital was over I was put into short term foster care then when a suitable family was found I was moved to long term foster care in Hyannis, Ma on Cape Cod. The family was great, they treated me like I was their own child and for the first time I felt a bit more normal. my foster father was the GM of the Hyannis Mets of the Cape Cod Baseball League, we had college baseball players living with us during the Summer and as hard as my life was then, it made me forget the stuff I had been through and I could just be a kid for awhile.
After about a year I was returned to my mothers care, not really what I wanted but I hoped it would be better.
I continued in counseling but I never felt heard or listened to so I would get angry a lot. If it wasn’t for sports I am not sure I would have made it through my school years.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder in February of 2001, and that really started to help me put things in perspective. I wasn’t a bad kid I just had a problem with my emotions. I started seeing a psychologist, and a psychiatrist and taking many different meds which always made me feel lost and empty. I was on that path for 7 years until I finally decided that not being able to feel or cry was a real problem I needed to address.
I chose to stop taking meds and find out why I hurt in the first place, was it my fault?
From 2008 until 2010 it was a rocky existence of heavy eating, heavy drinking, bad relationships with women as well as feeling lost most of the time. On January 4th, 2010 I had an epiphany, I had ballooned up to over 260 lbs and was just plain fed up with being a victim of my childhood circumstances that I compounded as an adult. I asked myself some questions as I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror, is this my life, is this all I have to offer myself or the world around me? I had finally drawn the conclusion that it was time to either heal myself or kill myself. To answer my questions, thankfully the answer was no this isn’t all I have to offer myself or the world around me, otherwise why would God have spared my life? I always think about that and how truly blessed I am to still be here.

In 2009 I was lost, searching for where I could fit as I slowly, steadily looked for clues to the answers of a traumatic childhood.

I moved back to Boston from Fort Myers, Florida that June, where I had been existing since the Sox won the series in Nov of 04’.

I took a big chance coming back to the place where all the pain stemmed from. I knew it was going to be really tough. I have never shied away from pain or facing the truth of why it exists in me either. What’s the worst that can happen? How much more pain could I possibly add to the shoebox of it that I already own? I never felt good enough or that I mattered in my family dynamic, so running to Florida I could at least just be me and destroy that person on my own terms there. After almost 5 years of hiding from my life, my girlfriend said to me “time to go home, Alan!”

10 years later, I am so glad I had a willingness to listen to her.

In 09’ I had ballooned up to 265 lbs., 40 inch waist, XL-XXL shirts and wearing even more bitterness on my shoulders as well — not the life I had hoped for as a kid.

That time in my life doesn’t define me anymore, nor do i care to rehash it.

On New Year’s Eve 2019 I think the thing I will reflect on most is my hopeful, caring ability to see myself and you as we are now, today. I will also reflect on the moments I have allowed myself to be part of wholeheartedly. From riding my bike for MS in 2010, to picking up my camera, joining November Project, selling my photography, getting sober, building my mental health through fitness and creative opportunities. Raising awareness and funds for organizations that help kids with mental health issues, organizations that help the homeless and in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, as well as ones that are searching for the cure for cancer! It all matters, and the greatest gift I have learned to share is the me I am allowing myself to become instead of the one I was before who only had the pain to share.

One more thing I am so thankful for, a woman who loves me for me and in spite of me!

Today is 500 days choosing to be sober! Today is another day allowing myself to make healthier choices and to be in healthy relationships, including the one with myself.

Here’s to your 2020, may it be great by the decisions you choose to make.

Life is a choice, not a requirement!

If you want to check out how picking up a camera in 2010 helped me develop go to www.500px.com/alanschererphotographer

Also visit Alan on Instagram @stigmafighter.alanscherer

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