Today, at TRB Lounge, we are hosting author Patrick A. Roland, author of Unpacked Sparkle.
Presenting Patrick A. Roland…
Why I Write
For 40 years of my life I was basically a victim. I was the type of person things – usually bad – happened to. I did absolutely nothing to change my fate. I was simply a bystander in life, moving from one abysmal low to the next.
You know how you see a car accident when you are driving on the road and no matter what you do, you can’t turn away from it? You see the mangled debris. The charred flesh. The danger. The destruction. People crying. Lives forever altered. That was me; I was the car accident. And for the longest time, I couldn’t get out of my own way. I just kept staring at the mangled mess that was my life. I was paralyzed with fear. I didn’t want to change. Well, maybe I did; but I was too afraid to change.
Then I started writing. Soon I realized my pain could become my power. I knew I was on to something as what became my book poured out of me in about 12 days when I had 100 days of sobriety. It was during this time that I wrote myself out of pain and morphed from victim to survivor. It was the first time in my life I stood in the truth of everything that had really transpired in the wake of my partner’s sudden death. Yes, it had all happened. Yes, it had all been painful. Yes, I had tried to end my life on more than one occasion. Yes, I had been saved repeatedly. And yes, I ultimately felt telling my story could benefit others. I knew I had been spared to give others hope that they could make it through whatever trial or tribulation you are going through. Because the truth is – you can and you will.
I’m not saying it’s easy. Committing to being happy is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. It takes work every day. Remember, I’m bi-polar. I have a symphony of loud voices in my head trying to cause my very undoing on a daily basis. But I have to keep fighting because I’m worth it. And guess what? So are you!
The truth of the matter is that in every situation that caused my downward spiral, the common denominator was me. I was there for all of it. I allowed it. I was party to it. But I’m not willing to allow it anymore. You could say that I’m woke. Im no longer afraid to use my voice. And I’m calling out all the bullies who made me so afraid And feel so worthless I tried to jump out of a 26-story window in Las Vegas, my final act of cowardice that gave birth to two years and counting of sobriety that now makes me fearless and strong.
To the boys in Kindergarten who used to throw rocks at me at the bus stop, making me scared to even go to school: I’m not afraid of you anymore.
To the boys in the third grade who mocked and ridiculed me the day I wore a black and red jacked like the one Michael Jackson
wore in “Thriller”: You probably wouldn’t like my sparkly shoes. Too bad. I do.
To the boys in sixth grade who pretended to be my friend on the last day of school and tricked me into eating a Ding Dong laced with Ex Lax: I’m not falling for crap like that anymore.
To the boys in high school who were so mercilessly cruel they dubbed me “The Whipping Boy” when they weren’t drowning me in the pool or trying to push me off roofs: My friends call me “The Sparkle King” now and we will never see each other again.
To the guys my freshman year in college who attacked me in the hallway, forced me to the ground and beat me in the face with socks they stuffed to resemble large penises: I question why you were all hanging out making phalises out of socks in the first place, but whatever, I’m undaunted by your attempts to make me feel bad about being gay.
To the boyfriend who beat me, kicked me, chocked me, tried to kill me, spit on me and violently berated me with a daily mix of harmful names: you don’t ever get to hurt me again.
To the family of the man I loved, the one who made me a stranger in the home I built with your father, brother and uncle and forbade me from attending the services that would have allowed me to grieve the way I deserved to as his lover and best friend: he was right; you didn’t deserve to know me and you’ll never get to.
And to the drugs I did to the point of near death to get over all of the above: you have no power over me anymore; I choose sobriety because I deserve to live a life filled with joy and possibility.
That’s what Unpacked Sparkle is to me. It’s not just a book about things that happened to me; it’s a movement about me taking my pain and making it my power. It is my hope that in doing so, I will inspire others to take a look at their lives and find the strength to move through whatever they need to to survive and thrive. I didn’t want to go through this for the sake of going through it, I wanted to be an example – a cautionary tale even – of what happens when you become a bystander in your own life. Because the fact of the matter is, what you want in life is yours for the taking, but you have to want it and you have to fight for it. You have to believe in yourself and know your worth. I do; and I’m never backing down from myself again.
And that’s how I shifted from feeling worthless to knowing my worth. I now identify as a bi-polar, drug addict, alcoholic, widow who is sober, happy and healthy; and I do so because as long as I stand in my truth and own my stuff, nobody can hurt me anymore with their words or their actions.
I didn’t choose to be bi-polar. I didn’t choose to be an addict. I certainly didn’t choose to be a widow. But I do choose to sparkle. And you can too. It all starts with love.
About the author:
A new voice in self-help, author Patrick A. Roland, in partnership with Az Publishing Services, has released his new memoir about grief and recovery, Unpacked Sparkle, now available on Amazon.
About the book:
Over a year ago, I left a Mariah Carey concert in Las Vegas after six songs. I had gone on the trip as a present to myself for turning forty. But I couldn’t enjoy it. I was high on multiple drugs, but mostly crystal meth, and extremely drunk. I had been this way the majority of the year and a half since my partner Pack had suddenly passed away.
I found him dead on the bathroom floor one January morning while I was getting ready for work. The police told me I had no rights in my own home and asked me to leave. This was before gay marriage became legal. Life as I knew it changed instantly.
His family pretended I didn’t exist. They mauled our home the day he died, leaving it a ravaged mess. I was kicked out of that home. I was also disinvited to his funeral. In eight days I lost everything that mattered. Not even the law protected me from this.
So I got high in an effort to shoulder the pain. It didn’t work. I carried the heavy weight of unresolved complicated grief and addiction on my back. It was like an elephant. A large, unwieldy elephant that wanted me to die.
No longer able to participate in anything that mattered and unwilling to bear this burden anymore, I went back to my hotel room on the twenty-sixth floor of a casino and looked out on the sparkly lights below. I wanted to be in the light. So I opened the window and decided to jump.
But God intervened. My mother had somehow found me. Help came and I surrendered to the powerlessness of my situation. I asked God to help me. I stayed and I fought and I learned how to love myself. I put on a pair of sparkly shoes I had bought for that barely attended concert and I walked in to the rooms of Crystal Meth Anonymous. I had bought the sparkly shoes hoping Mariah would see me in the audience. Though she didn’t get the chance, you did. You all embraced me and my sparkly shoes. They have become my calling card of experience, strength, and hope.
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