Joel Kaskinen
2 min readOct 8, 2021


I want to tell my story. I need to tell my story. I feel the words being forced out of me like the retching of hangover after a night of heavy drinking. With months of silence under my belt and the inability shape thought into word, I’m telling my story.

I do so actively. In pieces, and in moments. Like coming out, I will never stop. I will do so over and over and over again, until there is nothing left to say.

I share it all. The beauty, pain, hurt, fear, shame, grief, love, and everything else. I open the wounds to let them breathe and from them flow words in exchange for healing.

I decided I wanted peace and joy and love and beauty. I don’t want to feel pain any longer and I don’t want to hide from my truth either. I think that’s where the real healing begins. Freedom is born out of truth, and in sharing mine, I feel the shackles loosen and the gates of the prison of my mind open wide.

Wide enough for me to shimmy through, anyway. I don’t know that I will ever Houdini my way out of this cell, but this sense of freedom is nicer than I could’ve imagined. I forgot what light felt like. I forgot what happiness was. I forgot how to see the beauty in things. I’m unlearning and relearning and it feels like graduate school all over again, only this time it’s the school of life and my teachers aren’t human. Some of them are, perhaps, but most of them come in the form of experience and emotion.

I find solace in the peace I’ve been feeling lately. People tell me I look and sound healthier than I’ve been in a while. Oddly enough, I look in the mirror and don’t recognize the me I see. I look older, fatter, like I’ve not aged well, but I guess that’s what stress does to the body. The weight I’ve gained in my belly and face is a gift from the alcohol I’ve consumed and the trauma I’ve faced. The bags under my eyes and the wrinkles on my forehead are souvenirs, battle scars, even. I don’t know whether to wear them with pride or shame. I guess a combination of both makes sense.

I am a storyteller by passion and trade. I manage social media and communications for a suicide prevention nonprofit. I tell stories for a living. Telling mine has been much harder, but I’m not holding back anymore.