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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Sep 8, 2023

It's been a tough few weeks. This commentary offers no specifics, but I've learned some things.


Many years ago, my neighbor in Charlotte, North Carolina knocked on my door one weekday afternoon. His wife had just told him she’s leaving. She climbed her car and drove away. He was dumbstruck and he needed to talk. My wife and I had just moved in. I hardly knew him. I didn’t know what to say or what to do. I froze. To my everlasting shame, I rushed our conversation so he’d stop making ME feel uncomfortable. I realized years later he was crying out for help and I failed him. I know this now. And I’ll never do it again. To this day I regret my behavior that afternoon.

When I was a much younger man, I chose to remain ignorant other people’s problems. Mainly because of the way their problems made ME feel. But I now realize that when someone shares their problems, when they confess a deep vulnerability, they’re taking on risk by sharing it. They’re vulnerable and are hoping I won’t fail them like I did my neighbor many years ago. In fact, to be thought as one who might can help is, in fact, a privilege and should be treated that way. I’ve learned. Today I do my best to help; I try to do what I can. I’ve changed.

Folks, there are no awards for bearing deep emotional pain alone. There is no Hall of Fame for keeping your horrific and debilitating suffering to yourself. We say we don’t want to burden someone else with our problems. But how many times have you and I wished, regarding our own friends, that we would have known about something so that we could have tried to help.

Asking for help is not a weakness. Asking for help is the first step to elevating a problem and finding someone who can help you solve it. There’s no shame in it.

To my wife, my friends and my family: I commit to working on a solution when I fall into these vulnerable states. And I do fall into them. I may sound sanctimonious right now, but I’m vulnerable. Deeply so. Maybe we all are. And I commit to not suffering quietly out of pride or shame or embarrassment. To my wife, my friends, to my family; to those who listen to these commentaries – I need you to commit to taking care of yourself, too. I need you. I need to know not only that you’re out there, but that you’ll be there.

My wife has told me many times – there’s a big difference in listening to yourself versus talking to yourself. When you listen, you let the demons in. When you talk to yourself the right way you make yourself stronger. You keep the demons at bay.

Folks let’s agree to talk. To ourselves. To one another. Let’s agree to admit that we all have problems that we can’t solve them on our own.  And let’s agree to get through this - whatever it is – by relying on each other. Together.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep it Real.