I loved Kevin Hart’s memoir, I Can’t Make This Up. I listened to it on Audible and found myself laughing out loud while walking (headphones-in-ears) down the street. I just couldn’t get enough of that funny short guy. But I listened to and loved the memoir prior to his recent cheating scandal, and it’s been hard for me to grapple with how he presented himself as a devoted husband who had learned his lessons.
I found myself feeling personally betrayed by the comedian’s disingenuousness. I hated him a little, and the last thing I wanted to do was endorse his book on my blog. Let me be clear. I am NOT endorsing his behavior. I’m not even endorsing his book, although it was an engaging listen.
What I want to do is use Kevin Hart’s book and his subsequent exposure as a springboard to write honestly about how excruciating it can be to be looked up to as an example. So I’m not famous and I don’t have a ton of fans, but in my life, and in my work, I am often seen as having “arrived.” This is dangerous territory.
Even though I’m writing more personal narratives these days, and hope to sell my memoirs to a publisher soon, and even though a large part of my work is helping people overcome their pain, I’m deeply human. I make mistakes. Yes, I’ve moved past bulimia and promiscuity and a whole host of other self-destructive behaviors, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t backslide. I try to emphasize (both to myself and the clients I work with) that we are all deeply human and that the narrative of personal evolution isn’t a roadmap. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure story. The best we can do is make decisions, then see where they lead.
Recently, I made the decision to outsource all my meal preparation. I recognized that I had started feeling vulnerable (and fat) – something that often happens when I attempt to go back into the dating arena. So, while I didn’t have a spectacular Kevin Hart reversion to old, shameful behaviors, I recognized that they were lurking in the shadows and did what I needed to do to get more support in that area. But I don’t take my recovery for granted. I can’t.
I could binge or purge or starve tomorrow (Or, come to think of it, later today) – if I revert to my old narrative. And, for today, I choose to tell a different story. The story of the woman I want to be, not the woman I once was. I think we all have the option – and the opportunity – to do that every day. But we could just as easily revert back to old, familiar, counterproductive versions of ourselves.
So I’m trying not to judge Kevin Hart – or anyone else who holds themselves up as an example, only to fall short and be outed as a hypocrite. I ask you, readers, in advance, never to hold me up as an example of someone who has it all together, and, if I ever start to act like I think I do, remind me that I’m just a person, as capable of messing up and self-destructing as ever.
I want mine to be a story of healing and hope, but I also want it to be real, and that means admitting my vulnerability and, also, my fear. As my career and platform expand, I am terrified that I might not be able to hold it all together, that I might let you and myself down.
But that’s exactly why I have to push forward, spread my wings, and take to the air as an imperfect example of each of our humanness, because that’s the only story that’s worth telling and, as for my capacity as the storyteller, I am grateful for the slash of the red pen that allows me to keep revising who I am, learning from my mistakes, and growing.
I invite you to do the same. In fact, I urge you to do as I do and take “Hart” because, every time we fall, we can make the choice to get back up and begin again.