Originally published as an Instagram post. See @offmutewithmel.

I once heard someone say, “when it comes to love, if you don’t show it, it doesn’t count.” That expression resonated with me and the sentiment informs my approach to life.

I grew up in a factory town with a lot of bars. When it came time for me to transition into manhood, I had no sense of purpose. I felt lost; stuck. I had no sense of meaning. As a child, I wanted to feel more connected to the men who were important to me. It was logical for that little boy to conclude drinking was the way to strengthen those bonds.

My problematic relationship with alcohol began then and ended on a gurney when I was 23. Although, now I know I betrayed myself in doing so, love is what motivated me to step onto that destructive path. As with my favorite boyhood superheroes, what once poisoned me became a source of great power.

Then, as with my boyhood superheroes, what once poisoned me bacame my sense of power. Now, my purpose is to help people have better lives, and to try to spare them some of the suffering I endured. I’ve spent over 20 years helping families overcome issues with addiction. I see that work as a privilege.

Now, my purpose is to help people have better lives, and to try to spare them some of the suffering I endured. I’ve spent over 20 years helping families overcome issues with addiction. I see that work as a privilege.

That same conviction, along with clear and consistent expression of love, define my approach to fatherhood. I’ve tried to teach my son what my parents taught me – to be a good, honest man. I believe whether or not you go to church, no matter how much you pray or meditate – none of it matters if you treat people like garbage. Showing love, being kind, being real – these things are important.

Acting from a place of love, even if it means making eye contact with a stranger or saying hello to someone in the elevator, makes my life better and makes the world better. I know my willingness to shed a tear makes me more of a man, not less of one. As with other bodily functions, when we pretend not to have emotions things get messy, and it stinks.