This essay on xoJane (where—full disclosure—I work as a freelance editor) by Chiara De Blasio, 19-year-old daughter of NYC’s recently elected mayor, Bill De Blasio, is raw and profound; a candid, wise-beyond-its-years reflection on what it’s like to wake up every day “a dry drunk, and [having]to become a sober person.”
She describes the awful (and awfully familiar) sensation of what it’s like to arise miserable on a daily basis—how “I awaken a nervous and depressed wreck, before slowly putting myself back together again.”
It’s impossible not to relate to Chiara as she explains that yeah, she had a wonderful childhood, an awesome family, and excellent schooling. Yes, she was loved; yes, she had solid role models and lived in a fabulous neighborhood. But none of those things were enough to let her relax into herself; they weren’t enough to help her be happy: “I had an amazing, unconditionally loving, and unbroken family. I went to good schools. I lived in a beautiful neighborhood. So why, then, did I always feel empty?…I always felt less-than, out-of-place, restless, irritable, and discontent…I was the problem. I was not born a happy person.”
I don’t know many addicts or alcoholics who wouldn’t be able to relate to her struggles. I too was not “born a happy person.” I’m still not a particularly happy person today, to be honest. It’s my brain; it’s kinda broken, see. Because it’s not like I don’t have nearly everything I want or need. Nope; I’ve got most of the things I hoped for growing up. But, like De Blasio writes, none of it truly seems to make a dent in the void within me, the hole that can, seemingly, never be filled.
Others are also starting to take note of Chiara De Blasio’s awesomeness. On Tuesday, De Blasio went to Maryland with her parents to accept an award from Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary. She was honored by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for, as the New York Times describes, “serving as an example of hope for other young adults, at a ceremony…on children’s mental health.”
At the event, de Blasio reportedly discussed her surprise at making it to a year of sobriety, and her dad, Bill De Blasio, discussed the alcoholism that runs in their family (it played a part in his father’s eventual suicide).
It’s impressive and unusual to see a prominent family speaking out so candidly and shamelessly about its battles with addiction. It’s rare, especially in politics, and to me it makes all the De Blasios seem stronger, more human, and more real. Keep it up, guys.