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Ideas in the Wild: How Robert Imbeault Turned a Goodbye Letter Into a Memoir About Suicide, Addiction, and Healing

When Robert Imbeault began writing this book, he did so with the intention of ending his life once the book was finished. Robert was in the midst of a five-year suicidal drug and alcohol binge that began after the sudden resurfacing of a buried memory from when he was eight years old. Robert turned to writing, determined to chronicle his life before and after the violent encounter that shattered his reality.

As his life inched back toward normalcy, Robert found new reasons to keep writing. After a series of small steps forward, and a few steps back, Robert found his way to sobriety. He regained his health and began to treat himself and everyone around him with love and kindness.

Today, Robert enjoys a life filled with gratitude and joy he thought he’d never live to see. In , he shares his real and raw account of how he clawed his way back from the brink, forgave himself, and wrote a new ending to his story. I recently caught up with Rob to learn more about his journey with this book.

What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?

I didn’t set out to write a book at first. I was writing a secret goodbye to the people I love with an explanation of why I decided to end my life. But in writing I found solace. I was able to be vulnerable without having to share. It was a form of therapy so I continued.

What I was writing became more of an apology to everyone as I was healing. When I shared it with my girlfriend (now wife), she said that my story could help other people and that’s when I started to work on something I could share.

What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?

The practice of treating yourself like the person you love most. I have a daughter that I adore and can watch play for hours through loving eyes. If she drops a toy, I wouldn’t ever call her a name or get frustrated. So, why would I call myself an idiot for dropping my keys?

What’s a story of how you’ve applied that idea in your life? What has this lesson done for you?

In my dark years, I ostracized many people close to me, but losing my friendship with Joey was particularly devastating. We had chased our bucket list dreams by swimming with great white sharks, jumped out of airplanes, and driven across the mid-east states and Canada together.

When we parted ways, there was no it’s-not-you-it’s-me talk. The silence made it clear that we were done. I didn’t pursue it, as I knew I had little to offer as a friend in those days.

A few years later, in the midst of my healing and being in a place filled with gratitude and abundance, I encouraged myself as if I were a close friend. I decided that reaching out to apologize, share my journey, and be vulnerable would be a good idea. And so I did.

After several edits and possibly a few tears, I hit send. I spent the next twenty-four hours checking any electronic device within reach in hopes for a reply. Finally, one came. After a few back and forths, our friendship healed. It turned out that he had married and had two daughters, both the same ages as mine. We are planning for our families to visit this spring.

Sharon Salzberg writes “people tell you to love yourself but they don’t show you how.” I believe that offering yourself kindness that you would offer to someone you love is one way to get there.

To find out how Rob fought his way back to a life filled with gratitude and joy, check out on Amazon.

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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