And here's a little bit of my [Dennis'] story:
“Dennis Alan Gable Jr., I love you. You are not too much and you are more than enough.” A simple phrase I offered myself that changed everything.
I grew up in conditions that could only cultivate chaos. My parents took me to the bar with them everyday for the first several years of my life. I watched them chase their demons to the bottom of a glass and down the rabbit hole of addiction as I carved out a way to survive in the world through a dance of shapeshifting that most kids who grow up in a home of conflict, abuse and neglect learn. Eventually those demons drove my parents apart and I bounced from house to house for years while listening to them spew hatred and anger for each other. I spent much of my childhood invisible in some moments, and wishing I was in others. Never allowed to fully embrace the creative kid that always saw the glass half full and that saw beauty in all the colors of the rainbow that reflected in the light I was determined to hold onto. I found escape in the poetry and violence of hip hop and liberation in the game of basketball. As I entered my teenage years, things got worse before they got better, having to leave my mom’s home and live with my dad, where the abuse and rejection manifested in much more violent ways. In my junior year of high school I turned to the church and began a walk in Christianity that would take me places I never imagined. At the time it promised me purpose and direction and a community that seemed to offer the light, love and acceptance I never received as a kid. That journey took me onto the stage as a singer in a Christian rock band and evolved into taking the stage as a pastor and charismatic speaker in the Christian church. My years of shapeshifting as a child and holding conversations in bars with people far beyond my years had instilled a passion within me to connect with people from all walks of life and I used this to fuel and motivate my ministry until it began to clash with the Church’s ideas about my lifestyle choices. I found myself at odds with what the Church was asking me to be and what my soul was yearning for me to honor - a life lived beyond the boundaries of religious expectation.
In my mid 20’s I experienced a whole new level of suffering. My heart broke daily as I watched my mom slowly deteriorate and succumb to the horrors of lung cancer, and not long after, I endured the devastation of suddenly losing my dad on the eve of the possibility of our reconciliation. We had planned to sit down and talk when I got back from a trip out of country. He had a stroke while I was away, and despite my best efforts, he died 20 minutes before my plane landed. Both were experiences that ultimately led me into a deeper passion for figuring out exactly who I was and how I wanted to show up in this life. My story shifted courses after that, and became intertwined with pain, self destruction and what I can only describe as personal douchebaggery as I slowly started to realize that I wasn’t showing up in the world as my true authentic self - a realization that led to the eventual deconstruction of my faith, disintegration of my marriage, and redefinition of myself as a human, as a man and as a father. I embraced the parts of myself I had denied for so many years, and learned to honour that creative kid that was never allowed to thrive. I went to art school at 32 years old and became a graphic designer, which has led me down a remarkable path of entrepreneurial adventure that now allows me to invest my time and passion into the ingenuity of all human creativity and help people bring their ideas into existence. I took my love for speaking and connecting with other humans and started a podcast. With an unwavering commitment to intrepid vulnerability, I showed up in front of a mic for almost a hundred episodes and shared my experience of it all. I invited the world into my journey of self discovery, my experience of therapy, my battles with anxiety and depression, my wars with guilt and shame. I shared how I won some of those struggles and continue to wrestle with others. I divulged my first tentative steps into self-love and affirmation and eventually how that shift changed everything. How it embodied the acceptance of the life I had been dealt and honored the resilience I needed to have survived it and to forge the courage to own my authenticity no matter what the cost. I continue that journey today the best way I can as a passionate mental health advocate and as a human determined to champion vulnerability and emotional integrity in order to inspire others to embrace the challenge of both facing and championing their own.