We Missed The Memo

A legal professional mental health series by Senior Fellow Don Blackwell of Bowman and Brooke, LLP, in Orlando, Florida

If you’ve been on the planet for any length of time, chances are, at some point, you “missed the memo.” Maybe it was the one that told you the venue or start time for a business or social event had changed, that classes, a doctor’s appointment, a sporting event, or a concert had been cancelled due to inclement weather, that a road needed to get from Point A to Point B was closed or impassable, or that the dress code for a party had been “downgraded” from formal to business casual or less. Fortunately, most of the time, “the memo” isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things and, consequently, neither is the missing of it. In fact, more often than not, once the embarrassment wears off, things like showing up in formal wear to what event organizers decided to turn into a pool party can provide great fodder for story-telling at family gatherings and social functions for years to come.

But, during a recent chat with nearly 100 extraordinary hearts battling with or in recovery from all forms of eating disorders, trauma, addiction, anxiety, depression, etc. it occurred to me that there’s one memo all of us may have missed that is critically important to our ability to live authentically, to love and be loved whole-heartedly, to be at peace with ourselves and others, and to enjoy the fullness of life to which we are called. Truth is: I’m not sure it was ever written, let alone sent – at least I never received it, nor did any of the folks I was talking to yesterday. All of us agreed we wish that it had been and that we’d gotten it a long time ago. So, I decided to take a cut at it:


To: All Adults
From: Your Inner Children
Date: October 21, 2023
Subject: “We’re Still Here, Right Where You Left Us”

Maybe you don’t remember what you were like – how you lived and loved – when you came into the world, but we do.

Everything was new. You had an unbridled curiosity and an insatiable sense of adventure. You saw the beautiful and stared at it in awe and wonder. You were honest, transparent, and authentic. You felt it all and expressed those feelings without fear of judgment or rejection. You overlooked others flaws and missteps – and your own – without a second thought. You were indifferent to how you and others looked and you were inclusive. You refused to carry around the baggage of past insults or hurts for more than 5 minutes, forgave reflexively, and eagerly doled out genuine hugs like they were Halloween candy. You were spontaneous and playful, never questioned whether you were enough of anything, and refused to define yourself by comparison to others. You always gave people a second chance, were as quick with “I’m sorry’s” as you were with invitations to “come out and play,” and, when you fell down, you (understandably) cried for a minute (or 2), but always got back up, and rejoined the game. You always looked forward - never back.

We probably should have warned you that, as you moved into adulthood, the world would intervene and cause you to question whether the unblemished, acoustic version of “us” that came into this world was strong enough, valuable enough, aesthetically pleasing enough, tough enough, capable enough, courageous enough, or well-rounded enough to get the job you wanted, find the partner you wanted, have the lifestyle you wanted, earn the degree you wanted, and have the friends you wanted. We probably should have told you that the world would do its level best to make you believe that there wasn’t a place for your quirkiness, your sensitivity, your vulnerability, or your desire to move more slowly, that there are missing or misfitting “pieces” of you, that you need a little more of this or a little less of that to be enough, to fit in – and that, if you weren’t careful, you would fall prey to those messages and box us up like an unfinished gourmet meal, stick us in the deep freeze, and, eventually, forget we’re even there.

As you’ve likely discovered by now, however, the world was wrong. You don’t have to distance yourself from the pre-worldly-adorned, uniquely beautiful person you were when you came into the world—the person you were always meant to be—let alone continue to keep “us” under lock and key, in order to live and love as an adult. You can be an adult and still be authentic. You also don’t need to trade the joy “we” experienced when you were unapologetically, albeit innocently, living in your truth for the feelings of discouragement, disappointment, sadness, loneliness, and frustration that inevitably accompany living outside of it. You don’t need to live small, find a way to take up less space, or hide in the shadows. In fact, in case you haven’t noticed, the same world that was so intent on stifling, if not destroying the traits that defined you as a child (kind, empathetic, observant, compassionate, curious, fearless, forgiving, accepting, inclusive, playful, etc.) is, paradoxically, in desperate need of them today.

Here’s the good news: We haven’t gone anywhere. We’re right where you left us – maybe suffering from a little freezer burn, but no less eager to welcome you home, and pick up where we left off!



Donald A. Blackwell has been a trial attorney for nearly 40 years. He currently is Of Counsel to Bowman and Brooke, LLP, where he devotes the majority of his practice to defending product manufacturers and distributors in complex product liability cases in state, federal, and appellate courts across the country. More recently, Don has spearheaded a campaign aimed at shining a light on the myriad of mental health issues disproportionately impacting the legal profession and the corresponding need for a higher level of Compassionate Professionalism among its members.

Don also dedicates a significant amount of his energies to supporting and advocating for individuals and families affected by eating disorders. He has authored multiple works on the subject and is frequently called upon to speak at local, regional and national eating disorder conferences and webinars. In 2020, Don organized and hosted the “Legacy of Hope Summit” - a first of its kind symposium attended by 25 of the country’s most highly-respected experts in the eating disorders field aimed at arriving at a blueprint for the path forward in the care and treatment of those diseases.

Don has been an LCA Fellow for over 10 years and was a 2014 recipient of the LCA's Peter Perlman Service Award.