There was a time in my life I will always ponder with awe and appreciation, despite how unpleasant the circumstances were. A few years ago, I found myself approaching a crossroads: One road lead to freedom, and the other led to something much less desirable. And, there was a sense of urgency upon me.
During that period, I had grown tired of waking each day with a bleeding fountain of a heart. At times, the pains seemed to incapacitate my entire body.
But, one early April morning, something shifted within me. I awoke with such an intense level of emotional heaviness that it took extreme effort to place my feet onto my bedroom floor. So few people were aware of the magnitude of the internal war I was battling.
Life had slowly begun to lose its luster, and now I was straining to find the light through dark glass. Almost everything hurt: The sound of my ringtone. The sight of an influx of text. Showering. Studying. Even looking myself in the eyes.
The concern on the faces of my parents were excruciating, and the guilt I experienced because of it hurt even more. Writing and I had lost our bond and fallen into an arm’s length friendship, for facing my own thought processes were exhausting.
I resented every aspect of myself – from the sight of my pathetic hands to the internal echo of my harrowing thoughts. The truth was: Reality hurt, but there was nowhere to run.
It was one of my final semesters of college and from the outside looking in, it likely seemed to others that I had a million reasons to celebrate. I had my entire life ahead of me, an education from a well-respected university, immense encouragement from professors, as well as a job, caring friends, and a loving family. But, peace had escaped me. I had welcomed a cancer into my life, and it was eating every shred of of self-respect I ever had.
On that daunting April day, I was the poster child for functional depression.
The root of my problem was this: I had forgotten my worth. I had forgotten that it was my birthright to be treated with respect, and so I had found myself in a highly dysfunctional, abusive relationship with someone whose goal seemed to be to make me his personal possession. Every time I went to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of water, the screen of my phone was on the coffee table glowing brightly – revealing that, yet again, he had made it his instrument of incrimination. This had become my version of normal.
There were days and nights spent in interrogation – being demanded to explain personal ramblings and poetry he had discovered in my computer. Once, he spent an entire night, while I lay peacefully in my bed sleeping, scrutinizing every shred of information on my laptop. He was looking for something – anything – to give him reason to tighten my shackles.
He feasted his eyes upon private things I had written about my childhood that I would never have allowed anyone to see. Every word I spoke and every action I took was placed under a microscope. It was becoming abundantly clear that he did view me as a person, but as his personal possession.
I recall staring deeply into the his eyes and knowing he did not care how his actions affected me. The often cruel, abusive words he hurled in my direction never seemed to lead him to any authentic feelings of remorse – only convenient tears used for manipulation. He was so convincing that I deserved all of the punishment, guilt trips and control he bestowed upon me, even I was almost convinced of it. It was as though he believed I owed him every shred of my existence. I was his to guard, not my own to protect. I was not worthy of love that would call me to expand, but worthy of being owned in shadows and flaunted in the light for his personal gain.
As to be expected, the dysfunction which existed within the relationship began to spread to a multitude of other areas of my life. My sense of self was crumbling to nothingness. Sleep often eluded me. Activities which once brought me joy and celebration became colorless and uninteresting. Peace was a foreign concept, and my smile was a mask I wore to hide a life I was both ashamed of and lost inside of.
My friendships suffered. There were countless instances of canceling plans with friends last minute because of my boyfriend’s volatile decisions to pick fights with me, hide my car keys, steamroll me into cowering in bathrooms an closets – just to name a few. My entire life was spent locked away inside of his nightmarish cave of existence – even when I wasn’t in his presence. He attempted to poison my work environment with his temper tantrums and obsessive calling. He was jealous and resentful of everything I was involved with which did not directly involve or benefit him, including my schoolwork. It was imperative that he leave his sadistic mark on every aspect of my life. This was my life; my strategically-constructed personal hell.
Until I realized that, all along, I had been believing a lie.
On that April day; I had hit rock bottom. It was either die or grow.
Immediately, I began to make a plan for how I would conclusively remove the poison from my life while finding . The poison which had been contaminating my mind was being further diluted from my system the more I allowed its opposite to flow through me. The isolating fear began to fade. Almost immediately, light overwhelmed the darkness I had existed in for far too long.
I wasn’t hiding from the poison or attempting to mask the pain; I was facing it – boldly – and eliminating it. I wasn’t screaming at it or throwing daggers at it; I was staring it down – declaring, “You have no idea how strong my love is!”
And, I was letting that swarm me.
Let’s say you had a glass filled to the brim with dirty sewer water. If you slowly began to pour water exclusively from a purified source into the glass, eventually, it would be full of the purified water and absent of the dirty water. Your mind is no different, and your entire life begins in your mind. This is what I did; I stopped focusing on the dirty water and began filling the well of myself with that which would atone me. And, so can you.
Reader, I implore you: If there is something in your life, whether it be an addiction, toxic relationship, obsession, fear, regret, self-sabotage or whatever mess you feel you have perceivably made, stop the bleeding. Just stop. Do not continue in the behavior for another moment. Stop writing your own spiritual death sentence. Vow to no longer give your power to whatever it is crippling you, and, by default, the bleeding will cease.
I remember the days of holding tightly to my misery. There is often an odd type of comfort in the refusal to hold yourself accountable for your own unhappiness. The blaming of others is a convenient tool. However, the sooner you accept it, the sooner you will make a conclusive departure from all which contaminates your life. Stop allowing another person or a set of misfortunes to operate your ship. It’s yours.
And, hope is just a thought away. If you possess the ability to breathe, you possess the ability to heal – the ability to repair what has been broken. This is not fluff, nor is it fairy dust. This is my life. In my story, light prevailed. However, I had to choose it. I had to allow the light to come in. No one else could choose it for me. The difference between tragedy and triumph is based upon a series of decisions.
If I had not stopped giving power to the situation I was in and if I had not given myself permission to embrace healing and grow as an individual, I would never have met my husband nor would I have created The Daily Doll. I would not have the marriage I have, nor would I be pursuing my dream. Perhaps you can relate to components of my story, even if the details of your story are quite different.
The next time you feel as though your life or a specific situation is hopeless, I ask that you take a moment to listen to your breath. Pause from whatever it is you may be doing, and find a state of quiet stillness. Listen to your own breath. Let that sound, that sensation, that vibration in your body be a reminder that the miracle of your life is encompassed by the promise of hope. You have merely been giving power to something which you may choose to remove at any time.
Perhaps you have been believing a lie. If so, you must understand something: A lie has the ability to affect your life as though it were the truth, even if contains no true. You have likely been suffering in a prison which never had any locks on the door. Stop believing the lie and, by default, your chains will fall to the ground, rendering you free.
Stop the bleeding; You’re still breathing.
©TheDailyDoll.com/Lacey Johnson 2014