Everyone talks about healing. They talk about all the roses and sweet things that come along with a new outlook on life, but what about all the ugly things that rear its head when you start the process. Let’s not forget that healing can be downright messy. When I was given a prognosis in my health that was less than lovely, I had all of the emotions. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. For all who know me personally, they also know I am one of the most positive people you will ever meet. I try to always look on the bright side of things and never give up. However, I have my moments. People probably never suspect that because I still show up and I still smile. They don’t see the nights I spend crying or the times I get angry trying to figure out why the universe thought I was capable of handling all it has handed me. They don’t see me wanting to give up and throw in the towel. They don’t see me dodging texts or phone calls because I am afraid I won’t cover my emotions well enough if I was to answer right then.
I have been depressed. I struggle with it still daily. I have had anxiety. I struggle with that too. I don’t handle stress well. I overwork. I put on the face of being happy when I seriously want to curl up in a bed somewhere and cry. I show up when I want to run away from it all. I push myself through the day and crumble at night when no one is around. I have struggled with sleep issues for nearly thirteen years now. There was a point I was so angry about the things going on in my life I came home to an empty house and I threw my dishes on the floor out of anger. I sunk into the pile of broken pieces and cried myself to sleep. Right there, in the middle of my kitchen, with no one to see or know. I struggle to admit I need help. It took me coming to what I thought was the end of the road to reach out and ask for help.
I asked for help in an unusual way. I tried to end my life. Something that I am not proud that I chose to do, but at the time I was in a dark place that I didn’t think I could get out of. I don’t remember much about that day, except that it was a usual day for me. Work and Italian food and a glass of wine to unwind after work. I went home to my empty house with the curtains drawn and I cried. Looking back the signs had been all there, but I had ignored them. I thought it would get better. I never thought I would slip that low. When I did it was more of a relief that the hurt and pain would end than the fear of what my actions would bring. I remember the pounding on my door of the police, but being unable to get up. I remember the ambulance people putting me on a stretcher and begging me to stay with them. I remember waking up in a hospital bed and not remember everything that had happened. When the nurse asked me if I wanted to voluntarily admit myself to rehab, I nodded yes and incoherently signed my name. They took me by ambulance. I don’t remember the ride. I don’t remember arriving at the facility. I woke up in an unusual bed and room. I was freezing cold. I stumbled my way through several days because my balance and coherence was still really off.
I went through seven days of absolutely no phone or contact with the outside world. Seven days of counseling and therapy. From group to individual. To art classes and journaling prompts. It was in this week that I learned a lot of healing I needed to do. A lot of unwinding emotions and figuring out the ugly side of things. It wasn’t easy. It was not fun. It was hard and a lot of tears were shed. It was figuring out traumas I had not let go of or buried deep within. It was working on an inner child who craved acceptance.
What I found, was that healing is never completely done. It is a journey. A work in progress. It is figuring out a way to uncover and peel back the raw truths that need to see the light. It is unlearning patterns. It is breaking generational habits. It is forgiving, especially myself. It is choosing to see the light in the middle of the darkness, but not ignoring the darkness.
Now, I still wrestle with my demons. When I hear news that hurts my soul or a prognosis that is less than good. I struggle with emotions. I still cry. I still break inside. I still find myself scared. However, I have learned to reach out more. I have learned to give myself grace more. I have learned to forgive myself more. I have learned to let myself have all the feelings necessary and choose to heal right there in those feelings. It doesn’t make me a bad person to be angry. Or scared. Or hurt. It makes it a bad habit when I choose to dwell there instead of using it as a light to show me the path of healing. Healing is a journey. I am still on it and I am thankful every day for those who have stuck by me in the bad times. Who haven’t judged me when I called or texted them in the wee hours of the morning needing someone to vent to in my crisis. I am thankful for those who called and texted me daily just to say they were thinking on me or to check in on me. I honestly cannot even express how that has made my day somedays. Those who have chosen to walk beside me and help me not only walk, but carry the load of hurt I might be feeling without questions or judgement.
If you are in the middle of healing. Don’t be afraid of the ugly. Don’t be afraid of the darkness. In it you find your real magic and light. I am cheering you on and I am here for you. I know it can be hard and I promise you do not have to be strong all the time. Just be you.