I was searching for myself
In a mirror that was blind,
But my reflection stood behind me.
Yet I would not turn around,
For fear of what I’d find,
So I closed my mind to who I could be.
I wrote this poem several years ago during a time when I had decided that happiness was more of a suggestion than an actual state of being. I only just recently came across it, and it left me both humbled and amazed after I finished reading it. I felt as though I had peered back in time and found the exact moment when I gave up on myself. The point when my head dropped down, chin tucked into my chest, while shallow breaths betrayed my wish to disappear. It was a time when I was filled with more than just sadness and shame. A time when I struggled and fought to understand it all until one day I finally stopped, convinced that I would never be the light that chased away the shadows that fear and regret had smeared across my floor.
I have reached a point in my life now where I can look back on those days, and I can finally, with so much compassion, properly grieve for that girl who felt more comfortable crying on the bathroom floor than smiling in a room full of people. I can see how much she struggled, and I can finally understand why. I can also see that it wasn’t her fault, regardless of what she thought. And I can, with absolute certainty, see that she did one day discover how to be the kind of light that washes the darkness from the room. With the softest of exhales, she did one day find the courage to turn around, and she shone so brightly when she did.
Rock bottom. I’ve been there. Lived there. Landed hard, then pitched a tent, settled in, and refused to get back up. It’s a lonely place to be, and when you’re there, you think you’re the only person in the world who understands what it feels like to be crushed by life. You feel short changed and cheated out of the last whisper of happiness that you thought was yours, until it wasn’t.
That was seven years ago, and I’ve long since climbed out of my hole, but it wasn’t easy, and there were times when I didn’t think it would ever be possible. I remember every single person who told me it would get better, easier, and that it would hurt less with time. I didn’t believe any of them. I resented them, and I envied them, because they had the kind of confidence and belief in themselves and in life that I so desperately wanted.
I sat, empty and exposed, and felt as though I needed to hold my breath, lest my memories spill out and create the kind of mess that no one wanted to clean up. In some ways, I think I refused to believe that the ache and agony wouldn’t always feel so raw, because I couldn’t see past it. I couldn’t see into a future where I wasn’t crushed under the weight of my own unrelenting fear. And yet here I am.
Seven years. A lifetime ago, yet only a drop in time. Time itself doesn’t heal us, but it can hold our past in place and allow it to slowly fade as we move forward. It gives us distance in order to gain the courage we need to rebuild and to understand that we are not defined by our past, but are instead strengthened by it. It has taken me years to understand, embrace and celebrate that strength. And finally, here I am.