Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Everything about it brings me joy – building the menu, cooking the food with care and love, setting the table with beautiful dishes and homemade crafts, and visiting with the friends and family who attend. To me it feels like warmth, love and happiness. As I prepare for another Thanksgiving feast, I’m reflecting on what I’m thankful for this year.
This year has been a very hard and challenging year. Challenging in every sense – physical, emotional, spiritual. Beliefs, relationships and confidence were all challenged. If I could summarize it, I would say everything feels like it has changed but I feel like I am more me, than ever before. And this leads me to what I’m thankful for – the challenges from this year and each one before this. You see, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, without having gone through those challenging experiences. It’s in those that I’ve grown the most. It’s in those where I’ve learned to love more of me.
There is one time in particular that I go back to often, when I feel overwhelmed with challenging times. It reminds me of how strong I am and that I will get through it and be better for it.
It’s Not Time
I was about 15 years old and in the deepest, darkest hole of despair. I was broken, in every way. I felt pain that hurt more than any physical pain I had ever felt. I was being crushed every day with every breath, like a hundred elephants were on my chest. I didn’t think I could survive this much longer nor did I want to. Just about a year or so before this, my mother and the man she was married to committed suicide. The events that led up to that were nothing but tragic. To sum it up, they killed themselves because I had told someone about what that man was doing to me.
In my 15 year old mind, I felt guilty that I said anything to anyone. I felt guilty that I could not get us out of that situation. I felt guilty…so guilty as if I was the one that pulled the trigger. And it was this that kept swirling in my mind so fiercely that I didn’t feel strong enough to go on. So one day, during a free period during school, I walked to the grocery store and bought a bottle of sleeping pills. On my walk back, I swallowed each pill.
I don’t remember getting back to school. I don’t remember sitting down at the table in the commons area. I don’t remember falling asleep. What I do remember is a warm golden light that surrounded me like a blanket. It felt like home. For the first time in a while, I felt safe. I wasn’t sure where I was but I knew it was where I wanted to be. Just as I was settling into that thought, I felt someone or something starting to push me backwards. I couldn’t see anyone and I couldn’t see a hand on my chest but I could feel I was being pushed back. The warm, golden light got dimmer and dimmer and before I could say anything I heard the words, “It’s not time.”
I was instantly catapulted back to the school bell ringing; it was the end of the school day. The healing that followed this was just as painful and heartbreaking. But I did get through it and I’m forever thankful for it. For some reason, I was blessed with the opportunity to live my life. Since that time, I’ve had wonderful experiences, met wonderful people, married my best friend and have been able to be a mother to four special children.
Twenty years has given me the space to reflect and learn from that experience. But we all know that when you are “in it” it’s hard to understand why it is (whatever “is” is) going on. It’s hard to believe that it will pass and things will be good again. But inevitably it does pass and things do get better.
Now I know I’m not unique in these experiences and some have this figured out more than I do. But what I’ve learned from my journey so far is that life is not this perfect straight line to happiness. It curves, bends, and throws us for a loop when we least expect it. I’ve learned that I need to appreciate, respect and understand those times just as much as the “good times”. Easier said than done…I’m still growing and trying to remember this!
For those who are currently faced with challenging times regardless of whether it’s big or small – if it’s work related, life related, child related, partner related or if things just aren’t how you think they should be – my wish for you is that you have compassion for yourself. That you remember you are strong. That you take care of yourself – sleep, eat good food, do things you enjoy. And that you surround yourself with people who lift you up and who see the light inside you even if it’s too dim for you to see.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, and not obsess. Just breathe, and have faith that everything will work out for the best.
#livingfromtheinsideout is not about being perfect. It’s not about always being happy. But it is about learning from each experience and becoming a better person after it, than what you were before it. It’s about becoming your authentic self.
For all of the challenges I’ve faced and the ones yet to come, you really stink but I am thankful for your lessons.