A month ago, I hit a personal low. One night, after a particularly nasty fight with Steve I paced the hallways while everyone slept. I was desperate and scared and sad and lonely and lost. Eventually, I fell to me knees and prayed. I don’t know how long I crouched, elbows on the couch, whispering out loud, but eventually I was able to lay in my bed and fall asleep. That night was a turning point in my healing process and in my spiritual journey. I have never felt so connected to a higher power than I did that night.
So much was damaged this fall and early winter. Trust, mostly. And now that I’m starting to heal myself, I see that broken trust heals very slowly. Slower than I anticipated, and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t cause me pain, both to finally take responsibility for the pain I caused and to accept that it will take time to heal. But I believe eventually, we will be stronger than before.
I’ve incorporated daily prayer/meditation into my life this past month, each week giving myself a new task. First it was to be aware of the mental filter I put in place that disregarded all the positives and would allow the negatives to spiral me into self-pity and anger. That one actually took a couple of weeks. This past week it was to stop the criticism. I couldn’t have done it without being aware of my mental filter, but every time I started to criticize myself, I would just stop. I would tell myself that I am doing the best I can at every aspect in my life. A grade lower than I expected or a less than positive reaction to some news… it doesn’t mean that my life is out of control and it doesn’t have to be something that makes me miserable. I am better than I was. I am stronger than I know. This is what I remind myself of.
Two nights ago, I had a bad dream and woke at 3:30 upset and anxious, though I couldn’t remember much of what had happened. I laid awake for a couple of hours, tossing and turning in my bed. Eventually, I closed my eyes and started praying, but it didn’t seem to be working. I didn’t feel that connection. And so I started thinking about my connection to God or the universe and how I felt that presence so powerfully all those weeks ago. I realized that I had, in that moment of desperation, felt a light inside of me. And two nights ago, I saw that the light was still there, as it always has been.
This light is inside of me, and I see now that it is my responsibility to feed it, to nurture it and to spread it. It is my responsibility to send love into the world. This light… it must have been there all along, it must be in everyone, but in 29 years, I have never been aware of its existence. And in a way, that’s sad, because all of this beauty that has always been inside of me – I denied it and ignored it and made it small. I (unknowingly) tried to suffocate it. But in another way, I still have so much more life in front of me, life that will be more fulfilled and happier because I am aware of this wonderful gift I possess. It is nothing more than myself – my own spirit or soul or beauty, call it what you will, I have no name for it.
And so, in addition to denying myself to filter out the positive in my life and to stopping the criticism of myself, I will also send out love in my thoughts. To anyone who I think of this week, from those I love the most to those who I usually think less-than-positive thoughts about (which is really the challenge). I will send them love and happiness and a wish that they find what they need and are able to let go of the things that cause them pain. And then I will let them go (this applies more to the negative thoughts than the people I love). And it being able to let them go, I will be healing myself.
I had thought and hoped that therapy would result in one key conversation that would switch a flick and ignite my self esteem and erase all my doubt. (It hasn’t.) But building self-esteem takes time, I guess. How long does this take? I asked and she smiled and said, Sometimes quite a while. And though that really wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear (though it was the one I expected), I focus on how far I’ve come. That I was able to not harmfully criticize myself this past week is a really big step for me. That I am able to believe that at the core of my self is beauty and love is an even bigger one. I don’t know how long this will take, and though I realize that this journey is invaluable, there is a part of me that wishes I could just get through it. Get through the days when I fight with myself and get through the days when I have to push through the sadness. I told my therapist that my happiness felt precarious, because I was worried that all my anxiety would come crashing back in on me, surprising and suffocating me again. She reassured me that now I am more aware of my own thought patterns and have better tools to combat them and because I have a relationship with her and am aware of the warning signs, it isn’t likely that it will be as bad as before.
So I think of my light and I let it shine. I give it room to grow and figure out the best way to fan the flame. I just want to get through this so I can be a better person, I told her. She reminded me that it’s not a better person I need to be, simply one that is able to accept and love myself. And some days, it honestly feels like I just might be getting there.