Every once in awhile I think back on the time when I was at such a low about year and a half ago, and how sweet (not to be confused with perfect) my life feels right at this moment. During that difficult time, I couldn’t imagine my life feeling the way it does now and often I feel a wave of gratitude come over me…for the lessons and the gold that came from that period, for the highs and lows, ups and downs, and blessings and struggles that make up life. And of course for the season I currently find myself in.
When I look back at that challenging season I can reflect and learn from it now that I’m out of it…..perspective is everything, right? Sometimes I have people ask me about that time, how I moved through it, and how I managed to slowly take one wobbly step after another to craft a life I love, but most importantly, a life that feels like mine.
I notice a few things when I sit and examine that period of my life. I notice that I kept taking one step forward even if I had no idea where I was heading and mostly, I didn’t have a clue where I even wanted to go. None of the options on the table were appealing and something happens when you hit rock bottom like that. The clarity, confidence, and trust in yourself and in Life is almost void, making it nearly impossible to make any sort of decisions because the fear is just too much and can be paralyzing. I was emotionally and spiritually broken. Oh, and financially too (might as well throw that into the mix). When this happens it’s difficult to put on the lenses of hope and optimism. Although, I was certainly filled to the brim with fear and doubt and also feeling so incredibly defeated and heartbroken from a difficult breakup, I managed to find a seed of trust and believed (mostly hoped) that life and God had my back.
It wasn’t much hope that I had at the time, but I think the tiny bit that was still planted in me was enough. It was enough for me to get up in the morning, still show up to my health, make an effort to make friends in the new city I was currently living in, show up to my work and explore different job opportunities to bring in enough money. I didn’t give up on life, but I do remember thinking I finally understood why people do. I wasn’t suicidal, but I remember thinking I get it….I get why people end it when their lives feel bleak and they can’t see a way out. Living (almost) void of hope was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had to feel. I don’t want to compare how I felt to others who experience severe depression, but I will say this experience has given me more empathy and understanding for those brave souls that fight an ongoing battle and who have forgotten what hope feels like.
I do realize I’m fortunate as I’m inherently wired to be a bit more on the optimistic side and it does come more naturally to me to see the silver lining. And I believe that’s why that period of my life was so incredibly terrifying when I was in it. Because I couldn’t get out of it. It seemed like months of this heaviness and with no break in the clouds.
But one day I remember waking up and this particular morning felt different to me (it seemed like mornings were always the worst for me). That morning felt a little sweeter and lighter. I felt a little bit more like me. I felt hope. And I clung on to it tightly with both hands as I continued moving forward unsteadily.
I started seeing more beauty again in the world. I could laugh and really mean it. I could walk the streets of Valencia (the city I was living in at the time) and feel a bit more joy and appreciation for where I was, the interesting people I was meeting, the gorgeous architecture and buildings I had passed and hadn’t really noticed before. I could seek beauty and start to find it quite naturally, as before I was blind to it all.
Life seemed more colorful again. And I think I started believing and knowing I was going to be okay and everything would work out. I started to believe that good things could happen for me again.
Now I keep seeking and shifting to fall deeper in love with my beautiful and messy life, planting some roots deeply so that I am able to bravely show up for the ups and downs that are inevitably part of life. I don’t think the journey necessarily gets easier, but I do think we become more compassionate and resilient. We learn how to trust ourselves and start to believe and see we can do hard things. And we may even start to like ourselves along the way.