Hello you beautiful human, I hope this finds you well today. Today is actually a travel day for me, I’m off to spend a long weekend with my favourite person on earth and do my best to just live in the moment. This leads me to consider a habit I have of going back and reflecting. Earlier this week I posted something from the vault because Fifteen Years Later came five years ago, and was written in looking back at my sporadic writings of the last fifteen years before that. Am I the only one who goes back?
I sat down with good intentions, my list of topics beside me ready to be tackled. Snippets for each of them already in a dozen drafts all over the place, and yet none gave me the feeling. The desire to flush out and turn into reality waned so I did what I often do when I’m feeling blocked, I looked back.
Why have I kept all my writings from the past twenty years? How can those transport me back in time, make me want to hear a certain song, wonder where people have ended up in this crazy life? These are questions I don’t know the answers too, but as I sit back and reflect I realized I predicted my own future.
When I was fifteen I gave mental illness an identity, my writings reflect on this “One”, this unseen being that was in control of my life. Even then I recognized that something wasn’t quite right and I felt isolated and out of control. At sixteen I struggled with how to translate and describe my illness to others, how to make people understand. At nineteen, the year my mom died, my writings reflect a girl without hope. A young lady who has lost the feeling of the “One” and no longer cares that she is not in control. A girl in complete acceptance of being lost, who two pages later is defiant and unwilling to accept defeat.
Looking back over the past twenty years of scribbles in blue, black and purple I can see the obvious. One day I write of hope and strength, of the good and the challenge of life. Looking forward, being positive and in control ready and willing to tackle the world. Ready to “… emerge victorious, for I am myself and nowhere in me is the energy of defeat.”
Then writing, “Three years later however, I feel defeated. Crushed. Unable to lift any of the weight that plagues me each and every day.” I write of profound numbness, of no longer caring what happens, even hoping for a mental breakdown so I could stop living the same day of nothing over and over.
When I was young mental illness was not discussed, getting help was not a widely accepted option, admitting you weren’t strong enough was unthinkable. I shed tears for that girl from so many years ago. Maybe if she only knew what was truly happening, maybe if the world had been different, maybe life could have been altered and handled with better care. Maybe.
It’s only through life experience, time, age and a LOT of work that I can stand up and say it isn’t easy. Only now can I own my ups and my downs, only now can I offer the advice to get help. All that hard work brings me the comfort to stand up and say you’re not alone, I’ve been there and to offer that despite all the bad there is the possibility of good.
To recognize and admit my work is far from over, and looking back over the past twenty years allows me to own that there will always be struggle in my life. It is my hope now however that with all the help I’ve finally allowed into my life, all the hard work I’ve finally been willing to take on that it will be easier each time. It’s my hope with greater knowledge and understanding I can bring the right people into my life, and help people with the shame of mental illness.
It’s difficult to see how I unknowingly predicted my future, how blatantly obvious it was if only I had looked back. How my life could have been different if only I had allowed someone else to see these private little scribbles. Strangely though, looking back has provided some relief and even encouragement.
Year after year I wrote of struggles and pain, of taking on the world and thriving. Never once did I write of my end, although there were times in my life I was that low. Each time I reflect back I wrote in reflection of wanting the good, or overcoming the bad. When you string all these writings together a picture starts to form, a picture of a woman who has fought, and always will, for her life. A woman who stumbles and falls, dusts herself off gets back up and tries again.
For that woman I don’t shed tears, simply I stand back amazed. My brain cannot comprehend that woman is me. There is no pride, no ego, just the astonishment that when I look back I lived. All those days of darkness always followed by light. To truly recognize the journey is not over, and the next time I fall won’t be the last. Armed with the knowledge that a little faith inward will serve me the strength to get up and try again. Despite it all this life is worth living, the journey has taught me lessons I never expected and finally I believe in the impossible.