In our cynical age, I realize that concepts like joy, authenticity, and gratitude could seem too Pollyanna to be reasonable. Moreover, in describing a life lived in abundance of these things, one runs the risk of being thought a fake. I want to assure you, neither is the case.
As I’ve alluded to in previous posts, I’ve faced a lot of difficulty in life; sexual abuse, bullying, depression, SPCD (Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder), and anxiety. Each of these wounds has carried within them a lesson, but for most of my life I was blind to them. I allowed my pain to harden and poison me, and I remained in denial of how unpleasant I’d become. To say I was ugly on the inside would be an understatement.
I was blessed to meet and marry my husband, a gentle, patient, and generous soul. Over the years, his good influence softened me. He inspired me to be a better person, but I still had a long way to go. Denial is such a powerful coping mechanism; I used my suffering as an excuse for my hurtful behavior. Selfishness, manipulation, dishonesty.
Several years ago, my husband and I lost our only child to suicide. I cannot accurately describe the depths of loss, except to say that every cell in my being ached with an overwhelming emptiness. I lacked the courage to face my pain alongside my husband. I began to drink heavily to numb my emotions, and spiralled into full-blown alcoholism for the next two years.
I quit my job without consulting my husband. I sat at home in my bathrobe and drank, all day long, all night long, except when I was asleep or passed out. I polished off roughly two 1.75s of gin a week. And my husband suffered under the weight of his own grief and my addiction.
It would take three rounds of outpatient therapy for me to put down the bottle, and I have been sober ever since. But giving up the booze was only a first step. In fact, the bottle had been just a symptom of a larger, underlying problem: my attitude and approach to life were making me, and the people around me, miserable. I needed to find the courage to look at myself, to get honest about my motivations and behaviors, and to take accountability for my choices. Once I began to do this, I experienced a kind of spiritual “shift”. I became more aware of the beauty that surrounds us every day. I became more aware of how blessed my life is. And I began to see how this awareness helps us shape our own reality. The more I choose to reflect upon the abundance in my life, the more abundant it becomes.
Like everyone else, I’m a work in progress. I’m still capable of selfishness and manipulation, but I believe it to be the exception now and not the rule. I’ve learned that embracing my darkness is part of finding joy and contentment in life. By loving the ugly parts of myself, I give myself peace.
This is who I am, warts and all, and I’m owning it.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing a crisis, and are in danger of self-harm, PLEASE call the Crisis Hotline.
24/7 Crisis Hotline: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network