I struggled with starting this particular blog and making it make since. I’ve shared so much of my personal journey; my struggles, pains, ups and downs, successes, failures just so many parts of myself I used to think I”d never be set free from; healed from. Sometimes we can operate for so long out of a place of pain or brokenness that it becomes normal. We don’t know what it’s like to be anyone else or to do anything else. We hold on to our feelings and our shattered pieces like it has to be a permanent part of us. As someone who has been through depression more than once, there’s a part of you that owns it. It’s like a safety net. It’s like a warm coat on a cold winter day that can give us this false since of security and in some ways breaking free of it can be scary. Like who am I without it?
When I struggled with depression it became, in some ways, like an excuse for certain behaviors or for why I just couldn’t do something. Not saying that what I was experiencing wasn’t real. It was very real. There were days where just doing basic life tasks such as cooking, cleaning, or being present were all just too much. The darkness of it makes you want to close yourself in your house and never have to come out to face people or really face why you’re feel what you’re feeling. I read somewhere once that people can struggle with depression because they focus so much of their time comparing their lives to those around them via social media or in their everyday life that it makes them feel like they are missing something; that what they have is not enough. When I look back on those time periods in my life I find some truth to that statement. Of course what I was feeling was not just limited to the comparison game. There were other circumstances that contributed to how I was feeling but in my head there were so many thoughts about how hard it was being single or being a single parent. I felt that there wasn’t anyone who could relate to my particular struggles whether it was going through a divorce, being single, raising my kids without their dad in the same area, taking care of babies alone after giving birth due to military deployments, friendship changes. But what I came to learn over time was that there were things in me that I needed to learn to face so that I could really walk in peace.
I was talking to my best friend of over 20 years one day and I was explaining to her the difference in how I respond to my kids, particularly my 12 year old. She has always been an emotionally and mentally draining child. Not necessarily in a bad way, she just requires more attention. She loves being around me and interacting with me. I know she really loves me and I her, but there were days where trying to be emotionally present for her was more than I could stand. I admit I didn’t always respond to her in the best way. I was snappy, easily irritated, super frustrated and at times had to go back to her and apologize for my behavior. She likes to be listened to. Talking about her day or her feelings and spending quality time mean a lot to her. But for a while I didn’t have space in my emotional tank to handle her and me. My thoughts and emotions were consistently all over the place and honestly having to listen to her took the focus off of me. Just typing that statement is brutal but it’s a reality I lived in because the broken pieces in me had just become a part of me. Sometimes we don’t realize that we are stuck; we are continuing to choose to hold on to our safety net of brokenness and it is affecting the ones that we love in deeper ways than we could ever realize.
But one day I made a choice. It wasn’t an easy choice but it was a necessary one. I had to stop choosing to hold on to what people said to me or about me. I had to stop living in a world where I felt let down, uncared for, disregarded, unappreciated and, well, depressed. I chose to stop letting my thoughts and feelings completely control me each and every second of the day. I had come to a place of no return. Either I was going to continue living my life to please others, making decisions that benefited someone else more than it benefited me, living in a head space where I felt like no one really loved me or cared and that all the bad things in my head were true, all the crazy things that kept happening to me were just the cards I was dealt and I just had to accept it; move on. OR…..or I was going to start living the amazing life God had given me. I was going to start realizing how loving, caring, kind, loyal, and amazing I was despite my flaws. Yeah my life wasn’t always easy, who’s life is?! There were hard blows dealt but I was still alive. I could make the decision to live and to love those who deeply loved me….even in my broken state. And part of those who loved me so innocently were my kids. Even when they maybe didn’t understand me. Especially my 12 year old. She just wanted my time and she wanted to be heard.
When I made the choice to let God in, and I mean really in, my life changed. Sometimes we let God in but only to the places we’ve designated safe for Him to enter. “Sure God. Fix my marriage, fix my finances, protect my kids, heal the sick, help my friends, open doors for me at work for promotion or just give me a whole new job, but my depression, my anxiety, my poor thought life- no let me keep that! That’s how people see my vulnerability and help me when I can’t help myself.” But we have to learn to help ourselves. There are some things that others cannot do for us no matter how badly we wish they could. Somethings we literally have to do for ourselves by submitting it to God and really allowing Him in to take those tiny, shattered pieces and start to slowly put them back together. And those pieces won’t form the old you….they’ll form someone totally new; someone who will fall in love with the peace they now live in.
Going back to the convo with my friend, I was telling her how now I’m a lot calmer. I don’t respond to my daughter the way I used to. I carefully listen to her. I hug her more and spend time with her more just watching tv or going to get Starbucks. We cuddle on the couch and when my hubby is not home or in another part of the house sometimes she comes in my room and lays on the bed with me just because. When I see her irritation and frustration do not rise up in me. I’m not worried about what she’s going to say and how I’m going to emotionally handle it because not only have I placed her feelings and needs in a place equal to mine, I’ve also healed. I want to say simply healed but there was nothing simple about it. I had to put in some serious work to get to where I am today and every day isn’t perfect. I still have struggles. But my family and my kids are worth the work. My friendships are worth it and I am worth it. So tell yourself that you are worth happiness and peace. You are worth letting God in to all of your ugliness and bitterness and brokenness so that you can move forward into happiness, joy, peace and simply being who you are. Choose joy. Choose healing. Choose you.