I remember my dark night of the soul as if it happened yesterday.
It was a cold and rainy, late-fall day. The sun was well into its hibernation; the burnt orange light of the early sunset poured into my living room through partially opened blinds.
Curled up in the fetal position on my couch, I cried out in soul-agonizing pain. But, I had cried so much, for so long, my tears were all dried up.
No one was there to hear me.
Paralyzed in depression and pain, I had become inconsolable, even by those who truly cared and wanted to help me. Each night that I came home from work, I assumed the same position on the couch in the dark—with no TV, music or outside noise—and cried myself to sleep.
My poor self-esteem had essentially set me up to have horrible, damaging relationships with others. I had convinced myself that I was worthless and didn’t deserve happiness or love in my life. The self-pity and misery needed to end; I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. So, I pulled away and separated from myself.
When I finally looked upon myself with renewed eyes, from a different vantage point, I knew that this had to stop—part of me needed to die.
I sat up from the fetal position, which I had come to know so well, got off of the couch and gathered enough energy to climb into my bed, which hadn’t seen me in weeks. That night, I left my old-self lying there in my living room, to die.
The next morning I awoke to sunshine beaming through my windows. I took this as my sign of awakening—my self-inflicted suffering was over.
I knew I was a strong woman, but it wasn’t until that moment: when I called upon every ounce of strength inside of me, to not fall backwards into depression, that I was put to the test. I didn’t want to end up unhappy and miserable, like my mother; I was determined to conquer this demon.
I could still see the shell of my tortured soul lying in the corner of my living room, so I kept my distance. It was still too soon—I could spiral back to that old-self very easily. I was never good with break-ups or good-byes.
As the days forged on, I found my strength and resolve, deep down, and utilized them. I replaced self-destructive thoughts and actions with activities that made me smile and brought joy back into my life.
I went for long drives, basking in nature and all of its wonders. I spent a lot of time at the lake—being near water has always made me feel calm and balanced. I started meditating and got myself into an exercise routine.
After a few short months, the shell of my former self had all but disappeared from my sight, leaving behind only a faint memory of that broken-down and helpless girl. I look back from time-to-time to reflect and appreciate my hard-fought progress in recreating myself. It was a challenging mountain to climb.
Gradually, I was able to wean myself off of prescription anti-depressants and adopt healthier means of coping.
Day-by-day, I built myself into a new person.
Some days were harder than others, but I made it through; I looked for something positive out of every situation I found myself in. Having and maintaining a positive frame of mind was vital to my healing and recovery. At first it was like learning a new routine, and I stumbled, but it soon became second nature to me. I discovered that my child-like optimism had started to return.
After awhile, I became more spiritual in my actions, establishing a connection with the divine while meditating, exercising, creating art and writing.
Emotional spirals backwards, into old habits and thinking patterns—which used to last weeks or months—diminished into days. I began to notice the triggers causing my spirals and learned to equip myself to better handle them. My anxiety started to disappear as well; it was a great feeling to no longer be dependent on Xanax and other anti-anxiety medications.
Forgiveness was another vital step in my healing and regrowth—forgiving not only those who caused me harm and heartache over the years, but also forgiving myself for allowing people and circumstances to hurt me. I had held onto that resentment and pain for so long, it was almost like a divorce.
I learned that while I couldn’t erase my past, I possessed wisdom from it—wisdom that helped me to grow and move on.
Every lesson learned was a brick, building-up the foundation of a new and healthy psyche within me.
I fully embrace my angst-ridden past. Without it, I know I would not be the strong and independent woman I am today.
Slips into that depressing frame of mind still happen, but now they last no longer than an hour or two—I have found that a cleansing cry is the best therapy for that frustration.
Looking back now, I realize that the twisted, jaded and tormented soul of my past had wrapped me tightly into a cocoon, which held and transformed me.
Only once I was ready to learn from my past and let that old-self die, was I able to break out—taking my butterfly form and flying high, and far away from that life.
It feels great to be free.
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Assistant Editor: Renée Claude/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Courtesy of the Author