In 2012, after over three decades of time on earth, I finally made the conscious choice to live rather than die.
I had suffered from anorexia and depression for 20 years and was fed up. Despite numerous therapies and hospital stays, real change seemed elusive and I hated my life. I hated myself. I had been on self destruct for the past 20 years and had come to the “logical” conclusion that it was time to end it all.
But I didn’t, despite deep emotional suffering. I didn’t because within was a whisper from my heart: do not give up. Clawing onto life, I went once again to the psych ward. As I sat on the hospital bed, my heart broken wide open, I made the decision, engraving it into my heart, that if I was going to live, I had to live.
I would no longer accept a half-life restrained by fears or beliefs (and associated behaviours) of not being loved if I was not a certain way or if I did not achieve—that I would be rejected if I were to show my real self. I decided I would live no matter what; no matter the potential pain, the effort or the fears that loomed like dark shadows in front of the light. After all, nothing could be worse than where I was already.
“And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was greater than the risk it took to bloom.” ~ Anais Nin
So I set out on an unchartered path of growth towards the light.
From the bottom, the light was hard to see.
I had to actively face and do all that I thought I could not: feeling, opening, daring to be myself rather than what I thought others wanted me to be. I had to learn to trust myself, others and life. I had to face and learn to love that which I hated: myself. I had to feel my way, making a few wrong turns along the way.
After one big wrong turn, I signed up on a whim to a yearlong yoga teacher training. But this was no whim; it was a tug from my heart. During that year, I found myself, and I found my passion: teaching yoga, writing and inspiring others to love themselves.
The light ahead was starting to shine brighter and, although I could still not see what lay ahead, I forged on towards life. Support from others was and is invaluable because the path towards life is not easy. It is filled with fears and pain that have to be felt, accepted and released. It means showing up and being authentic no matter what. It can mean making tough decisions that change everything in its wake (like leaving my career as a scientist to move back home and teach yoga). It means getting out of our comfort zones again and again. Yet the freedom and joy that results awes me.
Although it may sound simple, it is that decision to live that changed everything. I sometimes look back and wondered what really made the difference. Was there an a, b, c that can help others? My path was so personal that I felt hopeless to help. Yet what came back to me is that decision, which was really more of a vow, an intention, sankalpa. This decision guides me to this day.
The process of growth is continuous. At some points, I still find myself at a dead end, finding comfort and security in the enclosing, protective walls of beliefs and avoidance behaviours. Fortunately, my inner guide, with its compass set on my desire for an authentic life, comes to remind me with its gentle yet firm touch that it’s time to move on once again towards the light. It is comforting to know even when it doesn’t feel that way that I am never alone: the whisper in my heart, my soul, is my lifeline.
Following the path of life can feel at times like soaring high enjoying the view and at others like being buffeted by harsh crosswinds that make me want to find shelter and never set off ground again. But it’s setting off once again that makes a life worth living.
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ~ Oscar Wilde
Author: Nathalie Doswald
Editor: Caroline Beaton
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