When my friend took her own life five years ago, it undid me for a while.
Her death made me question what I knew about life and what really mattered.
From where I sat, she had everything to live for: she was a loving mother, a brilliant friend, and a strong role model in our community. But tragically, it seems her own perspective of herself and her life was much darker and more painful than I, and many others, knew.
After the feelings of guilt and grief subsided, I made a conscious choice to commit to living an authentic life. If sitting in unhappiness may one day lead me down a dark path—like it did with my friend—I was going to keep walking toward my own personal light.
It is with a wry smile that I sit here and write that the path to this authentic and honest life has been far from smooth.
In fact, when a friend messaged me the other day to ask how I was, my reply was this:
“I am tired. I am vulnerable. I feel like my life has become a series of battles and I’d really like the chance to just put the gloves down.”
His succinct reply was this:
“Everyone is kinda fighting some personal war.”
I must have read that line at least six times over. In that moment, it was a perfect response. My friend did not seek to debate my feelings or offer up some easy solution, but simply accepted where I was and pointed out that I was not alone in battling.
It was a reply that allowed me to feel heard, acknowledged, and accepted—without being judged.
Now that I’ve had some rest and a chance to rebuild my resilience, I’d like to offer a few words of my own.
It is my experience that the path toward our authentic self is not a straightforward one. Rather, it is a series of twisting, sometimes obscured, and often seemingly uphill sections. At times, it may seem like we’ve made no progress at all, or even more frustratingly, that we have doubled back on ourselves. We may run out of energy and begin to question ourselves and our ability.
There seems to be a misconception that admitting to feeling anything other than okay makes us weak. However, I believe that being open about our vulnerability is an act of bravery.
Moreover, when we are honest with ourselves and others—and this honesty is met with kindness, acceptance, and understanding—it can become a powerful catalyst for healing, change, and empowerment.
In the darkness,
a light flickers.
“We see you,”
whisper the stars.
“We thank you,”
Emboldened by belief,
flicker turns to flame.
The howling winds
now matter not,
for the flame
has learned to dance.
Author: Vanessa Marjoribanks
Image: Audrey Reid/Instagram
Editor: Nicole Cameron