There have been so many times in my life where I have been living in what seemed at the time a dark and hopeless existence, and I have wondered is this as good as it gets?
The honest answer if I had not looked up, if I had not sought out help, if I had truly given up for good, it would have been.
I remember some time ago I was standing on the ledge of my friends pool staring into the water, questioning would it be so bad? Would it matter? If I just took one more step? I was so gone out of my mind that I knew if I fell in I wouldn’t be able to swim out. I wouldn’t even try. I would just take one more step. I was on the verge of giving up. I had, had enough! I was finished. In my mind at the time I had tried so hard to live my life normally. I was done fighting. What was the point to live out my life if I didn’t care anymore? If I couldn’t achieve happiness? The pain was too great, too dark, too big for me to conquer by myself. I had spent years fighting against my mind. A mind that was intent on killing me.
What if I just finally let it?
The water looked so peaceful, so inviting and I was tired. So very tired.
The only reason I think I didn’t follow through was my husband gently pulling me back inside and I couldn’t bear hurting him like that. I promised myself another time.
Honestly, I barely remember that night, but I do remember the water. I remember the pain. I remember the hopelessness and futility of those moments. The truth is those feelings, are in fact just feelings, not facts.
I didn’t feel hopeless all of the time. Some days were better than others. I had things to focus on, like my family, but sometimes that DARK depression would hit me like a thousand waves and it would seem like I couldn’t breathe or hold my head above water no matter what I tried, but I remembered that there were moments, however fleeting, there were moments when it didn’t hurt as bad. Which gave me reasons to not give up.
If I had given up on myself, on Jesus, on my family, on life I wouldn’t have got to see the miracle. My miracle. I fought against addiction, depression, and myself for years. For what seemed like an eternity. I remember being in 7th grade something changed, probably puberty, all of sudden the world didn’t make sense any more. My parents weren’t the heroes I thought they were. Nothing seemed right. My home life wasn’t going well. My dad was wasted and my mom was never home, she traveled for work. I felt abandoned and lonely. I didn’t believe my parents loved me. I didn’t understand that they were just people with their own issues doing the best they knew how to do.
That’s really where my spiritual malady began to set in. I started trying to fill that void in my soul. I started harming myself, it worked for me until my sister figured out what was wrong with me. So I turned to people. That didn’t work either. People are not perfect. They cannot meet all of our expectations. Other people cannot save us from ourselves. I got really into music. That really helped. I started writing my feelings out as soon as I learned to write, but sometimes I was too upset to focus. It wasn’t enough.
I met a friend in 8th grade. She seemed so powerful, exciting, and like she just didn’t care about anything. I wanted that. I didn’t want to care anymore. I didn’t want to feel anymore.
She was my introduction to drugs and alcohol.
When the feeling washed over me, I felt like I had finally found the answer I had been looking for, for so long.
I finally felt at peace. My mind was silenced.
And so it began.
I didn’t turn to drugs and alcohol, because I was a bad person and wanted to hurt myself and those around me. I turned to them for escape, because I was drowning in my own sea of despair. They had become my solution, although at the time I didn’t know it.
And it worked, until it didn’t.
I remember at 17 I was sneaking out a lot. I can’t remember if I was coming or going, but I remember asking myself, why am I even doing this anymore? The sense of adventure, the thrill, the fun was gone. My mind wasn’t being kept silent anymore. The pain kept returning sooner and sooner. I was exhausted, but I kept on trying to heal my soul with substances for three more years.
I honestly don’t know how I’m still here. I could have been killed by someone else, by poor choices, or circumstance. After all the situations I got myself in, I should be dead.
My mom tried to get me help over and over again. Thousands of dollars spent on treatment centers and counseling. I would leave thinking finally, I’m not going to do it again. I’ve learned enough about this problem. I know what to do when my thoughts rise up and turn against me. I’ve got plans in place. Before, I even realized what I was doing I was wasted again. I had made so many reservations to stop. To be better. To do better. To try harder, work harder.
The truth was I didn’t really want to quit. Not for me, not really. I wanted to quit because it was the right thing to do. I was really tired of everyone being mad at me. I had lost friends to it, things, my home, not to mention my pride and dignity. While it was painful, I still didn’t want it, not really. I just wanted the consequences to stop.
I was 20 years old at a halfway house and I had relapsed while living there. I saw how happy my housemates were, and how at peace the women who carried the message were. I was so envious of their joy.
On a visit home, my mom caught me in my closet using. (I still do not know why people go to their closets to get drunk or high. I have heard several grown adults, who lived with no one say they always wound up in their closet. It’s a totally common thing, I swear!) She begged me to go back to my halfway house and just figure it out.
Then it hit me, that if I was going to finally get better, I needed to go out and try it my way. I needed to stop seeking out treatment just because other people wanted me to. I knew enough about the program that it only worked if it was my choice for me and nothing else.
So the hardest thing I ever had to do was tell my mother I was going to figure it out on my own. That I was just going to try it my way and see what happened. I still had this delusion that I could control myself. That I could do it on my own. That I could be okay, be happy, and at peace on my own terms.
Lets just say I didn’t last very long.
God had his hands me the entire time. It got dark and terrifying really fast. There was one incident that I am so lucky that I walked away as whole as I did.
Really, what had got my attention was a “friend” got caught stealing and placing the blame on one of us, I can’t remember. He knew he was caught right handed and he just lost it. I watched him unravel right before my eyes. It was so scary. He looked me square in the eye and told me that I was no better than him. That he hoped I died a horrible addict death like my father.
I suddenly knew that the awful words coming out of his mouth were true. That I wasn’t any better than him, and that I could very well end up just like my father.
A month or so later I finally gave up and I surrendered. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was done. The shame and guilt was eating me alive and I remembered the beauty in those people and the message of hope they gave me and I trusted that and I called for help.
Really what it was, and all it was, is that I realized something that I wish I could go back and tell my 13 year old self. I couldn’t use my own power to save myself. I couldn’t use any other person or thing or substance to save myself. I had to admit that I was powerless over this addiction that I had turned to, to fix the gaping hole inside of me and that the only thing that would ever fix me was and is Jesus.
And I firmly believe this to be true for everyone who feels that same darkness. That same insanity. I firmly believe that it wasn’t my mind trying to kill me, that it was spiritual warfare.
If you are struggling with depression, with anxiety, with shame, with never measuring up, with insecurity, and low self-esteem, with addiction…. it doesn’t really matter what it is, there is a solution and it is so simple, but it’s not easy.
We as human beings make things so complicated, especially when there is feelings involved.
The answer is so simple.
You admit that you cannot fix you, or at least what you have been doing isn’t working and be willing to try something else.
God will meet you were you’re at, as long as you take the action and do the work. It’s not supposed to be easy, but it’s a hell of a lot easier than that pain you’re constantly living in.
A lot of times it’s in the waiting that God is answering our prayers.
If I had given up anywhere along that road I was on, I wouldn’t ever have learned what true freedom feels like. I wouldn’t have my husband, my beautiful girls. I would never have gotten to experience true joy and peace. I look back and I can so plainly see where God was meeting all my needs, but at the time it didn’t feel like it.
I could just as easily blame him for the grief, loss, darkness and all the awful things I’ve endured along the way, or I can blame the enemy and have hope in something greater. I truly believe we are all here for a purpose and that all the pain we’ve endured was and is not done so in vain.
If you are alive and breathing there is still hope, and there is still time.
Please think of that if you ever find yourself standing on the ledge.