I was eighteen when I overdosed. I was found. I was brought back. At the time, all I wanted was out, to silence the screaming in my head, to drift away into nothing. Because that was what I was, nothing, no one.
I was severely anorexic, depressed, lonely, lost. There was no point to me. No point to anything. I was worthless, convinced there was truth in all the lies I had been conditioned to believe about myself, unwanted, unlovable, useless, a waste of existence.
Abuse makes up much of the story of my life, from my early childhood into adulthood- physical, psychological, sexual- beatings, bruises, manipulation, degradation, molestation, rape… Memories of hurting and being hurt, these vignettes of fear and pain, the damage done. The having to hide it, to pretend an outward appearance of perfection, to meet expectations of others and not knowing much at all of myself or my own needs.
Letting go was the only option that made sense. I wanted to feel light, to breathe without the constricting weight on my chest (I’d been having anxiety attacks since I was 6), to be free.
There might have been people I could have gone to for help. I was in college. There were resources. But the truth is that I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to be told that I had to stay when I wanted to go. It felt like one more thing that I would be forced to do against my will. Thinking of the future, of being stuck in a body that had never felt like my own, seeing no potential beyond the repetition of the same patterns and outcomes, was too much. Most would call it giving up, but, to me, there was nothing onto which to hold. I had no hope.
And so I let go.
Coming back was hard. On certain days it still is, even all these many years later. Having to learn to want to live is not something most people consider.
It is difficult- the darkness that we carry, the demons that we have to make home with inside of us, the ones we treat with to learn their names to take away their power.
I don’t have a great resolution to relate, an insightful epiphany about purpose or meaning that makes sense of it all and packages it into something neat and pretty. What I can say is this- you go on. I go on. I breathe. I survive. I try. I mess up. I learn. I cry. I laugh. I strive. I live.
The outdoors brings me solace. I spend a lot of time outside, hiking, climbing, sitting and being. I find beauty there. I find peace there.
And maybe that is what the lesson is- to find beauty in the struggle, to find a measure of calm within the fight, to look up and know that the sky is big and in it there is light and that is hope. And that is enough.