How to find yourself again, after love and loss.
Never let anyone steal your joy!
I have continued to let people steal my joy and it took me years to learn how to grow it back and establish the necessary boundaries needed to protect that inner sacred part of my heart. That picture was taken in the midst of my heartache. It was Christmas 2013 and my brother captured that candidly. You may not be able to see it, but I can…I was weary with sadness and I felt lost. I was broken. This is a Dear Diary blog from my heart and a level of vulnerability I am a bit uncomfortable with, but I know that I am not the only one who has been shattered by the loss of love and dreams and had to find themselves again on the other side of broken.
The other side of broken…
This story looks different for every person, but the pain of loss is universal. This grief doesn’t discriminate…it is not only about the loss of a loved one or a breakup…it can be the loss of a dream, the loss of a job or career, the death of a loved one, or it can also be an overwhelming sense of failure or debilitating self-doubt. Sometimes it is a package deal, as it was for me.
I gave my heart away and to someone who didn’t want it. I think I knew the truth but chose to overlook it and I let it go on far too long. Not only had I given my heart to the wrong person, I had put my hopes and efforts into the wrong dreams. I had overlooked what was best for my child, and I put my own aspirations before his needs. I chased a career and an idea without really thinking it through. When it was obvious that I had made the wrong choice I lingered anyway afraid to let go of what I thought I wanted. I held onto the hope that maybe I was wanted and loved…maybe if I stayed a little longer I could find success, but that was not the case. After it all crumbled to the ground, I was left picking up my pieces not knowing what to do. I had lost who I was…I didn’t really like who I had become, and so I started hanging out with people who wouldn’t challenge me and avoided the ones that would. We would drink and laugh and not once did I have to answer to the fact that I wasn’t really living or being true to myself or my son.
Facing Hard Truths
This devastating blow to my heart and self-worth, along with the life failures I had laid out in front of me, knocked the wind out of me and I very quickly sank into a dark and lonely place. A place of overwhelming sadness where the lies of insecurity prospered and whispered their words of self-doubt into my mind. I felt like a hole had been punched right through my soul and it ached. I functioned in my day to day, but in reality, I was a shell of what I once was drowning in my own grief and guilt. All I saw was my failure. I really had come to the end of myself, or at least that is what I felt like.
I was so deeply stuck in a mindset of not being good enough that each step I made was ruled by insecurity and fear of more failure. Looking back, I think it was fear of facing the truth that I had been selfish and put my own desires before the needs of my son and that I had allowed someone else to give me a measure of my own worth. It took a very long time for me to overcome that level of emotional dysfunction, but I did eventually start to see light on the horizon of my life. That light in my darkness…I owe most of that to my child’s unconditional love and God’s faithfulness. It took years to truly heal from that time in my life and more importantly to forgive myself and let go of the guilt that I had carried.
I definitely encountered some significant blows along the way to healing that really shook my faith in humanity, but I kept coming back to the truth that I had found on the other side of broken…that I was enough. My son needed me, my friends and family loved me, and I had value. I had hope. That was something I had not felt in years.
Depression is Real
I really had to eat some humble pie after walking through that time in my life. I had never really extended much grace to those who dealt with depression or were processing heartache. I was actually impatient and somewhat irritated with the fact that they couldn’t just, be better. How embarrassing! I can’t even believe I ever held that mindset of intolerance. I now know just how horribly wrong I was. During that time, I was debilitatingly depressed and I knew it. The rational side of me was screaming to just be ok, but I couldn’t just be ok. I wanted to mean it when I smiled, I wanted to be able to be in a crowd without feeling anxiety, I wanted to be able to be the person I was before… but I couldn’t find her. I will never judge anyone’s journey ever again. My challenge to you would be…extend grace, patience, kindness, and love to others, always. You never know where they are at in their journey and they may need a little extra measure of grace.
Everyone Has Worth
To those of you who may be in the throws of your pain, it is ok for you to not be ok. You need to process and let your grief run its course, but do not let it define you. Do not let it consume you. Don’t linger in that place. It will rob you of your new beginnings. Remember who you are and know that you have tremendous value. Hang on to whatever lifeline you can find and pull your way back… I believe you can because I did, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes we need someone to guide or even carry us back to a place of healing. In the quiet..in your heart of hearts, know that you are loved, you are enough, and you are never alone.