When I was in the depths of my worst dark days, there was a feeling I would get. It feels like an itch that you can’t scratch. It ignites a burning desire deep within to just rip off your skin so you don’t have to feel it anymore. Every second you’re forced to spend in your body is worse than the last and there is absolutely no end in sight.
When you come to the realization that THIS IS IT. Fear is all you can feel. What does the end look like? People say it gets better, but holy shit, have they encountered YOUR demons? They have not! How in the world am I going to wake tomorrow knowing that the FEAR will still be there. You hear “Just hang on” and can’t believe that you can accomplish such an insane task. That ledge is getting really slippery and you can’t feel your fingers.
So, everyday I started looking for one thing to live for. There were many days that it was my husband’s smile or my children’s laughter. Other days it was a chocolate doughnut. Some days it was the color of the sky, the smell of the air after rainfall, the beauty of a butterfly with an intricate face on their wings, tiny flowers in the yard that no one planted there, but are a gift from Mother Nature, or the sound of the lapping of ocean waves.
The Midwest sunsets on calm evenings, when the delicate pastels of the evening skies are painted on the bottom of barely moving clouds. The call of the male bullfrogs looking for them girls. The song of the cicadas in the damp summer nights. The howling of a distant pack of coyotes counting up their pack to make sure everyone made it through the night’s battle and had full tummies before heading home at dawn. The gentle curves of newly budded trees. Tiny insect eggs tucked into the stem of a dandelion. The deep buzz and tiny squeak of a nearby hummingbird.The delicate structures inside of ordinary looking flowers. Watching two tiny lizards basking in the late afternoon sun. Each of their heads on the other’s back enjoying the quiet before the next adventure.
The way the sun hit my living room window just right only during the “dark months” to light up the crystals in my window to give me rainbows in the afternoon on the days when it finally decided to grace us with it’s presence. The sound of raindrops on windowsills.
These are the things that make life worth it. That one thing would get me through. Before I knew it (though it seems like an eternity in the midst of it) the sun would come out a little more. I’d feel like showering a little more often. I’d hear myself laugh without having to touch the internal reminder that things are funny. Breathing got a little easier.
Here’s the thing… I’m talking to you, person who didn’t want to wake up today. Not the one that didn’t want to get out of bed, the one that prayed the night before (to a deity they don’t believe in) to allow them the freedom of not waking up. You. I love you. You are not alone. You can make it. Do you know how I know? Because I made it. More than once. I have survived every cell in my body telling me to give up. I will survive again. Because I know that one day I’ll look forward to waking up. One day I’ll be able to plan beyond the next minute. One day breath will come. Friend, it feels so good. You are worth it.
Random related article: In These Dark Times Practice Love and Kindness
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I often remind myself that, as Tom Hanks put it in Sleepless in Seattle: “one day, I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out all day long.” I also found looking for reasons to be grateful helped me a great deal. Gratitude journaling, in and of itself, I didn’t find useful, but flipping a situation around in my head and instead of complaining about it, being thankful for it – that changed my entire thinking pattern. Instead of “FML, I have to get up at 5 for a shitty day at work or because my daughter is crying”, I made it “I’m so grateful I get to get up with my daughter this morning and spend a minute snuggling with her before my day. I’m so glad I have a job that allows me the flexibility to make the most of these moments I do get”. It’s easier than it sounds. Especially if you’re a minimizer like I am. If you tell someone how its been for you lately and before you’re even done with it, you’re saying “but it isn’t really that bad because…” Then you’re already a pro…
Having survived 100% of my worst days so far,and continuing to survive some of the most nightmarish days I can imagine (for anyone) very recently, I can attest that not only CAN it get better, but it DOES, and it gets easier … With practice….