By- Traci Taylor
(Note from the author- This is a story of hope and struggle. My own experiences were merely an inspiration, and overall the following story is one I declare fictional. Take it as you may, but either way I hope you enjoy it.)
There has been more than one time in the past few months that I have questioned how I got where I am. Most people when they ask themselves that are either at a very high point in their life, or at rock bottom. For me, I fell somewhere in between.
My rock bottom was being dependent on alcohol to forget my problems, but I still managed to pay my bills on time. Not to mention the relationship to the woman I thought of as my best friend had recently come to an end. That hit me like a damn avalanche.
Life is full of endings, but I wasn’t ready for that one. For weeks I had tried to find my purpose in the life I was living. On top of my relationship failing, my work life was just as bad. The job I once loved was now completely filled with stress and had me questioning why I was choosing to repeatedly put myself through this unhappiness.
The fact that I was still a server with a college degree wasn’t what bothered me. What irked me was how unpleasant the environment was making me as a person. Of course it also had a bit to do with having a college education, being beyond twenty thousand dollars in debt, and nothing else to show for it other than service with a smile. In the moment I could not find one thing that was positive in my life. My mind was clouded with negatives and memories that brought nothing but sadness. Nothing seemed to be worth going on for.
It wasn’t until I found myself drowning in boxed wine and Jack Daniel’s with a side of pills that I realized I needed to change something. I chose to stop my dependency on alcohol and seek help. This was around the same time I realized how long I had been masking my depression by excessively drinking.
In that moment I promised myself to not drink even a glass of wine again until I was certain I was doing it to enjoy that one drink. The simple pleasure of drinking had lost all essence for m. It has only been two weeks now, but I already feel more at peace with myself. I don’t think there is any rhyme or reason why people choose to go to substances to numb the sadness they feel inside other than to simply not feel.
From my experience, it is more common than some people may be aware of. I had been struggling personally for years, and I guarantee only a handful of people suspected it. I’m not even sure I realized how bad I had gotten until recently. Something I have learned along my journey so far is that everyone has demons, even the people with contagious laughter.
If you really look at the people that surround you, look deep into their eyes, I bet you’ll be glancing into a black hole of stories untold. It’s vital to remember not everyone deals with things in one particular way, but everyone deserves to be reminded that people love them. That of course is easier said than done. I was intellectually aware of the love I was surrounded by, but emotionally I felt isolated and alone. There is something to be said about the mind that over thinks, and it is without a doubt a dangerous thing.
The days went on and let me just say, the mornings were the absolute worst. Looking forward to brewing a pot of coffee was the only thing that brought me a sense of optimism. My worst enemy was my own brain and how often I tended to over think things. Memories of the past, especially in the morning hours, would play back in my head.
There was an instance where I was in the shower and I felt a pain in my chest. It was as if my heart was still breaking after all the time that had gone by. I had to force myself to think of other things just to get through the day. My brain just wouldn’t stop replaying her laugh or her smile. It was as if I was mentally experiencing Chinese water torture with thoughts of my past. Emotionally crippling does not even begin to describe the intense impact I was feeling. I knew this was no way to live, and I was aware of that. I needed to focus on getting better, on returning to the person who could find the sun even on a rainy day.
The next time I chose to smile at the sun, I wanted it to be because I felt genuinely happy to be in existence. Walking down the city streets, breathing in the autumn air, and looking to the horizon for a sign that there is a reason I have survived this long.
Today with each moment that passes I still struggle, but it has gotten easier. My past still comes back to me in waves and that is when the sadness takes over again. The key to getting past the melancholy is finding an outlet of some kind.
Music has always been my go-to. Whether it’s blasting the upbeat sounds of Grouplove or losing myself in the melody of Glenn Miller. Whenever I feel my heart aching because my mind has chosen to reminisce of memories of a lost love, I choose music.
Dealing with life isn’t easy and every human being figures that out on their own time. Perhaps some humans are lucky enough to never get close to hitting rock bottom. From my perspective, I think going through any sort of struggle and surviving opens a person eyes to how lucky they are.
Appreciation for life, love, and nature comes after disaster occurs. The point is to keep treading through waters that at some point seemed impossible to get through. As I look out my window towards the skyline of Philadelphia I feel just okay and I am happy with that. To be able to say I am okay today is more than I could say for myself months ago. The lesson in the life I am living I am still figuring out, but now more than ever I am trying my best to rediscover the sunshine when it rains.