There was a stretch of my life, if you can really call what I was doing living, where smiles were few and far between and lasted only fractions of a second. I dug deeper and deeper away from the things I cared about for fear of ruining them. I took a leave of absence from everything that made me feel something. I sought out no one and wanted nothing except to be numb. Caring was what got me into that mess, and so I decided that leaving everything was the only way to fix it.
I was cold and short with every soul I encountered, even the ones whose heartstrings were still tangled with mine. I pushed away the compassion they laid at my feet. I said nothing to them until they finally hung their sorry heads and walked away. I turned my entire life into a cave, and I did everything I could to pile boulders up over the opening. I needed the world no more than it needed me.
But one day, something snapped.
I wish for nothing more than I wish to know what sparked the fire in me again. What brought on this change of heart, what gave me the strength and courage to pry away the boulders and finally turn to face the sun. Despite the mystery, it all went down at once and I could feel the fresh air pulling life back into my lungs. I loved every excruciating second of it.
But I do mean it when I say that it was excruciating. Coming back to life meant being flooded with all the emotions that had iced over in my arteries and nearly clogged my heart. It was realizing that all the self-sabotage likely cost me every dear friend that I’d once had. The thought of facing them again left me sick to my stomach. But all the same, they were feelings and they were real. I finally felt alive again.
Rebuilding my relationship with myself has been the longest, loneliest journey I’ve ever known. I spend a lot of time working on forgiveness and convincing myself that I’m better now, and that I have changed. I have to fight to remember that I’m not toxic, and that I can be close with people I care about. I spend time every night praying to something I’m still not 100% sure about, but it makes me feel better, so I keep doing it. I’ve learned how to bounce back. I’ve learned how to shake demons. It’s a battle, but the smiles are real now. I’m really living now.