I feel like there is a "trending" topic of gratitude throughout our social media world, which is great, but I wonder just how deep people sit in this space of gratitude. It's sexy and gets tons of likes on Facebook/Instagram when we can glorify and validate that gratitude. Don't get me wrong, we need to start somewhere and being able to focus on gratitude in any form is better than not at all.
People brag about their meditations, affirmations and post all of these magical things on their highlight reels, validating that their lives are better than meets the eye. Again, it's a start, but even before I dig into this blog post, I want to foreshadow by challenging you to sit with those things you genuinely are grateful for. WHY are you grateful for those things? WHO have these help you become? WHERE have these things gotten you? HOW does that gratitude actually feel deep down for you? WHAT have you learned from these things that have brought you such gratitude? By the end of this post, I hope part of my story encourages you to sit and reflect more deeply into your own experiences. In doing so, I hope you are able to learn more about yourself and embrace gratitude in a whole new light.
So let's dig in, shall we?
For those who are new here, I've shared some pretty vulnerable bits and pieces of my story in past blog posts so feel free to check those out to catch yourself up. In the meantime, I am going to share with you guys one of the most grateful experiences I've endured.
At a very young age, I struggled with feeling like I was enough. I felt like I was a burden, no one understood me, I was angry, lonely and felt that I had to work really hard to earn love...only to be let down and feeling lower than I did before.
This way of thinking landed me in a very toxic relationship. This particular relationship was defined as everything I SWORE I would never be in. Even when I knew exactly what I didn't want, it is exactly what I got and then some.
From the very beginning of the relationship, I was on edge. I didn't feel I was pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, working enough, fun or funny enough. I think you can catch my drift-I didn't think I was enough in any category. This individual from the beginning was entertaining other women and instead of recognizing my own worth, I crushed myself even lower, feeling the need to prove that I WAS enough. For some reason, in my mind, it didn't seem that it was true UNLESS I was validated by this kind of individual. It's almost as if I attracted someone who wasn't capable of respecting or acknowledging my worth, because subconsciously, it proved me right in the fact I didn't deserve to be loved because I wasn't enough and didn't work hard enough to earn it.
***QUICK WORDS OF ADVICE*** "We are only capable of receiving the love we think we deserve."
-This wasn't learned until far later in my life, but had I known this sooner, I maybe would have looked inward instead of seeking validation outward.
Okay, so back to it.
This relationship was full of pretty much everything a relationship should NOT be.
Yelling, name calling, cheating (physically and emotionally), manipulation, lies, physical abuse, emotional abuse, drugs, alcohol, 911 calls, car accidents, attempts of suicide, hospital visits, anti-depressants, and therapy...the only two things that didn't happen was a kid or marriage.
For five and a half years this went on with countless break-ups, trying to cope by drinking away my problems, poor decisions and super addicting make-up sessions...landing us both back into the super vicious cycle.
I craved to be loved and just never got it. I poured more and more love into the relationship, suffocating us both, trying to do absolutely everything I could to make it work. I would bend until I broke...and then somehow would find a way to bend and break some more. I prayed for him to love me. I prayed for him to see how much he meant to me and how desperately I needed him. It just kept making things worse and worse. There was no trust in the relationship. I had absolutely no power but exhausted so much energy attempting to gain it. It was never enough. It never ended well.
I loved so hard and I just couldn't understand why he couldn't provide that same love in return. I became obsessive. It was more intoxicating than any drug or amount of alcohol I would consume, trying to remedy the situation.
One particular night, and this was probably the worst experience of it all, I got insanely wasted, made a complete fool of myself in front of his entire family, following a member having to come pick me up. I threw myself out of a moving vehicle trying to get away from this person who was just trying to help me. I ran the rest of the way home and proceeded to lock this person out of the house. Although a blur, the last I remember was locking myself into the bathroom and grabbing a razor.
Then, next thing I know, I was in my bed and my mother was lying there with me. I begged her to let me end my life. I told her I couldn't do it without her permission. Naturally, she wouldn't give me the go ahead. She just laid there, squeezing me super tight and repeating to me that she loved me. I still to this day cannot believe I did this to my mother. We talk of this night often and both agree that God was the one providing strength for both of us in that moment that night.
Even after this traumatic event, that still wasn't enough for me to wise up and leave this relationship. In my mind, I twisted it into the fact that this guy had seen the absolute ugliest sides of me and STILL wanted to be with me...and I chose to believe that this meant it HAD to be love. I would dismiss every toxic, awful thing that happened and found a way to tell myself that this showed true commitment to one another...because, ya know, cheating on someone and causing physical and emotional harm totally showed their commitment right along with it.
To shorten this story and get to my point, after five and a half years of toxicity, it finally ended.
It took a long time to grieve.
I went on to spend four years of being single, learning more about myself and working through my own demons. Clearly, I was a slow learner. God gave me so many outs in that relationship and I always found a way to get back into it, thinking this time it would be different. Then, during that period of singleness, it was a very rough journey of learning to love myself, rather than placing my worth in someone else's hands. Things got very dark during this period as well. Many thoughts of not having someone solidified that I truly wasn't good enough and that no one wanted me because I was just such a piece of crap human, that served no purpose.
Although a painful process with many dark seasons, battling with myself and beliefs about what I swore I wasn't, it had to happen.
I was a slow learner and I like to refer to it as "taking the scenic route" to some of the pivotal destinations in my life.
But the crazy thing?
I wouldn't go back and change it if I could.
This is one of many experiences that shaped me into who I am today. I survived to talk about it. Had it not happened, I wouldn't know how to relate to someone else in these same types of situations.
God has always been there protecting me...despite many of times my life should have ended.
Me learning to heal from my painful experiences, is what has allowed me to be the medicine to someone else's illnesses.
So when I reflect on my journey thus far, the things I can honestly say have been the most meaningful and most grateful moments for me, were my darkest, most traumatic ones. I was strong enough to endure it. I learned the hard way. I may not be proud of some of my decisions and actions, but it allows me to relate and understand someone else who feels as beaten down in their journeys and let them know they aren't alone in feeling that way...and they, too, can make it out to the other side.
I would never take back my pains. The strength is has given me, helps me strong enough to lift others. I will dig into that pain and relive it with them over and over again-whatever it takes to make them realize that they deserve and ARE worth so much more.
No matter how good or bad life is, there truly is always something to be grateful for and at any point in time, you can choose to make a change for the better. Along the way, however, it may take painful moments to make you realize just how much you have to be grateful for and just how precious life really is.
For those of you still with me, please take some time to sit with your battle scars. I will ask you again...
WHY are you grateful today? WHO have these moments help you become? WHERE have these things gotten you? HOW does that gratitude actually feel deep down for you? WHAT have you learned from these things that have brought you such gratitude?
If these are areas you struggle to face or journey through alone, I am here. THIS is what my experiences have trained me for...to help YOU overcome all that you've endured and help YOU see all the good that this life has to offer you...It's a heavy space to be and an area that many run from. Whether they hide these pains by distracting with work, the gym, alcohol, food, sex, other people's problems, etc., we all deserve to break free from these underlying wounds.
...you don't have to do it alone. If you need help, please reach out. I am here.
With Love, Vulnerability, and UTMOST Gratitude,