(a follow-up to this post)
Three years ago on St. Patrick’s Day I went to bed with a butcher knife on my nightstand…
Well actually it was on my coffee table because I was sleeping on the couch (it had been a rough night).
If you’ve ever been in this place, you know what I’m talking about. It’s that place where all the joy in your life seems to come crashing down around you, leaving nothing but a pile of shattered porcelain remains of what once was your world. Usually this doesn’t happen out of nowhere; usually it’s been building up and then one night, in one moment, that straw that broke the camel’s back? Well it ends up breaking yours, too.
I won’t go into detail of what happened on that particular night – though given that it was St. Patrick’s Day, I’m sure you already assumed that alcohol and impaired judgement were involved – this post is not about that; this post is about what happened after.
I came home defeated. Whatever had been keeping me together was gone, and for the first time life didn’t seem like the greatest option.
(note: if you are ever in this place, please call a friend or helpline immediately)
I did what I normally did when I have a rough night: I came home, left my clothes in a pile on the floor, threw on my giant Nike hoodie, and curled up on the couch. Only this time I made a stop at the kitchen first. I went in the drawer, pulled out a butcher knife, and placed it on the coffee table next to the couch. Just in case.
This way I knew if I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t handle the pain, I wouldn’t have to anymore. (again, if you are ever in this head space, call a friend or helpline).
I am not telling you this because I think it’s an entertaining or captivating story; I want you to know I approach this story with the highest level of seriousness. I am telling you this so you can understand exactly where I was, because without fully understanding where I was, you won’t be able to witness the miraculous contrast between that and where I am now.
This is what happened after…
I woke up the next morning (praise God I woke up!), pulled myself out of bed, and got myself out of the house. I knew it wasn’t safe to be alone (again, this is really important if you are in this frame of mind). I knew I had to talk about this with my professor (who is also one of my mentors) but it was still too early in the morning and he wasn’t in his office yet. So I just sat outside in a central, public area, and waited.
I watched as people walked by – alive and well – and I felt dead in comparison. It was an eerie feeling to say the least.
I went to my professor’s office and waited for him to show up. As soon as he walked in I could see on his face he knew something was terribly wrong. I told him of the previous night’s events. And I told him about the butcher knife.
There is a defining point in everyone’s life, the point when you are standing at a crossroad and you have a choice to make: To Be or not to be.
After talking it out with him, I made my choice: I wanted to live (I wrote more in depth about this here). It is my belief each of us will face this decision in our life and I also believe once you make the choice to live, you never go back on that choice. You may want to at times, but you never really go back.
Once I’d come to the conclusion that I did in fact want to live, I had one final decision to make: how to clean up my life so I could start living it.
This is when I entered into recovery (for those who don’t know, I was battling an eating disorder at the time).
Now it is St. Patrick’s Day, three years later and not only am I alive, I am living.
I want you to know life didn’t suddenly become easy just because I chose to live it. Like I said, I had to make some changes, and I had to work at it, and life still isn’t “easy” – I don’t think it is meant to be.
But life is beautiful. I can promise you that. You just have to give it a chance and be willing to seek out the beauty.
I know what it’s like to be in that place where you don’t want to go on. But I am here to tell you to go on anyways, because something beautiful will come of it.
Now you may be thinking “Sure, you had something to live for, but I don’t.” Which is why I want to point something out to you: When I went to bed with the butcher knife, I didn’t know how my life was going to turn out. There was no such thing as “Libero Network,” most of the friends I have today I hadn’t even met yet, and I had no clue where I was going with my life. I didn’t have a church, I didn’t have a healthy group of friends, and I didn’t have any sense of self-worth. But even amidst all of that, I found a reason to choose life, anyways.
I believe we can all find a reason to be.
Your reason may be different than mine, but the foundational reason is this: your story isn’t over yet. It’s not. No story is meant to end because the protagonist says it is. That’s not how it works. You are the hero of this story and you don’t have the right to choose when you die. (Don’t like that statement? Well blame Socrates, because he said it first.)
When I took that leap of faith and decided to carry on through the pain and begin building a better life for myself I had no idea how that was going to turn out; there were no guarantees. What I did know was it was going to be better – because it couldn’t get much worse, and, more importantly, because I was choosing to let it be better.
Looking back, yes, it’s been a bumpy three years, but that is life. But the trials and the struggles – those are just as much part of living as the moments of beauty and joy.
My story wasn’t over yet, and had I ended it, I never would have experienced what I consider my greatest sources of joy today. I wouldn’t have even gotten a taste of them. Instead, I would be nothing more than a pile of dirt and a slab of concrete with some vague quote carved in it: “A daughter, a sister, a friend, whose story ended too soon.” NO! I didn’t want that for myself. And deep down I know you don’t want that for yourself either.
Three years ago today I nearly chose not to be; the next day, I chose “To Be” instead – and I’ve never regretted it.
Your story isn’t over yet. So choose life. And then once you’ve done that, start living it.
St. Patrick’s Day is not a pretty day for me – there aren’t any good memories there – but the day after St. Patrick’s Day…well that day is beautiful.