When we wake we have one choice to make, do we spend the day living or merely existing?
Some of us will spend our entire lives seeking the approval of others. If we are not seeking approvals we are constantly comparing ourselves to everyone else on this planet. We do it without a thought, it’s mechanical. But…. But what if we could change that? What if we could reprogram the machine and remind ourselves that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Remind ourselves that we are unique and every inch of our being was created by his hand. That God looked at this earth and said “yup this world needs one of you too.” So he made you, he made you in his image.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”Proverbs 31:25 NLT
He clothed you with strength and dignity. He dropped the seeds of boldness, empathy, and compassion into your beating heart. For he built you for strength because he knew the battles you would face. He gave you all of the gifts you would ever need. And those gifts are unique to you and no one else can use those gifts like you can.
When I look in the mirror where others see flaws I see strength. Where society sees flaws, God sees a beautifully crafted testimony. For he knows each scar and he knows the battles I’ve faced. He knows that this body of mine has seen some shit and that she has carried me on my darkest days. A body that I am proud of. Each scar is more than a healed over wound, it is a story of a life well fought for. Each laugh line and newly formed wrinkle is a reminder that I have been granted the gift of growing older. Each laugh line and wrinkle is a reminder that God found me worthy of a second chance at life. This life I have been living is on borrowed time and I do not take a second of it for granted for I know what could have been.
You see if you read the text books and look at the statistics I should be dead. Only one out of five people will survive a pulmonary embolism. The odds they were stacked high against me, but my body she held on to the tiniest shred of strength and stayed in the fight. For she knew a miracle was coming and that I would be the one out of five who walked away to live another day. For she laughs without fear of the future because she knows the battle has just begun. And now our life that we are living is a testimony to the four who had to die so that I could be the one who stayed. That notion sits heavy on my heart for I know they would gladly take my seat. I’ve asked God multiple times “why he saw me as worthy and what made me different from the rest. Why did you save me and not them.” He has yet to answer those questions and I doubt he ever will. He’s good at keeping secrets.
Now I believe in honesty and I will tell you that I have fallen into the trap of just existing. I was going through the motions and pretending to be happy. Work became my escape from my non-existent life and Cullen, my sweet little dog was my saving grace. That little beast gave me a reason to leave the office at 9PM, yes I left at 7AM and didn’t return till 9PM, like I said I was existing. Cullen didn’t care how late I worked, he always greeted me with zoomies and grunts. We’d go for a long walk through our neighborhood and then we’d come home, I cut up his fresh pet and put his plate on the floor. I’d sit next to him watching the news while eating whatever leftovers I had. Rinse and Repeat, I lived this same day over and over…..
All of my friends were in relationships, they were having babies and career moves all while I was letting the fear of failure paralyze me. I rarely dated, I thought “what’s the point you either divorce or they die on you?” I became comfortable in my career, the routine became my solace. After weekend brunch I’d head into the office to work just a couple hours. Those two hours turned into me walking out at 8PM on a Saturday. I was existing and this all worked until it didn’t.
On my 32nd birthday I found myself 3 bottles in and crying uncontrollably in the shower. I sat there for hours, the ice cold water barely phased me as I watched it swirl down the drain. I thought, maybe I could go down the drain too? I was tired of pretending to be all right, I was tired of pretending to be happy and I wanted a life and not an existence.
The next morning I called a therapist. I called the therapy center that Cullen and I walked by multiple times a day. The receptionist listened to me and sweetly replied “it’s going to be ok babe, we will get you someone ok.” I was nervous, mainly I was nervous because I had admitted to myself that I needed help and I felt like a failure. I didn’t want the therapist to think I was nuts. I almost didn’t go to that first appointment, the paperwork was daunting and the questions felt like an invasion.
Yet there was Ms. Emily, the moment I met her I felt a connection. It was like she could see straight into my soul. I started crying and asked “am I crazy?” And she said “crazy people don’t know to ask if they are crazy. You my dear are not crazy, you’ve been through more trauma than most people will ever experience in their lifetime. We will teach you work/life balance. We will teach you how to have a life ok?” I said ok and I proceeded to see her once a week for the next four and a half years. Ms. Emily was the voice that I needed, she was my safe place, and she was the first person to tell me “you can have bad days too.”
In her tiny office I unpacked my baggage and bared my soul. I talked about the hurt and the anger. It was in this space I realized that my ex-husband had abused me and this is where she diagnosed me with PTSD due to medical trauma. I learned to identify my triggers and she gave me the tools to calm myself down. No one should live in flight mode, flight mode means you are not living, you are only existing. Ms. Emily gave me the tools that allowed me to live a life again. Just not a plain Jane life, but the vibrant life that I was always meant to live.
God doesn’t want you to exist, he didn’t make you to just exist. He made you to live. Yes, he made you to live a vibrant life. So if you were like me and you are just going through the motions, stop and ask yourself “am I living a life that I will remember?”
If your answer to the fore mentioned question was, “no.” You my friend are not alone, millions of people around you are also just going through the motions too. Existing is a trauma response, it is something we learn to do in order to protect ourselves. Existing is our armor and as long as we are living in that state nothing can hurt us. Existing allows us to put our thoughts and feelings in our back pockets. If we keep ourselves busy then we do not have time to remember the bad things. I call this being purposefully busy. As long as I kept myself busy and wore the armor of existence the memories, they stayed away. We are not meant to live this way. Take it from someone whose been there, that response it can be unlearned. In therapy I learned that it’s ok to ask for help. Asking for help does not mean we are weak or that we are failing. Asking for help is a sign of strength.
None of us are meant to do this alone. All of us deserve to have a space where we can put our burdens down and bare our soul without being judged or shamed. No one is perfect we all have our own baggage in one form or another. And comparison has no place here, just like our gifts, our baggage is unique to us. No one else can experience what you have experienced, they may be able to relate but they will never understand what it was like to live through that trial. And that’s ok, sometimes all we need is a hug and to be told “this is a safe space, I’m here for you. I will not pry and only share what you are comfortable sharing.” Those very words are what shifted me from the state of existing to living the life that was always meant tor me.