One time I told my coworker Brian I was sad. I told him I’ve been sad for a while. His facial expression was surprise and confusion. “But you’re the happiest, most bubbly person I know”.
You never really know what’s going on in someone’s life unless you take the time to ask and even then, you’ll likely get a version of the truth, at best. That particular encounter with Brian was a lesson to me: if a person wants help, they have to proactively seek it.
For the past 15 years, I’ve never proactively sought help. A few times help found me and though I resisted it in the moment, I now know the help I received was quite literally a life saver.
As we grow from children to adolescents to adults, it is rare for help to find us. My good friend Jesse said it best: “There is only one thing that is known to you, in this world. And that is yourself. You must help yourself”.
From an early onset eating disorder to being in the closet, I’ve built up years of self-loathing. I’ve jumped from one short relationship to another, drinking in a person’s desire for me as a way to fill a void I couldn’t fill myself. I wholly relied on external forces to feel good. I was a strong believer in talk therapy…being a scam. I believed the only way to make yourself feel better was to a) pound the pavement or b) find someone to love you. I believed the only yoga worth doing was power yoga in a 100 degree room. I believed meditation was for monks. I believed life was best spent sprinting forward, seeking adventure and adrenaline.
After a particularly dark moment on Jan 2 (way to kick off the new year, right), I knew something had to give. I couldn’t rely on my security blanket because my warm, comforting security blanket was gone. So were all my previous blankets. I had no one left to fill my voids.
But I did have one person left. Me.
In my 16 days of meditative Yoga Camp, 12 hours of meditation*, 3 months of talk therapy, and 1 book read on addictions, I’ve learned a few mantras to carry with me:
- I create my own happiness
- I chose joy over suffering
- I release toxic thoughts
- I trust good things will come with time
- I am present (to learn from the past but not dwell on it; to provide for a good future but not bank on it)
*Not bad for someone who historically cannot sit still for 5 minutes! Proud of myself.
Maybe I’ll never be someone who choses meditation over volleyball, or a zen retreat over cliff jumping. Maybe I’ll still feel jealousy and heartache and moments of self-destruction. But the journey has just begun, and although the road may be long, I feel good about the destination. Really good**.
**Kind of good. Depends on the moment.