When I was a teen I wrote a lot of poetry; very dark poetry. There were a lot of messages about suicide in the words that came from me. It terrified my mother. I didn’t have a lot of value for my own life in those days. I was depressed, angry, full of a rage that I felt I couldn’t control. I drank a lot, did drugs, kept to myself and did my best to let no one penetrate who I was. Not even I knew who I was really.
I look back on those days and it feels like a different person. This young girl with black hair, dark clothes, loads of makeup not caring about herself or taking care of herself. Lashing out at everyone around her. But also hurting. Hurting so much inside. It felt like I had a darkness within me that I simply couldn’t shake. It swallowed me whole and I was swimming in it, unable to escape. This darkness stayed with me through my twenties. I tried to repress it through alcohol. I drank every day. I would wake up and be so disappointed that I hadn’t died overnight. This deep sadness, deep feeling of hopelessness was all encompassing. In my early thirties alcohol was no longer a reprieve for me. I was not feeling good anymore from alcohol. I would wake with shame along with the disappointment. I didn’t know how to escape myself anymore. But still I drank. Until I caught a little glimmer of myself and my destructive behavior. Until the shame got to be bigger than the attempt at repression. Only then did I open my eyes and see what I was doing to myself, my daughter, my family. I stopped drinking and that act divided my life into parts. The person I was then and the person I started to become. It was like my personal black hole. Everything that had been moving further and further into the darkness suddenly began to move into the lightness. It’s been 15 years since I last drank and I’m still finding more light, still learning about who I am and about what I’m capable of. I’m still expanding. I’m also still aware that I have the capacity for darkness within me. It is important to remember. Without remembering where I’ve been I am more liable to repeat the past. Remembering doesn’t mean wallowing, doesn’t mean feeling guilty, doesn’t mean punishing. It’s simply a remembrance. This is a harder lesson – to forgive my past. To forgive myself for the times that I didn’t care for my daughter. To forgive myself for the times that I worried my parents to the point of despair. To forgive myself for all of it. And to know that this path of darkness is what led me to the path of lightness. I am who I am because of everything that I’ve experienced. And my daughter is who she is because of everything she experienced. And she’s a pretty awesome young woman. So maybe one day I’ll look at myself and say I’m pretty awesome too, not despite my past, but in part because of it.