What would it be like to walk barefoot through life? To feel all of the world beneath your feet the whole time. To feel the pavement, the twigs, the dirt, the warm water, the cold snow, the way the earth breathes into your feet. I picture it being like how empathy feels when a person has the capacity to give it-to really give it.
When I think about empathy, I think about the few times that I have been able to really give it to someone fully and I think about how hard it was to do. It isn't easy to be empathetic. It isn't easy to hear about someone's darkness and to honestly and truthfully sit with them in it; immersed in their pain and their doubt.
For months now I've been feeling like I lost that ability and I thought about how that could have happened. I thought about all of the changes that have occurred this last year that may have contributed. I thought about how I stopped taking my meds- but that couldn't be it, I told myself- those numbed me to any feelings-that can't be it. So I thought about how I've been hurt by people closest to me- that can't be it either, I told myself. That's happened before-that isn't in your control and you know that. That can't be it. So maybe it was all of the change. Maybe it was the guilt of being less than the person than I know that I am. I couldn't find the answers. Not for months. There wasn't one.
Then this week, I went to work like always. And on Thursday I met with someone in their home. The building itself is a reminder of someone who I used to work with-someone who died. It's hard to go in sometimes because I miss that person a lot. But I always do because life goes on and I have to move along with it. So I went in to do my job- the job I've always done. And I met with who I was there to see.
The room mirrored her sadness. It was dark and crowded. She said "sometimes I just want to fall asleep and never wake back up." Those are words I've said many times. A feeling that I've felt a hundred times. And I told her that. She then proceeded to ask me how I got through it and I gathered myself and looked at her with all of the wisdom I could muster and told her that I didn't know- that I held onto whatever I could and I pulled myself into tomorrow-that I crawled myself to the afternoon-that I forced myself up and out of my shell-that I sat with myself in my physical and metaphorical darkness until my heart had enough and until my mind was strong enough to fight. And that's what I told her- I told her that I made a choice to fight and that I made the choice because I decided that all of the reasons why I was in the dark shouldn't be allowed to be the things that kept me there. I made a choice.
After the meeting, I got up and walked out of the building. I stepped out into the crisp air and my heart exploded into my chest. A lump grew in my throat. My eyes welled. I told myself I needed to just get to my vehicle-that I needed to hold it together. And when I got in, I sobbed. And then I realized that for the first time in months, I gave into empathy. I gave her a piece of myself while we sat in her darkness. And in doing so, I realized that I didn't need that piece anymore-but she did. I think I've made it a point to fight through every obstacle life throws at me. I've learned to love myself and to accept my faults. I've learned to take the hard moments or days or situations or decisions and to learn from them and grow from them. So I don't need the piece of me that reminds me that I was broken. Because I'm not anymore. And not breaking down every time I have a hard moment doesn't mean that I am less empathetic- it means that I'm stronger than I once was. And feeling empathy in moments like the one on Thursday are there to remind me that I don't have to live there anymore, and that I cant carry everything from my past into my future- that I can't carry other people's pain into my future, even though that's what I feel like I'm wired to do.
What I can do is to give those pieces of myself away to the people that need them now ad hope that they make the choices that they need to make for themselves-that they will learn to cope and fight and scratch their way through in whatever way they can. It's my hope that she can do that.
I don't have the answers for why bad things happen to good people. I don't understand life's mysteries. But I do believe in growth and in change. I believe in resilience, and I believe that caterpillars undergo a great deal of darkness before becoming butterflies- as lame and cliché as that is.
"We are all of us, gods and mortals, made up of many pieces, some of them broken, some of them scarred, but none of them the total sum of who we are." -Robin LaFevers
My name is Morgan and I have a passion for writing, just as I have a passion for supporting those that suffer from various mental health concerns. I fully believe that each day is brand new and we can do with it as we wish. Mental illness is crippling, and you may lose the battle but that does not mean that you will lose the war. Keep fighting and know that you are not, and never will be, alone.