I was 20 when I started this blog in 2010. If I had tried then to imagine my life at 26, it wouldn't have been anything like it is. Thankfully, though, this isn't a bad thing. Ideally, I would've moved away in 2013 and escaped the events of the last 3 years, and I would've had my dream design business up and running, but life threw me an intense curveball, and the lessons I've learned as a result, through reclaiming my life, are far more powerful than anything I could've wrapped my head around 6 years ago.
To rewind a little, late 2013 through late 2015 was Hell for me. Not just a nightmare, but absolute Hell. I used to think how nice it would be if I could write about the experience here or elsewhere (just to get it out), but I no longer feel the need to explain it in detail. I also don't believe I could ever truly describe how painful and paralyzing those 2 years were. Without exaggeration, everything I ever built my life/identity/beliefs on for the first 22 years of my life crumbled completely during those 24 months. Living with someone who put me through Hell, watching those I love most get sick and lose their footing, experiencing anxiety on a level I never dreamed possible (constant full blown panic attacks) and realizing the spiritual beliefs I built my confidence and self worth on were a lie, ate away every last fiber of who I thought I was. If all this sounds dramatic, that's because it was.
I was even suicidal. How do I begin to describe what that actually feels like? It's as though some impossibly large, unbeatably strong shadow figure, comprised of every negative thought/feeling/experience you've ever had and every horrible thing anyone's ever done to you, is compounded into one purely dark energetic force, grabbing you by the throat from behind and screaming at you to kill yourself. It's Hell. I've never romanticized suicide in my mind and never thought I'd be suicidal, but for at least 2 weeks, I reached that lowest of points.
Things did get better (obviously), but the process was slow. Climbing my way out of Hell (which someone else dragged me into), and doing so entirely on my own, did not restore me to who I was circa 2012 before this all went down. It stripped away everything until I was left with only the essence of who I am. It broke the shell completely and peeled back each layer of conditioning I had built my identity on. I realized how much of my true self I had compromised over the years in the name of pleasing people. I never thought of myself as a people pleaser, but I was. I always tried to appeal, simultaneously, to the various groups I was a part of (my Christian family, the friends I smoked weed with in high school, those I traveled to Haiti and Tanzania with as missionaries, the friends I made in fashion school, etc.). It's not that I ever pretended to be something I wasn't, it's that I was all of these things and that's not easy for people to put neatly in a box. I always felt like there was something about myself I had to hide, depending on who I was with, but now I just don't care.
In rebuilding my life, I didn't rebuild who I was in 2012, I remembered who I was long before that, and what has always been there, deep beneath the delicate facade - a version of myself far stronger, more confident, less apologetic, more primal and no less friendly or empathetic. I have zero tolerance for Bullshit. And by that, I mostly mean people. I will never, ever, under any circumstance, let someone treat me the way this person did, ever again. People who hurt me, use me or just want to feed off my energy vampirically, have no place in my life, period.
What I feel now is something akin to waking up after a long sleep to find myself in a vast landscape, stretching as far as the eye can see, and looking up at the most breathtaking sunrise I've ever seen. It's not a warm, fuzzy feeling, like curling up on the couch in your small suburban home, or some fantastical feeling, like a dream that's always just out of reach. It's something bigger, wilder and more dangerous, like that feeling that maybe, just maybe, anything is possible.