30 November 2023

A Thank You To My Former Self

I talked recently about how many different versions of you there are and will be in your life.  A Thousand Different Women.

Of all the women I have been, there is one that I look back on with awe.  With gratitude.  She saved me.

When I am scared, when I think I don't have the guts, when I am sad, or lonely or lost; I think of her.  I am so far away from the girl I used to be, we are practically polar opposites, but our core remains the same.  I owe my life to her.  I have to honour the gift that she gave me.  That gift was my future.

I do not exaggerate when I say that my early twenties almost killed me.  I was falling down a deep hole of depression that I did not understand.  I wanted a reason for it, but in truth there was none.  At least not one that I could recognise back then.

I cried every day.  The pain I felt nearly consumed me and it felt like my soul was splitting in two.  I could see no way out and many times, I thought that it would be better if I were dead.  Nothing could be worse than this pain.

I would go out with friends at weekend and drink to escape it.  It worked, for a few hours at least, until I drank too much and the pain came back.

I never spoke to anyone about how I was feeling.  I was too lost.  Too afraid of telling my best friend, the only real friend I had back then.  What if she couldn't handle it?  What if my problems were too much?  Instead though, she got to see the times when the pain crept back in and I drank too much.  I should have told her.  I should have told someone.  But I didn't.  I suffered alone.

Sometimes I went out driving to try and clear my head.  It was on one of these drives that I passed a cliff road, not too far away from where I lived.  That night was the first night that I really thought about suicide.  Whether I should drive off that cliff.

I cannot remember how many times I went back to that place.  Three times, maybe four.  There was a sort of car park there.  I presume for people who went walking.  I would park up and sit in my car and sob.  I knew that this could not go on much longer.  I could not go on much longer.  The walls around me were crumbling.

My sadness had consumed me.  Nearly whole.  All that was left of me was a fragment, held together with pretense, sticky tape and a strong stubbornness to not to let anyone else see my pain.  

The last time that I drove to that car park, I had a plan.  I couldn't do this anymore.  I could not take the never ending pain.  I just wanted it gone.  Me, gone.  

I clearly remember driving faster as I got nearer to the cliff.   I had made my decision.  But then, as I neared the place, something deep inside me fought back.  A strength, a voice that seemed to surge from nowhere.    

No.  Don't you fucking do it.  I am not dying today.  No.  Pull the fuck over.

It was the strongest feeling that I had ever had, both then and since.  I knew that I had to live.  I did actually want to live.  I just didn't know how.

The black dog of depression had had me for so long, pinned down under its feet that I could not see a way out.  That day, I had felt that there was nothing left of me.  I was consumed.  Yet from nowhere, a tiny fragment of what was left of me, won the battle that day.  A new woman was arising out of my ashes.  She was strong.  She would fight for me.  And she did.  

I cannot say that my life became easier after that, or for many years after.  I still hid the worse parts of me in the shadows.  Still hid the pain.  But something had changed.  I knew that there was a strength in me.   A strength so powerful that it stopped me dead (pardon the pun) in my path of destruction.

Over the years I had fought many battles with the black dog, sometimes taking many steps forward, sometimes a stagger or two to the side.  But I had never stepped back again.

Perhaps this is why that I always refer to myself as being different versions, different women throughout my adult life.  Because there have been many versions of me, many that I could not identify with now, or even understand.  But each version of me has been important.  Another step to the person I am today.  Someone who is whole.  Someone who is happy.  I am no longer lost.  I am found.  Found by myself and found by the man in my life who loves me.  All of me.  It is the “all” part that was the final healing peace of my soul.

I have already fought the battle for my life.  I won.  The sadness and pain that consumed me back then will never do so again.  Because I have built the foundations of my soul back together.  I have healed.  I have grown.

It is stems back and is thanks to the part of me, that version of myself that stepped up and said no.  Not today.  Don't you dare.  She is still in me.  I will never forget her.  I am live today because of her.