A moment in time

14 Mar, 2022

I’ll never forget that moment on the beach when I discovered the warrior that lived inside me. The moment when I let my pain truly wash over me and accepted that I was different, my heart was a shattered mess, but I was free.

I was a troubled woman in her mid-20s sitting on a sandy beach, staring out at Lake Ontario as the summer heat gave way to the night and the sun began to set on the horizon. The beach house I was living in stood looming behind me, and at first glance, it would have looked as though I was living the life any writer would crave, but a closer look would reveal tears streaming down my face. Yes, I lived in that house, but in a small section of the basement, big enough only for a single bed, a camping stove and a small pile of books. It was what I felt I deserved.

Sitting there, I couldn’t feel the sand beneath me, and I couldn’t feel the cold creeping in. My mind was distracted as I seriously debated walking into that lake and allowing the water to pull me under. I had been treading water for years, feeling it slowly creep up my body, pulling me deeper and deeper under until I could barely keep my mouth and nose above it. I can remember thinking to myself, sure, I’d had a difficult life, but so had so many others. It was as though my past was dragging me under, reminding me of pain, abuse and heartbreak. When I looked at my past, I saw darkness, and when I looked into my future, all I could see was… fog. A swirling dark fog making it hard to move forward or feel. Although I had my best furry friend by my side, I didn’t feel I had anyone I could truly open up to or tell my story to. I was frustrated because I was overwhelmed by this sense that if I was to make it in this world, I needed to make something of myself. I needed to make lots of money, get a respectable job, and be the best in my field. I felt the pressure to be over the top happy, to smash down my grief, to smile through it all and be the best- without complaints. I heard time and time again that no one wanted to know a woman who was flawed, broken or damaged, and because of that, I would never be wanted or needed.

To be honest, I never was a woman who would curl up in the face of adversity; that was what I considered my one redeeming trait. If anything, being told no or being put down would push me to do whatever I wanted to do anyway. The problem was that things had just gotten too heavy and stressful, and I could feel myself shutting down, slipping away from the life I was sleeping through. I say sleeping because that’s what it was. Knowing that no one wanted to know or cared about my story meant that I had to play a part. On the outside, I was presenting to the world a woman who was put together, confident, vivacious and happy. This acting would eat away at me from the inside until finally, when alone and could let down my guard and crumble, I would fall exhausted into bed and try to welcome the sweet silence of sleep.

Sitting there, contemplating life, or the will to live, I saw two options. I could take two very different paths, each leading to a solid outcome. I could give up, give in and allow my secrets and my despair to pull me beneath the surface of the water, lost to the seas forever. On the flip side, I could dig deeper and become my own knight in shining armour. I could say screw it to the expectations, the way society says life has to be, and I could build a life on my terms.

I sat there looking out at the sun sliding behind the clouds, watching as the brightness of summer turned to darkness. I took the dark and lack of stars as a sign of what I should do. As I took a deep breath and stepped forward, I heard a noise and looked down beside me. It was my soul mate and partner in crime, Psycho. She meowed, and as I looked into her eyes, I swear everything slid into place. There she was as she had been so many times before my voice of reason. I closed my eyes, and ideas just began rushing at me, and it was then that I realized my connection to the darkness and the strength within it.

Moments of my life began to flash through my mind, and I could see how I had taken a backseat, a side role in my life to make sure everyone else was comfortable, safe and protected. I was allowing my needs, my strength, to slip away because I thought of myself as broken and damaged. The fear that followed me around was syphoning from me the power at my core. When that thought entered my mind, it was as though a sharp jolt of electricity shuddered through my body, and as I opened my eyes, I could tell I was a different person.

The weight and fear were still there, but it was like I could breathe; I could think. I had compared myself to others, my situation to the “norm” for so long, and I was done. As I stood up and brushed the sand from my pants, I felt the flutters of excitement in my gut for the first time in years. I was done being the person others wanted me to be, done floundering in the past, terrified of the future. I was done searching for a life vest and supports that just weren’t there. Picking up Psycho was like picking up a sword, and with her by my side, I could vanquish whatever demons and fear monsters crept up. I took a breath, I welcomed the darkness, and I accepted that while the light may protect and provide comfort to some, to me, the darkness was where I found strength.