Hi. My name is Aurora and I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. A couple months ago, this paralyzed me to the point of, well, the closest I’ve ever been to not wanting to live.
I couldn’t find a reason to get out of bed, go to work, make plans, and just exist as a human being.
I wasn’t living; I was trying my hardest to survive, and I was getting really, really tired of having to try so hard.
I was doing it alone.
I didn’t tell anyone how hard it was. How bad it was getting. How scared I was for myself. None of my family knew. None of my friends knew. I told one person: the one person I knew wouldn’t be able to help me.
In fact, everything on social media during that period of my life was steadily and overwhelmingly full of positive posts and excited plans for the future. I can point to the specific set of squares on Instagram where everything started falling apart. To the outside world, those sets of squares made it look like I was finally starting to get better. It was a guise to counteract how I was truly feeling. To prevent anyone from figuring out what was really going on.
I’d never felt so lost and so confused as to how I had managed to keep getting into situations where I ended up getting hurt or taken advantage of. Everything felt like my fault, because things kept ending horribly, but no one was telling me what I was doing wrong. They just left without explaining why.
I couldn’t find meaning or purpose or an ounce of self-love to carry me through those weeks and months.
It felt like I had made an agreement with the universe: I would show up and live courageously, like it had been asking of me my entire life, and I was supposed to receive acceptance, love, and safety in return. But when I did, when I truly opened up and risked everything, I felt like I had gotten smacked upside the head and knocked to the ground.
The days and nights blurred together and one week faded into the next, but it all felt the same. My body was constantly exhausted; I felt like my physical being was no longer capable of holding in and releasing so much pain over and over again, my stomach tight and twisted from the sobs that started deep in my belly, from a lonely, sad, scared place.
I felt like my heart wasn’t meant for this world because of how it decided to react and respond to stimuli: it would splinter open constantly and the shards would tear at my insides, screaming at my mind to stop thinking, to stop being. I was sure there must be something wrong with me that I can feel this much. I still feel that way when I get depressed.
What do you do when you wake up in the morning, and the idea of being alive is just as scary as all the nightmares you just lived through? I would force myself to fall asleep anyways, knowing I’d get carried back into those nightmares, deciding that getting stuck there was less painful than being awake. This was my reality for I don’t even know how many weeks.
On the days I didn’t work, I would drive around aimlessly until I ended up in some small town. I’d pull over and park the car, tilt the seat back, curl up, and cry myself to sleep. By this point it was usually around 3 pm. Everything I chose to do I did because I was just trying to take up time because everything felt completely pointless. That meant I had 5 more hours before I could consider going to bed and being able to sleep through the whole night. Which, I knew, wouldn’t happen anyways.
I usually hadn’t eaten anything all day, but I could never rationalize spending money or consuming calories when I was so bent on the fact that I had already gained weight in the past few months. So I’d settle for a bag of chips.
Wow, good choice, Aurora.
I’d buy a big one and eat the whole thing in 10 minutes, lick my fingers, drive back home, pack up my things, and head to a local coffee shop to be around people, talk to no one, write, and try to rationalize my way into planning my future.
I still don’t know how I managed to pull myself up and out of what I thought was the beginning of the end of my life.
This is what depression does to you: convinces you that you’re stuck in a town you can no longer leave, where there are no seasons. Everyday is the same, dreary, dense fog, and you are walking along deserted streets, screaming at the top of your lungs for someone to notice your pain, but everyone passes through you, like you’re a ghost, deaf to your desperation.
Despite all of this, despite living for weeks and months of my life like this, since I was a young girl, I am here, writing to you on the other side. Uncertain of what’s next, but much more confident in my ability to make it through, saved by something I still don’t quite understand. But that’s why I write and meditate and share it all: to figure out what I need to do to lift myself up and out of these places, and to share those insights with you, so that it can benefit you in some way or another. Because as much as we convince ourselves we’re alone and that no one understands, both of those things aren’t true.
I try to remind myself of this, that everyone walks around with their own versions of sadness that they carry with them, stories and scars and memories we tuck away in our back pockets and hide for the sake of making others feel comfortable. For the sake of appearing like we have it all together.
“I’m normal, just like the rest of them,” our smiles say.
But sometimes, those we least suspect, those we think have no reason to carry so much pain, are the ones that walk around behind a smile or a laugh, unraveling at the seams.
Which is why we need to be careful, very careful and aware of our fellow humans. Regardless of whatever they appear to present to us on the outside, their insides may be telling a different story we haven’t had the privilege of reading.
Your introverted co-worker. The extroverted guy at the party. The person who cuts us off while driving. The old lady in line at the bank. The grocery guy. Your boss. Your best friend’s little sister. Your girlfriend’s mom.
You have an opportunity, in a split second, with a glance, or a comment, to invite someone to the surface, to pull someone up and out of whatever they may be secretly sorting through. That is incredibly powerful, isn’t it?
I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit that I’m the furthest thing from having it all together. But to me, that’s the point of life and that’s the point of Rooted & Rising. It’s a place where we can come together, share stories, raise one hand to the sky with one hand on our hearts and proudly say, “Me too.” Yep, I’m scared too. Yep, I don’t have a fucking clue what’s going on and I’m on the edge of being convinced that nothing I’m doing is worth a damn but I’m here anyways and I’m trying and it’s hard and it’s painful and it doesn’t always look pretty but I’m trying and that counts for something. This is a place where grief, sadness, fear and insecurity are the badges of honor we wear, because we have overcome so much and we will continue to rise above.
Rooted & Rising.
I’m lucky beyond belief to be able to share these stories and receive so much support from friends and strangers around the world, and I’d love to connect with you. Comment below with your thoughts or shoot me a message via the Contact page.
Love & gratitude,