Finding Myself Through Darkness
Words by Jennifer P
What comes to mind when one thinks of a life crisis? I can say with the utmost certainty that I would have a very different answer now than a mere year and a half ago. On April 13, 2016, my son came into the world like lightning, growing our family from three to four, and altering my life in ways I never thought possible. From one of the best days of my life came the deepest, darkest depression that ripped me apart layer by layer. As it tore through me I was an outline of a person, trying desperately to maintain the status quo expected by so many in the age of social media. The happy mother; the perfect children; the wondrous life that people could only dream of.
Except it was a lie. An artificial construct, meant to hide all that I had lost in the dark.
Several months later, well after initiating a treatment plan to dig my way out of the dark, I was sitting in a comfortable chair enjoying a few moments of peace while I watched my son and daughter playing on the floor. A thought came into my head, a quote from a book that I loved in a life past (and a quote from a popular sci-fi series) – "because survival is insufficient." It sparked something inside of me. I realized I was in survival mode, operating at just the bare minimum so I could keep myself and my kids alive which was necessary while I was recovering. I had no idea who I was, what I stood for, or where I was going. Deep down all the layers of myself that I once held dear were still there, waiting to be rediscovered! Who knew, maybe there were more! I set out on a path to learn about myself in a deep and meaningful way.
The Me that Loves to Create
I had loved art. Doodling, painting, drawing. I started with colouring books, a fun activity I could do with my daughter. I noticed the calm I felt while colouring, the satisfaction with a page finished in the way I had planned. I longed to create more. My mom taught me how to crochet, an activity I had attempted as a teenager but lacked the patience for, but now gave me something to keep my hands busy and purposeful. Turns out, I’m actually pretty good at it.
The Me that Loves Nature
I had loved the outdoors. As a child, we went camping a lot, and I spent my days at home wandering around our neighbourhood. I had lost this as an adult, too caught up in life and responsibilities to stop and enjoy the beauty around me. I started taking the kids on walks in our river valley, or just around our neighbourhood. We’d stop and look at plants, listen to the birds, or just watch how calm the water was in our pond. I admired the beauty of snow. I longed for the return of the geese after a long winter. It renews my heart and mind.
The Me that Loves Community
I had loved bringing my community together. Such things were feeling like an obligation rather than a passion, but with a renewed sense of purpose, I started again with a project dear to my heart. Every day, I am inspired by the generosity and kindness I see in my community, and it reminds me that there are helpers and good people everywhere.
The Me that Loves Simplicity
I had loved chaos. Being in the middle of everything, having everything, being everything. I had loved to keep up the appearance that I was an amazing multitasker and could do it all. I made the decision to let this go. This was a part of myself that wasn’t helpful, and taking on simplicity centered me to what is important. Fewer things, fewer commitments, fewer ways to create stress, and fewer distractions.
The Me that Loves Myself
I had loved myself once. I was a shameless advocate, a fierce supporter, my biggest cheerleader. This is now a constant work in progress. As I find my layers again, find the things that bring that spark back, I love myself more and more. Every day, I struggle with letting the dark back in, but every day that I win I get a little more spark, a little lighter, and a lot more loving.
While I do hope that I am able to wake up one day and not have that dark cloud around, I hope that I never stop discovering new layers of myself. It has been the hardest journey, but the most rewarding in every way possible.
Jennifer is a Registered Nurse living in Alberta, Canada.