Over the years I’ve struggled with the possibility of a future filled with constant pain. After all, what is a life if it’s continuously filled with pain and all the joy is blotted out? I’ve never wanted to kill myself, but in my darkest moments what I wanted more than anything was for my pain to stop.
Two things stopped me from taking action to take my life.
When I was in middle school someone very close to me attempted suicide. I can safely say that this act was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. It shattered me into a million tiny pieces and cracked the foundation my life was built on. “How could someone I love so much want to leave me? Did she not love me enough to want to stay?”
Twenty years later I still cry when I think about what happened but I also know the truth because I’ve walked that dark path. It made me question everything I thought I knew and permanently changed how I saw the world but the impact didn’t stop there.
Coming so close to losing someone I deeply loved also made me more mindful of peoples’ pain. It opened my eyes to the pain many people carry in secret. And it taught me to appreciate the people we most often taken for granted. In the long run, her act of desperation may have saved my life because after the suicide attempt I promised myself that I would never do something like that to the people I loved.
In 2009, I reached my limit. I was tired of the constant struggle and overwhelmed with physical and emotional pain. In my desperation I prayed to God with all my heart that He would either take away my pain or He would end my life. Car accident, food poisoning, freak avalanche on I-70, I really didn’t care as long as my suffering was over. Since I promised myself I would never attempt suicide I couldn’t be the one to end my life, but maybe He would have enough mercy to end my pain.
He didn’t take away my pain or end my life. Instead, moment by moment, when I didn’t have the strength to rise again, He put people in my path to hold me up and He gave me passion and purpose to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I don’t have the answer to the cosmic question of “Why?” I’ve had to suffer in pain for years. And there is nothing inherently good or redeeming in my pain and suffering. Unless. Unless…
I allow God’s strength and purpose to redeem it. Unless I create my own Why for my suffering. Unless I take the pain and make something purposeful and beautiful out of it.
I’ve made the decision that my pain will have a purpose. I want to use my writing skills, at whatever level they may be, to reach out to others who are struggling alone. I want to use my passion for nutrition and health to help others become active participants in creating their health and happiness. I want to use the knowledge I have gained as a therapist and addictions counselor to help others overcome their negative thought patterns and bad habits so they can live their best life. I want to share my trials and triumphs so others can learn from my mistakes and successes. I want to be vulnerable so others who are struggling feel safe to open up and say, “Me too!”.
Today, my pain has a purpose and this purpose is what gives me the strength to look past the constant pain and daily struggle, to rise again and again.
Many times our truest calling in life comes where our talents and burdens collide. -Rebekah Lyons
If you’re struggling out there alone I want you to know you aren’t truly alone. There is a tribe of people who share your pain and suffering. If you’re feeling like your pain and your life have no purpose please know that your pain can have purpose. You have a mission that no one else can fulfill. Don’t stop now.
Sometimes we need a free fall to teach us to fly. -Rebekah Lyons