One year ago today, my life was in shambles.
I danced with death as the world burned around me. My body teetered between Purgatory and Hell: battered, bleeding, and scorched. The world seemed bleak; the storms seemed intense and endless. I’d nearly given up on trying to escape the quicksand of my thoughts, allowing myself to surrender to drowning in my own pain.
Instead of committing my final act and holding an ending pose though, I timidly walked through the electronically controlled doors to my salvation. I trembled as I shared the tale of the path I’d wandered alone for eternity, tears falling as my skin screamed and my heart pounded. My story made it clear that I wasn’t safe, that intense intervention was required, and that it needed to start immediately.
“Please, stay and start tonight.”
I’ll never forget the moment we met, the calm compassion with which you greeted me, the genuine warmth with which you said, “We’re glad that you are here.” The rest of that night flew by like a blur. I remember sitting and listening to the rest of the group, endlessly fidgeting with my metal bracelet as I tried to fight my anxious urges to flee or carve lines into my skin. Though I felt terrified, hopeless, alone, I knew that I’d found a place to be accepted, a place for my pained heart and troubled soul to finally call home.
A miraculous transformation occurred in the nearly four months that I devoted to sitting at that table, spending large portions of my week with you and “the group.” By shattering pots and pulsated breathing, I tore down the walls that had imprisoned me for over a decade. I released my disquietude and entrusted my heart to the group, to the process, and most especially to you. It was through my time with you that I found my voice, embraced my courage, and proclaimed the truth about everything.
The Serenity Prayer became my chant and solace on the darker days. I adopted many of your phrases into my daily vernacular, telling people “don’t should on yourself,” and “recovery isn’t a straight line.” Never had I been willing to complete a high dive into my treatment; before you I stood defiantly against therapists, fearing that I would continue to be misunderstood for the totality of my life.
Rather than signing my soul to the devil one year ago today, I put pen to paper of a contract with the hospital, with myself, with you.
I owe my successes to you, and my blunders, too. There would be no air in my lungs or beating of my heart today without your presence in my life. Though it’s been one year since I began my time with you and eight months since I completed it, you will always be a voice inside of me holding a special place in my heart. I keep the picture we took the night of my “graduation” by my side always, along with my affirmations from the Friday Fishbowl. I channel you anytime I need some motivation or a reminder that I am enough. I think of you so often.
So, on this anniversary of entering treatment, of beginning a new hope, of tearing down the walls of suffering and rebuilding a new life worth living, I dedicate this to you. I thought that August 30, 2017 was the beginning of the end, but, instead, I now know it was only the beginning of a new chapter. Thank you, Devon, for knowing just how to help a troubled soul and how to save a life.