Growing up in a single parent household by default made me subject to dysfunction. Firsthand, I knew what it felt like to not have both parents together, or siblings for that matter. And for some, that may not seem to be such a big deal. But when you are struggling with inner demons, with no one to run to, that becomes a whole different story.
Around age 8 or 9, I began to develop many complexes about myself. Insecurities soon developed into stages of depression, which soon turned to anxiety. First with the way I looked. Raised as an Afro Latina, I struggled so much with not appealing to Eurocentric standards of beauty. In fact, no one told me what it meant to appreciate my blackside because back then #blackgirlmagic simply wasn’t “a thing”.
For so many years, I couldn’t help but to compare myself to other girls. At age 12, social media became a terror game because the more posts I saw, the uglier I felt. Hours on end I would find myself watching the lives of those who were “popular”. Wondering why no one found me attractive, let alone admirable. Nothing about me was perfect, or strong, or significant…and a large part of this way of thinking came from not having that approval or love I so desperately “needed”.
On top of the way I looked, I was always very shy. Making conversation was always such a challenge. I was one of those people clammed up at the thought of making conversation. Even at family functions, I didn’t talk much. Now this doesn’t mean I was completely friendless, in fact I had a decent amount of friends. The only problem was finding meaningful friendships as I cycled through the years with a lot of distrust and division.
I attracted so many one sided friendships. Overextending was all I knew how to do, even if it meant taking a couple of hits to the heart. No matter how much I was made fun of, no matter how many insults I took, no matter how much it hurt to see friends I would pour my all into walk away, still I held unto the hope that I would be good enough for someone.
Due to my crippling self-esteem, I just settled with the pain because I did not want to be completely by myself. With being bullied and isolated during my elementary and junior high days, on top of suffering through countless toxic relationships, I found myself in a ball of unhappiness. With no relatives or friends to confide in, I continued to self destruct in the dark.
In so many instances, the thought of suicide felt like a sweet remedy to ease the pain:
“My life is never going to change.”
“No one understands me, not my family, not my friends, no one.”
“Maybe everyone would be better off without me.”
And for a second, I was ready to give it all away, my first suicide attempt being in the 7th grade.
The Gradual Shift
When 11th grade came in, I grew such a great discontentment, one that actually moved me towards making some changes. Everything stemming from:
The way I was living it,
And practically everyone in it.
One day I had stumbled upon a forum where someone had shared their personal story, similar to mine. And in it, someone left a comment suggesting that the person change the way they are. That maybe things continue to go wrong because of the fact that they continue to attract that type of energy. At that moment, I sat in awe, really reflecting on every struggle I had ever encountered. Every restless night, every crying session, every suicidal thought…could it have all been caused by the choices I was making?
Life’s Brutal Reality
For the most part, we are at fault for the consequences that occur in our lives. I mean think about it. Why choose to be around people and things that genuinely make us so unhappy? Why form our opinions and esteem about ourselves based on what others deem to be true?
Of course, I get it certain things are beyond our reach. You can’t choose your families, and you certainly cannot choose the home you are brought up in. But that right there is the beauty of it. Yes, there is beauty to the uncontrollable: the things that we have absolutely no say in. Because those very details from our past that haunt us can be used to define our story.
God Turns Your Past Into Purpose
I can’t even begin to stress to you how difficult it would have been years ago to imagine what it meant to be free, let alone grasp that very concept.
Free from the burdens of parental issues.
Free from heartbreak and pain.
Free from unwarranted situations.
Free from the endless thoughts that rendered me powerless.
Truth is, there is no magic formula.
There is no way simple way to get around thick layering of discontent and sadness…at least not on our own.
When you begin to understand that the struggles in your life are a part of who you are, you can begin to embrace it. I mean hey, after all you have been through, look at the fact that YOU ARE STILL STANDING. Despite it all, you are still together in one piece. To the eyes of God, that is surely enough.
Today I just want to remind those who are struggling with recycled pains from their past that it is okay. Those things may have hurt you deeply, but they don’t have to anymore. You do not have to give those memories value nor do you have to give those thoughts special placement.
In John 10:10, Jesus tells us “the thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
Whoever that thief may have been (a parent, a sibling, a teacher, a close friend) I pray that you find healing from the pain. May you find peace of mind, in calling unto the Lord, to restore your faith and innocence. We may not have a say in our beginnings but we have a say in how we choose to continue carrying on.
If you find time throughout the day to do so, I strongly encourage you to jot down on one side of paper all of the pain you have experienced in your life; all of the hatred kept bottled inside your heart.
Now on the other side, I want you to jot down the very things in your life you look forward to starting. Maybe it’s something as big as traveling and exploring a new career focus or something small such as learning a new skill or reading a few books. Whatever desire lays upon you, write it down.
Now observe the two, referring to the past as destination “A” and the present as destination “B”.
In order to get to where you need to go, figure out what it is you are holding unto to and let it go. Claim freedom in the name of Jesus, and I promise you it will come. When you call unto Him, no person or thought can keep holding you captive. Understand, that this growth is not a destination but a journey that requires healing and strong will power. Remember no force can ever drag you back into that sunken place, as long as you make the decision to break free.