Sunday, 7 July 2013

When Emptiness is an Addiction

This post is really hard for me to write. I’m not gonna lie; it’s a bit of a heavy post. But one that needs to be shared. If nothing else, for my own sake. This is sort of the conclusion of my story (for now…I’m only sixteen; there’s WAY more to come!) True to every story, it gets darker right before the happy ending.

So here we go (big breath)!

We finally moved, and I declared that I wanted nothing to do with my old city, church, or friends. Other than my best friend, who still lived there, I was so done. I thought that now that I was out, everything would get better.

Things. Got. Way. Worse.
Tensions in everyone in my family had been building up, and I guess finally moving out was all that was needed to let everything out. Things at home were not good. My brother and I were being homeschooled, which we had never done before. That was not working. At all. My brother was having some challenges in his schoolwork and my mom—who is gifted in a lot of areas—is not gifted to be a teacher. So that was not working out. My academics were going okay, though I was still adjusting to the new format of schoolwork. I was instead stuck in a crazy emotional state, and that was putting a lot of stress on my relationship with the rest of my family, especially my mom. Honestly, my dad dreaded coming home after work, because he knew he would probably have to sort out some big argument between me and my mom.

Like I said, my emotional state was really making things difficult at home. I was never happy—almost to the point of tears most hours. I cried in my bed until I fell asleep, which usually took a few hours, and then I didn’t want to get up in the morning because I didn’t see a point. I didn’t feel the need to do anything. My schoolwork and good grades had always been a big deal to me, but I even lost motivation to do those. I was also extremely angry, and anything could set me off. I ate barely any food, partly because I hated the way I looked, partly because I just liked the emptiness. I thought I was so fat. I was so disgusted with myself, both inside and out. Anytime I did eat, I wanted to hurl it all back out. And I tried, but I was never able to. Then I got angry at myself for that. I was a big ol’ mess. Here’s the thing, though. Everything that I hated about the other city was not a problem anymore. The people in our new church were really nice. I was making new friends. There was no girl drama, no gossip, no bullying. So why had things gotten so much worse emotionally?

I was still me. I hadn’t truly dealt with the things that had happened in our other city. I had chosen to respond to and deal with it the wrong way, and now I was paying the consequences. The pain and emptiness and sadness were all I had known for the past several months. Now, I was scared to feel anything else. I didn’t want to be happy, because I knew that something would happen that would ruin that happiness. I was hesitant to open myself up to new friends, because I had experienced such hurt. I had blamed others for all my problems, without truly dealing with my heart. I didn’t enjoy feeling this way, but I didn’t want to take a risk of feeling good again.

The emptiness had become an addiction. Kind of a scary thought. No, I wasn’t addicted to meth or alcohol, but this emptiness was wreaking just as much havoc.

As Christmas came, I got more down. All the happiness around me that usually made Christmas my favorite holiday just irritated me now. The day after Christmas, I wrote this in my barely-used journal

“I feel so hopeless right now. I just want to stay in bed and cry myself to sleep over and over again... I’m just falling. Sometimes I catch a branch and I can hold on. Those times the whole world is going great. But then I fall again. Lower than I was before… I wasn’t ready for hell on earth. I pray and I go to church, but I feel nothing…Any moment, I could break.” Yikes.

Then on December 31, at 1:07 in the morning, I wrote again. Same sort of thing. I had just come back from a birthday party for some friends, and I had felt so out of place every moment there. Not because anyone was mean to me—just the opposite. Everyone was really nice, but I just wanted to crawl in a hole and cry. I started seeing a counselor. She helped me to put everything in perspective. She helped me to move past the death of my grandpa, and to start letting go of hurts. Man, it was hard and painful. Every time I thought I had made progress, I fell flat on my butt, and I didn’t want to get back up again. It was still hard to get out of bed. And frankly, I wasn’t really sure how my relationship with God was going.

Then one day, after I had dragged myself out of bed, I was reading my Bible, and I found this verse.

I can lie down and go to sleep, and I will wake up again, because the Lord gives me strength. I think I did a double-take. Something so simple. Just waking up, and God cared about that. I think that was when my healing truly began.

My path to healing has been rough. I still slip up—a lot. I still feel waves of bitterness come over me. Sometimes I think that I was better off when I wasn’t happy. Some days are just plain hard, and I want to hide back under my covers.

But I keep going. Because I have friends that believe in me. I have parents that believe in me. I have a God that believes in me. Maybe you find yourself in the same situation. Maybe school is over, and everyone around you is happy, but you just can’t be. The thought of happiness scares you. Maybe you’ve had people preach at you to just get over it. Maybe you’ve been told that there must be something wrong in your faith walk. Maybe you don’t give a crap about what God says.

Wherever you are right now, whether you’re in a pit, just climbing out of one, or on top of the world, I invite you to join me in finding a purpose stronger and greater than harmful addiction. Because at the end of the day, that was the biggest lesson I learned. I had to take my eyes off myself and my problems to see the bigger purpose around me—a purpose bigger than my mess. I’m still learning and growing. I still have to be careful to not slip into another severe depression. But I have a purpose now, and that makes life a little bit brighter.

As I’ve shared my story, I’ve talked a lot about God. He is very real to me, and I understand that not everyone feels the same way. I completely get that. No matter what your views, I’d still love to have you along. Maybe you’ll learn something new about my God who loves me enough to give me strength just to get out of bed in the morning. Or maybe you’ll learn some really good coping strategies. Either way, I think it’s worth a shot.



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