How is it even possible that 5 years ago was only 5 years ago?! What I mean is that when Facebook or Instagram reminds of my memories from that time, it feels like a lifetime ago. You see, 5 years ago I had an awakening. It was like I had been wearing blinders for the entirety of my adult life, and during the span of about 6 months, I shed those blinders. In that time, I began to write poetry fervently; it poured out of me. I also started a fashion blog and took up running every day. My mind and body were in peak condition. I began running as a way to simply get out of the house when I felt cooped up. It was a form of controlled escape, but the underlying benefits were that my clothes were fitting better and I felt absolutely fantastic. My poetry was only subpar, but it brought me joy to write, so I continued with studious diligence.
Up to this point in my adult life, I mostly had lived for the betterment and in service to others: my family, my daughter, my church, my students, my bosses. I was forced to live up to the expectations of the life I had chosen when I was 20 (maybe even younger). I had built my life to resemble the perfect picture I had been shown as a young impressionable adolescent, which is why it was so disheartening to feel this nagging, gnawing sensation that I was living the wrong life. In short, I was completely miserable. Clinically depressed with bouts of anxiety. I had tried everything to cure this emptiness: go to church, meet more friends, host a Bible study, take antidepressants, take vitamins, gain weight, lose weight, serve in the church more, listen to more Christian music, read more Christian books, serve more, do more, pray more, seek counseling; yet nothing could stop the aching feeling that tormented when I was alone. This feeling often would keep me up at night. It would visit me in fleeting moments when I drove my car near a cliff, suggesting that if I simply slipped off the road, I could be rid of this terrible agony that had become my life. My daughter was the only thing that could keep this dark thought at bay. She was the quiet moon in the darkest sky. Her very existence made me realize that life was worth living and that I had to find a way to rid myself of this darkness that clouded my mind. I can’t say that there was one thing that made me change or shed my sorrow. But, I do know this: all of the changes working together have brought me to a place of peace and happiness.
It began with exploration: writing, running, blogging. I was exploring who I really was inside and out. Then, it was about removing things from my life that were seemingly good and positive but that contributed to my depression and anxiety: my marriage, my job, my coworkers, my church. I lost my entire life in a matter of months: stripped away of nearly everything to reveal the real me. Just Jaime. And just my daughter. Once I was emptied of all that I had put into my life, I began to fill it up with new experiences, new friendships, a new job and romantic relationship; basically, a new life. But a few things remained: me, my daughter, my family, and my closest friends. And I realized how happy those simple things and relationships made me.
My mom once told me after I had established my new life that I had jumped without a net, but that God provided the net just when I needed it. I’d like to say that I had faith a net would materialize when I jumped into my new beginnings, but honestly I didn’t think that far ahead. It was like I was in a burning building and the only way to survive was to jump into the unknown. So, that’s what I did. I jumped without a safety net. But God loves us. He loves me. And he provided me with the best net, better than I could have asked for. And maybe there’s the lesson: I used to live my life asking God for things with certainty that I knew what I wanted or needed. Now, I just live my life and let him provide the net when he thinks I need it. And I’m so much happier because of this perspective shift. It’s funny, I don’t really write poetry anymore. It doesn’t come to me anymore, so I don’t force it. I don’t really blog anymore. I do, on occasion, still run and find pleasure in the exercise. I no longer feel those dark feelings or thoughts. I feel free and happy. More than anything now, I simply enjoy my life as it is happening and feel so grateful for the journey and for the net the God provided for me.