Updated: Feb 2
As I walked into my home after a day at work, I was met with the sight of my roommate, Abbie, sitting at the dining table with a look of frustration etched onto her face. She had lost her purse and had been searching for it frantically. In an effort to help, I immediately set to work searching for the elusive item in all the inconspicuous places it could have possibly been put. As I searched, I stumbled upon a small satchel I had not seen in a while, which I opened with excitement. To my delight, I found a pair of my favorite earrings nestled amongst a handful of knick-knacks. I emptied the items onto the bathroom counter and together with Abbie, sifted through them. As she pulled a bullet from the mix of trinkets, she held it up and asked, "What is this?"
This question took me back to a warm September morning in 2015, where I sat in my car parked outside a bar, crying hysterically and texting anyone who might be able to help me. I was at my lowest point, completely demoralized and having done the unthinkable. The barrel of a gun with one bullet pressed firmly against my temple, 15 Tramadol tablets melting in my left fist. But then, suddenly, a calm washed over me. It was as if a voice whispered in my ear, "None of this is real," yet offered no context to this statement.
As I sat at the dining table with Abbie, I reflected on a painful moment in my past. On that warm September morning in 2015, I found myself at my lowest point. I was crying uncontrollably, with a gun pressed against my temple and 15 tramadol in my hand. It was a moment of desperation and utter demoralization.
As the ambulance took me to the psych ward, I encountered the cruelty of the paramedic who mistreated me, calling me names and zip tying my wrists to a gurney. Despite my protests, he forced drugs into my system and got away with his abuse. Society had dehumanized and stigmatized me because of my addiction, taking away my credibility and dignity.
That day marked a turning point for me, the day I lost hope in humanity. But I choose to hold on to a symbol of hope, the bullet that represents that day. It may seem morbid to some, but it serves as a reminder of how far I have come and the strength I have gained. And when Abbie asked why I keep it, I shared with her its significance to me.
As I sat there, reflecting on my experiences, I realized that I had been searching for something all my life. For many years, I felt lost, searching for love, connection, acceptance, and belonging. I wandered through dark bar rooms, looking for fulfillment in my husband, my career, my kids, my family, and even in strangers. I searched for it all, seeking solace in anything that would provide me with comfort and a sense of belonging. But nothing seemed to provide the answers I was seeking.
It was during this time of searching and soul-searching that I had an awakening, a spiritual realization that changed my perspective. I cannot pinpoint the exact moment or cause of this transformation, but I know that it was a culmination of my disappointments, regrets, fears, and complex trauma. And then, just as before, I heard a whisper in my ear: "none of this is real." But this time, I was ready to listen and understand the meaning behind those words.
I began to understand that my search for love and acceptance was rooted in a deep longing for something that was not truly real. I had been seeking happiness in external sources, when it was always within me, waiting to be discovered. And so, I continued on my journey, not searching for external validation but seeking the truth within myself.
Seven months ago, I reached a turning point in my recovery. That day, I felt the weight of wanting to give up on life lifted off my shoulders. Instead, I experienced the presence of a higher power, and I was filled with a love that was unconditional and all-encompassing. This experience marked a shift in my journey, from searching to seeking.
Now, every day is a continuation of that journey. I focus on my relationship with myself and strive to share the love I have been so generously given. I recognize that this experience does not define me, but it has shaped who I am today and drives me to live my life in a way that honors the gift I have been given.