Three Years of Growth
Trigger warning: suicide and sexual assault
December 2017, I was living in a tiny studio apartment in Los Angeles working what was supposed to be my dream job, but what was actually constant stress and almost a certainty I was going to be fired and penniless.
I had moved to LA at the beginning of the year after a couple of really, really hard years and was hoping for a new start. I had some good connections but honestly no real friends. As I tried to make friends, one of my male coworkers was one of the only people who was not just friendly but actively trying to make plans with me.
We hung out once with a third coworker and had a really fun, relaxed time. I decided to celebrate with him for 4th of july that year. Once we were both drunk, he followed me to the bathroom and started forcing himself on me. I kept telling him to stop. He didn't. Fortunately one of his friends came to check on us (a sign that this isn't unusual for him) and I left as quickly as I could.
I completely shut down. I'd been down for so long and finally breaking out of my shell only to be completely betrayed. I didn't know how to be safe besides isolating myself from the world.
So by December I was completely alone, running out of money due to health issues I had no control over, and seemingly with no way out. I had a work trip that I had planned to carpool for.
I almost gave up that morning. I wanted to be out of the world so fucking badly. But, I had agreed to carpool and couldn't leave my boss hanging... (trying so hard to take baby steps). I barely packed. On that trip, I connected with a friend who became my best friend for the next 2 years. I got therapy and I got stronger and last August I moved to Colorado. In 2017, I thought there was nothing left to live for.
I thought depression, anxiety, and loneliness were facts of life.
As I write this, I'm approaching my 28th birthday. I'm living in Colorado, running the business of my dreams.
I have plans this weekend with friends that I know are true, because I've been able to be authentic with them and they love me more for it.
I've let go of so much perfectionism and "never enough."
The parts of me that I thought of as weaknesses like my empathy, my jack-of-all-trades-ness, my "over"thinking, my patient listening, I'm learning not only have a place in my life, but are what are leading me to success. Success that is real fulfillment and not the hollow success of other people's visions.
I've always wanted to change the world, but felt too small and too stupid. Now I know I have more than enough strength to make the impact I've always dreamed of.
I have so much vocabulary for why I felt so depressed, anxious, and lonely and it was never because I was broken. Most of the time, it was just because I was told to ignore the truth I've carried within me the whole time.
I thought the world was a small, cold and cruel place and it can be, but it can also be so much more.
All my dreams have not come true. I'm not living in constant emotional paradise, but I am living in strength and purpose and love.
Many days I wonder if I'm making any progress at all and want to stop my work because I'm not sure I can keep my faith in it.
And then there are days like today, where I go to bed crying tears of gratitude and joy for just how far I've come. For knowing the friends I'm seeing this weekend love me for me. For knowing I get to make a difference. For my resilience.
For the girl who never thought she would ever belong anywhere, it's crazy how much you're a perfect fit.