It was nearly two decades ago that I wrote what I thought my life’s purpose was. I had no idea at the time how full circle life would come. Though, I must admit, a circle isn’t accurate. That would mean ending at the start, and that could not be further from how life works. If anything, it has been more like a spiral, semi-familiar, nearing repeated points, but still different. It took spiraling to come back to the conclusion that life was about love and preserving it.
I had ambitions when I was younger. My whole life lay before me, and I was ready to tackle the world around me, saving anyone I could along the way. Admirable? Maybe. Naïve? Absolutely. I had no idea that this “do all, be all” attitude could become my undoing and eventually would be. I have since learned, “you cannot pour from an empty cup,” as the adage goes. I poured and poured without realizing the very cup I was serving from had cracks, slowly spidering, subtly leaking. In retrospect, it was amazing that it didn’t shatter sooner. The resilience of that cup was amazing. Broken as that cup was, I look back fondly.
There was never one certain point that added to the damage, signaling peril right around the corner. It was a culmination of experiences or as some would call it: traumas. All of these began with choices. Some of them were mine; some belonged to others. There are defining moments that have nothing to do with choice but merely circumstance. Those were the hardest to swallow. There were times when it was absolutely a group effort borne of chaos and calamity. Back then we thought it was being “fun” and “wild.” It was. Either description fits depending on the narrative we sold ourselves that day, hushing the inner voices reverberating just beneath our skin. Some would call that shame, anxiety, an internal restlessness. Back then, it was just another reason to produce some new adventure to experience. Heaven forbid we sit with ourselves and listen.
It took years. The face of the issue always changed or renamed, but the spiraling remained. It initially was something of a mellow carnival ride, but slowly became the nausea-inducing death trap some say roller coasters are. Those voices, the traumatic experiences, were forever present as I was slowly checking out. They say zombies are not real, but I swear I was the living dead. A ghost of my former self if that former self really existed. Down was up, up was down. What was reality? What was life? The existential crisis had enveloped me for years, but now it was conceived with this undercurrent of loathing and anger. Remorse and guilt became my only friends. I was consumed, burning in the acid of contemplation. It was finally too much, and I had to quench myself to alleviate the stings dealt to me.
Who knew death would become the beginning of life? I had escaped it a few times, been brushed with the necessity of primal survival in others. This was different. I saw the end and I ran toward it, ready to embrace it and begin the act of becoming one with it. That was short lived. The ultimate rejection occurred and became the catalyst for life to truly begin again. I’ve never been more grateful for rejection. A second chance, not without consequence, but a chance nonetheless. Hope had been born.
It took another two years since that ultimate rejection, but things are different now. That ambitious person is back, just with a few more years of experience to account for. I’m in a similar point, starting from another point, but that purpose is back again. The difference? The cup has been mended, a stronger version than its former self, reinforced and checked for cracks and chips regularly. I can pour now. I can serve.
If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health, please seek help. There are resources available to you for free 24/7, 365 days a year, whether to talk or chat. By calling or texting 988 you will connect with mental health professionals with the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.