It has been three years since my freshman year in college. Three years since I found myself spiraling down a really dark path and losing my faith in the good in this world. Three years since I lay in bed and strongly considered what my point was in this life and why I was here.
You would think that three years of healing and getting better would be enough time. You would think that with three whole years things would be 100% better and the bad days would be few and far between. You would think that three years is a lifetime ago when you are 20-something years old and that you could barely remember what happened last week, let alone three years ago.
You would be wrong.
I thought this and I was wrong.
Don’t get me wrong. It has been three long and painful years and I can look back now and say “Thank God, I made it.” I look back and hardly recognize the girl I was three years ago because things are SO different now.
But am I 100%? Absolutely not.
Before three years ago happened, before friends died, before cancer took up a permanent residence in my life, before things got really hard…. Before all that I never really understand how hard it was to heal. It should be easy, right? It happened. You get through the six (or however many the psychiatrists tell you there are) stages of grief and then you get better. Days come and nights pass and eventually things are better. You look back and say “wow that really sucked, but I am healed. I am okay and things will all be okay.”
If I have learned anything over the past three years it is that healing is a continuous process, a cycle that never really stops. You have a bad day, and you figure out what triggered that bad day. You go through the steps that you have perfected in order to make yourself feel better. Whether that be retail therapy, or a glass of wine, or writing (aka me), or praying, or whatever it is you do: you do it. Then you wake up maybe the next day or maybe the next week and the bad day has passed. You go on for so many days or weeks or months if you are really really lucky and the good days start to add up to a really great life. And then another trigger comes. Maybe it’s an anniversary, or a song. Maybe it’s a new relationship that you really want to tell your friend about, or worse, maybe it’s something bad that happens and it just reminds you of all the other bad things that have happened. But then all of the sudden, it’s a bad day again. And not only are you having a bad day, but you are mad at yourself for having a bad day because it has been three full years and you are “supposed to” be okay by now.
That’s the other thing I have learned throughout all of this. We can’t be so hard on ourselves. Everyone grieves and heals differently. Everyone’s process is unique to them. Some people take three months to feel 100%, others take a year, and still others can’t seem to get a grip after three years. The cycle never stops, or it hasn’t for me yet, but it makes me feel really good sometimes to look back on my cycle and to see how far I have come in elongating it. My cycle used to restart every day, sometimes more than once in one day. I would go from so high to so low so quickly. And boy was it exhausting. Now though, my cycle may not restart for a good couple months. Now I have a bad day and I can’t immediately think back to my last bad day. And that is really awesome. Healing may be a continuous cycle, but we’re not in that cycle alone and that is even more awesome.