The summer when I was 13, I spent every free second in bed. My friends would ask me to go to the pool and I would pretend I never saw the message, when really the thought of doing anything at all felt painfully overwhelming. That year I was diagnosed with depression. At age 15, things spiraled down fast. I was appalled at what I saw in the mirror. I hated who I was as a person, and constantly felt worthless. In attempt to like myself more, I barely ate and forced myself to workout all the time. My best friends all moved away that year, and I never found a new group. I went from being the fun, bubbly, “popular” Claire I’d always been to being the girl who hid at lunch because no one wanted her at their table. I couldn’t live with myself. I didn’t want to live at all.
I will never forget the darkest time in my life. I spent the entire day going through the motions and just wanting everything to stop. At night I crawled in bed and suddenly became engulfed by an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. My throat closed and my body trembled. I felt absolutely everything and nothing at all, at the same time. I lied in bed and felt the entire world closing in on me; I felt like I was drowning. My heart raced and my mind spun and I could not catch my breath. I felt like some demon was grabbing me and holding his hand tight over my mouth, yet I was alone. The cuts on my arm burned and bled and my stomach was churning like I was going to vomit, but I couldn’t. I grabbed onto my pillow with the tightest grip I could manage and pleaded for help, pleaded for this to end. For it all to just end. This was the lowest point of my entire life. That was the moment I almost grabbed the bottle of pills and ended things.
I know pain. You wouldn’t think it from how I act or look, and I really don’t know if I’ve ever actually described to anyone close to me the extent of pain I was really in, but it was dark. I know darkness. Every day felt grey and every night felt like a heavy metallic black that pulled me away from anything remotely bright. I would lie in my bed and sob in that way that makes your whole body twitch and I would wish for the darkness to swallow me up for good so that I would no longer have to feel such pain and sadness. That was my problem. All I wanted was to avoid the pain, avoid the thoughts that scared me; and by doing that, I just became more sad and afraid. At the time of this breakdown, I was reading The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. Singer teaches us to just simply feel the fear, allow those thoughts to come, accept what you are most afraid of and move on. That was it, that was everything I needed to hear.
Throughout this book, Singer emphasizes the fact that “We are not our thoughts. We are only observers of our thoughts”. This concept was so foreign to me. After years of different diagnoses and judgment because of the way I thought, I wanted so desperately to know that my thoughts aren’t who I am. I started to realize that just because I’d been struggling with depressing and suicidal thoughts didn’t have to mean that is who I have become. Just because I have obsessive and controlling thoughts does not mean I can not be free and fun like I used to be. So I simply made the decision to let it all go. Let all the pain and suffering I’ve felt go, and become that bubbly, fun, glowing version of myself that I was before all the pain. I know that is who I really am, not the thoughts that I had let become me.
I started to really dedicate myself to letting thoughts just come and go, instead of fixating on every little detail. I would sit there and think, “Hey, maybe I will be alone forever. And that would be hard. But I will find the best in that situation, because that is what I know how to do”… “It is quite possible I will never be anything or anyone, but that’s okay because the Universe has a plan”. And I felt free again. After reading The Untethered Soul, I became fascinated with the Universe as a guide and as my God. That is when I found Gabby Bernstein’s teachings as well as the teachings of Abraham Hicks. I decided to read Gabrielle Bernstein’s book, The Universe Has Your Back. And suddenly, the world stopped being so intimidating. I realized I was never doomed and the Universe was never out to get me. I had convinced myself that I deserved all the bad things that happened to me, but the thing is; it has all been part of the Universe’s beautiful plan for me.
It wasn’t like something special happened in my life that made me realize, “Hm, looks like there really is a plan for me. I guess everything will be okay now”. No. Actually, my best friend was about to move across the country which broke my heart. And at the same time, I had to end things with a guy I thought I really loved. But Gabby made me realize there is a plan and that I am supported. All I did was shift my perspective. I stopped seeing things like friends moving away, injuries, my mental illnesses, people treating me badly, etc. as things that are happening TO me. I started to see them as things happening FOR me. Gabby Bernstein says, “Obstacles are just detours in the right direction”. If I never suffered with anorexia and chronic dysthymia with anxiety, I would have never made my instagram and been able to help and connect with thousands of amazing humans daily. If my best friends never moved away every year since I was 6, I may not have ever had the opportunity to continue to make new best friends for the past 12 years of my life. I am grateful to the Universe for giving me these obstacles so that I learned to be strong and to fight, because I believe the Universe needs me to help people do the same.
But how do I know this is all real? Well, I don’t. But I choose to believe. I was reading one of the chapters in The Universe Has Your Back on the plane and it was telling to me to look for my sign. I see 11:11 or 111 every single day and I know that is a message for me from the Universe, but I felt like there was something else. Gabby says we all have symbols; hers is an owl and when she wanted confirmation in a decision or anything she would look for her owl, her symbol from the Universe. In the book she said you will know your symbol but don’t force it. Don’t think too hard. So of course, I thought too hard. I had no idea what it was and I got frustrated. How can I be spiritual when I overthink everything? I decided I didn’t have a symbol so I moved on and kept reading.
The next day I woke up in one of my favorite places in the world, Lake Placid, New York. The sun was shining and we had no plans until the afternoon so I decided to head outside and read while I sipped my coffee. I felt very peaceful and grateful to be there. All of the sudden my phone buzzes, and it’s a text from my ex. In the past, this would have sparked so much negativity inside me. He had caused me a remarkable amount of pain and so I avoided seeing his face, his pictures, or even hearing his name, but there it was on my phone. I read the text, responded and put my phone down. I took a deep breathe and I let it all go. That was it. I did not have to participate in my old habits of letting every little thing associated with past suffering cause me to suffer more. This was my past, but it no longer had to be my present. In the moment, where I was sitting on that patio outside in Lake Placid, my life was utterly perfect. I was the happy, bubbly, glowing girl that I had not been in so long. I looked at my phone and it was 11:11, I closed my eyes and randomly saw the image of the yellow flower emoji and thought “Yellow flowers, that is my sign!” I opened my eyes and stared straight ahead of me at the house across the street and in the front yard there were about about 20 little yellow flowers. That is the moment I knew the Universe has my back.
My final step on the pathway out of darkness was to let go of the fear that controlled me and replace it with love. Michael Singer says “fear is just a another object in the Universe that we are capable of experiencing”. Ever since I was a young teenager I avoided fear and pain like it would kill me and in the end, if i kept doing this, I think it really would kill me. The grief, the loneliness, the self-hate I felt it all the time only because I spent all my time trying NOT to feel those things. I focused all my energy on avoiding the negative situations and in turn, I manifested all of these negative feelings and scenarios into my life. However, when I found out I could feel these things, accept them and feel compassion still, my life changed.
I thought I was in control. I thought I could avoid pain and I would be okay. All I wanted was to just be okay. Sometimes I found hope in thinking, “Okay I am SO depressed and SO alone. There’s no way it could get any worse than this”…until the night that it did. But when I realized I have no control because it is all in the hands of the Universe, I felt a glimpse of freedom. When I saw those yellow flowers, I WAS free. Spirituality and learning to trust the Universe literally pulled me from my darkest, most horrifying place into this space of radiant, free brightness. I exist in this space happier than I’ve ever been, with my wide smile, glittering eyes and a crown of yellow flowers on top of my head and I’m soaring because I am free.