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Forget Me Not: Crawling Out of the Darkness — Part 1
I have literally started this post several times over, but am determined to get my thoughts out in a clear and concise way. This week, I have read a number of posts written by those struggling with, let’s call them, negative feelings. As I read about each of your battles, I am reminded of the time I spent faltering in darkness. I remember it all too well, and sometimes to this day, I find myself dancing along the edge of a chasm that could engulf me if I allowed it. I don’t know that we are ever able to completely rid ourselves of depression, anxiety, guilt, bitterness, and frustration. I’m not sure if we are ever able to move on from our past hurts to a place where they can never affect us again. But, what I do know is that I understand where you are, and I can say with certainty that it does get better.
My goal here, however, is not to simply tell you that it will get better, wish you well, and send you on your way. I also remember that I really hated when people did that. My plan is to share with you how I got from where I was to where I am today. Each journey is different, and we each heal in our own way, but I’ve learned to pick and chose from what has worked for others to find a solution that works in my life. Perhaps this will help you to do the same.
Put One Foot In Front of The Other
If you ever watched the animated Christmas feature, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, you may be familiar with the song “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.” If not, please take a second to watch it, because the song alone should help put a smile on your face. This song has been somehow embedded in my head from the first time my therapist told me to take everything day by day. And, ironically, it worked. The song is sung by a young Santa Claus, who is teaching an old warlock to get past the bad he sees in the mirror and move toward good. No matter where you are, or how you envision yourself, the best way to get from bad to good is to put one foot in front of the other.
This may sound goofy, but I assure you that it is a wonderful first step. For me, one of the more difficult issues I have is focusing on the here and now. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the past, what could have been, what should have been, or what I want. And when I decide I want something, I generally want it now. This mentality feeds into depression and anxiety and makes them worse. When you are down at your lowest, it is hard to see past where you are.
When I was in the midst of my marriage, I couldn’t imagine a life that was different. I literally saw no way out. When I hit rock bottom, I couldn’t see any light in my future. I believed that my life was destined to be that way forever. The more I believed these things, the deeper and darker I fell, until I was forced to seek out help just to remain functional.
Learning to take it day by day was where I started. It was the very first step in finding my way out of the rut I was in, and onto a path to a brighter future. Every time my mind would start to wonder and I would feel the anxiety ramping up, I would tell myself “put one foot in front of the other.” Then, I would take a deep breath and ask myself what was happening right now, and that is what I focused on. When my mind would wonder to even the next hour, I would remind myself that this very moment was all that mattered. It took some practice, but soon I was able to keep my thoughts, more or less, centered on the very space in time that I currently occupied.
Once I managed that, I was able to learn new strategies and do more things with my life to get where I wanted to be, which I will address in upcoming posts.
In order to get out of the darkness, you must find the light. And when the light is not there, you must create your own. Be your own light, your own champion, and believe in the power you have to start taking control of your emotions even when you cannot control the circumstances of your life. This is the first step. Your turn…try putting one foot in front of the other. You’ve got this.