What Happened to Me?

I shared my last blog post with the friend who asked me what to say to and how to be there for someone who inflicts self-harm. She’s one of my closest friends, but we haven’t ever talked about my “abyss of fire” in detail before. She knows that I inflicted self-harm and that God used her and a few other people to bring me out of the darkness. Beyond that, I realized that I haven’t told her much else about my darkest hours. Nor have I told her much about how I came out of it. Her specific question was a two-part question. What did you begin to believe about God and yourself? What was the process like of God changing your heart? I explained to her that it’s a long story, but that it’s another great topic for a blog. That’s why I’m writing this today.

What did I begin to believe about God? What did I begin to believe about myself? What an interesting question that is. It’s funny actually. Not like, “Funny, Ha. Ha,” more like funny interesting. On my eighteenth birthday, I laid in bed crying like I had many nights before. I cried until after midnight, so maybe for half an hour. Then I started writing a letter to my future boyfriend or husband. That’s why I was crying actually. I was eighteen and still single. My dream was to have true love. I didn’t just want a boyfriend, I wanted a husband to marry and do life with. When most of my friends, even those younger than me, had boyfriends, I turned eighteen and was still single. Halfway through writing my letter to “someone” I started over and wrote a different letter. Over four years later, I still have that letter and this is what I wrote:

Dear Me (Eighteen Years Old)

Here I am now. It’s been four years, four months, and three days since I wrote that letter and I’m still single. You know what I’m not though? I’m not lonely anymore. You know what I am? I am confident. I love myself and I feel beautiful more often than I don’t. My relationship with God could always grow stronger, but it’s so much stronger now than it was when I was eighteen. My insecurities about being single were only a small part of my “abyss of darkness” though. I had much more deeply rooted problems.

What was the process like of God changing my heart? That’s an interesting question too. I was still depressed after writing that letter. I was still hurting myself. Soon, everything changed though. Demi Lovato aired her show “Stay Strong” on MTV and I learned what could happen to me if I didn’t stop hurting myself–I could have ended up in rehab. Then I started listening to BarlowGirl, a Christian girl band. I watched several interviews with of BarlowGirl and learned that one of them—the one I had always thought was the prettiest—had had an eating disorder because she had the same depressed and lonely feelings I had. Learning about Demi Lovato’s stay in rehab for depression and self-harm, among other things, scared me into changing and learning about how God was able to redeem Becca Barlow after she had an eating disorder gave me hope for myself. I didn’t change overnight, but the Lord did start to change my heart a little bit at a time. He gave me Demi and Becca as examples of how it is possible to overcome the darkness. He gave me songs to remind me I wasn’t alone. He also gave me new friends who showed me what true friendship is like.

Realistically, I won’t ever be fully healed, because I’ll always have a scar. Yes, scars make are signs that we survived something that made us stronger, but scars are also wounds that are more easily opened than unharmed skin. Once you give into the darkness, one negative thought or one mistake could put you at risk of going back, but that’s the beauty of healing. It’s also the beauty of grace. For me, God gave me friends and a playlist of songs to remind me that I don’t have to give into the darkness. It’s a beautiful reminder to know that I have people in my corner so that I don’t ever have to fear sleeping into the darkness again. If I do though, I know that it’s okay. Falling doesn’t mean failing. Failing is falling and not getting back up. With the people I have in my life, I don’t think I could ever fall and not get back up, because God knew and still knows that that’s what it takes for me to stay strong. It takes a group of friends who will always help me back up.

The Light of Life

            Fire was blazing all around me. All I felt was constant pain from continuously being burned. I wanted and needed to find a way out of that constant blaze, but I couldn’t because all I saw were orange flames raging all around me. They were everywhere! In front of me, to each of my sides, behind me, and even above me, there was no escaping. Why was I so naive? How could I have let myself get there in the first place? Did I really truly believe this could be my refuge? That it could be brighter and more prosperous than where I already was is beyond preposterous! Though it felt like I had been there for nearly a millennia, I had actually only been there for a short while. Still though, that short while was long enough to make me realize that change needed to happen. And it needed to happen immediately. I like to call that place the Abyss of Fire.

Prior to being in the Abyss of Fire, I was in another dark place, a place that I like to call the Desert of Distress. Originally, I had thought that the Desert of Distress was the worst place I could ever possibly be. I felt lonely, unloved, and worthless. In a crowd of people, I felt so alone. Amidst friends and family who constantly said they loved me, I felt hated. Every time I looked in the mirror, I felt worthless, because every time I tried something, I felt like I failed. I felt like every time people looked at me, they were judging me and thinking that I was stupid, incompetent, and worthless. There wasn’t a shadow of a doubt in my mind that the only way out of the Desert of Distress was to enter the Field of Sunshine. And, why not go to the Field of Sunshine? What could be so wrong about a Field of Sunshine?

Everyone I knew told me not to go. I even knew of some people who had gone to Field of Sunshine themselves and strongly suggested that no one even walk near the Field of Sunshine, but I didn’t listen. I didn’t understand what could be so wrong about sunshine. So, I went anyway. I went to the Field of Sunshine. My first day there was like a paradise vacation. The sun was shining and I had no responsibilities. The second day in the Field of Sunshine was just as blissful. On the third day, I still felt like nothing could possibly go wrong. Then the fourth day passed, and the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth. The sun became much less enjoyable, my skin began to burn, and things slowly started to deteriorate. Then, all at once, the world around me burst into flames until all I could see was red-hot light. Suddenly, my Utopian Field of Sunshine became an Abyss of Fire.

Even when I closed my eyes, all I could see were tongues of fire threatening to engulf me. Sometimes, out of nowhere, the flames would flicker to the size of candle fires, and I would think the worst was behind me, but that was never the case. Whenever the candle fires appeared, I knew I had to fight off several beasts, until on their own time they chose to sleep. As soon as the beasts chose to sleep, the candle fires would burst into full-blown tongues of fire and burn once more, until the beasts chose to awaken. Not once were the beasts or flames ever fully gone, but every once in a while they would quiet down at the same moment. In those moments, I always felt hope, but as soon as I felt hope the beasts would waken and the flames would attack. So, in the few moments when neither the beasts nor flames were raging, I always tried very hard not to hope.

After a while, I eventually accepted the flames and beasts as my new life until one moment I suddenly wondered that maybe, just maybe, if I dared to hope with all my might and refused to quit fighting the beasts, then maybe the beasts could be killed and the fire would be extinguished. That’s when it happened. That’s when all at once the fires went away, the beasts disappeared, and darkness took over. I was slightly scared of the sudden darkness, but I accepted it as a welcome change from what I had grown used to having. After a few moments of darkness, a bright light appeared and I heard a voice calling my name, telling me to follow the light wherever it went. Because the voice was very deep and louder than I was used to hearing, it startled me, but I chose to quite literally take a step of faith and follow the light.

It’s been a while since I took that first step of faith, obeying a voice that I wasn’t absolutely sure I could trust. As nervous as I was to choose to follow an unknown voice, the decision to follow what I now call the Light of Life was the best decision I have ever made and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the light that has led me thus far. If you feel like you are in a Desert of Distress and you’re looking for a way out, instead of looking for a Field of Sunshine look for the Light of Life.

Until next time this is Brittany Alexandria, daring you to keep obsessing over the things you love! Because we could always use more hope and passion in this world! xoxo

Find me on Twitter and Instagram – @ogbrittanyalex

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