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Caught in the Crossfire


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The conviction that I should share this isn’t making the act any easier. This kind of public honesty comes at no small price. However, with the chance to make a positive difference in someone’s life (especially around the holidays), and the reminder that tomorrow is not guaranteed, I’ve made my decision. Actually, I made it over a week ago and then lost my nerve. LOL The amount of divine intervention it took to steer me back on track was not subtle. We’ll leave it at that.

I’ve taken extended leave from my job for more than simply spending Christmas with family; although, that’s a huge deal for me, and I treasure my time with them. I’ve been trying to write a story over the past 14 years and flesh out concept artwork that has gone largely undone due to the lack of time to immerse myself in the process like I feel I need to. This book happens to be the one thing I crave to complete before meeting my Maker. Why? Despite its fantastical façade, the story will embody the intricacies of my experiences that I hope will aide others on their life journey. 

I honestly don’t recall when I developed the desire to make a positive impact on a global scale. Definitely started with daydreams of saving lives with wings on my back…but ended up with me seeking a government career at age 17. Even in a more indirect capacity, I’m largely content with the position I’m in to realize that goal.

But the goal itself has morphed over the years into one that encompasses more than saving lives and preserving freedom, thus, my story’s purpose has changed and become far more personal and relevant to the average person. As its creation is delayed over the years, life only continues to get busier…and shorter. And that realization has begun to take its toll.

Time isn’t the only limiting factor in getting this done. Thoughts of inadequacy and judgment are hinderances, as is common, especially among new authors. Although, my resolve to get the message out is still far greater. And the possibility of leaving this world without sharing even a little of the inspiration behind the tale disturbs me greatly. There’s a certain humility about suffering in silence…and then there’s the missed opportunity to connect with and support others going through the same thing. No one asked to be here, but since we are here…why not make the most of it and help others to do the same? Life is worth living to the fullest…it’s worth figuring out and experiencing. More than that, discovering the truth about why we’re here, what we’re capable of, and how we’re completely invaluable as human beings is not a secret to be kept.

That’s why I’m writing this now – not to disclose the details, but to take the first step.

Multiple people have told me, some more than once, that they wished they could have some part of my life or live the way I was living. I will always respond that we each have our vices, and my life is no better or worse than anyone else’s. In fact, I see each of our lives as a piece or a cog in our world puzzle – making it turn, complimenting the pieces that surround us. Where one falls short, the other fills in. We shouldn’t wish to have everything…especially not when we have our own unique, crucial roles to pursue.

And I promise…mine is the ministry of thorns.

Life was in no way perfect before college, and I was intimately familiar with certain evils and weaknesses. But I didn’t know darkness like I do now. I thought I could grab life by the neck and bend it to my will if I just put my mind to it…instead of the other way around. And I could not understand people who struggled to find that motivation. Honestly, people who suffered mental complications baffled me. How could anyone resign themselves to such a life? Why impose their negativity on the world? How difficult was it really to just put your foot down and be sensibly resilient?

Hah.

Experiences leading up to and right after earning my bachelor’s degree (2013) changed everything. I didn't write about all of them in this blog for many reasons, but suffice it to say that every shred of self confidence I'd spent building up over the course of 5 years of college shattered completely at the very end. There was no celebration when I graduated. Only a mental hell I would endure for ages to come. Afterward, the downward spiral with anxiety and depression slowly destroyed me from the inside out for 3 years (2016) before I decided I cared more about the people depending on me than my own pride. I will never forget the day I sought professional help for the first time…knowing full well I could lose my job over it. I was living completely alone after my cat died, and the only person around I felt I could trust with my newfound vulnerability was a kind bookstore owner in the next town. After my hospital visit, I just needed a physical person in front of me to care. I was afraid of judgement, afraid of the pain and fatigue I was in after a multi-hour panic attack, afraid of professional exile, afraid of being only human, afraid of never being good enough, afraid of the future, and afraid of being alone to face it all. I felt I had no idea how to do anything anymore let alone console myself. Mind you, at that point, I’d already achieved what society deems a “successful life.” I was educated in a stable career, complete with notable income and authority while indulging in the single dating life at 26. And yet, there I was hitting rock bottom in my mind. That can happen to anyone for a myriad of reasons. We see it all the time but can never fully understand the magnitude of the impact it has on a life until we experience it for ourselves.

When I finally got myself to the bookstore and my friend asked me how I was, for the first (and so far only) time in my life, I was so distraught that I physically could not make words come out of my mouth. Instead, I had a sudden, complete breakdown right in the middle of her shop.

That day was the end of who I had been and the beginning of the journey to becoming who I was put on this earth to be. Sometimes, we have to be completely taken apart if we’re going to be built back up the right way.

The upward climb was/has been brutal. And I did almost lose my job. I was determined to get better because, as I mentioned, I truly do believe that this life is worth living to the fullest, and failure is not a language I speak well (despite it being a natural part of our existence). Doctors made mention that I was one of the most proactive patients they’d ever seen. Many invasive tests had to be done in order for me to prove to my organization that I was capable of performing my duties in sound mind. And not all of them were passed initially. Significant change had to take place if I was going to get through it all. I could not be the same person I was going in if I was going to come out of that trial successfully.

And it’s true. I cannot say I’m the same person I was 3 years ago. Or even only 1 year ago. The change has continued, and for the better. The tests were passed eventually with flying colors after months of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual conditioning of my own self-discovered prescription and help from experienced individuals in those areas. I was given a second chance in my career field that I was told isn’t usually granted for my condition.

I’ve not endured the world’s worst. And I never wished I was dead. But I do know what it’s like to suffer to the point that I didn’t think I’d wake up in the morning. I know what it’s like to look in a mirror and legitimately not know who or what I was, or if I was actually alive for weeks on end because my mind had numbed itself to the chronic stress and anxiety in a condition known as depersonalization (that I only discovered after Googling “I don’t feel alive”). I know what it is to feel as though I’m a broken, shameful, burdensome failure who’s destined to let the world down while life circumstances leave me in solitude – one of my worst fears. I was subject to extreme harassment from all over the world, labeled as ugly/a failure and told to kill myself on multiple occasions when I was a teenager. Various types of abuse weren’t foreign to me in my younger years. After seeking help, I experienced the sting of a diagnosis, a condescending “therapist,” trips to the ER for stress-related ailments more than once, degrading supervisors and colleagues, and other uphill battles whilst trying to “fix” myself. And, despite overcoming what they told me was impossible in college, my self-esteem was rendered nearly non-existent at the end because of how ruthlessly I came face-to-face with my humanity in the process. One hell of a wake-up call.

And I also know what it is to fight through all of that and force it to grow me as a person…to let go of the feeling of victimization and the subconscious craving for that state of mind. I refused all medication in favor of learning how to beat this on my own. To this day, I’ll look anyone in the eye and testify that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger…if you let it.

What I won’t do is sit here and tell you I’ve got it all figured out. And I’ve hesitated going public with this lengthy acknowledgement partially out of concern that I won’t know how to help everyone who may want to reach out because of it – after all, no two experiences are exactly the same. The truth is: I don’t have all the answers and I never will. I will also never be perfect or a professional councilor, so the prospect of giving any sort of advice on this front is a bit disconcerting. But if I keep holding off, this thorn will go to waste. I’m not here to simply become the best version of myself. Life isn’t a one-man show, thank God. And because of that, my relationship with people is of utmost importance. How I use my experiences and gained wisdom to benefit others is paramount to a purposeful existence. I only regret it took me as long as it did to figure that out.

If I can do even a little to help those who come in contact with me and my work to find the motivation and inspiration to fight the good fight, it won’t matter if the book itself ever gets finished. The way we choose to live can be more than enough.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I’ll attest that I didn’t get to this point alone. I definitely have my earthly angels to thank, but without the Heavenly Father, I cannot honestly tell you I’d be okay. You want to get to the root of purpose…the Creator is where you’ll find it.

My book is meant to take it from here. Lord willing, this vacation will be what I need to gain traction and eventually share my life’s work with you. Piece by piece if I have to. In the meantime, I’ll be breaching my comfort zone in other ways to reassure others that there is hope. I pray that imperfections will continue to teach valuable lessons, that identity will not be lost in the fallible substances of our universe, that the discovery of self will be inspiring instead of terrifying, and that the journey will be rewarding (and that doesn’t mean easy 💛).<3 o:p="">

Have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New year!

~Uni

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