Today I want to talk to you all about the girl in this photo.
This photo was taken around this time last year. Nearing Christmas, having just finished school term for the year and taking a long deserved break, this girl was on her way to Melbourne to visit her well-missed family, whom she hadn’t seen in a few years. This photo was taken by her father, who had driven her up to the airport in the early morning, sending her off with love and well wishes. This photo was taken right before she left to board her plane. Alone. Hunched over, embracing her pillow in a lung-crushing embrace, scared to let it go out of fear she would become imbalanced and topple over. Smiling awkwardly and shyly, painfully, to try and mask how absolutely terrified she was feeling in that moment.
Admittedly, this girl was petrified of heights. She had been on planes before, but not for a long time, and never without the comforting presence of her parents right beside her. She had also been watching a TV series called Lost around this time, whose story plot revolved around an airplane crash.
But I know, looking back on this photo, taken a little over a year ago, this wasn’t all that this girl was afraid of.
This girl was afraid of loss.
This girl was afraid of the inexplicable fear that gripped her daily.
This girl was afraid of the despairing emptiness that so clutched at her heart.
This girl was afraid of herself.
How many nights did she spend tucked away in a corner, weeping to be rid of her thoughts? I cannot say; there were so many, she must have lost track. How long did she let herself suffer, by sitting in her silence? For too long. So much to say, yet so much left unsaid. Why did she hate herself, despise every inch of her outer and inner self, when she still gave so freely to others? Why did she feel the need to conceal all that was sure to burst out of her sooner or later? Because it was going to happen. And it did.
I guess I will never know the answers to these questions. What I do know, however, is that I now need to put these questions behind me. I need to let this poor girl go. Because this girl was me. But she is not anymore.
A year ago today, I was so afraid of myself. So afraid that I was ashamed. I was ashamed to be who I was. I was ashamed to have such dark and horrible thoughts about myself, when everyone around me was telling me how great I was. “Why can’t I just believe them? Why can’t I just be great like they say I am?” I don’t know, beautiful. I really don’t. I don’t know what was barring me from accepting who I was. All I know is that something bad was eating away at me last year. It had been gnawing on me since an early age, and last year I finally started to feel its effects. I started to feel like I was becoming the monster that once fed off of me.
The year of 2017 was a dark place for me. Everything was numb. I felt hopeless, worthless, devoid of colour. I wanted so desperately to be rid of myself. To just get out. The year of 2018 brought me some of my most difficult obstacles to overcome yet. It also brought me some of the most breathtaking scenery, and life-lasting memories that I will never forget and will sustain me until I’m old. The year of 2018 brought me out of my dark hole, but it took me to such extreme highs that it in turn caused me to come barrelling down – not back into my hole, but to the ground, with such force that it often knocked the wind out of me and left me paralysed. Left me to pick up my shattered pieces again and again and again and again. It was an oscillating graph, a fluctuating rollercoaster that did not stop even when I begged and pleaded for it to.
The year of 2019, however, is like a light, drawing closer and closer to me. This present year saw me at my highest moments and my most extreme lows, and left me exhausted for most of it. But this year has also made me stronger. It’s made me hungry. Hungry to change. Not out of hate for myself; to change for the good. Hungry to make a difference. Hungry to make something of myself. Hungry to learn. Hungry to be hungry. The year of 2017 left me broken. The year of 2018 left me devastated. But the year of 2019, will be my year. I can feel it in my pulse.
The change in myself that I am most amazed at, however, is over the past 5 months. 5 months ago, I was still scared of myself. Still loathing to be in my own skin. Still living in fear. It is over these 5 months that I officially began my journey of self-recovery. It is over these 5 months that I discovered the true meaning and importance of self-compassion, and how to build it for myself. It is over these 5 months that I realised my worth as a human being and a young woman, that I realised just how freaking awesome that I am. And you know what? I truly believe that I kicked the year of 2018 in the ass. This year threw me to the ground so many times, and every single time I got right back up. Whether I got back up with a hardened stare and square shoulders, or I got back up crying and damaged for all to see, I don’t care. Because I STILL GOT BACK UP. (Take that, mental illness.)
I am still learning to love myself. There are some days where I am totally in love both with my body and who I am inside, but there are also some days where I feel like I sink back into my hole of self-loathing. And that’s okay. Recovery is not linear. Recovery is guaranteed to come with relapses. What I have learnt in the past 5 months, is that this is okay.
Looking back on this photo, and even looking back on the girl I was 5 months ago, I am blown away by how much I’ve changed, for the better. I have not changed the person I am inside, but I have become so much stronger, so much more resilient, and I am so proud of myself (though I am still terribly afraid of heights!). Dare I say it, but I am proud of this fragile girl who was once me. I owe all of this to her, after all, for she was the one who opted for my recovery. And I thank her for it.
So, this is my new year’s resolution: 2019 is going to be my year. What I mean by this, is that I am no longer going to hide in fear. I am going to start putting myself first. I am going to be more aware and conscious of myself in that I do not put too much on my plate even if I feel at the time like I can handle it, and to focus not just my studies but all aspects of my life in important areas instead of just trying to do everything like I did in 2018, which is what broke me a thousand times over. And I am going to more frequently devote set time for myself, really devote time for myself, where I can just appreciate sitting with my thoughts, and do what I like to call ‘checking in with myself’. But most importantly, I am going to accept me for who I am, anxiety and depression and flaws and all, no matter what. Because I am doing the best I can.
Yes. 2019 will be my year. Because I am the stronger Breanna, the Breanna with fire in her soul rather than an empty matchbox.
And you know what, my loves?
2019 is your year, too. Whatever you make out of it. ❤