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I tried to turn myself cold. I really did. Over and over and over again. I didn’t want to feel because feeling was too much. Through strict discipline and sheer willpower I thought I could overcome anything by just blocking it out.

Of course, that made me very, very tired. And very, very sad. Because all of those feelings I pushed away never really went anywhere at all. They swirled inside me like a cacophony of bad news and it spilled out of me in snarls and isolation.

I was a beast, wounded and sulking in the shadows. I was hurt and too afraid and too proud to ask for help.

This could only go on for so long before I crumbled, into a million little pieces that could never fit back together again. But slowly, I started to learn. About myself, about how I am wired to function. Through this I was able to see and understand concepts that I’d never even considered before.

The concept of accepting happiness, wholeheartedly, body and soul without fear of it being ripped away at any second and replaced with the dread of guilt for ever feeling so good. The concept of kindness, to myself, to others. The concept of mindset, of changing perspective to see things differently. This is not the same as seeing things positively; that is a tactic lined with deception, a fulfilment that is forced and unnatural.

Over this time I started to heal. So slowly, I didn’t notice for a long time. But other people started to see, like I was emitting some kind of glow that couldn’t be seen by human eyes. Very recently I started to notice, too. Colour in my cheeks, a smile that comes easy, eyes that see beauty in everything.

I am happier now, in the sense that I am not afraid to feel happy. I am not afraid to feel most things, now. They are just feelings. Just like how today is a Tuesday. It will pass and I don’t need to be buried with it.

I’ve spoken before about feeling like I was underwater, like I was swimming in an unrelenting sea. The waves still crash, like they always do, like they always will. But I am not always swept up in them. Sometimes I can duck under or jump over, manage the wave just like I was taught to. Sometimes the wave is tiny and does nothing to knock me over.

But sometimes, I am still overwhelmed and the wave swallows me whole. I am dragged under, salt water burning down my throat as soundlessly, I scream. This is not an unfamiliar place for me. In fact, sometimes this place greets me, opens its cold and unfeeling arms, trying to embrace me and welcome me home.

Sometimes I am tempted to crawl back into this space, one I’ve known for a long time. Because when things are not ok, I am ok. Somehow I thrive in the discourse. In this space I think I am untouchable, but in fact I can still feel the salt stinging every cut, feel the cold settling into my bones, and feel myself turning to stone. But this place is no longer my home. I can visit, but I don’t feel inclined to stay.

Because I have learned some things. I have given myself permission to leave this place. And now I know what it feels like to break through the water, breathe in fresh air and feel the sun on my skin. I can’t live underwater because I can’t give this feeling up. So when I gather the strength to leave the depths, feel the resistance of water against my skin as I kick, upward, upward and out; that is when I begin to heal.

It has taken me a while to find the words to describe this new aspect of myself. I don’t think I’ve even fully come to terms with what this means for me, what I have achieved for myself. There is impermanence in emotion, and admittedly some feelings stay longer than I should allow. But the sun sets and I let go, ready to see another sunrise at the end of an open and clear night sky.

I can’t pinpoint a particular moment that I changed and began to see things differently. All I know is that things are good. And I am choosing to see them as good. Because I know that my brain likes to find the problems, and I know that being dissatisfied is my crutch. But ever since I decided to just let go and choose to be in love with my life, life has loved me back.

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