The course of my relationship with Dalton has been the complete opposite of those I’ve had in the past, yet it’s seeming to work best of all. Unlike most “honeymoon” phases, our relationship began with extreme difficulty and many frustrating feelings, tremendous emotional pain, and not a whole lot of fun…
The first few months of our time spent together consisted of me quitting my job, selling my car, and quitting basically any negative habit that I was using as a crutch. This included binge drinking, binge eating, vicodin, adderall, xanax, celexa, phentermine, shopping, and makeup. You can imagine how chippy I was. I had no clue what I was doing, but for some reason, I felt like I could set the pressure on his shoulders and work on fixing myself. He drove me everywhere that I needed to go, bought me groceries, and was there as a shoulder to cry on. And boy, did I use his shoulder to cry on. We laugh about it now, but I was an absolute disaster then… When you rely for so long, on substances or certain stimulus to create happiness for you, you aren’t able to do much on your own when you do try. The skeleton I was left with felt like torture. I couldn’t stand to actually be with myself… Maybe this sounds strange or a bit extreme, but imagine letting go of everything external that you look to for comfort. Everything. What are YOU left with? It’s pretty terrifying. I was so fixated on the negative. On my worst days, I was not able to see the light. On these days, Dalton inspired strength in me that I never knew I had.
“Imagine letting go of everything external that you look to for comfort. Everything. What are YOU left with?”
In the first few months, he would come over to find me crying my eyes out in bed. I would tell him how frustrated and upset I was and how I wanted to give up… I had barely started, and I wanted already to give up. I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle going an entire day without numbing myself in some way. I couldn’t handle being alone with myself.
Dalton called me out on my bullshit. I was in this desperate “poor me” phase. My ego wanted Dalton to comfort me and tell me everything was going to be all right, then leave me alone to cry and scream like a child. But that’s not at all what I was met with. Instead, he looked at me with unwavering honesty, and demanded strength from me. He would hold my face in his hands, look me dead in the eyes and say, “Listen, you are a BADASS. Now act like one!” Most of the time, I would laugh and shake my head, then continue to cry harder. I didn’t want to feel good about myself. I didn’t want to believe that I was supposed to be somebody. I wanted everyone to leave me alone, and for no one to care about a single thing I was doing with my life. I didn’t want to be important, because I didn’t feel worthy of importance.
“I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle going an entire day without numbing myself in some way. I couldn’t handle being alone with myself.”
Somehow, his consistent pep talks gave me the permission to call on strength I hadn’t before. I secretly knew I had it in me, as I think we all do, but I was holding myself back. I was telling myself this story that was making it impossible for me to be all I could be. I was playing a broken record in my head of how unworthy I was, how incapable I was, and Dalton shattered all of that by helping me to realize the mental gymnastics I had been torturing myself with for years. Most mornings began with a meltdown. Whether we were home, at a craft store, in the car, or out at a coffee shop, it happened. He would come sit next to me and tell me all of the things I had going for me in life. He would ask me to close my eyes and to imagine the life that I wanted to create. He encouraged me to push through, and explained that if I just continued forward, I would only get stronger. And he was right.
This happened every single day, for almost six months.
I don’t know how he did it. I don’t know how he endured watching me act that way for so many days, and more importantly how he stayed so incredibly dedicated to helping me fix myself. What I do know is how absolutely necessary this honest approach was for my healing process. I couldn’t have gotten stronger without someone demanding it from me.
He would hold my face in his hands, look me dead in the eyes and say, “Listen, you are a BADASS. Now act like one!”
After months of slow progress, we decided to move in together. At this time, Dalton was supporting us almost completely. I absolutely hated this feeling of financial reliance on someone else, but I knew it was necessary. I would make a couple hundred dollars every now and then with my art, but I was struggling so badly emotionally, that I could barely get myself to create. When I did paint, it was celebrated. Even when I hated my work, Dalton would sit in awe of it. This caused me to question my negative perception of myself time and time again. I felt a sliver of confidence every now and then.
Although there were some small wins along the way, I was still in the thick of it. I remember showering twice, sometimes three times a day. It was my safe spot to completely let it all go. I was so overwhelmed by the contents of life, that the only time it became even close to tolerable was sitting naked in the dark, under a waterfall of steaming hot water with no eyes on me. The tears melted down my cheeks as my body convulsed in hysterical emotional pain. The music playing through my speaker, along with the sound of the running water was able to drown out my childlike-moans and groans of sadness. I went to sleep early in order to escape the pain, simply because I didn’t have the energy to take another shower, and I always woke up late. For a while, the only thing that got me out of bed was simply the fear of feeling even more sadness from the guilt of sleeping in too late. In other words, I was going to bed because I was afraid of feeling sad, and I got myself out of bed because I was afraid of feeling sad. This cycle of fear and hopelessness became an extremely difficult time for me…yet, running from these feelings is what got me in this mess in the first place. I thought to myself, “I can do this. I am choosing to do this. I must endure.”
“The tears melted down my cheeks as my body convulsed in hysterical emotional pain.”
This is what life looks like when you say ENOUGH. This is what happens when you face yourself.
Following the crying, next came anger… This was so unfamiliar to me. No one in my family has ever displayed anger, and I had no understanding of this emotion, yet I was full of it. Dalton would leave for the day and I would be there, alone with myself, angry. I threw shoes, paint brushes, my phone… and one day, I even punched a dent in a door. I had no idea who I was, and if I was ever going to get better. I felt hopeless, yet something in me knew that I was on the right track. If sadness can move through me and turn into anger, then I figured anger must be able to move through me as well. I went blindly into the future of this path because I knew it was the only way.
My extreme emotional instability and confused perception of myself, caused me to remain closed off from the world. My friends and my family were kept at a distance throughout this time. This may or may not have been the best route to take, but it was the only thing that I had the strength for. I was pouring every bit of energy that I had, into building myself up, creating a new version of myself. I felt that this was a complete emotional investment. If only I could get through this leg of the race, then I could someday be the person that I truly wanted to be and I could overflow this authentic self-love into the relationships around me.
When I made the conscious decision to no longer run from my feelings, I was forced to sit with them, and endure the pain. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t easy. It was a long and winding road of uncertainty and doubt.