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Finding Yourself

Most people, at some point or other, reach this moment where they "find themselves" - oftentimes, this is a recurring event. In the busyness of day-to-day activities and circumstances, we somehow manage to "lose" who we really are. To those who find this terminology a bit too New-Agey, it's basically like knowing who you want to be but then losing focus of that to the mundane, to tragedy, or to some other outlying circumstance that wants your attention.

I call it: "Losing your inner child."

And oddly enough, the path to a stable adulthood is the rediscovery, realization, and appropriate application of this child.

Recently, I went through a series of tragic events that led into a 5-and-a-half month severe depression, complete with anxiety, suicidal leans, and almost daily panic attacks from mild to debilitating. I all but lost any joy in my creative outlets, I nearly entirely gave up on every dream or ambition, I halted production of artwork - commission, webtoon, or otherwise - and simply shut down.

There were jobs lined up that I did not take.

Promises made that I failed to follow through.

And with each failed attempt or revelation of my own lack for motivation, came shame - which proved only an added weight to my already heavy spirit.

I tried journaling, praying, worshiping (I continued to create the occasional song), dieting, forcing myself to be active -- ALL the good things people tell you to do to climb out of depression... to function as a human being.

Nothing helped.

I got worse.

It would take longer and longer to the point of 3 to 4 hours of solid playing my piano and worshiping before my spirit calmed, and then within 10 minutes I was reduced again to a ball of tears or mental screams. Time and again, I thought I'd found the root cause of it all - I'd journal it out, I'd pray to solidify it... and then it'd be something else hammering my mind, as though there were an infinite supply of issues I needed to deal with.

Finally, I gave up.

I contacted a friend of mine, who's always been a strong spiritual guidepost for me, and admitted that I did not want to wake up in the morning. It was a struggle just to breathe, let alone function, drag myself out of bed, go to work. He called me back immediately and prayed.

I like his prayers.

They're quick, to the point, and done.

He's like that guy at the dinner table for Thanksgiving who's "grace" is a simple "Thank You, Father, for the food - let's come together and try not to be rude! Amen! Pass me some of that chicken?"

The whole family is delighted that Uncle Pastor-words wasn't the one praying to thank God for the Sun and the Rain and the Bees and the Farmers for helping the plants grow, for the Turkey and the Cow and the Pig that are rapidly cooling on their platters, for each individual family member that wasn't able to make it today, etc.

That's the way he prayed.

He didn't make a big deal out of it, didn't go on about it or dwell on the problem.

He just asked God to take this anxiety from me, Amen.

I got the idea to request a portion of the spirit he has, that trusts God and loves himself - he has never disliked himself let alone hated himself, which is SUCH an oddity in my family that I couldn't even imagine what life would be like to never think a single negative thought toward oneself.

So he added that too.

And then he was like "Alright. It's done now. Okay?"

I vocally agreed with his prayer - because the verse "Where two or more are gathered in agreement" thing - and we hung up.

That night's sleep was peaceful.

The next day was the first time in 3 weeks I woke up without crying.

By the time I was returning home from dropping my roommate off at work, it struck me that not only had I been freed from the anxieties of the recent year's events, but I had been released from issues I'd held since I was 3 years old.

I'd experienced this once before on April 16th 2013, and it lasted for 3 days then - But this time... THIS time...

This time, here it is six weeks and I'm still laughing!

I've had NO panic attacks.

I've had NO depression.

I've had NO thoughts of suicide.

NONE of it!

For 6 weeks and counting!

It's the closest I can think that those breaking free from a drug addiction must feel like - where they're all "HEY! I'm 6 weeks clean today!"

I've been counting the days still like a novelty, and have no idea when - if ever - I will lose my fascination over this freedom.

What plagued me most had been the need to be perfect in order to have a good testimony as an "Ambassador of Christ." If ever I felt less than perfect, I'd be apologizing; making things right. This is not a bad practice in and of itself, and I believe many issues could be resolved if people simply admitted their faults, apologized, and did what they could to make things right - and if those being apologized to would actually receive said apology.

But the HEART by which these actions were taken was definitely skewed.

I was ALWAYS the villain.

I was ALWAYS lacking.

I was ALWAYS in need of betterment.

If circumstances that I was involved in turned out badly, I - as a powerful focal point for God's Love and ability - must have done something wrong and therefore must work on myself all the more to be "right" again.

If people weren't joyful around me, I wasn't spreading joy like I should.

If people weren't healed around me, I wasn't praying properly as I should.

If people weren't reconciled around me, I wasn't giving guidance or hearing God like I should.

And that was wrong.

Everyone has free will.

Both the will to accept good things, and the will to reject it.

The will to give good things, and the will to withhold it.

The will to live a good life, and the will to give up on it.

It wasn't my fault.

And if you're reading this, and anything I'm writing has been speaking to you as well, know that it isn't YOUR fault either.

God is always God - willing and able to heal, restore, raise the dead, cast out horrors...

But not everyone is willing to accept that.

He freed ME from those horrors.

And he healed my body from their effects.

And he raised my spirit from death.

And now I create! ^_^

I'm making more and more things - art commissions, web designs, articles, books - and I'm slowly but surely finding my own reasons to continue creating.

That's the challenge I've been facing now: "Why do I do anything?"

I used to do things because I believed it had a relatively immediate purpose for another person - which is not necessarily bad, but... NOW I don't really CARE if others like or dislike my work. I mean, I WANT them to be enjoyed, but... other people are not the foundation for my personal JOY anymore, y'know?

So I've been discovering my Joy again.

It's taken quite the handful of weeks to even get *here* since I'd taken up terrible habits of distraction instead of creation, but I have the desire in myself to change these habits.

So as part of that, I've kicked out all distractions during the hours that the sun is up, and even when going to bed I'm engaging in something creative - like reading, or playing Minecraft on peaceful mode, or falling asleep to a sermon or some motivational speaker.

I want to surround myself with determination and determined people, and rekindle the Joy I was originally born with as a creator.

I hope you, too, can hold hands with your inner child and face the world with eyes of wonder and possibility - whatever that requires of you. It's worth more than the world can give, I guarantee.

Love Life, People! <3

-- Dani

[note: below is a picture I drew freehand in marker only, no pencil sketching it out, of my "personalities" - it's the first time in all my life that every part of me is happy :3]

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