For you who is tired of fighting a battle you know you cannot win – You who bears the weight of the world on your shoulders and is trying so hard to keep it there but with every breath, you grow more exhausted.
You’re discouraged. You don’t know how much longer you can keep it all together.
You feel alone;
And so, so afraid.
I get it. For a long time I was fighting the exact same battle.
My earliest childhood memories are of being on the outside looking in. I wanted so badly to be part of this exciting existence everyone else was living but I just did not know how to access it. It was as though they had all been handed a magic wand at birth and thrown into the show, and I was on the outside of the auditorium foraging for a stick. A simple stick. No instructions, no guidance. Just me, alone, surrounded by darkness. But they . . . They had the light.
As I grew older, the distance between them and myself increased, and the light that surrounded them faded into the distance as the darkness that separated us thickened. Their images and conversations became distorted and I thought to myself, as I sat alone in the darkness: “There is no hope”. The distance had grown so great between my reality and theirs that I did not think I could make it back to the light. Yet, I stayed. I sat in my darkness and cried. Because I did not know how to do anything else.
And as I sat there, I thought back over my life. But I didn’t remember the good times (and to be honest, I sometimes still don’t). I remembered sadness, conflict, and loneliness. I remembered a brother who I hurt, a Mother who tried so hard but just did not know how to be happy, and a Father who was constantly chasing but could not just stop and be.
It’s not their fault, though. And I want to make it clear that this is not about what they are, or were. It is about my perception, and what I remember. It is my subjective experience that as I grew older, became more and more distorted as I squinted to see that teeny tiny light.
But when I was fifteen years old, my eyes widened for a split second: I took my first drink, and for the first time in my entire life I felt normal. I felt the way I thought they were living, and it felt good. In that moment, I was teleported through all the darkness and shame and insecurity into the light, and the weight on my shoulders lifted. I had finally arrived.
For you, it might not have been alcohol. It is your story, and that is okay. For you, it is whatever you turned to outside yourself to try to make that pain a little less sharp, or that tense feeling in your throat subside for at least a little bit longer. It’s whatever you used to fill that hole inside yourself, and it is the thing that eventually stopped working. For me, it stopped working.
With each drink, or each meal declined, or each promiscuous encounter, the jolt into the light became less abrupt and the light itself a bit dimmer. It wasn’t enough to push the darkness away and I was beginning to squint again, constantly.
And so I became like the Father I had known and began chasing – I reached outside myself for anything I could to fill the void and feel like I belonged. And like my Mother, I did what I could to make everything right and the best it could be, and to live up to the expectations. Then, in the moments when I wasn’t doing and when I wasn’t chasing because I was just so exhausted that I could not run anymore, I was my brother: And I retreated once again to the darkness of my closet and would crumble to the ground in tears between gasps for air as I suffocated beneath the pressure of all the expectation, and unknowns, and the thought of having to do this all for one more day.
That one day felt like an eternity.
When I received my first diagnosis (Type 1 Diabetes) in 2012, I knew I had to find a way out. As I sat in the hospital bed, surrounded by a blur of nurses and med-students, listening to the narrative of how I would have to live every single day going forward, I knew I couldn’t do it. I had to make a plan. I remember thinking if I ended up on dialysis I would kill myself. That was my way – If I kept drinking enough, I would get there, and I would have an excuse.
I left the hospital almost blind – Bringing down my blood sugar so fast had shocked my retina and I was left in an actual blur for over a month while my body recalibrated – and flooded with emotion I did not know how to process. So, I drank. I filled the void inside me with anything I could find. Instead of fighting for the light, I ran full-force toward the deepest, darkest corners of my existence because there, I felt normal. My normal.
Thinking back now, the story of how this all turned around doesn’t seem anything spectacular. No one moment or instance really stands out. It was a natural progression of little occurrences that together built up to one big shift.
That fall, I went to a music festival – My first ever camping experience! While there, I tried the thing I said I would never try and I loved it. Once I was home, I could not stop thinking about it. I thought to myself, do other people think like this? Or when they go home can they leave it at the party? I began to question if I was like other people.
These thoughts continued, and eventually as they grew louder they all came to a head and I realized I needed to put down the drink. I think it was around December when I had my last sip – A glass of champagne. Nothing spectacular.
I didn’t put down everything though. I continued to dabble. The light was a scary place to be when I had grown so accustom to hiding in the shadows that I didn’t quite know how to be in a space where I was fully visible. Not yet.
The following summer I went to another music festival. While there, I stumbled upon a camp for people abstaining from all substances. At this point, I had been without any substances since March 22 of that year. I sat down, and began talking, and for the first time in my entire life I thought “These people get it”. They understood my anger, and fear, in a genuine way. I instantly trusted them, and felt okay. Like I could finally be. But, while understanding all my darkness they also smiled. And the interesting thing was, I believed that too. And in that moment I realized, that could be me. I realized, I wanted life.
Within a couple weeks of coming home from that event, I found a similar community and threw myself in. I needed their perspective and experience to really understand my own. I needed their hope to borrow until I could find some for myself. And I needed their smiles and tears to feel safe and real.
A week later, I received my second diagnosis of Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis and I didn’t want to die. That night, I went to see this community and I shared with someone what was happening. I reached out toward the light, instead of running into the dark. From that moment, my narrative changed.
I’ve taken quite a few steps into the light since then, and there have absolutely been times when the bulb dimmed or even burnt out and I had to do something a little different or a little extra to re-enter that bright, light space. The thing is, I now know I have access to that light and I have the tools I need to find my way back, no matter what. And if I am ever doubting myself, I have a community of individuals who have walked the same path – each in their own unique way – who have an experience to share or suggestion to offer to help me find my way back.
To you who feels your life is falling apart, I am not here to tell you it is not.
It very well might be crumbling to the ground.
You might feel that darkness, and the weight, and you are exhausted.
I believe you.
The thing is, I wasn’t given my life back. I didn’t have one to be recreated, or rebuilt.
I was given a life.
So if it seems yours is crumbling, with everything you have I urge you to grab onto someone’s hand while you let the remaining pieces fall.
Shed all the fear and sadness, the anxieties and insecurities, and just hold on. They won’t let go, I promise. I will not let go.
And while you are searching for your unique light, and taking steps to creating your life, I can lend you some of mine just like they did for me.
I am grateful for you.
The light I have, is created by you.
And that is how I know you will find your own.
This open letter was written by Natalie Kristina. Natalie is a relationship coach supporting individuals and couples globally to transform their relationships, by bridging the gap between spiritual and analytic so that they can truly live in desire. She is ultra-passionate about all things boundaries, purity culture, and curing anxious attachment style. She is on a mission to normalize exploration of the interplay between sex, god, and romantic partnership, and using our physical bodies and higher power as a guide into our absolute truth and alignment. She helps her clients understand their own unique stories, and to unpack how these experiences have framed their ability to access desire up to this point. Natalie is called to make this work accessible and provides her clients with practical steps and actions so that they can begin to show up for desire in all areas of their life, with absolute confidence knowing that they fully deserve to be there. Follow her on Instagram if you’re curious to know more about her, you can also grab a virtual coffee with her here