I don't like me. I realized that a couple of years ago when I came face to face with the darkness within. There were so many things wrong with me. I was a failure. I hated looking at myself in the mirror because the person that stared back wasn't the person I wanted to be. I had so many dreams and aspirations growing up. It dropped off somewhere along the way and never made it back on track.
I was working at a company as a continuous improvement co-lead. My job was to eliminate wastes. It covered processes and personnel. I felt like a fraud. I told a friend if I were honest, I'd recommend to fire myself. I didn't think I brought anything to the table. My team comprised of people who were much smarter than I was. I was just there pretending to follow along. I was struggling. I got awards and bonuses for the work. It only made me feel worse. I didn't deserve it. I was inside my head antagonizing myself.
It was also during this time that my mom revealed her illness, and I was diagnosed with Sjogren's. The news felt like a death sentence. My immune system was attacking itself. Even my body didn't like me. I didn't like my body. It was giving up on me. I wanted to give up on myself. My family didn't need more bad news. I didn't want attention or pity. I wallowed in self-pity and stopped communicating with anyone outside of work. Darkness enveloped me.
I don't like pain. If I watch a movie that I've seen before, I will skip through the sad parts to get to the happy ending. If I read a book that made me cry, I'd read the ending to know there's hope. I'd stop reading the book if the ending was too depressing. I knew what awaited me as I age. The pain I felt was just the beginning. Things will gradually get worse. I wanted to end it all.
There were days I drove home and wondered what if I drove a little faster. What if my car flipped and I didn't survive. My mom will be sad, but life will go on. The pain will stop. My book will end. But every time this occurred, gentle reminders of love would shine through.
It took me days, weeks, months, to come out of that darkness. Talking helped. I started by sharing my diagnoses with close friends and family. I could barely talk without tears. I sobbed out of fear of the unknown. I sobbed because I was weak. I cried because it felt so amazing to let the walls crumble. I was so lonely and tired of fighting the demons on my own.
Still, I felt broken. I failed God. I couldn't see him in darkness. It wasn't until I started doing the daily awareness examen that I began to see how He filled my days with love to balance out the bad. God was suffering with me in the darkness. He was the gentle reminders of love, the light that guided me through.
I'm not entirely out of the woods. I still have dark days when my symptoms flare up, but they are rare. I don't fight it, but I won't let it consume me. I am slowly accepting myself for my weakness and brokenness. I came to realize that the illness in itself is a gift. The struggle I went through forced me to break down the walls and brought me closer to God and others. The awareness examen became a part of my daily routine. Opening or ending the day having conversations with God and inviting Him to walk with me fills me with peace. I am still here. Struggling but I am still here. The light shines a little brighter every day. I like me.