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I just posted a video on my sister’s wall. Florence + The Machine – Shake it Out. It reminded me of her. Especially the parts “it’s always darkest before the dawn” and “it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off”

Then I read the lyrics. I mean, I really read them. I’m not so sure the song is entirely about her even though it makes me think of her. There’s a part in the song that reads this “And I’m damned if I do, I am damned if I don’t/ So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my rope/ And I’m ready to suffer, I’m ready to hope/ It’s a shot in the dark and right at my throat/ Cause looking for heaven I found the devil in me/  Looking for heaven, found the devil in me/ Well what the hell I’m gonna let it happen to me”

The thing is, I’ve been to hell and back. I’ve seen the bad in me, and forgotten about the good. Something very unfortunate happened to me five years ago. It took almost two years to pick up the broken pieces of myself and put it all back together. I should be dead right now and I’m not. For some reason I’m still here.

I talked to a friend of mine about this because we were able to relate to each other on this level. I find it hard to talk about to anyone period, but for some reason I was able to open up to her about. I told her that I’m ashamed. I am so ashamed. I’m embarrassed. Part of me is still broken because of said incident. I still have trouble forgiving myself for what happened, and it’s difficult to forget about it and move on because I have a daily reminder of it. She said “Deal with it Kelley. You will always have that reminder of what happened, but it’s there so you don’t forget. You can’t keep playing the victim in this situation because that is what is allowing you to wallow in it and not move on.” I understand what she’s saying. I understand that I can’t sit here and think about it. I can’t look down at my arms and feel regret. I need to look at the life I’ve been given and be proud and happy. I am happy. I’m extremely happy. But every once in a while I have this little devil on my back that pops up and whispers in my ear “remember what happened? remember how awful you were? remember how many people you pushed away? remember what it feels like to give up?” and I can’t squash him.  I know I’m stronger than that. I know I won’t go back there again because I won’t let myself. The only thing is, I have this twinge of doubt because of that demon. Because that demon won’t leave me be when that’s all I want. In order for it to go away, I have to forgive myself. How can I forgive myself for doing something so unforgivable?

There are two artists in particular that helped me through all this at the start. More specifically three songs: The Fray – You Found Me and Kelly Clarkson – Irvine and Sober. Kelly Clarkson’s album entitled “My December” was the thread I was holding on to. The whole album was a transition from darkness to strength. It’s still hard for me to listen to that album given the circumstances under which I listened to it, but it holds such a special place in my life. It’s one of those things, that not as a fan, but as one previously broken person to another, I would love the chance to tell her what a difference she made in my life with her words. It sounds silly, I know, but it’s truth

I was angry with God for the longest time. I felt like He showed up too late. He waited for a certain moment to save me when all I wanted in the moments leading up to that was for it all to end. I felt betrayed, and to an extent I still do. I know now that the reason it happened was so that I could become a better, stronger person, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t still stab me in the throat. As the days creep closer to August, my panic attacks and thoughts of regrets grow stronger. It’s something I’ve had to deal with for five years. After August, I’m fine. It always starts at the end of June and lasts through about the end of August.

I find myself wishing sometimes that I could be an advocate for those who can’t form those feelings into words. The feelings of hopelessness. I wish I could talk to that scared, hopeless, fragile girl that was me five years ago and tell her it’ll be okay. Tell her to suck it up and get help. Tell her that now her life is beautiful and that she just has to ride through the tears. That the metaphorical hole and big truck she used to write about is no longer a part of her life. To not make the move she wants to. If that were even possible, though, would I be the person I am today? Would I still be broken? So in that affect, would it be worth it? The pain I endured was for a reason. I’d just like to know what that reason is. There are still moments, the moments leading up to August, that I curse God and pray for a reason as why He allowed this happen to me. Every year I come to the conclusion that it’s something I have to figure out on my own.

The same friend I opened up to about this told me “There is a reason. The people that have succeeded didn’t have a bigger purpose. They served theirs, lived their lives, and touched people to the extent they could. You and I are still here because we have a bigger purpose. We’ll figure it out. We’ll discover our purpose.” I don’t know what that purpose is. I don’t know if my purpose is to bring children into the world, if it’s because I was meant for my husband, if it’s because I’m meant to touch other people’s lives, or something else entirely.

That being said, it’s time to bury that horse in the ground. It’s time to shake the devil off. I was a fool. I was blind. It’s time to forgive myself. I can’t forget the past, it will always be there. I will always have that reminder. It genuinely was darkest before the dawn. I need to realize He didn’t show up too late. He showed up just in time. He held me in his arms and made me stronger. That demon that follows me around is waiting for me to falter. It’s waiting for me to slip up. Waiting for that moment when it can settle back into me, but I won’t let it. I somehow always manage to flick him off my shoulder every year, and this year will be no different. I may need my month or so to mourn, but I will pick myself back up again. Every day I’m finding a different piece of me that I had forgotten was there and put it back into place. It may be a 10 year transformation, or maybe this is the last year I will ever feel broken because of it. I don’t know. No one does. I will fight through the panic attacks.

I decided I’m going to tattoo my arms. I’m going to transform the ugliness into beauty. My aim is not to cover it up because that won’t help. These next couple of months I will be cranky and I know it. It sounds so negative to say that I am playing the victim here, but aren’t I? The facts are that I’m still here and that my life now is beautiful. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. So why do I still dwell on it? Why can’t I forgive myself? It will happen eventually but in the mean time I need to learn to deal with it not cover it up.

I’m proud of who I am now, but there will always be that fear in me of “what if it happens again.” Maybe that fear is there so that it doesn’t happen again. Maybe my hurdle right now is learning to forgive, and to be able to forgive other people I have to first forgive myself. It will happen. I am hopeful, and I try to live every day hopeful and thankful for the future that lies in front of me. So I’ll end with one last link. Another song by Kelly Clarkson.

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