Guest Post by Aubrey Washer
Last summer as I wandered through the back yard to check for roof damage from the previous night’s windstorm I noticed that two of my sunflowers had been bent and the stems were broken in places. Sunflowers are about the only thing besides weeds that will grow in my yard. Even grass hates it back there. I didn’t have my clippers handy, so I rolled my eyes and decided to cut them down later. I went inside after verifying that there were no shingles missing and promptly forgot my downed sunflowers.
By the time I got around to leaving my ex-husband, I was beaten down and weary. The exhaustion was so deep the slightest thing could send me spiraling into tears and leave me in a weeping heap on the floor. There came a point when I was so thoroughly broken that my brain refused to go any further. My breath came with much labor, my head pounded, and my heart felt like it was on the verge of shattering. The ambulance drivers weren’t sure what was happening, but the ER doctors did. They told me I was having a panic attack.
Great. A panic attack. Now I sound like some sort of pansy princess with fainting spells. Just wonderful. They gave me a couple of prescriptions and sent me home.
It wasn’t long afterward that I found myself in the ER once again, this time strapped to the bed with an IV pumping something into my arm and a dark gray stain on the front of my gown they told me was from my initial refusal to swallow my charcoal shake. I was told the reason my arms were strapped down was because I kept pulling my IV out. I knew why I was there, but couldn’t understand why anybody would bother to save me.
You see, earlier I had been overcome with a desire to just not be any more. I was damaged goods. More than that, I was completely broken. Somewhere in the back of my mind the real me was screaming not to do it, but the pharmaceutically enhanced voice with the megaphone won out and I swallowed almost all of the Xanax and Fioricet the ER doctor had prescribed.
Once the charcoal worked its magic and all the ill-prescribed drugs were out of my system, the real me came back to play. I couldn’t believe what I’d done. I was ashamed and terrified. And I thought I was broken before! Let’s just say I didn’t believe all the King’s horses and all the King’s men could put me back together again. Ever.
From there I spiraled even further down. I walked away from all that was good, all those who loved me. No. I didn’t walk. I knocked them down like bowling pins in my rush to bury myself. I set aside my true friends and surrounded myself with others whose lies I believed. “It’s only fun if you’re not sober,” was one such lie. The bar became my life, along with all the self-loathing that comes with it. But there were other plans for me and suddenly I was propelled toIdaho.
Once there, I began to see truths about myself—truths I had been told by those who really did love me. My new best friend showed me how much I am worth. He gently nudged me back to myself and never once did he flinch at the trash I thought I saw in the mirror. Slowly, almost agonizingly, I began to flourish, to grow. All those shattered pieces were coming together again.
And the sunflowers? What I thought was damaged and dead began to grow. Tiny buds that had just begun to show before the wind blew the stalks down opened up. Brilliant yellow petals flashed their aptly-named beauty on the stony, unfriendly ground. They were radiant down there, and they reminded me of a promise long forgotten.
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice.” (Isaiah 42:3)
I wasn’t broken. Beaten and bruised, yes, but never broken. I am radiant.
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