Two years ago on St. Patrick’s Day I went to bed with a Butcher Knife on my nightstand.
I know what you’re thinking – dramatic much?
Well yes, actually, I am.
Why you ask? Well, I can tell you it wasn’t in case I decided to chop some cucumbers at 2 a.m. and I wanted to avoid hunting for a knife in the dark. And, no, it wasn’t for self-defense either (and, for the record, keeping a knife exposed by your bed is not a good self-defense plan). – It was there for comfort.
And no, not the type of comfort you get from a Teddy Bear or a childhood blanket – it was for the comfort of knowing that if I woke up and just couldn’t handle the pain of life anymore, then I wouldn’t have to. I could end it – without even needing to get up out of bed.
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(Actually, for the sake of keeping this ‘factual’ I was sleeping on the couch – I find when I’m having a ‘dark day’ the couch seems a better option than bed. The knife was on the coffee table – but this is beside the point.)
I had forgotten about my little ‘knife incident’, until it conveniently resurfaced in my memory late last night. How convenient when you are trying to sleep. I was minding my own business, going about my ‘try to fall asleep’ routine (you know, counting sheep and all that) and suddenly there it was – the butcher knife sitting on the coffee table at my old apartment – my eyes shot open – WHAT THE!?!?!
And that’s when I remembered – it was true. It did happen.
I fell asleep shortly after that.
I woke up this morning, went to my weekly counseling session, and then on the drive home there it was again – the image of the knife in my head – Oh boy…
I’m not sure how one simply ‘forgets’ such details, but I had. It wasn’t like typical psychological repression where you forget in the moments right after it happens – I remembered The Knife for the first few months or maybe even year after it happened, but then, I suppose, one day the memory simply faded.
When I got home I texted my cousin (whom I’d been living with at the time of The Knife):
“Did you know that two years ago on St. Patrick’s day I slept on our couch with a butcher knife on the coffee table next to me?”
Her response: “Praise the Lord for progress!”
And that’s when it hit me – she was right. When memories like this resurface you aren’t supposed to freak out, relive them in terror, or wallow in depression and/or regret (though these responses are understandable). You are supposed to thank God for progress and keep moving forward.
See, that’s what recovery is about – moving forward. Looking forward. And looking back only to see where you’ve been and how far you’ve come – And that is something to get excited about!
I remember something my therapist told me – we were discussing my recent progress in recovery and she said, “And no one can take that away from you.” And that’s the truth:
Nobody can take your progress away from you.
Two years ago (almost to this day) I went to bed with a Butcher Knife – and now here I am, still breathing, and, most importantly, I’m alive (in all aspects of the word!) Now THAT is something to celebrate!
I found a reason to live. Even in my darkest hour, I found a reason to wake up, get up off the couch, put the knife back in the drawer and go seek help. (read more in my post: “On Suicide (why I chose To Be)“)
This post, however, is not about finding a reason to live, though I hope you will/have (read the post linked above if this is the message you are seeking). This post is about encouraging you in your recovery to own your progress – and to celebrate it!
In recovery you will have flashbacks, memories will resurface that you wish you could forget, and you may even get images of butcher knives – and I want to encourage you in these moments to respond how my cousin did, and thank God for your progress!
There is hope in these flashbacks – you just have to look at them the right way.
As Christina Aguilera says, (and I’ve mentioned this in a previous post):
“Every morning that I wake I look back at yesterday, and I’m OK…”
Memories of your eating disorder or your depression or addiction, on the surface, are not typically something you would choose to celebrate – but if you use them to contrast where you are now, you will see how far you’ve come: You’re OK – be excited about that!
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