During some very trying times in my life I fought like hell, each and every time, to pull myself out of the abyss of pain I constantly found myself in. I knew deep down in my soul there was an answer to my freedom and happiness; I just didn’t know where to find it. During one of these times, I remember sitting in the airport with my family, waiting for a delayed plane that would eventually take us to Disney World. It was a trip graciously financed by my father for my then 5-year-old daughter. I needed something – anything – to help me change my thoughts from gloom and doom to sunshine and butterflies. I took my daughter’s hand and we walked through the airport to an overpriced bookstore where dozens of travelers mulled the shelves to pass the time. While Maddie marveled at the Barbie book I put in her hands, I scanned a tiny self-help section for an answer. As I stood there with my heart aching, I remembered how I would do the very same thing in the years after I graduated college. I was so, so lost in those days. And for some reason, I thought I could find the answer on a shelf in Wal-Mart or K-Mart. It sounds odd, but I would literally walk up and down every aisle until something that came in a box or plastic container jumped out at me and said, Here! Over here! Buy me and all of your pain and suffering will go away! I was too naive to realize I was looking for instant gratification; a quick fix to remove the pain and replace it with bliss and contentment. This time I was looking for wise words from another aching soul that could help me get back on track.
“What is your book, Mommy?” Maddie was looking up at me with a beautiful little smile.
“Oh, it’s just a book about – making things better.”
“What do you need to make better? Ways to make you stop crying?”
Her statement stunned me. She had seen my cry so many times but never said anything before. And there were plenty of times when she would stroke my hair telling me it was okay, “uh-cuz the next day will be better, Mommy.”
I realized at that moment that I really, really needed to make change or my negative and self-destructive behaviors were going to destroy not only me, but her little soul as well. And I didn’t want that. No way. Children are so naive, living in an innocuous and perfect world – a world that many of us don’t remember; a world where the Divine keeps us innocent and pure with a beautiful, white light that shields us from the pain and suffering of a vicious, harmful outer-world. And then, inevitably, something happens that pulls us out of that perfectness. That’s when the struggle begins.
“Do I cry a lot?” I asked her with a forced smile.
“Yes. But it’s okay, Mommy. I cry sometimes, too.”
I bought the book (and the Barbie one, too) and spent the entire vacation reading it and taking notes (save the time I was running around Disney with my child). After a full day at the park I would get her ready for bed, read her a story, kiss her on the forehead and then crawl under the blankets next to her to delve into my own book. I wanted knowledge; as much as I could get my hands on so that I could pull myself out of the darkness and start living a healthier, more productive and passionate life. Much of what I was reading was common sense. But let’s face it - in the wallows of pity, common sense is the furthest thing from our minds.