I lay on the cold dark floor, lost, confused, bruised and broken. Had the end come? At the tender age of 22, was this what I had become? I was lonely but not alone. The pain in my chest held me on that floor. I was zapped from my comatose state by the sound of fluttering and as I raised my head I saw white feathers surrounding my weak body. I followed the fluttering sound to the window. And there he was. A beautiful butterfly eagerly wanting to be set free. I struggled to get the window open and allow him begin his journey of freedom. I watched as he opened his great black and orange wings and set on his maiden voyage.
For the first time in weeks it became clear. I set the butterfly free so now it was time to set myself free. I have spent 7 years now holding on to a life I used to live. A life that seemed perfect for me. One in which I was surrounded by my mother, father and brother.
Life dealt me a great blow and God took the people I loved the most away from me. My mother was heart broken and suddenly I had to bottle my tears for I could not let her see a sad and lonely girl. She needed me and she needed me to be strong or so I thought.
As the years went by I became this strong woman. I was the leader of the pack, the life and soul of every party and I was loving life-or so I thought. In September 2011, I began my masters in NUIG. Another new chapter, new people and new opportunities. Surely this was my year of dreams and a great new step in my new life. As the weeks went by I began to get sick. I couldn’t keep food down. I became erratic. My social life kick started and going out three or four times a week was my new lifestyle. The parties were as great as the next. Preparing for the nights out was just as important as the night itself.
The day after the night before was when I first began to notice a change in myself. Staying in bed all day was my preferred option. Did I have the perfect life? I thought so. Coming up to Christmas I took another change in my life. I pushed the people I loved the most away because I had a new exciting life and those who didn’t want to join me on the dance floor I didn’t need.
The Christmas was spent with a glass in hand as my partying continued night after night. Everyone said to stay in but what was the fun in that. Who would I meet sitting on the couch? I needed someone in my life that I could care for so I could ignore my own pain. Instead I came out of my skin pleading to find someone to fill that loneliness and in turn pushed people away. The following day I was left feeling alone, upset and torn.
I let this cycle continue for weeks until one day I woke up and realised I had to look after myself. I couldn’t stop crying and there was a pain in my heart as I sobbed. My mother and aunt had to come into me. Each tear was only an expression of my loss. Was this the end of me?
No it was the beginning of the rest of my life. For that day as I lay on the floor I realised that Marcus and Dad were dead. I had to accept that for the first time in my life. I was not suffering from any disease. Medication wasn’t the answer. I had to cleanse my soul of the pain I had ignored for so long. That meant crying. And boy did I cry.
Grief comes in five stages. Denial is the first. I have been in denial for years about the loss I suffered. Anger was a stage that I went through also. I was so angry at God for taking them from me, angry at my mother for crying so much, angry at myself. I tried bargaining. That is the third stage. I begged for some sign that Marcus and Dad were happy. I begged for my own happiness. A quick fix some might say. The fourth stage is depression which is something I had never experienced in my life. I was so frightened to admit what I was feeling. I bottled it up but eventually the bottle was so full it couldn’t take anymore and wanted to overflow. I fought to prevent it from bursting open. It resulted in me puking, having severe stomach problems and prevented me from sleeping and concentrating on college work.
Even in counselling I gave out about everyone that wasn’t there for me, that wouldn’t be nice to me, who didn’t hear my call. But they did hear my call. In fact they saw and heard it before me.
The road to acceptance is the fifth stage of grieving. It is possibly the hardest stage to comprehend. I have spent seven years living a life that I thought was fulfilling. I wasn’t just living my own life, I was living a life for Marcus and Dad. But they have gone to their place of rest. They have lived their lives and their time on earth was over. I had to stop living their life, I have to live my own.
Releasing that butterfly into the open world allowed me to accept who I am. I had to set Marcus and Dad free and so now I must pick myself up off the cold dark ground, spread my wings and follow the light of life.