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The Power of the F-Word on My Journey With Mental Health

Editor's Note

If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction, the following post could be triggering. You can contact SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

When my nephew was 3 years old, he told me that he knew the “F-word.” Intrigued, I asked him what he thought it was. He said, “farts.”

So, I quickly learned that the “F-word” meant different things to different people. Over the course of my lifetime, it has presented itself in many forms as well.

In my 20’s, it meant fun. I was living carefree, partying with my friends, not thinking about tomorrow or all the trauma that was inches from the surface about to show it’s face any moment. It wasn’t until I stopped fueling myself with booze, that I was able to see the next F-word…

Failure.

Sure, failure is inevitable at one point or another, but I saw my first glimpse of it when I “woke up” and realized my life was a complete mess. I had spent all my money on booze, I had no direction and I was trying to deal with my trauma all alone. I was constantly beating myself up for failing, which only contributed to my ever-lingering anxiety and depression. Fun, right?

Spoiler alert — it wasn’t.

All those years of hiding behind my smile and trying to please literally everyone but myself had taken a toll. It was time for forgiveness and man, was it long overdue. But learning to forgive all that had wronged me, all that didn’t mean to and most importantly learning to forgive myself, was one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to grasp. Mostly because I was angry.

I was angry at my dad for leaving us when I was young, I was angry at my first love for cheating on me and lying to my face about it. I was angry at the next few men I let into my life for abusing me both physically and emotionally. I was angry at myself for self-medicating, and I was especially angry that I didn’t recognize any of this sooner. I didn’t realize for a long time that I was trying to escape my life by not dealing with my trauma and masking it as fun. It was a hard pill to swallow and trust me, I’ve swallowed many.

But once I began to forgive, I was reminded of my favorite F-word. I truly learned to not give a fuck what people thought. After all the years of people-pleasing, not feeling good enough, feeling like a burden and feeling like I wanted to end it all seemed to disappear. I was free.

Yes, of course I still care about others opinions, but that doesn’t mean I have to cling to them for dear life anymore. Those opinions don’t shape who I am as a person or provide me with the validation that I desperately yearned for in the past; I am in control of that now.

Believe me it wasn’t easy and I didn’t do it all alone. I am lucky to have a great support system, and I am even luckier to have learned that it’s OK to ask for help. I learned that the people who say they care, actually care, and that it’s OK to lean on someone else for a change. I am grateful to have learned these lessons and know that I am truly worth it.

Finally.

Photo credit: Matthew de Lange/Getty Images