"You need help."
Just about everyone around me told me that.
I knew they were right. But what about my job, the kids and the housework? In hindsight, it all seems so grossly miscalculated without proper prioritization.
I had been trying to recover, on my own, from an affair my then-husband had with a good friend of mine. I was in a self-induced catatonic state, feeling nothing but the numbness that had become the new normal to my daily life.
There is no need to pity me and no need to vilify him. We both contributed to the events that led to this disaster. We were both lost in a world where we had sacrificed too much of ourselves.
A year ago, to the day, I voluntarily checked myself into the hospital. Truth be told, it was a mental ward, a harsh place for my emotional state and not necessarily the right place for me.
However, the officials offered me top-of-the-line assistance. I was given a dose of antidepressants as well as a dose of reality. I rejected both, at first.
I discovered a side of humanity that the public seldom sees: people who can't make this world work in a way that would favor their mental state. In fact, this world exacerbates their instability.
I left that five-day vacation with a renewed sense of reality and optimism. I never doubted that I could rebuild myself from rock bottom. However, I did seriously doubt that I could reach my former level of happiness, love and peace after not wanting to live this life anymore. I also doubted I could repair the relationships with people I alienated.
I've learned an abundance of lessons since then, many of them you've read about. And, I never would have learned those lessons if not for the unfortunate events that got me to such a low place.
And just when I think I'm in the clear and all the pain of the past lies behind me, I'm reminded of something that I would prefer not to recall.
I find myself angry that life is still regurgitating these memories. But each time, I try to look at them with new perspective, in a curious way, wondering what I'm supposed to learn.
Perhaps it's a reminder to gain insight from an event so I avoid it in the future. Perhaps it's a sign to be more open-minded, less bitter and more compassionate to those who are fighting their own war.
I know now how much the fear of feeling that depth of pain caused me to deplete myself, and how it left me debilitated. I still struggle with that fear, but it doesn't own me.
I have guilt because my kids hurt. I have embarrassment associated with some of the things I said, did and wrote during the fight to recover.
I've always had things that "I knew for certain." But now what I know for certain is that nothing is for certain. There are appropriate truths today, right now, based on a succession of yesterdays. But as a result of today, any of these could change tomorrow. Now I know it's "what I know for certain — today".
I look around me today and all I can do is smile. The bonds are stronger. The appreciation is greater. The love is larger. The smiles are genuine.
I know I'm exponentially better than I used to be.
I don't share just because its cathartic. I know I'm not alone in my feelings. I've met too many people who have encountered the same scenario. It's become a statistic. And while trying to heal yourself, you're still responsible for your children, marriage, career and home.
Be patient and tough. Endure the pain and fight as hard as you can. The pain will be useful to you one day.
Never give up on hope.
And one thing I know for certain — never give up on you.
Heather Tempesta is a Brandon mother of two sons, 17 and 10, and a daughter, 15.