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Embracing the Journey

March 02, 2017

Skyland Trail alumni, Sarah R. recently shared the reflection below on her graduation day.

“Owning our own story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.  Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love, on belonging, on joy-all of the things that make us the most venerable.  Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we ever discover the infinite power of the light.”

A few weeks ago it hit me that I was going to have to stand up here and do this.  I don’t really like anything about public speaking and I truly hate public speaking if I have to talk about myself. It’s uncomfortable and is not natural for me.  But I assure you this isn’t the first time I have had to step out of my comfort zone in the last 4 months.  Treatment is hard, it’s very hard. You have to work every single day.  Sure some days are easier than others but whatever you put into it you get back times 100. Yes, everyone says that, buts it’s true. 

I have always had some personal struggles that I pushed under the rug and went about my life like everything was fine. I mastered being able to do this and wearing a mask of pretending everything was ok but eventually I got to a point that I could no longer do that. Emotionally I began to fall apart little by little and couldn’t seem to fix anything myself anymore.  Long story short that is how I ended up here at Skyland.  I got here in October not having a clue what to expect. There are only 2-3 people here now that were here when I got here. I ran my entire original core group off.  I have seen a lot of people stand up here and it’s been amazing. The road to getting here was quite difficult and there are two extremely important people in my life that helped me find the courage to get to Skyland.  They don’t know it but they kept me alive long enough to get here and get the help I needed. I can tell you the exact words and different times in which they said certain things that helped me realize to not give up and that if I could make it just one more day, one more week I could do this, that made me feel like I was worth it and that I deserved to get better.  Without them I wouldn’t have found Skyland and for that I will forever be grateful. 

My journey at Skyland has been the most difficult thing that I have done and I wouldn’t change anything about it.  Being surrounded by such awesome and compassionate people has helped me show back up each day for treatment. This community is amazing and I encourage anyone who is new here to get to know your peers.  I struggled to do that at first but it makes a world of difference to know the people around you are also battling and working to have exactly what we all want and that’s a better life for ourselves. We all have very different stories but one common goal.  Embrace the people around you, lean on each other.

I think I have come a long way in my time here at Skyland and I have a lot of work left to do and have no intention of stopping to build a new life for myself.  I am going to build a life that I will wake up and go to bed at night and be proud of no matter how long that takes.  If you are like me you may have shown up to Skyland and wanted a quick fix.  What I learned is that doesn’t exist, it takes time and a whole lot of effort.  I can say that Skyland has helped me lay my new foundation and I am ready to do the work and build the rest.  I am not the same person that walked in the door in October and I am walking out with the skills I need to do this thing called life.

I can’t thank the staff enough. Each one of you are truly awesome in your own ways.  And to all of the interns, thank you for everything you do. It is mind blowing to me that you all aren’t even out of school yet and the way you handle yourselves and lead groups.  Skyland is lucky to have each of you.  I do want to thank three extremely special people.  Helen, you are truly incredible.  You helped me discover a side of myself that I didn’t know existed.  You have turned me into a craft making fool. Thank you for always laughing with me, encouraging me, sometimes singing and dancing with Jillian and I and telling me to go home and go to bed as I often forget to do. 

Karen, you are truly one of the most supportive, compassionate and kind hearted people I have ever met.  When you told me after group one day that Jamie wanted us to start meeting I thought oh shit not someone else.  What I didn’t know was that would be a huge turning point for me and was exactly what I needed. You asked me one day what would happen if I just let things fall apart.  That day is the day I think I finally started growing and headed into the right direction. There are no words to express how grateful I am for you.  Thank you for the huge role you have played in my journey.  Your son is going to have one kick ass mom.

Jamie, I know I have been a pain in your ass. Especially since you seem to always relate me to your three year old.  You told me the first or second time that we met that therapy is like chemo therapy for the soul….you said it’s going to hurt and make you feel like crap before you get better.  That has definitely proven to be true.  Thank you for breaking me down, beating me up, being brutally honest but most of all thank you for helping build me back up and start putting the pieces together.  You are an extremely special person to me and you have a gift that I hope you keep sharing with everyone that walks through the doors of Skyland Trail. 

Lastly, I want to read you something that I ready almost daily.  There are a lot of things out of our control but there are some things that we can all do for ourselves.  I read this to remind myself of some of these things so I wanted to share with all of you because I have this same hope for all of you.

I hope in the New Year, you quit being afraid and finally go after that thing that scares you.

I hope you quit hanging on to the past and letting it interfere with the present.

I hope in the New Year, you quit settling and wait for what you deserve, even if that means waiting a long time.

I hope you quit hating yourself and fixating upon flaws you can’t change. I hope you look at your reflection with the admiration it deserves.

I hope in the New Year, you quit doing something that doesn’t make you happy even if you don’t know what does yet.

I hope you quit a job you hate even if that means you’ll be broke for a little while.

I hope in The New Year, you quit bad company and begin to surround yourself with people who enhance your life and make it better.

I hope you quit that relationship that isn’t going anywhere.

I hope in The New Year, you quit living up to other people’s expectations of how you’re supposed to live your life.

I hope you quit killing yourself to makes others happy and start trying to make yourself happy.

I hope in the New Year, you quit lying to yourself about what you really want and find the courage to go after it.

I hope you quit comparing yourself to others and start by comparing yourself to the person you were yesterday.

I hope in The New Year, you quit running from love and let it find you.

I hope you quit thinking you’re in a rush to get somewhere and learn to appreciate the moment.

I hope in The New Year, you quit walking down the path of someone else’s choosing and go after your dreams, no matter how crazy they might be.

I hope you quit being stressed. You quit feeling pressure. I hope you find the core to what is causing these feelings and simply quit.

I hope in The New Year, you quit holding onto your ex because it’s over and you need to quit thinking he’ll come back.

I hope you quit needing people and learn to love yourself and your company.

I hope in The New Year, you quit going out when you’d rather stay in and not feel bad about it.

I hope you quit looking back and dwelling over where you were and start focusing on where you are going.

I hope in The New Year, you quit waking up unhappy and find what it is that will make you want to get out of bed in the morning.

But most of all I hope you quit holding yourself back.

Quit tolerating less than you deserve. Quit settling. Quit living someone else’s life. Simply quit.

Quit until you’re leading a life that fills you with such joy and happiness you wish you found the courage to quit sooner.