Every once in awhile we meet a beautiful soul. Someone who, because of their journey, inspires us to be more. I have met such a person, in the beautiful soul that is Bri. In the time I have known her, Bri has shown just how to both inspire and be inspired. So much so, that I asked her to share her story.
Two months ago, I almost died.
And when I say I almost died, I’m not exaggerating at all. It’s true, what they say; your life does flash before your eyes. Not like a movie, detailing the mundane day to day things that have happened to you, like the time you dropped that ice cream cone outside of Dairy Queen and your dad refused to buy you another one no matter how much you pouted. You were mad at him for a week, mainly because you were 7 and you suddenly realized the world didn’t revolve around you like you had thought.
No, it’s more like a Polaroid of your soul gets put in front of you and you have an infinite moment to evaluate whether or not you think your journey made your soul as beautiful as you had wished it to be.
I had been enjoying a beautiful sunset from the jagged edge of a rock formation standing 7 feet above the ocean. Seemingly content with the way my life was going. The last year had been the hardest of my life. At the start, I was severely depressed and completely unhealthy. My favorite companion being that box of ice cream Snickers bars that I tried to tell myself would make me feel better. I looked in the mirror everyday for as short an amount of time as possible. I used to fantasize about driving my car off of the road. Contemplating who would cry at my funeral. Who would remember my birthday 5 years after my death and shed a tear on that day thinking of how different their life had been without me in it. Realizing that my deepest fear in those moments was the answer to that question being “no one.”
I was also having medical issues, after a spat with some stairs (they won, much to my dismay), I had found out that I needed a very extensive knee surgery. Even with surgery, I could need a total knee replacement by the time I was 35. Mainly because I weighed 100+ pounds more than I should for my height. A big thank you to those ice cream Snickers bars and their sugary sweet cohorts. My doctor, very plainly, said I needed to get my life together. He would not even entertain the idea of performing the surgery without me losing 50 pounds.
After hyperventilating and showering my car with thousands of tears, I realized he was exactly right, I did need to get my life together. What was I doing? God, why was I doing it? I was so ashamed in that moment, I had ignored my soul for so long. I had let my life get so ugly, so heavy. I used to pride myself in helping others, and I quickly realized that was also a mask, one that I expertly used. Because if I wore a mask, I would never have to face the person I had become. Who had I become? Did I like her? Clearly, I did not. Because you could not care about someone that you treated that horribly. Swinging wildly from force feeding them complete toxicity under the banner of “this will make you feel better,” to long periods of time just completely neglecting them, telling them that they are not good enough for attention. No, I did not like myself at all.
So, I changed.
Three small words to describe it, but it was the hardest journey I ever started. I stopped entertaining the morbid ideas of my death that I had cuddled up with so often. I stopped eating all the sugar and found new friends in the form of broccoli and organic chicken. I systematically started removing every toxic thing from my life, and started to replace it with something life giving. I started practicing yoga and meditating everyday. Slowly but surely, facing those demons in the deep recesses of my mind and pulling them out of me so that they could not haunt me anymore. Until one day, I looked in the mirror, and did not want to look away as quickly. There it was again: the light in my eyes that I thought had been lost forever.
I started finding my feet again; dreaming again, making goals for the future, hoping. The haze of depression and anxiety was clearing out, the sun was rising again in my life, and it felt warmer than I remembered. In 6 months I had lost 50 pounds an was about to have my knee surgery, in amazing mental and physical health thanks to yoga and vegetables.
I was smiling to myself as I was enjoying those last rays of sunlight from my rock formation jutting out of the beach, remembering just how far I had come. Then suddenly, I couldn’t breath. Water was everywhere, when I tried to breath — the salty water burned my lunges. I could feel the rocks scraping the skin off my body. I knew I was dying. Before my eyes, a Polaroid. Here I was, I had finally started to live again. I was happy. My soul finally shining again, a little dark around some edges, but still beautiful. But was it as beautiful as I had hoped? No, I still had so much I wanted to do, to accomplish, to be. I had let my fear and self doubt keep me down for so long. Yes, I was on the right path, but I had not reached my destination yet. This could not be how it ended, not now.
Just like that, it was like someone picked me up and placed me on dry land. Coughing up water and bleeding in the sand. I’ll never be able to explain that moment, to rationalize something that cannot be explained other than, it was a miracle. I was alive. I am alive, and I am still working on my soul.
As I write this I wonder what message my soul sings to others, what can my journey do to help inspire others? My hope is that in its own way, my soul can first say to yours “you’re not alone.” Secondly, I hope it says “honey, you have big things to do, so don’t you dare give up now.” Each of us has a light to shine, and I know that you can make it through whatever you are facing in this life. You can change your life, you can love yourself, you can face your demons and make them flee, you can free yourself, you can accomplish your dreams. But you have to want it, and you have to choose to live, choose to take the steps to become who you are meant to be. Truly, and I know this from experience, you are the only person stopping you.
Connect with Bri Figy at Heart of the Phoenix for a little inspiration on your journey to your beautiful soul.
Thank you Bri for sharing!