By Bridgette Watson
I’ve always been that one person who’s a little odd, who wears clothes that draw attention, who chose to go the non-standard route of employment as an adult. That’s just me. My mom likes to joke about the fact that, at two years old, I wouldn’t let her dress me any more. I needed to pick out my own clothes, every day. My outfits usually consisted of a pink ballet leotard and a sunhat with a rainbow ribbon around it. I was even so particular that I made my mom glue tiny satin bows on the collars of all my shirts. Those were all the rage when I was a toddler.
Fast forward to my teenage years and that girl, the one with so much life and color, seemed to have disappeared. It’s crazy to look back now and be able to pinpoint the exact moment she went missing. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I won’t go into much detail, because it is a very long story, but on an early fall night in Texas I was molested by a family “friend.” I hope that none of the beautiful people reading have had to deal with a sexual assault, but let me just tell you, they mess with your head.
That fateful day broke me. The colorful, eclectic, joyful, little girl disappeared into a dark abyss of shame. Shame does something to the heart, it causes it to loathe itself and seek solitude, when in reality that solitude only multiplies the pain and despair. That was the moment I began sinking into depression and anxiety.
In my darkness and shame I turned to many different guys to fix that brokenness I was living in. They never helped. Some of them were abusive and that became a normalcy for me. Unknowingly, I started falling for guys I knew would never love me. They verbally abused and controlled me, ripping my value into shreds. Surly, no one could ever see me for beautiful.
With every passing day depression called my name and I woefully followed it into the darkness. I couldn’t tell anyone because shame had locked me into a cage of my own skin believing that I didn’t matter and no one would believe me that I was wounded. So, I sat, and I waited, hoping I would get better over time. But time is a cruel mistress, because without help you cannot heal. I waited through middles school, I waited through high school, and even into college. I kept telling myself, everything would get better, but it didn’t.
One day, my sophomore year in college, a friend and I were baking cookies, talking about boys, like girls do, and I’ll never forget it because that was the day my healing began. She was telling me about the guy she had been seeing and as the conversation unfolded, we found out that we were both dating the same guy. In movies, this is where the girls fight over the guy, but we realized it was us who should be fought for. In that moment, it was like a lightbulb came on and I realized that I was never going to see different results if I kept living my life in a way that was only hurting me.
The next day, I decided that I was going to finish my degree online and go be a fulltime volunteer at a non-profit dealing in homelessness eradication, in Los Angeles. Sometimes, you’ve got to do something drastic to see a drastic change.
I picked up my entire life and moved to Los Angeles from Dallas, and the next two years I lived there changed the way I looked at myself, completely. During my time there I was serving so many people who were absolutely amazing but they couldn’t see that through their pain, so I would spend time with them telling them their value until they believed it. Eventually it clicked, I needed to start doing that for myself. Along with my faith in Christ, that has helped me overcome my depression and anxiety more than any drug ever could.
I would speak the truth of who I am over myself every single day until I believed it. Some days were harder than others and those days were bad ones, let me tell you. I’ve spent mornings vomiting my anxiety into the toilet and other days where panic attacks were so bad that I would pass out just walking to another room and someone would find me on the floor in the hallway, in the middle of the night. It hasn’t been an easy battle, believing that I’m valuable and saying no to the lies, but it has been the best one I’ve ever fought.
Even on the hardest of days, I knew it would get better, my faith tells me that, and it’s so true. Here I am almost 10 years later, still fighting, but so rewarded and extremely humbled knowing that my struggle is able to help other people believe in the beauty on the other side of pain. If you’re going through the darkness, I’m here to tell you, there is light on the other side. Never ever give up on yourself because you bring something to this world that no one else could ever carry. You are uniquely amazing and we wouldn’t be this beautiful mess of a creation without you as a part of it.