The episode recap for the last two weeks of my life would read something like this: Last straw meets camel's back. Shit meets fan. Much flailing and sorrow and angst. Fade to garbled mess where a somewhat put-together woman once stood.
I joke, as always (and I think it's a good thing that I've not lost my sense of humour), but the fact of the matter is that the combination of a long, cold winter and some unexpected and less-than-favourable events dredged up a once-dormant darkness in me that I had been struggling to keep at bay, unloving thoughts that had been coming in whispers I could swiftly silence.
Then one morning last week I woke to a full choral ensemble, The Unkindnesses, performing a playlist of self-hatred at deafening levels. They sang some of the old standards. You are Alone and Always Will Be. Nobody Loves You. This Pain Will Never End.
And then, just as they launched into a rousing rendition of They'd Be Better Off Without You, a strong voice gently commanded:
I got up out of bed, pain settling like dust in my wake. I walked to the closet to get dressed, scanned the hangers and selected the softest of all grey sweaters.
"It feels like a hug," the voice noted, pleased, as I pulled the sweater over my head.
"Surround yourself in love," it continued. I reached for my favourite scarf, an expanse of rich purple dotted with small white hearts, and wrapped its warmth around my shoulders. "And wear the purple shoes."
We all know the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I hereby propose the Silver Rule, no less important: Do unto yourself as you would do unto others. As kind as you are to others, be kind to yourself. As forgiving as you are of others, be forgiving of yourself. And listen for the voice in you, the voice of self-love, when it speaks. Fight to hear that loyal voice amidst the cacophony of contempt. The more you listen, the more it will talk. The more it talks, the more it will shout. Give it a megaphone and drown out that dismal choir.
I got through that day, and the ones since, and will get up and get through many more, with purple shoes on my feet helping to move me forward, with soft, grey hugs and the arms of my dear ones encircling me, surrounded by love. And you can too.