Starting Over: Building a New Life from Scratch
Have you ever heard the saying, “When you hit rock-bottom, there’s no place to go but up”?
Of course, rock-bottom is the loneliest place in the world. It doesn’t matter how many people are around you, even those that love you and want to help, when the suffering is consuming your heart and soul, that is all you know.
It is the deepest, darkest pit of despair, where not even the tiniest spark of life exists, yet your body still has a pulse.
I read something that sums it up pretty well for me personally: “When my child died, I died too. They just forgot to bury me”.
My life ended. For 13 years, everything I did, everything I dreamed of and planned for, everything had included my child. And suddenly, it was all gone.
Yet there I was, still breathing. But for a long time, it was nothing more than a mechanical going-through-the-motions existence. I couldn’t even think of the next 5 minutes, let alone make plans or goals for the future.
Even though I certainly didn’t want to, by the Will and grace of God, I still woke up, and I did whatever needed doing. Somehow, there was something inside of me, pushing me on, if only for the benefit of those around me.
It was like there were 3 separate realms of me. There was the core, which felt dead and empty. But surrounding that core was an awareness of others and a desire to comfort and reassure them. And then, there was the face of me, what others could see. The face that I wore was influenced by the awareness that I did not want to cause more pain, to me or anyone else.
I never expected that a form of healing would begin the following year when I was faced with another death. But in the weeks before my father died, I had an opportunity to give one last act of love, one last gesture to show him I cared. In those precious few weeks, we shared stories and memories, laughter and a few tears, and I will cherish those moments with him.
I learned that my heart was still capable of feeling love, even in spite of the pain and even in the face of more loss. I also found the beginning of a will to live in that love, although I had no idea of what to do with it or where it would lead.
As each day passed, I discovered that the only times that I didn’t feel the full effects of sadness and pain where the times when my mind was occupied with doing something to help someone else. So, every day I prayed for opportunities to be helpful.
I found little ways here and there, but for the most part, my family and friends didn’t seem to want to ask me to do anything. And I began to question my value. What did I really have to offer that would be of much use to anyone?
Then one afternoon a friend said something to me when we were sharing a few memories of my son, Christian. She said, “I prefer to think of his death as another chapter in his story, because his story is not over yet. His love is still alive in your heart, and you will continue writing that story for both of you”.
I thought long and hard about those words. I still didn’t really feel much, but there was something stirring, like a little ember just beginning to glow. But it made me think more about my son, his love of life, and how he lived. Christian lived with exuberant joy and a thirst for knowledge, along with a passion for sharing with others. His faith in God was rock solid and inspiring to the many lives he touched in his short years.
I realized that when I remembered those qualities of his, it did fill my heart with life.
Not long after that conversation, I was asked for help with 3 orphaned kittens. Little did I know that they would be helping me as much as I would them.
I already had 2 dogs and 2 cats, so I really wasn’t planning on taking in more. But they were only about 2 weeks old and in bad shape. So, I decided I would foster them until they were old enough to be weaned and adopted.
However, the moment they arrived, and I picked them up out of the box, I knew they were here to stay. And that is how I came to be a “crazy cat lady”. (Although I guess just plain crazy would be more accurate, since there’s dogs, horses, goats, rabbits, a few birds, and others that have been included along the way.)
In spite of the exhaustion from getting up every 2 hours to bottle feed them, I found my heart being filled with a sense of joy and affection, along with great satisfaction and purpose. It felt good to be needed. But it felt even better to be able to help them, to see them grow and thrive, to make a difference!
One question continuously haunted me. “What am I supposed to do with my life now”? Every time I thought about it, the only answer I found was, “Write”. So, I did, although I never shared much of it.
Wanting to encourage and inspire other people, to help them find hope and fulfillment, and to grow and thrive, like those kittens, has always been a part of who I am.
I found the means to do that through writing.
I’ve shared entertaining stories that made people laugh and lifted spirits in joy. I’ve also written material to share knowledge and insight to help others grow in their writing.
But the greatest satisfaction for me personally, is when I open my heart and it touches another heart, making that connection that encourages and gives hope to someone else. That is what really drives me.
Over the past 18 months, a more clearly defined picture evolved in my heart, igniting an enthusiasm in me that I didn’t think I would ever feel again.
The struggles and despair that have been endured, and the trials that have been overcome, they have not been of my own doing. It is only by the grace and Will of God that I am still here today.
But I am still here, still standing. My old life is gone, but I am creating and building a new life, a new beginning.
In all honesty, it was hard to write this post today because it exposes the raw scars of my heart. But I know that keeping it hidden also keeps it from having any purpose or life. And it prevents those precious connections from being made, which is the main reason I am here.
I once heard Tony Robbins say, “Decisions shape destiny”. I’ve also heard it said, “God uses broken people like you and me, to help broken people like you and me”. I decided that I want to help other people.
There are many hurting hearts in this world, and mine is one. But it’s still beating, just like yours. And it has meaning and a purpose. It has a story to share.
I don’t have the audacity to say, “If I can do it, you can do it”, because, well, I’m not you and I don’t even know your story.
Instead, I’m going to ask you 2 questions:
What is your heart’s greatest desire? And what would it take to help you to achieve it?
Just one last thought for today…your story may be the answer to someone’s prayer, but they’ll never receive it if you don’t share.
Until tomorrow, much love and peace. – Amber
“Live a life worth living, a life of integrity. Be real, kind, helpful and wise, always with an attitude of gratitude. And whatever it is you do, give 110% effort to it, even in the little things”. – Amber
Copyright © 2019 Amber Leggette-Aldrich.