Where there is much light, there is a balance of darkness. It is how we choose to muddle through the pain that life brings, that defines us. I am not a stranger to loss. The concept of adversity is not foreign to me. With that, the lessons that pain has taught me, I am grateful. I would not return these for the world.
At some point in all of our lifetimes, we as individuals can point to one portion of our lives and clarify it as our defying moment. For some, this moment has not yet come, but for many it has. Whether these moments have been triumphs or loss, this is the turning point in our lives.
At age 16, I encountered my defying moment. Reaching the turning point and never looking back. December 15, 2015, my best friend had left me until the summer of 2017 to be incarcerated —my father. A man who has made mistakes and admirably owned up to them, who has shown me what the definition of strength and honor looks like.
I was hesitant to share; being that this was not only my experience but my family's. When telling my father the idea I had for this week's article, he said to me, "Liv, I do not want to hinder your voice and take away what you wish to say. I am sure, however, you write it will be beautiful." One of the millions of reasons why my heart floods with love for this man.
I am not telling you this, for you to sit and cry at your computer screens! I am sharing this personal and chaotic journey that my family and myself have gone through, to show you the endless opportunity there is to grow as an individual.
Being 16 and in high school, it was difficult having everyone know your experience. As I was trying to come to terms with my reality I had the constant fear of what others were thinking of my family and I. But when those thoughts clouded my mind, I had a beautiful support system to be there when certain days were particularly difficult.
I went through the five stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Some phases lasting longer than others.I was in denial for the first couple of months. I did not shed a tear, I felt like I needed to be a brave face and if I broke down that conveyed weakness. I was never angry at my dad directly but I took my anger for the world out on those who were simply just trying to help me, for that I am sorry.
Avoiding the cause of grief, I would dread going to visit my father. Even though seeing our faces was what helped him through the unimaginable. I had trouble facing what had been causing me so much hurt.
During this time I was practicing self-hatred. I was constantly spreading joy and kindness to those around me, but I could not offer this to myself. I felt I did not deserve it. Basking in the pain, digging myself deeper into this depressive hole. Telling myself I was not worthy of happiness, that I deserved the pain the world had been serving me.
After lots of time and the other four stages of grief, I reached stage five; acceptance. The most liberating of the stages. I reached total acceptance once my dad returned home where he belonged. I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my chest and we found joy all over again, together.
Regardless of how difficult this journey was, I look to it with gratitude. For that experience shaped the strong foundation for a friendship that I have with my father. Allowing him to double as a parental figure and best friend.
I have learned that you never know what someone may be going through behind closed doors. Regardless of how they may appear to your naked eye, to open your heart to them. To offer people kindness that others may or may not have offered you. To give back.
My dad is someone who has taught me, that the world may offer you pain but you can make gold out of it. That you must own your mistakes, your truth, live with that and move on. To mend your soul through the act of self-care. Someone who has shown me what it means to not only let those around you to forgive but that you must also forgive yourself.
Everyone has their own journey the universe has so uniquely mapped out for them. Experiencing both the light and darkness, the world so kindly offers. With clarity, I point to this lesson and say, "That was my defying moment."