I met Sarah almost immediately after I moved back to the island. We had such similar lives, we clicked instantly. As life on Vashon goes, we kept up with each other at the coffee stand, or when we saw each other at school events or at Thriftway... One summer afternoon I ran in to her at Ober Park and, even though we hadn't seen each other in quite a while, and had never been super tight besties or anything, she started opening up to me about her life and her struggles. Now, I am an over-sharer, so I felt right at home with this, but it also struck me because it made me reflect on my own issues and struggles as well. Some of them I could identify with and commiserate with her. Others would take more time for me to own up to. Nonetheless, I found her to be such a brave person for taking ownership of her flaws, working through them and not trying to hide them all away. It was inspiring, and I held on to it.
Six months later, I hit a low. I won't say I hit bottom, because I know my bottom could have been a lot lower, and even was a lot lower at other times in my life, but it was low enough for me to think about Sarah's words -how she was going to "get her own shit together" before taking on any more responsibility. I knew, even though I felt ashamed for being such a disaster of a human being, that I needed to reach out to her.
That Facebook message that I sent turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. It was not easy. I felt so humiliated doing it, but I knew that she would understand. And she did. Sarah has become a sort of life coach for me. I have really started to venture on a much healthier track for my life, and I don't think I would have been able to do it had she not shared her struggles with me on that day. Isn't it funny how such a little thing could make such an enormous impact? I don't know if she even thought twice about that conversation, but it literally changed my life.
It makes me think about how often we try to hide our pain and suffering. How depression leads us to pull away and feel ashamed. How failure is to be hidden and tucked down deep. But opening up and being real about all of the ugly bits inside can sometimes become another's lifeline. Our pain can be someone else's savior. In my case, her demons lead to my freedom. I needed someone who had been where I was to help me find my way out, and Sarah opened that door for me.
I will forever be grateful to her for publicly sharing what so many of us try to hide. Her authenticity and genuine love for others gives me something to strive for each day. Thank you, Sarah. I will never forget it.