“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”
The worst day of my life was the day my husband left me.
He walked out on the anniversary of the day he first asked me out, twelve years earlier. We were sixteen then - high school sweethearts. When he walked out, we were twenty-eight and had a two-year-old daughter.
In less than a month, I’ll turn thirty-eight. I remember the day Jay left in bits and pieces, like most things then. He probably remembers things differently than I do. I remember being awake with Aubrie because, as usual, she wouldn’t sleep. I had to be up for work in about four hours. I couldn’t wait for Jay to get home to offer me some relief. He was closing that night.
I would often get excited at the sound of the garage door opening. That night, Jay texted me that he was going to Waffle House with some coworkers before he came home, which made me upset. He said he couldn’t take it anymore and told me he was leaving.
When Jay left he didn’t take Aubrie with him, even though I was a mess. That was the moment I realized he still expected me to be her primary caregiver.
I just wanted him around more, and now he was leaving for good.
I was angry that I was going to have to raise Aubrie as a single mother. I wanted to run away to the beach the day he left, and I thought about it. I knew Jay didn’t believe I would do it. I wanted to prove him wrong. I wanted to make him - and everyone else - worry.
I couldn’t go through with it. Even in this state, I thought too much about consequences. I was so tired of thinking about consequences. I think I even drove down the street at one point, and came back before I left the neighborhood.
The worst day of my life was also my first day towards recovery. It was the first time I acted in a way that finally made me - and everyone around me - realize that something was wrong. I would later realize that I had always had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and anxiety, which became severe after losing my father, having a baby, losing my grandfather, and then losing my job.
I became so severely depressed that I didn’t want to live anymore.
I moved in with my parents for a while to get some help. I went to therapy and the doctor. In all of this, I only missed one day of work. At the time, I worked in a retirement community, and we had a therapy dog. She must have sensed the pain I was in. She came into my office and put her head on my lap a lot that week.
After a year and a half of being on and off again, my husband and I were able to work things out. Over the years, the struggle has made my marriage stronger.
I finally got help for my OCD and anxiety. I no longer try to power through both without help. I also share my story to help others, because I wish I had know then what I know now: that I'm not the only one having these thoughts or going through such pain.
I recently saw a quote that said, “Even though your wounds are not your fault, your healing is still your responsibility.” I didn’t understand this for a long time, but most often, you don’t get rescued. Others can try to help, but you have to first want to heal on your own. It’s a fight, and saving yourself is up to you.
Whether it’s mental illness or something else, I know hard times will come again. It’s just a part of life. But this time, I’ll be more prepared. I am stronger. Now, I feel better prepared for hard times.
People say time heals, and it does, but you are forever changed. For the longest time, I kept trying to get back to the same person I used to be, but that was impossible. I am different, but I finally realized that is not a bad thing. Today, life is better than ever, and I hope to help others see that healing from their very worst day is possible, too.
Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book, Just Buy Her a Dress, in 2019. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook, and order her book here.
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After surviving childhood sexual abuse - and eventually - a suicide attempt, here’s what I’ve learned: the acknowledgement of our wounds leads to the most authentic version of healing. Because we live in a polarized either/or culture, it’s easy to believe that admitting dark truths will invalidate our greatest hopes, but it’s not true. Deep sadness and intense healing can coincide - one doesn’t invalidate the other.
If you'd like to share the story of how you're healing from the most unthinkable experience of your life, I'd love to share it here on my site.
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