If I had only known what I was about to learn, that I would have SO much more bootcamp to get through after the initial hazing. If only I had known that the trauma which came to define me so early on was only the beginning of my process. If only I had known that that specific, pointed clawing, grasping, pining, and straining tier of growth was only the first of many. If I had only known.
If I had only known that I need that much more growth, those many more lessons. That enduring that at such a vital age, and for me being such an already premature, immature person for my age, had to be necessary somehow. If I had only know how many self-help books and articles I would have to read after unceremoniously returning to a life of post-traumatic undertones.
It just was not fair. I would have learned more if I needed to. I could have. I tell myself. I could have learned what I needed to learn necessarily and satisfactorily without all the bloodshed and agony. I was a smart girl, I thought. What did I need to know beyond what I had learned already? What was with all these hardships I had to endure with that much drama? Why couldn't have someone just come down and said, "Here, Amy, this is how you deal with things better." Not that I didn't have an ego to contend with, but that mine just didn't seem that big. Not only in comparison to most my age, but in comparison to who I was as a whole. It's not what I could have learned or not learned that bothers me, it's how the lessons had to go about being learned. Excruciating and humiliating and my forgetful brain betraying me at every turn. (And not just rhetorically forgetful! I had been truly attempting to recover from my concussion!) And then learning, as much as I could, drenching and soaking up and striving to be a better person each time a setback reared its ugly head, and still witnessing and discovering ugly, horrible, deep-seeded uglies both in myself and in other people.
What had I needed to atone for so badly that I would be given more than I could handle? But what on earth could I have done additionally and beyond that to ultimately warrant that much more heart-wrenching, nerve-shredding, rude-awakening sets of tests? I never once had the heart, not truly deep down anyway, to proffer or suggest any other belief than our God being the absolute entity of love and mercy (and I would only learn to what depth and with which greater mystery as the years went by), but I'd be lying if I said I didn't notice a direct correlation between trying my hardest in vain with hotly confused tears and olympian levels of anguish to keep loving and deepening my faith against evermore-challenging life quests, both mental and emotional.
If I'd only known how much further I had to go from those first days.
I would have chocked it up to a dozen other things, too, in order to feel better about any possible why. Personal growth. Need. The nature of the beast that is time and age. Needing to be put to the fire to build my strength. So and so forth. Except I had never started out as that rotten of an egg. At least I thought so; and I checked a thousand times trying to figure out if I had missed some grand self-realization here or some grand self-realization there. I held onto stories of the saints, reading about the ones that had lived a life of debauchery and excess and amended their ways within inspiring conversions, the ones who died young but used every small instance in their life as a stepping stone of growth and love towards Our Lord, the ones who were in various positions of power and either discarded their power to live in servitude or used their power to provide for the feeble and powerless. There are even saints who struggled with depression, despair, and various other seemingly lost causes who used those afflictions to power through and within the love of God.
I read and learned about these elements on an earthly level, too. God helps those who help themselves, right? So I read every decent and bullshit book I could get my paws on to wade through and discover things like boundaries, personal worth, healthy relationships, and toxic personalities and applied them not only to the things surrounding me but on myself, too. You know, to make sure I was covering all my bases on the self-healing AND the healing of others, especially if they'd been hurt on my account. I did this first, with waning and waxing phases of religious devotion. I felt unworthy to even consider a platform I could share with the saints. Yes, we are called to be that, but I was nine realms away from even the closest consideration. And although deep down my faith is what got me through all of this, I did approach self help on as much as a scientific, psychological, and pragmatic level as possible because I have always been aware of the reservations and contempt society has for God at large.
And just when I thought that was enough, I learned it wasn't because there will always be, it seems, things to work on no matter how much I try and champion my lessons because there is just no respite, no refuge. I figure that I obviously haven't refined something enough. The trick, however, I'm finding, is how to be happy in the thick of of that struggle. Just. It would be nice to get a break...