A year ago, I had a conversation with a friend of mine, sharing with her that I felt like I needed to find myself, to seek out joy and wholeness and belonging. I told her that I felt like my life was in chaos and nothing made any sense. Her response to me was that I don’t need to find any of those things – that Joy and Wholeness and Belonging were already there. The problem was that I could not see them.
As I have been enjoying some down-time, I have worked on item #5 – completing a 1000 piece puzzle. Generally, I enjoy turning chaos into order…I love folding laundry as an example. But I also lack patience. I want to see the problem, find the solution, do the things I need to do and see the beauty of order. So the challenge in this challenge was to have the patience to see it through. It took a full week, working a little each day. I nearly quit three times and got super excited when I could begin to see all the pieces coming together.
One of the happy consequences of spending time like this is that I can see the metaphor in the activity. When I began the puzzle, the pieces looked like this…
A scattered mess. Pieces with different colours and patterns and functions. Corners, edges, middle pieces. This is sort of how I felt my life looked. Just chaos.
Here is the beautiful thing, though. As my friend pointed out, all the pieces are there. The entire, perfect picture exists already. I just can’t see it yet. My job is to take the time and all the pieces, and make order out of them.
So, for the past year, I have been working on trying to see the pieces of the puzzle of my life. I have invested in myself, in my learning, in my personal development and growth. I have read books, seen a therapist, created a team of connection.
Just like my experience with the puzzle, I have wanted to quit sometimes. This is not something I find easy to talk about. This is not something I am proud of but I also don’t think we should be silent about mental health. Too often the shame we feel comes from a belief that there is something about ourselves that we should hide. Over the past year I have had several deep dives into depression. These are not just days of feeling sad. I am talking about debilitating emotional pain, not wanting to get out of bed, feeling overwhelmed with life, caring about nothing, and on a few occasions, desperately not wanting to live. There are a few people who know just how serious this became, and I am careful about how much detail I share. But through medications, therapy, yoga and meditation, and understanding how my thoughts, feelings and beliefs are all connected, I have been able to change some of those thoughts that led me down that dark path. And like the puzzle, I didn’t quit. I kept going.
Even though I couldn’t see the big picture, I did the work and slowly was able to see the picture coming together.
Like putting the pieces of the puzzle together, sometimes I have had to make changes. Sometimes I thought a piece fit somewhere, because it felt right or it looked right, but as the picture became more clear, I could see that was the wrong piece to place in a particular part of the puzzle. and that I would have to wait to find out where it goes. I think that is like my life. I may have believed there were pieces that fit into my life in a particular way, but have learned that some of those pieces no longer fit the way I thought they did.
Ultimately, with time, with patience, with placing pieces one at a time, the full picture comes into view. It is completely worth it. I feel proud that I have had the patience to complete number 5 on my list – to complete a 1000 piece puzzle. I am more proud that I had the patience and the strength and the wisdom to seek help when I needed it.
If you are struggling with putting the pieces of your beautiful life together, please talk to someone. Talk to a friend, a counsellor, a doctor. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, get help today. It will be worth the feeling of embarrassment you may initially feel. Not sure who to call? Reach out to REACH Out by phone at 519-433-2023 or 1-866-933-2023. You can also contact them by text or chat. If you have a plan or you are concerned that you may act on your suicidal thoughts, call 911 or go to your nearest ER. Your life matters.
At the end of this year, I have completed my puzzle, and I am working on revealing the beauty of my life. The puzzle looks like this… and how my life will look remains to be seen. But I am sure going to enjoy the time and the slow reveal.