Hey guys. My name is Maddi. I’m not here to tell you a tragic testimony or a story of shattered families or addiction or lost innocence. My story is one of circles.
“Everything is cyclical.” I’ve been saying that for years, but it was always in regards to music or fashion or social trends. It wasn’t until recently that I realized it applied to me too. My life is like a collection of various sized circles from the daily cycle of wake, work, sleep, repeat; to the weekly cycle of climbing uphill from Sunday to Wednesday, the downhill tumble to Saturday, and so on; to the cycle of months and years over and over until suddenly 21 years have passed. But underneath all these standard circles demarcated by nature lie more sinister circles, vicious cycles.
I noticed them one morning. It was a bad day. One of many. The universe was menacingly large, and I was impossibly small. I couldn’t find the motivation to do anything. I found the sunshine coming in through my window aggravating. Food had no appeal, and the thought of eating was almost nauseating. Social interaction sounded exhausting, and I was harboring unwarranted animosity towards friends who I had just hung out with and enjoyed a matter of days earlier.
I was frustrated with myself for falling back into this same funk that I was sure I had just finished getting over a few weeks before. Why did I keep coming back to this place over and over again? Why was I following this pattern and going in circles? And then I noticed the other circles, cycles of sin that kept appearing over and over. I would overcome some struggle and eventually a month or year later it would hunt me down again and the fight would start back up. It was exhausting and monotonous, and, as circles are fated to do, it would just continue endlessly, round and round forever. I was tired from the constant struggling, tired of being tired, and desperate to exit the circle and not have to face down my demons countless times again. I completely broke down. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I break the cycle? HOW could I break the cycle?
Suicidal thoughts have always kind of sat in the back of my mind for years. They were never seriously considered. I don’t want to kill myself, but there have been moments when I think, “I don’t want to be alive.” The realization of the circles pushed me dangerously close to the edge. It seemed like the only way to break the cycles and escape was to escape life entirely. The only way to end the circles was to get rid of the opportunity for them to even continue.
Obviously, I didn’t kill myself because here I am, still alive, still circling. The thing that finally brought me out of blackness was a mountain. It seems cliché to think of life as a mountain, but imagining my cyclical life as a slow hike up a mountain gave meaning to the struggles I had been so desperate to get rid of. The easiest path to the top of a mountain is to walk in a spiral from the base to the top. As you walk, you will keep encountering the same scenery with each rin
g, and until you realize you are gaining altitude, you’ll think you’re going no where. I was stuck in this assumption that I wasn’t ascending, that I was simply walking around and around with no end in sight. But the good news is we are working towards the top and with each pass around the mountain, we gain a new perspective on the scenery and we get further and further above it. Each turn around the circle grants us more experience and more distance until finally we have a birds-eye view of the things that used to drag us down, and they are tiny and insignificant in the grand scope of creation. And in fact, they become a part of a breath-taking landscape. This became my motivation for life. My struggles would no longer keep me trapped in an endless loop but instead would inspire me to continue, further up and further in.
We are more beautiful for having been broken. We are stronger because we have struggled. We are purified in our suffering like precious metals in a fire. We will reach the top and realize every circle through pain and anger, through fear and depression, through devastation and destruction, was worth it.