I remember those nights.
They were filled with complete darkness.
I lost mobility, my vision was impaired, my hearing nonexistent.
There was life all around me, but I felt lifeless inside.
You see I was lost within my own world, but not even a set of clear directions was going to help me find my way.
Days kept passing me by. And whether or not the sun was shining, a dark cloud positioned itself over my world.
I wanted nothing more than to move forward, but my ankles were chained to the floor. I wanted so badly to reach out and grab someone to help me, but everyone was out of reach. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, but I knew nobody would hear me.
I was alone in a world filled with so many people. Lost and scared.
My mind... it painted this masterpiece of how my life was supposed to be. I kept imagining I would wake up from my nightmare and everything would be the way it once was.
I had a difficult time imagining spending my life with another woman. It's not that I couldn't love someone else, I just didn't want to. Even coming home didn't feel quite the same. It was lifeless, for lack of a better term. It no longer served it's purpose, and that too would be something I'd eventually walk away from.
I became so preoccupied thinking things would fall back into place that I lost sight of the world around me.
I eventually tried dating, but that too felt forced. All were sweet, but I couldn't appreciate it.
I couldn't appreciate myself, let alone someone else.
My struggles even became evident at work. I was the same Anthony, but my vision was blurred. I couldn't think straight which ultimately led to a negative impact on my performance.
It was unlike me. I was always an achiever, always a top performer. How was this all happening to me? Everything was falling apart at the seams and for the first time in my life, I didn't know how to fix it.
This was my destiny, though. God planned it this way. Somehow, I had to put my faith in Him.
I was ready to find my happiness.
And so I had to get lost in my thoughts, I had to remember the reasons why I woke up every morning. I thought about my family, my career, my children whom I haven't met yet, the future I envisioned for them, every dream I had for them.
Those thoughts became my strength.
My strength gave me hope.
Hope that I'd fall in love again and get my opportunity to be a father. Hope that I'd rebuild my life that shattered before my eyes.
That hope helped break me loose from those chains tied around my ankles, turned darkness into light, my cries into laughter.
With my arms reached out, God finally pulled me in and taught me a valuable lesson; I needed to love Anthony first.
I struggled with that. I didn't think I could, honestly. I didn't know how.
For so long I only knew how to love someone else. How was I going to figure out how to love myself?
You hear it everyday, "You have to love yourself before you can ever love someone else".
And I asked myself, "What the f**k does that mean?
I'm no expert on love, but for me it was realizing I didn't need someone to complete me; I was already complete. I began giving attention to the one person who truly deserved it... myself. I did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it.
I didn't feel broken anymore.
It changed my whole perception of love and what I wanted out of it in the future.
I no longer wanted a relationship to suffice as a cure to my loneliness, I wanted a companionship. I wanted a woman who would dream with me, explore with me, conquer the world with me. I wanted to fall in love with the right person, not the next person. I knew I wouldn't find that unless I was the best version of me.
I wasn't willing to allow pain and suffering to ruin my one shot at life or love.
In teaching me how to love myself, God introduced me to my greatest gift... writing. Although it took some time to find, I soon realized this was His purpose for me in my life; a life more beautiful than I had ever imagined. One that would turn into words and help give strength to those who felt hopeless as I once did.
We all face struggle at one point or another in our lives; it's a part of living. But through those struggles are valuable lessons to be learned and strength to be gained.
We have to want to overcome. We have to glimpse into our future and stop at nothing until we get there.
Let your scars be a constant reminder of the roads you wish to never travel again. Instead seek out roads that are foreign to you. Have fear in the unknown, but trust that God will lead you. For it's down these roads where we find our purpose and our strength. These same roads hold the keys to our dreams and the future we dream of.
Regardless of your obstacles, understand that you are the Author of your own destiny. Your story ends exactly how you wish it to, and when you finally realize that you'll break free from those chains that consistently hold you down.
I at times think back to those nights filled with darkness, and I'm thankful I was exposed to it.
I faced my biggest fear. And I won.
Not because I've found peace, but more so because God has given me the opportunity to help others find theirs.
This is my pursuit of happiness.