“Sometimes You Get The Best Light From a Burning Bridge”: Why I’m Glad I Went Through Hell To Finally Find Myself

A year ago I was returning from a Labor Day weekend in Las Vegas with all of my best friends. We were all as hungover as could be, some of us puking in the airport bathrooms and others running not to miss flights. I personally chose the floor as my comfort that morning, not caring how many gross unmentionables had been dropped on the Vegas airport floor. I was already fully prepared for a five-hour nap in my bed, face down in my fluffy down comforter. I knew I had to recover fast, for it was my boyfriends birthday in a couple days and I love a good birthday celebration.

I was worried that morning about not putting my face directly on the germy airport floor, not puking in the overcrowded airport bathrooms and what alcohol I would buy my boyfriend in a few short days. I was not thinking about how much my life could change in a single moment. I wasn’t worried about my stack of blank graduate school applications sitting on my desk. I wasn’t worried about what graduate school I should go to where I would become an amazing audiologist. I was a 21-year-old college sorority girl. We’re infamous for not having a lot going on up there. It was true in the moment, my mind was full of nonsense and my stomach full of strictly alcohol. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had a meal.

I was more than a typical college girl, I was a lost soul, unsure of who I was or where I was going. I wasn’t sure of a lot of things in life, including if I was happy or not. I believed I was, but thinking back on it I think I was forcing myself to be happy with things in my life that actually didn’t even phase me. I was essentially empty, wishing to be filled with something but I didn’t know what it was I needed. Coming home that weekend was much like any other weekend. I took a long nap, woke up at 5, ate junk food and hung out with my boyfriend. The week started like any other as well. My seemingly empty body shuffled its way to and from class, to and from work. But that Wednesday night changed the rest of my life. Changed me in ways I never thought I needed.

The night of September 8th, 2016 my boyfriend of a year almost killed me. He punched me repeatedly in the face resulting in two fractures in my orbital cavity. I woke up in the emergency room, with little memory of the night before lingering in my mind. While I was laying there, my body frozen on the hospital bed, my eyes glued to the bright hospital light above me, all I could focus on was my life crumbling down around me. The night before I wasn’t worried about my life falling apart and struggling to catch all the pieces before they shattered on the floor. But that day, that day holding my life together was the only thing on the forefront of my brain.

The next few days, weeks and months I was desperately trying to grasp the falling, crumbling pieces of my life that I never knew I would have to attempt to put back together. My senior year was whirring around me as everyone was focusing on making memories and planning for their future. I was worried about catching up in my classes and trying to get my black eye to turn back to its normal color. I couldn’t focus on the normal things that a college senior was supposed to be focusing on. So I spiraled into a weird form of depression. I couldn’t understand why this happened to me of all people. Why someone I wanted to spend my life with had almost ruined me. It was hard to leave the house, hard to see people happy. I was stuck in a rut and unsure of how to climb out. I wasn’t on track to apply to graduate school anymore. I was completely emotionally unavailable to not only the men who tried to enter my life by my friends and family as well. I was dealing with legal issues in court and at the University of Arizona. I wasn’t normal anymore and it was all his fault. I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. I thought my life was over. My plans, my happiness, and my sanity were robbed from me. I had PTSD, nightmares, flashbacks. I had moments where I just wanted to run my car off the road. I wasn’t sane or happy. It seemed like he had ended my life.

I had reached such a low point in my life that I didn’t know if I could get back out of it. I was drowning and no one was throwing me a life jacket. After waiting and waiting for someone to save me, I began to realize no one was coming. I had to save myself. So I began to brainstorm how I could be my own life jacket. I decided that it wasn’t worth sulking over, continually asking myself “why me”. I had to stop pitying myself and instead find a way to love life again. 

After months of wondering why this could happen to me, going over every moment of that night wondering what I could go back and change, I finally accepted that this was supposed to happen to me. I finally realized that trying to change the past was impossible. Going over my entire relationship and wondering how I missed the signs wasn’t going to change what happened that night. Sulking in my past wasn’t going to help my future. So I decided to learn something from it. Make this tragedy a blessing in my life. Sometimes such a huge shift from something negative to something so positive is what we need to do to survive. It’s what helps pull us out of the dark cloud we’ve been living in. What helps pull back the curtains and helps us see who we really are standing on that stage of the production we’re forced to be a part of,  “Life”. I decided I was done playing the understudy in the production of my own life. I was ready to be the leading role. 

So instead of letting this destroy me I decided to let it change me. I began writing. When I was a child that’s all I wanted to do. Besides he a dolphin trainer of course. But that’s all I wanted to do, write a book. Since I was a kid I wrote stories and created fantasies and characters that a small child shouldn’t have had the cabipility of creating. But I doubted myself, I told myself no one would ever buy my books and then what? I wouldn’t have a career. People convinced me that it wasn’t a career it was a hobby. And so I told myself I couldn’t do it. I convinced myself that wasn’t a career path and no one would ever want to read my work. Then I started writing again. I let the words spill out of me onto blank pages and discovered I was able to reach deep down into people’s souls. My words began to flow without any effort as I began writing pages of poems in the middle of the night with no recollection the next morning. All I wanted to do was to write. 

Even as I shared this blog and my poetry on social media, I still wasn’t getting the attention that I hoped it would receive. I began to doubt myself again. But I began to realize that it was because I was talking about a topic no one wanted to talk about. Everyone wanted to ignore the fact that my posts were straight up about domestic violence. Who knows if people got bored or annoyed or thought I was seeking attention. I began receiving messages from women afraid to speak up for themselves thanking me for putting their feelings into my writing. I was capturing something that people were afraid to feel for themselves. I was helping people even if the public wasn’t aware. It wasn’t about popularity or a potential future in writing. It was about helping people and letting my true passion come out onto paper. It was about diving into people’s minds and pulling out exactly what their thinking and being able to form it into my own words. Touching someone is what I wanted to do with my writing and I succeeded and continue to succeed in doing so. Now I am excited to be finishing up a poetry book and seeing where my writing takes me in life. 

The only thing I could think about senior year was graduate school. Most of my friends were attending and are currently attending and make it a point to let everyone know. I didn’t want to be the outcast, the dummie, the uncessesful one. But graduate school wasn’t in the cards for me after what happened. I was in the hospital the weekend I was due to start my GRE classes and it was the last weekend of classes available before the GRE test that fall. To apply to school I would have needed to have my scores by January and February at the latest. There was no way that was happening. So I sat down and I really pondered with myself I’d stressing out over applying to more school and worrying about catching up in my current classes was worth it. It wasn’t. So I thought and I thought about what on earth I could do and not seem uncessesful and stupid. It dawned on me. I remembered how much I loved placing the shiny grey pin on my chest that the pretty lady at the front of the plane always handed me with a grin when I was younger. I remembered the craving I had to go to the airport and watch planes full of thousands of different people lift off and touch down with such ease. I remembered how my eyes lit up as I sat at the window seat of a plane and watched the world get smaller and smaller until I couldn’t see anything but white. I loved sitting in airports and watching people hustle by, all going to different places for different reasons. Everyone was stressed and in a hurry and I was entranced by the hustle and bustle that surrounded me. The feeling filled me up with desire to fly somewhere and not know what was waiting for me on the other side of the cabin door. I applied and I succeeded after months of stress. But I did it without ease. I was going to be a flight attendant trainee. This would never have happened if I hadn’t been knocked off my path for school. Now I’m not even sure I ever want to go back to textbooks and all nighters in the library. Who knows what waits for me in my career path but I’m embracing it with full arms and have never been more excited to be so unsure about life. 

Going through something traumatic not only changes your life and your path but it changes you in ways you never imagined. It changed me in ways I didn’t know I needed to be changed. I put everyone else before me all my life. I was too worried about pleasing everyone and never did I once stop and think about making myself happy. It took me hitting rock bottom to realize that the first and foremost person who needs my attention is me. I began to take time for myself. I started meditating and doing lots of yoga. It allowed time for me to discover a deeper part of myself. I was able to relax and decompress more than I had been able to since I was a kid. I needed that but I had never even realized it. I stopped thinking about what someone else wants me to say and started saying what I really wanted to say. I was over tiptoeing around people to please them. It’s not healthy. Me throat chakra was blocked because I was holding so much in that I wanted to scream out to the world.

 I stopped caring about petty fights with friends and being passive agressive. Why is that so important to girls these days?! Starting fights. They thrive off of it. It feeds their hunger. There is no point to small fights and arguments with people you love because life is too short. Sure some of my friends began to think I was selfish. Good! I need to be selfish. If you can’t love me when I’m figuring out how to love myself than you don’t deserve to be in my life. Why are small fights and arguments more important than waking up and just telling someone you appreciate them? Losing people in life is not worth it anymore. I realized that it was too easy to lose someone and made it more important to just hold everyone close. If they leave your life it’s because of their own faults, not yours. 

That’s the other thing. If you leave because you think I’m selfish then you’re the one being selfish. If you can’t stick through my life as I’m trying to figure out what it is to love myself than maybe you need to learn to love yourself too. I have never loved myself more than I do now. My whole life was wasted loving everyone else and I lost track of myself. I spent a year of my life trying to love a man who couldn’t even be loved. You can never love someone else with your whole heart until you learn to love yourself with that amount of love and respect first. I would never have learned that if I had not been through this hell. I would never have learned that life lesson if he hadn’t thrown all the love I gave him down the drain. 

I could have let this ruin me. I could have let him ruin me. Sometimes in life everything happens for a reason. You may not know that reason until days, months or years down the line. I’ve learned to not let the stress overcome me. Eventually the world will work itself out in funny little ways. We may not know why shitty things happen in life but eventually you will see why it needed to happen to you. Whether it led you to meeting someone, led you to finding your passion, helped you learn to love yourself or helped you become the strongest person you know, things are meant to be. The answer will find its way to you. Don’t let it pin you down, you can always overcome it and learn and grow from anything life hands you. 

This is for all you lost souls trying to find yourself. You are never going to stop growing and learning but you will always be yourself. And you are amazing, beautiful, strong and inspirational. You are unique and individual and powerful. Don’t let the world get you down. 


Syd -thegirlwhocouldntbebroken 


Author: sydneyshibuya

If you're reading this you probably know me and you probably know what I've been through this past year. You probably don't know that I struggle with generalized anxiety disorder every day. After years of psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists telling me to write all of my feelings and stories down, I have finally gotten to a point where I feel like it's my only option for recovery. You can follow along with my story, but be warned I am (like most 21 year olds these days) an emotional wreck, and a scarily very detailed writer. I also have no filter so be warned that most of my posts won't have a filter. My wish is for domestic violence to be talked about more openly. I hope that from reading this people realize that their seemingly perfect relationship can have it's problems. Your best friend could be hiding behind smiley Instagram posts, but covering up bruises behind closed doors. I hope that my story motivates these people to step up and leave their abusive relationships. It took me a long time after my relationship ended to realize that it was in fact an abusive relationship. I hope that from my stories other people learn to realize the signs before I did. Help me end the silence of domestic violence. xoxo Syd

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