What happens when a person ceases to believe in anything? When all eggs are placed in one basket and the bottom falls out, breaking every last egg? One event can destroy or turn upside-down all beliefs held dear. The event can differ among individuals, such as the death of a loved one, a failed business, or a broken heart, just to name a few.
A little over two years ago my basket broke. For me it was a failed relationship and a broken heart. Until that point I had mistakenly given little credit to the power of a broken heart.
After the breakup, I fell into a very dark, steep black hole. Everything I held true and expected of my future destroyed. You probably by now can guess this was my first true love and oh, how I loved him! I ceased to believe in love and continued to fall.
Although the breakup was related to his indiscretions, I began to loathe myself. I hated every decision I made in the last three years with him, saw a hollow future without him, and I continued to fall. I lost my trust in men, lost any sense of purpose I had, and second-guessed everything I did. I slid deeper into the darkness. Even God seemed to fade away.
I felt dead on the inside for months. I no longer cared for anything, wished for anything, and only longed for everything to end. Something had to give; I could not exist in this state much longer. I made a decision.
Since I no longer cared about myself or my life, I would devote myself to improving other people’s lives. I would help people who want to live but are struggling to get back on or stay on their feet. I promised myself that if this tactic pumped the life back into me I would continue to help long after I had recovered.
This promise is what propelled me into my current situation. After Hurricane Katrina hit, in an attempt to help others I rushed to the Gulf Coast to volunteer. As I helped residents cope with their losses, I began to regain control of my own life. It was while volunteering in Pass Christian, MS I stumbled upon a not-for-profit organization called AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team.
I am currently half-way through my year of service with Americorps St. Louis. We are deployed to disasters around the nation to help accelerate the recovery process of affected communities. This year has challenged and rewarded me in ways I never dreamed possible. One thing is now certain; whatever path I choose in life, it will focus on helping others.
It’s really quite bizarre. The belief that now lights a fire within me and will guide me through life was born from utter despair and darkness. I believe that a portion of feeling alive and succeeding in life is to extend your hand to pull individuals less fortunate towards their own dreams and improve other people’s lives as you improve your own.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.