Alcohol. Depression. Anger. Death. I have experienced all of these things at one point in my life. From my childhood memories I recall my dad’s drinking problems, his unreasonable rage, and my mother crying. I remember hiding from the screaming.
I remember my seventh grade self crying for my favorite uncle who had died of liver disease due to that cursed drink, alcohol. I had never seen death face to face, and it was at that moment in time that I was forced to swallow my own mortality as well as the mortality of those I held dear to me.
Depression runs in my family, both my father and sister suffer greatly from it. People may think depression is something one can shake off, but it runs so much deeper. As they struggle with depression, so does the rest of the family. Every time I open our medicine cabinet at home I face the endless rows of pill bottles marked with my both my dad’s and sister’s names.
I remember learning of my sister’s cutting problem and then soon after having to watch her admission into a psychiatric hospital. It took me a while to digest the fact that she had tried to take her life, multiple times.
Things like that stay with you and even leave a great mark on your person. Though, now my sister is doing immensely better. My dad has not tasted alcohol in years. I have laid my uncle to rest, and have come to terms with my imminent death. Experiences like these put one’s entire life into perspective. If it was not for all of these terrible moments in my life I would have never known what true happiness entails. I would never have known joy or love so personally.
I have realized that life comes in opposites: life and death, black and white, pain and pleasure. The philosopher Nietzsche once said “Did you ever say yes to pleasure? Oh my friends, then you also said yes to all pain.” Pain and pleasure go hand in hand, and that is why one can not experience either of these fully without experiencing the other. It is because of dark times that I see good. I know now that even though times are hard there is still hope; God placed harsh times in my life for a reason. One of my heroes, Jonathan Foreman, once wrote that “the shadow proves the sunshine.” I completely believe that; the proof that good exists lies in the existence of all that is bad and evil. That is why I believe in pain and sorrow and all bad experiences.
Even though I do not necessarily wish any bad on anyone, nor do I claim to have enjoyed any of my most miserable moments in life, I do believe one must encounter suffering in order to grow as a person. Pain, as I see it, is linked to meaning in life. It is through suffering that one learns more about his/her self, and because pain is universal one also learns more about mankind in general. I am not only stronger due to what I have gone through, but I now see that there is light in the midst of darkness. Good exists and one can see glimpses of it at times, much like a brilliant rainbow can be spotted after heavy rains.