I was drowning in my own artificial happiness. Holding my own head under the water till I couldn’t breathe anymore. Popping up into reality every once in awhile for a gulp of fresh air, then right back down again into the murky depths. Nights without sleep, and the influence of other addicts hanging on my back turned just once a week into just a few times a week. Starving myself to fit the cookie cutter image, fake nails, fake hair, fake tan, pretty soon I wasn’t even me anymore. Music from the clubs ran through my soul, every pounding beat sparked a new high in me. I danced till I couldn’t feel my feet, and then kept dancing. I was addicted to the flashing lights, the attention, the feeling I got rebelling from my parents. Every night I met new people, and every night people fell more and more in love with the fake me.
I spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars keeping up my fake image, changing every once-in-awhile to satisfy the current image, till I was exhausted. I was exhausted from trying to keep up, exhausted from trying to impress the people who I thought were my friends, exhausted from working three jobs to pay for it all. One day I just broke down, I decided to take a break. I went to the barn to visit the horse I had been neglecting for the past few months.
I sat in his stall and watched him munch his hay, he came over and stuck his nose in my hair and ruffled it around, he moved down to my shoulder and gave me a hard nudge, as if to say, “Where the heck have you been, and where is my cookie?” He stared at me with un-judgmental eyes. He didn’t really care where I had been, or what I had been doing, or even what I looked like. He only cared that I was there, and he loved me unconditionally for the mere reason that I loved him back. I cried. No, I balled. Here was this being, looking at me with eyes that read “I love you, no matter what”, when lately all I had been getting was “I’ll love you if….”
I knew right then that I would never step foot into a club again. I had to clean up my act for him. He gave me hope, that somewhere out there, there would be someone who would just love me for being me. Someone who would call me beautiful, even if I wasn’t wearing make-up. Someone who would say I look nice, even if I was wearing an old t-shirt and jeans. He made me feel like I could do anything. I spent four years of my life lost, wondering what my purpose was. Failing so many times that I thought I would never be able to dig myself out. It took one look from a pony, and a hell of a lot of love.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.