Updated: Jul 9
| This is the 150th story of Our Life Logs |
It was the winter of 1991 when I was born in a beautifully peaceful town in Bulgaria, a country in Eastern Europe. As a child, it seemed like the world around me inspired the power of creativity flowing into my hungry, curious mind. Filled with the smell of fresh grass of the fields at home, I would open my notebook and start writing poems, dreaming of what my life would be like. I wanted to have an extraordinary life.
Growing up in a small community, I had many friends at school and loved all my teachers, but my best friend in the world was my mom. We were always completely honest with each other and spent much of our time laughing and sharing sweet moments. My dad was a wonderful parent, but his job was draining. I would often see him come back from work, couch-locked for hours in silence. For this reason, my mom held a special place in my heart.
The older I became, the closer I grew to my mom. One day, when I was 15 years old, she revealed to me she was having an affair. As a friend, I could partially understand her, but as a daughter, I hated what she did. The illusion of our happy family was suffocating, and without realizing it, a bitter and angry monster grew inside me. Many kids are faced with abuse and ugly divorces, but it feels so isolating when you are the one to live amid the mess. It is strange how much it hurts to live in deceiving harmony.
As I continued to focus on my studies, I developed an interest in other parts of the world. I longed to meet the people in other countries and learn more about their culture. Around the time I turned 18, I decided to compete in a big beauty contest that promised the winner a job with a modeling agency. I didn’t have any ambitions of becoming a model, but it would give me the opportunity to travel the world. So, at 18, I did win the contest and signed a contract.
To the eye, my horizons looked bright and clear. I had been accepted to study at a prestigious university, and by autumn of 2010, I was already one of the best-paid models within my modeling agency. I had more than what most people my age had—independence, attention, money, beauty, and brains—I even brought in more money than both of my parents. I was able to regularly participate in charity campaigns, as well as get to know how people lived around the world. This made me feel like I was capable of building the extraordinary life I had always dreamed of.
But the truth is, there was a huge emptiness inside me, and I felt so lost. Striking a pose whenever I was told and having to look beautiful even when I least felt like it, was not my thing. And even more, I felt very lonely, as I rarely visited my parents. I was unwilling to forgive my mom and make peace with the monsters in my head.
In the summer of 2011, I received a phone call from my mom while I was at a big modeling event. My grandfather had died from a stroke. It was all so sudden. My grandfather was the person who gave me one of the most precious lessons in my life. Through his example I learned to cherish Mother Nature who provides such an abundance for all the people on this planet. For months, I refused to accept his death. But eventually, I decided to spend a week by the seashore to grieve my grandfather. I could no longer ignore the feeling that there was something terribly wrong inside my heart.
It was there on this trip that I met Jacob. He was visibly over his 30s and was the type of man who couldn’t walk into a room without attracting attention. Before I could even feel it happening, I fell head over heels in love. He was a true gentleman and knew how to make a woman feel like the most exceptional person in the world. He was the first person I spoke to about my mother’s affairs. I opened myself up completely by sharing my writing, too. He was always supportive and made me feel protected, nurtured, and safe.
But then, everything changed one night when Jacob and I went out to dinner. After a bit of conversation, I went to the ladies’ room. Just as I entered the room, I heard the door lock behind me. As I tried pushing it to get out, I heard a voice on the other side of the door. It was Jacob. He was talking on the phone with his wife—a woman who I had no idea existed. I was horrified.
As soon as he hung up, I was ready to walk out and never approach him again. But before I even opened the door, he whispered, “I know you’re in there. I wanted you to hear this because from now on, it may happen often. I can’t turn my back on my family. I’ve done things I am not proud of, but I want you. Please, come to me and make me happy with your company.”
Before I could react, Jacob opened the door, grabbed me, and started kissing me aggressively, refusing to stop at my cries. I felt like a piece of meat in the grip of a wild beast. I managed to squeeze some liquid soap into my hands and splash it on his face. Then, I ran out of the restaurant as fast as I could.
When I got back to my apartment, I turned off my phone, pulled the curtains down, and locked myself inside for three days. The experience tore my entire being apart. In the following weeks, I tried to get rid of Jacob, but it wasn’t easy. Afraid I would tell his wife about our relationship, he started threatening me while still claiming he loved me. I was forced to change my number and move. I lived in terrible paranoia.
What’s worse, I didn’t want to open myself up to anyone ever again. I just wanted to stop thinking about everything going wrong in my life. I started taking cocaine, ecstasy, and drinking at parties regularly. I hoped to drown my fears and numb myself from my silent and dangerous depression.
Nobody could even guess what I was going through. I wore the biggest smile, hiding the monsters inside me beneath a big, fat lie. My unhealthy lifestyle led to health problems. I easily ran out of breath and often felt dizzy. My hormones were completely unbalanced, I was constantly tired and kept losing weight. The funny thing is, my terrible condition made my modeling career even better. My managers supported me getting slimmer and loved that I rarely missed an event. I just never wanted to be left alone with my dark thoughts.
One late afternoon in 2012, I was still in my bed, fighting to get some sleep when my phone rang. My dad called to tell me that my mom had been hospitalized after being diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. She had a five percent chance of surviving surgery.
My world crashed. I felt so guilty for letting my anger consume me. I took all the courage and strength I had left in my weak body, packed my bags, and left the big city to go home.
When I walked into our family apartment, memories flooded my head, and I burst into tears. I realized how tender, unpredictable, and short life is; while we think we have all the time in the world, everything changes in the blink of an eye. I had missed such precious moments all the years I had been mad at my mom. I told myself that if my mom never came back from the operation room, I’d put an end to my own life and beg her forgiveness on the other side. Though, I was simultaneously ashamed of these thoughts. I think there is a very thin line in our minds which separates life and death, and this line can get very blurry when you are stuck in the darkest corners of depression.
But the Universe had different plans for me. My mom miraculously survived the operation. When we went to visit her, all I wanted to do was to sink in her warm embrace. We didn’t need to say a word; what I experienced was the true power of being able to forgive. I suddenly felt light-hearted and released from the prison I have created in my own head.
If it wasn’t for my mom almost losing her life, I don’t know when I would have realized I was a victim of depression. Never before did I even believe depression was such a torturous, sneaky, and tricky disease. It can go for years without you being able to realize you are in a trap.
Gradually, I started meditating to detoxify my mind and eating healthy to detoxify my body. I deleted all my social media accounts. It wasn’t easy because all my friends thought I was going crazy—leaving my entire life, education, and career in the big city to spend my days alone in solitude in the small town. But for the first time in years, I wasn’t trying to suffocate the monsters inside me. I finally realized that every painful lesson had actually led me in the right direction, pointing me to a true power of forgiveness and recovery. I have found that my power is limitless, and life is already extraordinary, even though we may sometimes fail to see what remains invisible to the eye.
This is the story of Jasmine Brisse
Jasmine grew up having to keep a torturing secret. She went down the vicious spiral of modeling, psychological harassment, drugs, and alcohol abuse. She was shaken when her mother was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, standing only five percent chance of surviving the operation. Jasmine gained the courage to take a leap into the unknown by leaving the big city to spend several years in solitude, trying to determine the very roots of her depression.
Jasmine has become financially independent thanks to an online job she found two years ago. She is grateful for being able to discover hidden truths, while nurturing her love for writing and Mother Nature. She hopes to inspire people to open their hearts and minds, and to realize that life is precious and beautiful, and darkness doesn’t settle in to break you down but to guide you. Jasmine hopes to spread awareness of the need to be able to forgive yourself and those around you because nobody is too small or too weak to make a difference.
This story first touched our hearts on August 18, 2018.
| Writer: Milenitta Zhelyazkova | Editors: Kristen Petronio; Colleen Walker |