That’s it. That’s the post. Hope to see you there.
I have had my struggles and have had bad things done to me, but that is not what defines me. I have moments of weaknesses, but I am not weak. I have made mistakes and caused harm, but I have learned from and grown from taking ownership of my actions. I have fallen short, but I have tried again. I have had my heart broken; but I am not damaged. I have been left feeling worthless, but I have found my home. I have been disappointed, but I still have hope. I have been broken, but I still love and look for love everywhere I can. I have cried an (seemingly) infinite number of tears, but still have reasons to smile. I have come across bad people. but they are far outweighed by the good ones. I have been pushed down, but I have been helped back up. I have been told I couldn’t, but I have been successful. I am sad, but I choose happiness. I have been tired, but I didn’t give up. I want to give up, but I won’t. I want to pick the easy path, but I actively choose the more difficult, yet rewarding, path. Sometimes I want to let my frustrations burst out of me, but I hold my tongue and choose peace. Some days I want so desperately to give up, but I make it to the next day. I have been tempted to settle, but I choose to hope for something bigger and better.
I was and now I am.
I am because I was.
XX Luke 8:14-15 XX
Christmas is not about how much money is/can be spent. It’s about bringing family together to remember why we are here on this earth, to honor our purpose through celebrating the life of Jesus Christ, God made human. It’s a chance for hearts to be restored through a power much greater than our own strength (thank God, literally; thank you God). It’s a blessing to ground our hearts. All I want is you to be present (look! a pun already) and happy.
No one is perfect. We all have our ups and downs. It’s no secret that you have been through rough times and experiences more than most, more than anyone should ever have to. Seeing you hurt makes my heart hurt that I feel so unable to help (notice I didn’t say fix you, you are human not a broken clock). If we are being honest, it is hard to help others when you need help for yourself. I used this analogy in my ethics class a couple years ago. Each time you go on an airplane, you are told that if you are traveling with kids and in an emergency, you need to put on your own oxygen mask before the children. Does this make you a bad person for putting yourself first? No, not in the slightest. You cannot help if you don’t have the “oxygen” of your own to give you the strength to help.
You are already loved so completely and unconditionally. You are loved so fiercely. You have the perfect love of the Father. No matter what the world or yourself tells you, there is nothing so “wrong” you could do to chase away His love and his desire for your heart to made whole through Him. I love you without conditions. No matter what and through all that we have been through, not once has my love for you ever faltered. Life is hard, but I am here for you to the best of my abilities.
You are in control of your future, even though the struggles seem to be too big to make it possible. Remember that one verse where all things are possible through Christ because we do not have to go through life by our own strength (I mean, if that were true I’d be more of a mess than reality tv)? All our hope is in God and His unbreakable promises. We do not have a God that is inconsistent; we have a God that consistently loves us.
Anxiety does not make you “stupid.” Fear does not make you “stupid.” Sure, no one has all the answers, but, honestly, who would really want that? We do not get everything perfect or even right on the first try. We make mistakes, but then we get to choose to pick ourselves back up and try again. If this means reaching out to someone for advice or a differing viewpoint, go for it. Asking questions and asking for help makes you the exact opposite of stupid. The kids who raise their hands in class to ask for clearer understanding does not only make themselves better off but the rest of the class as well. In the same way, it is difficult but we all have to remember that no else is perfect either and will have flaws and mistakes (that’s why we lean on God first and foremost).
Repeat this as much as you have to: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
There’s this tricky thing called free will. It can be the best and the worst. You have more control and strength in you than you will ever know. You can fight to find your purpose; you have a heavenly father that is eager and ready to help you discover all of what you are capable of; He gives you your purpose. Salvation is rooted in truth, not based on our ever changing emotions; it is not circumstantial. It is an eternal gift that cannot be taken away with a snap of your fingers. It is free will that brings us into the arms of our loving Father.
We are here to support you and grow with you. Your struggles are mine too. I would carry you on my back to the end of the world if I had to. I am here. I am here and you matter so much to me. I am here and, when you do not feel loved, I am here loving you unconditionally. I would not be who I am today without you. You have made me strong, independent, grateful, and happy (unfortunately neither of my DNA suppliers gave me any grace other than in name, thanks mom and dad).
If you were gone, we would all notice. We would miss you in the moments of laughter when we cannot hear the laugh that mirrors your own mother. We would miss you in reminiscing and not having you there to share too and hear your thoughts. We would miss you in the rare occasions we get the whole family together because our family is not complete without you. We would miss you when we count out your brothers and sisters because you would not be there to be the oldest sister you were literally born to be (you are one serious front runner). We would miss you when we go out to eat and you are not there to say that you ordered something too big. We would miss you every meal when you are not there to ask for milk in your stainless steel cups with exactly three ice cubes. We would miss you on weekend nights as you run around getting ready. We would miss you in our big life moments when you are not there next to us to celebrate with us. I would miss you on my wedding day and you not being there to make sure everything is in order and not letting me be seen without my “lips” on. I would miss you on my wedding day when I cry tears of joy and from feeling how deeply I am loved. I would miss you on my wedding day not being there to squeeze my hand one last time before walking down the aisle to the man of my dreams. I would miss you when I one day (hopefully) get pregnant. I would miss not being able to tell you first and in a special way. I would miss you on the day I bring your grandbaby into the world. I would miss you in the hospital not being there to hold them and give them all the grandma love possible. I would miss you when I need guidance on how to be a parent and raise up strong children. I would miss you not being there to watch your grandbabies and teach them weird things (I know you’ll pump them with sugar, but I wouldn’t want to miss those moments with you even for a second). I would miss you everyday that I would not be able to tell you I love you. You have a whole new family ready to love you like I know they love me as their own. I would miss you every second. I would be empty. I need you. We all need you. Besides, I already told you a bazillion times that you have to stay with me always (pull a Methuselah and you will be good to go for centuries).
I love you always,
your baby girl
XX 1 JOHN 4:16 XX
Gasping. Reaching. Always crashing and falling. All around me, I am submerged into it; made to become a part of it. A part of its unrelenting hold. To be forced into becoming another victim to its weight. Trying in vain to find just one chance to take a breath, to take something for myself, to save myself. No one makes it out of the riptide.
Not alone at least.
I am blessed beyond measure… but sometimes my heart longs for the things yet to come.
I am filled with joy… but sometimes I still cry.
I rejoice in the blessings that fill my life… but I still mourn the things I have lost.
I am not confused. Being complex and full of emotions is what makes me, me. I am filled with hope and yet I still hope for more.
On March third three years ago, I wrote about being thankful that I did not give in to self harm. Today, I have scars. Today is a struggle to wake up.
I don’t want to apologize for my emotions. I want to feel them from all aspects. I want to cry and to be angry. I don’t want to have to look for validation with my every movement. I don’t want to be judged for feeling so hard and so deep.
I’m not angry at the world. I’m angry with myself. I am disappointed in myself. I am proud of myself, even while hating myself.
“Self-injury awareness day” was on the first. I should want to get better, but instead I am trying to figure out which sharper, stronger object is out there for me to use. Someone in my life called self harm dumb and pointless; but that invalidates the pain that is being felt internally.
I am not as strong as I want to be. I want to be better. But, for now, I will keep crying myself to sleep.
XX ISAIAH 40:29 XX
It has been a tricky past couple of weeks. I am yet again struggling to find out who I am, my identity.
Growing up I was always “the smart one” and the ballerina. I have not been able to take a dance class in several years. I ended high school with a 4.3 GPA, and started my first semester as just average (may forever be upset by my lit professor taking a whole letter grade deduction because I introverted too hard). I graduated university with honors, but at the lowest level.
In September, I started grad school; next week I am dropping my classes for this winter and the spring.
In a big way, I feel like I have failed, and mainly myself. But I am able to admit I am not doing well enough to focus on studying in my current state. I cannot work through what haunts me daily if I have no energy to give to it. I cannot be the best support system to others if I am so unwell myself.
I no longer am “smart enough,” and have not set foot in a dance studio in five years. Trying to understand and retain information became impossible. So, I think now I will get to allow myself a little bit of goodness in trying to find solid ground; I’ll let myself use my body to make the art that has been my happy thought since I was a three.
Unfortunately, the big catch is that I need to get a job. I feel the pressure to have one in what I got a degree, but thinking about a 9am-5pm desk job makes me feel like I am suffocating. It is what I signed up for when I chose my degree, yet I never prepared myself for the reality of it all.
I am lost, but there is a little bit of hope mixed in with the anxiety. It all depends on the “Once I have a job” part though. It is daunting and inevitable and I can feel the walls closing in around me.
XX JOHN 15:5 XX
The good, the bad, and the really ugly.
- I graduated with my Bachelors (undergrad)
- I started graduate school for my Masters
- an older sibling decided to not fully be a part of our family’s life for an indefinite amount of time
- I got my mom back
- my father was in an accident
- doctors/nurses saved my dad’s life [literally]
- a close relative got married and I got to be in the wedding
- I was made to feel inferior during that wedding by someone I trusted
- I had my worst depressive episode
- I wanted to stop existing
- I was diagnose with OCD, anxiety
- I lost control after a medication dosage was increases
- I hurt myself
- I like the feeling and the marks
- I hated myself more
- I handled going on an airplane by myself
- I got my second tattoo
- I got my nose pierced
- I feel closer to one of my younger siblings
- I was too terrified to get a “real” job with my degree
- I let anxiety win
- I was alone and lonely
- I chose to make a bad friendship, so I walked away
- I am meeting monthly with my psychiatrist
- Prozac > Lexapro
- I doubted
- I cannot sleep without prescription medicine
- I am terrified to sleep
- the night terrors keep getting worse and worse
- we moved
- my mom is done with her surgeries
- cancer is the absolute worst [loathe entirely]
- I still cannot trust people
- I tried picking up the pieces
- I am still incomplete without ballet
- I do not know who to talk to
- I graduated undergrad with honors
- I did not graduate with the highest level of honors
- I still need to lose twenty pounds, at least
- I still have a bad “relationship” with food
- I fainted in public (yay hypoglycemia)
- I am still ugly, inside and out
- I have that voice in my head, OCD
- I am still broke and living at home
- I am afraid to leave
- I met a wonderful family I get to work for
- I had red hair for two months
- the hurting myself does not even count
- I voted
- I wanted to buy a knife
- some family members refuse to hear me out and understand the anxiety I go through constantly
- my family and I were fortunate enough to go to Disney World for Christmas
- I had one of my worst panic/anxiety attacks at Disney
- Lexapro heightened my depression and thoughts of suicide, but I am not sure how much help the Prozac is doing
- I tried
My name is (redacted) and I have reached a new low. (Yay.)
Disney World, “The Most Magical Place on Earth”? I would wholeheartedly say yes, but my brain had other plans on Christmas Eve in the middle of the fireworks.
It is a given that, when you go to crowded public places, people will bump into you (and hellooooo, it’s Disney World). So, of course I knew that I was definitely going to get pushed, bumped, and come into accidental contact with strangers. That, in itself, was not a big deal (I mean, after getting hit with a few dozen strollers and hearing a grown man say he wanted to punch the crowd, that much was clear).
So, at the end of the night and having been there for thirteen hours, it was part of the routine. Unfortunately, being continuously touched by a young boy (obviously on accident) was when something in my mind was done with it.
I felt violated and beyond uncomfortable.
I was taken back to a few years ago when someone I was “seeing” (I don’t honestly know what to call it because in my eyes it was faaaar off from dating) a guy and he violated me repeatedly (because I was naive and scared).
I began crying and I couldn’t breathe. I was shaking and couldn’t speak, just stand in the crowd and break down. For the first since it happened, I felt the weight of what happened those times. There was power in those tears. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of being “dirty” and like a used object. I had not realized until just three days ago how much those incidents were still being carried with me daily, constantly.
If I could go back in time to that initial day, I would never put my position to be that vulnerable with someone so unfamiliar to me.
I don’t know how to “get over” this and move on. I feel unworthy and worry for the day I do start dating. Only my immediate family knows what happened and that was enough of a challenge to let my mom know.
One of the worst and best parts are that the guy moved before it could get worse, but he will never know the (negative) impact he made on my life. And, honestly, I feel guilty talking about my experience because it pales in comparison to others’ experience(s), even those close to me.
But for now, I need to figure out whether or not to tell my psychiatrist when I see them in a few weeks.
XX PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7 XX
This has been a big year for me, both in good and bad ways. Yet, I suppose it’s a testimony of some sort that I am still here [in the middle of the night because I am too scared to sleep]. For the past couple of days, my voice has been coming and going [ya gotta love viruses mixed with cold weather and no humidifier]; but, here I am letting go of things I have not dared saying in months. In my silence, I roar.
August of this year I was finally diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I like being careful with my words, so I am not one to say I have something if it is not legitimate. It felt/feels like such a relief to have a name to what is overwhelming and attacking me. Stories, true and of myth, throughout history have attested to the power of words, specifically names. Having the name of who or what is coming against you gives you an advantage. So, in that way, knowing that what I have is not just me being over-dramatic gives me the ability to stand up again and fight.
“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”
Professor Dumbledore, The Sorcerer’s Stone
I have never really heard anyone speak candidly about what it was like to go through life dealing with an anxiety disorder. Sure, you hear the too casually said exasperation of someone saying something shocking in regards to what we narrowly know of anxiety and depression, but those are quickly dismissed with an eye-roll and a small laugh.
What we are not told is what happens at night. What happens when that “other” feeling and thoughts come crashing into your head at full speed and you can feel it getting harder and harder to take each breath. When all you want is to feel something and nothing at the same time, to be and not be, to want to let the weight consume you but want to see a brighter day. What happens when those thoughts of not wanting to carry on one more second takes over. What it feels like to cry so hard you lose feeling throughout your body. What it feels like when the crying continues but there is no more tears left. What happens every day, every second, as the battle of your mind plagues you.
The weight of depression cloaks every part of you in its dark and tangled web of self-hate.
Since being diagnosed, I have been trying out different medication an dosages, looking into counseling, and grasping at straws to find something that will switch the lights back on. Externally, though, I have had my eyes open to the everyday, average person’s struggle . By opening up, others open up about their own battles and their path to rebuilding themselves. The world is much bigger than myself and that is something I carry close in all that I do.
It is hard to tell if I have support or if it is just pity, misunderstanding, or if they want me to “suck it up and get over it.” When I try talking about it, the conversation is redirected, another “natural solution” is brought up and I get scolded like a child, or I am not taken seriously. Because I have OCD specifically, I feel dismissed, that it is a choice and something “quirky” or cute to add to a social media bio. But really, it is a demon hovering and invading over you constantly. But, no, it is “just” OCD and, “at least you have the pretty (disorder).”
Some days are better than others. Sometimes I can resist those compulsions; once in a while I can block out that voice that so easily convinces me my life and the lives of others depend on a single choice. Some days I can rise above the overwhelming sadness that threatens to pull me under. A few times I have been able to drag myself from a routine to do something I could not have imagined even trying the day before.
Other days, I spiral downwards quicker than I can fathom [imagine being Han Solo on the run from rational thinking and warp speed is taking you to that dark place].
I hurt myself. I do it and I tell myself it does not count because it is not like the gory sight you see depicted from Hollywood. I tell myself it is not a big deal. I tell myself no one can even tell, so it does not count. I am still alive so it cannot possibly count. And I believe it. The marks ground me to hold on to the feeling of pain and knowing where I have been.
I am far from perfect or being able to figure all of this out. Every day I am given is a chance to better myself, yet it is also another day of having the fear anxiety brings try to drag me down. I am far from over. I am just beginning. My story does not end here. I am trying.
XX PHILIPPIANS 4:13 XX
At this point (and if you look at it in black and white), there are two options: to give up or to fight. I have never been one to choose the simple or easy option. So, I am going to keep trying and pushing for myself. There is more to life than what is happening right now. Sure, it feels like my family and myself are falling apart, but there is more to it. This is not it.
I want to get better, to be better.
There is a way to be content, to know my life is secure, even when everything is not okay. I do not want what is happening on the outside to affect who I am on the inside. I can have an identity that is stronger than circumstances; an identity that is so strongly rooted that it is unmoveable.
My identity is rooted in the One who made, who put me on this earth. Everyday is an opportunity for an inward transformation to take place and make me better. I know I need a strength that is bigger than myself, and that is exactly what I have inside me. I am okay (and going to be okay) because Christ is at work in me.
Finding contentment is a journey and will not be something that happens overnight, but I am determined to be made fresh and anew so that I can have peace. Nothing is going to happen if I let things stay the way that they are.
XX 2 Corinthians 5:17 XX