Moving On

The first cut is always the deepest.  The first cut always hurts the most. But then the second and third cuts come, and after a while, you become addicted. You become addicted to the release it brings. For one minute during your day you feel something. You are allowed to feel something.

And then it’s not just days; it’s months, it’s years of this daily release. Then one day, you hit your lowest point. Your skin is not skin anymore. After years of being bloody from fighting daily battles, it’s become a puzzle to be put back together. It’s become a battlefield marked with the gravestones of those lost. It’s become a maze or a timeline; traceable lines mark the path you’ve walked, how far you’ve traveled.

One day you trace the scars that you’re so eager to hide from judging eyes, because you don’t know how to explain to people that you’re not trying to kill yourself; you’re trying to stay alive:

How have I made it this far? I’m stronger than I think I am.

How did I get here? I’m left looking back on things I’d much rather forget.

Where do I go from here? I have no idea.

I have no idea.

But I’m taking it one day at a time. Because when you didn’t think you’d make it this far, planning the future and looking too far ahead is terrifyingly intimidating. Life is stressful. You take it one day at a time so you don’t forget to breathe.

Through all this, you have to learn how to move on with your life. I’m learning how to move on. I’m learning how to make it through the day. I’m learning that God loves me despite it all. I’m learning that even at my worst my friends are there to fall back on.

I’m learning how to love myself again, which is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s so easy to compare yourself to everyone else. And this game you play, you lose every time, which destroys your self-image. So you have to undo all the damage done—years of losses has left your Self-image so badly damaged there’s no choice but to tear it down and rebuild it from the bottom.

This rebuilding is a process. It’s looking in the mirror and telling yourself you’re beautiful even when you don’t believe it. It’s telling yourself that you are worth something when you’re entire being is telling you that you’re better off dead. It’s learning how to block out the voices of those who once hurt you (not that the memories won’t hurt, because they will. But that’s ok. You’re alive).

And it’s so much more. It’s learning to ignore the people who judge you. It’s learning to ignore the people looking at you, whispering about you as if you can’t see them. It’s learning how to cope, how to deal with the thoughts that can destroy you. It’s learning how to let the feelings out in healthy ways (even if it’s crying at Youth Group). It’s learning that it’s ok that big groups make you uncomfortable, that you are always on the verge of a mental breakdown. The people who matter won’t love you any less.

It’s learning that this is a Mental Illness; the feelings won’t go away, but they’ll be like waves. It’s learning how to make the most of them.

It’s learning that you are worth being loved. It’s allowing yourself to be loved and valued when the right person comes along.

It’s learning to say look how far I’ve come. Look at what you did to me, but look what I’ve done with my life. Look at me prove you wrong.

Advertisements

Testimony 2.0

The first word is always the hardest.

It’s hard for us to admit that there’s anything wrong. It’s hard for us to admit that there are things that have happened to us that have destroyed the person we once were. There are things that have happened to us that have drastically altered the course of our lives.

And we can’t admit we’re broken. So we go on wearing a happy face, rocking our own cape, because we are told that we should deal with our problems ourselves. And then we look in the mirror one day and realize we don’t recognize the person looking back at us.

I didn’t recognize the person looking back at me.

The first word is always the hardest. But I’ve heard when telling a story, it is most effective to start at the beginning.

But, I can’t start at the beginning, because I’m a “Good Christian Girl,” and the story I’m about to share doesn’t happen to “Good Christian Girls.”

And I don’t really know how to talk about it, and sometimes, I feel like I can’t talk about it; so I’m sharing it here.

When I was in 8th grade, I was sexually assaulted by 5 guy friends of mine. They stole my innocence. They tore my proverbial Cinderella dress leaving me in my Cinder Rags. They stole it in a bathroom at school. And while I can’t get it back, the act itself isn’t what’s left me broken.

It’s what they said. “You deserve this. You’re worthless. You’re never going to amount to anything. No one will ever love you.”

And I couldn’t tell anybody because school is filled with the wrong kinds of people. It was my word against theirs. And they were popular and I was not. So I suffered in silence.

The suffering turned to self-hatred. The self-hatred ate at my soul until I felt nothing. I was breathing, but I wasn’t alive. So to feel alive, I began cutting. And with each cut the words “you deserve this. You’re worthless. You’re never going to amount to anything. No one will ever love you” echoed in my mind.

Eventually, after months of this daily battle that left my skin bloody and torn, I decided that wasn’t enough. I started eating less because everybody loves the pretty, skinny girl.

And I didn’t fit any of that criteria. But I wanted to. Because if I couldn’t love myself, who else would be able to.

And over time all these feelings piled up, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to kill myself. I probably would have succeeded too if a little voice in the back of my mind hadn’t told me, you are good enough.

I threw up the pills I took.

I decided to live.

I decided to fight.

And every day I’m still fighting.

Because even though I don’t cut anymore, the urge is still always there. And I don’t know everything that triggers memories to come rushing back. And I wish I did, because then maybe I could tell you what to stop doing. But I don’t. So I can’t. But I will tell you to watch my reaction to jokes, to unexpected physical contact, to certain images, to people that remind me of someone I’d much rather forget. Little unconscious facial expressions can reveal so much about a person.

Don’t tell me I’m a bad Christian for hating myself. God is one of the only things that forces me out of bed in the morning.

Don’t tell me I deserved what happened. Nobody deserves pain like that. I was young, naïve, and didn’t know how to deal with the pain I was going through.

I see many beautiful people while going about my day. I’m not one of them. I don’t think so.

But that’s ok.

Because I’ve figured a few things out.

  1. I am capable of so much more. In the battle between Who I Think I am and Who I could Be, Who I think I am won every time, because that’s what I let get a hold of me. that’s what feeds off my energy. It doesn’t have to be that way.
  2. We are all capable of doing something great. I am, you are, we are all. But we all have something holding us back.

Every mirror tells me something different. I can tell myself that I’m beautiful over and over again, until I’m blue in the face, but there is an irrevocable flaw ingrained deep into the recesses of my brain that refuses to let me believe it. And even though deep in my soul I know I’m capable of greatness, there is something holding me back. And until I figure out what it is, until I figure out how to overcome it, I am destined to live in my own shadow.

I’m held back by fear and self-doubt. Fear that I will never be good enough, and enough self-doubt to give all the arrogant people a healthy dose.

Even though I know all this, it’s not enough to stop the feelings. It’s not enough to cure me. it’s not enough to make me whole again. But it’s enough to keep fighting. And you can be damn* sure that I will.

Sometimes when I’m sad, or hate myself, I look at the lines on my hands. They remind me that I have been stitched together by the master sewer, and I’ve learned that sometimes, that is enough.

 

*Pardon the swear word. I don’t swear normally on principle, but it’s emphasis. It’s important.

You’re Better Off Dead

“If someone hates themself so much they want to die, they are better off dead.”

Those kind words were said in one of my first classes as a college student. Being the type of person that I am, I walked out. I walked out and never looked back.

People are rather ignorant these days when it comes to Depression. They can hear the statistics, they can know someone who is struggling, but they can never truly understand. So many people laugh it off and say, ‘it’s no big deal.’

It is a big deal. People who struggle with depression can become really good at hiding it on the outside, but the smiles, the laughs, the loudness doesn’t quell the battle going on inside.  It’s an exhausting fight: a fight that would be all too easy to end (but that would put us on the losing side, and humans don’t like to lose. But the thought is always still there, lying in wait in the back of our minds).

Depression is more than sadness and tears. Depression is the constant feeling of being numb. People who struggle with Depression don’t feel anything. We feel dead: a human void of emotion is no human at all. We wake up in the morning and dread getting out of bed (on our worst days, we can’t get out of bed). Days aren’t really days as much as they are obstacles that need to be tackled. And so we deal with them through medication, drugs, cutting, starving ourselves—anything that will make us feel something, anything other than nothing (because nobody wants to feel like they’re nothing, like they’re invisible and barely breathing).

That’s what Depression is: the overwhelming sense of numbness, and the desire for anything that can help us make it from one day to the next.

Some days we’re fine; other days, we’re not at all fine. And while the world around us is moving like normal, we are spinning in slow motion or just frozen in time. These are the days when the thoughts come back.

If I just swerved off the road here, if I just took a few extra pills, if I jumped down the stairs, it would all be over. I would be completely whole once again.

And then people tell us that “We shouldn’t be sad, because somebody always has it worse,” which is almost as bad as telling someone they can’t be happy because someone always has it better.

But, it’s not as bad because people enjoy being around happy people more than sad people.  Us sad people need friends too. We need to feel just as loved as the next person (except maybe more because we don’t love ourselves). And it’s not that  we are not capable of love. Because we are. We are capable of so much love, but we don’t know how to love ourselves.

And while everybody else is busy living their lives, we’re just trying to survive.

When I read my poem “Checkmate” at Youth Group, people came up to me afterwards and said, “I had no idea, I’m sorry, etc.” But now you do.

One last thing, if you tell me that everything that’s happened to me in my life is my fault, it’s not my fault that my fist ends up in your face.
I had no control over it; your ignorance was asking for it.

Checkmate

One day, you wake up and realize that you don’t know how you got there. And you’re surprised because you didn’t think you would make it this far. But you did. You have.

I have.

We have.

We have secrets and stories from our pasts that are Weapons of Mass Destruction if the wrong person gets their hands on these things that have destroyed us once before. So we protect these stories for all that their worth (which we tell ourselves is not more than a penny, because like a penny we are practically worthless—it costs more to make us than what our value is. Or so we believe. But, really that’s all just lies). So we package up these secrets and stories, and tie them with bows to make them look pretty. And we put these packages on the “Do Not Discuss” Shelf of our lives and leave them there until someone cares to listen (and we tell ourselves that no one will. Check. Check. Another lie).

And repeating lies over and over again does not make them true.

But we tell ourselves that it will be fine anyway, because we’ve made it this far on our own, and we “don’t need no Superhero” in a fancy cape to come rescue us.

Because all we need rescuing from is ourselves and the demons that plague us (and personally, I’d like to see you try to climb into my mind and fight these battles for me).

Because our minds aren’t some freakishly fast rollercoaster with ups and downs that are completely unpredictable. No, our minds are dark tunnels with caution signs and landmines threatening to explode at any moment. (Did I mention the hundreds of tons of dynamite?)

So we fight these battles the only way we know how: self-destruction. Our skin is constantly bloody from fighting last night’s battles. Our stomachs are constantly roaring as we empty the contents of last night’s self-loathing.

With all this pressure to be perfect we hope that all this grit and grime will turn into a diamond. But it doesn’t. It turns into a geyser, which promptly explodes in our face.

And now the secret’s out—it’s written all over our face. And we still choose to believe the lies, because humans are stubborn. And the more times you repeat a word, the less it starts to make any sense.

Worthless.

Worthless.

Worthless.

The more you repeat a word, the less it starts to make any sense.

Worthless.

Worthless.

Worthless.

It loses its meaning over time.

Somehow, despite all this, people still care. And it’s these people who care who convince you to get help.

So, you do to appease them (because it’s better to appease the masses than to go against the flow). You learn to deal with these feelings in less destructive ways (I’ve heard that writing helps a lot).

But the feelings don’t go away; they just act more like waves. Low tide and high tide. In an instant, they come back (so this is what drowning feels like). In an instant, they go away (I can breathe again). So you come up, choking and sputtering and gasping for air. And this cycle continues.

Because sometimes you are so focused on breathing in and out that you forget how to put one foot in front of the other.

And this is ok.

It’s ok to fall in front of all the cool kids. Your Fan Club is there to boost your confidence once again.

Knowing is better than not knowing.

And it’s certainly better than the

Tick, tick, ticking bomb that could explode at any moment.

Tick

Tick

Tick

Tick

BOOM!

Checkmate.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

I am writing. I am writing hard, because writing means fighting. And I’m not done fighting my inner battles. I’m not done. God is not done with me yet.

One day, He will turn this Grit and Grime into a Diamond.