It’s Ok to Not Be Ok

Do suicides go to heaven?

I was four the first time I saw a dead body. It was my great aunt. My great uncle picked me up at her open-casket funeral, placed his hand on her arm, looked at me with tears in his eyes, and said: “She’s in Heaven now.”

Do suicides go to heaven?

Heaven. I learned that Heaven is a place people go when their bodies are cold; they look slightly different: like at any moment they could come back alive—suspended animation—toeing the line between there and not there. Like at any moment they could start breathing again.

Breathing again. Am I ever going to learn how to breathe again?

Every funeral I’ve been to since, the passage of time has been spent counting the number of breaths not taken for every breath I took. Wondering how it would feel if I too had a crest-fallen chest.

Why won’t they breathe? Why can’t I breathe?

Trauma has this way of sneaking up on you, camouflaged in the shadows of okayness. One minute you’re laughing and smiling and singing in the shower. The next minute it feels like a tree is being pulled out of your chest, unaided

by sedation, burning, screaming, God take the pain away.

Is this what drowning feels like?

It’s easier to believe God doesn’t exist when you’ve experienced hurt or pain. It’s almost easier to believe God doesn’t exist. Because if He did exist, if an ever-loving God exists in an imperfect world, why, why do bad things happen? Why does He allow bad things to happen? Why?

You’re moving forward. Stepping out of your shame, owning your story, living your story.

But maybe those are the wrong questions to ask. Maybe it’s not why do bad things happen? Maybe it’s what do I do when these bad things happen? Maybe it’s how do I move forward? What is my purpose within all this?

You know, somewhere deep down, I feel like this is all my fault. Somewhere, deep down, I feel like I don’t deserve to be here. I can’t remember a time when I wanted to be alive.

You see, trauma sucks. And sometimes, I still blame myself for all that has happened in my life. I feel like, maybe, if I had done something different, none of this would have happened: I wouldn’t have been raped, gotten pregnant, had a miscarriage, had a mental breakdown.

How can I want to die but still be doing everything I can to live?

If none of that had happened, I might not have been diagnosed with anxiety, OCD, and Depression. Things I’ve struggled with my whole life but made worse by life—chemical imbalances exacerbated by circumstances. I would have spent my whole life wanting to die without ever getting the help to fight it.

It’s ok not to be ok.

I’m learning how to be ok with not always being ok. Trauma is not a prerequisite for mental illness. I had one long before the trauma, and I’ll have one long after the trauma is worked through. But it doesn’t define me. I am more than my past, more than my present, more than the battle raging inside my head.

I am suicidal. And for so long I tried to hide that, until I couldn’t any more. I just have to make the part of me that wants to live louder.

I thought being baptized was going to fix me. It did not. It just gave the negative voice in my head I call Gertrude more fodder: you aren’t worthy of being a child of God. You’re a terrible person who will never get to Heaven because of what happened to you.

Do suicides go to heaven?

Could my purpose be to write about God and mental illness? Because there’s still a taboo about not reading my Bible enough, not praying enough, not having faith enough. Do you know how many Bible verses I quote throughout the day just to keep me going? How each day is one continuous “God help me” prayer? How much faith it requires for me just to put one step in front of the other?

Dying is easy. Living is hard.

It’s so hard to live when every fiber in your body is telling you to die, every memory in your brain is telling you that God made a mistake. But God didn’t make mistakes—He doesn’t make mistakes. Every day I choose hope, but hope really isn’t a choice any more than your heart beating is a choice. Hope is inherent in all of us: our body tries so hard to keep us alive. Our wounds heal themselves; our cells regenerate; our DNA multiplies and divides to keep us living. Having hope is easy. What’s not easy is stepping out of shame into hope.

Do suicides go to heaven?

What about all those people who keep on living even when they want to die? I spent so much time wanting to die, I forgot how to live.

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Flash Flood Warning- A Poem

It’s 4:30 am, and my alarm goes off—

A cruel irony, really.

I haven’t yet slept.

I watched the clock turn Midnight, then 1,2,3,4.

And with each minute that passed, my mind raced faster and faster—

A mile a minute;

A thousand thoughts a second—

A race against time with no clear winner.

“If I fall asleep now, I can get 5 hours of sleep…

5…4…3…2…1…

It’s raining.

Lightning.”

It’s been raining all night, and I’ve been awake to hear it.

You’d think after all this time, the tear ducts of Heaven would be all dried up.

(fantasy is often better than reality.)

My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty. . .

. . . there’s nothing my God cannot do.  

Apparently, God is so big that his tear ducts draw from a never-ending well.

Well, well,well…

It’s raining; it’s pouring, the Old Man is snoring…

Wait, nope. That’s just my Dad.

It’s been raining so long and so hard a flash flood warning was issued early this morning while the world was sleeping.

I was awake and read the warning along with the 15 text messages from Twitter.

It’s 4:30 am, and I didn’t need my alarm today.

I watched the numbers on my clock change, counting down the minutes until I need to get out of bed, their faces glowing red as if laughing.

My life isn’t a Cosmic joke.

I only get one [life], and I don’t want to screw it up,

But I’m afraid I already have.

There are no do-overs, no re-runs; I sure could use one.

I don’t know how God is running things up there,

But it seems kind of Laissez-faire.

Divine intervention would be nice right about now—

The future is big, and I’m rather small,

And this whole “I don’t know what I’m doing in life” is getting kind of old.

There was a flash flood warning, and I’m right in the way.

They always tell you:

“In case of a flood, find high ground.

Low places will probably be the hardest hit.”

I’m in a low place right now, and the flood waters are coming.

At least I know how to swim.

Of course, my swimming skills will be about as helpful as the levees of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

It’s a nice thought, but practically, it leaves a lot to be desired.

At least it’s the thought that counts.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m a 7. . .

. . . microwaves (which weigh less than 7 elephants).

I’ll take what I can get.

And yet, somehow, despite this weight on my chest, I’m still standing tall.

Right now, I feel as though my world is collapsing around me.

I won’t always feel this way.

Depression is like a Great Flood:

It happens slowly and then all at once.

(They disappear the same way).

It’s 4:30 am; it’s raining, and I haven’t slept.

Sleep makes you feel better when you get it and worse when you don’t.

(it’s kind of like rain that way.)

Last night, when I couldn’t sleep, my thoughts were racing a mile a minute.

“What if…”

“Why…”

“How about…”

When the darkness creeps in, that’s when the enemy line starts firing.

Under cover of darkness, it’s easy to be a brave coward.

Last night I was having deep existential thoughts about life and happiness.

The first thought that entered my mind when I got out of the shower this morning was

“Should I do my hair today, or not?

The rain’s just going to ruin it.” (I did; it might’ve.)

But like, the state of my hair is what I should be concerned with…

NOT…

Superficiality is only skin-deep; and I want to change the world.

It’s raining here.

There are wildfires out west.

So, tell me how life is fair.  

And there’s no peace in the Middle East.

I don’t know how to change the world, but I think love is a good place to start.

Love your enemies, those who disagree with you, those from an opposing political party.

Love your neighbors, those who come into this country to find a better life. We all want a better life in a way.

Love those who are different from you, those whose way of life you may not agree with.

Love them anyway.

Love yourself anyway.

Sometimes you can love too much, and sometimes love is not enough.

But between war and peace, I’ll take my chances with love.

Love makes the world go round in the circle of life,

Everything has a cycle, including water.

Hence, the rain.

I love the rain because it begets life,

And it can make you clean if you just let it.

We could all use a clean slate once in a while.

There was a flash flood warning, and it’s still running, and I’m doing my best to keep smiling.

My Lit Teacher asked the class to list things that die.

I started, “People, animals, plants, hopes, and dreams.”

It’s easy to die.

It’s not always easy to live.

I learned that once.

Because one time I tried to set myself on fire (figuratively, but literally with pills)—

I was a metaphorical Girl on Fire, trying to make myself someone new.

Out of the ashes and with the rain came beauty.

That’s all I wanted, and I’m trying my best not to screw up, to make the most of this second chance at life even when the going gets tough.

There was a flash flood warning.

Warning:

Beware:

Caution:

This flood won’t stop me.

Because it’s all too easy to drown in an ocean of tears, and sometimes we forget we can float in salt water.

I am Weak All Week

Truth time: I am not as strong as I pretend to be.

I’ve been through a lot in my life: I’ve been sexually assaulted. I’ve battled Depression. I was Anorexic for a long time. But I’m not as strong and put together as I wish I was.

Many days, I don’t trust the ground to stand strong under my feet.

Many days, the weight of the burdens I carry is enough to crack my ribs and puncture my lungs.

Many days, I use up all my faith getting out of bed in the morning.

But then there’s God. In my weakness, He is strong.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, ” No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Every day we are tempted. My temptations are different than your temptations. My sin is different than your sin. But we are not that different, you and I.

We are both made of atoms and cells and organs. We are both living and breathing. We both inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.

Every day we are tempted. I am tempted to stay in bed all day, and cut myself off from the world. But everyday I am able to stand up under my temptations, because God has provided a way out.

I sin everyday. I have sinned against myself, and probably at some point, I’ve sinned against you. But I have been forgiven by the perfect forgiveness found in Christ. I have been washed clean by the shedding of his blood.

I am not as strong as I pretend to be.

In fact, if I was chosen to be the modern-day Atlas, you know the guy who has to hold the world up all by himself (talk about the weight of the world being on his shoulders), we’d all be dead. Thankfully, I’m not the chosen one, and thankfully, I don’t have to hold the world up by myself.

I’m not the chosen one. But I am chosen.

You see, I have a God who has chosen me to be a part of His glorious Kingdom. I have  God who knew me before I was born, who knew me before I was even a blip on anybody’s radar. I have  God who has called me to do great things. I have a God who has comforted me in the storm. I have a God who has carried me through the hard times. I have a God who has placed the stars in the sky and knows them by name. I have a God who has seen the inner thoughts of my heart and loves me anyway.

Talk about the unconditional love of a Father.

When I was little, my dad would ask me: “Kaleigh, how many fathers do you have?”

“Two!” I would reply, “I have a Heavenly Father and a Down-here Daddy.”

I am thankful for the both of them.

But I am especialy thankful for my Heavenly Father who is strong enough for the both of us.

Why (My) College is Important

Today, my college broke ground for the new addition to the Science and Nursing building. This is exciting, not because I’m a science or nursing major, but because this new facility has the potential to impact many future students’ lives.

And I just want to say how thankful I am for College, especially for one that’s challenged me as much as mine has: physically (because as a commuting English major, my backpack weighs close to 500 tons), emotionally (because teenage girls experience all the emotions), and spiritually (because I once doubted God, but all the questions I have make my faith stronger). You see, when I came into college, I was broken. I barely passed one of the classes I needed to graduate High School. In fact, I barely made it through High School. About half way through my Sophomore year, I tried to kill myself. I started self-harming. I became anorexia. I was severely depressed.

And I was terrified of college. I was terrified of failing. I was terrified of being the nerdy girl who had no idea how to make friends. I was terrified of choosing the wrong major and not being able to find a job. I was terrified of the future. Basically, I was terrified about everything.

With one year left of College, I’m still terrified about what the future holds, but I know the college I chose has prepared me for everything that will come my way. It’s funny because the one college I vowed I would never attend became the only place I applied, and that’s the way God seems to work in my life.

I decide one thing, and God’s like, “Lol. Nope. Try again.”

I’m glad He does, because it makes me depend on Him more. He keeps my pride in check.

He called me to this campus for a reason, and I’m glad He did, because it’s changed my life.

The faculty here are some of the most caring and the most encouraging people in my life. You need some advice? No problem. You need to talk about some problems you’re having? Sit down. Have a seat. You want to get into some big theological debate? Bring it on.

I remember one time when I knew a certain book on a reading list for one of my Lit classes was going to be difficult to read and discuss. One day, when we were discusssing the rest of the Semester, I made an off-hand comment about it. When my Professor inquired, I told her my story. She immediately made accomodations, and it was wonderful and beautiful.

There are people on this campus who will challenge everything you once thought to be true. Being open-minded about what other people know is the best way to understand the world differently.

The more I talk to people on this campus, the more my faith grows. I don’t know of anyother school where having a mental breakdown in the library will lead to a bunch of students you don’t know to pray for you.

This campus is so full of love, which is why the squirrels here aren’t afraid if anything: perfect love casts out fear.

Because, yes, this campus is all about higher learning. But higher learning doesn’t just include education. It’s about being part of a community. It’s about forming relationships, personally and spiritually, that will continue to bless your life even after you leave. It’s about instilling confidence in each person, because everybody has value. It’s about learning how everybody is connected–everybody has the power to change the world.

This past summer, I went on a Missions Trip to Guatemala with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. (Shoutout to Roberts Enactus!) And this trip changed my life.

My college has changed my life, because it taught me that change starts with one person.

Sometimes I think I’m in the wrong major, because ‘English is just not practical.’ But if there’s one thing my study of literature has taught me, it’s that words are more powerful than you know.

I will change the world with my words one day. And Roberts has given me the confidence to do it.

 

 

See also: Unsolicited Advice to Incoming Freshman and Returning Students

Un-eligible Princess

If you could use your imagination for a second and imagine me standing in front of you, I’m terrified and shaking and trembling but I’m reading this with a smile on my face. Because I’m terrified of speaking in large groups, but when I’m reading my words from the page, I’m the only one in the room.

Right now, it’s one in the morning, or 7 at night, or pick a time any time. And I’ve written many things already tonight. And the number of words I’ve written in my life is probably greater than the number I’ve spoken. And that’s ok. Because with every beat of my heart, my blood carries my words throughout my body, reaching my brain and my fingers until I itch for a pen.

But there was a time when I would have reached for the razor instead. I would have watched as my blood trickled from my skin and the tears from my eye flood carried the words I didn’t know how to say from this body of mine. Because I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve, but a part of it leaves when I sit down to write. Because my heart cries tears of pain and joy and desperation, and all this accumulation turns into inspiration late at night.

And I’m well-versed in the art of poetry (and also math, but Calculus 101 and 102 demanded my wrath). But poetry is not a mathematical equation, unless you’re Shakespeare with his sonnets, and his perfect 14 lines of iambic pentameter.

Because

Any

Sentence

Is

Poetry

If

You

Write

Like

This.

And if that’s poetry, I’m not a poet—try my way though. Because my prosetry may include rhyme and meter, because I grew up counting meter for music, so I’ve met her (be)fore. And anything is a metaphor if you try hard enough. I draw poetry from life around me and the pain inside me. Because every so often, I think ‘why me?’

And I believe my words are beautiful. Because they have the power to open minds, change minds, encourage minds, and maybe one day convince someone to be mine. Even dressed to the nines, I don’t feel fine, by which I mean beautiful.  Because what’s beautiful about scars? I mean Scar was the bad guy in Lion King, and I’m the Daughter of the King, so don’t my scars make me the “Next Un-eligible Princess?” And I try to hide mine, because I drew the line and connected the scars on my skin, and one day I picked up the pen instead.

Because writing makes me feel beautiful. And my writing is beauty filled, and people tell me they’re proud of me. And if my writing can help thee, then it shall be. Because I don’t want to hide these red razor lines on my abs and my thighs, so I transfer them to my writing, which is fine by me. My scars say “I have survived,” but these demons won’t go away, which is why writing is here to stay. Because this pain is enough to drive me insane, but my words are enough to keep them at bay.

Because not too long ago, I believed that beauty was directly proportional to weight, which made me hate society. Because when did it become ok to say things to ourselves we are too afraid to say to anyone else? And when did skeletons become goddesses teaching us to not need? Because what does thin mean to you? Sophistication, adoration, adulation, a vaccination against segregation? And if that’s beauty, I’ll stay ugly.

Because I’ve always been too big, too loud, too quiet, too excitable. But that’s ok, because my heart is too big to be contained in jeans too small for a stick. And although some days I hate everything about who, what, and how I am, it’s ok anyway. Because I have enough pain to write novels like Bronte. And they will be beautiful, because slowly and surely, I am learning to love myself. There are parts of me that shine like the stars. Because my eyes are full of wonder, and when I make a blunder: I still walk into the light.

So I can no longer believe that my value is tied into how much I weigh, because whoever said “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” clearly never tried Red Velvet anything. Besides, I have better things to worry about. I mean, I have a book to write, and lives to change, and people to hug, and stories to tell. And the last thing I want people to remember me for is my weight. I want to be remembered for doing something great.

But right now, in this moment, I’m 19. I’m here, and I’m so afraid. But my courage is roaring like the sun, because I’ve made it this far, and I know I’ll be ok. So when I get up in the morning, and my legs feel like they might buckle, I’ll have to trust that they are strong enough to keep me from falling. I am strong enough. Besides, if they’re not strong enough in that moment, life goes on. And I can try again tomorrow.

 

Olympics and Flying: What they Have in Common

When I was little, I would watch the Olympics in complete awe and reverence. I would watch the gymnasts run down the mats like an airplane taxing down a runway, fling themselves off the vault, fly through the air, twisting and turning like a leaf in the wind, and stick their landings. I would watch the ice skaters glide on the ice like a knife over butter, twirl in the air as they complete their triple axels, and come back down to earth all with the grace of an angel.

And I wanted to be a gymnast and an ice skater and a fairy princess. So, I tried my hardest. I put a step stool down between the lines on the carpet in the living room. I would run and jump off of it, doing a half twist in the air before my feet hit the ground. And in that moment, I was an award-winning gymnast. I would “ice skate” in my socks on hardwood floor, and as I glided over the floors I pretended I was Michelle Kwan. I would take my light pink super hero cape and pretend it was a Queen’s robe, until I decided being prim and proper was boring. Saving the world is more fun.

When I was little, I was obsessed with the idea of flying. I would stand on the bottom step of the staircase in my home and channel my inner Buzz Lightyear by saying, “to infinity and beyond.” Of course, being 3, it would come out “to infiniby and beyond.” And then I would jump off that 6 inch step and flap my arms, because I was convinced that if I flapped my arms hard enough, I could fly around the room. One day, I told my Dad with all the enthusiasm little me could muster, “Daddy. I was in the air for 6 whole seconds!”

Of course, I wasn’t. Children don’t understand time… or gravity.

Sometimes I still don’t.

Time is a relative concept. It’s not a line. It’s more of a… of a… big ball of timey wimey stuff. Gravity isn’t concrete either. Sometimes, when I feel particularly unhappy about my body, I remember that I would weigh less on the moon. So, if I ever fulfill my dream of becoming an astronaut, I’m all set. Because what is weight, but the force of gravity acting upon us? And the amount of gravity depends on the mass of the object. The earth is bigger than the moon. But compared to the size of the universe, the earth is miniscule. A speck of sand on the finger of God. So it’s easy for me to feel small.

On the day I decided to test gravity and throw myself off the metaphorical cliff, I wasn’t small enough for God to see me, to protect me, and save me.

I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of flying, and I’ve learned that 37,000 feet in the air is beautiful.

Gymnasts fly. Ice skaters fly. I’ll never be either.

And that’s ok. Because I’m a writer. I believe in metaphors. I believe in life. And what is life but a metaphor anyway?

When I was little, I believed that if I jumped high enough and flapped my arms hard enough, I would sprout wings and fly around the room.

One day, I woke up, and I had wings. And now I’m flying.

The girl who is scared of heights, which is more a fear of falling aka a fear of trying to die, is flying high in the sky. And nothing will ever bring me down.

Thanksfullgivingness *

*Yes, I am aware it’s a made up word. But there are so many great words contained within its borders, I just had to use it.

Thanks. Thankful. Giving. Full. Thanksgiving. Fullness. Thankfulness.  The way I hope Tom Hanks signs his autograph: T. Hanks.

So many great words, and I hope to touch on most of them in this blog post, but first, can we look at the word thanks. Look at it. Soak it in. It’s such a weird word. It’s one of those words where I second guess the spelling when I write at it–are you a real word?

Anyway, I digress. That was a tangent.

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all we have, and today my College did exactly that. They held a Chapel where students could get up and tell everybody what they have to be thankful for this year. The only catch was you only had two minutes to do it.

Yeah, no. How can I begin to sum up what I have to be thankful for in 2 minutes? The answer is: I can’t. But, I’m going to try to sum it up here.

I’m thankful for the way God has brought me through so much. I’m thankful for the way the sun rises and sets everyday and the way it paints the sky with all the colors of the wind. I’m thankful for the way the waves refuse to stop kissing the shore no matter how many times it’s sent away.

I’m thankful for my whole family, and everybody’s sense of humor. Speaking of which, I’m thankful for laughter, and how, if you laugh hard enough, you can forget your name and what year it is. I’m thankful for my friends, who they are, and what they’re going to become.

I’m thankful for my overactive writer’s imagination, and the way it plans out all these ridiculous scenarios that will never happen, but I know what I’ll say in case they do. (unless of course a guy talks to me, in which case, I’ll words my over stumble). I’m thankful for the way everything can become a poem if you try hard enough, because the two things I know best in this world are music and poetry.

I’m thankful for the way I can think of a good comeback… 5 minutes too late, but if you ask me for a pun, I’ll be so sharp I’ll be banned from airplanes, which is a shame because 37,000 feet in the air is beautiful.

I’m thankful for the seasons, because just as they change so do I. Spring reminds me of fresh life and beauty. Summer reminds me of all the dreams I have. Fall reminds me that everything beautiful has an end. But ends bring new beginnings. Winter reminds me I’m still alive even on my worst days. Because some days it’s so cold, my lungs feel like they’re on fire, but in those moments, I remember I’m still breathing.

I’m thankful for the beauty of the first snowfall and for Christmas lights and Thanksgiving dinner and for how giving so much can make you feel so full.

I’m thankful for light breezes, because being kissed by the earth reminds me how beautiful this life can be. I’m thankful for rain, because it can wash everything away if you just let it. I’m thankful for the strength to get out of bed in the morning even when I don’t have much faith.

I’m thankful for the phrase, “Blood is thicker than water, but maple syrup is thicker than blood.” Because I don’t like pancakes that much, but one day, I’ll meet a guy who will make me want to eat pancakes with him.

I’m thankful for language, and the way it can change lives. I’m thankful for the places I’ve been, the memories I’ve created, the relationships I’ve formed.

I’m thankful for my past, because, yes, it hurts, but if I hadn’t gone through it, I wouldn’t have formed the relationships I have, and my life would be a lot less meaningful.

I’m thankful for so many things, and since I can’t number the stars, I can’t list all of them either. But, boy are stars beautiful, and so is life. And that’s what I’m most thankful for anyway: life and all it has to offer.

And so I ask, what are you thankful for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Day You Will Fly: Update!

About a year ago, I wrote the following blog post. And it was a huge hit (Coincidentally, it is also the intro to the book I’m writing, but more on that in a minute)! Since it was a huge hit, I’d thought I’d update my readers on what has happened in my life since then.

But first, my original post:

To all the people who think that they are not good enough; to the people who believe that there is no way out; to the people who believe that they are alone in this struggle; to the people who believe that they will never be loved:

This is for you.

To all the people who took a razor to their beautiful skin; to all the people who have starved themselves, who refused to eat, and then asked, “Am I beautiful now?”; to all the people who have ever wanted to end it all:

This is for you.

I know it’s hard. I’m not just saying that either; I’m not trying to sympathize, trying to understand what it’s like—because, until you’ve been to that point, you don’t understand. Until you’ve been down that road, until you’ve lost sight of the light, until you’ve been down the never-ending pit of despair, you will never understand.

I’m saying it’s hard because I’ve been there. I’ve been down that road; I’ve been down that pit, and I’ve dug myself out—over and over again. And I have the scars to prove it. Scars faint enough that only the observant will notice; but scars dark enough to show that I’ve survived.

I know what it’s like to be told to snap out of it, as if it were an insect that could be smashed with the smack of a hand. Rather, I’m the insect, and depression is that hand, threatening to destroy my being as it comes closer and closer—like a dark, ominous storm cloud that threatens to engulf a lone ship, Hope, sailing on the ocean of my soul.

And I know what it’s like to watch the blood drip off my skin as I cut myself open with the razor of hate, waiting for the needle of hope to stitch me back together again. I’ve treaded water in the ocean of darkness, while trying not to drown, waiting for a life-preserver to be thrown my way.

You’re not worth it; you deserve it; you’re ugly, and nobody cares.

Those words have repeated over and over again in my head. They serve as unwanted memories of things said and things done.

If only I were prettier; if only I were skinnier; if only I looked like that, all my problems would be solved.

Those lies are fed to me by the devil’s hand as I compare myself to others, reminding me that, sometimes, I am my own worst enemy.

If any of these words have ever applied to you, I’m here to tell you that you’ll be ok, and you’re not alone. It will get better, and it will get worse; though it may get worse for a while, I promise you that it will always get better. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end.

You won’t wake up one day and say, ‘I’ll be ok.’ It’s a journey, it’s a struggle, and it’s a fight. And with every battle you fight, you get a little bit stronger; every journey you take, you gain a little more courage. When it comes around again, you can fight harder.

Hope whispers in your ear: ‘You can do this; don’t give up.’

Some days, you will scream, and you will cry. Some days, you will want to stop fighting; but, don’t give up, my dear. Because, one day, you will realize that you are stronger than this demon that plagues you. Even though the urge to pick up that razor won’t go away, you’ll learn how to control it.

I learned how to write with pain—how to take the blood that flows from my skin and turn it into something beautiful instead.

And even though I know I have talents, I sometimes doubt my abilities. But, don’t we all? And even though I know that I am beautiful, sometimes I still compare myself to others.

“Some girls say they’re not pretty, because they know someone’s going to come and say “Shut up, you know you are”. But some girls say they’re not pretty, not because they’re looking for attention, but because that’s how they feel. They compare themselves and see what others don’t. We see someone beautiful, but they see stretch marks, gut hanging out, small bodily features that wouldn’t catch the average guy’s eye. That’s why some girls can’t take a compliment; they feel like they don’t deserve it.”

If you don’t know what it is like to feel this way, don’t tell me it will get better. It’s not a disease. Don’t judge what you don’t know.

But if you do know what it’s like, trust me when I tell you it gets better, because I’ve been in your shoes. I’ve walked that road, and some days, I still do.

My scars and my words prove it. And believe me when I tell you this:

One day, you will spread your wings and fly.

—————————————————————————————–

How has my life changed since I wrote this? Well, for one: I flew. I’m not going to put the whole story here, because it can be found in my post “Set a Fire.” But, to summarize: I’ve always been afraid of heights–not because of how high I was off the ground, but because of gravity, and because my desire to jump was always greater than my desire to live. Until one day, when I had no desire to try and die and instead wanted to sprout wings and fly. So, I did. And I haven’t really come down since–my feet are on the ground, but my head’s in the clouds. And I’m writing a book, because I’ve always wanted to do so, but I’ve never had the courage. Because what if my story’s not powerful enough? What if nobody cares about what I have to say?

But I’ve realized something. People out there have stories similar to mine, and some of these people don’t know how to deal with the pain they are feeling in a healthy way. I’ve found out how to put the pain I feel into words, and if I can change one person’s life, I will be happy.

One day, I spread my wings and flew!

Gene Pool

“Dear Je…”

“Hot food over here, cold food over there.”

My Grandfather was laughing so hard he couldn’t finish the prayer.

My Grandmother has always been a little hard of hearing. My Grandfather has always been a little hard of seeing. So between the two of them… they’re a perfect pair.

If that’s not the best way to describe my Grandparents, I don’t know what is. But allow me to continue.

My Grandfather is a well-educated, even-keeled man. He has a Bachelor’s, two Master’s, and a Doctorate. His official title is “Reverend Doctor Boppa Sir,” but we just call him “Boppa.” (Since I am the oldest grandchild on my mother’s side, I called all the shots). I’ve never heard him laugh, but I have heard him chuckle deeply. He may forget where he placed his keys, but if you ask him a question about anything he ever learned, he’ll remember the answer. He was a College Professor before he retired, and he was also head of the Religion and Humanities Department for a while. It should come as no surprise then that when I needed help writing a paper for one of my classes, I sought him out for help.

When I called him up and asked if I could “borrow some of his knowledge” (those were in fact my exact words), he didn’t sound too enthused. But I could sense excitement in his voice as he responded with a strong, “sure. When are you free?” When I showed up the next morning, he said it would take him a few minutes to find his notes. Not more than 30 seconds later he returned with a copy of all his lectures. (Clearly he knew exactly where they were, and clearly he was waiting for the day when one of his Grand-children would ask for his expertise on his specialty.)

Unless you are prepared to learn why you are wrong and are prepared to receive a lecture on what Grammar means, “where are you at?” is not the correct answer to use in my Grandfather’s presence. Yes, he was an English major in College. And in case you are wondering, I probably received my love for English from him. But that’s not all I received from him. We both love trivia and game shows, and we both think Jeopardy is fantastic. We both like puzzles of the jigsaw and brain varieties. And while he does his crosswords in pen, I do mine in pencil. And we both love a good game of scrabble. I beat him at Scrabble for the first time a few months ago. I was excited on the outside. He wasn’t. But, I know on the inside he was proud.

He plays Solitaire on his computer for hours, but he’s never lonely. He has seven Grandchildren. One of them shares his name. (One time my Grandmother was yelling at my Grandfather, and my Cousin put himself in time-out (ok, it was more than once)). I’m sure when we’re all together it feels like there are more than seven of us. Both of his daughters married Italian men, and Italians are good at being loud and eating.

My Grandmother knows how to cook. When you are at her house, you never go hungry. At her house, there is no such thing as a simple snack, because even snack is five courses. Phrases such as, “Grandma, I wanted a little scoop of ice-cream, not the whole tub,” are heard frequently. The candy jars are always full, and you always leave her house a few pounds heavier than when you came. She doesn’t know how to cook for two people; she only knows how to cook for a small army of people. And even though she has hearing aids, she may not hear you the first time you call. But when she does, she’ll be there immediately.

When I was smaller than I am now, I would curl up in her lap, and we would read books for hours. By the time I was too big to fit in her lap, we had three joke books memorized. That is why I’ll always understand the punch line before everyone else (living with my Dad may have helped my getting of punch lines too, but shhh. It’s a secret). She always gives the best advice: “Never get old, Kaleigh. Your memory starts to go/your knees get bad, etc.” I hate to tell her my short-term memory is not much better than that of a goldfish. I think I’ve inherited her bad knees, too. They are starting to mimic the sound of an old house.

Staying home from school because of sickness were always the best. It meant a free day at Grandma’s. She just knows how to take care of you. When I had my appendix out one Christmas Eve, all I wanted to do was see Grandma. So I ate that yucky hospital food. I peed in the stupid toilet. I took that painful walk. And even though it was 7:30 pm on Christmas Eve when I left that hospital, I went to Grandma’s, because she wanted to see me as much as I wanted to see her. Grandma makes everything better. And I’m not sure if it’s because she was a nurse, or it’s because she’s Grandma. I’m leaning toward the latter.

When she left her purse in the cart at K-mart, the first thing she thought was, “Oh no! The Grandkids!” She was more worried about not getting those pictures of her grandchildren back than she was about the credit cards. And if that’s not the perfect definition of Grandma, you need to change yours.

My Grandparents give more than they take. They’ve been to more concerts, school plays, soccer games, and piano recitals than I can count. They even came to my High School Graduation (bless their hearts)! They’ve let my sisters, cousins, and me spend the night. They even let me spend a week at their house, sleeping in one of their extra bed, eating their food, because they didn’t want me spending the week in an empty house (even though I am 19).

My Grandparents taught me what it means to love. They taught me love is in the little things, not necessarily the big. They taught me loving someone is not the same as liking someone. And you don’t always have to like someone, but you always have to love them.

My Grandparents are adorable. She calls him “dear.” He pours her coffee and opens the bottles she can’t. And sometimes when he’s going to meet my cousins’ school bus, he will pause at the door a little longer and say “bye” one more time.

So I know genes are inherited, but most behaviors are learned. And I want a marriage like theirs someday. I want to be like them someday. And I know life isn’t a competition, but I’m winning. Because when it comes to Grandparents, I have the best ones.

You Look Like a Leprechaun!

Have you ever laughed so hard you sound like a retarded seal?

I have. I do. All the time. When I laugh, I either blow a little bit more air out of my nose than usual, or I laugh so hard tears stream down my face, my face decides to do tomato impersonations, and my very distinct giggle turns into a deep laugh, which turns into absolutely no sound at all. I have been told I look like a leprechaun when I laugh. I have also been told my laugh makes other people laugh, which is a good thing… I guess?

I remember one time I was sitting in my college’s library, and I read something punny on the internet. And I laughed so hard. A few seconds later, one of my very dear friends came and found me. She told me, “I was sitting upstairs in the library, taking a nap, and I heard you laughing. So I had to come find you.”

…Gee, thanks. I laughed so loud and hard I woke you up from a nap. I was never self-conscious about my laugh before, but now I am. My laugh may be obnoxious, but hey, it’s better than the cackle I used to do. I’m moving up among the Ranks of Laughter. Gold star for me!…

Personally, I think laughter is great. It’s one of my favorite things to do (besides smiling and crying), and I believe everybody should have a healthy dose of it every day. If you live in my house, it’s not hard to do. Seriously, if you ever come over to dinner at my house, be prepared to have most of your dinner come out your nose.

There is no such thing as “normal” conversation at my house. Conversations at my house turn into stand up comedy routines pretty quickly. We use accents and different voices and hand motions and puns and one liners and more sarcasm than you can imagine. And we’re pretty much the stupidest bunch of geniuses you’ve ever met.

But this post is not about that. My post is about this picture one of my Facebook friends dared me to make my profile: 1005200_10201617908555441_329423959_n

This picture was taken after I had had a particularly difficult day, which, I’m sure you know if you’ve read any of my other blog posts, occurs frequently.

I once read somewhere smiling is the easiest way to trick yourself into being happy. It’s as if the simple act of smiling is enough to release Magical Happy Hormones into your bloodstream. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it worked that day. The smile turned into a deep fit of laughter, which is not uncommon. Because, as my family can tell you, I’ve been known to start laughing hysterically for no reason.

Some days, smiling is the last thing I want to do. Some days my Depression is so bad it’s hard for me to get out of bed. Some days I hardly ever smile. But that’s ok, because some days I can’t stop smiling.

2 weeks ago, I had to be to work at 6:30 in the morning, and I was extremely un-smiley (mostly because I am the complete opposite of a morning person. I’m as close to being a morning person as a mouse is to being a blue whale).

But, by the time the end of my shift rolled around I couldn’t stop smiling. I had a conversation with Rudy the Janitor, and we were discussing my boyfriend situation. I told him I didn’t have one. To which he replied, “Oh. I’m sure you have two or three. They just haven’t introduced themselves yet. I mean, you sit in the Pearce Coffee Shop all day, staring out the window with a big smile on your face. It’s like you’re so happy to be here and are so content to just sit, think, and watch the world around you. You’re just so content and relaxed and studying hard, all while daydreaming. And you’re always smiling. It’s like you’re telling yourself stories in your head, which, since you’re an English Major, you probably are. That’s the kind of girl most guys want. They’re just too scared to admit it. Keep smiling! It lights up the room!”

This information had me smiling all day for two reasons.

1. Boys.

and 2. Random compliments are fan-super-tastic!

For the longest time I didn’t think I’d ever laugh and smile again. I thought my past prohibited me from ever feeling happiness. I thought my hurt and pain was too great to ever overcome. And I thought beauty was only reserved for those who were never ugly.

But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s life is beautiful. I’ve learned how to feel pain, and I’ve learned how to feel joy. And I will keep smiling, because one day the one whom God has planned for me will reveal himself.

I just hope his laugh is as joy-filled and obnoxious as mine!