The Trip that Changed Me

It’s been 3.5 years since I tried to kill myself. And when people ask me how I’m doing, I have no idea if they want a truthful answer or the “I’m fine” answer. Truth be told, I have no idea how I’m doing. Because it all comes in waves–feelings, flashbacks, and inner battles continue day in and day out: high tide and low tide. And sometimes everything is so overwhelming, I feel like I’m drowning, and I can’t get out of bed. But I can’t sleep either, because when I close my eyes, there’s darkness, and darkness is where the monsters live. And I stopped looking for monsters under my bed a long time ago when I realized they were inside of me.

I’ve been told I have a good memory, but it’s a blessing and a curse, because I can recall every word spoken to me, every unwanted touch forced upon me. It’s in these moments when I wonder if this is all life has to offer me. It’s in these moments when I wonder if the world would be better off without me. Because I was told once, 5 years ago, no one could love a broken girl, and sometimes in my moments of pain, anguish and despair, I believe these words to be true. When your 13 almost 14 and someone tells you these things, you’re going to believe them. And in the moments when hope seems lost, I’m 13 almost 14 again, and in my darkest moments, I’m 15 and ready to end it all.

And sometimes I used to list the ways I wasn’t beautiful on my skin as I cut myself open with the razor of hate and carved all the names I’ve been called into my skin. And sometimes I used to skip meals for weeks on end, wondering to myself “Am I beautiful now?” Sometimes I still wonder if I’m too broken to be beautiful. Sometimes I wonder if my scares make me ugly. Then I look at my wrist and see the scar from the night of what I thought was my last fight, and all I see is strength. So I fight this battle everyday, because I’ve seen the valleys and I’ve seen the heights, and out of brokenness comes beauty.

And all I ever wanted to be was beautiful.

And I know rain can wash things clean if you just let it. So sometimes I find myself wishing for a hurricane, because I need to start again. And I find myself rejoicing in the small victories, because with each one I find myself a little closer to healing. When this hurricane of healing comes, when I become this hollowed out structure of a building that is no longer standing, I will rebuild. Because with re-birth and rebuilding comes beauty.

I will be beautiful again.

I wrote this particular poem while I was in Guatemala after seeing a man that resembled one of my attackers. And it’s amazing how God works, because the week before I left, I found my suicide note (you can read that story here).
And before I left, I was just hoping I would find healing, which I did, and that’s a great story (the full version can be read here).

But to sum it up: God worked in my life as I was working in other people’s lives. When we went to serve dinner at the dump, I climbed on top of the bus and saw the mountains behind the dump. I was reminded of how great our God is. I was reminded of how beauty can grow alongside brokenness and how out of brokenness can come beauty. And in that instant, I felt a huge weight come off my shoulders: I could breathe easily again.

But the most healing came when I went to the roof of a mall. Because normally when I get to high places, I have the overwhelming urge to jump, but this time, I didn’t. Instantly, I felt this sense of calmness; I felt this wave of healing come over me, and it was beautiful.

I went to Guatemala broken and trying to heal. I went to Guatemala not at all convinced of my beauty. I came back from Guatemala a changed person. I was healed (not completely, but enough). I am satisfied with who I am. I know God will use my story to help others. I have found my beauty, and I’ve never been prouder of who I am.

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Set a Fire

*in response to the question: What have you been up to lately?

No mejor lugar para estar.
No mejor lugar para estar.
No mejor lugar para estar.
Que escuchando tu voz
Escuchando tu voz.

Manda un fuego a mi vida
Que no puedo contener y controlar.
Quiero más de Dios.
Quiero más de Dios.

Lately, I’ve spent time in a country whose airport sleeps at 8:00 at night. I’ve spent time in a country with a group of people who’ve laughed with me, cried with me, and have watched me grow. And I don’t know how I’m going to describe to you this feeling I have, what I’ve experienced over the last two weeks, because unless you were there with me, you won’t understand. But, I’m going to try my best, because it’s a good story.

There’s something wonderful about being the outsider in a group, and I didn’t realize what it was until I went on this trip. By being on the outside, I was able to hang out with wonderful children like these (in Santa Cruz and then Guatemala City):
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076

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Because being on the outside allowed children who were on the outside to be accepted for who they are, to be loved for who they are without judgement.

And it wasn’t just lovin’ on the kids that changed my life, it was being able to share my journey with a group of 20-something other team members that created the most change. Because sometimes working in other peoples’ lives allows God to work in yours. And so he did.

Because one day in the village of Santa Cruz, I shared my Testimony with the Junior Highers. And there’s something powerful about hearing your story repeated back to you in a language you’re not fluent in. There’s something about it that makes it more tangible, more real, and much harder to hear.

And there’s something powerful about sharing some of your poems with a group of 20-something people who you’re just beginning to call your friends. Because being able to trust anybody after what you’ve been through is a big step. There’s something powerful about being able to say, “Hey, I’m not doing ok today. On a scale from 1-10, I’m probably a 2, and I don’t know why. It could be because of this guy I saw back there who looks like someone I’d much rather forget. Or it could be because I’m out of my comfort zone, and I keep having flashbacks. I’d much rather not be this way, but I am, so I hope you can love me anyway.”

And there’s healing power in going to the dump and feeding the hungry, because despite not ever having enough, they are happy and they have so much faith that God will provide, which is more than I can say I have. Because some days, I use up all my faith getting out of bed, and here are these people who have so little, but have enough faith to move mountains.

Speaking of mountains, the way you can climb up on top of the bus in the dump and see the mountains is beautiful. The way the poor live inside the dump, between the mountains is inspiring. Because beauty and brokenness can live alongside each other, and out of brokenness comes beauty. And that’s all I really want for my life: I want to be beautiful despite my brokenness.

And there’s something magical in the beauty of a city seen from the roof of a mall that made me want to climb to the top despite my crippling fear of heights(which is really more of a fear of trying to die). And for the first time in a long time, I didn’t want to jump, which is how I know this trip changed me, because when I told my 20-something new friends this story, they all said, “Praise, God Almighty.”

And indeed, Praise be. Because life is a journey, and I’m not walking it alone. I have more friends than I can count, more memories than I can write about, and more things than I could possibly need.

Because there in Guatemala, the people live on “not enough,” while here we have plenty. And after seeing this, it’s making living here in America less satisfying to me. Because I’m not always thankful for what I have, and there some nights they go to bed hungry. And I’d most likely, definitely go back there again.

No place I’d rather be.
No place I’d rather be.
No place I’d rather be.
Than here in your love.
Here in your love.

Set a fire down in my soul
that I can’t contain, that I can’t control.
I want more of you, God.
I want more of you, God.

I spent the first two days of the trip counting down the days until I could return home, and now that I’m home, I’m not satisfied. There’s a fire within me that I can’t contain, and I can’t control. So now I’m counting down the days until I can return to Guatemala, and since I don’t know when that is, I could be counting for a while. But I will continue to count everyday, because I left a part of my heart there in Guatemala, and it will continue to beat everyday until I return.

So, don’t cry for me, Guatemala. I’ll be back again someday.