My whole life I have pushed and fought for wholeness. For freedom: a sense that I am enough. Acceptable. Loveable as is. The belief that even if I am a little broken and fragile that I can still do this thing called life. I so clearly remember the day I realized I couldn’t try to kill myself again.
I would have to find a way to live.
But there have been many times since then that if someone had offered me a little blue pill to help me escape, I may just have taken them up on the offer. I hate admitting that. I hate it for my family’s sake and because it feels so weak and shameful and scary to admit. But I don’t think I am alone. So I share this FOR THE SAKE OF MY FAMILY – my children and my siblings and anyone else reading who looks around and thinks everyone else but them seems to have mastered this whole joyful living business.
And there is hope – I have slowly learned that I have the ability to face scary emotions and fear head-on without falling deep and permanently into that abyss. I have learned to love myself – all of me, not just the glossier bits that are ‘holy and sanctified’. I have learned to offer myself kindness and respect and have developed practices that help keep me steady and sane. And I am learning that one of the ways I heal and fight for wellness for myself and others is through the power of words. Talking and writing about things more comfortably swept under the rug.
I choose to use my voice to call others to freedom even as I hear a voice calling me. Wooing me.
I bounced from addiction to addiction to help manage my pain and sense of inadequacy. Not addiction as in heroin – but things that would temporarily numb the pain (binge eating, alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, television) or provide a sense of control (not eating, obsessive exercise, perfectionism, forsaking sleep to stay on top of homeschool plans or housework, keeping suitcases packed with essentials for the next emergency).
I loved lists and rules that attempted to distill the ‘how-to of life’ into 7 Simple Steps. I read all the books, gleaning wisdom from those who had gone before me, those who had studied, built healthy families, healed themselves and called themselves experts – on religion, homeschooling, finances, personal-growth, whatever.
And honestly, all the books and learning did help. Bit by bit. And I still love lists. And faith anchored me – I do not think I would be alive today if it weren’t for my faith; a belief in something bigger than myself and that all life, my life, has purpose. And I continue to study in the realm of Holistic Health because it provides a lifeline. It helps me advocate for myself and keeps me taking the next step and the next. And it gives me opportunity to teach that which I need myself. It provides release for the fire in my belly that screams YOU ARE ENOUGH!
You do not have to be prettier, smarter, or less emotional, stronger, take up less space, or be less of a hot-mess than you currently are to deserve love. To deserve life. To be treated with kindness. To treat yourself with kindness.
Yet all of the learning and the church stuff also contributed to my bondage. I learned how to perform. How to be a good girl and follow rules and jump through hoops and not rock the boat. How to say yes to another volunteer opportunity even though it would deplete me and I was crumbling inside and might just come home and spill rage all over my family. I learned to hide my wounds and my struggle because someone might tell me it was the devil telling me lies instead of crying with me and telling me they had been there. That it would be ok. Or it might not. But that they would stand with me anyways.
I needed fewer pat answers and more compassion. I needed safe space to ask hard questions and wrestle with things and admit that I doubt and fear and sometimes want to run away from it all.
And I am learning to trust others more. To not judge them too quickly. To forgive and understand that we are all doing our best- aware that I fail others all the time; I don’t know the right thing to say or I don’t have the patience for them. But also to peel off the layers of self-protection, painful strip by painful strip, and let the chips fall where they may. And above all, to keep moving forward on my journey to freedom, taking as many with me as I possibly can but also realizing that everyone must choose for themselves. Letting go of everything that shackles me.
Finally understanding that every one of my cracks and jagged edges allow light to spill out and over. To water another parched or barren human being.
There are seasons where I feel weary and battered and take refuge for a while to get patched up. Nourished and restored. Sometimes I linger long. Then I pick myself up and continue the rugged journey, hungry to finally, one day, arrive at the land of freedom.
A fellow sojourner,
*photo from magdeleine.co