A Dilemma

For the last several months, I’ve been trying to keep up with working a full time job while simultaneously growing and maintaining my personal brand. It’s been a challenge, having little to do with time and more so with having energy. I knew that I would only be able to blog at least once or twice a month, and for the most part I’m okay with that. Most of the (self-imposed) pressure comes from trying to be consistent with Facebook and Instagram, though lately I’ve felt insecure and even afraid to post certain things:

Pushback (“Why are you always so dramatic? Can’t you ever say something positive about life?”).

Wondering if I’m oversharing, period.

Disliking how my voice sounds on recordings (why I’m hesitant to dive into Instagram stories and Youtube).

Not wanting to live life entirely through a filter, spending present moments wondering whether or not it would make for good writing or some kind of posting.

And not feeling entirely ready.

Yet there’s a nagging voice in the back of my head, one reminiscent of my first professional venture in marketing: Be one with social media. If you’re stats aren’t going up, you’re not doing something right. You’re supposed to get better and better!

What is better, if it makes you feel like you’re just a voice in one respect, and a face in another?

Do followers, shares, and engagement really matter if the numbers behind it are constantly going up and down?

And if you succeed at something, whether it’s ending up on a best-seller list or something going viral, do you keep at it while the going is good, or do you take a breath and collect yourself first?

The answer is different for every artist, but it comes down to this: tell the truth, and the rest will take care of itself. Be genuine. Engage when you feel led to do so. But don’t get so caught up in the neon glow of internet fame where you start to slide from creation to production.

Creativity is an expression from your heart, for yourself. Production is making things pretty, and it becomes more about the masses. Yes that first part is important, but not at the expense of feeling like you’re feeding into a machine for the sake of keeping your audience happy and fed. You are a human being before you are a brand.

Deadlines are there for a reason, and discipline should be cultivated. But there is grace for those who don’t post exactly the same number of times per week, as well as those who love to write but seek to balance living life as much as they write about it. There is power in not letting stats and strategy dictate how you use your gifts, and there is power in refusing to apologize for rest and figuring out what truly works for you.

I know I am; I would love to find a mentor and attend events where creatives can encourage and help each other out. As much as I love pouring into people, I need to have those same things being done for me too.

At the heart of it all, I’m a storyteller, and I want to be able to tell my story with as much truth and love as possible. If those things are missing, and if this so-called pressure becomes too great, then I’m obviously not doing it for the right reasons.

Dig. Sift. And then speak.

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What Happened to ‘Hello’?

Did anyone ever teach you how to properly talk to a woman?

It seemed witty enough when getting hit on in a bar or catcalled in the street, but most of the time I’d forget or was more focused on getting out of the situation as fast as possible. I didn’t feel safe enough to engage, nor was in right headspace to want to educate anyone. In my early twenties, it was a comeback meant to shut the guy up and nothing more. Yet I’m now a working woman who relies on walking and public transit, and it’s still a genuine question that echoes in the back of my mind.

Why do men tell women to “smile” when they have no idea what kind of day they’ve had, or the circumstances they might be experiencing?

Why do men call a woman beautiful or sexy, when they don’t even truly know what makes her so? And what about at first sight makes this so-called flattery appropriate?

And while rejection stings, why get so angry to the point of causing emotional and even physical harm?

I’ve had enough conversations to realize that it comes down to entitlement and ego; I want this, and therefore I deserve to get it. If you don’t like or appreciate my attention, then you deserve to be punished.

It’s disgusting and degrading; perhaps men who act this way already know this and don’t care, but I’m going to take the human to human approach anyway:

Life is not fair, and the world does not owe you anything. You can have back luck and a bad lot, but that does not give you the right to put that pain onto others, particularly those you don’t know. Being a good person does not always lead to the rewards that we believe we should receive, and there comes a point when you have to face your bullshit and admit that you just might be part of the problem. If you want to experience genuine human interaction, learn how to pay attention and pick up on social cues. But more importantly, learn how to listen and respect boundaries, even if you don’t agree with them.

And if you’re genuinely looking for a date, stop assuming that sidewalks, public transit, and various places of busyness are the only places you can go. I’m not opposed to meet-cutes, but there’s a huge difference between organic introduction and the feeling of being trapped to the point of questioning your physical safety. A couple of years ago, I went to a Starbucks on my lunch break for a phone interview. A man approached me saying that he had a question, and I politely tried to explain that it wasn’t a good time. He kept coming up to me throughout the phone call trying to ask me things, and then kept me in full view as he walked away again. I could tell that he was going to try to follow me out the door, so I instinctively went toward the front counter to explain the situation to a barista. I’m grateful that a couple sitting nearby saw what was happening, and offered to walk me back the office where I was interning at.

Being stuck between trusting my instincts and sparing a stranger’s feelings is exhausting; you should be ashamed if you ever put someone there.

There’s a popular quote that if you see something beautiful in someone, speak it. Most of the time I agree with it, though it’s definitely not applicable or appropriate when you don’t even know their name. If the first words out of a guy’s mouth are “Hey beautiful” (or something to that effect, whether online or in person), I cringe and the alarm bells automatically start going off. I absolutely hate it, but it’s my way of being able to tell when it’s meaningful or when that person is trying to butter me up. There’s a time and a place for commenting on a woman’s physical appearance, and a first meeting is not one of them.

In most situations, a simple hello or making eye contact will suffice; no pick-up lines or clever come-on’s necessary.

If she doesn’t respond or engage, you leave her alone, full stop. She might not want to talk or meet anyone. She might not be available. Whatever it is, she’s not interested and that’s all you need to know.

Being powerful does not make you better than anyone.

And wielding that power to dehumanize and harm others does not make you a man.

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I’m aware that men experience harassment as well, but I’m only qualified to speak for myself and as a woman. Debating on who has it worse does not negate the gravity of harassment, and there should be no competition over who deserves more compassion. Reaction to rejection by intimidation and/or violence is never okay, and the only way to get that message across is by standing together.

It might take a generation or two to find a way forward. In theory, sticking up for oneself is ideal, but it’s an entirely different story when strength and size come into play. As I write, it’s easy to say that I would use self-defense techniques that I’ve learned over the years, but what about when anxiety kicks in or there’s nowhere for me to run? You can’t possibly know how you’ll exactly you’ll handle an aggressor unless you’re looking right at them.

One could argue that consequences infringe on the first amendment, but a freedom is a freedom until it is abused. All I want to do is to get from point A to point B safely and peacefully, and respecting that shouldn’t be so difficult.

I initially wanted to write more, but the different aspects of harassment, assault, and #MeToo became too much to unpack in one piece, so I’ve decided to split it up. I’ve been quiet as I’ve processed the daily headlines in conjunction with my own experiences, and want to respond rather than just react.

“Let Go, Let God” (And Other Things I’ve Learned)

A prompt and link-up, originally posted by Addie Zierman; I didn’t have time to join the official  train, but this nevertheless has been poking at me for a while.

 

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Let Go, Let God.

It was out of a Christian romance novel, spoken by the grandmother of a bride leading up to her wedding day. Calming and a lot less cliche than other phrases I’d grown accustomed to, it piqued an interest but I didn’t make much of it. A few years later, as I was still learning the ropes of being a freshman in college, I began to remind myself to “do what you can, and let God take care of the rest.” It seemed powerful enough, giving me peace and reassurance on some physically draining days and even lonelier nights. The words themselves have taken different shapes over the years, but the truth is still the same:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).

I will hold you by your right hand, and I will guide you (Isaiah 41:10).

These verses have become pearls that I hold dearly, as I find myself in a position similar to eight years ago: this season of life is wonderful, but it’s also incredibly exhausting. The days (and tasks that come with it) are incredibly long and demanding, summoning a kind of strength that wouldn’t be possible without such promises. There’s a lot of joy in having a more defined purpose (professionally), though my anxiety has skyrocketed because everything involved is rather unpredictable. I have a less active social life because both my body and brain are so tired, where I’m less inclined to plan things and have even skipped out on birthday celebrations because I don’t want my immune system to crash. And while I have never worn busyness like a badge of honor, I have experienced the guilt that comes with saying “no” or “another time.” I have to trust that people will understand that I’m only practicing self-care, and that I shouldn’t spend my energy on those that don’t.

Of course that kind of surrender feels passive at times; oh, our country is in chaos and everybody wants to be savage and aloof, but God will fix it all. We don’t have to take care of the planet because one day He’ll wipe it all out. And there’s no need to believe in modern medicine because faith is always more than enough.

Everybody wants a miracle, but nobody actually wants to be a miracle.

When I show up and do my part, so does He. Wherever I go, He will meet me there (even if it is in the wrong direction). The question is knowing what my part is in whatever I’m being led or called to, and how do I make a difference without compromising my mental health?

For someone who battles anxiousness on a daily basis (and feels like she has to be accountable to everything), there is ultimately comfort in knowing I can only do so much. It’s a relief to be reminded that there are often other people and other factors involved, and one cannot bear the weight of an entire situation or relationship.

There is room for both intention in the future, and contentment in the present season.

And there is room for both comfort and confliction.

The Shape of Grief

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A somewhat balmy and overcast Saturday morning, just a day or so before his twenty-fourth birthday. I shuffled through grass and sand, greeting and hugging those I hadn’t seen since the inaugural memorial fishing tournament the previous year. While sitting down and waiting for a few others to return from fishing, I mentally began going through the names of people that I hadn’t said hello to. Oh, I need to go say hi to Connor!

It was subconscious, and the reality hit me just as quickly as the original thought had come up. Connor was the reason we were all there, casting lines, reminiscing and taking in things that had been added to the garden. We were celebrating another year of his life, despite that he wasn’t able to celebrate here with us on earth.

Momentarily panic-stricken, I didn’t know whether to cry or merely shrug it off. The former would have been more than appropriate, but I felt guilty for wanting to do so randomly and in such a public place. Later on, I would feel guilty for not crying, but in that moment, I grabbed a Miller Lite (one of his beers of choice, if I remember correctly) and tried to see all the construction business taking place across the lake at my childhood home.

How has it been two years? A question repeatedly asked at Country Thunder, a rich summer tradition and the last place I saw him alive. I was adamant on staying for Luke Bryan, and raised a glass with the best of them as I was reminded I loved this music so much in the first place. I wanted to honor two great men that were taken from this world much too soon, who left an imprint on my life and memories I still recall to this very day.

It’s not just the bitter sweetness of birthdays, weddings, or long-standing traditions. It’s when your world, your perspective, your life as you know it has changed, but everything else around you acts like never nothing. You suddenly feel distant from those who haven’t experienced it, and truly the only way to understand it is if and when you go through it. The concept of not taking anything for granted and loving people while you have them—most of the time it’s just lip service until you’ve been wrecked to your shoes by a sudden loss or looked death in the face. Tack on the popularity of being savage versus sensitive, and that’s a whole other wall to break through.

It’s when you know you’re not the only one going through it, but feeling like you’re the only one willing to openly and honestly talk about it.

Reminiscing has been, and continues to be a saving grace. I didn’t get to do that at twenty-one, when a friend from high schooll was killed in a drunk driving accident. It helps me to see that living counts for something, even in the moments that made you angry or pissed off, but seem so small now.

There is no formula for grief; it is not linear, and most of the time it’s not temporary. Books like Option B and The Colors of Goodbye are helpful, but ultimately the best thing I can do is face the waves when they come. Sometimes I just bob with it, like when I randomly get the sniffles and goosebumps at work and can act like I’m fighting a cold. But if I hear Eric Church or Cole Swindell, it’s best to just hold me and let me cry it out.

I learned a long time ago not to be afraid of emotion, and the discomfort that often comes with it. I don’t know how to answer, “Why do I get my cat back but not my son?” (A miracle that is not mine to share), but I say without question that you do not tell a parent when or even if they should stop grieving the loss of their child (and vice versa) Don’t assume that talking about a lost love one always makes people sad or brings back bad memories; at the very least, it never hurts to ask. And while we all grieve differently, there’s a huge difference between doing so privately and full-out running away from it.

There is room for both joy and pain, particularly when it comes to navigating life after tragedy. It doesn’t have to be a blessing or a gift right away, nor might it ever be. Sometimes it just the unfortunate and painful reality that has to be dealt with.

I am grateful that Connor’s life has brought me closer to those whom I’ve known since I was a baby, and brought me peace with various situations that I’ve struggled with up until then. And I will always refer to our little group of siblings as the seven of us, nothing less.

He has given me a new appreciation for where I grew up, a place that I wanted to leave behind completely beforehand.

I am grateful for the garden created in his honor, a place that I can hopefully bring my future partner and children to someday.

And I am grateful for his spirit; a spirit that I will not apologize for trying to keep alive, whether it’s through the stories I tell about my life, or the motivation to give love and to love deeply.

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Take care of them, Lord.

Amen.

Intent and Content

 

 

 

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Always a dreamer

Mildly ambitious

But a quiet one

Knowing that what sat in the depths and crevices

Was sacred

 

Surrounded by cautious skeptics

Reminded of her limitations

And not to wear her heart where it could be shattered

So she learned to speak

Only when and where encouragement flowed

 

From a girl with an impressionable sponge of a mind

To a woman with a soft heart and a tough attitude

Only bound by what she allows

But when asked about her plans

She goes quiet again

Trying to balance between wants and blessings

Already bestowed

Afraid of destroying possibilities

 

Two dreams

May her words flow from pen to paper

So that others may hear and be impacted

Perhaps even changed

May her perspective make them think

And move the world towards greater things

May love grow

Between her and another man

Deep with roots so strong

A love of acceptance and grace

But also motivation, courage, support, and strength

May this love be a partnership

A partner with whom she can build a future

Not just to bridge the disconnect and pass the time

But to hold, cherish, and keep

 

Before her Creator

Now audaciously in prayer

Let it be so and be blessed

Lead me and give me the courage to follow

For you have the final word

And your will be done

Going Back To Church (Or Trying To)

 

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I go to church, but I have not gone regularly since I was seventeen years old.

Around the 2008 election, I began to hear the hissing whispers of what now seems to define the Evangelical Christian movement on the cultural landscape: You have to be a Conservative Republican. Pro-life and Anti-Abortion. Do not support marriage that does not involve a man and a woman. And having sex before that means you will not have anything to give to your future spouse (especially if you are a woman). The Bible is clear on X, Y, and Z. If you don’t fully believe in any of these things, you must not truly love Jesus.

Uh, what?

That led to an even bigger question: should I believe these things because I feel that they truly right? Or have I just been spoon-fed every Sunday to do/say what a pastor tells me to?

I froze, spiritually, as if merely speaking that out loud turned me into an outsider. I was terrified to bring it up with anyone, given the friendships I’d cultivated since that first summer at a youth group camp were beginning to fade and I feared being brushed off and simply told to “check the Bible.” It seemed much easier to just sleep in, rather than try to sing words that sounded hallow or nod along to a message aimed at the absolutes rather than those who dare question and investigate.

God and church. Church and God. Such an intertwine was all I had known back then, and needed to take time to untangle.

College made me both curious and apprehensive to see what faith looked on campus, attending various groups and giving each one a genuine try. There was an emphasis on being different, and I already was fighting a separate battle with unintentionally standing out in the face of ignorance. There was always something off about the atmosphere, a superior us versus them mentality. I was only a freshman, and didn’t want to get pitted against a place I was just beginning to love and would be at for the next four years. I would attend Sunday services every so often, but continued to keep lingering doubts to myself. I wanted belonging, but not enough to risk rejection.

I was far from the pews, but not from the foundation; I still prayed regularly, kept a journal, and read the Bible. I knew that I needed God, but I also needed to see what that looked like between Sundays. I had lived a shelter life as a young girl, and didn’t want to be confined by four walls while on my own. I still had many a spiritual conversation in bars, coffee shops, and even after a weekly summertime tradition of The Bachelorette.  I’m grateful for the friends that reassured me this season was normal and human and nothing to be ashamed of.

A transitional nudging led me to one of the most popular megachurches in my local area, yet real connections were sparse, and I kept wondering if I would ever find a gathering place to call home, especially as I was evolving into adulthood.

Writing this, home seems to look like a hodgepodge of different cultures and ethnicities, neighborhoods that have their own distinct vibe and flavor. Whenever the fundamentalist/progressive divide becomes apparent, I remember how important it is to be aware, but not afraid (at least to the point of running away from real community). I don’t see the point in debating, because ultimately we can have the same beliefs but different convictions on how to live out those beliefs. I’ve learned that it’s okay to disagree with those you admire, and still gain knowledge and wisdom from them. But yet I cannot deny what has been tugging at the core of my soul for a long time:

There are some things that are just between a person and God, whether it has to do with their body or their sexuality. Sometimes, “speaking the truth in love” means simply listening, and remembering that we humans have a limited perspective in comparison to the One who created us.

Leaving church (for however long) does not equate to abandoning God. Yes, we are called to gather together, but that is no reason to invalidate wounds, pain, and abuse caused by it. There will be seasons where Jesus Calling and online podcasts feel safer than walking through sanctuary doors.

Anxiety, depression, and a host of other mental health struggles have absolutely NOTHING to do with a lack of faith. Pastors are not the same as doctors or psychiatrists, and be wary of those who act like they are. It is wise to seek counseling, and it is just as wise to take medication if you feel moved to do so.

If you don’t want to be lumped in with those that feel they need to hate certain groups of people in order to be “good Christians”, then stand up and live out who you say you are.

I am still wrestling with a lot, especially when it comes to gray, or even flat out bad theology. I don’t like the term “broken” because of how it was used against me as a young girl by those that bullied and ultimately misunderstood me. Phrases like “hungry” or “thirsty” often make me want to draw closer to God than the former; reminding me that I still desperately need Him without feeling less than human.

I could never be an atheist; I have been through too much and experienced enough miracles to know that we didn’t just get here by simply appearing out of nowhere. There is something much bigger than you and I, although I cannot pretend to understand or comprehend all of it. That is why faith is often referred to as a mystery.

Funny how when I first started attending church, I sought out a safe place from what I had no control over. Nearly ten years later, I find myself in similar circumstances, though my brain is still a sponge.

I still have questions and am skeptical at times, but the beauty of faith is being able to discuss it all on a deeper level and be able to grow from it. Wherever my journey takes me, I trust that what is hurt will lead to healing, and what needs transforming will lead to grace.

When Recovery Is Unconventional

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Trigger warning: Discusses specific eating disorders; please read with care.

May 17th was the day I graduated college, and three years later would also become the day I would admit to struggling with multiple eating disorders.

I’ve lived an unconventional life, realizing over the last year that recovery is no exception. It is not by choice, but rather trying to make the best of my financial situation and the resources that I could afford. There’s a common misconception that everyone who suffers at the hands of this monster automatically goes to treatment, does what they need to do, and then comes out one hundred percent behavior free. That kind of work and healing is nothing close to linear, and to expect that (if not demand it) is completely off-the-wall.

I had no idea how to process it at first; this was another layer of stigma on top of recently prescribed medication for depression and anxiety, along with already dealing with a physical handicap. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, I allowed myself to believe that I wasn’t ‘sick’ enough, and that I didn’t need professional guidance when it came to proper nutrition and health. The battle between the ED-oriented part of my brain and the rational part raged on, with no accountability or speaking truth on a regular basis. Anorexia continued to scream that finding a job was more important than making time for a proper breakfast and lunch, sometimes even dinner. When trying to eat, I kept avoiding certain foods because of their texture or packaging. Scales and weight brought on a weird mix of feelings; automatic happiness when the number down, and a mild freak out if it went up. It told me that all I had to offer was my body, whether that related to men or general attractiveness. For most of my life, that’s all I’ve ever known.

I began attending a series of twelve step meetings at a local health center, and initially connected with a sponsor. However, there were few boundaries in place and eventually I had to put distance between us due to her projecting aggression over how I should navigate the complexities of mental illness. My experience with her left a bad mark on group meetings and mentorship, and it was difficult to be vulnerable without the fear of being judged or criticized for not getting help ‘the right way.’ For a while, I stopped going all together.

Life ebbed and flowed, and the disorders seemed to be buried under work and weekend activities. Until mid-March, when I came home from a lackluster date and began using behaviors. I’d had the occasional slip up, but I knew it was bad this time around because I didn’t care what happened, or where it would lead to after.

It was a full-blown relapse.

It felt like a setback at first, but in hindsight it was more of a come-through. I was tired of caving into the pressure of putting up and shutting up, of putting off doing what was necessary because not everyone around me understood it. Church is great, and therapy is wonderful, but oversimplifying and relying on sheer willpower will only carry me so far. In other words, I can’t do this all by myself, and I need help from a specialist who’s trained to go up against this toxic disease.

But that’s just the physical aspect of it, and the psychological is just as important: practicing self-compassion is a lot more feasible than trying to fully love what you’ve been told to hate or change. Letting go of perfectionism and no longer taking responsibility for the actions or behaviors of others.

Recovery at its core is really the practice of imperfection in the journey of getting it right. And the more anyone tries to fit into the ideals of recovery, the less like they’ll fully recover.

There’s no timeline, and getting better is more of a lifestyle then a destination. I don’t get triggered easily, but the major ones can be relentless; that means I engage differently with alcohol, busyness, relationships, and even sex. If I sense that any part of me has to be compromised or that my body becomes the central focus, I’m not going to go there. There is such a thing as too much compassion (or trying to make something work) and not enough boundaries. If it means I’m ‘boring’ or ‘selfish,’ so be it.  Trying not to be either was how I got sick in the first place.

It’s literally all one day at a time. And if anyone asks me how long or when, I’m perfectly fine with saying I don’t know

ldn’t be here without my support system, those that walk alongside me and sit with me in the uncertainty, rather than try to fix me or sweep the issue under the rug. I can only imagine how hard it is to be a parent, friend, spouse, or partner in this kind of situation, and feel helpless along with it. But there’s always something you can do, whether it’s affirmation of who they are (and whose they are), educating yourself about eating disorders, attending meetings or appointments, or doing something with them that makes them happy. It feels good when a loved one tells me that they’re proud of me, or is willing to literally hold me through the physical discomfort of trying to eat a full meal. It’s better to ask question than make assumptions, and please don’t ever assume what they need or don’t need.

Recently, I went to Florida for the first time in over a decade, and wanted to celebrate the one year mark at Disney World. I was a bit of a pain in the ass about it for most of the week, but I didn’t want to come right out and say why it was so important to me. Eventually we made it to the Magic Kingdom fireworks, and I quietly cried tears of joy and gratitude. I’m still working on doing things for myself, even at the risk of being told no or looked down on for it.

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When I’m ready and strong enough, I’d like to use my writing to advocate for those in unique situations, as I’ve been. We talk about overcoming stigma, how to go about getting the necessary help, and how to keep pursuing it even if you don’t have the best insurance coverage or have to travel a good distance. It’s daunting and overwhelming, and part of me still digs my heels in when I think about the steps I’ll have to take, and what I have yet to go through.

A friend once told me that fire softens steel, but then it comes back stronger. He said that was me as a whole, and I choose to hold onto that. Recovery is flexible, and that’s what ultimately makes it possible.

Beauty in Affirmation

 

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Bombarded my myths

And society tricks

Drenched in perfume

Permed and wearing glasses

Sponging whatever they said

About what it meant to be a lady and a girl

 

Glitter and tears stung my eyes

Stand up straight and walk right

You want help?

They’ll fix you

Go fix your legs

Lose yourself

Until awakened by faith

 

You’ve got a figure

Cover up

Slinky dresses and corsages are the exception

Thick eyeliner and a faux glow perpetuate confidence

The edge of childhood and woman

Longing to be someone else

 

Leaving home, a teen no more

Tops get lower

Lips get drunker

Wandering eyes

Compliments like butter

But skin keeps getting thinner

And the mind sinks deeper

 

Taking a warrior pose

Seeing the outline of my bones

Side pinches, measurements, and anxiety

Are what I’ve come to know

A shell of sorts, I search my soul

Sick

Tired

Hell

 

What is beauty?

Only seems to be reflected by those looking back at me

Mirrors can lie

Scales can cheat

But the heart still beats

To the beat of my own personality

Kindness, courage, and confidence

The best accessories

 

Blessed by perspective

Not all can comprehend

Where I’ve been and how I got here

Testaments to how I’ve loved and lived

Fiercely, deeply, evolving

 

Created to create art

For a purpose

Speaking words of truth

A light and hopeful breath of fresh air

 

Beautiful, Blessed, Beloved

Remember it always

Wear it well

Live it out loud

Beautiful, Blessed, Beloved

By God

By truth

From above

Until Kingdom come

What We Deserve, and What Actually We Need

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From brooding social media posts to well meaning-confidantes, it’s everywhere: Know your worth. Never Settle. You deserve the best (or better). For most of my life, particularly in my twenties, none of those things have ever sat well with me. Entitlement affects all generations for a number reasons, but our current era is awash with turned up noses and eyes avoiding the mirror, especially when it comes to both personal and professional relationships.

‘Deserving’ anything perpetuates this idea that we should only give in order to get something back.

That the only reason to be good to people or do good things for them is for recognition, validation, and affection.

That it’s everyone else’s job/responsibility to show up and be able to provide everything, and to do so perfectly.

It might keep the bad stuff out for a while, and it might keep the pain of loss and letting go temporarily at bay. But in the end, a deserving attitude will eventually lead to bitterness, cynicism, and resentment. I completely understand how difficult it is to move forward after a broken heart, but there’s nothing more frustrating (and exhausting) than bearing the blame for something that someone else did.

You can do all the right things, work hard, and practice kindness and compassion, and still the world does not owe you anything. The only thing you’re guaranteed is knowing that you paid it forward, and/or left something better than you found it

While it’s true that what you put out in the world does come back to you, it doesn’t always look like what you think it should.

But humility, and the practice of being humble, don’t necessarily have to equal putting up with disrespectful behavior or mistreatment. It’s a softer, more-grace filled approach to pursuing what’s meaningful and what’s healthy. For instance, my eating disorder recovery journey has taught me a lot about what I can handle, and where I need to draw the line. I’ve gotten a lot better at understanding that no relationship or career opportunity is worth risking my physical and mental health for, and that those things need to come first.

It’s not just solely about what I want anymore, because what I want isn’t always what I need. And it’s less about knowing what I need, and more about having the courage to speak up and tell the truth, even at the risk of rejection.

I need to take my time; it’s one thing to be spontaneous and go with the flow when you’ve established a sense of trust and safety with another person, but to expect and even demand that from a complete stranger is ridiculous.

I need open communication and support, even if it’s just merely letting me know that I’m not going through something alone.

I need affirmation and acceptance, but I also need to be called out on every once in a while. If you’re not willing to grow and evolve, especially with a partner, you will run yourself into the ground.

I need a willingness to take responsibility; don’t promise not to hurt me (or anyone, for that matter), but own it when you do.

If someone can’t do that, I don’t need to make them a villain or become a victim in order to let go.

It’s challenging to be realistic and get real at the same time. My life has been colorful and unconventional, but I wasn’t forcing a lot of it either. It’s a balance of what recognizing what I’m in control of, and surrendering what I cannot. I don’t want to spend too much time defining success, because then I ended up taking what’s important for granted.

I still have a lot to learn in this season, so there’s no perfect ending. But here’s what know for sure:

You can value yourself and be soft at the same time.

You can be strong and still need validation and support.

You can keep your heart open while trusting your instincts.

What other choice is there?

Light From Glass

 

broken-549087_1280

 

Unexpected words

A sharp sense of disbelief

Letting Go

Termination

Fast and Unforgiving

No Time

But I was just getting started!

Crack

 

I’ll never touch you like that

You can trust me

He said to keep me from flinching and cringing

You’re so beautiful

They’re crazy not to want you

I was suspicious and skeptical

And rightly so

As the first goodbye was the last

Crack

 

Grief and reflection followed

But so did instinctively grabbing a shield

 “I feel a little bit guarded” permeated every-day language

Unusual for a believer in vulnerability and connection

But it’s natural for a bruise to want to heal

And to seek shelter when the bruising becomes too much

Too many bruises leads to too many cracks

 

Fear is not the central concern, or even avoiding pain

For heartbreak is proof that you’re living life

But you can’t live if your health is in a detrimental state

As I became aware of once before

 

Discouraged and unmotivated

I allowed the familiar urges to rise and regurgitate

Until I felt empty and nothing else could come out

Fuck it, my tired self said

Who cares what happens?

I cried tears of confession

Praying for mercy and compassion

In those moments I felt unlovable

Slip up and backtrack

Crack

Relapse?

 

Brokeness is not a sight to see at first

And a caution to touch

It’s not a burden to bear alone

But not everyone can walk that road

Yet when the light gets in

When connection happens

When truth is spoken over lies

There is an unmistakable beauty

In realizing that humanity still exists

 

It’s like a prism of color

A story

Not a cautionary tale

But one of Grace and redemption

So let the black cloud come

Yet it will not overcome me

Let the voices speak

May that be tender and gentle

Let love be known

The kind of love we all need

And I will stand unashamed

Knowing that I will grow, evolve, and become

Go where the light is

Even if it’s just a little bit