What doesn’t work, and what does.

What doesn’t work, and what does.

I’ve always been a different kind of person. I feel things deeply and I have a very hard time letting go of anything. When I was 11 and my family moved from California to a small town in Arizona what I was feeling was incredibly alone. For more than 10 years I tried to find a way to break that feeling. I tried to make myself feel anything else because the loneliness was eating me alive and I didn’t want to be entirely consumed. What I found was a lot of things that didn’t work. I found a lifestyle and an attitude that kept me from disappearing altogether, but in no way filled the empty, lonely places in my soul.CUTTING DIDN’T WORK!

For a very long time I believed slicing myself apart was the only way I could control the feelings that would rip through my head. I thought that lies and blood and secrets and pain were the best I was going to get. I wrapped myself in the identity of a depressed emotional girl and I held on to that tightly. I held my knives and my pain and my scars very close because I believed they defined me. I didn’t really want to be broken, but that was far better than being nothing at all.

STARVING DIDN’T WORK.

When I was 16 I put all the will I had into quieting the part of myself that told me I was UGLY, FAT, NASTY, WORTHLESS. I went on the diet. I pulled all my mastery at lying and hiding to the surface and I stopped eating. I lost 40 pounds within the span of 2 months and I sucked up the approval of everyone I knew. I thanked my parents and siblings and boyfriend when they told me I looked sick. I never told anyone when I passed out on the living room floor. I didn’t care when handfuls of my hair started coming out. None of it mattered. The feeling of being empty because I was starving was far better than the nameless ache for SOMETHING that I’d always had before.

LOVE DIDN’T WORK.

Falling in love with the wrong boys didn’t work. The label of being someone’s girlfriend didn’t give me the belonging I believed I needed. I still felt every bit as lost as I had before, but with the added fear that the boy would leave me. Because of course, I wasn’t good enough for them anyways. Falling in love with the RIGHT man didn’t work. Even when I found the man of my dreams, who has loved me the right way from the moment we met, I still didn’t feel like I was good enough. Why would this beautiful, smart, funny, charming man want a wreck of a girl like me?

CONTROL DIDN’T WORK.

Trying to control EVERY aspect of my life and my families life didn’t make me feel any more at peace than I had at any other point in my life. Budgeting our money, obsessively scheduling our time, and constantly worrying about absolutely everything DID NOT WORK. Those things did however drive my family crazy. I became someone I didn’t like being around. The expectations I put on myself and everyone else were nothing short of impossible to reach. So what have I learned from all of these failed attempts to make myself happy?

IT WON’T WORK.

I will never be able to make myself feel better. I will never be able to cut or starve or control the emptiness away. I can’t make my life or the lives of those I love perfect. I’ve learned that I DON’T HAVE TO. Through a faith that is growing every single day, I’ve learned that no matter what I do to mess it up, God does in fact have a plan for my life. In spite of my flaws and all of my brokenness I am loved beyond understanding. I have learned, and am still learning, that if I let go and trust I will be better than okay. Everything will work out exactly the way God means for it to work out. I’ve learned that even the things I’ve seen as bad in my life were being used for good. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be perfect because I’m already perfectly loved. In all of this, I am finally coming to know PEACE.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/jer.29.11.niv

Scars

I have scars. They are scattered over my thighs, my stomach, and my lower back. For the past 10 years of my life these scars defined a huge part of who I was. These scars said that I was a crazy mess of a girl. These scars said I couldn’t find a healthy way to cope with life. These scars said I was WEAK. So I hid my scars. I lived summers in Arizona and Las Vegas never wearing anything aside from jeans because I was afraid to have anyone see my scars. When I was 14 and my family found out I had been cutting myself they thought I was doing it for attention. My mother was embarrassed by what I’d been doing so she told me to stop it. The problem was I didn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t know how else to calm the storms inside of my head. I knew only that cutting my skin open made me feel better. So because I didn’t know how to stop I became better at hiding. My cutting moved from my legs to my back and stomach where the evidence was much easier to hide. Within my family it became just another thing we didn’t talk about. I became a master at lying and very good at pretending I was okay. I also became deeply ashamed of my scars. Pretty, healthy, happy girls didn’t cut themselves. Normal girls didn’t crave pain and blood and secrets. When I grew up and decided to stop hating myself my scars were an issue. They were a reminder of how lost I could get in my emotions. They were visible proof of what a freak I had been. As I grew more confident in the person I was in every other area of my life, my blindness, my personality, my ability to take care of myself and others, my scars remained a serious point of shame for me. They continued to be a reason to hate my body, my past, and who I had been. This summer when it started to get hot I decided I was done. I wasn’t going to spend one more day hiding who I was. The very real truth is that I spent the majority of my life being broken and in a lot of ways, I was comfortable with that. It was what I knew. Changing who you’ve always been takes a huge amount of work and perseverance. Part of being strong for me now is accepting all the ways I wasn’t. Being confident means I can wear shorts or a dress that doesn’t go to the floor. Being me hasn’t always been perfect. I haven’t always done the healthy thing. I haven’t always been happy. I haven’t always been free from shame and embarrassment, but today I am. I’m PROUD of my scars because I’m proud of who I have become. I’m proud to say that I don’t have to keep secrets anymore. I’m proud to say that I no longer have to pretend I’m okay. Because I’m so much better than okay now.      

BETTER

Sometimes I realize how much I’ve grown as a person based on what I don’t want or need anymore. Maybe this is something Everyone experiences as they grow up and I’m just stoping to notice it in myself. Or maybe its just that I’m finally comfortable enough in who I am to admit that I no longer find peace in pain. I know there were times in my life when I craved pain, in any form I could find. There were nights with sharp things pressed into my skin, blood running down my legs. There were days upon days spent starving, shaking, aching cold from hunger because I refused to just shut the hell up and eat something. There were months of crying myself to sleep because of some nameless sadness. Anyone who knows me at all knows my favorite band is Blue October. They have been my favorite band for over 10 years now. I still listen to them most everyday. The first song I heard by them was called Hate Me. When I hear this song now, I can’t say why it called to me so strongly when I was a teenager. The song is about alcohol abuse and a relationship ending. At 13 i had never had a drink in my life. I had never shared so much as a kiss with a boy, let alone an actual breakup. Nothing about this song should have pulled me in the way it did. Over the last few weeks i’ve been trying to put my finger on whatever it was that made me love that song above all others, for years. Blue October has other songs That had much more to do with my life at that time. Songs about very real depression and loneliness, things that absolutely did touch my life at 13. Those songs aren’t the ones that I clung to for years though. It was Hate Me that I held so close for so long. This morning the answer finally hit me as i was looking for a new book to read. There is a website where you can input titles of books you enjoy and it will generate a list of suggested books based on your previous reads. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve visited this website. Because of this, the suggested books took me by surprise. There were lists entirely devoted to books about anorexia. There were lists of books all about girls who sliced their skin open over and over again. Books about sick, sad, broken girls. Reading through these book titles made something finally click into place in my head. I was drawn to the damage. I was swimming in the drama. I made myself a tight, close, cozy world of pain. I loved any story I could find that made me feel more normal. I wanted to read about people who were more broken than I was. I wanted to scream out lyrics about damage. All I wanted was more pain. Looking through those books today the difference between who I was and who I am became overwhelmingly clear. Those books full of the struggles of girls who haven’t figured it out have no pull on my mind anymore. When I hear Hate Me today, all I feel is sympathy for the little girl who needed that song so badly. I’m grateful beyond words that I’m not her anymore. I’m so blessed that pain is no longer a security blanket for me. I love that the laughter of my stepson and stepdaughter is the magnet that draws me in now. I love that quiet moments with my boyfriend are what creates my peace. I love that spending time in worship and prayer is where I feel at home now. Pain is attractive when you’re broken. It’s a safe place to go when you’re afraid to be who you really are. But pain is empty. Living in a world of pain only calls more pain. Living in a world of peace is just the same. Peace calls to more peace. Contentment pulls more contentment into your life. I’ve never felt more blessed than I do tonight that I am better.