Brave, Bruised, Beautiful

I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.
                                                                                               The Greatest Showman

Something new happened to me recently. I was shamed–I didn’t even realize I was being shamed at first, initially it felt more like a scolding, which to be honest was just as wrong. They did not know my story – nor did they care to even venture a “what brings you here” kind of conversation. Somehow this person felt sure enough in themselves to judge me based on what they thought they knew about me. It hurt my feelings – I didn’t let on in front of them but when I got to my car I started crying- not a lot, but a cry nonetheless. I told myself all the things that I knew to be true: I am not my circumstances, my value is not defined by my past, I am worthwhile and worth it – regardless of whether or not this person believed it.

Three years ago, maybe even one year ago I am not sure if I would have rebounded as quickly.  But had they paused to talk to me and not at me, they would have discovered that I make no apologies or excuses for where I am at right now, where I am at this moment because I know “this moment” isn’t going to be forever. So when they turned to me and in a superior manner said “I hope I’ve helped you” as they were walking out the door, little did they know exactly how they helped.

You see, I’m not afraid of you –of how you want to rank me in order of being worthy of your time. I’m not afraid of your words –my value isn’t measured by how you see me. I’m not afraid of your influence in society-you don’t know me and you never will. I have fought a fight that you will never know, I have battle scars that you can only hope you never have to endure, and I found the courage to stand when others might have buckled. So yes, you did help me – you reminded me that I have come a long way, and while my journey is far from over, it is still my journey. Next time we meet I hope you can see beyond the superficial, beyond the story, beyond the circumstances. Next time I hope you see past the bruises, past the bumps, past the scars – I hope you see the fire that’s inside me, fueled ever stronger by my encounter with you.

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We Need to Talk

One thing I love about where I live is the amount of opportunities I have to enjoy community events on topics that I both know little about and find interesting or that I know lots about and already love.

Last night, our local Friends of the Library hosted Celeste Headlee who spoke about communication and her book “We Need to Talk.” One of the points she referenced was a study that reported that there is less than half-a-second between the time a speaker finishes a sentence and the listener responds.  She shared that we tune into a conversation for about ten seconds, immediately formulate a response, and then wait for the other person to stop so that we can start.

She shared a study that reported that since the year 2000 there has been a decline in empathy among young people and while there was no definitive reason as to why (yet), she offered her opinion that technology, specifically smart phone technology, could be the driving force.  That it was much easier to send a quick text than to make a call, that feelings are conveyed not with words but with emojis.

When I was going through “The Craziness“, a night did not pass that a friend wasn’t calling to check on me, there was not a day that my family didn’t hear the same story over and over, and there was not a time that I could not pour my emotions into a keyboard and find a kindred spirit in blogland.

I believe in times of crisis, we generally do a good job of communicating with each other. We see this over and over with natural disasters and sadly, unnatural ones. We are a tribe, we are a hive, we are unified, we synchronize, we move as one — it truly is when one hurts we all hurt. Brené Brown shares that vulnerability can transform and move us towards great things and that the most vulnerable in a crisis situation is not necessarily the weakest one.  It is the person who risks their own life to rescue those in danger, the one who speaks up when they see wrong, or the one takes a moment to call and verbally convey the words “I care.”  It is those that choose to dare greatly knowing they are most at risk for loss.

Personally, I don’t want to wait for a crisis to wake up and look out from behind selfies and passive aggressive 40-character tweets to see that people are not the titles they carry at work, the labels that they wear, or the roles they have been assigned. They are the people behind that job title, the person behind that responsibility, the individual just wanting to be heard.

We do need to talk. And it might be, as Celeste shared, we need to talk about why we’re not talking. Or it might be that we just need to talk because it’s time for our inner voice to see the light of day again.  I am not a job title, or a label, or a role, I am just someone that wants not only to be heard but I dare greatly in putting myself out there hoping that someone listens.

Webster has no words

I hate the thought of labels, but secretly I crave the definition just for some sort of inkling as to who I am now.

Since the word vomit incident, I’ve been back to see my therapist. I shared with her what happened and she said what I already knew – maybe there are still some unresolved items. Maybe she’s right.

Some things in life are easy to define; but consider infidelity, divorce, and then suicide all in a matter of just four months and who knows what to call it other than mind-numbing. This I know… this was the craziness that was my life in 2014.

Since the “craziness that was my life” happened, I’ve struggled what to call it, how to refer to it, how to give it the “respect” it’s due. In fact, I always seem to default to calling it the “Craziness.”  It doesn’t seem to fit any mold, at least none that I know.  I mentioned to my therapist that I think I struggle with defining it because I really don’t want to be tied to whatever label might come with it.

To me legally divorced and emotionally widowed is the only thing that makes sense and yet, that’s not an option when filling out paperwork (since the Craziness every time that question comes up, I leave it blank.)  With my recent determination towards self-care, I affirm each morning that I am a child of God, that I am loved with an everlasting love, that I am clothed with strength and dignity and laugh without fear of the future (Prov 31:25) but there are times that I still can’t seem to figure out who I am and the lyrics to Irene Cara’s song Out Here on My Own play over and over in my mind.

I’m not sure I will ever really know what to call it. And maybe the Craziness will just be what it will always be. And maybe I don’t need a label. Maybe the definition of it will be just a picture of me surviving after such a crazy time that was my life. Maybe…. nope, definitely.