Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sticks and Stones

If you've been reading my blog from the beginning, or even just a few once in a while, you've probably heard me talk about a writer's conference called Re:Write and how things I learned there and the people I met changed me so much for the better. Well, what I haven't mentioned in my blog is the steps that came before that. The things that lead me to the huge weekend of self discovery that happened to me at this conference. Part of why I never mentioned these things is because until recently I wasn't even sure what started this chain reaction. It's hard sometimes, even once you've reached the end of a road, to look back and see the journey. The road snakes back on itself, sometimes parts of it are hidden. But sometimes it's good to revisit parts of your journey just so you can see how far you've come and learn new things from old situations.
Now, I'm not saying you should revisit everything, because there are certainly things that should remain only in the past, but there are still some things that you may appreciate more or learn more from now than you did when you first discovered them.
A few weeks before Re:Write, my sister shared a very impacting spoken word video on facebook.

I'm not sure if this began the domino effect of seeking myself and God in a deeper way, but I do .know it was an important domino somewhere in the chain. Emotional after watching the video and truly appreciating the idea that I recently realized would later evolve into the quote I shared in my last post about beauty, I decided to bare my soul to my large group of friends and acquaintances on facebook.

So, without further explanation, here is the video and the post that followed:

Growing up I was called obsessive, freak, crazy. Why? Because I was passionate and my mind moved a million miles a minute, causing me to have difficulty expressing myself and things that I loved in a "normal" way. Because of these names, I felt less than normal. At first that was okay. I retreated into my book, my fantasies, and my mind because I didn't even really understand myself.
Seventh and eight grade I saw people had friends, people shared what they were interested in and found people with common ground. I had been quiet and to myself for so long, I forgot. I forgot the labels they had given me. I spoke up. But still, I didn't understand me, not even to share who I was easily. So it came out in messy bursts of extreme emotions: excitement, anxiety, and passion. These things aren't normal. Or at least they aren't in middle school, where if you aren't painted in shades of the same boring gray as everyone else, you're abnormal.
Freak and crazy, some called me. But these didn't bother me as much as obsessed. I love words, I always have. And as a thirteen year old, I looked up the definition. "To think about something unceasingly or persistently; to dominate or preoccupy the thoughts or haunt persistently or abnormally"
There was that word again. Abnormal. So who was I then? I didn't belong to any bigger puzzle. I was not a masterpiece. I was abnormal. Broken. A discarded extra piece that didn't make sense.
Wanting to be loved and understood desperately, I put on a mask of shades of gray, hoping it would hide my crazy. But I found that I still couldn't relate to people, because I wasn't giving them me.I shut down emotionally to avoid the pain that came with the severe isolation I felt. I was lost in in a sea on shades of gray. I needed help. I was crying out for acceptance, but my mask had become so good at hiding who I was, that those around me couldn't even see I was in pain. Finally, through much pain, I threw the mask away, and exposed the deep emotional wound to the harsh air. Grace and love pored in. For the first time I had hope.
I was sixteen.
Since then, I've come to learn more about myself and how my mind works. It's a mess, and it doesn't make sense to even me sometimes, but I have found a way to harness that mess and turn it into something beautiful. I am writing a book. I do what some still call obsessive research and reading so I can improve my skills as much as possible. I'm still excessively loud, overly passionate, and into some things that aren't classified as "normal."
Although I'm not called these names that frequently any more, to this day, they still make me flinch. The way I thought no one understood me, or really saw who I was for so long affects how I think about my relationships. It still makes me second guess the genuineness of some of my friendships from time to time. I have to remind myself that those lies I once believed are not true.
What were your names?

I wrote this post six months ago. No longer do I flinch at these names. But watching this video and reading six months ago me's thoughts, I understand a little more about what I've been learning about myself, God, and beauty now.
After rewatching that video for the first time in six months, I was hit especially hard when the speaker said the line, "She's raising two kids whose definition of beauty begins with the word Mom."
And yet she still doesn't see her beauty because of the names she was called and the masks she wore to hide her pain. How many of us does this describe?
From the twenty years of life I've lived, it looks like too many. More than it should be, anyway.
I was one of these, I tried to cover myself up, because the names they called hurt too much and I couldn't bare to let the people see that my heart was nothing more than an unwanted flower trampled in the street.

And when I think about where I was, and where I still see people today, I can't help but identify with the last line of this poem, "Our lives will only ever always continue to be a balancing act that has less to do with pain and more to do with beauty," because if you think about it, that's what we were and are doing, isn't it?
We put on masks to draw attention away from the pain in our eyes at the cruel words spoken. We put make up on our scars and build walls around our hearts, because if someone saw our stories, lives, beauty, then maybe they would disapprove and call us names to make themselves feel less broken.
For isn't that all they are? The same as us. Broken souls in a never ending struggle with beauty.

So, just as I asked six months ago, what were the jabs made at your beauty?
What were your names?


  1. This is a beautiful post. When I was growing up I was the smart one and my sister was the pretty one. So of course I thought I was ugly and fat, and she thought she was stupid. It's amazing how these things can follow you all your life if you let them. The spoken word poem is amazing, and it's the second one by Shane I've been introduced to this week. Crazy. Love you, beautiful lady. Thanks for sharing your heart with us.

    1. You are very welcome. It was the exact same way with me and my sister.
      I can tell you countless stories or guys being interested in me, only to meet her, and barely speak to me any more. It wasn't a so wonderful feeling, and I still occasionally flash back to those moments.
      Just gotta keep reminding us that we're all effing swans, right? ;)