Reclaiming Hope Series: Choosing to Stay

Reclaiming Hope Series: Choosing to Stay

I think in life when we walk through something really difficult, there are several different choices that we can make. We can choose to own it or let it own us. We can choose to run away or we can choose to stay.

And when our first and natural instinct is to run, choosing to stay can prove to be difficult. But it’s in that moment that we choose to stay that we find the most healing and redemption.

For me, my first reaction is to run. I will try with everything in me to push people so far away from me that there’s no possibility that they would ever come back. And then to my surprise, they continue to love me through the really difficult moments and you would think that would make everything better. But it doesn’t. At least, not at first.

Once I start pushing you away, it can be really hard for me to stop. You can sit there and tell me countless times that you aren’t going anywhere and that you’re in my corner, but I still push. It’s not because I don’t want you there. It’s because I’ve convinced myself that you don’t really want to be there so I continue to give you reasons to leave. But there you stay.

And it’s in the middle of those moments where I’m pushing people away that I’ve already given up. And this situation was no different. I stood there with as much of a smile on my face as I could muster through the tears and promised that I would be back. I hugged necks and said that it was only temporary. But in that very moment, I didn’t know if I would be or not.

In that moment I thought that I had broken things with friends past the point of repairing and wondered to myself what even was the point of trying to fix things with them.

I was ready to run. Ready to give the sugar coated answers that I would be back soon, all while knowing that I really didn’t know. Some answer was better than no answer because it bought me some time.

And then it hit me. Or rather God hit me in one of those “shoulda had a V8″ moments. I had a choice to make. I had to choose which way I was going to go: continuing on this path of self destruction that I’d found myself on or the path of a victorious comeback. I couldn’t have both.

So I made a choice.

My choice is to stay. To fight for my story. To own my story, even the really difficult parts of it. To rebuild what was broken. To walk in my calling. To live my faith by loving relentlessly.

Choosing all of this is hard. Rebuilding things is hard. But struggle produces growth. And I’m lucky that I don’t have to do any of that alone.

It doesn’t matter how many times we fall. What matters is that we choose to stand back up again. And I’m choosing to stand and choosing to stay.

I know the calling that God has placed on my heart. I also know that I’m so incredibly stubborn and try to insist that I can do it all on my own. I’m thankful for a Father that is much more stubborn and friends that keep me in check.

Living a life of transparency is difficult. But it’s so beautiful.

Won’t you join me?

Losing Grip.

Today’s post is the first of four in a new series that I’m starting about reclaiming hope. And while the idea of sharing some really honest and difficult to write words scares me, there’s also a lot of beautiful words intertwined throughout. So if you’ve found yourself reading these words today, just know how thankful I am for whatever role you play in my life.

To say that I’m a stubborn person would be the biggest understatement of all time. I think that’s something that I learned from both of my parents. And while sometimes it’s a good thing, there are other times that it does nothing but push those that mean the most to me as far away as it possibly can. Especially when I find myself in the middle of a battle between who the enemy tries to convince me I am and who I know I am in the Father.

And that’s the moment that I lose grip of who I am. And I will push until everyone leaves. I hurt people. I say and do terrible things. I give people a reason to leave because I’m so convinced they’re going to anyways, so I might as well help them out the door, right?

Wrong.

What I lose sight of is that these are the people that love me more than anything in this world and they are the ones that I love more than anything.

This mindset doesn’t just come out of nowhere though. It’s gradual. And is usually triggered by something. And I’m always well aware of both of those things.

This was no different.

It’s no surprise that the holidays are still quite difficult and at times uncomfortable to me. And winter has always seemed to be especially hard for me despite Christmas being my favorite holiday. But this time felt much different.

The general just blah feeling didn’t go away when the holidays did. I still found myself struggling to put a smile on my face and be around people. And then my first panic attack in well over three years came and slapped me in the face and I was left with my head spinning, trying to find my way up again.

But that was nothing compared to what was ahead.

February was probably the most challenging month I’ve had since my mom passed away. And while I’m still not ready to go into detail about everything, I will say that I was left at the bottom of the biggest hole I could have ever found myself in.

And it scared me. Because I literally had no idea what to do or which way to go. And I tried so hard to not lose grip and lose myself, but that’s exactly what happened. And at the time, I didn’t even know it.

Thoughts that I hadn’t had in quite some time and the lies that satan so desperately wanted me to believe became my reality. And at first I felt like I was dealing as well as one could and was intentional about reaching out to those closest to me when I was really struggling.

And then the panic attacks became much more frequent and much more severe. And then I had the worst one I’ve ever had in front of three of my closest friends and I felt like I’d literally had the life drained from me. I don’t know that I had ever hurt more for my friends than I did when I finally got home that night. The fear and uncertainty that I saw in their faces still breaks my heart.

I had never seem them look so utterly helpless. They didn’t know what to do, and honestly neither did I. When I got home and in bed, I proceeded to cry harder than I had in awhile. I never wanted them to feel that way again. And that was the moment that I bought the biggest lie from the enemy. I decided that they could never see that part of me again because I could never show them.

They had seen enough. I had shown them too much. And I believed the lie that if I showed them any more that they would leave. So I faked it. I faked it so well that I think I began to believe it to myself. Until I couldn’t anymore. The panic attacks were still there. I just decided to suffer in silence. I shut everyone out. But these guys were really good at breaking through my walls. And once again, they began to fall down. They got closer and I grew more and more terrified.

So I pushed harder and farther but in the most subtle ways. So subtle that they didn’t even know for awhile, or at least didn’t say anything, and I absolutely hated myself for it. I became so convinced that they would never be able to, or even want to deal with everything that had been dumped in my lap. But time and time again they proved me wrong and it did nothing but scare me. Because I just knew that eventually enough would be enough, and I would rather give people a reason to leave instead of them leaving without warning.

And then the pushes that I couldn’t take back started. And I watched myself become a shell of who I really was. I hurt people. I lied to them. I broke their trust. And lost what was left of myself in the process. All while knowing that every bit of it would come out eventually.

And it did. Oh boy did it. And I still tried to fight it, to fight them. And then I just broke. And I laid in their laps the reality of what had been going on. And it was met with an unexpected response.

I was convinced that this was the moment that I lost every single one of them for good. I expected to be on the receiving end of words such as “Don’t ever speak to me again” “I don’t want anything to do with you”, but instead I received “I love you” “I’m still here for you” “We’ll get through this together”.

None of those were the responses I was expecting. I anticipated rejection, but what I got was grace.

It’s funny how in the moments of life that are really difficult and uncomfortable, God reminds us of his promise to us.

He gave his son the rejection we rightly deserve and gave us grace. It’s funny how grace always seems to win, isn’t it?

Beauty comes from ashes. February left me with a lot of ashes. And what wasn’t already burned, I managed to finish on my own. But for the first time in a really long time, I’m starting to see the beauty come through. All while realizing that I’m part of that beauty.

For such a time as this. I’m here for such a time as this. No one else can play my part. My purpose is unique. My calling specific.

And this? Well this is nothing but a really ugly and doozy of a bump in the road. I am more than this moment. More than the mistakes I’ve made. More than the lies I’ve believed.

I have the most beautiful group of friends who have chosen to stick by me when no one would have blamed them if they had chosen to walk away. They are more than just my friends. They are my family.

I have the crazy love and grace from the Father, who never ceases to amaze me.

And I have a story that is so far from being finished. I’ve taken enough time away from it. It’s time to pick up my pen, pass some out to those in my life, and get to writing the next chapter of this beautifully broken story.

The light always finds its way out of the dark. And it’s starting to take control again, just like it always does.

Rest in that promise friends.

Much love to you all.

When the Road Becomes Lonely.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past ten years, it’s that finding long term stability when it comes to navigating the waters of mental illness can be incredibly difficult. It’s almost as if at any moment the proverbial switch can be flipped and you find yourself in the middle of the biggest fight for your sanity. Sometimes it comes with plenty of warning signs along the way while other times it comes without warning.
But sometimes it finds itself in the middle of both: you know the warning signs are there, but you ignore them because you think to yourself that things aren’t really as bad as your mind makes them seem and then instead of tackling them head on, you convince yourself that everything is okay until one day it isn’t.

And then you watch as everything goes up in smoke.
You hurt people.
You stop responding to the very people who love you more than anything in the world.
You push them away because you don’t want them to see you like this.
You apologize incessantly and wonder which time will be the last time they respond back.
And then you lie awake at night with a million different thoughts racing through your mind that you can’t shut off.

And then when the dust starts to settle and the smoke begins to clear, you see the full scope of the chaos you’ve created.

I think that’s when you realize how lonely this road can be.

Please don’t misunderstand and think that this is my way of waving the white flag of surrender. It most certainly isn’t.

I’ve fought this fight before and came out victorious and I’ll do it again this time. I will rise out of these ashes better than I was before.

To those that I’ve hurt, please know how very sorry I am. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry.

To those that I’ve pushed away, please know that’s not what I want. Please be patient with me as I figure this out.

I can’t force you to stay and I won’t. I understand if you feel the need to walk away. I’m not mad at you. It’ll hurt, but I will survive.

I think that’s ultimately what this journey teaches you: that you’re a survivor.

I have survived.
I am surviving.
I will continue to survive.

To those of you that refuse to walk away, thank you. I love you.

To those of you that have chosen to walk away, thank you for walking what you could. I love you.

Here’s to the road ahead.
Here’s to the shadows.
And here’s to finding the light again.