I'm a total mess. I mean, all of that stuff I said up there is true and I have had some amazingly beautiful days this past month but...I'm still a bit of a disaster.
Ok...I'm a lot of a disaster.
In the middle of one of my very good days, I decided it was time to jump back into community activism! Yay! Go team neighborhood!
This was pretty much just the stupidest idea, ever. My husband actually tried to warn me that it was a bad idea, but I was so sure that I was well enough to handle anything and everything, that I just ...I just ran full steam ahead.
Full steam ahead into a solid brick wall.
I reached out with what I thought was a carefully worded e-mail, offering advice and extending my help to an organization that I was so sure would be happy to have me back.
I thought they'd accept. Like - it never even occurred to me that they wouldn't immediately say yes.
They did not immediately say yes. They didn't say anything, actually. A week passed, and anxiety and depression reared their ugly heads. Anxiety let me know in no uncertain terms that no one needed me or my help. Depression promised me that I had no friends and that there wasn't a reason in the world that anyone would bother responding to me, because really....I don't matter.
Fun group, those two.
They swallowed me whole today, leaving me making up reasons in my head and lashing out and sulking and stomping my feet...and ...
...I should have listened to my husband (don't tell him I said that.). My heart can't quite handle even the slightest hint of rejection and I am apparently still healing from the wounds of the beginning of the year. Feeling better doesn't necessarily mean I am healed. I am still healing. When a broken leg starts feeling better, it doesn't mean you take the cast off. You leave the cast on, because you're still healing. You don't whip it off and go charging around trying to fix "all the things."
The funny thing is, in the midst of this setback, I'm also working on a beautiful project, that has generated a lot of positive attention, and gifted me with amazing and authentic interactions with my neighbors . But anxiety doesn't focus on this beautiful project...anxiety focuses on un-answered e-mails, while depression tries its hardest to convince me that none of this beauty matters, because at the heart of it, I am hated and despised.
This mural is this beautiful project that I have been blessed with. Photo courtesy Ron Johnson, Peoria Journal Star.
So I am wrestling with my head today, and I am learning that feeling better is not healed, and if I try to run around on metaphorical un-healed broken legs, I'm just going to fall down...and cry. A lot.
And as I wrestle with my own head, I am also trying to be fair and honest with myself. I have a tendency to assume the worst, and fall into a vicious cycle of "what if." What if I had been more polite? What if I had just said what people wanted to hear? What if I had just shut up? What if I had just been anyone but me?
Being true to myself, means being honest with others, and that has always come at a price. Sometimes honesty can be uncomfortable, but I made the choice a long time ago that the discomfort of honesty felt far better than being anyone except for myself, just so I could fit in.
I am right in the middle of a community of people with whom I will never fit in. Sometimes, even though I know better, I get obsessed with that. The lack of fitting in. The trying to figure out why. The moments where I try to shape myself into a new and improved version that everyone will love! Everyone except me, that is. Then I exchange that for beating of my head against the wall, as I try to get people to accept me for who I am.
But eventually this obsession wanes, and I am reminded that I fit where I am supposed to fit. Not with the award winners, and the important people, and the people who dress right, and look right, and have the right jobs and the right friends.
In this community, I fit with the broken, who wear their brokenness out in the open, where it's visible to anyone who would bother to look, and where it is so often overlooked because the eyes of the very important people pass right over the broken. I am broken, but healing, and I belong with the broken who will continue to help me heal, so that I can help heal them, so that we can heal each other. Our brokenness will somehow come together to make us whole again. I believe that. Not always. Not even for most of today. But at this moment, and in most of the moments of the past month, I believe that. I believe that God shows himself to us in the people we encounter, and that the way that we become closer to God, is to become closer to each other. God is in all of us, and most certainly in the broken people. I have never felt closer to God than I have when I have stopped trying to fit in, and instead opened my heart to those who would accept me as I am, just as I have learned to accept them.
My prayer for today is that I will learn not to let rejection mold me into something I am not. To remember where I fit, and to rejoice in that, instead of sliding back into "not good enough" territory. To practice empathy and gratitude and kindness, not only to others, but also to myself. And to know that walking away from something that doesn't serve me is not defeat. That standing up for myself and for what I believe and being honest is not "being difficult." That loving myself first makes it easier for me to love others, and that people who can love each other honestly will always fit.