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Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

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do better

Be Brave

A couple weeks ago, I was bartending and as bartending goes, I was privy to hearing things. Two friends were talking about a friend they had in common whom had been struggling with depression and had recently been hospitalized for it. I heard “nut house” amongst other not nice things and it made me kind of grumpy as I finished my work. Sometimes you can’t unhear what you’ve heard despite all your best attempts to forget that you had.

Obviously, it wasn’t the kindest conversation. In fact, I felt they were rather brutal in talking about their so-called “friend” who had obviously been struggling and they appeared to have little to no sympathy for him. It broke my heart and made me think on the subject here weeks later. Here’s why.

All of us have probably received the news that someone that we loved, someone that we knew or someone that we knew of committed suicide. In my short forty-five years, I have had several acquaintances succumb to the depths of depression and lost their will to fight. And every time I hear of it, my thoughts are always the same: “I had no idea because they seemed like they had perfectly “normal” life. I wonder if they reached out for help. Did anyone know they were struggling?” Trying to wrap my head around such tragedies always throws me off-kilter, as it should.

And here I was again off-kilter as I listened to these friends make fun of and belittle someone for checking themselves into the hospital. It was taken lightly and ridiculed. I’m sure I would have been privy to a different conversation had their brave friend chosen not to get help. This needs to change.

There’s a stigma attached to reaching out for help, especially when it comes to mental health. No one should struggle. No one should have such thoughts or reach such depths. No one should fall a part and reach that level of vulnerability because when they do, they tend to be looked upon negatively in many different ways.

Weak.

Incompetent.

Crazy.

A danger not only to themselves but to others.

How do I know these things? I’ve been told these things by good and well-meaning people.

Personally.

A year ago today I got up on a Saturday morning and cleaned the house. I did the laundry and folded the towels. I made meals for my family and lined them into neat and tidy rows in the fridge and then I drove myself to the hospital, went straight to the ER and told the check-in nurse I needed to speak to someone in crisis.

Because I was in one.

I hadn’t harmed myself or anyone else but I was severely depressed, had stopped eating the week before and my thought life was a spiraling mess. I kept thinking I would get better on my own but the reality was I was scared that one day, in just one moment, I wouldn’t be able to fight the thoughts I had been having off any longer.

Looking back now, it was, without a doubt, one of the bravest decisions I’ve ever made and it showed me a lot about who I am. In all the right ways.

Since that day a year ago today, I’ve fought a hard battle but have persevered thanks to the love and support of my family and friends, particularly my children. I found a good therapist who helped me understand how and why I got to where I was and a good psychiatrist who did not think I was crazy or needed labeled with a permanent diagnosis, but rather realized how present day circumstances and our environment contributes to one’s mental health state. It’s been a year of hard work, taking ownership, assigning responsibility, establishing boundaries, accepting what is, letting go and looking to the future, but I’ve kicked some major ass and made it through. At the end of this week, I will be released from my doctors care. I did not take the chicken exit and am making it through to the other side. Happy Anniversary to me indeed.

But I have more to do.

God has been faithful and ever-present and for that, I am incredibly thankful. It’s been a humbling journey and I have learned a great deal about God, myself and others. If you ever find yourself sitting with a friend on the other side of the bar at a Beer Stube, remember your words and that everyone you meet is fighting a battle of some sort and sometimes, those battles are incredibly painful and hard. Once more, we need to do better. We have to. The ones that reach out for help are not weak, but brave. They need encouraged and supported. Not dismissed or jeered.

And if you’re like me and ever find yourself in a position where you need help of any kind, don’t go it alone. Don’t wake up day in and day out scared of your thoughts. I don’t care who you are or what you do. I don’t care of the title you hold or your position in the community, get the help you need. Don’t listen to the lies telling you you’ve failed or that’s it’s all your fault or if you were stronger or more this and less that, you would be better. Don’t listen to your Churches stance on medication and mental health. Pay no mind to what other people think or what they might say.

There is never ever shame in being brave and asking for help. Ever. I am with you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

About Last Night

When we’ve gone through something enough times and we get sick and tired of being “sick and tired“, we promise ourselves that next time, if faced with a similar and familiar situation, we will do better. We will make different choices. We will respond differently. We will do anything but be…sick and tired.

And I have been doing well. I’ve placed my feet upon the path of health *not happiness* and each day I’ve drawn a new breath and a had stronger step. But the other night, there I was. Face to face with a situation that was oddly similar and familiar.

Same story. Different day.

And through it, it brought up an immense amount of fear, an entire of ocean of it to be exact and I found myself drowning somewhere in the middle. No one likes to drown. I’m done drowning. It’s the sick and tired” I no longer want to subject myself to.

So, I swam. I swam far far away out of tide that was trying to pull me under. In reality, I literally hopped into my Jeep and didn’t look back and when I got home, I sat under the carport and cried.

And after things settled, and they always do, I was able to sit and listen to Truth and identify what was the similar and familiar that I could not quite put my finger on in the moment and call it by name.

Rejection.

Same story. Different day. Different person.

Here’s the things about rejection. It’s NOT a person though it is easy to attach a name with a face. It’s not one particular heartbreak. It’s a wound. A lie. An evil spirit from the pits of hell. It bides its time and patiently waits. It uses any hosts it can find without permission. People will show up in our lives as unsuspecting pawns in a game our emotional wounds try to play with us and unbeknownst to them, old situations arise in us that are similar and familiar and we are faced with the choice to sink or swim.

Or drive far far away.

The thing with rejection is that it feeds you the lie that you are not good enough which makes you feel small and insignificant. Flip the coin. Same story, different day…it can also feed you the lie that you are too much. Too much to handle. Too complicated or too messy. Heads or tails. It whispers one or the other.

Both lies place a heaviness in your heart that’s suffocating. A heaviness that makes you feel “bad” for being who you are, like if you could just mathematically fit into the equation, things would be different. But they are not different because here you are, finding yourself in a similar and familiar situation because you are feeling rejected and with rejection brings shame because if you had been more than or perhaps just a tad less….

And it’s your fault, so you apologize.

“I am sorry for being me.”

And that apology leaves your insides raw and achy because you know that you’ve stopped another layer of your identity away so you can be less or more of the person someone else wants you to be.

I wish I could go back in that moment the other night and know at that moments notice what I was dealing with but I didn’t. I just know what was taking place was hurting and I took that hurt personal. I made it about me. Things weren’t going the way I had hoped because there was something I was doing or perhaps not doing right. If I had been dot dot dot, things would be different.

Lies. Just lies.

Days later, here’s some things I’ve recognized:

1. There is no once and done. Learning, or rather, unlearning, is a life-long process. As Maya Angelou once said,

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

And each day after that, do your best until you know even better. And so on and so forth. It’s how this one wild life works. It’s not a race or a competition so go easy on others and yourself. I truly believe at the end of the day, we are all truly doing the best we can.

2.  Most likely what you are “sick and tired” of will chase you around your whole entire life unless you deal with it, and not once and done deal with it but continually and intentionally deal with it. You are not Jesus and are not the embodiment of perfection. Rejection has been my nemesis. My lie. My inner wound. Do I recognize it right away? Not always. Am I doing better with calling it by name and seeing it for what it is? Absolutely. Someday I’ll stand face to face before it and I won’t run. I won’t need a stone or a sling to knock it off kilter. I’ll just stand and rest in know that I am neither not enough or too much. I am who I am. I will just be.

3. I am not one to avoid confrontation. I am learning to say my thoughts and express my needs without being an asshole, to respond rather than react. I’m not necessarily afraid of that though I do not enjoy it. I don’t need someone to agree with me, in fact I question relationships that agree on everything because we are all different and unique with different and unique thoughts and experiences and yet we tend to show up to the table the same? Come on. I don’t buy it.

What scares me is that we out one another. We cross each other off our lists because we value being right more so than being in relationship with one another. So rather than be crossed off someone’s list, I’d rather run away or build a high wall to protect myself. I am afraid of is being vulnerable, of showing up and then being rejected for it.

These are thoughts that I’ve had since the other night. Knowing why you sink or swim or erect a high wall is important. Ask the question: What is going on inside of me? It’s revolutionary question because there is always an answer and that answer will help you do better next time.

4. Don’t take anything personally. My face-to-face situation that was oddly similar and familiar from the other day had nothing to do with me being not enough or too much even though my feelings told me so. The person in the situation was not trying to be malicious or harmful. How I felt actually had nothing to do with them either. Rejection is a blame-shifter. Since it won’t take responsibility for being an asshole, it tries to make everyone take the fall. We are all journeying along, reacting or responding to life and to one another. Keep your focus on where it needs to be.

5. I’d be remiss not to mention that I walked into the situation with high hopes. It’s enticing to go with the vision that pops into your head of how you think things are going to go and run with it. Needless to say, expectations, even seemingly good ones, can lead to being disappointed, which ultimately can lead a person with high hopes *like me* to feeling rejected.

6. Forgive and move on. I realize I still have healing to do which just embodies everything above I’ve previously mentioned. There is no once and done when it comes to healing a deep wound and forgetting it and calling it healed it doesn’t work. Forgiveness does. Do it with yourself and others and get on with it and when it come back up, which it will, do it again and again and move forward. If you don’t, it only reattaches the wound to you so you can drudge a heavy ball and chain through the mire and much creating more of a mess. Forgive and move on.

7. Jesus. ALL of Him in ALL of this. Always. The end.

Friends, my words of advice are to keep at it. Simple and sweet. Wherever you are at, keep going. Do the best you can with your one wild life. I think that’s the very best thing we can do with it.

 

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