There was always the smallest part of me that believed I was good enough, that believed I deserved something. To be happy. To be loved. To be wanted. To be cared for. Even in the midst of some powerful and deep feelings of self-loathing I held these tiny nuggets as truth. They WERE there. They DID exist. I just pushed them aside and disregarded them so easily because even bigger were these notions of being unimportant. Worthless. Unlovable. No one could have ever shown me those small pieces of goodness and love to the point I would believe them because the negatives spoke so much louder. That’s the trick of it, really. To discover the truth underneath the mountain of lies, you have to stop and listen. You need to allow yourself that stillness because the truth speaks as soft as a whisper. We don’t often make the effort to hear it, and we don’t always know it’s there, because the lies are loud and they’re sitting right in front of you clear as day. You can see them. You can almost reach out and grab them for as vivid as they are. It’s a mirage. We don’t have to see that and believe it. We don’t have to and shouldn’t ever really believe anything because it’s in front of our faces. Don’t believe me. Don’t believe anyone else. Don’t believe yourself. Don’t listen to the screaming because it is nothing more than the harsh wind. The truth is rarely that brash. You have to work for it, search for it, you have to close your eyes and rest in the stillness. Let it sing to you. Let the soft gentle music of what is real float up through the garbage and wind its way into your heart. It is there. But don’t believe me because I’m saying it. Don’t believe it unless you hear it for yourself. But don’t allow yourself to believe any more in the ugliness that stares you down either. Take the time, the space, the risk to stop and listen. Let the truth find you and it will set you free. It will allow you to believe and trust. Not in anyone else, but in yourself.
Trust lies somewhere between a risk and a promise – it’s the tension between them. Trust is what we have, not in others, but in ourselves – in our ability to handle the consequences of failure. We take a risk knowing there are consequences. There are always consequences. But if we do take that risk knowing full well we may fall on our face, we know not only is the risk worth it, but that we trust ourselves enough to handle what may come. The responsibility is ours. We place it on our own shoulders and relieve others of the burden of letting us feel one thing or another. We share their pain, they share our joys, but never are they responsible for how we react or act when the consequences come.
In Melbourne the whisper of a truth – the simple ideas of being worthwhile, good, beautiful, precious, meaningful and lovable were silent. I couldn’t hear them over the harsh screaming I allowed to take over. The vision before my eyes that I had carried along with me all my life; that I allowed to exist. That I allowed to act out. That I allowed to cover up the truth. I am no good. I am ugly. I am weird. I am awful. Mean. Rude. Unlovable. Worthless. I believed it in that moment and then in the many moments to follow with a ferocity I had never before. In that past, I had always allowed some light in. I had let myself believe that maybe I deserved a second look, because maybe what I had been hearing wasn’t the truth. I stopped believing it then, stopped believing that little beams of light were mine, that they belonged to me, so I sealed those cracks, sat in the pitch darkness and let the harshness become my reality. And I fell apart. And I fell apart. And I fell apart. I stopped talking to anyone at all, I stopped asking for help and I stopped believing I needed it because I certainly stopped believing I deserved it. I was too horrible. I was absolutely, without a doubt, the most disgusting person alive. I became like a robot – saying all the right things to the right people so they would believe I was fine, so they would leave me alone long enough to not stop me from turning to ash and being swept away by the wind. Yeah, sure. I feel good. I’m going to be okay. Things will get better. But on the inside I was dead. I was gone. There was nothing left. I was exhausted by grief and loneliness and disgust. And that is the moment I just wanted to disappear. I didn’t have anywhere else to go.
At some point I built my heart a suit of armor. It needed protection because to break any more was not an option. It was already in a million pieces and by the grace of god, those pieces still managed to function enough on their own to keep me alive. So I put my head down and took a breath. I steadied myself and prepared for a long and difficult journey. I would pick up those pieces, one at a time and with each, I would examine the damage. The reality was that the damage I had done to myself was rather spectacular, and there were piles upon piles upon piles of self-loathing to sift through to get to the bottom and learn some inalienable truths about the person I am. The person I am actually incredibly proud to be. Alongside this was also the realization that other people may not love me, may not even like me, and that is okay, too. I am not for everyone. I have always known it would take some amazing people to put up with me and that is how I find myself surrounded by some pretty stunning souls. It takes a little magic to deal with this piece of work right here, and I am grateful for all of them more than I have ever been. Grateful for their kindness and patience, for encouragement and love, for the energy it takes to reach through the barriers of self-deprecation, the weirdness, the near-constant chatter and pull out a human being and to say – you know, you’re worth the effort. I could not have asked for anything better in my life than that right there and so I know I am profoundly lucky. It was seeing those people in my life for who and what they are that helped me slowly take apart that suit of armor; that allowed me to believe I could stand to take a risk again, even if it meant I got hurt. And I have. And I will again. But I know some things I didn’t before, or I know them in a way I didn’t understand them in the first place. Taking that risk, making myself vulnerable, is the only way to find what I’m looking for. When things fall apart and I feel afraid and embarrassed and unsteady, when it feels like I’ve been slapped and pushed down, I know those special people will be my safety net and they will remind me of who I am and that I am worth it. I will take a breath and go back out, tie my heart to a string and see what it catches…again and again and again until that certain someone finds it and loves and protects it as fiercely as their own.
The challenges I face now are are not any different, though they are muted by time and distance and a whole lot of reflection on the events of 2010. The difference is in my understanding of what life and relationships are. The difference is in knowing what love is and how to practice it. It is a lot about how to look at myself and be comfortable with the person I am. To stop feeling like just because someone is critical or someone gets upset that it must mean I’m a monster who has to change everything to fit in. This is a really fucking hard lesson I’m learning, especially as I slowly put myself back out into the world and encounter new people and develop new relationships. I had forgotten how hard it is to engage in the real world, and I guess in some way I hadn’t really paid much attention to how much I’d sheltered myself from the consequences of taking a risk and opening up to a stranger. And, I’ll be honest, it sometimes makes me want to crawl back inside my covers and stay there forever. But that is no way to live, especially considering the things I want from this life.
The truth is that I’m not always going to be everything to everyone. Not always, not sometimes and not even most of the time. I’ll always be not enough or too much of something to someone. Too ugly, too stupid, too insecure, too weird, not educated enough, not funny enough, not thin enough, not happy enough or I talk too much or I swear too much or I’m too rude, or too crass or too whatever. I’ve heard it all and what is it about me that makes it so easy for people to feel like they can look at me and tell me I’m not good enough? WHAT IS IT ABOUT ME THAT I KEEP PUTTING MYSELF IN THAT POSITION? And worse, what is it about me that I have let myself believe any of it? But no more. This is one of the biggest and most important lessons of the last year and, really, in the entirety of my life. I am proud of the work I have done to get here and I am inspired by that progress and the celebration of it to go even further.
It may look or sound like this long and often painful journey is sad or hard and, I’ll be honest, there are times when it is exactly that, but lately it has become a joy and a pleasure to see myself in new ways. It’s rewarding…and I spend every day wondering what will happen next. Where will I go today? Who will I find underneath this little pile of dirt? Self-discovery and self-awareness are gifts I have chosen to give myself and I’m just going to say it motherfuckers – I AM PRETTY FUCKING SPECTACULAR. I believe in that and in myself in ways I have never before and every day I take a step further toward that beautiful space of self-acceptance. You can say I’m not good enough but I’m not having any of it. I am good enough and then I am more – I am beautiful and I’m about to explode across the night sky. Something big is coming my way and you have a front-row seat to see that my life is going to get pretty fucking huge. I’m going to blow the doors right off this bitch and oh, how I cannot wait to see what happens next.