When I first got wind of Melanie Crutchfield's Hope Blog Relay, I was instantly in. Ready to contribute. Excited, even.
That was at least a week ago. I guess when it comes to exploring what hope is to me and the role she plays in my life, there are so many directions I could go, it's difficult to choose one. I suffer from Too Many Choices-Induced Paralysis, you see. It seems also that the older I get, the more easily I get - SQUIRREL!
What was I saying? Anyway, I've spent the morning reading other people's hope blogs with a hot chai tea latte in my hand, crying here and commenting there, seeing myself in so many of their words. I am inspired by their stories of struggle and growth, pain and relief. And isn't this the purpose of putting ourselves out there? To connect, inspire, comfort, and relate?
I've found myself thinking about my hopes, but confusing them with my wants. I want to be a size 8 again. I want to be successful in writing. I want to live happily ever after with my husband. I want to see the world. But wanting and hoping are two entirely different animals. To want and not get is uncomfortable, maybe painful, but life goes on. We're okay without it, even if we say we're not. We heal. But to hope and fail leaves a deeper mark, one that sinks past our skin and into the fabric of who we are. Yes, hope is why we keep pushing, the beacon of light when we're lost in the dark. Hope is the flicker of possibility in the distance that reminds us of what could be, if we just keep trying. To lose hope is to lose, period.
And what is my hope? My hope is to one day be completely happy with myself, at peace with myself, and to prove that there is something I can contribute. My hope is to one day be a mother. My hope is live a life full of love and without regret.
This is my hope blog.
My name is Lindsey. I was not physically abused as a child. A close friend of the family never sexually molested me. (I never even walked in on my parents.) My father was an electrical engineer, my mother a preschool teacher. Neither one of them was an alcoholic. High-school sweethearts, and still happily together after 45 years. My older brother never went to prison, my dad never hit my mom, my mom never cheated on my dad, and my older sister didn’t have 2 kids by the time she was fifteen. She was twenty-four. I never ran away from home for more than a few hours, and never farther than a couple blocks, and I never stole candy from the 7-Eleven. When I was six I thought we were rich. By the time I was thirteen, I thought we were desperately poor because my family didn’t get to go to Italy every summer. At nineteen I realized we were very middle-of-the-road - an average, all-American family living in central Florida an hour and a half from Disney World. We had everything we needed and most of what we wanted. I am middle-class, privileged girl from a nice home in suburbia incarnate.
So it wasn't until I was in the seventh grade that I first gave serious thought to removing myself from the sorry situation I saw my life to be. Of course at this age, I had no real idea of what I was contemplating, or what it would really mean to me and my family if I pushed that knife a little deeper into my skin. Being sad all the time made no sense to me, so I came up with reasons the best I could. I hated myself anyway, so it wasn't so hard to believe there was plenty I should be sad about. I deserved to be sad because I was worthless.
It's called depression, and it doesn't make sense. As a very wise woman once said, "Depression is a liar." There is no reasoning with it, no arguing, only frustration. It would take me twenty-something years to finally grasp this and know, even when in the grips of a bad day, that it will pass and I will climb back out again. She, Depression, will always tell me I can't, that I'm not worth it, but now I know her tricks and that I will, and that I am. In the beginning, she told me I was stupid and ugly. No, low self-esteem told me these things, and whereas I wasn't entirely sure, she was and agreed – loudly and confidently.
For the person who has never struggled with Depression, imagine her like this...I call it 'her' because she has been a life-long presence for me, practically another person. And sometimes it's easier to understand something when we give it its own life. I've named her Dee.
Dee is the worst kind of friend. What at first is offensive becomes slowly acceptable, tolerated, then not only expected, but anticipated. She's convinced you this is what you deserve.
Dee is a liar.
Dee is a master manipulator.
Dee is a bitch.
She is quiet, but she is large, watching, and encompassing.
Sometimes I think she really is another person who slides very smoothly beneath my skin, until it is her face I see in the mirror. Criticizing me. Hating me. It's an easy place to go; I know it well.
Only when I’ve climbed out of this pit do I realize I am not her, she just lingers within me, waiting for me to slip.
Is she the part of me that needs the most love? Isn’t self-love the key? Perhaps she is less confident in her destruction, and more scared. Like a bully. The bully I am to myself at times. Is it understanding she needs, to fight her demons and give her peace? Let her rest, and settle back down within my bones, the crevices of my mind?
Should I hug the bitch better?
I think no. There's no nurturing this kind of presence; it must be exorcised and shown the door. And this isn't something that can be accomplished alone.
This has been my struggle, or at least the thing that has always lingered beneath the surface making normal, manageable struggles more intense, more hurtful, and slower to heal. But something changed for me when I was 24 years old that hit Dee where it hurts, and the ripples of that strike have reached outward from deep within me and touched everything. I see the world through a different lens now, and for this I am grateful. I have a wonderful and amazing life, and I'm so happy that I'm able to more fully appreciate that now.
My hope is to continue this journey toward radical self-acceptance, to continue this climb until I can rest and look back and smile without worry. My hope is to allow my experiences to speak to others who might be on a similar path and to assure them that the darkness doesn't last. At some point, the clouds break, even if only for a moment, and that there is hope in the momentary sun that breaks through. My hope is that if I'm speaking to you, you will grab onto that moment and trust that you deserve happiness in this life. You are not the dark that surrounds you, but the light on the other side.
Thanks for reading.
Be sure to keep a look out for the other amazing bloggers participating in the Hope Blog Relay of 2012. I challenge you to add some words of your own as this relay spreads across the globe. Here is where it began...
There is a lot of hope out there in countless forms - I hope you'll find your own.