Shadows of before…

Frozen at a red light: How I Lost and Found Myself

How I lost and found myselfWhen I was sixteen, my grandpa died. It was one of those heart-crushing, soul-devouring moments that brought my entire life to a stop; a red light. And I sat at that red light for as long as I could. I watched cars crossing my path, feeling the freedom of the green light before them. I watched their seemingly easy, smooth drive lead them to their goal destinations. I sat there, at that spot, with my hands at ten and two, my body frozen with grief, and watched the red light above me gently swing in the breeze.

Grandpa was once beside me. He was once in the driver’s seat, leading me through life’s struggles, and pointing out at the road signs of wisdom that would pass us by.

He told me to always stay focused on what’s in front of me; that if I looked too long to the left or the right, I would naturally start steering the car slightly in that direction. I think about that often, even now. I think about how it applies to life too. My goals are in front of me. I am driving toward them, but if I get distracted, and start focusing too long on other things, I’ll end up steering toward them instead. What you focus on leads you in that direction. So if you focus on your goal, you are more likely to get there, and not steer off in another direction.

What you focus on leads you in that direction

For years after he passed away, I sat frozen at that red light. I felt lost without his direction, or the stability of his presence. I had abandoned my broken heart. I left it bleeding, laying on the cold hospital room floor, where he took his last breath. I left it there for far longer than I should have. And I made choices that led me far away from where I ultimately wanted to be in life. Uncertainty had become my best friend. And I basked in it, in a self-loathing kind of way.

After some time, people began getting impatient and annoyed with me. I was still not moving after the red light changed to green. The honking and the yelling became overwhelming. And when I was finally ready to drive ahead, my car stalled.

I left the comfort of my own car of life, and began walking through an unknown territory of darkness. I got into the cars of others who led me down roads that weren’t meant for me. I looked to the wrong people, trying to fill the void left within my rib-cage after my grandpa went away. I was losing myself in the process. I was stuffing who I was, deeper and deeper inside me. And on the day that I realized that I was so far from my own car and from the light of day, I didn’t know how to find my way back.

I met God when I was seven. I asked him into my heart in the way that I was taught, and was told that I was born again. I had no idea what that truly meant. But I do know that I genuinely believed—and then as the years passed by– I genuinely drifted away from Him. I tucked God away in the back of my mind, until I felt broken beyond repair.

In the midst of my rock bottom pain, I was drawn back to Him.

To be continued…

Part II coming soon.

Vulnerability: How I freed My Heart + Found Myself

It’s a strange thing, vulnerability. Like shedding a layer of your skin off, and exposing the world inside of you, it is both refreshing and uncomfortable. The perfect mix of confidence and insecurity. We think that we are alone in the fact that we have a dark, maybe even ‘strange’ world beneath our surface. We think that we should never let that part of us see the light of day. Suppress it. Neglect it. You keep pushing away that piece of you that you believe is so unworthy.  There’s that piece that might’ve even been haunting you for a large portion of your life, because you’re so ashamed of it. You think if you keep it to yourself, it’s not true.  It’s easier to just ignore the tough emotions that we’ve dealt with in our lives, and try to forget them.

But vulnerability is so much more than any of this. It can be healing. It can be healing for not only you- but for others as well. We’re all fighting battles. Most of them, we are completely unaware of. Have you felt worthless for years because you didn’t get the support you so desperately needed as a child? Have you been blaming yourself for something, and it has been devouring you? We all have something. Most of us have a version of ourselves that we are not proud of.

We have all been a small child, and that little girl or boy still lives within our hearts.  For most of my life, I locked mine away. And every so often, she would cry to be let out; to be set free. Every time she tried to get out, or screamed in agony, I’d yell back. I would push her arms back through the bars of the prison cell that I had built inside my heart. And I’d add another lock on the door. Again and again, I would turn away from her, and give her my back. I’d walk away from that cold, empty cell in the corner of my heart– that cell that holds the girl I once was. And I’d cry for her. With every piece of me that had fallen away, I would cry for her. Then she would be quiet and I would ignore her again, until the next time that she wept and cried out in agony.

I spent much of my teens and twenties resisting everything I was. I created this mask that covered my foundation; everything that made me who I was as a child. With everything I had, I pushed that little girl far back inside of me. I hid her so well that even I had a hard time finding her on the day I decided that I missed her. Whatever it took to be friends with certain people, I devoted to becoming. I suppressed so many aspects of myself.  I suppressed them so well, that they created a pool of sadness within my heart. And I was drowning.

I have graduated highschool, and been to college, while having grown up in an unstable, alcoholic atmosphere. I have loved and been married. I gave birth to a child. I have been divorced. And I have loved again. Of all of the experiences I have been through, the toughest, by far, would be in loving myself. It has been tough, mainly because I haven’t felt worthy. I could say that I wish I had known this piece of information years earlier, but then I wouldn’t be who I am today. And now that I’ve discovered more of whom that is—I quite like her.

Imagine what doors would open, if we were sincere about who we are. Imagine how inspiring you could be to someone who feels lost, or alone. Imagine the lives that could change for the good of this world.

I have never felt more freedom than when I unlocked that cell. I will never forget the sound of the rusty door scraping along the floor of my heart as I swung it open and walked across to the corner on the other side, where I saw the shadow of a little girl, curled up on the floor. With whispers of past hurts, regrets, and tears, echoing all around me, I held out my hand, as the frail little girl slowly lifted her head to look at me. I felt her icy fingers in mine, and helped her to her feet. Brushing her hair away from her face, I looked into her deep, beautiful, innocent eyes. And I told her that she was amazing. I told her that she would be worthy of anything that she would want out of this world. I told her that she is loved- so unconditionally loved- by Him.

If we’re blessed with a safe place to share, maybe it is good once in a while. Maybe what we need is to console and love our inner child; our inner self.

Sincerely + Gratefully,

Jen