Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
On my left wrist is tattooed the word beloved, and on my right wrist the word enough;. The former I received on National Coming Out Day of 2015, and the latter sometime after my first post-divorce-wedding-universary. I got both of these tattoos to function almost sacramentally, as outward symbols of an invisible (or in this case, internal) grace, tangible signs of my worthiness. However, it was almost two years later before I could look at these inkblots on my skin and believe they were true. It wasn't until this March when I stopped dead in my tracks, gazed very intentionally at each word for several seconds, and thought, "Damn straight I am."
If you aren't aware, the semicolon has become a symbol for mental illness. it represents the fact that one's diagnosis with a mental illness is not the end to one's story. We are more than our brain chemistry or our cognitive and behavioral patterns, so much more. Even better, our stories, the narrative of our lives does not end with our experiences with depression, anxiety, delusions and hallucinations, or any other manifestation of said diagnoses. Some part of me has honestly wanted every person to have these same words on their bodies, if not literally, then in some fashion. I wish every person could experience having a deeply embedded realization of their belovedness and their enoughness.
As someone who started having thoughts of self-harm at a very young age, thoughts I could feel physically in my wrists, to be able to look at the very part of my body I once associated with feelings of hopelessness and despair and instead see reminders of my worth and value, of my strength and resilience... well, that has been a truly powerful experience — one I wish for everyone who needs it.
All that said, it isn't enough to simply be stuck in oneself all the time, We are creatures who are wired for some sense of community, for relationship. I'm not talking about marriage or romanticism. I'm talking about knowing and being known. It is one thing to have people we talk to or interact with regularly. It is another to have those people who know us intimately and vulnerably, who are able to speak hard truths to us...
...people unafraid to tell us when we've been selfish assholes for over a year...
Yes, this happened to me. And yes, I deserved it. That's part of the reason for this entry, truth be told. For some time now, perhaps a year-and-a-half or so, I've done a bit too much naval gazing, wrapped up in my own drama and melodrama. Yes, there are times when we have a crisis of faith, either in God or in ourselves, and need to do some hard work internally and emotionally. But there comes a time when we must shift our energies outward and re-engage our friends, our families, and our communities.
Whether you are in a life-space of doing significant amounts of personal reflection, or in a season of focusing mostly on others more than yourself, I'm here for you. I want to know what you're learning about yourself, and I want to support you as you work to make our communities and our world a truly better place for all of us. So let's start sharing some stories, listening with intention, and responding with gratitude.