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Oh, Mrs. Moore….

I have no free time. If I am not at school, I’m working on homework; if I’m not working on homework, I am at church; if I’m not at church, I am walking/playing/training our lovely puppy Casey; if I’m not involved with Casey, I am trying to catch a few minutes with my very busy husband. Life is just simply insane. The last thing I need to do is add more to my list…which is why I just had to add the new Beth Moore book to my gigantic pile of reading! So Long, Insecurity is a book focused purely on helping women overcome their constant insecurities. Though I am only two chapters into it, I feel as though she took my life and decided to lay all my insecurities out there for the world to see.
The first things that hit me hard were her definitions of insecurity: “Insecurity refers to a profound sense of self-doubt – a deep feeling of uncertainty about our basic worth and our place in the world. Insecurity is associated with chronic self-consciousness, along with a chronic lack of confidence in ourselves and anxiety about our relationships. The insecure man or woman lives in constant fear of rejections and a deep uncertainty about whether his or her own feelings and desires are legitimate.” Wow. Really? How is it that a woman I’ve never met can read me so well? 
After reading that definition, I knew that if Beth Moore asked me to jump in order to discover how I could heal myself from this chronic, debilitating problem, I would have asked how high. A few pages later she sucked me in even farther: “The insecure person also harbors unrealistic expectations about love and relationships. These expectations, for themselves and for others, are often unconscious. The insecure person creates a situation in which being disappointed and hurt in relationships is almost inevitable. Ironically, although insecure people are easily and frequently hurt, they are usually unaware of how they are unwitting accomplices in creating their own misery”.  
And there it is. My life unfolded in the printed word and not written by my own hand. Let me elaborate a smidge. I question every decision I ever make, wondering if it’s the right decision or if I am being to hasty and need to keep pondering. I always think people who are unfriendly and short toward me are angry at me because I did something wrong. I ALWAYS think I am the one at faults. ALWAYS. I rarely hold onto friends long because I have a tendency to pick the toxic friends who are flaky and unreliable. If I think people are becoming distant, I will be the one to push them away first to avoid more hurt and disappointment at the failed friendship. When the friendship does fail, because it almost always does, I reflect upon it and decide I am just not good enough to have any friends. I have created my own self-fulfilled prophecy. 
I cannot tell you the countless hours I have spent wondering about my place in the world. The numerous prayers to God have come up empty and I am always left wondering why I am here at all. Some days I feel as though I have a grasp on my role, but give me a few days and I will lose any confidence in that security. It happens like clockwork. Like an endless cycle. I hate it. I hate me half the time. I hate that I hate me. Thus, the reason I am reading the book. Hopefully, Mrs. Moore will guide me through this minefield I have planted for myself without walking on the forgotten mines. I’ll let you know how it goes.

TWLOHA

So, first off, I have to apologize. I started this blog and for a while I kept up with it faithfully, but over the last few weeks I have slacked tremendously. For that, I am so very sorry.

On to my new topic, one of which is very close to my heart: To Write Love on Her Arms. It is an non-profit organization dedicated to spreading awareness about depression, cutting, suicide, and addiction and to provide support and help for those suffering from these issues. I love this part of their vision: “You were created to love and be loved.  You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story.  You need to know that your life matters.”

Part of the reason I adore this organization so much is based on how tightly they hold onto that idea of loving each other through the pain. It’s unbelievable to me how this group of people can simply love complete strangers because they know those strangers are worth something and need to understand that.

TWLOHA reaches my heart on an even more personal level, though. For quite a while I have struggled with the concept of self-esteem and whether or not I deserve to be loved. It was never something people would have known. I work hard at being the ever-pleasing people person and encourager that I was made to be, but for some reason that encouragement I love to pour out on others doesn’t seem to touch my own heart. I have a tendency to set myself up for failure and let depression kick in when I succeed at failing. I have taken major steps toward being self-confident and a more positive person toward myself. I haven’t cut my wrist in 2 years and 6 months. That’s quite the accomplishment. I am working hard at never doing it again, but it can be quite the struggle when things get emotionally rough. So far, so good, I guess.

I am also working hard at understanding that people really do love me and want to be my friend. I have never truly had stable friends. Part of it is my fault because I either pick bad friends or become flaky to the ones who actually mean something to me, but I have never been able to hold onto a friend for very long. I just never really thought that people wanted to be around me for extended periods of time because I truly could not see anything good about myself. I am getting better at that. A solid support system has helped a lot.

My faith and relationship with God has helped tremendously with my recovery as well. Though I may forget it more often than I would like to, I keep reminding myself I was created for a purpose and that God loves me no matter what. I don’t always grasp those concepts very well, as my husband would quickly let you know, but he (my husband) helps me to remember how much God loves me as often as he can, and he tells me how much he loves me as well. Love keeps me together. Family, friends, God. Without their love, I wouldn’t make it day-to-day. Because of my constant need to be reminded of this love, I have decided to get the word “love” tattooed on my wrist for several reasons: 1) TWLOHA – the name is so very fitting; 2) the only reason I haven’t cut myself again in the last 2 1/2 years is because of love – God’s love, Chris’ love, my parents’ love (and in-laws’ love), and friends. I know where I could wind up again and I don’t want to go to that dark  place again, but I need their love to survive and push through; and 3) I will always be able to share my story when someone asks why I have “love” tattooed on my wrist. I have given this idea over a year of thought and consideration because I know having a visible tattoo might change how people view me. That is something I will just have to deal with. If that little piece of skin covered in ink will cause people to judge me, that is ok. I need to do this, if for no other reason, then for myself and to keep me on track.

So TWLOHA is a pretty personal thing to me. I understand the loneliness that is out there within people that suffer with these problems. I love that TWLOHA exists! I really do! There are generations of hurting kids around the world who just need to know how much they’re loved and how important they truly are. I hope I can help this movement to the best of my abilities. I know helping is by telling my story. As simple of a story as it may be, I need to share it, both for my sake and others. Each time I tell my story, I heal a little more inside and I let someone else know they aren’t alone. No matter how they may feel, they aren’t alone.

Here’s the link to the story that started it all:

http://www.twloha.com/vision/story/

Traditions…

During this time of year, the word “tradition” is thrown around quite a bit. To some, it is a joyous time when grand memories of family traditions get be created again this year. For others, it is a horrific memory in which it may be more fun to put a pencil through one’s eye. (My husband used that illustration during the traditional Christmas Eve service at a church we went to. It was just that horrific.) Views on the word vary from person to person.

As I reflect on my personal experiences with the word “tradition”, I think about so many different instances. Earlier this week was my birthday. Birthdays in the Metheny household have always been a big deal. The entire family gets together for dinner (birthday person’s pick), cake and presents. It is a time of celebration of life and family. When I turned 14, my mom and I started a new tradition to go along with the birthday celebration. She and I would go out of town for the weekend, spend the night in a hotel, and do some shopping. It would be just us girls. No Pops, no munchkins, no worries. I loved it! For 4 years this became the highlight of my birthday experience. For my 19th birthday, though, I was off at college. There was no way for me to get home and celebrate the “traditional” way. I cried that birthday…and the next one…and the next one. As much as I loved celebrating my birthday, I struggled adjusting to the lack of “tradition”. I wanted it back. Since I wasn’t living at home anymore, we have started a new tradition – packages. I always get a birthday package from my parents, along with multiple phone calls from the whole family. We try to make it as special as it was before even though everything is different. Since I got married, my husband now makes every effort to make my birthday special. This year he planned (with the help of some dear, very sneaky friends) a huge surprise party for me that I was oblivious about. It was wonderful! The amount of love I felt from the people at that table made me oh so giddy. I could not have imagined a better way to spend my birthday this year!

Another traditional event coming up this month is Thanksgiving. Since my family is 1800 miles away, spending Thanksgiving with them is quite difficult due to our tight income at this moment in our lives. We do spend Thanksgiving or the day after with Chris’ family, though. That is a tradition we still hold on to. We are also starting a new one. This is the first year we are having a Thanksgiving meal at our apartment as well. We’ve invited some of our nearest and dearest friends that will be around during the week of constant eating and fellowship. I have planned out quite an extravagant meal; I’m not even sure how I’m going to get it all made! But I am very excited for an opportunity to make new traditions and memories out of this time in our lives. I might just make Jamison do a little video taping to remember it. 🙂

The final big traditional moment coming up next month is…..you guessed it! CHRISTMAS! Woo hoo! My reason for enjoying Christmas as much as I do is for one main aspect, I get to see my family for about 2 weeks. Because I only see them twice a year, I have been waiting for this moment since June. I get to talk with my parents, share the hugs that have been sorely missed, prepare meals together, and just enjoy the antics of my siblings. I wait on pins and needles for those weeks. It’s currently only 34 days until I get there! Yay!

Thinking back to some of the traditions during Christmas, I realize we have quite a few thanks to my mom. She always puts so much effort into making sure our Christmas is amazing! She’s never failed at it either. She and my pops are such amazing people. They’ve made me who I am and helped me to appreciate the important things in life, like family. Some of our family traditions consist of: getting to open one present on Christmas Eve (ALWAYS PJS. ALWAYS. But I like them), making Christmas cookies from homemade dough, having lasagna on Christmas Eve for dinner, waking up NO earlier than 7 am to open presents on Christmas, staying in our pjs most the day (they are new pjs! They need to be broken in of course), and so many others.

In the spirit of making traditions, Chris and I started a couple this year. This is the first year since we got married (July 2008) that we bought a Christmas tree. Mind you, this tree better last us for years but it’s beautiful! We decorated it with blue, pink, and black ornaments. We also hung stockings on the wall, but instead of just 2 stockings, we have 7. Yup, 7. The other 5 belong to a key group of people that spend a lot of time at our house (and one that doesn’t have much time to stop by, but will as time goes on). They have become like family and we wanted to treat them as such by involving them in our new tradition.

I’m not sure what other traditions will be created over the next month, but I am sure that there will be more. I can’t wait!

The Night Sky

Marissa leaned back onto the cozy cotton comforter as she looked at the night sky. The crisp, clear sky allowed the stars to shine to their full potential tonight. For a short while, she lost herself in their beauty. There were just so many. Every direction she looked, they twinkled “hello”. But the comforting feeling soon began to edge away. She felt herself being sucked back into her private black hole despite all the beauty.

Alone. Here I am, all alone again. Nothing changes. It always ends up the same. Her sigh seemed to encompass her whole being.

Loneliness ate away at her soul. For years it always seemed to lurk in the background waiting for something to fall apart so it could pounce on its prey. Every time Marissa felt she was strong enough to move forward, she always fell backward. Nothing seemed to change.

“God, why?” The crack in her voice made her cringe. She knew the tears would follow soon. They always did. Tonight she was prepared though. A large box of Kleenex sat next the comforter. “I try. I put so much into these relationships and they always fall apart. ALWAYS. What am I doing wrong? Is it me? Is there something wrong with me? I just don’t understand why I don’t have any friends…it’s not like I haven’t tried. I’ve put forth every effort I know how to, God. I pray every day for a friend. What am I missing? WHAT?” Then the heaving tears flowed.

Now, Marissa had friends. She had plenty of friends. They called her for advice almost every day. She helped with their problems, encouraged them the best she knew how, and genuinely loved each of them. Though it helped them, it didn’t supply what she needed in a friendship. A person can only give so much of herself before she needs someone to help fill her back up. Marissa was running on empty. She wasn’t sure she could even give good advice anymore. She felt so unbelievably broken, like scattered puzzle pieces on the floor before assembly began. Only it seemed as though there was no one to start the assembly process.

For years, more accurately most of her life, she struggled with finding a real friend. A true blue best friend. She would have friends, people to confide in, laugh and cry with, and experience life with, but they never lasted more than a few months and when the relationship ended, she felt more empty than before it started. As a result, she tried experiencing life alone. Maybe then she wouldn’t get hurt. Unfortunately, that was worse. The loneliness grew worse, as did the depression.

Then for a while she reconnected with church, and most importantly, God. She thought that would help solve everything, but even as her relationship with God grew and her influence grew, she was still alone. Empty and alone.

“Life is meant to be done with other people,” the Pastor would say. “You can’t do this alone. You weren’t meant to be alone.”

Then why am I still alone? Why am I still friendless, God? Why? Why? Why? She asked herself every time he said those famous lines.

That night, lying underneath the black holes in the universe, Marissa knew she had God. She knew He wasn’t going anywhere. Her faith hadn’t wavered because of this plight. She also knew that right now she needed more. She needed something more tangible than God. She needed God and a good female friend. She needed a mentor, an accountability partner, something more than just a counseling session or a superficial conversation. She needed transparency, openness, love and consideration. She needed someone on the same wavelength as she was and the same maturity level….she just didn’t know where to start looking.

God, what do I do? Where do I look? What am I missing? You know what I need. How long must I wait?

She dried her eyes and gathered up the comforter. She had no answers. She knew she wouldn’t. She never did, but she still tried, hoping that God would show up as a burning bush and tell her exactly what she needed to do. At that moment, she was oh so jealous of Moses. He didn’t even have to ask for a sign and there it was, right in front of him. Stupid Moses, she thought as she headed inside.

Mirror

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

Ugh, she thought while blindly looking for her cell phone that was pretending to be a much larger alarm clock. I don’t want to get up yet. Snooze it is.

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

Stupid five minute snoozes. Fine. I’ll get up, you piece of crap.

As her fingers found their way to the OK button to silence the overcompensating beast of an alarm, she unwrapped herself from the cozy cocoon of blankets. She stumbled into the bathroom, somehow managing not to trip on the random articles of clothing scattered on the floor. As she hopped into the scalding hot shower, her pajamas added to the heap of clothing. After the routine washing and cleansing, she shut off the water and opened the shower curtain hating the frigid wall of air as it hit her. She dried off as she scurried to find some clothes that were not on the floor in an attempt to regain some warmth. Once that was accomplished, it was back to the bathroom for more morning fun.

The routine rarely changed. Brush Hair. Brush Teeth. Moisturize. Conceal. Foundation. Mascara. Eyeliner. Eyeshadow. Blow dryer. Protective Hair Spray. Hair Straightener. Hairspray. Spray perfume. It was always in the middle of the process when she started to wake up – some times that involved a boost of caffeine thanks to her coffee pot. Either way, now she was awake and busy applying her simple pieces of everyday jewelry. Glancing at her watch, she smiled. I have time to pause and breathe this morning! Yay! She looked up and the grin grew. I look good. Flawless makeup, perfect hair, coordinating clothing. I really do look good.

She grabbed her purse and headed out the door to class. The drive to the university gave her time to think about that last moment before leaving. When was the last time I felt confident about how I looked?….I really don’t remember. How sad is that? But it is so very nice to have a day when I actually think it. It’s taken so long for me to get to this point; I guess the only way is up from here. With that thought, she turned up Taking Back Sunday and enjoyed the rest of her drive, knowing, at least for a while, that she was self-confident and prayed it last more than just hours.

Musically Inspired…

She stood still and screamed.
No, not the wussy little scream that comes from a little girl when she sees a spider. This scream started at the tips of her black painted toenails and ended  at the dyed tips of her hair. She refocused the scream to culminate in her lungs and come out of her mouth. That scream contained it all…
It held traces of frustration, dashes of anger, hints of depression, a small smidgeon of repressed joy,  and topped off with a dollop of loneliness. Every emotion, every failed attempt, every unsaid word, every word that should have been unsaid, every thing inside her unleashed.
Oh how wonderful it felt! How joyous! How invigorating!  Suddenly, she didn’t feel like a shaken can of Cherry Coke, about to burst from pressure. She started to feel human again and less like a robot. Who knew it was possible? Who knew she could let it out?
When there was no more sound to release, she popped her jaw closed and let out a sigh of relief. She smiled as she looked around because she could make it through for a little while longer, until she needed to scream again.


**Thank you, lostprophets, for your inspirational song, “Rooftops (a liberation broadcast)”.

Perspective Changes

Well, I usually try to prove people wrong, but this time I get to prove Timm right. He said I’ll probably write three-for-three and so here it is:

While talking with my husband Chris this morning, I began pondering how much I enjoy impacting others’ lives. We discussed a few instances that really got me thinking – who have I had the opportunity to impact?

Since I have stepped into a leadership role at RPC (my church), I have been blessed with the chance to really impact kids’ lives. I have been put in charge of several areas of the children’s ministry, one of which is the Sunday morning arena known as PowerUp for kindergardeners through fifth graders. I suddenly became in charge of these kids. Though I have been helping out in this role since February 2009, it was not until last week when I was part of an actual leadership meeting at RPC that I started to really think about my role. I have never thought myself as leadership. I always thought of myself as just another volunteer that just does a little bit more work. I was quickly corrected by EVERYONE I discussed this crisis of identity with. Now through the eyes of a leader, I realize how important my impact is on those kids, along with the impact of the other volunteers under my guidance. I love these kids. I know my faithful, amazing volunteers love these kids. I know these kids love me and the volunteers. Over the last year and a half of volunteering for PowerUp in some way, shape or form, I have witnessed how simply loving these kids has impacted their lives. One little girl runs up and hugs me every time she sees me. A couple other munchkins are so adorable that you cannot help but love them. I have watched hyper little boys become quiet as church mice walking up the stairs because we made it into a game. They warm my heart to new levels each week. I only want the best for them. If I didn’t, I would not be able to impact their lives the way I can. Through my interactions with them, and that of my volunteers, these kids are able to associate church with love, as a place of acceptance and joy. I didn’t get that as a child. For me, church was a place full of strangers that I saw very infrequently. At PowerUp, these kids receive an experience I never had, and I hope they never receive my experience at all.

Now that I have fully grasped my leadership role, I have also started helping out as a part-time leader in our youth group that started last month under the direction of our new youth pastor. I hope to provide the same relational, loving impact with these teenagers that I can with my  PowerUp munchkins. I guess we will have to wait and see as the months progress. I can tell you this, though, those teenagers will experience the same love and acceptance the elementary age kids do, whether they are willing to accept it or not.

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