fortress ’round my heart

“[Your eyes so full of wonder]
I have crossed the horizon to find you
[Your heart, an innocent warrior]
I know your name
[There’s a task for you]
They have stolen the heart from inside you
[My dearest one]
But this does not define you
[And your deep thoughts]
This is not who you are.
You know who you are.”

it’s clear my heart is completely vulnerable when i cry tears of solidarity with the monster/hero *spoiler* at the pivotal moment in Moana (lyrics to song quoted above).  i spent a couple of weeks on my parents’ couch in November. i’d been on my own for eight years, and it was the most depressed i’d felt in a while. i had the option to sleep in my old bedroom, but i couldn’t bring myself to accept the accommodations. my mom got V to sleep even though it was my joy to rock her every night of her life. my world was upside down, and i had turned it that way. i made the decision. there were no surprises. i planned it all to go this way. but i felt like i could barely carry on except to watch tv on the couch. it took me a moment to accept the reality i was creating, because i was creating new for someone else who i want to protect more than even me.

but i made a decision in those weeks that i’ve opted to keep living by. keep moving. sometimes life’s favorable. sometimes life’s miserable. but even if i’m treading water, i’m not drowning. i’ve been barely above water some days. but most always, i have moved forward with optimal outcomes. processing things as they come and allowing myself to move through them in a wise and timely manner has mattered the most.

“are you OK, erin?” i haven’t known what to say, so i give really awkward answers. when people ask me that, i really appreciate it. they really inflect certain parts of the question to let me know they’re inquiring about my personal life. how do i say in three to four sentences that i have been processing this situation with professional help for over a year now so i feel kind of peaceful and clear now? people think i’m in denial or callous. but, if you saw an inevitable future a long while ago, would you face it and protect yourself, or would you lie down and die in it?

when i wrote my last blog post, i decided to be open about my journey through counseling. it was kind of like i was opening the door to everyone, “hey, something is coming. i am grasping for connection. i am living in the now until now is no longer.” i knew when i started the therapy journey over a year ago i had some big personal choices to make and i couldn’t make them based on my own wisdom and understanding. i had to develop tools and strengths. i had to sort through a lot of emotional and relational chaos. i read endlessly, listened to wise counsel of the experienced, discussed with professionals, talked to Biblical counselors. after the final decision was made in fall, i finally opened up to my best friends, who were totally clueless about my personal life. you know, it’s odd that way. i’m one of those people who claims to be open, light and free, but i have hidden so much darkness and pain over these last five years. depression showed me so much truth and humor about the world, but it isolated me into becoming a pitiful sliver of myself.

through my therapists, i have been able to look at my life over and over through many lenses.

looking things in the face and not making excuses for my actions was troubling, but i have experience with people who blame others for their problems. i refuse to become a bitter person who can’t identify my responsibility in a situation and move past things, making the best of a bad decision.

i learned to accept choices made from the perversion of duty in my mind. i embrace my anger and my darkness. i’m fueled and impassioned by feelings, but i have to abide by reason and balance. pushing those energies toward good makes all the difference for me. i can look inside myself and accept me, even if i don’t like aspects. i aspire to be better. i forced myself to find beauty and healing in the choices i made, even though i acquired a tremendous amount of pain. over time, the emotional pain got to be so much that i became numb without noticing, and that was the worst. i would fearfully wonder if i would feel again, being such a sensitive soul yet so disconnected from the realm of emotions. there were months where the only things that brought sparks of emotional energy to me were my child and hip-hop music (weirdly true).

then, i came through it. over time, the numbness dissolved. i feel it all now. i’m grateful for pain. pain means i’m living. and sometimes my feelings are so raw, i’m like a child expressing them. i don’t inhibit myself much. it’s a double-edged sword. not in a tantrum kind of way, but in the way that i almost wrecked my car last friday as my eyes filled with joyful tears as i stared at the blooming whites of the trees against a perfect pink sunset. sometimes i am so scared i will move back into the old mindset that i throw walls up really hard at people to protect myself. so basically, i’m a very free-feeling hermit. i hid behind a facade and a concept of what i was shamed into being for so many years, i lost myself for a while. that was my choice. i forgive myself for giving into those ideas, and now my life is back in the correct direction. i’m rebuilding.

i am not afraid of love. i believe in love more than ever. my ultimate goal has always been peace and authenticity. before this season. throughout my entire life. getting out of unrest was the goal, and moving toward peace is the vision. positive thinking and clear boundaries are helping me achieve this. i have found forgiveness in myself and everyone and every hurt. i am so thankful to look back and take a calm breath at the end of a difficult season. spring is here with the beginning of a lot of “new.”

i have no regrets, and my mind rests.

generally speaking.

[i’ve been posting like mad with a little extra time spent editing the ideas waiting in the blog queue, plus my normal postings. this is one of the last i’ve had waiting. it’s been a fun writing exercise, so thanks for reading all my flim-flam.]

“you always…”
“everybody says…”
“they definitely will/didn’t/can’t…”
“they surely did/won’t/couldn’t…”
“things never…”
an awful habit of mine is ‘speaking in definites,’ as i call it. or in generalities about things that could be specific. it comes with being dramatic in the moment. how i structure my thoughts into sentences says a lot about who i am, and it got me thinking about the effects of words:

word is bond. every utterance could be considered as a promise, a seed planted, a seed killed. so, why are words so easy to throw around? especially negative words. they do so much damage. words have so much power to create and destroy. it’s only when it’s personal that we start to realize their gravity.

do you make general assumptions sometimes? have you ever made a comment about a person or situation when you weren’t completely confident in it’s truth?
those moments are easily forgettable until a word-weapon is unloaded against you. sometimes you never even hear what was said, but you see the effects of what was said in how others treat you after they heard it.

it’s so easy to think badly of people, and therefore speak badly of them too. then it becomes habitual to generalize the worst about that person and maybe even an entire group of people. but what has been accomplished through this? sure, the negative talker perceives that he’s better than everyone else, and therefore he feels exclusive. but really, he’s alienating himself mentally and socially, i.e. he’s alone: unhappy and hard-hearted in some derealized state of accomplishment.

my friend’s long-time buddies are quite the negative talkers. they don’t say too many memorable kind words, sometimes stir up dissension for people around them, and seem like fans of gossiping & truth-stretching. i have participated in sarcastic banter with that guy over a long span of time, thinking it might impress my friend by being so witty around his friends. i even got a nickname for my efforts. over a short period of time, it got easier to say mean stuff about almost everything. in searching out ways to ‘hate’ on the world around me for humor’s sake, i inadvertently started viewing the world through a cynical lens rather often. it’s funny what cynicism does when it fills the mind. getting so busy judging others develops paranoia that the people around are hating on me

ha! what an idea. and the truth is, the majority of people likely do hate on those who are hateful toward them. it’s a hurtful cycle (that i realize i’m slightly perpetuating through this example thus far, but hold tight). in fact, my friend confirmed that the people who i enjoyed hating with also enjoyed hating on me. they made fun of me and apologized later with a pseudo-insult supporting the idea behind the mean joke. that was tough to swallow.

once words are loosed from the mouth–good or bad, they can’t be eaten. that’s the ugly of rotten words. one negative word can nullify many nice ones. that’s what makes the mean words hard to forget, even after they’ve been forgiven. the previous example hurt in my spirit. underneath my dissing, i’d been praying for those guys often since i met them. because they were important to my friend, they became important to me. the second thing that hurt my spirit is my self. i said my friend’s buddies were important to me, but they were obviously not important enough to let go of my image and take a stand for What is Right.

i presented a contradictory display of values that might have deserved a little hating on. i resolved to show kindness around these guys after my hate-gone-wrong display. i even tried to apologize, but it didn’t really go over right. maybe it was too late, but it didn’t change anything besides me seeming a bit more awkward and a lot less funny and cool. however, i’m not discouraged. i can’t change much of anything on my own, but i have seen some of my prayers answered over time for those friends i’ve discussed. (and this is a statement i can make with 100% definition: those the Lord has placed in my life and on my heart, i will pray with diligence until they’re answered. when i say i’ll pray for you, i am truly praying.) whether i’m around to see it or not, i have faith that the Lord will resolve things that i believe He has shown me. time will tell.

jokes are funny. i’m not condeming sarcasm, and i don’t plan on giving up my sense of humor. making light of the murk in this world is my favorite way to deal with it. however, be careful that meaningless negative words aren’t turning to meaningful negative thoughts. those creepy things take root and hold hard to an innocent mind before you realize. take heart in the reversal of all that’s been said: the beauty of a kind word. one sincerely kind word spoken at the proper time can break the hold of many negative ones.
a forgiveness. a compliment. a prayer. a greeting. an encouragement.
even a joke.

“A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. (James 3:4-6, MSG)