Words hold much more power than can be fully understood.
Words are tasty, life-giving, life-altering, sometimes dangerous, nearly always provocative, rich, encouraging, destructive weapons. Or healing salves. They can be used to build up or tear up. They shape us: Confidence or insecurity are direct results of the words we hear as children, even as adults. Why are words so darn powerful?
Words always come from the heart.
They may not be words we want to hear or speak, but they always come from that deep place in a human being where all of our un-permissible feelings and thoughts live - where we hide away what might be the best parts of ourselves with all the Worst Parts, you know, so we can be like "everyone else" and people will like us. What sucks is that the Worst Parts really have no respect for the tight lid we are trying to keep on them and those creepy jerks find their way to the surface when we are tired, or hurting. Or just really pissed off.
When they are particularly venomous, they stick in that disgusting, can't-stop-hearing-it-or-being-hurt-by-it-brain-spasming-heart-cracking-I-wish-I-could-turn-my-head-off kind of way. Our thoughts fly around the words, looking at them from every angle, trying to determine meaning and re-living their painful, surprising birth into our lives, and we are left to reach, so desperately, for a stable place on which to steady ourselves. There are far more of these words in the world, slithering out of the Worst Parts of us, than there are of the good kind.
Beautiful poetry, kind statements from a friend, a well told story that makes us laugh, a gracefully penned song that reminds us of Joy and Redemption, a piece of scripture that details the Love of a Father; they undo our defenses and release us to the possibility of healing, they return us to ourselves. We want these words. We search for these words - because we need them to be able to survive the attacks of the Worst Parts of ourselves.
Forever, good or bad, these little travelers go with us.
Friday, July 6, 2012
When I was 11 years old, I began a dieting routine that soon became the norm in my life. By the time I was 16, I was in and out of treatment programs and hospitals on a somewhat regular basis for an eating disorder that had claimed not only my (and my parents) financial health, but my physical health, my right mind and what remained of my soul. At the age of 24, I gave up. I believed I was never going to be able to take back what God had given me and in my anger and defeat, I tried to finish off what remained of His gifts.
I don't and never will remember making the decision. I'll never see myself hooked up to the plethora of machines that sustained my life and stole nearly all hope from the hearts of my bewildered parents as they watched me in a coma, dying in a sterile ICU unit in a cold, unfamiliar, east coast town. I'll never know the true terror that seized the heart of my sister, family, and friends as they languished in prayer for a miracle recovery from far away places, their minds full of questions.
I only have the privilege of embracing and celebrating the answer to those prayers: A life that remains, a life graciously returned.
Five years ago today I woke up.
For five years I have had the privilege of celebrating the triumphs of recovery, the failures of my humanity, and the relief of a God who does not change, does not forsake, does not turn away NO MATTER WHAT.
I've found freedom from the diseases, the habits, and the death that clung to me in the form of pursuit of perfection in nearly everything; free of the need to control. I am beyond blessed to have freedom from the physical, financial, and most of the relational consequences of the disease.
I pray, if God wills it, that in the next 5 years I will find freedom from the stigma and labels associated with the person I was when I was sick with those illnesses. I pray that those who believed I was a failure without hope, gain a new understanding of the disease that held me captive and release their judgement and ignorance; not for my benefit, but for those that remain, for those who will one day suffer a mental disease (maybe even themselves, personally) and need their support and understanding.
I pray my friends learn to embrace and not run from the reality of mental illness anymore than they would from a diagnoses of cancer or diabetes - because, in so many ways, they are the same; unwanted and uninvited illnesses that infect and impair different parts of the body or mind, both (and nearly just as often) fatal. Not that I in any way believe these diseases are to be compared - nor the experiences of individuals facing them, but I do hope for the respect of the fight I faced (that others are facing and will one day face) because there is hope! I can prove it. With God's help, I did.
Yet, with people applying labels and ignoring the severity (and validity of the need to treat) these illnesses, pushing them off as the modern day lepers of society hoping that if they are ignored long enough, they'll go away, many will never speak up, never seek help, never know that hope. The ignorance of people - that's the failure.
Not me. I'm alive and well.
Posted by Lauren at 6:01 PM