Today is a day of remembrance for many. It's a day of triumph and pain, but mostly, a reminder of strength.
Eighteen years ago, the only thing I ever wanted was to be healthy. I wanted to have a mind that wasn't plotting my demise and death, and eyes that saw a worthy human before them and not Ugly. Bad. Useless. Annoying. Loud. Pretentious. Emotional. Usable. A litany of descriptors and labels followed me around.
I hated me for all that I was not. I hated me for all the things other people told me I ought to be and for all the things they thought I should be able to do and didn't. Or couldn't. Donald Miller said it best: "The great stumbling block of the creative mind is the awareness of self from the perspective of others." This awareness was an albatross of obligation, this contract to conform that was both other and self-imposed. I carried the weight of it all for as long as I could until I just couldn't anymore. And unfortunately, that's all any of us who are concerned with pleasing others have to look forward to: The moment we can't carry their demands any longer.
That heart-wrenching moment really is the beginning of something majestic - but it must rupture everything held falsely precious first. All that you hold dear must lie as a sacrifice on the altar of willingness and become only a memory before healing can begin.
My moment came 6 years ago, September 11, 2007. I stepped onto a plane headed for Paradise, Utah (no, seriously) where I surrendered my life, my choices, and my dignity (for a time) and became willing. It was truly one of the most ugly and pathetic experiences of my whole life, literally handing over my mind to other people who could take care of it better than I could. There just comes a point in some people's lives when all of the words, and the bullying, and the abuse, and the judgement and silencing literally breaks you. And by "you" I mean a person's soul, the very essence of them becomes something else, entirely. It took a good, long time for me to see that only in an act of both absolute surrender and bravery can a soul that broken find repair.
And I did.
I am still not perfect. I am still not "good". I am not now and never was "bad". I am definitely still not you. I'm not measured or defined by standards. I am not wearing labels or walking the way I've been told is acceptable. I'm just alive and trying and enjoying and failing and embracing and adventuring and being and HUMAN. I am who I am because I am supposed to be who I am.
And if I'm honest, that's all I want: To bravely be myself.
To stand however I see fit to stand.
Even if it is alone.