I have thought over and over about a question my mentor asked me yesterday.
What is your truth?
There are a lot of things that make up my truth. The people I have known, the people in my life now, the things I have experienced. These things all combine to make me the person that I am.
I went into Social Work because I wanted to help people. I wanted to help people because I knew what it was like to suffer. And while hindsight is 20/20, I can see so many of the mistakes I have made in coping, accepting, and sharing my truth.
I have passion. There is no question about that. But my passion that led my drive to help people started to pull me in a million different directions. I was caring about things that I couldn’t do anything about.
What I can do something about is myself.
I’m the only person I can do anything about.
Today was the fourth day I have used the app Headspace.
I took the first ten minutes of my day to listen to a video and guided meditation about our feelings.
Here’s what it said:
you’re sitting on the side of the road, watching cars drive by.
These cars are like our feelings.
And while many of us walk out into the street, trying to stop certain feelings we don’t like or don’t want, we fail to see that if we just stayed sitting on the side of the road, the feelings would eventually fade out.
At the beginning of the summer, I was so upset with everything going on in our country. Shootings, racism, hate was everywhere.
I should have thought through those feelings, and watched them pass. Only when we sit with our feelings can we properly channel them into the most constructive outlets.
The sadness, anger, and fear I felt for our country could have been properly channeled by living and loving humans. By living my every day life as an example to the world. But instead, I got swept away in the election. I became the queen of Anti-Trumpness.
In mid August, TJ, my boyfriend since high school, ended things. I was so upset, but didn’t want to let this shake me up. I wanted to prove to myself that I was strong enough to do this. So I pretended that everything was okay.
One week later, I was sexually assaulted. With the first day of class the next day, it was a lot at once…right after a lot.
And so I shoved my feelings down even more. It was so much to face, I didn’t know where to start.
So I was coasting through life. I was doing fine, because I told myself I was fine. But when those feelings slowly began to explode, I didn’t see it.
It started on the one year anniversary of getting hit by a car in a crosswalk. I felt so disoriented. I felt like I had been dead for the last year of my life. But I wrote it off as fine. I was fine.
I didn’t see what was happening. I knew I needed to do something within myself, and I knew it needed to be surrounding my emotions. However, instead of addressing my unattended feelings, I started taking my current emotions as facts.
Feelings are not facts. When we take our feelings as facts, we live in our own head. We live in our own world, full of problems we have created.
I took fleeting thoughts, that I normally wouldn’t have thought of for more than 4 seconds, I harped on. I acted on. Over and over.
Until I was crying in the bathroom of my placement.
I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom. Crying. Shaking. I was so overcome by emotions I didn’t know what to do.
But instead of sitting with them, I attacked them.
I was in a texting conversation with someone, and went COMPLETELY insane on them. Completely insane. Attacking him because I didn’t want to be there, in my shell, alone.
I was blowing things out of proportion – making mountains out of molehills [if you will]. I had become a bully. I was taking out my frustration on someone who had caused me nothing but happiness.
So I got up, dusted myself off, and looked at the facts.
I couldn’t address all of my problems at once. So what could I address? I could apologize for blowing up, and hope that I would be able to mend that relationship in the future.
I could get organized. I could clean up my room – which I hadn’t been able to see the floor of for two weeks. I could start working harder in school and my internship. I could start taking care of myself. I could workout. I could eat more vegetables, and get myself more well-rounded nutrition.
But first, I needed to feel the feelings.
So I sat and I cried. I screamed into a pillow. I punched my bed. I cried and I cried and I couldn’t stop crying. I journaled. I talked to my parents…a ton. I talked to my therapist. I talked to my friends.
I let myself feel my feelings. We feel feelings and that’s okay.
The cool thing about social work is that by learning how to help others, I learn how to help myself.
In a mock therapy session, two of my classmates opened my eyes to see myself.
I am an all-or-nothing thinker. I am either all in, or completely absent. And I had started to be all about everything, which meant I wasn’t about anything. I was spread so thin, I forgot who I was. I forgot what I had been through. I forgot to allow myself to heal in the ways I knew I healed best.
The election. Ohio State knocking down old buildings. Endangered Bees. Insurance coverage for eating disorders.
I became so passionate about ‘changing the world’ I forgot that the best thing I can do to make change, is lead by example. That the only thing I can control is myself.
In my families class, we watched the documentary BULLY.
It was ironic timing, since I knew I had just BEEN A BULLY. Remember when you would come home talking about the mean girl in school and your mom would say that she was dealing with something and just taking it out on you? That it had nothing to do with you?
That’s what I did. And in watching this documentary I saw what can happen when people do that.
Bully follows around multiple kids, but it was twelve year old Alex Libby from Sioux City, Iowa who tore my heart out of my chest.
When telling his parents of the kid on the bus who stated he would ‘end’ and ‘stab’ him, the young boy says he was just joking around…that they are his friends. Yet when his mother tells him these kids are not his friends, it was what he said next that broke the levy holding my tears back:
“But if they aren’t my friends, then who is?”
He said that they pushed him so far, he wanted to be the bully. Them bullying him was his trauma, and he wanted to take it out on others. He recognized this, but that didn’t make it easier.
Alex was his happiest when he is with his family. He is a great big brother. He says how proud he is of his little brother for getting ‘straight A’s’ in Pre-School and Kindergarten. He gave his mom a handwritten card on Mother’s Day thanking her for her love and support, and ‘good for one free chore, good for one free breakfast in bed, and good for three days of fun.’
Alex has his family. Which I can relate to. When I had no friends, I had my family. When I was trying to push away everyone in my life, my parents stuck around.
After my cousin moved and didn’t tell her parents where – as she followed a guy to abandon her family, my mom said to me, “but if she needed someone, her parents would be there. That’s what people who love you endlessly do. They love you despite your actions. They love you no matter what.”
Which is what they had done.
So when Alex says, “I don’t believe in luck, but i do believe in hope.”
I got chills all over my body.
The truth is that you don’t know what a person has been through until you walk a mile in their shoes.
My truth is that I forgot this. I forgot that I needed to show people the love I had been given. I forgot that I needed to ask for help when I needed it.
But I had to forgive myself. And the best way for me to do this was to advocate my experiences. Through advocating and sharing my story and my struggles, I know I can help others.
Maybe some girl will read this after breaking up with her boyfriend, or getting sexually assaulted, or getting hit by a car, and see that she needs to love herself. See that she needs to forgive herself. Before she explodes.
Today I got a note from my Dad with a pop-up bear in the card. He wrote, “I saw this card and immediately thought of you. it is so much more than what is obvious on the outside…you are so courageous. You are so human and so in need of an ear and a hug at times – like all of us…you are special and I will love you always.”
I’m human. I make mistakes. So I will learn from that mistake.I will focus on the positive things in my life, and address the negatives as they come. I will work hard. I will be kind. I will love others. I will love myself. I will press forward.