I am afraid I have defined myself by my crisis.
I’m good at writing the hard things in my life, the mental illness stories, the angry at church rants, the declarations of rebellion and feminism. I easily find the words to talk about hurt, pain, struggle, and loss. I’m at home when writing about vulnerable, raw things. It’s what I know, where I have lived, and the emotions of it sit near to my skin, easy to show their faces.
Crisis times, these raw and wounded words are not all that I am.
I am much more than the accumulation of my hurts and scars. I am more than raw emotion and anger. I am made of more than mental illness and deep wounds. I want to show up and write from the more that I am. I want you to know me not just in times of crisis, hurt, and struggle, but in my joy, in my adventure, in my laughter, and in my healing.
I fear that the time I have spent and the words I have spilled over the bloody, wounded, crises times of my life has marked, branded, and nitched me into something that is not fully me. I fear that you reading this have come to expect something only raw and visceral from me. I fear that if I don’t keep writing these hard things, these wounds and messy places, that you will stop reading my words and I will become forgotten.
But if I am more than my hurts and my mess, if I am more than crisis and struggle, then is it fair for me to hide the rest of my life from you, even if i fear you won’t embrace the easy things in my life?
I’m probably being melodramatic, but what I say is true.
To put it another way: I don’t want to alienate you, my readers, by sharing beyond the struggle that many of you are in the middle of. Yes in many ways, I am in the midst of the struggles of life too. I don’t think I ever won’t be. But my struggle is not the whole story. I am still afflicted with a bipolar mood disorder, but I am finding help and healing. I am still angry and hurt by church culture, but I am finding healing in ways I didn’t expect. I am still riddled with self doubt, hurt, and uncertainty, but I am learning to show up and embrace myself.
You have come to know me from my writing about the hard things in my life. What happens if I learn to write happy, about the joy of seeing my son grow up? About my beautiful wife and my attempts to be a decent husband? What about if I find myself reconciling with the church? What if I write from the good places? Will you still read? Will it seem like I am out grown the struggles and fears and hurt that you still have, that we bonded over?
Still Showing Up
The truth is I am growing up. I’ve been angry and hurt for so long. I have lived in crisis, scrapping by, for most of my adult life. Things are changing now though, and I want to share the new stories with you without making you feel marginalized or alienated for not being at the place of life I find myself now. It’s not that I have things figured out, at all really. It’s more that I am tired of being defined by my hurt and sorrow and anger, and struggle.
I am more than that.
You are too.
So I will still be honest and raw with my words, but they may not have the sting of hurt and bloody mess to them all the time. Sometimes the most vulnerable thing I can say is admitting the good days I have, the joys I am rediscovering in life, the healing that happens. Sometimes the most vulnerable thing I can do is to show up in the process as I am growing up into a wholehearted me.
But I am still me, and I will still show up with all my words and feelings and thoughts and joys and fears.
Even if my voice shakes.
Even if my voice changes.