|Self Timer Photo of me Exploring Malahide, Ireland alone.|
One of my favorite things about Facebook is that it brings back memories. It shows you old posts from years ago and I think that is so fun – especially because I have a horrible memory.
But lately looking back at Facebook memories has been really hard.
I keep seeing photos of me smiling and doing fun things but when I look at myself, standing in the photo, I know exactly what was going on under that.
This time 2 years ago I was struggling. Still. I was making really bad relationship decisions & navigating in a space where I felt I didn’t belong.
This time 8 years ago I was struggling. Adjusting. I had just started high school in a brand new state, didn’t know anyone & had anemia. The combination triggered a period of depression.
This time 4 years ago I was struggling. A lot. I had just been raped and hadn’t started therapy and was numb to everything, which started a spiral of bad choices, depression & the beginning of the biggest change and struggle of my life.
I have a bunch of happy photos popping up but they weren’t really happy.
And it’s not like it just this week that’s I’ve seen these posts.
For the past 2 months, I’ve been fighting memories popping up on my timeline.
I keep clicking “see more memories” to try and be reminded of something else, but I have to scroll down to before high school to get away from it all.
I don’t really know what it is about these photos… It’s not like they trigger any flashbacks… I think it gets to be because I remember the way I acted and I know how disconnected I was from myself. I see those photos and I’m embarrassed. I’m ashamed. & I don’t know why.
It’s a weird thing to process.
I guess this time of the year generally is a transition period.
To combat these memories, I’ve been posting new ones. I’ve been uploading a lot of my travel photos to Facebook so that next year when Facebook sends me reminders, I can be reminded of what it feels like to explore, grow & be free.
A few days ago I was listening to a speech about Genius that my mentor Ruben gave at Creative Mornings ATX while I was sitting in traffic on the 405. (If you aren’t familiar with Los Angeles Geography it is literally the most terrible freeway ever. You can spend up to 3 hours on it just to go 20 miles)
While the audio played through the speakers of my car, I scribbled notes down on my iPad…
I wrote this ^ note down when my mentor mentioned that we are all searching for our purpose.
People say that a lot.
I say that a lot.
But what if we don’t HAVE to search?
What if we found our purpose in just BEING?
What if the answer is to just BE? I mean you are a BEING. It’s what you are – what you were created to be.
What if the secret to everything we were supposed to be and supposed to do was found in just being authentically?
Weird to think about right?
It goes against the notion that we have to “make something of oursevles” and “prove our worth”
It makes us almost uncomfortable to think that nothing we DO can make us more or less than who we are and THAT is our purpose. To be our beings.
That’s what Jesus said to us.
“Nope you don’t have to do anything – you’re already loved.”
We forget that our BEING is enough
Well if we know that applied for being loved, then what about our purpose?
What if our purpose is to be loved?
*Brain explodes* (Feel free to add sound effects to that)
Now on paper (or on a screen), this idea is simple.
But in reality, the intricacies of being human make things complicated. (Talk about a paradox)
In my experiences, I feel like when I am contributing to the world in a way that is unique to my being, then I become indisposable because I am operating in a way that only I can. It feels good to occupy a space that you know is yours.
The real truth is, I am indisposable because I am a human being and there is nothing that can define my worth (not even my work ethic). But I’m still learning that.
The past few days I’ve lost sight of that being. I’ve felt disconnected from myself and the value I innately carry from being who I am.
I was questioning what my position is in my work. Am I producing things and contributing ideas in a way that only I can?
Becuase I feel like I’m just a body taking up space.
That my soul, bright and beautiful, doesn’t matter and is useless.
The part of me that makes me ME doesn’t matter and no one cares about it as long as the tasks are completed.
These thoughts have been accompanied by nightmares of becoming a slave laborer and victim in an invaded country, and people totally forgetting/not caring about my birthday. Both nightmares are about feeling disposable. They are rooted in this desire to be purposeful, and valuable and created in fear that I am lacking.
I had a long conversation about all of this yesterday morning with Zach. Zach is one of my best friends and the Founder of LIVE A GREAT STORY, where I’m the Community Manager, Marketing Assistant, Intern Coordinator and many other things. (When working with a startup, you wear a lot of hats.)
Anyway, he talked to me while I sat on the phone and cried. I told him I felt pretty banged up from working in a place where I am totally replaceable (This is about one of my other jobs). And in situations where the compensation doesn’t match the value of my work. (There’s a really good podcast about this)
He talked for about 45 solid min about all the things I’ve accomplished with him for LIVE. He talked to me about all of my responsibilities and the numbers.
But it didn’t help.
“Everything you’ve told me I’ve done could have been anyone. It could have anybody’s body checking off tasks and sending emails to people. What value do I bring? What does my soul have to do with this?”
Zach is a very logical person. It was hard for him to understand at first what I was feeling. (and I’m still not sure he totally understands) To him, my value is obvious. (That’s nice)
Eventually though, he came to a close and said “I can’t do this without you. I want you around forever. You’ve allowed me to see things I’ve never seen before. That’s why I love you.”
Suddenly I felt seen. After almost an hour of talking about the quantifiable & numerical aspects of my role in LIVE, I still didn’t feel like I mattered until heard that.
Because that was about me. That was about my soul. These were things that made me irreplaceable.
You are not quantifiable. Your purpose and your impact are not things that can be measured so stop looking for ways to compare yourself and gauge your success.
Your success comes from being, authentically.
I can’t do this without you. I want you around forever.
You have a unique perspective in this world, and I love you.
Sometimes we need a reminder.
Yesterday I went to a mid week church service and got to listen to Judah Smith preach!
If you’re wondering why that name sounds familiar it’s because he wrote the book “How’s Your Soul?” That I’m a fan of.
I was standing with everyone during worship and let the music sway my body side to side. The perk of going to church in Los Angeles is that everyone knows how to sing. The girl next to me was rocking my ears with an incredible harmony and I felt #blessed.
And then the tears welled up in my eyes and I started crying.
HOLD UP – WHAT’S GOING ON?
Judah had just preached about Joy and how God is joy and how important joy is.
We literally had listened to a 40 min sermon on joy and I was crying.
Here’s a Recap:
During his sermon, he talked about the difference between passive joy and permanent joy. The “live for the weekend” kind of joy and then the “I feel loved and am happy to be alive joy”.
That second joy comes with an acceptance of Grace and Love in your life – despite the pain or hardship you feel you can still have joy if you accept Grace and Love. The joy doesn’t make the pain go away – it gives you the strength to get you through it.
So I’m sitting in worship thinking about all of this and saying whaddup to God for the first time in a few weeks and I’m crying.
And I realize, I’m crying because I’m tired.
I kind of numbed myself a little bit to do this move, which I think is normal. I kept shoving my fear and my doubts down so I could focus on getting everything done. But like I’ve mentioned a zillion times before, if you numb the bad, then you also numb the good. To feel is to feel. There actually isn’t a good and bad feeling for your soul, the way that there are good and bad bacteria in your body. You might feel things you don’t like, but that doesn’t mean they are bad feelings.
Anyway, the point is I tried to feel this joy that Judah was talking about and I released a plethora of emotions along with it.
Then I wrote this:
You can’t let yourself be swept up in grace and love without feeling the strength of the waves.
Meaning – when you start to feel, to accept, to gain strength, you are able to step out of the darkness a little bit, you are able to step out of your situation and often times that’s when the pain hits you the most because you didn’t realize how tired you were until your soul is given a chance to rest.
I always say to Keep Pushing Forward, but sometimes I think the best way to move forward is to pause, rest, and feel.
|Photo by: @Jackbolga
New York, New York
Because normal is relative.
Because it’s not a consistent scale to base our judgments on.
What I really mean is healed, free from poor mental health.
I went to therapy for a long time after I was raped 3 years ago. I took a break for a while and then decided to go back about a week before I got into my accident because I was starting to feel depressed again. I kept wondering what was wrong with me. Something didn’t feel “normal”, and then when I had my accident, I ended up laying in bed for a solid week even though I had no physical ailment aside from the light burn on my left arm. I felt like my reaction wasn’t normal.
But an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is in fact, natural and normal.
What is the “proper” reaction to feeling like your stuck in a place you don’t belong, living out your life for other people, and then witnessing your car get totaled by a drunk driver from the inside?
Answer: There is none.
Becuase everyone processes situations differently in their brain based on their life experiences and about 10000 other things.
Anyway, fast forward a few months and about 4 therapy sesssions. I’m feeling better, & probably a little too excited to get this last semester of college over with and freakin graduate already.
I went to therapy last week, told her about my winter break and then started to tell her about my therapeutic goals for the semester when she interrupted me – “Before you tell me your goals, can I give you some feedback?”
“Yes of course!” I said enthusiastically. (I love feedback.)
“Well from what I see, you don’t have much to work on here. There’s no sign of mental health issues at all.”
“What?” Tears welled up in my eyes immediately.
“You don’t need to come to therapy anymore Annabelle. I even have a hard time writing my notes sometimes.”
“Are you serious?”
” Yeah! You have struggles, just like anyone else, but you are more than capable of handling them! I see no reason to keep you here!”
She was surprised to see me cry & I told her it was because I was relieved, and felt so grateful that she told me. I didn’t realize how much weight I had been carrying from feeling “abnormal”. It was like someone finally checked under my bed and in the closet and found no evidence of any kind of monster lurking in the shadows.
But I was also kind of scared.
Now, I don’t have something to blame my feelings on. I can’t use my ‘depression’ as a crutch or an excuse for the negativity I feel anymore. I can’t blame the monsters in my closet for my temper tantrums or making my room a mess.
This is real life now, and real life is full of unpleasant feelings, and I am responsible for taking care of myself and cleaning my room.
But with the fear came freedom too; and validation, and reassurance that not everyone feels things the same way, and that what I need to do to take care of myself and deal with those feelings, is okay, even if it looks different from everyone else.
My struggle through healing from being raped and feeling unworthy has taught me how to take care of myself and not to judge those strange “abnormal” feelings when they arise.
Suffering is just a part of life, even a happy and healthy one. This is it.
I’m not a victim of rape.
I’m not a lost girl.
I’m not unworthy.
I’m not fighting.
I’m not suffering.
I am alive.
I am living.
I am growing.
I am a survivor but,
I am also more than that.
I am 100% me.
Nothing is looming in the dark to pull me back under.
There are no monsters in my closet, and that’s a pretty big deal.
Later I asked her about her opinion on the purpose of suffering.
She said “I think it’s growth. Pain always leaves an opportunity for growth – without it, we would never change. We only change when something is uncomfortable or hurts.”
Health is not the absence of disease or suffering, it’s more. It’s taking a changing circumstance and turning it into an opportunity for growth.
I found this online, and I think it’s pretty great. It’s what this guy, Dr. Ratson believes is a true meaning/definition/path to health.
“A person must recognize the inherent PURPOSE of his or her own life. The constant awareness of why you are here and whether you are working towards that purpose can help you to wade through the conflicting and confusing mass of expert advice. This is important because there is a lot of confusing and conflicting expert advice available and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
When you feel unconditional LOVE for yourself and others, you cannot help hut feel that the entire universe supports you. There won’t be room for a cynical or hostile view of the world or its people. Many negative emotions arise from a cynical, paranoid and hostile view of the world. Believe it or not, but our view of the world affects our health.
When you take total RESPONSIBILITY for your own well-being, you can trust and rely on your innate biological, psychological and spiritual healing power. Also, when you assume total responsibility, you can never abuse your personal power.
With inner FREEDOM, you can no longer be a slave to external pressures or other handicapping conditions. Inner freedom gives you hope for the possible and faith in the probable. You are then able to experience genuine joy. When you characteristically experience genuine joy, something interesting happens. Others cease to irritate you or give you any more grief, even though their behavior might not have significantly changed.”
– Dr. Ratson