If a man is poisoned and dying in a restaurant, he won’t sit quietly in the corner of the room. He won’t modestly put his head down while the poison overtakes and kills him. He’ll sputter and froth at the mouth and clutch the arm of the person closest to him. He’ll drag the tablecloth from the table as he pulls himself away. He’ll scramble and reach and grab… and destroy everything in his path as he fights for life.
If a woman is choking on something lodged in her windpipe, she won’t politely excuse herself to handle it privately in the restroom. Her eyes will get wild and her face will contort into a desperate and panicked expression. Her manners will be forgotten as she frantically searches for that next breath of air. She’ll act out in erratic and expressive ways to get someone to help her!
A fever doesn’t gently warm a child. A fever is like fire inside. It escalates, sometimes very rapidly, and if left unchecked, threatens to burn its host from the inside out. Fevers can be deadly. When your child has a fever, you’ll try anything and everything to get that fever to break.
If you are wounded, and do not treat the wound, it can fester. Infection can grow and spread. If untreated, small wounds can become toxic. Infections aren’t pretty; they certainly aren’t subtle.
I was just lying in my bed, sad. As soon as it’s time for bed, my mind likes to remind me of every single hurt I’ve endured. It likes to remind me of abandonment, betrayal, loss, rejection, failure. Like a bedtime lullaby with the opposite effect, my mind sings its tune and winds me right up. It’s impossible to sleep with so many ‘hurts’ coursing through my mind. So much to review. So much to absorb, replay, ingest.
And then my mind starts in on me…
I’ve wrecked a lot of things, hurt a lot of people, committed some pretty appalling offenses. I regret my actions, truly and deeply. I wish I knew a better word than ‘sorry’. I wish I could find a deeper word, a more significant word, a more powerful word to capture the feeling I have toward those I’ve hurt. Intentionally or accidentally, doesn’t matter. I wish I had chosen differently. I wish I had known better.
Sometimes we are hurt, and sometimes we do the hurting. There in the darkness of my room, I was struck by a realization that doesn’t absolve me of the wounds I’ve caused other but certainly helps me slow the mental assault. It also gave me a different perspective on those who have wounded me
The poisoned man is not quiet.
The choking woman does not behave.
Fevers burn. Wounds fester. It’s never pretty.
I have done my fair share of wounding… I was drowning in toxins and behaved the way someone who is drowning behaves. I thrashed about. I fought. I grabbed onto people near me and dragged them under. I caused others to drown. I was flooded and sputtering and desperately flailing.
Just as we wouldn’t expect a poisoned man or a choking woman to behave normally, I cannot expect that I would have. I was never taught to swim. There were no lifesavers, no lifeboats, no life vests. I did what drowning people do.
It doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t take away the regret or justify the collateral damage. It just helps to recognize who I was and why.
Tonight, I decided to play some music and write. Spit out the poison, Heimlich the offense, draw out the infection… I don’t want to marinate in toxic thoughts. I don’t want to be someone who feels victimized all the time, continuously blaming others, taking no responsibility for my own role. I also don’t want to play prosecutor each night and hurl accusation after accusation towards myself, berating myself for offenses that aren’t mine to own. I don’t want to create room for the things that can only harm me.
So, I am practicing self-love. I’m playing music that fills my heart with joy. I turned on the lamp and opened my laptop. I’m sharing, in total vulnerability, because I know I am not alone in this.
Every day, I choose better. Every day, I choose kinder. I am not who I was before… I am new. I am no longer drowning. I am no longer thrashing about, taking others down with me. That girl is gone. I’m not the poisoned man or the choking woman. No infection is festering. No fever rages. I am free.
Every day, I am free.
I will close my eyes again in a minute. I’ll still be sad. I’ll still be hurt. However, when my mind begins to sing its familiar lullaby and replay the offenses, I’ll choose to see my offenders with different eyes. I’ll imagine they are like I was, drowning. I won’t expect normal. People who are suffering don’t do normal. When I turn the lights out, I will marinate in grace and mercy and forgiveness. I will let the hurts of the day present themselves, then choose to gently let them go. I will shift my thoughts to the victories of the day, the joy of the day, the love. I am free to choose better… for me, for others. I am free.
it’s just me…
The blog, It’s Just Me, is written by Holly Chamberlain, who makes a living as a regional sales manager for a global pharmaceutical company but makes a life by working with teenagers, teachers, and parents to redefine the criteria for who is ‘at risk’ for self-harm and suicide. She is the Founder of the aMasongrace Project and shares these core messages with students to offer hope, help build resilience, and improve self-esteem: Moments Pass, Please Stay, You Matter.
To subscribe to the blog, please visit the website, www.aMasongraceproject.com, to enter your email address. Follow the aMasongrace project on Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat: @aMgYouMatter. To invite the aMasongrace project to speak to your youth group or school, please contact Holly via aMasongraceproject@gmail.com.