Have you seen those post on social media where it instructs you to post your first profile picture and your latest one side by side? A sort of comparison. A sort of looking back on your journey. Yet how can you choose your first ever and latest one and not see all the ones in the middle? And how does anyone look at a photo they’re in and not remember that moment or how it feels or the stories one was attempting to convey at that point?
At least for me, this is some of what happens.
I know that my pictures say one thing to people, and that I see another thing. In my profile picture journey, I see someone who has learned, and yet is still learning not to hate this face. Learning to be comfortable in ones own skin, and learning not to hate oneself.
No. Not too honest. If only we could all be something close to this volume of honesty with ourselves. For we have all been on a long journey throughout the days, week, years of our lives. We posted words, pictures, videos, and essentially hints to other people …but did anybody see it? Have we seen it ourselves?
We have seen our own flaws. We have ignored our own wounds. We have stoned our hearts towards others on an occasion. We have been broken, transformed, affected by still others on different, rare, occasions. We have morphed into whom we are today.
Did we notice?
I like to take an account of my life once every so often. I like to ask myself where I am, where I want to go, if I’ve missed anything, if there are things I need to take care of now, if there are things I can’t yet deal with. Essentially, I like to run a systems check. Sometimes all it can do is make me aware of errors that I do have, whether or not I can readjust them at this time or not.
Because I don’t want to make it another age in life, and say to myself, how did I get here? I want to be aware of the journey that takes place along the way. Sometimes hindsight does give a fuller explanation, but I don’t want to miss this just because I can’t yet understand.
If it hurts, I’m still here to feel it. I don’t just turn it off. …Though maybe I try sometimes.
All too often, I know that when I look back, I didn’t do great. I see a lot of wounds. They’re not all healed. They don’t all make sense. But I look at them anyways. I treat them the best that I can for now, and I move forward.
On a good day, I fight lies that have incubated some of the wounds or infections therein. On a bad day, I think about the ugliness of the scars that will come of this even if it does heal. But one thing that has changed, I stopped needing to fix myself. I stopped needing to change. I stopped hating myself more than anyone else hated me so that they couldn’t hurt me worse than I’d done to myself. I stopped trying to control nonsensical judgements, expectations, and imagery …all of which changes so fast and so frequently that it left me in ruins every time.
I started finding the most solid foundational things I could possibly believe in. I went way down to the bare bone of my soul, and I just sat there for a while. It ached. I longed to be covered up, but I refused to put on these destructive presuppositions. I learned to be in my own skin and just feel what that felt like. and I learned there was a lot –a whole lot– of ache in there.
A recent reality check came when someone I knew as a teenager retired and I went to their party. I hadn’t been seen or heard of for a decade & half, but I decide to show up in order to honor this person. I was surprised to find everything the same. I was even more surprised to see that they assumed that I would be the same.
Was my mask that good, back then?
I ached and no one saw it. I hide and no one saw me. I survived and barely did more, and they thought I was living a fairy tale. No one saw the war I felt.
Thankfully I grew up, and I grew away. I got out and got healthy. I learned to live my skin, feel my own bones, breathe in and out, and to be here in this moment and to feel it and to deal with it.
I learned what it is to be me. Well…I’m still learning in some ways. This isn’t perfect, but I actually feel like I am here. I am see-able. Whether or not people turn aside to see, isn’t my problem. I am living. It’s okay if part of living is failing, because if I am still living I can still try again. …on a good day.
Ultimately I found, a lot of my self-hatred came from not actually knowing or being myself. So much of who I’ve been has been told to me. But now…now I’m telling my own story. I am living my own story. I’m finding I am part of something bigger than this tiny point in history.
I’m finding that self-hatred can even be fueled by to two different wisdoms colliding. A wisdom of well-oiled-machine world that tells you to comply to its systems, and a wisdom of a God-created-world that tells an engrossing story which we are part of.
Only part, but knowing my life is a piece of that story helps.
Once I choose to direct my steps according the God-created-world wisdom, a lot of things started to make sense for me. I started to see why I couldn’t be what people expected. I started to see why I hated who I was when I tried to comply. I found freedom to be imperfect, but at the same time strength to walk towards perfection without shame.
I found home in the midst of a journey. Because more than getting somewhere, becoming something, doing some great thing in time …more than those I found myself as part of something timeless. I found an identity in the midst of ancient story of a people.
And all those expectations that people have, they don’t depend on me to accomplish it for them, because I am only part of something so much grander than myself and my little life. I am one, and as one, I am part of many.
This is my beautiful life.