Tag Archives: depression

F is for FRANK

Well, it’s been just over two weeks without meds, for the first time in 5 years or so – and I actually feel good!

I was so terrified by the memories of what life was like without meds back then – but with the amazing work I’ve done through therapy and the amazing works that God has done in, with and around me I’m feeling free and chirpy! Yes I still have chronic pain and fatigue and yes I still have depression but I feel that this has been a big and positive step!

Since having a bit of a clearer head I’ve been reading a lot about the meds I was on and sadly realising how little I and my GP knew about them and how wrong they were for me – and how common this is for so many people. I’ve also been saddened by people having similar experiences to me, such as being prescribed drugs and sent away with no real chance to just TALK and the GP having no real knowledge of my/our situation.

I am so thankful for the therapy I’ve had and am having but I know would NEVER had had the opportunity if it weren’t for a lot of financial help. It’s so easy to get lost in the system and to be treated as a number or a faceless problem. If it weren’t for my family, financial aid to be able to access help and my therapist I honestly am unsure as to whether I would still be alive…which makes me wonder about those who don’t have these things. And I don’t say that lightly.

For example, how you’re sent away with drugs, leaflets and phone numbers really upsets me. More often than not – if you struggle with depression, you will struggle with anxiety. Therefore, taking yourself to a group, leaving the house or making a phone call is something you just CANNOT do. Left then only with drugs to take that make you sweat excessively, shake, twitch, salivate, vomit, make you dizzy, make you manic, increase suicidal thoughts and feelings and so much more – you are in trouble.

Oh yes, and of course you’re put on this waiting list to see a free therapist – sounds good right?! Except this list is like, eternal and actually you probably won’t get to have one to one sessions. Sadly, this is hardly ever recommended to you so in reality, you’re put on a waiting list to get approximately 20 group sessions of CBT to learn how to cope practically. Like timetables. And stuff.

Again – not something I ever felt I could do, or infact wanted to do. Perhaps in a few years time when I had actually been given the chance to learn what was going on with me, had begun learning to heal and to express it what was going on inside me, perhaps then….but as a first measure?? NO! No no.

Plus, this is without my (then) GP having any real knowledge of what I was struggling with exactly – all they had to go on was a desperate delirious me saying I couldn’t cope with feeling so low all the time. How could they know CBT would work for me? How could they be sure I was capable of making rational decisions? How could they be sure that I would go? How could they know what drugs would help or harm me? HOW COULD THEY KNOW?

My appointment went (sadly) like this: The doctor asked me what seemed to be the problem, looked out of the window while I tried to answer, asked if I smoked and – with the door half open, having been hastily prescribed drugs – asked if I wanted to kill myself.

Nice.

One of my biggest worries is that when you struggle with this stuff, you NEED accountability. You need a LOT of help and support and encouragement. You need people turning up outside your door to take you to things – even if you’ve said no. You need someone elses voice to block out the ugly noise going on inside of you. Sometimes you even need someone to physically fight you or hold you or drag you! Depression tends to freak you out and make you do crazy things. Being sent away to have to access all of the worlds support groups alone is not something that makes much sense to me.

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I’m still terrible at throwing all of my energy at trying to be normal and funny and ok and good company. I’ve seen so many adverts and videos and leaflets and campaigns that plead with people to be real and to talk openly about how they’re feeling etc (which I actually truly do agree with) – but honestly? People can’t handle it. And how could they? I’VE never been trained or advised on how to cope with somebody who is suicidal or hears voices or who isn’t in control of themselves all of the time. How would I cope if my mother or son started chatting to me about how they were planning to end their lives, or how this person with a strange name was telling them things and would often take over them? Or if they turned up at my workplace in having a crazed episode or having just self harmed?

We can be SO ANNOYING. I am such hard work and I will take you to the edges of your love and acceptance and grace and friendship.

People who struggle with this stuff are hard work-FACT.

You will not find yourself in a nice, neat two way relationship that is fair and equal and rewarding. Oh no. You will be messed around, hurt, quite possibly hit at, cried on, rejected, ignored, shouted at and lied to. You will have to bandage us up, wait for hours outside our door, listen to us sob endlessly about things that may not make sense or indeed be at all real. We will forget things, demand things, refuse things and expect things. We are unreliable, self absorbed, unpredictable and worst of all – there really isn’t much you can do to help.

Not to be too controversial, but I really don’t think you can treat depression like any other illness. Because it won’t treat you like that! And it doesn’t treat its victims like that either. It is unique in so many ways and it is still such a mystery even to the brightest of minds.

So this muddled rant is finished, I didn’t expect to write most of that and it isn’t a work of art – but it’s honest and just my thoughts and experiences.

Here’s to tomorrow!

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F is for (you are not a) Failure

Today I want to say

So many of us live in a world of constant apologies and a constant awareness of failure. We set the bar way too high for ourselves and ultimately end up believing we are, as a person, a failure. We use phrases like ‘I can’t cope’ or ‘I can’t keep up’ and we end up crashing and burning. Quite regularly too – like it’s some kind of insane life cycle. But forget hibernation, forget cocoon making, forget growing wings and gathering food – I’m talking insomnia,panic attacks, relationship break-downs and eating disorders.

Where is the chance of redemption? Where’s the soul-deep rest? Where has prioritising our health gone? Why aren’t these things understood and honoured in our society?

To you who cancelled plans last minute last night – it’s ok.

To you who broke down on the bus on your way to work this morning – it’s ok.

To you who regularly spends time in the office loo trying to regain sanity and oxygen – it’s ok.

To you who eats lunch hiding in the storage cupboard – it’s ok.

To you who went to bed early instead of visiting friends tonight – it’s ok.

And to you who has already failed in five million different ways today – it really IS ok.

I promise.

You are NOT a failure.

You are tired and so, so fed up. You’re exhausted and your head is full. Your heart is weary and your chest is tight and sore – take a breath…there, feel that?Your jaw is subconsciously clenched and you’re on the edge of tears so often.

It’s ok.

I’m sure you can think back to the hundreds of times you’ve said that. To yourself,to others. The ultimate admittance that things are, in fact, not ok. Irony so common it’s not even noticeable anymore.

It’s ok.

Things are upside down and things are a mess. There are hidden walls, monsters andbooby traps everywhere. There’s baggage and lies and disappointments. There’s no time. No money. No resources. No space. No room. Nobody.

It’s ok.

Sometimes I picture life like the Christmas story – stick with me! Sometimes, life is a pregnant woman on a long journey, in labour, with nowhere to give birth.

What I mean to say is, I so often feel pregnant with emotion, confusion, memories,stress, rage, hurt, pressure and trauma – but with nowhere to release it. I’m holding something inside me that’s alive, it’s needy, it takes from me and it affects me physically. It changes me and it has it’s own demands. Sometimes it even controls me and makes me do things I don’t want to do – and the world around me is telling me there’s no room. There’s no room for all of that. There’s no space for me and my baby.

But it’s ok. Mary was ok. She found her bit of space. And people came to that space. And that space became something special because that’s where she had her baby. And people still talk about that space and relate to that space. Not because it was easy, but because of the difficult and near impossible circumstances. It’s ok to feel out of place in social situations. It’s ok to hate the daily, 9-5, boxed in, grey, grimey grind. It’s ok to listen to your body when it’s shouting at you to slow down. It’s ok to do whatever you need to, to get through the day. It’s ok to be different and to do things differently. It’s ok to cancel plans last minute or to go home early. It’s ok to have a meltdown, to stomp and cry and feel lost. It’s ok to feel like nobody gets you – it’s ok to feel like YOU don’t get you. It’s ok to be irrational and grouchy. It’s ok to need certain things or to do things in a certain way. It’s ok to have baggage and for it to affect you. It’s ok to NOT be ok.

But what can we do?

Let’s let each other breathe. Let’s give each other space and time. Create it, find it, BE it.

How? By being authentic. By being the real you and by being honest – painfully so. Don’t float along the surface of life. Don’t be afraid of the deep and meaningful – of the mud and grit. Shareyourself. Put yourself out there and try. Let yourself cry in place of wearing a mask. Admit your weaknesses and ask for help. Say sorry and face your mistakes. Take time to understand each other. Forgive yourself and forgive each other. Remember grace and mercy and rediscover what they really mean. Put love in the centre and work outwards from there. Make the jump a little easier and have a go.

And if you trip or miss or crash and burn?

It’s ok. You are NOT a failure.

Being vulnerable and speaking the truth is difficult. Figuring this life out is difficult.

And just when you feel like giving up, have another go.

Because it’s so, so worth it.

I promise.

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F is for Falling through the gaps

Sometimes, I think about what my life would have looked like if I hadn’t been ill. Not very often, but sometimes. I look back over the last seven years or so and I end up feeling seriously confused and alone.

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Over my life time, I’ve heard people say things like ‘complaining is easy’, ‘there’s always someone worse off than you’,  and I’ve seen that quote ‘Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional’ time and time again.

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I’ve heard people talk about Karma and how if you work hard or if you’re a good person, you will succeed and good things will happen to you…or the opposite!

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I’ve been told that if I pray hard enough and if my faith is big enough I will be ok, and I will be healed and I will be prosperous.

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People have told me that things will work out, that I’ll be ok and that things will change soon.

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None of this has happened and none of this has been true in my life.

For seven years.

Where does that leave me? And why? What does it mean? Am I a ‘bitch’? Am I a bad person? Am I doing something wrong? Am I saying the wrong prayer?

I don’t know…

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But somehow and for some reason…

I think I’ll keep trying to be and do good anyway.

I’ll keep believing anyway.

I’ll keep doing my best anyway.

Why?

Well, I was inspired by this poem by Mother T the other day – it hit me hard and it seemed to perfectly put into words what I haven’t been able to.

Anyway

Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

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F is for (strange) Fruit

This is one of my favourite songs for many reasons. A rather large one being that it was borne out of suffering (to say the least). It and many other celebrated songs, poems, paintings, films, books and many other forms of artwork have all come from a place of utter darkness. They were fuelled and brought to life by pain, madness, abuse. They struggled to grow and develop inside a neglected womb filled with fear and doubt and staggering loneliness.

I love that beauty so often comes out of brokenness but it also leaves me asking questions.

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Should the creation of art through, from or because of suffering make us grateful for it? And If not grateful, perhaps at peace with our pain or situation?

We are a nation who celebrates art and music and creativity – is it not a little strange that in turn we celebrate the illness, pain, grief, madness, isolation, addiction or heartache that brought that art into being?

Do we encourage it?

Is there a better way to celebrate or appreciate it?

Do we say thank you enough?

Do we really want to know what lies behind the art?

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What does it mean to the artist when we celebrate how many copies they sold of a song or poem or painting they created out of an involuntary desperation to express pain or devastation of losing their child? Or coming to terms with years of abuse from a parent? Or manic depression?

How does it translate? And what are we saying exactly?

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Personally, I actually don’t think questions like this are about answering.

I think they are about having an ever-present awareness and acknowledgement of the story behind the art.

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F is for fervor

So I haven’t written here in a criminally long time.

Life (excuse my french) is a bitch. And then you die.

Right now, I wouldn’t mind trying out an experimental drug that induces a week long coma. If you’re developing this ,ye scientists, pray do get in touch. Why?

BECAUSE I’D REALLY LIKE A BREAK.

God, come on give me a break

How many of us feel like we’re in over our heads? How many of us are in pain of some kind every day? How many of us are overwhelmingly stressed? How many of us would give our most prized possession, a limb, our hopes or dreams to simply experience 10 solid minutes of health and stability? If I had anything of worth, or the opportunity to barter bits of me for a glimpse of health and peace….

I would hand it over no questions asked.

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I was wondering, does this desperate state of mind & body damage us? Does it mean we forget things? Like the art of patience, forgiveness, empathy and even simple thought? Does it erase the parts of us that had perspective and the ability to dream and hope? Does it mean that we become blind and detached?

Do we lose the will to believe in anything but pain and anger? Do we make menial things, Gods? The small things that actually have some kind of affect and positive interaction in our lives? Or do we let something much darker take hold of us? Do we bow down to medication, alcohol, drugs, sex, food, gambling, self harm, money? Do we sabotage others in a desperate attempt to feel better about ourselves?

Maybe we can take it slow, start over, begin again every day. I may have been able to ignore some of the pain today, but yesterday I let it take over me. Tomorrow I could feel excited and hopeful and be able to help somebody in some small way… Next week I could consider suicide. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, or indeed what this evening will hold, but maybe that’s ok. Maybe then we could release the guilt and release the shame. Take it slow. Maybe?

What do I think?

Keep asking

&

Change your expectations

Of yourself, others, life, experiences, the bigger picture.

Stop and think and ask yourself

Do I need to rest, do I need to be sad, do I think I can go and see a friend, do I want to cry, do I feel angry, do I need to get help, do I need to breathe deeper…..stop and think and ask.

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Here’s a song that I’ve been a little bit obsessed with for a while now. I feel hesitant to share it because it’s my life line at the moment, but today I can share and today I can write.

Today I can ask, maybe?

Love and strength to you x

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F is for figuring it out…still

 

Most of what comes out of my mouth is negative, pessimistic, angry, upset, moany rubbish.

Even more is stored up in my mind.

How do you speak out goodness, happiness, positivity and peace when you can’t remember the last time you felt like that? When your reserves of these things have long been empty? When it just wouldn’t be the truth?

I’ve never really been the kind of person who has nothing to say. I love to discuss, debate, wrestle, explore and communicate with people. I love to connect.

But I’ve had less to say of late, mainly because I don’t want to lie. I don’t want to be false and I can’t seem to pretend too well.

I’ve never minded being the one to speak out, to advocate or stand up for someone or something.

In fact it just seems to happen. In fact I will always happily speak out.

I wasn’t always right and I wasn’t always heard. But boy did I try.

Where other people are concerned, I’m on the ball. I’m active, I’m energised, I’m empowered. I’m overflowing with love and admiration, care and encouragement, ideas and time.

But when it comes to me? Not so much.

I just can’t seem to muster the same love I have for others, for myself. I don’t know where to start with the whole loving yourself thing, but I so passionately believe in it and will it for everybody. I would spend every pound, every minute, every day to help  somebody else feel loved and important, listened to and understood, special and cherished.

But me? Not so much.

So, eventually, I ran out of energy. I ran out of energy to sustain friendships. I ran out of health and happiness. I became sick and sick of life and sick of myself for being that way. I let things slip and crack and grow old and unkempt. Life was too empty and cold to fuel my lifestyle. It didn’t seem to make sense and it didn’t feel good at all. In fact it felt like I was trapped in an eternal, internal, invisible, abusive relationship. Where I gave and I served and I loved and I shared and I believed and I tried so hard…..all the time…..and I just kept smacking my head on this giant wall. Constantly. It was relentless and nothing could stop it from growing taller and wider and darker and colder and harder. It got harder and harder to climb and I couldn’t run far enough to get around it anymore. I couldn’t beg it to let me under and there were no more books or boxes to stand on to at least look over it.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, I managed to make a little hole. And a little bit of light came through.

I see everybody and their lives and the world going by, and I realise – nobody can see me. And I have no voice to call out, I have no love for myself and eventually I stop trying to make those holes.

I let the hate and the hurt consume me.

I let the lies have the last word and all I can cling to is sleep.

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F is for figuring it out

I am a wave of colour, a chalky dust that moves freely to a silent symphony. It joyfully plays and dances with the unseen pushes of wind and breeze. The colours that married and mixed on the day I was born can never be separated or contained. You cannot control the ebb and flow or the timings of it’s seasons.

It lovingly surrounds my soul and guides me – eyes closed, arms open wide – into adventures unimagined. It is freedom in its truest form. It is beauty, it is hope, it is love, it is creation, calvary and pentecost. I listen and watch as it changes and grows.

It pleases me. It pleases him. We are inseparable.

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I am an ocean of possibility, a deep cavern of mystery and miracles. I hold promise and pain, truth and deception, wonder and fear. What could be more beautiful?

The sunlight reaches for me, lost in the darkness with the souls of the broken. It shines upon us – the children of the deep. I have so much to discover and love and so much more to love and discover.

Let me share it with you.

It pleases me. It pleases him.

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I am the nudge of a child, excited and anxious, ready with a million things to say and a million more questions to ponder. I am that nudge, that look, that squeeze of a hand. I am my father’s child. People say I look like him and sound like him…I like that.

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I am a willing captive to the whims of my imagination.

I am afraid to fall.

I am afraid to fail.

I am afraid to be hushed.

I am afraid to be shooed.

I am afraid to feel.

I am afraid to shout.

I am afraid to sing.

I am afraid of you.

I am afraid of them.

I am afraid of me.

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But my fear will never be enough to stop me from nudging you.

And that pleases me.

Does it please you?

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F is for feeling

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My feelings run free within me.

They have set up home within my very core and they are never going to leave.

They are the master puppeteer and they relish in the dance that is love, hurt, joy and pain.

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They are truly alive within me and they manifest themselves physically.

They speak to me through pain and sickness.

They remind me of past hurts and horrors to show me that they are still scared and frightened.

That they still can’t make sense of it all.

That I’m still broken.

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My feelings want me to themselves.

They do not like to be denied and they are deathly afraid of being left alone.

My feelings love to talk to me, to re-live and reminisce.

A constant chatter of colours fills me, encases me, enfolds me and consumes me.

Like a strong wind they rush right through me.

The

dust

never

settles.

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I love my feelings.

I’ll hold them close and cherish them.

I love my feelings.

I’ll fight with them and lock them away.

I love my feelings.

They roam free and frighten me.

I love my feelings.

But they do not love me.

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I love my feelings.

I love my feelings.

I love my feelings.

I love my feelings.

I loathe my feelings.

I love my feelings.

I love my feelings.

akBlackDot

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F is for Fragile

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Don’t you hate it when people say that hurts, pains and disappointments are ‘character building’? When they say rejection ‘only makes you stronger’? When the surgery didn’t work…again…and they tell you ‘if there was no sorrow we wouldn’t know joy’?

Well, I do.

I hate it.

I hate it because when I’m in pain and when I’m in despair, I’m not interested in building my character. When I’m mourning and I’m angry, something tells me joy is a myth Walt Disney made up. And strength? It’s too late for strength.

I’m worn down, I’m empty, and I’m broken. There is nothing left of me. Nothing left to feel. Nothing left within that wants to hold on any longer. It’s just too late.

But what if there was no tragic ‘event’? What if there was no real failure? No actual surgery… nothing to blame, recover from or wrestle with?

What if your homelessness and poverty is within you?

What if the famine ravaged your soul?

What if the flood destroyed the home in your heart?

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What if the invisible affliction you struggle with is depression?

What if the thief in the night is mental illness?

What if the flood, famine or earthquake is the anxiety within you?

 

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From my personal experience, there is no short-term cause and solution. There is no isolated event to reflect on, learn from, and move on from. There are no bones to set and no wounds to stitch. You’re stuck in this infinite ‘middle-stage’. A grimy, hellish, completely messed up, perpetual nightmare. Nothing you think or feel is real, or in response to anything real or factual…or is it?

You’ve lost the ability to judge that.

Your reference point, teacher and closest friend is a warped mirror you somehow picked up at one of those awful circus galleries. One day you walked by it and heard it calling you, saw it taunting you and felt it take hold of you.

Hall of mirrors, Petrin Hill, Prague. 1998

You unknowingly gave it your frame of mind, your childhood memories and experiences, your fears and your insecurities. You surrendered the very mechanism that constructs your ability to understand, think, ration, perceive, trust, process, relate and learn. It set up camp deep inside you, hidden by layers and layers of lies, fake smiles and deathly silence.

You gave it your dreams, abilities, skills, beauty, confidence, hope and passion.

It knows you better than you know yourself.

It became your puppeteer way before you think it did. You had strings tying you in knots over and over again. You were robbed before you really had a hold on anything.

This world is where approximately 1 in 5 of us in the UK live.

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I can only draw from my own experience which therefore makes my knowledge of depression extremely limited. I’m sure what I’ve written here will already contradict someone else’s experience of depression – but it certainly does not discount or discredit it.

Depression is organic. It grows, infests and spreads its roots. Depression is tailored to fit around your every atom, your every whim, your every waking breathing sleeping eating praying walking working mourning laughing dancing falling crawling yearning failing growing overflowing minute. We give it names and categories to light our way around the darkness and the mess, but no two experiences of depression will be the same.

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The people who say those frustrating, irritating, unhelpful, cliched, meaningless words…. The Walt Disney characters who seem to hop, skip and jump with ignorance… The people who you ignore completely and kind of, well utterly, want to punch in the face? The people I mentioned at the start of this post?

Well…

I’m one of them.

I have grown because of my suffering. I have felt incredible depths of joy that wouldn’t have existed if I hadn’t suffered. I am stronger, wiser and more resourceful because of it.

I really, truly, earnestly mean that. But I also meant everything before that. I’m not ‘healed’, ‘better’ or ‘ok’. I’m still wrestling with it, I’m still lost within it.

But today I could write about it.

 

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Today I have enough strength to choose to make myself vulnerable and share this part of me with you.

Today I can take a small step back and see things a little clearer.

Today I can add to the beauty…

 

We come with beautiful secrets

We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls

We come to every new morning

With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold 

Redemption comes in strange place, small spaces 

Calling out the best of who we are 

And I want to add to the beauty

To tell a better story

I want to shine with the light

That’s burning up inside 

It comes in small inspirations

It brings redemption to life and work

To our lives and our work

 It comes in loving community

It comes in helping a soul find it’s worth 

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces

Calling out the best of who we are 

And I want to add to the beauty

To tell a better storyI want to shine with the light

That’s burning up inside

This is grace, an invitation to be beautiful

This is grace, an invitation

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces

Calling out our best

And I want to add to the beauty

To tell a better storyI want to shine with the light

That’s burning up inside

– Sara Groves

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a blog about honesty, hope and losing everything