Love Your Neighbor, Love Yourself.

“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.

Leviticus 19:18

I’ve had this verse in my head all day today. All day. Honestly, you’d think I would have thought about putting it in my blog sooner… Sadly, that’s not quite how my brain thinks. Better late than never, I suppose.

I remember being in youth group not too long ago, and the youth pastor kept talking to us about loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. He would tell us that he knew it was difficult, and kept referencing that one time when Jesus said giving a thirsty man a drink of water was giving Him a drink of water. Or something along the lines of that… And I couldn’t help but think about how WRONG he was.

Before you burn me at the stake, hear me out. For some people, giving anything they have to someone else is like trying to paint the sky a dark shade of green. Meaning that if it happens, not only is it a surprise, something probably happened to them. Probably something unexplainable, really. There’s nothing really wrong with this at all. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with it. Nothing is wrong with giving something(s) to others, either.

What about the people who don’t love themselves at all? Are we supposed to just not love others, too? Are we supposed to just treat them how we treat ourselves? What do we do?

I’ll tell you what we actually do: We give them everything. You want my shirt? Okay. Oh, my lunch? Of course! I’ll even bring extra for tomorrow. Do you want me to get you some water? You borrowed my pencil? Keep it, you probably need it more, anyway.

Now, look, I’m not telling you I’m perfect. As a matter of fact, I need God and His Son so much. I’m so imperfect it’s not even funny. So, so imperfect, guys! All’s I’m saying is that I know how it is to just not love yourself as much as you should. Or could, or would if something was different. But it’s not. And nobody realizes that.

Depression makes people love themselves less. Anxiety makes people love themselves less. Self-harm, self-hate, any mental health problem really makes you love yourself less than you love others. I don’t know what God thinks about this, but I can tell you my youth Pastor’s reaction.

I remember him asking me how hard I found it to love others how I love myself. I took that to mean that I love others more than I love myself… When I explained to him that I found no difficulty with it, I didn’t include myself with depression, (at that point, I didn’t know I struggled, ), but I told him I knew people who did struggle with it. I explained that they didn’t love themselves at all, but they could love others with everything they had.

He was floored, speechless, baffled. I wish you could have seen his face when I spoke my mind since it’s so hard to explain. I don’t think he realized that some people don’t struggle with loving others, that they struggle with loving themselves.

However, I realized that I answered him incorrectly. If I could go back to that day, I would answer like this:

I could never love another human being like I love myself, I shouldn’t even love me like I love myself. Everybody, including myself, deserves to be loved so much better, to be loved so much more. It’s difficult to love yourself, sometimes. You see every flaw, every imperfection, everything terrible about you and swirl it around in your head all day long.

No breaks, no stopping.

It’s like you can’t even control your own head, when that shouldn’t even be a problem.

Loving yourself for some is just like loving your neighbors for others; it’s a project, something you have to force yourself to work at. It’s a project for me, to say the least. Do you know what it’s like to yell at the mirror, trying to convince yourself that you’re actually gorgeous? Or what it’s like to look at yourself, tears streaming down your face, hearing over and over again in your head how you’re not good enough? Maybe you know what it’s like to look back and realize how broken you actually are?

I pray to God every damn day that you don’t.

I don’t know how that minuscule speech would be taken, and I probably won’t ever know. I feel better having said it, though, which makes every word worth it.

For whatever it’s worth, especially for those of us who can’t love ourselves like we deserve to be loved, please realize that God loves you. He loved you before you even existed. He’s loved you for forever. God loves each and every one of His children INSPITE of anything. He may not agree, which is neither here nor there, but that has nothing to do with how much He loves you. His love for you is greater than the number of stars. And which of you can number the stars?

This is one girl’s madness.

Part of My Story

Trigger Warning.

Do Not Read if sensitive to depression and/or mentions of suicide.

As I sit here struggle a bit tonight, all I can think of is how certain people in my life would tell me how I’m exaggerating, making a big deal out of things, or even trying to get attention.

And maybe I am.

But, sadly, ignoring my problems only make them worse. I have to talk about it or else I get worse. So, here’s part of my story.

May 2016 I lost two people to suicide. I remember the day I found out. Honestly, I remember doing that thing they do in the movies. Ya know, the one where the main character hears something tragic, but blocks out the next (and just as important) piece of information. I did that… My family and I went to say our goodbyes, and I could tell you the exact spot on our way home where I changed.

At that time, I thought it was for the worst, but it wasn’t.

For the next eight months, (at least), I thought I was fine. I would tell you I was fine. However, I was crying all day, crying myself to sleep… Everything but fine. I didn’t tell anyone, either. The four months after that, I still cried a lot, just a little less than the prior eight months.

October 2017 I started watching Supernatural. Yes, that very popular TV show staring Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, and Misha Collins. I was almost seventeen.

I immediately connected myself with Dean Winchester. The first time I have ever felt so connected to a character. Dean just spoke to me on a level that no other character had ever reached. With no idea, I just pushed the thought to the back of my mind.

March of this year, 2018, a friend from my past came into my present. Said friend had been known to play with my emotions, and I talked with my mother about it. She said I had been off for a while, at least a week or two.

So, I made myself pay attention to my actions for the rest of the day. I wasn’t eating, I was sleeping way too much, and I was beyond moody.

Not too long after that, I was on my pinterest scrolling through my main feed. Yes, just my main feed–I hadn’t searched anything. Up pops a quote from an interview Jared Padalecki did about his Always Keep Fighting Campaign.

I had never heard of it before, so I looked into it some more. As it turns out, it was about Jared and his fight with depression (Jared, please forgive me for talking about it if that’s something you don’t appreciate…). But because Jared started talking about his fight, I figured that, even though I, too, have loving family and friends, and a generally happy life, I could struggle with depression.

After a quick Google search, and some real help, I do struggle with depression. It’s a bit odd, really. I never thought I could, but I could and do.

So, Jared Padalecki, if you’re reading this (which is so so doubtful), I hope you not only don’t mind part of my story, but don’t mind the fact that you’re a huge part of it. Thank you so much… Honestly, bless you.

Thank you to everyone who has, and will, stick by my side. You’re a huge part of why I can open up about this. You’re my support. Thank you.

Saving the best for last, God. I give it all to you. Thank you, Lord.

Now, dear reader, I don’t want you to think of this article as my attempt to share my woes. I don’t want the attention, I loath it. Take from this article to fight for happiness. To keep going even though it’s rough. To realize that depression is a ruthless torturer- she doesn’t take prisoners. You are worth so much, reader. So much. Please remember that I didn’t take the time to write this just for me. I took the time to write this for you.. So you’ll know that you’re worth it. Please remember that for me.

This is one girl’s madness.

Dear 7 year old me…

I saw a post on Facebook the other day asking what I would tell ‘7 year old me’ now…

Well, ten years later, I’m not quite sure. But maybe I have an idea.

See, seven year old me was innocent, creative, bossy, and set in what she wanted to do. She didn’t see the hurt in the world, or the pain, or the evil. She saw (and tried to do) only good.

The seventeen year old me isn’t nearly as innocent. My creativity has turned into an unlimited imagination that can create worlds, and people, and places. I’ve learned that bossy isn’t how to handle every situation, but I’m still sure of what I want to do. I have witnessed the hurt, the evil, the pain. Maybe I’ve even caused some… But I am fighting against it to make the world a better place. I’ve seen and felt things that nobody should have to, and I want to help as many people as I possibly can.

So, what would I say? Here is my letter to my past self:

Dear Seven Year Old Me,

“Age is just a number” is something that we will hear throughout our life, especially as we get closer to eighteen. And it really is, to a point. Age doesn’t define maturity, or when you get your license, or a boyfriend, or when you’ll have that closet full of clothes you want, or a corvette. And that’s exactly what you expected to have at sixteen, or at my age, seventeen. But, age really is just a number.

See, we’ve changed so much from where you are now. I don’t want the short skirts, or the boyfriends, or the expensive car. I have a cell phone and I hate it. And the maturity? Oh hun, I may be responsible, but maturity is out the window for us.

You were so serious for so long that you had no idea how much fun it is to be not serious… To just go out and have fun, to not be a stick in the mud. Yeah, I still have serious moments, but I learned that it’s okay to cut loose and let my hair down.

I remember how you really wanted to be popular, too. But we’re not popular in the future. I have (maybe) four or five friends… But those four or have friends? They are my everything. They’re supportive, fun, easy going… I wouldn’t trade them for the world. As you aged, you realized that you didn’t need seven hundred people to sort of like you, you only wanted a few to love the real you. I live by this.

You have always known how to love, though. Always. I’ve learned how to love everybody by now, but even during your reign, you still loved deeply. And we haven’t changed that yet. God willing, we never will. This loving thing has hurt us, well, me… And it will hurt me again… But we’ve grown. Now I’ve seen the darkness, the evil. And, I’ve taken a stand against it. We are fighting to help people live through another day because we witnessed someone who couldn’t… And that will live with us to the end.

Much to your disappointment, I’m sure, we did go through a self loathing phase. We aren’t quite out of it, either, but we are working on it. You see beauty in yourself, now, and not in everything except you. And that’s amazing.

I still write. I know you did, too, but I still do it. You really started me off on it. And I sti have the creativity. It’s just morphed into a large imagination, where I can create anything I damn well please. We haven’t lost that yet, either. And as long as we keep it, we will always see the beauty in life.

I wish I could have kept more of you with me, though. You always wanted to be older… And, now, I think I know why. You thought you would be unstoppable. And you never were stopable, and we sure as h*ll aren’t now. But we need to work on seizing the day, and going forward no matter how terrified we are. I need to work on that. So in ten years, twenty-seven year old us can look back and say that we bettered ourself. I wish I could have held onto the innocent look on the world… But now, I can help people see the good despite the bad. I’m truly better for it.

I have no idea what the future holds for us, or what God has planned, but we will thrive and go forward with confidence. Not just confidence in God, but confidence in ourself. We’ve got this. We will ways have this. So, here’s to a life time of loving, learning, and laughter, with a side of unstoppable. We’ve got this.

Sincerely,

Us at 17

This is one girl’s madness.