"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk to bloom."
There was a time, not that long ago, where I lived every moment of every day half-alive. I made most of my decisions based on what others would think about me and more often than not I could be found curled up on my sofa feeling sorry for myself on any given weekend. I sat on the sidelines of life, watching it pass by. Seeing others enjoy it and live it and wishing I was braver, or thinner, or happier - or just more of anything else than who I was.
I used to hate myself. And in that self-hatred I would often invite my husband to join me in my self-contempt as if I was trying to convince him how ugly, or fat, or hopeless I was. It wounded him and our marriage and as I sit here and reflect on those years we spent together where he was the only one who saw anything lovable about me, I'm sad for all of the life and happiness that was missed in sharing together. Sometimes those years feel wasted, but I'm also reminded how we've learned from them too.
But things changed two years ago. The self-contempt, the constant pity-party throwing, the half-alive me....somehow, all of it came to an abrupt and dramatic end. After years of healing and counseling and therapy, pieces of my story collided in a quiet room in Muskegone, Michigan and a battle that had been raging over me and inside of me for years was fought. And I came out the victor.
I was surrounded by a safe group of of people who gave me the courage to walk bravely into the darkest pieces of my story, and in doing so, I finally broke free from these chains that had held me down for the majority of my life.
Maybe all of that sounds weird, and it might if you don't know the whole story. And I can't tell it all here because it's not safe and it wouldn't be kind to my heart and how I treasure the experience I had that day. But just know that I came out of that room that night forever a changed woman. I literally have not lived the same way since.
A man named Ted gave me a name that I will claim as my own for the rest of my life. He called me a dragon slayer. It represented the itensity of the battle that was fought, how hard I fought and how big this thing was that needed to be defeated. I still remember his booming voice, how his tears cracked through his throat as he handed me over my identity with his thoughtful words. It was a day I'll never forget.
That was the day I no longer wanted to remain tightly in that bud.
It was time to bloom. And I did.
That was the year I danced for the very first time. I bought a swimsuit and I went swimming - even in front of people. I wore a dress for the first time in years. That was the year I came alive to my longings - that I wanted another baby and that I wanted to write and so many other things I discovered buried in my heart after all of the sludgy self-contempt had been cleaned out. It was the year I really, really lived. I no longer sat on the sidelines. I was in the game.
This picture of me - the one in the dress - it's a picture of the realest real me. The one who finally learned to love who God had created her to be. She learned what it felt like to be really alive and she knew she was really living. And she's not perfect and she has much she is still growing into and learning and healing from - but really, that's all part of living anyway.
This quote - I remember seeing it before that life changing night. Wanting it to be about me. Wishing that I could risk blooming.
I did. I bloomed. And I never want to live tight in a bud, ever again.