Pretty Illusion

I feel okay.

Introspectively secure.

Outwardly, I have no honest complaints.

Maybe I feel good, even.

Pretty, maybe?

It seems that when I am strongest, when I let my guard down for a second,

It’s too late.

Don’t confuse me with a victim simply because I am being attacked though,

Because this is an attack in which I play the part of the helpless prey

Just as well as the merciless predator.

I am helpless by nature, but I can’t help how I claw at my own skin.

I tend to spend months referring back to minuscule moments of me,

Old photos I used to like,

Convinced that that was the best version of myself.

But I get blinded by my rose-colored glasses every once in a while,

Unable to see the likable (not simply lovable) woman I am consumed by,

Just the remains of a girl who might have had promise at one point.

Little girls are concerned with their faces and bodies,

Learning how to become desirable without knowing why.

Their insecurities are irrelevant, right?

So I didn’t bother having any.

I wish it stayed that easy, but those childish simplicities never last.

Eventually I learned to hate individual parts so I didn’t have to be left out of all the best playground conversations:

“I have giant thighs,”

“My lips are so thin,”

“Your stomach is so much flatter than mine,”

Each one becoming a new idea to mull over long enough to see the truth in them.

Are my thighs big? Bigger than most girls, maybe.

Do I have thin lips? I guess I do.

Is my stomach flat? It actually does stick out a bit.

When little girls tell adults the fears that will inevitably eat them alive before they have the chance to vaguely know what being alive means,

They get one of two answers in return:

“Your beauty is only skin deep,”

 

But my skin was imperfect even then

While everyone’s I knew practically glowed under blankets of clouds;

I was too young to know cuts needed band-aids before they turned to scars,

And now my body is covered in both.

“The mirror lies.”

A face should be known best by it’s owner, but somehow the idea that I know nothing about it after all should somehow be comforting.

I think I’m seeing two people, my favorite being worlds apart from a real person.

I want to hold on to my own warped vision.

What if I’ve fooled myself living in this false mental state of prettiness?

Maybe my mirror tells me I’m okay exactly as I was born.

Maybe my mirror doesn’t mind my personality as I do.

Maybe I admire the hundreds of reflections that comfort me at home,

Believing that their contents are consistent with my too-human skin.

 

I want what I see in my mirrors to be the truth even if they are my imaginary truth,

But the temporary reminders that I am worse than meets my eyes is enough to make me want to crawl out of this suffocating shell,

Clawing and tearing my way out if I have to,

Just to find a more desirable place I am proud enough of to call home.

I could become a person of my own making,

Never again held back by silly appearances or the kind of personality that is tolerated out of pity.

So yes it’s true what people say:

The mirror does in fact lie,

But it’s the most deceitful kind of lie because I still can’t tell which version of me is being honest,

But I will continue to destroy all the evidence just in case.

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Quote #5: Choose Joy

“Was it a bad day? Or was it a bad five minutes that you milked all day?” – Toby Mac 

I’m guilty of this. We have all been guilty of this at one time or another. Emotions are much easier to control in theory than in practice, and the level of difficulty simply depends on a person’s personality or past experiences.

You are allowed to have bad moments, but losing full control is not an accident. At some point there is a conscious thought, a decision being made. It isn’t at all easy, it takes practice, but yes it is a choice.

I used to hate when people would tell me that happiness (or any emotion at that) is a choice, because I have dealt with mental health issues since childhood and it never felt like a choice, which was incredibly frustrating. Some people make it look so easy. But one day I spiraled down much too far and nearly too late realized I could have stopped myself at some point. I could have said, “no I will not let this continue,” because I recognized what was happening, but I did nothing about it. I made a choice to give in; I took the easy route because it was familiar…and easy, obviously.

Sure it felt like I had no control, but that’s not the truth. Feelings are deceptive.

We are faced with two choices in every situation: choose joy or choose death. I know. Seems extreme. Hear me out.

Think of joy as coming from God and the opposite of joy coming from Satan. Things that come from Satan look desirable, even beautiful in a lot of cases. If they didn’t, there would be no temptation to choose the harmful thing over the good thing (or “right”, which I guess I’m using interchangeably with “good”). The good thing, i.e. something that comes from God, would be a no-brainer choice every time.

So why do we choose negativity?

Because it’s easy. Because it’s addictive. Because it makes small talk simpler. Because something genuinely bothered us and letting go isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Of course negativity is easy. But what is easy and what is right rarely coincide. What the easiest option is in the present moment can often have the most difficult consequences later on, and that’s what we tend to forget. Or avoid.

Trust me, there is no escaping what tears you up from the inside out.

The opposite of choosing joy is death because of the havoc it wreaks on you, your family, your faith, your physical/emotional health, everything you’ve got. It’s parasitic. It’s selfish. It’s unforgiving.

However, that means that the other choice (joy) is equivalent to life. Yay, a silver lining.

Choosing to be positive about every moment, every situation, every thought in our heads probably isn’t realistic. However, I’ve learned that the more right decisions you make on your own, the easier it becomes to make them in the future because you are essentially working toward reprogramming your mind until eventually the negative choices don’t look as desirable as they used to.

Choosing joy does not mean choosing to turn a blind eye to negative things. It doesn’t mean ignoring reality. It’s simply saying, “I recognize this, I will choose whether or not I need to act upon it, I will address it with a good attitude.” Bad things will happen, however you define “bad things.” There is no stopping them sometimes. Sometimes there is a way we can stop them and we don’t make a right decision and end up in a mess. Either way, you will face hardship and adversity many times in your life. Many times in a day, even. Why make the journey through it more difficult than it needs to be?

This all may seem a bit extreme to you as you say, “but it’s not that big of a deal,” but enough small things turn into one collective massive evil thing in our heads. It builds up quickly. Don’t let it fester, because it will spiral out of control if it is not addressed immediately and properly. Eventually you’ll just be known as a grumpy complainer. Do you want that? Really, do you want to be that person? We all complain, but no one wants to be a known complainer. And no one likes to be around a complainer because everything is so dramatic and everything sucks and they tend to bring everyone’s moods down.

So, form good habits. Be happy because it’ll benefit you and those around you so much more in the long run. Consciously choose joy through prayer, mental strength, and a lot of practice. Life is hard and we get thrown quite a few curveballs, but it can be genuinely enjoyable if we learn how to make it so.

I will leave you with two more quotes to consider: In reference to God’s unwavering love and commitment to us, “Let’s not live by how we feel. Let’s live by what we know.” “He who lives by emotions lives without principle.” (Joyce Meyer). Right as I was proofreading this, her sermon about this same subject came on tv so I figured it would be a good bit to include. As I re-read the line, “Emotions are much easier to control in theory than in practice,” she opened with a question her daughter asked, “What do you do to control your emotions?” Coincidence? Hmmm. Seems unlikely. Anyway, it’s titled “Understanding Your Emotions” if you want to watch that as well.

Have A Little Less To Get A Little More

I used to call this place home, even if I only spent my summers in the richly uniform hills and murky grey-blue lakes of Tennessee.

I would grow bored easily, my body and mind at a loss without the constant movement of the city I’ve grown up in, but I still missed it the moment I saw concrete buildings glued together and people running from one job to another just to make ends meet.

I would much prefer walking out of my front door to a sea of sunshine and flowers, but all I see right now are more houses and more people and more of everything I could possibly want, so why does it feel like so much less?

A person can only live so long masqueraded by their namelessness in a crowd of too many faces when they are innately nameless to begin with.

I want to be in the sun where God can really see me, in the empty fields where I am known by each individual blade of grass and ounce of dirt, in the lake where coming out of the water always feels like some kind of baptism.

Wanting a fresh start can be misconstrued as running away, but I’m only longing to run forward. Freely.

Is it foolish to want nothing more than to see the stars as they should be seen? To want to lie wrapped in a blanket made of them all and relish in the air that flows so easily in and out of my already damaged lungs?


 

The Place That I Call Home – The Infamous Stringdusters 

New Video (Finally)

How long has it been since I posted a video on my YouTube channel? A couple months, I think. Maybe more. Whoops. Well there’s a new one up now, so please check it out!

Homeless

Awkward Silence

I wonder what it would be like to craft conversations like beautiful pieces of art,

Each word carefully chosen and individually placed exactly where it belongs.

I will leave each social situation unfazed,

No fear or confusion left to haunt me at night because surely nothing will be left unsaid.

My words will sound as intentional as I always intend them to be,

Drawing people in and then making them want to stay just for a chance of a little more.

Crowds will hold on to every sound like even the tiny breaths escaping my lips matter,

Even if not a single syllable it makes a difference in the end.

At least I could fall sleep at night,

Maybe I could understand the definition of being confident one time.

Instead I am clumsy and I am inconsistent,

Every word is an unexpected stranger hiding in the unreachable crevices of my mind.

Pretty words do not glide out of my lips,

But they fall and tumble and awkwardly try to stand up.

They are not strong enough on their own,

Let alone able to support the weight of any others that should surround them.

But worse than that is when they start to silently argue,

None of them able to agree on who has to leave the place they’ve grown comfortable in.

So they’re all too shy to help me,

Stepping on each other’s toes while they fumble for their individual hiding places.

Once again I am left speechless,

Trying to form a single sentence simply so I can say I did not fail today.


 

I Am A Rock – Simon & Garfunkel

 

Permanent

You loved her at sixteen.

Defiant but fragile in her own ways;

Hungry for an uncertain future;

Awkwardly growing up even when she felt like she was regressing.

You loved her at twenty.

With wavering confidence that often held her down;

Simultaneously terrified of and impatient for what was to come of you and her;

Full of hope and yearning for a boy 700 miles away.

You will love her at thirty, fifty, seventy years old.

A romance that’s more than an initial spark but a indistinguishable flame itself;

Two hearts who always find their way back to each other;

Love that is permanent.

And she loves you just the same.


 

I Get To Love You – Ruelle