Being Seen: Three Ways I Allowed Myself to Show Up This Year

Exactly a year ago today, I started a draft of a blog post titled, “What Will I Be? A Glimpse Into Feeling Lost”. Although I’d like to say that a year later, I’m so much more grounded in where I’m going in life, but that might be stretching the truth. I still feel lost; I still don’t know what I’ll be. But this year feels different. This year, feeling lost has been a blessing.

Last NYE I decided to set intentions for the year instead of creating a list that would only be used to loathe myself for the ten pounds I hadn’t lost. {Irony: I did lose ten pounds betwieen last year and now, but not intentionally.}

Liz Sandos talked on her instastory about how she picks a word each year and manifests that word into her life for the next 365 days. I decided I liked that idea and I chose to manifest the word, “seen”. It’s kind of overwhelming to look back at the last ten and a half months and acknowledge how often I allowed myself to be seen in very vulnerable ways. It’s difficult to look back and wonder if maybe I let too much of myself be seen.

This year I showed up in my life in a really big way: I let who I am come to the forefront in ways I never really have. I hit the hardest lows I have ever known, but boy have I felt what life can offer: grace, love, heartbreak, forgiveness, new beginnings.

There are three main ways I believe I showed up in my life this year:

I decided that how I feel matters. Sounds easy, right? Not to me. In August I started seeing a doctor for my depression and anxiety because I was waking up every few hours with my entire body lit up by a panic attack. I didn’t eat for a solid five days minus the small amounts of cereal my brother would bring me.

At the time, I thought this overwhelming darkness might have been because of one thing. No, it was because of a multitude of moments in which I didn’t stand up and advocate for my mental health over and over and over again. The therapist I worked with allowed me to see that I had been clinically depressed for nearly three years, I just didn’t really know it. How does that happen? It happens when you normalize the emotions that you have to the point that you believe that’s just who you are: chronically tired, worried, and sad. The kind of sad that you can’t always see, because it’s become a part of you, the same way you carry the weight of loss.

After a month of intensive therapy, I felt like I had woken up from a really long, really bad, dream. My meds were re-evaluated and I started taking a different anti-depressant. Five days later, I felt this dull ache in my chest and I couldn’t explain why it was so odd to me; like my heart was still hurting so much, but it’s effect on my body was more of a knock on the door than a full-body attack. I learned that that’s the “normal” feeling of deep sadness that the average person feels. It’s still so heavy and dark, but it doesn’t keep you in bed all day or on the bathroom floor hyperventilating.

I know that these descriptions aren’t pretty and I recognize that many of my readers might not even know that these moments are masked by real smiles in the midst of those that I love. Things are not always as they seem.

It has been three months and one day since I started seeing a therapist, and even amidst the remains of a really dark time, I find myself making funny faces in the mirror again. I am more present in my interactions with others. I feel the way happiness lingers in your heart, like I actually FEEL it. It may sound crazy, but for so long, I’ve acknowledged the feeling of happiness, but I felt that my body couldn’t digest it. No matter how much I knew how something should overwhelm me with joy, I felt a wall between us.

What’s interesting about showing up for yourself and being real about what is happening inside your heart and your mind is that no one can take it from you. The dark lies you lay in at night when you feel lost don’t just go away when you start a new medication or you start working out; you just learn to bring new blankets into bed: gratitude, faith, hope.

I am thankful that my loved ones made me take a chance on myself and see a doctor. For the first time in years, I am not so afraid of being seen.

I fell in love. After nearly two years of intentionally not dating at all, someone walked into my life and I found a best friend, a person that really saw me – at my worst and my best. Love feels like midnight whispers in a hammock; it feels like slow-dancing under the stars with someone your soul feels aligned with; sometimes it feels like going home when your grandpa dies and having someone to hold your hand while you cry. Love like that doesn’t always last, but I’m thankful for it nonetheless.

I shared how Jesus was moving in my life. After years of wondering and sitting quietly in my beliefs, I started building a community of people from all walks of life that supported me in the hardest and best moments. I got baptized as an adult. I started serving at church in the children’s ministry. I opened my eyes and found a new friend at every turn. I experienced the overwhelming grace and love that this world can’t offer me. My heart began to heal.

There’s a lot to be said about when we do and don’t show up as our authentic selves and nine times out of ten, that will feel uncomfortable. But I guarantee you it will be worth it. Not everyone will dig you and that’s okay. You’ll still wake up tomorrow and be loved.

I have never been so grateful for the word, “seen”. It reminds me that I have a lot to offer the world. I have freedom, grace, and support.

I’m gonna show up as myself.

Today. Tomorrow. For as long as I can.

I hope you will, too.


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