I grew up in a family that was overly transparent. Pride was not even a word in our vocabulary. We were real. Really real. People knew what we were dealing with while we were dealing with it.
As I matured, I learned the art of leaving things out that could be off-putting and turn people away.
Unfortunately, it was emotional hurt that brought me to this point. The vulnerable, brutally honest approach to life and relationships did not serve me well. Being misunderstood felt isolating, so burying my head in the sand seemed like the better option.
The problem is I lost my voice somewhere in it all. Somewhere along the way I decided people didn't want (and certainly didn't need) to know my deeper, more complicated, thoughts and feelings. If being vulnerable can lead to judgment and close behind it comes insecurity and isolation, then I didn't want anything to do with it.
If no one can come in then no one can hurt me.
But this is not truly who I want to be. It's just kind of who I became, by default.
While shutting down and stuffing things down may be safe, it also has a way to making a person feel lonely, isolated, sad, and discouraged.
For a long time now I thought my breakthrough would come when I was bold enough to talk about my mental illness from a place of strength - that I could somehow encourage others who have bipolar once I had proven that I deserved to be in that place of influence.
But that is a lot of pressure and the truth is, no one is asking me to do that for them.
There was something else I associated with a breakthrough though. Something I didn't want to give voice to, because even more important to me than protecting myself, was the need to protect others who I loved dearly, but who had hurt me, perhaps without meaning to.
I thought healing and redemption would be directly tied to relationships taking an unexpected turn and magically becoming what I always hoped they would be. That one day, after my continued faithfulness to live in humility before the Lord, that those who I perceived to misunderstand me, and who didn't actively rally around me when I needed it, would one day just come around. I put my hope in this ideal scenario I created. I believed that restored relationships would bring the peace and wholeness I longed for. So this became my hope and my prayer.
I stepped away from the "be comforted" message of this blog because I was not being comforted myself and creating content under the name of "be comforted" started to feel strained and unnatural. "Who am I to comfort others when I am broken and sad?" I would ask myself.
I turned inward.
I thought that once I was comforted again, and everything was restored to its rightful place, that then I could write again, giving God all the glory for the way He put all of the pieces together so nicely.
The problem, though, is that I never actually arrived. Not in the way I imagined I would, at least. And somewhere in the waiting (that took so much longer than I wanted) I became tired, and lazy in my efforts. I sort of gave up. Prayers weren't being answered so I just stopped praying them. The Bible wasn't bringing encouragement anymore so I just stopped reading it.
I was coasting though life, with a little less passion, and with a sting on my heart that sort of scarred and never healed properly. I would shift back and forth between numbing the pain and crying over it... but as time went on I found that numbing the pain became easier and easier and the tears didn't surface as readily as they used to.
My self-talk changed... Buckle up, Alisha. You can do this! Smile. Don't draw attention to yourself. Let others shine. Stay humble. It's not about you. Don't make it about you. Rise above it. One day at a time...
Some days it felt exhausting.
I don't write from a place of great healing today. I write from a place of sadness. And I know now to call it depression. But not in a way of "Hey, I struggle with depression and here is what you can do that worked so well for me." Because I know it doesn't always work like that.
The waves will come. And next week I will probably feel great, counting my blessings... but not today. Today I just have to get through today and let that be enough. Today I am reminded of why I am sad. I can push it down or I can call it what it is.
I am not going to share this on social media and bring a bunch of attention to it. I am just going to let it sit here. This is my first step after a long time of silence on the blog to publicly speak out of honesty and vulnerability. Because while being transparent may be one of my greatest weaknesses, it also happens to be one of my greatest strengths.