This submission is an ongoing project here at Band Back Together.
The project? Define Yourself.
So who are you?
I Am Me.
I'm With The Band.
Here at the Band, we talk about dark things sometimes. We like to invite people to take the skeletons they hide in their closet and make them dance.
I've been through some dark things. I have walked some hard roads. I have felt a lot of fear, shame, and humiliation. But you know what I found out during this past year?
All this bullshit has made me strong.
Speaking my truth, telling my story, finding ways to express the pain, the loneliness, the lack of self worth, and how I am trying to recover, talking and finding community with other people who are hurting, who want to recover and feel whole... that vulnerability and transparency is seriously empowering.
I have more confidence, higher self esteem, and more of a sense of self worth than I have since before junior high. Talking about my weaknesses, the ways I have been abused and neglected and abandoned, being open... writing the raw and the exposed. I like it. A lot.
When I open up to people like The Band who invite me to confide in them, who show me over and over that they won't reject me when they hear what I'm really like inside, I feel validated. Accepted. Appreciated. I don't feel disconnected, misunderstood, and alone.
I am told that I am brave, and beautiful, and worth loving. And I need to hear those words. I need to hear what is true about me, what is valuable. Because sometimes the words from all that bullshit will still echo in my head.
I am the most vulnerable in return with those friends who have been real and vulnerable with me. Suffering together, depending upon one another, reciprocating that trust, those are bonds that hold for a lifetime. I know who has my back. I know who I can trust with my tears. I know who my 4 o'clock in the morning phone call friends are. And I am blessed immeasurably to have more than one of those friends.
I've found through being open and trusting friends like I have found through The Band that I'm not ashamed of any of the things I have been through anymore. And that I've used the lessons I learned in them to become a stronger and more compassionate person.
Some things that make me who I am:
I am highly emotional: very passionate, very angsty, very happy, very full of rage, very sad. I am an intense person, who feels things very deeply.
I don't want to spend a lot of time with anyone who doesn't accept me for who I am.
I am spontaneous, disorganized, easily overwhelmed, and unpredictable. Deal with it.
I cannot be counted on to be emotionally stable for any length of time. And that's okay. It's a variation of personality. It doesn't need to be fixed.
I am incredibly thin-skinned and struggle to not take everything personally.
I can get really ugly and mean when I feel like I have been condescended to, made to feel that my emotions are not valid, or when my integrity is questioned. Having to defend myself out of self preservation makes me sort of vicious.
Why I Am With The Band:
I know all about some self-loathing. I know how it feels to hate yourself and feel worthless. I do not currently live there, but I've spent a lot of time there and have been known to visit from time to time. I have a particularly unconditional love for those who have walked that road and share that struggle.
I have been suicidal. I have been totally emotionally detached, numb, and shut down. I have dealt with intrusive thoughts and paranoia and the overwhelming desire to be violent toward others in my worst moments of rage.
I have become almost non-functionally neurotic, and have lost every shred of self worth I had.
I promise... your story isn't going to scare me or make me think you're weak, damaged or irreparably broken.
Through my writing, and feeling safe to express my deepest feelings within my real-life support system, I have overcome the shame, stigma and fear surrounding the life events that make up my story. I have a profound desire to speak out, advocate for, and encourage others with invisible disabilities like mental illness, depression, and anxiety.
I know what it's like to have people who don't understand, who think that depression is a choice, that you can just decide to be happy and get over all of the hard stuff that's happened to you.
I want to validate the ever living hell out of the fact that nobody else has lived your life and feels things the way you do inside. What you feel, how much you struggle, how dark the night can be? It is valid. All of it. Just because no one else can see it or feel it doesn't mean it's not real.
I have emotional baggage just like you. And it doesn't make me damaged and unworthy of love to admit that I have some that comes with me. You are not too damaged to be worthy of love. We both deserve to be loved and accepted. Period. End of discussion.
I am naturally compelled to help, to listen, to encourage, and to inspire others' belief in themselves. It's part of how I have been made. I want to invite you to be open with me, to not be withdrawn. I don't want you to pretend like your bullshit doesn't hurt you. I want to know how you really feel. And when you ask how I feel, I want to be able to be honest.
Who I am, my real self, is beautiful, amazing, and unique. And it's because of what I've been through. Not in spite of it. My capacity to understand and to have compassion and empathy, and love deeper and see more are because of the fact that I've suffered damage. I believe that who you are is beautiful, amazing, and unique, too. And that you are stronger than you realize.
"When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something has suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful." Barbara Bloom
Band Back Together and its community are a big part of why I am stronger, why I believe in myself, and why I have the courage to speak out. They have been there for me.
I am proud to be a part of a site, a movement, that wants to give you a place to speak your truth and to find community. A place to be accepted and validated. To share your story, and as a result, find the confidence to grow, and heal, and recover.
I am Me. I am with The Band.