I've always felt less alone standing in the middle of a storm. Bring on the thunder and the lightning. Bring on the howling wind and rain that falls heavy to the earth. It drowns out everything else. I used to only allow myself to cry in the middle of a raging storm. I would stand there as the rain poured down, soaking through my clothes and staring skyward. It was easy to hide tears that way.
I've always thought that storms are a lot like people. Under some of the wildest, most tenacious people lies a stillness – a calm that settles deep in their core that I wish I could tap into. On the other hand, some of the quietest people hide rolling surfs and raging winds beneath their surface. There are storms brewing and battles being fought that we know nothing about. There are cries for help being drowned out by the biting wind.
Have you ever had to hide a part of yourself? Maybe you have an obsession you are embarrassed to admit to. Maybe you hide a part of your life that you don't want anyone to find out about -- issues with food, unresolved rage, violence you don't want anyone to see, an altered body image or self worth, a certain addiction, your sexuality? There's a long list of things that we may be hiding from others or hiding from ourselves. And it all stems from the same fear -- what will others think of me if they knew? Will I be judged? Am I the only one that feels this way?
Our fear and judgment from others is what causes great divides among people. It's what makes us feel most alone in our darkest moments. I used to let things rage beneath my surface. I used to hide emotions well, so I know what to look for in those like me. I am also one of the quiet ones who sit back and watch things unfold. I take in my surroundings. I pay attention to people and what they are saying in what they don't say. I listen.
I've witnessed people I love battle against the strongest addictions. I've watched those addictions take over and eventually take their life. I've battled my own addictions and obsessions. I know what it's like to look in the mirror and not recognize your own reflection, or worse, hate the image staring back at you because you can't see what everyone else does. I've watched people I love live a life in hiding because they don't know how to accept themselves and fear rejection by the people closest to them. I've learned that some of my closest friends have dealt with violence and abuse in relationships for years while putting on a happy, smiling front to the outside world.
One of the most heartbreaking moments in my life was realizing that someone I loved and adored didn't love themselves. I wrote in his eulogy that one of my biggest regrets is that I couldn't get him to see himself through my eyes, so that he could see what I saw in him every day. He spent most of his life running from inner demons that he couldn't quite get away from. He saw himself as a weed choking out all the good in his life. What he couldn't grasp no matter how many times I told him was that he was one of the best parts of mine.
How does one come to hate themselves? Why would anyone ever want to make someone feel that way? Why is our self-image so dependent upon others' perceptions of who we are? Why do we judge things we know nothing about ourselves? Why does anyone feel they have a right to make someone else feel less? I think if there were more love, understanding and acceptance in this world, we'd accomplish a hell of a lot more than any amount of hate and judgement ever could.
Here's the advice I have to offer you, my loves: Find happiness in who you are and love yourself enough to walk away from anyone or anything that makes you feel like you aren't enough. I know it's easier said, than done, but you deserve it. Love your life and fight for the things that bring you happiness and light, even if others don't understand or respect it. Don't be afraid to ask for help from people who love you. You don't always have to shoulder this world alone. Find people who will walk with you. Don't apologize for who you are. Don't apologize for who or what you love. Love inspires great things and everyone deserves the right to find their passion in this life. Everyone deserves to be loved, no matter where we've been, what we've battled, what we've overcome or are fighting to overcome. Learn from your fears and your own wounds and reach out a hand to help those around you. Lift others up and remind them that they are loved, too, so we can inspire love and acceptance in others.
And as I have repeated often this past year since starting this blog, love is a fulfilling cycle. Be love. Give love, Receive love. Repeat.
"Be a sun amongst planets. In a world divided by color, be ultraviolet." - Rose Hummingbird