Sticky Notes.

This is a post about sticky notes.
That was first completely written only on sticky notes.
9 of them to be exact. 

listen closely.
underneath all
clamoring
hear these
notes
steady and sure
something to mark
time.
all other notes
flutter about
in the wind.
but these –
these are constant.
a heartbeat.
pulsing life into
all others.
a baseline
on which to
create
this masterpiece.
beat strong,
foundation of notes.
beat sure,
your moment is
here.
we are counting
on you.
a day for sticky notes –
you’d think the
melodies they play
sound repetitive
and dull.
but give me that
yellow stack
and I’ll write you a symphony
of thoughts
words
phrases.
all belted out
in most beautiful harmonies.
just give me
a mountain of yellow and
I’ll write you a song.
high notes
mark good days.
trumpeting out
reminders
of victory.
these notes
sporadic
never lasting
more than a moment.
for if they did,
your ears would burst.
music would fall
flat
boring
predictable.
sing out,
notes floating on air.
your moment is here.
do not waste it.

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sleeping with the light on.

Some nights you sleep with the light on. 

Some days are followed by nights that demand more than a metaphorical light piercing the darkness. So you leave the light on. A tangible weapon to defend yourself from the darkness that threatens to overtake you. 

Tonight I sleep with the light on. 

Bombs dropping. Children murdered. Cities in uproar. Lives being taken by hands of others and lives being taken by our own hands. 

Oh God, it’s dark. 

And as much as I would like to stand up against it all as a beacon of hope…tonight, I cannot. 

Headlines are one thing. Reminding you over and over how everything seems to have gone to hell. It’s a whole other thing to see the demons staring back at you in the mirror. Depression stole another {prominent} life this week. And you heard about it. Chances are your phone buzzed multiple times letting you know that a life was no more. And we wept. And rightly so. It is a tragedy. 

But. What doesn’t make the front page of your newspaper are the not so prominent ones who choose to take their lives each day. Your phone doesn’t buzz. Video montages are not readily available. No one dedicates a twitter feed. And you don’t see a slew of Facebook/twitter/tumblr/Instagram posts proclaiming that the world “lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings.”

I sat in my car tonight, alone, and I thought about my story. My name would never make CNN or Foxnews or your Facebook timeline. But my story isn’t that much different. Depression is a relentless bastard. Caring not of tax brackets or job title. He doesn’t give a flip about how many movies you have made or how well you manage your home. He lies and cheats and steals. He steals your hope. Your joy. Your sense of direction. He leaves you feeling trapped and suffocated and alone. And after he has whispered those lies for a good long while, he whispers that there is a way out and all too often we choose to believe him. Because, honestly, we just want the shit in our heads to stop. 

So. Tonight I leave the light on. 

It’s the only thing I have right now to combat the darkness.

It’s the only thing I have to tell the whispers – the lies – to stop. 

I leave the light on because the headlines are too much and the despair is so heavy. 

I leave the light on because, while I cannot be a beacon of hope, I believe one still exists. And this lamp is just a reminder. 

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six months.

Dear You,

Today is the day. Well, I guess there won’t ever be THE day. But this is definitely one for the books. Today is day one-hundred-eighty-two. Today is twenty-six weeks. Today is six months.

Some people might say that I am celebrating. But the truth of it is that we are celebrating.

Choosing life always sounds so simple. And sometimes it is. But then there are times where the right step is the blurry step and the right choice is the hardest one. I remember talking to you in those days before. “If I don’t walk away from this – it will kill me” I told you, knowing full well that playing with fire sends you home burned. “Take one step. Just one step. I’ll be here for the first one and for each one after it.”

I had been self harming almost consistently since I was 11 years old – more than half my life. The motivation for walking away was not “I want to be obedient to what God has called me to” or “I don’t want to keep running to things that will never satisfy” or “I want to be faithful even though I am so so tired and I don’t think I can do this.”

My motivation was simply this – I don’t want to die right now.

Sometimes, I guess, that is enough.
So, I packaged up the far-too-many razor blades I possessed and painted a picture.

“I will have JOY in the Lord. I will be glad in the God who SAVES me. the Lord is my strength.”

The envelope, filled with cisterns that can hold no water, was taped to the back of that painting.
It was shipped off for safe keeping.
And then I cried.

On day eight I texted saying there was no way I would make it to day nine.

On day twenty-three I pocketed a razor blade swearing that it was the last day I was going to count.

On day forty-nine you called me out for believing lies and I was adamant that I would never talk to you again.

On day one-hundred-twenty-six there was a feast. We celebrated making it that far. We told stories. We raised our glasses. And we made dessert.

On day one-hundred-fifty-four I realized that it was really only day one-hundred-forty-seven. I resigned myself to defeat and convinced myself there was no point to move forward.

Then day one-hundred-fifty-four came back around. And we celebrated it again.

On day one-hundred-sixty-six we had breakfast and dreamed about celebrating six months.

Day one-hundred-seventy-three we both raised our fists against the darkness. We longed for light and were determined to fight for it.

So today, on this day, I want to say thank you. I raise my glass to those who have called me on my crap, to those who won’t let me continually shut down or check out. I want to give a shout out to those who refused to walk away, to those who have stayed up way past their bedtime to remind me of who I am and whose I am. I am grateful for the truth you have spoken over me. I am grateful for the texts and emails and Facebook chats.

If you come across those today who are walking a hard path would you tell them a few things for me? Would you encourage them to be faithful and obedient to what God is asking of them?

I am familiar with the shaking hands and the weak knees and I would still say that choosing life is worth it. You will doubt almost everything and that is okay. Relax into the doubt. You won’t drown, I promise. Chances are you are going to fail at some point. Maybe not outright, but in little ways. That’s okay too, get back up. You aren’t alone. There will be times when you will be so tired you will think your body is actually failing you…don’t give up. Keep walking. The road is dusty and tiresome, but one thing it is not is empty.

Trust that God is a good father. His heart is kind toward you.

So, on day one-hundred-eighty-two, I raise my glass to hope.

Here’s to day one’s.
Here’s to longing for light.
And here’s to a hope that does not put us to shame.

I’m with you and for you.

All my love,
Alison

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lost at sea

dear god,

it has been 147 days. it has been 147 days since i opened my hand. it has been 147 days since i let it go. it has been 147 days since i did what you asked and i don’t feel one bit different. in fact, god, things seem to be heavier. harder. i know that you didn’t say it would be easy. and i know that you didn’t say my heart would be healed. not right away, anyway. but i expected something. a shift. a movement. a budge. i would almost take anything at this point. because, god, if i am being honest, i want it back.

i hear it whisper in the middle of the day. i hear it whisper when the sun is shining and everything appears right in the world. i hear it whisper when the breeze blows my hair and the leaves rustle under my feet. i hear it whisper when the rain is falling and the cold forces me to tighten my coat. i hear it when the sun rises and when the sun sets. the world goes dark, but it’s voice doesn’t rest. it promises control and freedom. it promises validity and safety. i know, i know, god. it’s a lie. but right now it sounds so convincing and i long to be free of it’s taunts.

right now, in this moment. tonight. i feel like i am drowning without it. a wave. another wave. hitting me. taking me under each time. gasping for breath i resurface. all i accomplish is the taking in of more water. my lungs are filling and i can’t breathe. all i want in this moment is a breath. so you know what happens next? it promises breath. and i want to take the deal.

i don’t, obviously. because it has been 147 days of labored breathing. i hear you say, quietly, “labored breathing is still breathing.” but then i think – “doesn’t labored breathing concern doctors?” i’m sure it does. however, i am no doctor. in fact, i have no solid knowledge of how lungs actually work and i am sure that at one point i learned that the human body is made up of approximately 60% water. could i be dehydrated? is that why my body continues to take on water? is this part of the plan? maybe i could just drink water instead of breathing it into my lungs. maybe if i stop fighting a bit this might get a little easier…

except i don’t know how to rest.

i don’t know how to unclinch the muscles in my body long enough to float. i am not cut out for this sea life. my legs can’t stand the swaying and my lungs can’t handle the salt. would you please, since you can, pull me back over the ledge of the boat and sail us to dry land? if you won’t do that, would you at least walk out over the waves to me and reassure my heart that i am not alone? because, god, i am drowning out here and i cannot see. everything looks the same. the horizon has faded and the waves confuse and frighten me.

i don’t know how many more times i can go under.

i don’t know how much more water i can take on.

and i don’t know how i can live on gasps of air.

god, it has been 147 days. the seas have been still from time to time. but my fingertips are prunes and my legs are weak. my eyes are burning and my heart is tired. i still hear the voice calling to me. promising breath. or maybe it is just trying to convince me to go under. maybe it is pulling me under. so, i am asking you. pull me out of the water. or send an air tank. or do something. because i am drowning out here. and i need you. fast.

sincerely,
lost at sea

and here’s to choosing to stay.

Mine is a story of leaving and being left. 
It is a story of somehow choosing to stay. 
Through it all, hope constantly finds it’s way to the surface. 

~ ~ ~

I wouldn’t fancy myself a dreamer. 

Dreams are big and scary and as a small child I was much more accustomed to nightmares. Each night, as I looked up at the ceiling from my white framed twin bed, I would stare at the carousel wallpaper border that lined my room. I would stare at those beautiful horses and convince myself that if I fell asleep while looking at it, I would only have good dreams. 

It rarely worked. 

It rarely worked simply because there were two white splotches of paint on the window pane that seemed to peek through my blinds like a pair of eyes watching my every move. Lurking in darkness, those imaginary eyes watched me as I slept. The good and beautiful dreams that danced in the air right above me were stolen by these hovering eyes.

I learned at a young age that dreaming wasn’t for me.

I just needed to survive the night.

And yet, there was an underlying hope of the morning.

~ ~ ~

The rug of my carefully constructed plans was ripped out from under my feet. The house of horrors I grew up in became the place I would wrestle with the idea of dreams. It was the place that quickly squelched any remnant of my childhood aspirations. Innocence was snatched away and I stopped counting the times I had been left out in the cold or forgotten somewhere in the pages of decade old photo albums. 

My dad left to find comfort. It was available. 
My mom left to escape. It was easier. 
My sister left to be with my mom. It was temporary. 

And I was left somewhere in the charred remains of the life I once knew. 

~ ~ ~

That day, a broken wrist started a cycle of abuse that would repeat itself more times than I can count. As I laid on the floor, my arm twisted behind my back, I remember looking up at her waiting for her to act. Waiting for her to scream at him…make him let me go…waiting for her to leave him. She did none of those things.

She sat there. Content.

Another night, another argument. 

And I actually believed that Jesus could hear me and wanted to save me. So, I cried out. Unashamedly. I asked him to protect me. To make it all stop. I asked him to help.

He didn’t come. 

God wasn’t going to come. 
He wasn’t the rescuer that I had imagined him to be. 
He wasn’t sitting there waiting to save me from all this madness.

God left because I was too much trouble. 

God left because I couldn’t seem to get it together. 

God left because I wasn’t worth saving.

Or so I thought.

~ ~ ~

Every so often I can hear Jesus whisper. Every once in a while he feels close enough to reach out and touch. There are times when love seems to wrap me in a warm blanket and tuck me in after the sun has surrendered to the night. 

Maybe he didn’t leave. Maybe he chose to stay. 

I should have walked away from Jesus. I should have spit in his face and never looked back. There are hundreds of reasons I should have left him. But you see, the thing is, I can’t. Every time I try, I am drawn back in and a new wave of grace washes over me and I resurface, finally able to breathe again. I can’t help but hope that somehow I am still safe and wrapped up in God’s great love for me. I can’t help but lean in to his chest and listen to him assure me that I am his and that I am deeply loved. I can’t help but see my brokenness laid out against his beauty and yet still hope that this relationship can be restored.

I should have walked away from my family. When I packed my car and moved 200 miles away, I should have ripped the rearview mirror of my windshield. There are hundreds of reasons why I should have deleted their phone numbers and blocked their calls. But you see, the thing is, I can’t. Every time I am tempted to deny their existence, I am overcome with a deep love for them and my heart breaks again. I can’t help but hope that things can be different. I can’t help but see their brokenness and yet still hope that our relationships can be restored. 

~ ~ ~

Maybe I should fancy myself a dreamer. 

Maybe I chose to stay…in spite of it all. 

Against all odds and against impossible circumstances, hope rises to the surface. It is in my bones. Even when I hate it. Even when I wish I could just wash my hands of it all and be done. Even when none of it makes sense – maybe especially when none of it makes sense.

Hope rises. 

I guess you could say I have dreams these days. 

Dreams of hope. 

~ ~ ~

So here’s to the leavers.
Here’s to those who are left.
And here’s to choosing to stay.

 

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rough waters

“Today we celebrate sea legs…”

I don’t think I have sea legs. I wasn’t made for the sea.
In fact, I’ve never even seen the sea. 

The water is rough these days, or so I imagine this is the way rough waters might feel.

Stomach rolling over itself.
Body having a hard time determining which way is up.
Eyes straining to see the horizon. Utter confusion and frustration.

I would imagine this is the way rough waters might feel.

How does one celebrate the one thing they feel they lack? How does one continue to stand on surfaces never known? How does one steady themselves when all around seems unsteady? I say one, but we all know I’m not talking in generalities here. We all know that I am talking about me. How do I celebrate sea legs when I, regardless of how hard I try, can’t seem get my feet to remain underneath weak ankles and buckling knees? 

I can’t stand tonight. I can’t steady myself.
And the torrents of water rushing over the sides of this little boat threaten to drown me outright. 

So. Today, I am not celebrating.
I am not toasting the sea legs I lack.
I am not raising my glass to steady legs or settled stomach.
I will not applaud hushed wind or calmed seas.

Today, we don’t celebrate sea legs. 

Today, we simply wait out the night.

Today, we simply wait for morning.

i am still…safe

tapping
rapping
rustling outside my window.
winds of today
becoming yesterday
suddenly
I’m in tomorrow.

soft is the hum
gentle
forceful shift
strong
carrying a chill
onward
forward.
always onward.

out of fear
ran the sun
from the winds of change
hiding, cowering, waiting
another day

burning
yearning
warring against
frost
threatening to freeze solid
burning ball of fire

suffering through
flames –
sheds light, casts shadows
illuminating darkness

fear does his worst
convincing, persuasive
fleeting victory remains his reward

hoping
groping
searching through darkness
not lost, still remembered
i am still
safe

no matter how hard this gets.

Dear you,

I can’t seem to escape the overhead speakers that play loudly the all too familiar Christmas songs that sing loud and proud of “the most wonderful time of the year”, which means that you too have been bombarded with these melodies. I get it. I really do. This time of year, for many, isn’t the most wonderful time.

I am sorry.

This is the holiday season. It is here and Christmas is next week. This is supposed to be the time for “holly jolly” and “joy to the world” and “peace on earth”. So why is it that most of us feel all of everything except for that overwhelming peace and joy? Somewhere along the line everything shattered. I am sure that at some point we beheld the magic of the season. I am certain that we once had the twinkle of wonder in our eyes. But it is gone now, and I am so sorry.

These days we are forced to sit across the table from brokenness. As we drive down streets that are covered in lights and nativities and jolly Ol’ Saint Nick, we are reminded. As we walk through crowded hallways where families walk hand in hand, we are reminded. We can’t even buy groceries without being reminded of the something missing. And I am so sorry.

For some of us, the depression that seems to hold us in a chokehold for most of the year only tightens its grip during this last month. I hear you and I see you and I am with you. And I am so sorry.

I don’t have answers. I don’t have words that could possibly make any of this less shitty than it is. But I can and will say that I am with you. I will hold your hand until January rolls around and I will hold your hand long after then as well.

I see you.
I hear you.
I am with you.
I am for you.
And I am not going anywhere.

No matter how hard this gets.

Love,
Alison