Trekking Through Madness.

“I have traveled through madness to find me.” – Danny Alexander

 

I’ve spent countless moments giving off a bit of my light, but mainly in secret. My biggest nightmare has never been to give a public speech or being the center of attention. (Although those things are terrifying…) I’m most afraid of being perceived as faking it. Being disingenuous. That I’d be characterized as a phony.

Someone would assume that the things I truly love, the passions and beliefs I carry, I may not be as passionate about as I claim. Or that my abilities and skills probably won’t match what others perceived. It’s funny because the price I’m paying for coming out of hiding; for being me out in the open, is that now I’m looking over my shoulder. Aware that others are, in fact, watching. And they are constantly drawing conclusions about what they see or don’t see. It makes me paranoid, honestly.

I know that the right answer is to not give a single care about what others think. But you must understand something about me: I care. And I cannot help it.

One of the struggles attached with being a self-declared empath (google that one) is that I’m aware of others without trying to be. I can feel variations of others comfort levels, hear depths within the inflections of someone’s voice, feel tension the second I walk into a room. While navigating through this, I often gather that what I’m picking up is directed at me. Ha. Insecurity is poison for an empath.

Beyond wanting to be liked (which is what we all want if we’re honest), I desire to be helpful. Effective. I want people to leave my presence with more good things than they came with. I understand it’s not all on me, or about me, and I often do not have the power to make things happen 100% of the time. But I’m aware that a tiny bit of my own madness can find a way to attach itself to others…..if I’m not careful.

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So…

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I just self-published my first collection of poetry. It took me much longer than I’d like to admit, but I did it. Something concrete that I created is public. Open to be consumed and critiqued. Interpreted.

I hope people are inspired. I hope people understand me more. I hope to help others put their books out. I hope this is just the beginning.

I feel clean. Like I’ve made a lengthy confession about my first 31 years. Now that this is done, I can move on, and write more honestly. Clearer. Some of the poems in this book represent a trek from mindsets that I don’t even hold anymore. Battle wounds that are simply scars.

Wow.

It’s done.

If you’re interested, find the book here:

For James

Pride.

I have spent so much of my life trying to hold a compliment in my head long enough for it to seep through my ribcage and into my heart. Most times, I end up gagging on a fear that I’ll be found out as a phony.

I’d end up holding the compliment in my sweaty palms, instead. Awkward and unsure, give it a once over and toss it back to its recipient. Or into the thin air.

Now. I can’t seem to hold a criticism in those same palms without my heart crumbling inside of my chest. I’ve never been this fragile. Every face is a potential enemy. Everyone carries the potential to destroy me. My husband. My clients at work. My God.

This isn’t the “toot your own horn” on loop kind of pride. But a sinister type where I feel inauthentic in moments where I want to shine the most. I look over my shoulder and test out each glance. Are you pleased with me?

….and I answer the question with a “Of course not.”

I can see an image of myself as a small girl, with my mother’s church clothes, jewelry, and shoes on. They are obviously too large for me. Swallowing my tiny frame. I want to feel pretty. As pretty as the person whom these clothes belong to. But I spin and twirl and pray for a “Oh, darling. Look at how beautiful you look.”

The one compliment that satisfies the need. Finally.

So I can rest my tired feet and stop this rat race; constant pursuit of pleased nods and grateful hugs from those around me that I often get. But it never seems enough.

I think pride is kin to memory loss. You must be privy to forgetfulness to be prideful.

I forget that I have always been valued and cherished.

Even before I was cognizant of any desire to please and take the credit. Before any hands raised in front of pulsating hearts to give accolades, high-fives, or wide hugs. Before the creation of selfies and high school superlatives. Before I knew what it was like to be ignored by a boy I liked.

Pride is an insatiable black hole. Matched only by Love. Nothing can win against Pride except Love. Only Love. I can rest, return glances with smiles and be great because I am Loved.

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” – Zepheniah 3:17

Reintroducing…

Why is this post necessary?

  1. There is a slight possibility that I’ve attracted some new readers.
  2. Life often refuses to slow down long enough for me write about her.

 

So.

This, is me:

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I’m a wife and a mom of two small kids. (Yeah, I know. It’s often a “holy frick” reminder for me about every other day.) I’m intentional in my womanhood and Blackness. Forgive the corniness of this statement, but I sometimes feel like I want to stretch my arms wide enough to hug all of the children in the world.

Some people feel drawn to champion for the unborn. But I spend most of my daylight hours helping already broken and silenced children express themselves and find their way out of the darkest of situations. I seek to help them find their inner light that I believe all children have. I’ve been told by colleagues in the past that pervasive mental illness can, in fact, make a kid a “bad kid”, and that they cannot, ultimately, be helped.

I will never agree with that train of thought; to me there are no “bad kids”. I’m often alone in that camp.

While we’re on that subject, I love being a therapist. It’s how I preach and do ministry. It’s sacred ground and I feel privileged every time someone tells me their story. I often give all that I have at work but the moment I see my family I can tap into a reservoir that is only for them.

My babies.

There are times when I look at them that I see the remainder of what is honorable and pure about the human race. Goodness begins and ends with them. They tire me out in a way that is staggering, but just the sight of them replenishes me to overflowing. I weep from my soul for those I know that have yet to experience this.

My husband.

There is probably not a more patient man that exists on this planet. The longer we are together, the more commitment, companionship, and friendship make me hotter towards him than physique or a grand romantic gesture. I often want to hide him away from the world, but I knew from day 1 that I’d gone and fallen in love with a visionary and that I’d have to share him with everyone. It’s a weekly battle for me, still.

My faith.

I love Jesus Christ with all of me. The goodness and grace of my God is the light I carry within my soul, and I shudder at the thought of pushing others away from that Light through misrepresentation. I do hope that, at some point, people will recognize my good deeds as the Light and not my personality or even my choices. This world can be so dark. I think we can all agree that Light is necessary.

I’ve conquered/am conquering depression. Grief/loss. Pride. Lust. Self-Pity. Anger. Low self-esteem. Anxiety. I did not endure simply to squander my lessons or my life. I have a story to share. And I’ve been compelled to tell it.

 

Very nice to meet you!

I’d love to hear your stories, too. Share in the comments section 🙂

Self-Efficacy, etc.

Literally defined as “a person’s belief in their own abilities and competence”.

This has been one of my biggest challenges, truthfully. No matter the amount of growth or comfort in my own skin, I still manage to look over my shoulder to compare my progress with another’s success. Granted, jealousy was a rare occurrence, but no amount of mountain top experiences secured my mind in thinking that I was doing much better with “life” than I was assuming.

I remember being the main one jumping through hoops for attention. And like a chameleon, the lengths I went to for a reassuring nod depended on the circumstance/environment. Fear kept me from chasing accolades to an extreme level, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually — I laid myself bare.

Here I am, dreadlocks past my shoulders, slightly weird style, and a rebel to the American dream — and I still struggle to not look over my shoulder for approval. This time around, it’s for the arts-driven or alternative culture crowd. For those who rebel simply for the sake of being controversial. For example, I protested about Kony in 2012. I cared because I was told to care. I didn’t want to be the one person NOT caring. It was uncool to not care.

Lots of people are “caring” now. Isn’t that funny?

……….

So, I’m reevaluating my choices, trends, and pursuits; wondering what I truly care about. What makes my heart ache, break, and soar? What would I care about if no one saw or I didn’t have a social media account to use as proof? What if no one else cared…or disagreed…what would be so important to me that I carry on anyway?

I’m learning to accurately take inventory of my own journey. Because its not enough to be free to walk your path, but maturity comes when you can begin to process where you are. Change your mind or hairstyle if you want. Take that workout selfie because you’re proud of yourself; not to brag. And not feel a need to answer every question that crosses your FB page, for the sake of peace.

For most of my life, I assumed that only two extremes existed among people: those who have the spotlight, and those who are left to give the applause. But I’m realizing that I can be center stage in my own life and that be enough. More than enough.

No matter the age, we are naturally narcissistic; desiring to shine and show off our best attributes. Especially in the workplace — with the competition for promotions and reputations among colleagues. I used to envy the person welcoming harmony and being a team-player without the drama of workplace politics. But now I’m becoming that person.

Little by little.

A Prayer on My Birthday

Heavenly Father, thank you for keeping me this past year. Your strength is exactly what I needed & will continue to need.

I rejoice in the fact that your faithfulness and dedication towards me still catches me off guard. I want to always be in awe of you, Lord. Thank you for taking care of my family as I battled internally. You are the One who wars for my soul and you reminded me of that. Depression and anxiety continued to pursue me, but “Mercy said no”.

I’m finally thankful that I have little control concerning the course of Life itself. People will come and go & I get to enjoy their companionship while they are here. And they can enjoy me. Thank you for that privilege.

I praise you for my mate and husband. Thank you for tightening our grip onto one another and for being our Counselor and Teacher. When we felt alone, & unsure of where to go, you gave us Counsel.

I’m growing to accept the call, Father. I understand my place here now, more than ever. So I ask for your grace and courage. Protect my heart, Lord. Guard me from callousness and a critical spirit. Pour into me joy & a peacefulness that can encourage the hopeless, oppressed, and afraid. Gird my integrity so that I will seek to serve and not be seen.

Continue the healing, Father. Dry every tear. Solidify my written testimony that others will read and find courage to seek out their own Victory.

You are beautiful, Lord. I love you with all of me. I give you all of me.

Brittney

Who, Me? (Thoughts About Work)

2014 was a seriously challenging, emotionally draining year for me and my close family. It wasn’t until 2015 was peeking over the horizon did I start to experience relief. My faith was stretched in amazing ways. (Feel free to go back a half a dozen posts to see what I mean…)

2015 has been both chaotic and peculiar. Doors have been opened for me professionally, ones that I hadn’t planned on walking through until maybe 2016. Granted, the nature of my job remains both taxing and challenging, it’s wonderful to work with kids and teens in a variety of roles. Muscles that I haven’t used in over a year are starting to gain their strength again, and I’m feeling my therapist brain becoming sharp where it had grown dull.

I don’t feel 100% prepared, if I can be honest. But then I realized that I felt a similar anxiety when I first started the associate counselor position back in September. But, I threw myself into the role, and sought to give my all to kids every single shift. And I began to gain my own rhythm. I recognized that many of my coworkers, with rhythms of their own, were seeking the same goal. On the majority of our shifts, we were harmonious. And kids found refuge, solace, and safety within the walls of our unit. 

Surpisingly, I found a sense of satisfaction in a high-stress environment. I’d taken the career assessment tests that told me high stress environments are the antithesis of a healthy work environment for me, and thus I should stay far from them. But here I am….in it, and feeling purposeful. 

I feel valued at work but I also feel like I have not all the way earned it. That is truly a hang-up of mine, and I recognize that. What is clearest to me, is that God has a plan for me, and being here with my coworkers and the kids/families who come to us in crisis, is a part of my destiny. 

ME, though? Jeez.