Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hope Relay 2012: My Hope

When I first got wind of Melanie Crutchfield's Hope Blog Relay, I was instantly in. Ready to contribute. Excited, even. 

That was at least a week ago. I guess when it comes to exploring what hope is to me and the role she plays in my life, there are so many directions I could go, it's difficult to choose one. I suffer from Too Many Choices-Induced Paralysis, you see. It seems also that the older I get, the more easily I get - SQUIRREL! 

What was I saying? Anyway, I've spent the morning reading other people's hope blogs with a hot chai tea latte in my hand, crying here and commenting there, seeing myself in so many of their words. I am inspired by their stories of struggle and growth, pain and relief. And isn't this the purpose of putting ourselves out there? To connect, inspire, comfort, and relate?

I've found myself thinking about my hopes, but confusing them with my wants. I want to be a size 8 again. I want to be successful in writing. I want to live happily ever after with my husband. I want to see the world. But wanting and hoping are two entirely different animals. To want and not get is uncomfortable, maybe painful, but life goes on. We're okay without it, even if we say we're not. We heal. But to hope and fail leaves a deeper mark, one that sinks past our skin and into the fabric of who we are. Yes, hope is why we keep pushing, the beacon of light when we're lost in the dark. Hope is the flicker of possibility in the distance that reminds us of what could be, if we just keep trying. To lose hope is to lose, period.  

And what is my hope? My hope is to one day be completely happy with myself, at peace with myself, and to prove that there is something I can contribute. My hope is to one day be a mother. My hope is live a life full of love and without regret. 

This is my hope blog. 

My name is Lindsey. I was not physically abused as a child. A close friend of the family never sexually molested me. (I never even walked in on my parents.) My father was an electrical engineer, my mother a preschool teacher. Neither one of them was an alcoholic. High-school sweethearts, and still happily together after 45 years. My older brother never went to prison, my dad never hit my mom, my mom never cheated on my dad, and my older sister didn’t have 2 kids by the time she was fifteen. She was twenty-four. I never ran away from home for more than a few hours, and never farther than a couple blocks, and I never stole candy from the 7-Eleven. When I was six I thought we were rich. By the time I was thirteen, I thought we were desperately poor because my family didn’t get to go to Italy every summer. At nineteen I realized we were very middle-of-the-road - an average, all-American family living in central Florida an hour and a half from Disney World. We had everything we needed and most of what we wanted. I am middle-class, privileged girl from a nice home in suburbia incarnate.  

So it wasn't until I was in the seventh grade that I first gave serious thought to removing myself from the sorry situation I saw my life to be. Of course at this age, I had no real idea of what I was contemplating, or what it would really mean to me and my family if I pushed that knife a little deeper into my skin. Being sad all the time made no sense to me, so I came up with reasons the best I could. I hated myself anyway, so it wasn't so hard to believe there was plenty I should be sad about. I deserved to be sad because I was worthless.

It's called depression, and it doesn't make sense. As a very wise woman once said, "Depression is a liar." There is no reasoning with it, no arguing, only frustration. It would take me twenty-something years to finally grasp this and know, even when in the grips of a bad day, that it will pass and I will climb back out again. She, Depression, will always tell me I can't, that I'm not worth it, but now I know her tricks and that I will, and that I am. In the beginning, she told me I was stupid and ugly. No, low self-esteem told me these things, and whereas I wasn't entirely sure, she was and agreed – loudly and confidently.

For the person who has never struggled with Depression, imagine her like this...I call it 'her' because she has been a life-long presence for me, practically another person. And sometimes it's easier to understand something when we give it its own life. I've named her Dee. 

Dee is the worst kind of friend. What at first is offensive becomes slowly acceptable, tolerated, then not only expected, but anticipated. She's convinced you this is what you deserve.

Dee is a liar.

Dee is a master manipulator.

Dee is a bitch.

She is quiet, but she is large, watching, and encompassing.

Sometimes I think she really is another person who slides very smoothly beneath my skin, until it is her face I see in the mirror. Criticizing me. Hating me. It's an easy place to go; I know it well.

Only when I’ve climbed out of this pit do I realize I am not her, she just lingers within me, waiting for me to slip.

Is she the part of me that needs the most love?  Isn’t self-love the key? Perhaps she is less confident in her destruction, and more scared. Like a bully. The bully I am to myself at times. Is it understanding she needs, to fight her demons and give her peace? Let her rest, and settle back down within my bones, the crevices of my mind?

Should I hug the bitch better?

I think no. There's no nurturing this kind of presence; it must be exorcised and shown the door. And this isn't something that can be accomplished alone. 

This has been my struggle, or at least the thing that has always lingered beneath the surface making normal, manageable struggles more intense, more hurtful, and slower to heal. But something changed for me when I was 24 years old that hit Dee where it hurts, and the ripples of that strike have reached outward from deep within me and touched everything. I see the world through a different lens now, and for this I am grateful. I have a wonderful and amazing life, and I'm so happy that I'm able to more fully appreciate that now.

My hope is to continue this journey toward radical self-acceptance, to continue this climb until I can rest and look back and smile without worry. My hope is to allow my experiences to speak to others who might be on a similar path and to assure them that the darkness doesn't last. At some point, the clouds break, even if only for a moment, and that there is hope in the momentary sun that breaks through. My hope is that if I'm speaking to you, you will grab onto that moment and trust that you deserve happiness in this life. You are not the dark that surrounds you, but the light on the other side.

      Thanks for reading.

      Be sure to keep a look out for the other amazing bloggers participating in the Hope Blog Relay of 2012. I challenge you to add some words of your own as this relay spreads across the globe. Here is where it began...

There is a lot of hope out there in countless forms - I hope you'll find your own.


  1. What an incredibly thoughtful and insightful statement. There are two things that people have said to me over the years that help me (not always successfully) turn my back on "Dee".

    First, when I was in my early teens and told my mother how down on myself I was because of some imagined failure, she asked me how I would react if my best friend was guilty of the same failure. When I replied that, naturally, I would forgive him and forget about it my mother replied that, in this life, I was my own best friend and that I deserved at least the same consideration as I give others.

    Second, I once confesed to a counsellor that, most of the time, I felt that I was inches away from completely "losing it". She laughed and told me that most people feel that way most of the time. She went on to say that I could ask the most together person I knew if that was the case. Remarkably, she was right. Now, whenever I think I'm getting inches away from "losing it", I remember that most of the people around me are probably feeling the same way. It's my choice that I find that comforting rather disconcerting!

    1. Thank you for reading, and also for sharing some really great advice and wisdom from your own life.

  2. Thank you so much for picking up the baton. This is such a good description of depression—the senselessness, the struggle, the unrelenting feeling. One of the most interesting things about the hope relay is seeing patterns that emerge from our shared definition of the word, and it seems that, for a lot of us, hope is what lies beneath our hardships.

    No doubt, your post will provide hope for a lot of people. Especially this line, "You are not the dark that surrounds you, but the light on the other side." Beautiful.

    1. Thank you, Melanie. It was scary to write, and scarier to hit "publish," but I'm glad I did. Writing about my relationship with Depression is something I've been wanting to do on my blog, and your initiative kind of gave me a place to start. I'm looking forward to the Closing Ceremonies blog roll. Nice job - have another fudge pop! You totally deserve it :)

    2. I agree with Melanie, I especially love that line. So, so true. It can be hard to share something so painful and intimate, but I believe there is healing in sharing. You are brave to shine a light on such a difficult, yet common, experience.

    3. That means a lot. Thank you Wanderlust :)

  3. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thank you so much for writing this. My own "Dee" has double standards too: a set of unrelenting demanding judgemental ones for me, and a set of understanding, accepting ones for those around me. Now, I'm seeing my daughter continue that legacy... so while in some ways I'm unproductively beating myself up for passing it on, in others I'm grateful that I recognise what's going on and can support her in ways I wasn't. Much love :)

    1. I've recently become a fan of your blog and it's cool when people you read read you back :) I imagine if I get to be somebody's mother I'll struggle with the same thing one day...there's a whole other post about fear and anxiety! But you're right, we're better equipped to recognize what we battle in others, making us a great detection and guidance system. Thanks for reading.

  5. Wow. Linz. What a brave and wonderful piece of writing! Congratulations on your courage, girl. I'm impressed.

    1. Thanks, Nancy. Almost took it down!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this. It is key knowing that we're not alone. I too have depression, and it attacks for no reason consistently. It molests my sense of self worth for no apparent reason, and yes, it is a bitch.

    Anytime you need to not feel alone, feel free to read what I wrote about it.

    1. Thanks for the direct link. I'm already a follower of your blog, but have yet to comb through. I love this post, the one you referred me to, and appreciate you sharing, too. Who knew getting a bunch of depressed people together could be so uplifting! Thanks, Natalie.

  7. Followed you hear from Melanie's.

    The Dee is a scarey woman, indeed. She frightens me and I have got to show her I can be stronger.

    she takes me and twists me into someone who is weak and gullible.

    I am forever having to take on that monster and show HER the new sheriff in town. I have spent too too too many years quaking in my boots and letting her have her way.

    I can't anymore...I've lost out on too much of life. Sadly, too much of what I could have been and where my life could have gone.

  8. yikes, that would be "followed you HERE."

    Oh, man.

  9. Linz,
    I am so blow away by your writing, the courage you have with it, it is so powerful! I struggle with laying it all out on my blog and I love when I go to blogs that do just that.... keep it real, share the real, what a gift Linz you have given so many by just sharing parts of yourself.
    keep letting your light shine!
    xo katy