It’s almost been a year.
A year since I called my mom sobbing and pleading for help.
Depression was sinking its sharp teeth into me and was all too quickly draining what little life was left inside of me.
I have struggled with depression for years. (Shocker-I know.)
But I had never been in an environment that rejected every single ounce of me to more core, the way my Christian college did.
No matter what I did. No matter what I said. It was wrong. I WAS WRONG. I tried to be who they wanted me to be. But every time I became who they asked me to be, I still wasn’t enough. Because it was never about me being insufficient. The rejection was about me being myself. As long as I was me- I would never be what they wanted.
I will never understand the way my worth was measured and determined in that environment.
I will never understand why an environment that spoke about Jesus so frequently, felt so desolate of His presence entirely.
I will never understand how someone could sit alone at the chapel, sit alone at lunch, and alone in class and never once be invited to join the table of people who knew them and saw them daily, but just didn’t want them.
What I do understand to my core, though, is the absolute darkness and destruction that is being ostracized. What I do understand is feeling so unbelievably alone, even when you’re surrounded by people who “know” you.
What I understand is that it wasn’t “all in my head.”
What I understand is that it wasn’t that I just didn’t try hard enough to get involved, or open up.
I understand now, that it wasn’t my fault and that I didn’t deserve the manipulation and pain.
I so vividly remember, in my contemplation about whether or not to “push through” and graduate from this college, the day I decided to go to the counseling center on campus.
I had never gone there for help prior to this, not once.
And yet, the director’s first words, when she met with me, went something to the tune of “we can’t help a student like you, with a history of distress.”
Huh. A history of distress… how odd of a remark when I had never met this woman.
When I asked her to explain I received a, “I’m the director of counseling services, I know things.”
And how is that a sufficient answer?
I was willing to forget what she said, though, and try to receive some counsel.
I told her about the mistreatment I received from one of my professors who happened to be my academic advisor.
Through sobs, I told her the things he had said to me and the way he mistreated me.
Her response? “That doesn’t sound like something he would do.”
Exhausted with the conversation, I excused myself and told her “sorry.. this was a bad idea. It was a last-ditch effort.”
She was silent.
As I was wiping away my tears and smeared mascara, I headed towards my next class that was about to begin.
I sat down in my desk, visibly upset.
Tears silently rolled down my cheek for nearly the entire 2-hour class. We sat in a circle, 20 or so students. As I looked around, I could tell you the first and last name of each of the students in the room.
At a small, private school, you know pretty much everyone. “One big family” I remember being told on my tour of campus three years prior. Two-hour class. We even had a break in the middle.
Not one person asked me if I was okay.
Not one person made eye contact.
Not one person acknowledged me.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t shocked that no one did. I had gotten pretty used to the sign I was convinced must be on my forehead that read “not worth your breath.”
I could have graduated in May 2019. Like I was “supposed” too. Like most of my classmates did.
But I have always been a person who fights for good.
I have always been a person who stands up for someone when they are being ostracized or mistreated. And I decided, It was about time I fought for good for myself.
A year ago I left an environment that had convinced me I was unwanted and a waste of space. I had no plan. I had no self-worth. No degree. And barely the strength to get out of bed in the morning.
A year later.
I live in a city that reminds me daily how full this world is of beauty and of good. I have a little patio decorated with yellow mums and green ribbons. I live with the love of my life and our fur-baby.
I’m working on my degree through a university that does not make me feel shame for taking up space.
I just spent 5 weeks traveling with a band in a van with 6 guys, and sharing my story of hope and Jesus with others.
I have self-worth, and a love for myself that is blooming.
I have friends.
I have a loving family.
I am accepted. Dare I say, even cherished?
Those around me not only allow me to grow and bloom but make sure to water my soil if it is getting dry.
My environment has sunshine.
I forgot just how lovely the sunshine is.
But I remember now.
I am starting to glow again.
Rosy cheeks, and twinkles in my eyes.
My loud laugh, and energetic nature.
Sometimes strangers tell me how full of sunshine I am.
How funny that feels.
I am still healing. I am still learning that I belong.
I am no longer suffering somewhere in-between not enough and way too much.
Now you can find me dancing and skipping somewhere near healing and happy and “I-no-longer-care-what-you-think.”
I am enough. In fact, I am just the right amount of me.
Featured Image Credit: TONL