Returning Home to Myself

Returning Home to Myself: The problem wasn't who I needed to become (or return to) to be alive again, to fill this empty shell; it was a matter of being able to fully see who I already am, to acknowledge the life already in me.

I felt like an empty shell of a person. That was the negative self-talk that looped in my head anytime I let my guard down. I was doing all the things to fix whatever was broken in my life, to get back on whatever track it was I'd fallen from. Yet, despite doing the work, I kept returning to that feeling and that phrase "empty shell of a person" like an obnoxious song on repeat in my head.

When I was in the thick of that self-defeating thought, I sat on the two-person sofa in my counselor's office, telling him about a moment when I distinctly remember thinking I miss being alive. I had several sessions with him before being able to articulate that was the moment that motivated me to finally schedule an appointment with him. I've never had suicidal thoughts, but thinking I was somehow no longer fully alive seemed dangerously close.

That moment, now months before, the sun showered over me as I sat at our dining table scrolling through Instagram. A creative I follow shared something that sparked inspiration and creative desire in me that hadn't been there in a long time. Instead of giving me hope, it made clear exactly how far I'd fallen from where I wish I were. In that split-second juxtaposition of life-spark turned lost-journeyer, the weight of I miss being alive numbed me from the sun's warmth.

My counselor pulled out a paper from a file--a file that holds the notes he takes after our sessions along with the periodic self-evaluations I complete to track our progress. He asked if he could read his notes from our last session to me.

As he read words he had written that simply described who I was and what I brought to our conversation during that counseling session, I stared and blinked and wondered. It sounded vaguely familiar. He was reading descriptions of who I remembered being, of the me I felt like I needed to return to. But how? How do I get back there? Back to myself?

He set the paper down, and I think noticed my blank stare, so he asked if I wanted to see it. I didn't know what I'd see myself that I didn't just hear him read, but I said, "Sure."

I started reading, in his words, the version of myself that he saw in that last session we were together. The tears swelled as I read his description that was the me that I'd been searching for, that I'd felt like I lost, the person I'd been hoping to become... it was right there. On paper. But he hadn't written these words trying to help me create a self-fulfilling prophecy, like I sometimes felt like I was doing in my own journal.

He was simply noting his observation of the person currently sitting in front of him. The problem wasn't who I needed to become (or return to) to be alive again, to fill this empty shell; it was a matter of being able to fully see who I already am, to acknowledge the life already in me.

In that moment, I realized I wanted to uncover the whole person God created, fully me right now even if I don't feel it. That is what I mean when I write about borrowing God's eyes to see myself. I want to sit before Him and hear Him tell me who I am.

Without really knowing where it came from, I had the distorted idea that when God looked at me He could only see who I was becoming, like a lump of clay with potential. There's only so long someone can go on thinking they're merely a useless lump of clay before their Maker. A lump of clay isn't far from feeling like an empty shell of a person and then missing being alive... even while still technically living.

When I sit and listen to God tell me who I am, I hear a calm voice say: This is who I made you to be. There may be challenges, but I see the beauty, the hope, the wholeness I chose for you.

It's a matter of opening my eyes and truly seeing what God sees, who He created me to be and is continuing to lead me into, and not basing my identity on ever-changing feelings.

There have been too many moments that I've held the urge to edit-undo every move I make, even the good ones. I finally got tired of feeling guilt or embarrassment at showing up to my life. The low rumble of anxious thoughts got old. I was tired of the negativity that took residence in the feeling part of my life, so I got help to give it an eviction notice and kick it out.

Anything less than that is discrediting my Creator, and me as His creation. I deserve better. You deserve better.

We don't do that to His sky or sun or flowers or trees. We sit in nature and wonder at the beauty of God's creation. So why do we settle for negativity on ourselves, the whole point of His creation?

That is the value of getting quiet, getting in nature, getting in God's Word. Not just to hear who we are, but to hear God say it in a way that makes us at home with who He created us to be.

May you find stillness to feel that He is God, and you are His, flaws and all. You are a whole beautiful thriving person as you are now. And if you are having a hard time hearing it, or a hard time believing it, get help. You don't have to struggle alone to return home to yourself.

Recently, the sun showered over me again, this time as I took the trash out. I drew a deep breath, warmed from the inside-out with the thought It feels good to be alive. And that's what it feels like to get the help I needed to return home to myself.


also see:
new? start here...
self-care over the long haul
a year of showing up to life
how to find the true you
grow your life