Sitting at a picnic table out side at my community college’s Woodbridge campus I heard the most difficult piece of advice I ever fully accepted. Little did I know that it was coming from a recovering alcoholic and even now I couldn’t have guessed how this one statement would ripple into my future:

If you keep running into the same problem over and over again, chances are, it’s you.

I was stunned that a stranger would dare to tell me that I am essentially my own problem. So like any eighteen year old, I moved on, thinking that of course, I knew best. Because didn’t I?

Years have passed and now with almost seven years between my first encounter with that less-than-palatable mantra and the beginning of the end of my twenty-somethings, it still holds. My humility has slowly comsumed most of (I hope) my arrogance and over the painstaking process I have come face to face with the same problems and the same question: Is it me?

You know what? It is. It is always me.

This week I went to a friend’s church small group; the first place you would look for me at age twenty and the last place you’d look for me now. We split into groups, men and women, and proceeded to talk about the things in our life that are are real hang-ups. The hang-ups that make the ones we’re willing to discuss usually look like tripping over carpet lint by comparison. Mine?


I am usually the outlier. I throw off every survey, every generalization, every stereotype. I am the resident curve ball.
Once during my twelth grade gifted education seminar it was voted that I not be counted as a female because by being an exception to most of what was being categorized as feminine I was making it impossible for the discussion to move forward. During a particularly difficult appointment with my therapist, I asked out of desperation why instead of crumble, my mind had chosen to adapt to the daily trauma, why I didn’t just turn to drugs or suicide. She of course had no answer, but told me that I am in fact, a miracle.

I can tell you that I rarely ever feel like a miracle.

Today I equated the last few years to being a disembodied floating ear bone un-missed by The Church and sinking to the bottom of the ocean and falling for every angler fish’s bait and then being heaved back up in rejection, unwanted by even the creatures of the deep. If I was a different part of the Body of Christ, maybe a hand or the spleen or something, I’m certain things would be different. Instead, I’m a floating ear bone. After talking in circles about just how alone and severed I feel from everyone, not just The Church, I landed at a strange place.

I realized the importance of the floating ear bones.

They help the ear to hear. Those bones do important sciency things! According to Britannica, they pass vibrations onto the inner ear and move in ways that make us hear as well as we do. When they don’t work, it affects your hearing quite a bit. Your ear bones may not be the only thing that you need in order to hear, but it’s pretty crappy to lose them. Here comes the good part.

A woman that I had known for just over twenty four hours hears, actually hears, what I’m saying and tells me what I dreaded and knew to be true, but had never been validated.

“You make people uncomfortable because you show people things that they don’t want to see and tell people things that they don’t want to hear, but like that tiny ear bone, you help the whole body hear better.”

It is me. I make people uncomfortable. I say the things that no one is saying. But it’s important work.

It doesn’t help that I constantly want to hide and never write anything again and just act like it’s okay. It doesn’t help that my position as an outlier makes me want to run even further away from the pack and never be heard from again. It doesn’t make anything easier that it never gets easier to share what I share and be as transparent as I’m called to be. I’m so tired of being spit out of angler fish mouths.

The problems I slam into over and over again have everything to do with the deafening silence about mental illness within The Church, the misinformation that runs rampant about trauma disorders, the stigma of not being “okay”. Am I not a bigger problem if I don’t challenge these things?

It’s not my job to be okay. It’s my job to bleed myself dry so that kids coming down the line have understanding I didn’t have. It’s my job to scream into the silence to remind someone they aren’t alone. It’s my job to show the whole world what it looks like to not have it together.

If we’re calling it this, my sin is shirking my responsibilities. I’m only isolated when I’m being too selfish to see I’m not alone in the wilderness. If I’m doing my job right, I will be the problem. Over and over again I will be the rub that challenges the paradigm, I will be bitter medicine you don’t want to take, I will be disconcerting advice you get at a picnic table that sticks with you for the rest of your life.

It is me. I am the problem. And I’m demanding a solution. 











photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/38782010@N00/472933624″>Question Mark Sign On Hobson’s Old Building, Corner Of Henry & Main (Honor, MI)</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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