I broke down to my oldest brother on the phone the other day.
I had been on the edge, feeling like I was going to burst but didn't have a release. The timing was better than I could've asked for. We don't normally talk, but he and I had been meaning to catch up for a couple of weeks. Conversation started simple enough...what are you up to, how's the day...and then a simple question asked with a simple and genuine tenderness ripped me wide open. "So how are you doing?"
I was silent for a few seconds, debating on how surface-level I wanted to keep this. But I felt a comfort in saying the words I was about to say to someone I trusted and admired. "I'm struggling." I said, and it was as if those two words were the key to the floodgates. I broke.
Things spilled out of me, a mix of worries and poison and sadness. I didn't feel like a worthy human being, either in work or in life. I set standards for myself that were vague and unreachable, my position felt vague and unreachable, and it drove me down into dark places. People have this opinion of me, that I am good, I am worthy. They feel like just words, because I do not share that opinion...people who say that don't know that I am not good. I am broken. No one is acknowledging that, and in my mind they are mutually exclusive. I can either be good and worthy, or broken and not good enough. My brother gently reminded me that they are not mutually exclusive; we are all broken, no one is perfect. And that there are many rays of sunshine. His listening and measured and thoughtful advice was the quiet strength and safe space I needed to spit out these thoughts that I had not been able to form words for out loud before.
Feelings I wanted grace for continued to tumble out of me. I apologized for being a distant aunt. Not good enough. Not worthy to be a godmother to one of his daughters, because I have also felt so distant in my faith. He listened and said something that went like lightening straight to my heart.
"Katie, you are not falling short on anyone's scorecard."
9 words that addressed how I felt about my life. Falling short on everyone's scorecard. 9 words that both named and began to dismantle that lie I had believed for so long.
I wanted to completely let go and wrap myself in the grace, truth and love that my brother was speaking to me. I wish I had let out more, but I felt like I was losing control of myself and my emotions in front of someone else, and I have a long-standing wall against that. Don't be too much, don't be too vulnerable. Crying is weakness, crying is shame. I'm sorry for being too emotional. I'm sorry for being less than convenient. I'm sorry for sharing the crap that I carry, because your load is probably heavy enough. I'm sorry I'm not strong enough to carry it alone.
I have tried to make myself fit into other people's lives, to make it easy for them to like me because I could adapt to be like them. I would always make the effort if I could, even if they were less than kind. I'd be flexible and tolerant at the expense of my opinions, my values, or my well-being. And I would come to the end of those efforts feeling like a shadow, barely existing.
I'm working on building myself back up, with help. Realizing my worthiness, and that it's not a zero sum game. I am worthy, and you are worthy. I want to cultivate a group of belonging...people who inspire me to be myself, and celebrate that. And vice versa. A true vulnerable community that is there for each other where I don't feel alone in the midst of it. No judgement. I don't really have that now, but I realize that it is built on first recognizing that I am worthy of one.
I want to be done hiding.