For so much of her life she was who other people wanted or expected her to be. She was a great student, a caring, supportive friend, a good daughter, a slightly annoying but normal little sister. She liked what you liked. She laughed at what you thought was funny. She dressed how she was expected to dress. She tried to be as perfect as she could possibly be. Appearing to be happy with life, she died a little inside every day.

Growing up she was told in many ways by her peers that she was fat, ugly, useless, disgusting. She was told by doctors that her pain was all in her head, that she must be faking it. She was told by her abusers that she was stupid, worthless, and things too horrible to mention. Others' negativity toward her or outright hatred of her seeped into her being, filling her with self-loathing.

She yearned to be herself. She wanted who she really was to be acceptable to others. She wanted to feel loved. She wanted people to look at her and realize she was a good, kind, giving person - a person who was worth something. She wanted people to see that she was broken, hurting, and sad -  and to love her anyway. She wanted someone to save her from those who were hurting her and from herself. She wanted to have her own thoughts, opinions, preferences and loves. She longed to be able to look people in the eyes and beg them to stop being petty, shallow, spiteful, judgmental, and hateful - to just accept people for who they were: fellow human beings.

She felt broken. She was broken. Shattered into a million pieces, unsure if she'd ever be whole again.

Time ambled on. She struggled every day to find those rare moments of real joy that made life worth living. Finally, she moved away from the abuse and toward new possibilities. 

One day she finally felt safe enough to let her guard down a little. She found herself not caring what others thought so much anymore. She realized that their opinions of her had nothing to do with the reality of who she was, because to have those opinions, they couldn't really know the real her. When she finally decided that the only way she could continue living was to be herself and speak her truth - and acted on it - she lost friends. She lost a lot of friends. She lost most of her friends. So-called friends talked about her behind her back and called her a liar and a fake. If only they'd seen her for a liar and a fake during all those years of pretending to be who she thought everyone wanted her to be. If only they'd paid enough attention to realize that no one could possibly be everything for everyone. If only they'd recognized the pain in her eyes all those years. Perhaps they were in shock that the person they thought they'd known didn't exist. She had been a fake for such a long time - a people-pleasing, broken, abused fake who was struggling to get through life with some of her sanity intact - that she found it difficult to be her self. 

She found the boundaries between her real self and the now-dead self so blurry at times it was difficult to continue living. Little by little, she grew into her self. She was able to be kinder to her self. She nurtured her self and empowered her self. She began to like herself. 

Her world became a different place. She had friends who knew the real her - and remained her friends. She no longer saw death as a better place than life. The feeling of dread of the day to come and loathing of herself upon opening her eyes in the morning was replaced, most days, with a feeling of possibility. Darkness continued to cloud her thoughts from time to time, but light was ever-present, encouraging and motivating her. 

It has been a long journey. She now lives life and loves life. She is thankful for the darkness of her past, for it allows her to fully appreciate the light. Rarely finding darkness overwhelming her, she takes comfort in knowing that if it does, she need only reach into the light toward the love and support of those who care about her. In that broken place, she never could have imagined this life or ever being in this place. She journeys on, walking and in hand with life.

What she wants for us all is to know that we are all beautiful. We are all priceless. We are all worthy of love, friendship, joy and peace. It is our unique qualities that make us our selves. We should celebrate each other's differences while recognizing we share our Earth and our Humanity. We all hold inside of us something precious, something all our own, a gift that exists only because of who we are. She wants us to share that gift with others - to use that gift to make the world a better place and to support each other in doing so. 

Most of all, she wants us to be a beacon of light for those who exist in the darkness. 


  1. Thank you, Amanda. You have definitely been a beacon for me.

    And we still need another women's circle - 3pm?


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