Twenty years ago, I had no clue who I was or remotely aware of who I could become.
As a thirteen-year-old, what I believed became my truth, and my truth and my purpose were not at all the same. I believed I was broken, unlovable, dirty, disgusting, and a mistake. A botched suicide attempt at the end of my 8th-grade year left me believing that I would never escape my doomed destiny of living a broken life.
I went into high school and worked hard to preserve what I believed was left of me. I built walls that grew into a fortress. No one was getting in, but that meant nothing was getting out either. Including the demons that were already inside...shame, embarrassment, despair, depression and fear.
So I built my walls higher in an effort to prevent anyone from seeing the truth of how awful I was.
On the outside a fortress, on the inside a terrified young girl.
I was paralyzed with fear that my walls would either crumble in on me leaving me further broken, or they would crumble out, exposing my truth to everyone. I learned how to blow up every bridge leading to my fortress, and in what I thought was my greatest accomplishment to preserve what was left of me, I had unknowingly created the perfect environment for depression and darkness to take control.
And so they did.
In my darkness, my demons grew stronger and they got louder - I fantasized about death and I believed suicide was my ticket to freedom.
I reached a point when I wondered why I was protecting what was left of me. It was at that moment that I decided to end my life for the second time, except this time I would succeed.
As I sat on my bedroom floor holding my father’s handgun, I didn’t fear death or pain, I didn’t fear not seeing my family again... I feared how I would be remembered.
Instead of pulling the trigger, I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote my obituary.
The ink danced on the paper and words poured out, filling pages upon pages of how I wanted to be remembered.
After what felt like a lifetime of writing and after the tears on the pages had dried, I decided to put the gun away.
How I wanted to be remembered was not how I was living.
A few hours later, I told my mother I needed help.
I didn’t know it at the time, but writing my obituary was the sledgehammer that created the tiniest crack in my fortress, a crack that began to let the light in.
What followed was fifteen years of self-discovery. There were enormous amounts of healing and breaking, growing and stumbling, and finding my way only to wind up lost and back at the beginning.
Despite how many times I stumbled, I clung to that sliver of light. It was my beacon of hope then, and it is my beacon of hope today.
When I read my obituary today, I am filled with pride and purpose. I will always feel sadness for all of the quiet suffering my inner child endured, but it was also her who had the courage to fight.
My favorite quote of all time is - “You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work of progress, simultaneously.” - Sophia Bush
Looking back all those years, that sliver of light revealed what took me years to understand...I was a work in progress, and also a masterpiece all on my own.
Discovering that I held the tools and the canvas to create my masterpieces is what set me free.
If you have never seen Sandart, do yourself a favor and watch the one at the end of this blog.
They are fascinating for a number of reasons, but my personal deep-rooted appreciation comes at the moment I think the art is complete.
I sit in awe and try to process how another human being can create something so incredible, and before I can fully comprehend the beauty, she brushes away her masterpiece and another work of art begins, sometimes a little bit of the previous sand is left, sometimes it’s a blank canvas.
Watching the transformation of a work of art be turned into a masterpiece, only to then watch it turn back into a work of art is like watching fear dissolve right before your eyes.
In the absence of fear, love and light know no limits. When love and light have no limits, neither does growth.
Building a fortress around ourselves guarantees one thing, that we cannot grow. In the darkness, we forget how to live, we forget how to love, our soul becomes weary, and our bones grow brittle and weak.
When we let our walls crumble, the progress of creating our masterpiece begins.
The progress of discovering your gifts begins.
When we believe that we have reached a point where we can’t grow, we begin to crumble.
When we work towards our next masterpiece, we inspire others who are also a work in progress. When we spread our light and our progress, we spread grace, forgiveness, love and gratitude. We spread hope.
We are designed, destined even, to create hundreds and thousands of masterpieces in our lifetimes. You are a masterpiece today, just as you are, and if you keep making progress, we all get to see the next masterpiece to come.
What will your masterpieces say about you?