that i'm okay without friends.
that even without friends, i would still have worth.
i have friends now, but i have been trying to know my own value even if they weren't around. because i don't want to get lost again.
for seven years of my life i believed the lie that there was nothing special about me without my one and only best friend.
so now i'm trying to undo all of that. i'm trying to grow security in myself before i let love back in again.
which sounds weird. even to me. it probably sounds like i'm trying to close myself off from the world. but i'm not.
i'm simply trying to be content with being alone. knowing that i am beautiful and smart and special and wonderful to God, even without people to tell me i am.
because for a long time, i got sucked into unhealthy relationships. relationships that were pointless. relationships that appeared to have a lot of love involved. a whole lot of heart.
but they really didn't.
so when those relationships were gone, i was gone too.
* * *
when i stepped on the plane that would take me to haiti, i was ready. i was nervous, and i was shaking and didn't know what i was getting myself into, but at the same time i was glad.
i was glad to be getting away. taking a break to separate myself from this world and take myself away to an unfamiliar one. a place to sort out my thoughts. a place where there would be no attachments made. where i could just stop "feeling" for a while.
well if i ever thought i could go to haiti and not feel a thing, than that is the biggest lie my heart has ever believed. and my heart's believed a lot of lies over the years.
but i wanted to get away from all the pain that comes from losing a friend.
and in a way, i did.
when i went to haiti, i never thought of her once. i never missed her. i was never reminded of her. i was so distracted by all the work we did every day. but i was also distracted by a new kind of love that i had never experience before.
* * *
i've spent the last three years hiding myself away from being too vulnerable. because if i was vulnerable, i might have my heart broken again. and i didn't know how much more my heart could take on. i thought that if one more thing came along to hurt me, my heart might break into a million tiny pieces. they would shatter and spread across the floor. they would be pieces i could never find. i might scramble to try and find them, but i probably wouldn't ever get them back. so if i got hurt again, i couldn't guarantee my heart would get repaired.
so i wasn't taking any more chances with love. i was done.
but from the moment i set foot on haitian soil, i felt like with my team it was a "we're in this together" sort of thing. i felt cared for. not just because we all had to look out for each other, but i really felt loved. like i would be missed if something happened to me.
and that is something my heart hasn't felt in a long time.
on the first day of work there, the day after we arrived in haiti, i got sick.
really, really sick.
i remember curling up in a ball on my bed and not wanting to move. i didn't want to eat. i didn't want to talk. i just wanted to lay there. and we had to leave for work in less than an hour.
thanks to God, i recovered just before we had to go. turns out the sickness was just a bad reaction to some medication i was taking.
i remember going from my hotel room to the dining room where we all had breakfast every morning. my whole team was down there.
i remember some of them hugged me, asked me how i was feeling. seeing the relief on their faces when i told them i was alright.
and i can't tell you how loved i felt then. it sounds stupid, i'm sure. but they made me feel something i hadn't felt before. to know that someone was concerned for me. worried about me.
* * *
i remember before we left for haiti, we all sat down at my church for the final meeting. my team and i. i remember our team leader handing us each a small booklet type thing, filled with "discussion questions". my heart flipped. i had no idea we were doing small groups in haiti! this meant i was going to end up spilling my guts to a bunch of adults. adults i barely knew. i wasn't even sure of all their names. now i was really dreading the trip. i couldn't sleep that night.
well our first night together in haiti came. my small group met together at a long rectangular table beside the hotel's pool. i was shaking like there was no tomorrow. so freaked out. so scared. so afraid of being vulnerable.
our group's leader started asking some of the questions. we all went around the table. even simple questions that weren't asking much of me were putting me under so much stress.
when questions would finally get to me, i would look down at my feet. talk quiet. wouldn't make any eye contact whatsoever.
but each night, bit by bit, little by little, i would look farther up from my feet. i would look into the eyes of someone sitting across from me. i would share parts of my heart. i would open up. my muscles would become less tense, and more relaxed. i would laugh with them. i would tear up with them.
and by the time our final night came, i sobbed all the way back to my hotel room. i didn't want to leave them. we had held hands when we prayed, and i didn't want to let go when it was all finished. i didn't want to go back home. i wanted to stay there.
later people would ask me if i felt relieved to be back home. back home in the states. but honestly, i would say no. because i still feel the restless need to go back.
i could talk for hours about how cared for i felt in haiti. for that entire trip. by everyone. by each and every member of my haiti family. because that's what they are now. they are my family. i look at them like my brothers and sisters and moms and dads. they've helped me in more ways than they could possibly imagine.
they've given me hope. they gave me a glimpse at what real love looks like. and if i could tell them each something i probably wouldn't be brave enough to say out loud, i would say "thanks for giving me a chance."
my fam and i doing "The Twist" at the airport on the way home. yes, yes that's me, your awkward author in the front.