i remember from an early age understanding what the word "divorce" meant.
on both sides of my family, my grandparents are divorced.
and even though i'm only a grand kid, it still effects me.
time and time again, i've heard the words, "i made a mistake. i wish i'd never married him."
i remember from an early age feeling a small hole in my heart after that. it was a little hole, but a whole nonetheless. i didn't understand why it was there or what it even really was until i was older. but it only grew as the years went by.
when i was six years old, i met my first best friend. she stayed with me for a year, and then moved away. after that, i didn't have any other friends to rely on. i didn't know what it meant anymore to have a good friend. or even just a friend.
when i was seven, i met that friend. or, i thought i had.
this girl, she became my everything. all i ever wanted was to have that one, special friend who i would have for the rest of my life. i gave her all my attention, and let her use me as a mat to wide her feet on. i didn't care. all i wanted was to be loved by someone. to have someone to call my best friend. and to be called their best friend.
well this best friend used me to get whatever she wanted, and i let her. and i was such a clingy friend back then. i just didn't want to ever let her go.
well the time came when i finally had to. she went to public school, and i stayed homeschooled. at first when she went away, i didn't really realize that that would be the end of everything we had. not until we stopped seeing each other. then it sunk in, and i finally got it. and when i finally got it, i cried. for days.
the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months and the months into years. and i was still crying myself to sleep every night. i missed her. or rather, i think i just missed having a best friend. when we were still friends, i pushed away any other opportunites to have other friends because i was positive i only needed this one and only bestie. i thought that she was enough to make me happy.
but now she was gone. and i was lonely.
i was thirteen when my best friend went to middleschool. the year before that happened and we were still friends, my daddy was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
just days before Christmas 2009, i remember my dad going to the doctor all of the sudden one morning. my mom told us he was just going in to have something looked at. but i could see the fear behind her face and even then, a sick feeling started to form somewhere at the bottom of my stomach. i didn't know what was going on, i just knew that something was.
later that day, just before dinner, dad got home and as soon as he came through that front door, he took my mom upstairs. they shut their bedroom door and they stayed up there for a long, long time.
the sick feeling inside of me grew a little.
and a week later, the sick feeling was unbearable.
because that night that dad had come home from the doctor. that night that him and my momma came downstairs finally, they told us my dad had cancer. my very own dad.
for the next couple of days after that, i tried to think about other things. keep my mind destracted. but then dad was rushed to the emergency room one day after finding blood in his urine. we stayed with a relative while mom stayed at the hospital with him. dad had to have hid cancerous kidney removed.
in the end, everything worked out. but for me, it had only just worked out. everyone else around me kept telling me how good God had been to my dad. how amazing his plan was. but i thought his plan was a lousy one. a stupid one. i really sick one to throw at me. at us. why had it been my family that had to have all this happen?
i had always grown up in a strong Christian family. we always went to church every week. we said our prayers. but God had never done anything to hurt me, so i didn't really have a reason to hate him. i liked him. he was cool and everything. i believed i was going to heaven. everything was good. life was good back then.
until it was my dad who had the kidney cancer.
i was so, so angry with God.
and when just a few short years later i would lose my best friend, i hated him. didn't want anything to do with him.
around this time, i was diagnosed with scoliosis. which basically, in a nutshell, meant that my spine was crooked, and i would have to wear a back brace.
now, i always liked the way i looked. but i never worried about my appearance. i didn't wear any makeup. i wasn't a very curvy girl. but that was okay. because i really could've cared less.
until i had to wear a brace.
it was then that i realized that boys didn't give me attention like they gave to other girls i knew. other girls who had more curve to them than i did. other girls who wore short skirts and high heels and a couple of pounds of makeup. and it bothered me that they didn't like me. it bothered me so much. so much that i hated myself. and i hated God for not making me prettier.
the brace was stiff. it was itchy. but most of all, it made me look stupid. or so i thought. i thought i needed to lose weight because of it.
when, two years later, i was allowed out of the brace, i felt much better. but i still didn't think i was pretty. i looked at myself in the mirror every day and all i saw was a crooked nose. small eyes. bushy eyebrows. uncontrollable acne. and i hated it all. i hated all of me.
so i started caking on makeup to make me happier. make me feel prettier.
and you know what? it didn't.
i got all my value from what i put on my face. what i put on my body. i thought it was the only thing that made me look good.
one day, the makeup was taken away.
and i realized that i was depressed.
really and truly, depressed.
i didn't want to get out of bed in the morning anymore. i wanted to lay there. just lay there.
i wanted to die.
i wanted to end my life.
and so i thought about it.
i really thought about it.
and if it hadn't been for music, i think i probably would've commit suicide.
* * *
music changed me. music took a dead, really hardened heart and soften it. and made it new. it gave me something to look forward to and be passionate about.
it got me to a place where i began to slowly, and tentatively, let Jesus back in bit by bit.
and it's taken years. because now i am sixteen. but i did do it. i let Him in all the way this time around. and i have learned that He never once abandoned me in all that i had to go through to get to where i am now. all those years ago when i felt worthless because people regretted their decisions about getting married, He still loved me. and He's started filling up that hole in my heart. the hole that started from such a young age. the hole that said, "you shouldn't even be here." the hole that said, "no one likes you. you don't have a friend anymore." the hole filled with so many lies. but they are the lies that every day, i am shoveling out, one at a time. and now i'm replacing them with truths. i am learning that the truth will set me free. and it has. it is.
today, i'm happy. i'm the happiest i've ever been in all of my sixteen years.
but truth is, i wasn't always this happy.
and there was a time when i was afraid to admit that. out of fear of what people would think of me.
but now, what was considered my burden is now my blessing.
nothing brings me more joy than to talk to people- especially young adults- about depression. and suicide. but mostly, just being lonely.
because i was sickeningly lonely for years.
and today, i have friends.
but all because i started opening up about my story, and where i've been.
and in doing that, it's showed me how there is no shame in being depressed. how it's not a weakness or something to hide away and never let anyone see.
and that is what i want each and every young person to realize. to know it, and to have it written around and across their hearts. because everyone goes through it at some point in their life. it's just about choosing what you are going to do with it.
to this day, when i wake up in the morning i have to make a choice. i ask myself, "are you going to go out into the world today and be brave and share a story that needs to be told to ultimately, heal? or are you going to live in fear and worry and hide away and never come out?"
it's about being brave.
it's always been about being brave.
taking that step.
it's about stepping out of your box and letting people in.
because i didn't do that for a very, very long time.
beautiful, this is what i want Genuine to be all about.
coming forth with honesty and truth about wherever you've been.
not believing lies.
because i have been told so many lies.
one i think i'll never forget is,
"hannah, if beautiful was ugly, you'd be gorgeous."
that line ripped my heart in two over and over again for so long.
but today, i am choosing to believe truth.
the TRUTH is that i was made beautiful from the inside out. the TRUTH is that God will never abandon me. that He will always be there for me, no matter what i go through. the TRUTH is that it doesn't matter where i've been, i'm never gonna be too far gone.
the TRUTH is that you aren't too far gone, either.
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
// John 8:32
believe me, beautiful, when i say that if i could be given new life, you definitely could. because i was in a pit. but i've been pulled up.
and now, it's just about realizing that i will be okay. that no matter what is coming for me, God has got my firmly by the hand. and He isn't planning on letting go. ever.
and as for you, precious one, the same goes for you. it doesn't matter who you are or where you've been, you're still priceless. you're still gonna be okay. and God hasn't given up on you.
i can't promise much, but this i know for sure. you are beloved. no matter what people have told you or will tell you, you're worth dying for. and that will never change.
so don't ever give up on yourself. because God hasn't.
and He never will.