I am doing well.

Honestly I can say that now, knowing it isn’t just a good week or two. Even the official, professional people who know all the twisted details are saying it about me. It’s the truth, but It’s so strange for that to actually be real. Doing well is different than I thought it would be, I think maybe I hoped that it would mean that I’m free and healed and don’t have to think about it or worry anymore. Let’s be real, that is a pipe dream if I’ve ever heard one.

I have a job that I’m good at and I like who I work with, I have hobbies that I use to fill my time outside of work, friend-like people talk to me freely, and I’m starting to actually save money while paying off some debts. When all these things first started, it was only surreal, the “I prayed for this, I BEGGED for this, and now it’s happening.”

Now that it’s been a little while, however, the fear has found its way back in. It’s not the unreasonable, fear-of-things-that-may-never-happen kind, it’s the kind that is a reminder of caution, a reminder of the mistakes I made before.

I am afraid of sadness.

I am afraid of the days where I feel like a footnote, an abscess, or a pity vote. I fear the way some days feel like the people who show up are only doing so because they think they have to, or that they believe the battle is over and that there’s no risk anymore, or that they’re just checking the box off their community service requirement for the week. I am afraid of the way my apartment doesn’t usually feel like mine. Regardless of how much crap I put on the walls or how everything I own lives there, most days I still feel like a house guest, like someone is about to show up and tell me I need to go. I think that’s the thing in my brain that tells me I don’t belong. Yah. Annoying.

I am afraid of falling.

I’ve been at or near the top of the mountain for a while now. The view is more than I could have ever imagined, so much that it makes me want to pretend that this is the only view I’ve ever known. But that’s not the truth. More recently than I care to admit, my campsite existed in the depths of the pit. I remember that time clearly, it was cold and dark, and I was alone.  It’s scary because I know that if I fall, that means the good things and people that have found their way into my life will have to go away. I’m afraid to admit that I’ve scraped my knees a couple of times, and I’m even more afraid to admit that I’m not on the very top of the mountain anymore.

I am afraid of trusting people.

I used to tell people all about my story, especially when it was fresh. I learned something about me or them or society or stigmas through doing that though. People are naturally kind, they’re going to say a bunch of nice things and be as supportive as you would hope, all while they’re slowly moonwalking backwards towards the emergency exit.  I’m not sure I know how to believe when people make promises or talk about future plans for or with me. When I experienced the losses, it wasn’t because people were trying to hurt me or that they were being mean, it was necessary.  Regardless of any plans or promises that had been made before, when my life got complicated, it became necessary for me to be removed from the lives of others.  I think I wish it was because people wanted to hurt me, because that means that if my days get hard again, then there isn’t a natural series of necessary events that must take place.

Selfishly I just want to have people who know me and who I can’t scare away with all my fears and the chaos behind my eyes. I want to have a home that feels like home, although I’m learning that home isn’t necessarily a place, and maybe I am still looking for that part. Of course I would prefer to not be in a war at all, but it seems I don’t get much choice in the matter.  It’s like how people are always saying how strong you are, how you must be so tough, but we don’t really get a choice, do we? We just grit our teeth, and cry in the shower as needed and pray we get through it. And we usually do.

I realize that there is no actual current reason to be afraid of any of this as of now, since I am doing well, and my life isn’t twisting to all hell.  Plus I have to remember that all of the things I’m afraid of could very possibly occur, but none of it is anything I haven’t survived before, and I know I’ll survive it again, I just really don’t want to have to. God never promised me that things would be easy or that I’d get to have the things I dream about, He promised that he would still be here even when it all falls apart. That, too, is the truth. Maybe it takes some of the power of the fear away to know that, even if it’s true, that it can’t take away the promises of my Jesus. So today I’ll put on my aviators, my PF Flyers, and my faux leather jacket and try to make myself more like the love I always wanted.

Fear is a bitch,

Kennedy Kenton (3)

Fear is a Bitch

I want to be very clear that I am not crazy. And I think that fact is something more beneficial to me than to anyone else. My self-assurance is a lot of me telling myself that it’s okay to hurt and to feel the distance and the loss created by circumstance and time.  Last year taught me something very specific, and I didn’t learn that it wasn’t true until about 10 days ago.

Let’s back up a little bit. I have depression. I may always have depression. About a year ago was the cumulation of all the worst things I have ever felt and believed, and in that chaos, it created something in me that I still carry shame for. I became the worst version of myself. “Myself” is even a pretty far stretch. Thinking about it right now, it’s like remembering things that happened while I was drunk, and waking up having to deal with the problems that this other version of me caused.

Anyway, back to the story. I was the worst. As things go, people don’t generally want to have something in their lives that is the worst.  Naturally.  So, making the appropriate decisions for themselves, various people around me decided to “uninvest”. That’s a delicate way of saying that I was exiled in a very literal way.

Let me go ahead and take this moment to say that these people are great, Jesus loving, kind hearted, people, who were making a choice that was best for them in that hell that I created. I hold nothing against them.  That being said, the whole monster that started this mess was the stupid depression that lived in the silence, that filled every free space in my thoughts and feelings. This depression decided that it is a good idea to take the situation I found myself and create something worse. Something I almost didn’t recover from.

All the counselors and books and therapists will tell you the same thing. Isolation is bad. You need to have people around you. You need to have community and friends. Not wanting to sit in the place that had already destroyed everything I loved, I decided to give that a try. I was going to reach out to anyone and everyone I could think of. I refused to be alone.

What I didn’t expect was the silence.  The number of people I contacted to do something, grab lunch, get coffee, etc, who didn’t reply at all was, to say the least, staggering. I see and know now that life is busy, and that people have full lives and that they can’t always make additional plans or even, at times, decline an invitation. That’s just how life is.

I say that I can see that NOW. At the time, in my fragility, it broke me. I was already broken; dragging most of my pieces in a paper bag behind me, but this thing took my bag and rolled over it with a car. In that place, in my understanding, the only logical conclusion I could draw was that I was radioactive, toxic, a time bomb that smart people who care about themselves, want nothing to do with.

So there I developed a set of symptoms; wanting someone to have a conversation with, wanting my phone to ring, wanting to be wanted. Not a good set of symptoms in that frame of mind. I started going on dates from a series of apps that I now know way too much about. (Ask me sometime, I’ve tried them all). The trouble with that was that I wasn’t dating for any reason that could be considered good or healthy or smart. I wanted to treat my symptoms, and this was my plan. I honestly didn’t really like any of the guys I met, but that didn’t stop me from seeing them again, even a few times. It was treating this symptom because, in those moments, someone wanted to see me.

As you can probably guess, that didn’t end well, and certainly didn’t actually help me. Most of what I felt there was actually a lack of feeling, an indifference, because deep down I knew it was all wrong.

Around the time that all that came to a close was when the recovery program at my church placed me with a permanent group of girls with who I would walk through a series of steps toward recovery. We weren’t allowed to date, so it took that off the table completely, and I began to work through a very serious, life changing process.

So much of what I worked through was believing that God loved me and chose me and that without Him, my life was unmanageable. Check. Learning to trust that He is the only one who can restore me. Check. Week by week, I dove into this thing, desperately wanting to find something good at the end of it. The thing is that I was actually making very real, tangible progress. My choices began to reflect these teachings, and I began to develop healthy habits.

Sometime part way through this thing, I tried the whole “reach out to people” thing a second time. “You were in a weird place, it’ll be different now, it’s okay to try again.” Except that it wasn’t different, it was a lot of the same. I think this time, however, it didn’t break me.  I chose not to give it the ability to hurt me, almost expecting so little that the disappointment was minimal. I’m not sure exactly.

Anyway, although it didn’t break me, it did convince me of something- the something I mentioned at the very beginning- you know, the hook that kept your reading this far-the big reveal. It, along with the memory of the other scenarios I had been in, told me very clearly that I’m not good for people. Yes, God loves me a whole bunch, and that will never change, but that if I get close to people, their lives are going to be made worse.  So if I care about people, the friends I am trying to connect with, the best thing I can do for them is to just stay as far away as I can.

So I did.

I learned how to live my life, go to work, come back to my apartment, and be okay. I wasn’t going to pursue any new friendships or ask for anything that would require any sort of commitment from anyone else. I had already identified the parameters of the boundaries that had been set when dealing with me, and as long as I didn’t say or do anything that would compromise those, then those people would be okay. Living in a world of a LOT of internal dilemma, leads to a great deal of selfishness, and I was determined to put other people first, maybe for the first time in my life.

The thing that happened next is the boring part. I accepted this life. I accepted that I would never have someone to tell secrets to. I accepted that people would never see my apartment. I accepted that talking to people at work was enough human contact to sustain me indefinitely. I accepted that I would never get married. (If I have the ability to love someone enough to marry them, shouldn’t I love them enough to spare them from me at all?) It became normal. And I was okay with it. If a day ever got tough, I just reminded myself that this is what is best for everyone else, even if they don’t know it. (Especially if they don’t know it.)

And that was it. It was okay. It wasn’t a worse life, just a different one. Nothing was going to convince me otherwise.

Then, randomly, I got introduced to a song that was released earlier in the year, but recently remade into a duet. The song is called “I Won’t Let You Go” by Switchfoot. At first, it seems like a declaration of support and commitment between people, the concept of no degree of pain or darkness being able to tear it apart, the epitome of what I have found myself craving.

Anyway, I listened to it on repeat for a while before I looked up the meaning behind it, and that changed the whole point of the song. I don’t want to paraphrase here, so I’ll just give it to you exactly as it’s written:

“I tried to sing this one from the other side- from the inside of love, from the conclusion of the story. If the author of time and space, the one who breathed my soul into existence, were to sing me a song about trust, it might go something like this, “I love you and I won’t let you go.” I believe that where you put your trust begins to define you. This is a song about learning to trust in a transcendent love that will never leave me.

You want peace but there’s war in your head.

Maybe that’s where life is born. When our façades are torn. Pain gives birth to the promise ahead.”

Hearing this song over and over again, now hearing it as a proclamation from my God opened up a place of hearing other things from Him, and this is where I got my lesson. I began to feel words that could not have come from me, words that I didn’t really believe at all, so I started to write them down. Obviously this part is paraphrased, because how could it not be, but this is the gist I got from it.

“Why are you working so hard for those people to love you? Why is it your focus that those people want you in their lives? Why is my love not enough for you? Some people will only ever see the broken places that you’ve been. Some people only see the damage that you caused.

They don’t see you like I see you. I can see your heart, I can see who you really are, I can see the things they’ll never be able to see. The way you carry the weight of your past, ever the reminder of who you once were. The way you continue to love the people who want nothing to do with you.

You walk this earth as if you haven’t been forgiven, as if you will be burned at the stake for your choices, for your suffering. This world has convinced you that you are the problem, that you are a disease, a spreading infection, but that’s not the truth. The world may hold you at arm’s length and tell you that you don’t belong, but while they flee from you, I draw near.

They may have sent you to quarantine for the spots on your skin, but you are no leper. If you can let go of this thing you want, I can show you that you don’t need it, and then I can give you the thing that will spread life within you.”

IMG_7772

So now, 10 days later, I’m reevaluating all kinds of things. What does this mean for me moving forward? How do I undo the plan that I solidified? Does this mean I need to make myself vulnerable again and try to develop relationships with people? It’s all a grey area, reproaching something I completely abandoned. All I know is that I need consistent reminders of this truth, so I have added actual reminders in my phone and changed one of the letter signs at home to say something that I am still working on believing.

It’s this thing that now, not only am I allowed to have good things in my life, but my existence in someone else’s life is no longer considered a bad thing. It opens up a new door for hope, but also reopens the door of the fear of rejection and abandonment. I think they sometimes sort of go hand in hand. So I guess my current status is “cautiously optimistic”.

You are not a disease,

Kennedy Kenton (3)

2017 in 2,017 Words (The Most Honest I Have Ever Been)

Because Decembers Are Hard

It took me a long time to decide on the title of this blog. I probably had a list of more than 30 variations of words before I carefully selected the ones I wanted to use. Calling it the “invisible storm” was important because it describes the situation that many of us walk through, where our windows are being blown out and our homes flooded, all the while walking through normal life, where people might not ever know.

It brings the issue to light of visible storms doing damage to people, and the reaction from society. Rescue teams are sent, money is raised, and communities bind together in support for everything else that is needed. When your storm is invisible, many people question if there is even a storm at all.  When your storm is invisible, nobody knows when your house falls down so, in the midst of your chaos and devastation, you then must find the time to mention it to someone. I don’t know about any of you, but that’s not always something I can figure out how to do.

The whole incredible thing about storm relief is that the victims don’t have to call anyone, people just show up to pull them out of the water. So how do we manage the destruction of what has happened and also reach out to someone who might take a look at the damage and decide the storm never existed, or that it was probably just some strong wind.

What about when the people show up and they believe you, but they have no idea how to help out with damage caused by invisible storms? Probably really kind, hardworking people too, who have their shovels ready, looking at you and asking what they need to do, while you’re standing there in the rubble having experienced a trauma, trying to think of where to start or what tasks even can be done. Everything you know has been destroyed and you called people for help. But now you are expected to know how to fix it.

It’s just a scenario that isn’t really addressed, and I don’t think people generally know how to help something like this. So it just adds to the issue of not wanting to be alone, and knowing you should ask for help, but also not wanting to go through the process of acclimating someone to the situation.

I chose the word “braving” for a specific reason also. There are a lot of description verbs when referencing this type of thing, and this one is the most true for me for a couple of reasons. Being brave is something I really value, in fact being described as brave is one of the highest compliments I can receive. The other reason, however has to do with what the actual act of “braving” means. It doesn’t mean charging against, or winning, or conquering. And I think that is important to mention. Most days (except when I am feeling particularly optimistic) I believe that all the preparation in the world could be done, but when the storm comes, it just comes.

When the hail decides to fall, it will hit you. Braving it all, to me, is buckling down, holding on to something, and knowing that, no matter what comes flying, no matter how much it hurts, no matter what it takes from you, that it can’t kill you. Braving this storm that no one can see is the only thing you can do, and the preparation can help, if you’ve trained yourself to remember what is true and that you are strong enough to withstand the impact. Preparation won’t ever keep the storm from raging, though, and it certainly can’t prevent it from hurting.

Maybe your storm raged once for a long time, and then it eased up, maybe it even stopped, and you worked really hard to clean things up and make it look kind of like what it did before.

And then, when you thought you were in the clear, it started again.

I want you to know that you did all the right things. You made all the right choices. For those of us who live in the world of invisible storms, it’s just a thing. You’ve done it before and you can do it again, but I am so sorry that you have to. And the fact that it came back has nothing to do with you. It doesn’t mean you failed, or that if you had done something else then this wouldn’t have happened again.

I also want you to know that, as much as the phrase is used, even by people like Kelly Clarkson (personally my #1 fav), what doesn’t kill you doesn’t always make you stronger. I would love for that to be true all the time, but the reality is that what doesn’t kill you sometimes takes things from you that you can’t get back. What doesn’t kill you sometimes cripples you permanently. What doesn’t kill you sometimes leaves you with a kind of pain that makes you crave the day before the thing that didn’t kill you. So when that phrase is used, please don’t think that, because you aren’t stronger now, that you failed.

It didn’t kill you. It didn’t win. And that is important. Because it means that you did win, even if it broke you, you still won.

Personally, I’m not sure if I’ll ever stand victorious on the top of the mountain, or have a day where I realize that I can’t remember the last time it rained, but I am here. I hope that you do find that day, I hope that it exists. God knows I’m not an expert on the matter, and a piece of me will always crave that rainless day, but I’m also a realist. And I have learned that cautious optimism is sometimes the best bet, so that you still live your life, but you also know how to brave the invisible storm when it comes.

What rages will always pass,

Kennedy Kenton (3)

Sometimes I Think In Analogies

There is not a single piece of me that believes I have progressed on my own, or that I have been in control over my recovery in any real way. I can honestly say that Jesus has stood for me, fought for me, spoken for me, and everything in between that has allowed me to stand where I am today.

One thing that I have wrestled with during this time, however, is that while all this has been going on, it takes so much energy, so much work, for me to make sure my thoughts don’t get carried away, to ensure that the “me that I want to be” is the one making decisions.  The hang-up about this is that, if Jesus is in control, and I have let Him take the reins down this road, then why on earth do I have to work SO DAMN HARD?!

I think the problem with the way I’ve been expecting things to go is related to the stories in the bible where Jesus steps up and touches the man, and he is healed right then and there. Which, let’s be real, is the coolest.  He gives us these stories and documented events of what He did here on earth, so we can know who He is and what He is capable of in our own lives, even though our stories are OUR stories, and He has no obligation to follow what happened then, or even how we want it to happen.

I have to remember that this is a process, and that, as badly as I want it to, it’s not something that will be gone in a split second. Gosh, that used to be my prayer. Watching my friends be free and happy, I begged Him to let me be part of that life. I didn’t trust his timing or his plan, and it led to jealousy of those around me and anger at my life and my struggle, and sometimes anger at Him for allowing my life to go like that.

I’ve also taken a scan of what is actually happening in the process of cleaning out the mess within me, and that indicates another scenario that explains why it just can’t end instantly. I’ll paint a little analogy of what I have learned. (You: Another analogy?! Me: Let’s be real, I have used sharks as a metaphor on this blog, so let’s not act like you’re surprised.)

Let’s say there is a house. It started out pretty normal and vulnerable, as houses sometimes do. Various moments, events, and lies created tiny, radioactive seeds that landed on the roof and slid down into the foundation. They began to grow roots and stems and branches that broke into each room and affected the way it was designed, how it connected to the other rooms, and began to produce poisonous fruit throughout. The homeowner, seeing that this is affecting the structural integrity of the house, begins to add reinforcements to walls and pours concrete down around the roots into the foundation to prevent it from crumbling.

Building thicker walls and support beams, she turned the flimsy house into a more solid, stable structure. This works for a while, and then the trees grow some more, and the patching and building continues. Somewhere along the way, she realizes that a storm or high wind could potentially damage her house, so she begins to build a large wall around her property, very strong, and very tall, with a single gate that she barricaded with beams and padlocks on padlocks.

Okay so that’s the set up that exists; now let’s get into the solution, and how it could potentially be difficult.

Say one day she realizes that this house, although it stands, is not the way a house should be, so she decides to let the city come in and gut it, rebuild, tear up the roots, break down the walls, and restore it. The problem is that she has protected it so well, that she has to use all her strength to break open the locks, and hold open the gate so they have a chance to get in. Then, when they reach a room, she has to be there to unblock the door, to let them in, and tear down all the structures that have been built to secure the walls.

She knows it needs to be fixed, and is more than willing to let people in to help fix it, but years of fixing a house the wrong way has made it to where she has to work the entire time to allow them entry so they can do their job.

Sure, the city could have stopped her at any point, but they gave her the choice to do it herself or to ask for help, to allow them to come in and dig up the plants when they were just sprouting, but she didn’t see the need for help, everything was working great, so why did it matter?

Just because she opened the gate enough for them to come in, doesn’t mean that they are able to do what they need to do in each area until she lets them. And even when she does, she has to prepare herself to watch her hard work and the way that things have been fall away before her eyes. Making the decision to fix it doesn’t actually do much until she puts in the hard work that allows the professionals do their work.

So hopefully you have been able to follow that story in a real life sense, and why I think it helps me understand what is actually happening. God let me choose my way, to choose the ways of the world. He’s not going to force me to love Him or let Him into my life, but he is waiting, and He is ready. I have guarded so many areas of my life so aggressively, that each area requires focus and work to let him in.

In a similar way, I have also, in recent months chosen a specific way of thinking and feeling that has gone against how I have historically done so. In the past, my heart has been very fragile and sensitive to the words and actions of others, so I decided to protect it, to put it in a steel box where it would be safe. Then after a while, I would get comfortable, take it out of the box, and it would wind up bruised and bleeding again, so back in the box it would go.  This was a pattern that lasted for most of my life, of trusting, and then almost instantly regretting it.

What has changed now is that I leave it out of the box. Not only that, but sometimes I let it fall a little bit, or see something coming for it, and let it come, let it hit. When I allow the hard moments to exist and don’t rush to protect my vulnerable heart, it gets tougher. Living with it locked away does not allow you to really reach people, or to invest in the lives of others. When you let your heart experience hard things, and even put it though some of your own on purpose, the skin gets thicker, stronger, callused if you will. When it gets treated like this, it’s a living, breathing, feeling, piece of flesh, but one that can take the pain as it comes. It’s not going to bruise and bleed every time it faces rejection or the truth of its own mistakes.

I used to think that avoiding the pain was the best choice, but that just makes it so much harder to face life’s chaos. I much prefer having tougher skin and feeling the life as it comes, even when it hurts. Scratch that. ESPECIALLY when it hurts.

Eventually, He and I will be able to pull out the last of the roots and redesign the whole house interior, this time with an open floor plan, a skylight, and a wall of windows. Just to let the light in.

Love from a callused heart,

Kennedy Kenton (3)

The Art of Losing

I should probably start by saying that I have been working through my recovery in a structured, Christ centered, step program. I’m not going to go into detail about it, but lately it has been the goal to dig up a lot of old hurts (both to me and by me), find the root cause of issues, and catalog any and all of my transgressions. Naturally, this has been extremely difficult. I don’t mean that I am having a hard time identifying them, but that the things I have kept buried for a long time are now finding their way into my daily thoughts and emotions.

Another special gem that I have begun to see clearly is the series of people who have been hurt by me, and choices that I have made that have directly, negatively impacted others. This part has been one of the worst, as my mistakes seem to be set on repeat, projected on the inside of my eyelids. Some days I try to distract myself from thinking about it, but other days I think that it’s good for me to see the consequences of my actions.

This post might not be clear and coherent, as I usually have a specific goal or plan, but today is not that day. I just have a pile of broken glass ideas, that with any luck might resemble a mosaic when I get them all out.

I was speaking openly about this year to someone the other day, and she brought up a concept that I haven’t really allowed myself to grab hold of fully. After kindly listening to my story as I tried to get through the details without completely losing my mascara, she dropped some truth on me. I need to grieve the life I lost.

*Insert deep breath here*

It is clear to me that I have been spending the last few months in a state of intermediate acceptance, where I saw the truth in what was going on, but I refused to release all hope that I could get it back. The real truth is that holding on to something that doesn’t exist anymore is only causing me more pain. If I let go of what I want and allow myself to accept what I have, then it stops being about looking backward and starts being about picking myself up and moving forward.

2016 was an intense year. 100%. Hands down. I gained community, I made my first adult car purchase, I moved out of the house I grew up in, I was given a role in a business dream, and a thousand other tiny pieces of joy that formed the canvas for where I was going to paint my future. Although I couldn’t have known any better at the time, that was my biggest mistake.

The truth of that year was that I was being given a very special gift. So much of that life consisted of things I spent a long time not believing even existed. I could have gone on living without ever knowing that those things were real, that there were people who invest in each other, and cheer each other on every day. But I received the greatest of gifts, among them, a couple of the greatest people I have ever known.

I have gained the sweetest memories from that time, and although I allowed myself to believe in the idea that this season was the beginning of my new reality, I am so thankful that I got to be there to see and feel it all for myself.

Maybe it would have been different if I had known that I wasn’t going to be able to keep it, but I still believe that I would have approached it all differently, and hopefully handled the changes better.

Along with the process of grieving my losses has come the pain of knowing what I have done to the people involved with my struggle. Being able to look back and see how things really were, and not how I was seeing them at the time fills me with something like regret. I see myself making choices and living my life in a way that added stress and hardship to those around me.

As you can see, it has been quite the experience diving in to all my life’s mistakes, friendships I have let fade away and bridges I have burned with a lifetime of great people. Part of that hit me really hard from an unexpected source last week.

I had a best friend in high school and we told each other everything. We were together every weekend and she was there with me on the worst day of my life. I still remember a night that, while we waited in the school parking lot, we danced on top of our cars in our letter jackets to the song Fireflies by Owl City. It is still my favorite memory from high school. That’s a super brief history, I know, but the point is that she had a beautiful baby girl last week. The most wonderful news and the happiest day of her life, and it just reminds me of the fact that I always meant to be there. I never intended for us not to be in each other’s lives. I guess life is hard that way, but I just can’t shake the feeling that the loneliness I find at times is because I have burned the bridges with almost every good person in my life.

There’s this internal argument between my emotional and logical minds where one is saying, “you can’t just write apology letters to everyone you have ever hurt,” and the other side that is already sealing envelopes and yelling back “BUT THEY HAVE TO KNOW HOW SORRY I AM.”

On top of that there’s this thing that I just can’t figure out. On one hand, I know that isolation is bad, and that only bad things come from being isolated. But on the other hand, I have actually seen with my own eyes the difference that being free from me can make. How can I in good conscience choose to let people invest in me when I know full well that it is not what is the best thing for them. I’m the one who knows better, I’m the only one who can be responsible, so how can that be the wrong choice?

I guess by now you see what I mean about the lack of coherency. I’ve been listening to a lot of Ben Rector lately, so I added the relevant songs to the music player at the bottom of this page. My reasoning for adding “Sailboat” I think will be quite obvious, with concepts like being lost at sea, waiting for something, speaking and not being able to hear anyone listening- since that is my every day. “The Feeling” is a song that describes something we have all experienced, feeling this certain way (as he describes in the song) but a certain line has really been on my heart as I deal with these hard things that people don’t always see.

The line is:

It’s the heat you feel when someone brings it up,
Someone who doesn’t know enough
To know it’s deep inside,
And just how hard you tried.

Give those a listen if you feel like it and please forgive me for the jumbled mess that is this post.

Fireflies and wax-sealed envelopes,

Kennedy Kenton (3)

The Leaf Phenomenon

There’s this common thing that happens to some people when they get glasses for the first time, I like to call it: The Leaf Phenomenon. I’m sure many of you know exactly what I’m talking about, but I’ll go into detail anyway. You get your glasses or contacts on for the first time, and already things seem sharper, more detailed, but then you go outside. Suddenly the trees you have spent your whole life walking past are made up of thousands of INDIVIDUAL LEAVES.

What once was a giant green blob now has so much movement and exquisite detail. It’s as if everything in the world has changed, but that’s not exactly true, is it? The only thing that has changed is how you are seeing it through your new lenses, lenses that have been designed to correct what was once wrong. You can walk around trying to get used to it for days in awe, shrugging and telling people, “I couldn’t see, I didn’t know.” Even after a short time, taking your glasses off for a few moments makes you wonder how you were ever able to function without them.

It’s funny how memories like that can work their way to the surface when life creates a similar scenario. I ran into this type of situation during this season as I was becoming free from the fog and chains that held me. I had been living my life a certain way, only aware of the big green blobs, not knowing that there was something I was missing. Not only did I begin to see the detail of what I was looking at, the truth of who I was and what I had, but I began to see the days that had long passed, days when I was unkind and manipulative, digging myself further into isolation. Honestly, it’s hard to think about the girl that I was, about that time, and not be filled with anger.

What I can see now is not something I would trade for anything. The fog has been lifted and I am able to see people and things as they are, and not what I thought they were. Knowing what I know now, however, does cause a pang of regret. It’s a sense of responsibility for my words and my actions that I feel like I should have been able to control.

As someone who finds comfort in the confines of her own mind, it is not a comfortable reality to know that I can’t always trust my thoughts. It has always been my understanding that when chaos surrounds me, I can find peace and truth within myself. Now, when I am sad or upset about something, I feel a degree of fear, fear that I’m slipping back into how things used to be, that my progress is falling away.

My doctor uses a kind of “depression quiz”, where you answer questions on a scale of 0-3 and total it up to get a feel of how you’re doing. I’m only supposed to do it every couple of months or so now, but I find myself doing them when I start to feel the fear. It takes going through all the questions containing actual symptoms of depression and seeing that I don’t actually feel the things listed to see that what I’m feeling in that moment, sadness, frustration, anger, is just a natural human emotion. I have to use real quantitative data to tell myself that normal people would be sad in that situation too.

I have these memories of before, and I want so badly to go back in time and give that girl a pair of my new glasses so maybe she wouldn’t do so much damage. I don’t have that option though, so I’m stuck with this feeling of responsibility for everything I was and said and did. It makes me want to go with a heavy heart to the people who were there and tell them, “I’m so sorry. I couldn’t see. I didn’t know.”

I guess it’s all a learning process, and knowing that the only way out is through. I had to go through that to get where I am now, and I’ve got a ways to go before I’m on the other side. As slow as this season has been, I know that it is getting better, I’m headed in the right direction, and for now, that is enough.

Over and Out,

Kennedy Kenton (3)

Burn this After Reading

I’ve been meaning to write something for the last couple of weeks, but if I’m honest, the last couple of weeks have been hard. Between being sick and coming to some hard realizations about my recovery, there hasn’t been anything that I felt like sharing. Today I decided that my circumstances don’t get to dictate what I do or don’t do. So here goes.

Lately I’ve found myself thinking about a specific memory from a while back that I didn’t realize was so significant to me. In the memory I was visiting a church out of town, one that I had never been to before, and one that I knew almost nothing about. The service itself isn’t what I remember, however, but the environment in which it was held. You see, this service was held in the gymnasium of a high school. While this might seem like an insignificant detail, or just a normal situation for a church, it made me realize something.

It occurred to me that this place was a beautifully entwined version of two of my favorite places, places I have sought out to find my peace and solace. I used to go to the gym early before practice or games and just sit on the wood floor, sometimes thinking, sometimes trying not to. To this day being in a gym is one of the most comfortable places I can imagine.

On the other side, some of my most significant emotional and spiritual moments have been in my seat during a church service. Moments where I felt God more deeply than I ever had before, where all my doubts and fears were washed away, worship services that brought me into the Throneroom and to the feet of my Jesus, the thin place where nothing separated me from his presence.

It really was almost magic being in there, as we all started to worship, and something cool happened within me, in a building that I had never been to before, in a town that I’d only been through a couple of times, it felt like..

home.

Home is a strange concept for me currently in life. Something that hasn’t been easy for me to have, however, I have kind relatives who have opened their home to me in my time of need, to give me a place to go. I’m sure that if I asked, I could find other kind people willing to take me in as well, but I have chosen to think of this as a temporary situation, to keep my mind on what I am striving for, only allowing myself to be comfortable enough to find my next move.

Being on your own after college and then not on your own is a strange transition, and I never expected to be here. It’s hard to not feel like taking a brave attempt to fly out of the nest, only to fall to the ground. I have a vision for what I think my life could be, but it’s like running on a treadmill, as fast as I can, with everything I want in view, but I can’t reach it.

I guess I’m learning how to be patient, how to believe that I actually do deserve good things. I’m trying not to believe what was told to me recently, that you only lose the things that you never really deserved. I’m trying not to believe it because I’m afraid it might be true. I’m afraid that who I am and what I’ve done has brought me here, and that maybe I’m getting what I deserve.

I think that sometimes I spend too much time thinking about where I’m supposed to be and how long it’s going to take to get there. I’m trying to believe that someday I’ll find that place that feels like the home that is meant for me, that maybe someday I’ll have people, even though I know that some people never do.

Like I said, this week has been hard. Sometimes I have more questions than answers, I guess not every post is going to be profound and put together, but that’s just how things go sometimes.

This week I’ll remind myself that everything is for a season, and that I’m doing the best I can.

Be kind and love people,

Kennedy Kenton (3)

Second Star to the Right

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fairytales. I think in part because I never really saw myself as the hero in my own story, just a supporting role, the Watson to someone else’s Sherlock. We as children are exposed to these stories and tales of magic, of dragons, and of happily ever after. Through our youthful eyes, we imagine our own lives as stories of adventure and fantasy. As I grew older, I learned that the world was not as it is in the storybooks, and I began to dislike the idea of instilling these illusions in the minds of children.

It’s one of those mindsets I have a tendency to get stuck in, that is, until something comes along to change my perspective.

In my random internet wanderings, I stumbled upon a quote that was able to begin to change my mind, along with the reality of what it could mean if we approach things a little differently.

The quote, by Neil Gaiman reads:

“Fairytales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

If we’re looking at it that way, then growing up believing in impossible things turns from nurturing an illusion of an imaginary world into creating strength and bravery in the face of our own, very real battles. I have said here before that I’ve been a skeptic to the truth of things that are actively affecting me, and as much as it seems like another pattern in my mind’s attempt at protecting itself, I have to admit that it is still true here.

If I look a little harder, I can see that there were days I woke up with a dragon sitting on my chest and a poisoned apple in my hand, ready to make me forget everything I was made for. If I approach that situation with the knowledge that I know about how this story plays out, I know that the power to defeat the dragon already resides in me, and that good will always triumph over evil, even if you have to fall into an enchanted sleep for a little while.

I’ve learned that being a lost boy from Neverland is not a curse, but an opportunity to walk through life with adventure and to create family with other souls brought to the island seeking freedom from loneliness. I’ve learned that things like pixie dust sometimes exist in our lives in the form of medication and counseling, but just like in the story, you don’t get to fly until you believe in yourself. You won’t get to take to the skies until you find that hope within your own heart- find it, and hold on for dear life.

It’s important for me to remember that there is not just one path that leads to victory over the things that try to destroy the good. True love is the most powerful force that has ever existed, as we have been given the most pure form of that in the love that was poured out for us on the cross. He has already written the story, he has already triumphed over evil, he has already given us everything we need to find the magic within ourselves.

I’m choosing to listen to the voice that says, “brave girl, you were made to do hard things- stand up to the pirates and the dragons, for you will defeat them with the strength of your wild heart.” When I’m scared of the darkness that rages against me, fearful of the flames and the rocks below, and when I turn to cry out, “but what if I fall?!” my Jesus will be there beside me, taking my hand with a smile as he says, “Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”

Love and Pixie Dust,

Kennedy Kenton (3)

Moments of Exhale

I’ve never been one for fame. The idea of being publicly known and have my privacy invaded has never seemed like the idea of anything I would want for my life. My anonymity is one of my most valuable possessions, and quite often, I find myself in a public place, aware that nobody knows anything about me, and find such peace in that truth. Keeping to myself has consistently been a place of solace, my introverted personality coming alive in moments of quiet.

Since disclosing the details of my internal battles, there has been a degree of that comfort that I have lost. The fact that so many people know the exact nature of my struggles means that I have been required to relinquish that privacy and lay it all out for everyone to see. I can’t even remember the number of medical professionals I have had to let in to the private areas of my heart that I spent years protecting. At the beginning, it was essentially a nightmare talking about it, since my pain told me that what I was dealing with was shameful. Over time, it has certainly become easier, but some days it still feels like I’m under a microscope, with people watching my every move and reading into every one of my words.

Boundaries that I used to have, the ones that I had to set to protect myself from people who have been sources of pain in the past, are no longer feasible, and I have to address anyone who expresses concern.

Don’t get me wrong, I seriously believe that being open about this is the better option, and has led to a significant amount of freedom from the issues that accompany isolation. What I do wish is that the conversations I have with people who know about all this, and who care about me were just not so heavy.. and that it didn’t feel like they were laced with subtext.

It’s like going about my day, taking in a bunch of tiny breaths and not taking the time to let any of it out. I had a chat recently with an old friend, and the topic of “exhale” came up. I think that so often, we wind ourselves up, with whatever it is that keeps us on edge, trying to do the right thing for all the right people, and we don’t realize the importance of releasing the tension.

The idea of the exhale can mean different things for different people. Sometimes it’s being around all the people that bring you peace and reassurance. Sometimes it’s a day free from work and stress, or a vacation from the daily grind. Sometimes it’s just a prayer on the way home, laying it all down and becoming free from the burden of the day. I didn’t know what it was for me, not specifically, until recently.

I have owned an inflatable kayak for about a year and a half now, half of that time carrying it in the back of my car. It came with a whole set of ambitions, but I didn’t do anything about them for a very long time. I only actually used it for the first time a couple of weekends ago. I went with a friend up to the lake and we spent the next several hours on the water.

The first thing I learned is that I didn’t know how to steer a kayak, so I ended up going in circles a lot. I also learned that it is a serious arm workout- (like I was sore for about 3 days afterward). The most important thing that I learned, however, is that being out there was the biggest moment of Exhale that I have had in months- the sun on my skin, the cool water splashing on my legs with each dip of the paddle, and the shoreline rocking in the distance.

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(Photo for reference)

Out on the lake, there was no list of jobs that I hadn’t heard back from, there was no email to check, no medical bills, no unanswered text messages, just the sun and the water and my inflatable kayak. I am a firm believer in the majesty and wonder of specific moments in life, and in that moment, I was overcome with the awareness of God’s goodness, and the beauty of his creation.

There are all kinds of ways I think we can learn to exhale, but we also need to be reminded of the big moments, the places where we find our center, where we become the people we want to be.

Life sometimes makes us have to do hard things, and appease all the people, and take in everything that is pushed toward us. It’s all necessary most of the time, and we don’t have much control over it, but we do have control over what we let out. Find your place, find your peace, and just..

exhale.

Stay as you are,

Kennedy Kenton (3)

Sharks and Sandcastles

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I have a complicated relationship with fear. For example, I am paralyzingly afraid of sharks. When I was young, I watched a couple of terrifying shark movies and then allowed my imagination to run wild, creating images of sharks busting through the shower wall like a shark cage, or jumping 20 feet out of lake water, or waiting for me at the deep end of a pool. But on the other side of that, when I was on a snorkeling trip and we were warned about the open water and the potential threat, I became overcome with this sense of invincibility, with an attitude that I welcomed the idea of a shark approaching. I don’t know why I am this way, but looking at this fear as an example, it poses a greater question for the way I respond to it.

Logically, I know that these fears are irrational, unfounded, and absurd because there are real facts that I can look to and remind myself that, no, there will not be a shark busting through the walls of my shower. When it comes to the more serious types of fear, however, it’s much harder to differentiate.

When I knew my depression was worsening, I remember looking around at my life- my comfortable, independent life that had everything I needed, everything I wanted. Despite my inability to fully live in the happiness and comfort that this life provided, I knew that I didn’t want to lose it. In fact, I was terrified to lose it. The fear told me that if I was honest about what I was feeling, honest about the thoughts that riddled my mind, then all the things I worked so hard to build would be gone.

As things progressed, I realized that my options were limited, that I either needed to be honest and vocal and trust that my fears were unfounded, or that I would lose myself completely.

Even during the process of seeking the help I needed, I remember trying to comfort myself by the reassurance that nothing would change, and nobody would look at me differently. In this mindset, I found the strength to power through, and work toward a place of healing.

On the other side, I knew that my decision was the right one, that it was the only way to truly reach the recovery that I had desperately craved. The thing was, that one by one, little by little, the wonderful life that I had so carefully crafted began to fall away. The fear in me rose up again, countering the assurance that I knew was right, telling me that my fears had been valid, that I never should have been honest like I was.

Wait, WHAT? Isn’t this a post about fear being wrong and that when we’re brave and vulnerable then good things happen? In a way, yes. But as I watched my world crumble beneath me, there wasn’t anything proving to me that it was the right call.

While I walked through the rubble of what had once been so valuable to me, I felt a surge of anger- anger at myself for the choice that I had made, and committed to never admit that I was in a dark place again. If everything I was afraid of came true, what would possibly happen next time?

As things go, that anger didn’t last, and instead it was replaced by the reality of what needed to happen in my life, what I had to go through to truly be free. As Jesus walked with me, and gently revealed what my life had really been, I saw what I never wanted to see. I saw that I placed all my value, all my worth in what I surrounded myself with, the people I found solace in, the places and things that brought me peace. I had stopped turning to Jesus in my pain, stopped standing on the solid ground He had built for me and chose to stake my claim on the sand castle I built myself.

He showed me that my fears were only fears because I placed my identity in the things around me, instead of in Him. Good things come from doing the hard things, even if it doesn’t look like it. Sometimes a shark winds up in the deep end of the pool, but is it enough to keep you from ever swimming again?

Fear can be a liar, but what we do in spite of fear, the courage we are able to find even when the odds are against us, even when the things we are afraid of come true, is what dictates our freedom from the fear in the end.

Always be brave, sweet friends,

Kennedy Kenton (3)