“Why Did I Stay?”

I’ve found myself desperately seeking validity,
“Why did I stay?”
Then I remember:

Connecting at every concert,
Striving to be every beacon I see,
Reconciling my relationship with the mirror,
Sharing and healing with my story,
Freeing myself of the weight of my mask,
Learning that I’m not alone,
Defining myself as a warrior,
Accepting the love I’ve deserved,
Embracing hair that is my own,
Surrounding myself in light,
Continuing to find calms in my chaos.

An Affirmation: My Story is Valid

A few months ago, To Write Love On Her Arms wrote on their Tumblr that they were looking for writings to potentially be shared on their blog. As I hold this organization in a special place in my heart, I immediately responded to their request and sent them my story.

Here is how I introduced the submission:

My name is Mary Kate and on my better days I consider myself a warrior. I have grown up with anxiety that develops into depression. This especially got worse when I lost all my hair due to alopecia totalis. I once was near ending my life, but I kept living because I wanted my story to fuel a purpose in this world, to spread light.

Anyway, aside from the cliches, below is a draft of my story. I would love to write something specific to body or self image, but wanted to contact you in advance to ensure that I have the kind of story you are looking for.

Thank you.

Below is their response to my email. I have added their message to my collection of things I keep tucked away to refer to on my darkest days. They understood me. They found my story valid. They believed in me. My favorite organization believed in me. Words cannot describe how much their email means to me.

Hi Mary Kate,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write in and share a part of your story with us. We are so inspired by your words and bravery. Thank you for your patience in hearing back from us, we have a lot of blog submissions and take our time to read and respond to each one.

It is so great that when you posted your story on Facebook you got so much praise and support. It is wonderful to hear that you even had someone reach out to you and now you two have each other for support. We are firm believers in the power of people connecting with other people, we are so proud of you for speaking out.

We think your story is beautiful and are so thankful you shared it with us. Our blog posts are typically 700-900 words of text. We also will not post blogs with content that could be triggering to some of our readers. You are welcome to submit us a blog, we just want you to be aware that we unfortunately cannot post most of the blogs submitted to us. The blog, Why I Choose to Celebrate by our former Intern and now staff member Rebecca, may give you some ideas on what it looks like to write about a physical illness for us.

We are so glad to hear that as you chose to own your story, a weight began to lift off of your shoulders. We hope that you are continuing to open up to professionals about your thoughts and feelings. We firmly believe in the power of counseling and we hope your doctors are encouraging the same thing. We hear you when you say you thought of your problems as a burden. We want you to know that we as people are meant to take up space in this world. You are worthy of help and support and we hope you never forget that.

We think your line “Our outer shells will never depict the beautiful minds we possess inside of ourselves” is such beautiful text. It is so true that our beauty cannot be measured by continuously changing hair styles or makeup trends. Our beauty is inside our hearts, and Mary Kate, you have a heart of gold.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write in and share your story with us. We are honored you have allowed us to be a small part of your journey. While you may only consider yourself a warrior on your better days, we consider you a warrior everyday. Warriors do not give up, so when you are having those extra difficult days, know you are proving your warrior title even further. We believe in you and we see your unfading spark.

With Hope,
TWLOHA

 

A Strength that Compensates A Weakness

Despite all the mountains I struggle to love myself.
Loving others is easy, for their healing is my medicine.

While my visual glamor has diminished
My inner light has flourished.

My empathy is a spark
And my potential to love others is what will create a beacon.