I have friends, as we all do, but my best friends– the ones who I seem to share a soul with– well, I call them roots.
root: noun \ˈrüt, ˈru̇t\
3a: something that is an origin or source (as of a condition or quality)
3b: one or more progenitors of a group of descendants —usually used in plural
3c: an underlying support :basis
3d: the essential core :heart —often used in the phrase at root
3e: close relationship with an environment
My girls are my foundation. They keep me grounded. They remind me that no matter what storms may blow and make me feel like I’ve been cut down to size, I still have roots that have grown deep to hold me firm and to give me something to grow from once again.
I see a lot of my Faith growing through a similar lens. I grew up in an environment many would call conservative, and as I grew up and my opinions and perspective changed, I lost the beliefs that were mine by association and had no sense of self in my own believing.
I spent many years doubting, questioning things I’d been raised to never question, and yet that foundation– those roots– remained.
The Church doesn’t talk enough about doubt, in my opinion. So when it comes upon you, you get this extreme sense of isolation.
I’m the only one who doesn’t believe.
I’m the only one with doubts.
I’m the only one who doesn’t draw the same conclusion as presented by the pastor’s interpretation.
It’s a horrible feeling and I think there are a lot of people who feel that way, thus creating that cycle of churchgoers who attend on holidays or large occasions, more out of a sense of guilt or obligation than any true desire to be there.
Becoming cognizant of this phenomenon, I changed how I approach my beliefs. My Faith. And instead of this obligation to sit down and hear someone else tell me what God’s word means, I decided to treat the Lord as I do any other deep relationship I have.
Conversation. Discussion. Study. Disagreements (yes, even those). Agreeing to disagree (especially this). Dialogue.
I stopped treating God as some unapproachable deity and instead opened myself up to listening and sharing, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The same way you open yourself as you are making a new friend and realize this person could be your best friend.
So I have been trying to be kinder to myself by being more honest with myself.
I struggle with depression. I do not medicate, as a personal choice. I have medicated in the past and respect those who seek out help when nothing else seems to make a difference. It is a difficult and painful process to not only seek out help but to ask for it. Because in my experience, by the time you’re ready to ask for help, you’re actually begging for it, desperate to feel something other than what you’ve been feeling.
In my last post, I talked about hashing out the differences between being proud and being prideful.
When it comes to my depression, I am prideful.
I want to tell myself that I can do it on my own. I don’t let those I love know what’s going on because it’s my problem and I will make something work, find a fix for the problem. I don’t want to admit how I’m feeling because, between the pressure I put on myself and the endless highlight reels in entertainment and social media, admitting how I’m feeling makes me feel weak, in addition to being depressed. And weakness means you can’t hack it. It means you aren’t strong.
And my parents raised a strong girl, dammit!
There’s also that sense of vulnerability. You are at your most raw, your most stripped down and when you ask for help when you are at that point, whether it’s a singular moment or a continual struggle, you run the risk of being ripped to shreds by those you open yourself up to.
Even those we love can have difficulties understanding sicknesses that you can’t see or diagnose with MedMD. Or they can be downright dismissive and aggravate the issue.
I am blessed to have friends who rally around me when I muster up the courage to admit when I’m low, with love and a shared Faith. In turn, they share when they are low. We grow our roots a little deeper and hold each other a little firmer and look for ways to change, to grow, to feel better in lasting and healthy ways.
When I read erotic romance (and romance in general), I read about struggles as real as my own. Sex complicates those dynamics even as it can also be very revealing. And just as in my life, with my depression and my Faith and my roots, love is the redeeming force that pulls me back from the edge in the same way it unites my favorite heroes and heroines.
I am a romance and erotic romance reader.
I am a romance and erotic romance writer.
I am a person.
And I continue to practice giving myself room to feel, even when those things aren’t positive. Because with the love of my friends, family, Jesus Christ, and yes– even the love I read about on paper and in digital, I will persevere. And I will fight the darkness that threatens to invade another day.