I Failed You

anger, death, depression, Family, Forgiveness, God, Jesus, Life, love, pain, sadness

*Current song to listen to while you read this… Toby Mac – 21 Years*

Today marks 3 months since you left us. While I know you are in a much better place and are no longer in so much pain it doesn’t make it any easier. Especially around this time of year.

I was supposed to protect you. I’m your big brother. That was my job. To make sure you were safe.

But I failed you. And I failed your son. And I stole the little moments of joy from your life that you held onto so dearly.

I kept my children from you when they were such a bright spot in your life. Why? Because you did things away from them that I didn’t agree with? Yeah you were addicted, but you didn’t bring it around my kids. So why did I always make sure you were at an arms length away from us?

My new job is right by the funeral home where your body last was. And every time I drive by it I get angry at the bs and lies that came out of people’s mouths as they told stories of you. “She was the annoying little sister.” No, she really wasn’t. What was annoying about you? That you just wanted to love so deeply that you wanted to be around your friends and family all the time? Out of all the memories I have of you not one of them were ever of you being annoying. It was never you. You were the sweetest child I had ever met. You just wanted to spend time with us.

People gave up on you. They stopped making you a priority. Everyone went on with their lives but you were still a child who needed to be raised and taught right from wrong. And who was there to do that? I stole your sister away from you. She wasn’t there to teach you all the things she had learned.

You were always placed in peoples shadows. So of course you did things to try and make your voice be heard.

But I didn’t hear you. No one did. While you were screaming for help we were all distracted by the other noises around us. Granted, ours happened to be raising 3 kids but that shouldn’t have stopped us from letting you be a part of it.

I take solace in knowing that not once did we ever tell you that you were a screw up. Yes, we pulled away, but when we saw you we showed you love. I know it’s a horrible thing to say, but the people who are struggling with themselves now because of the way they treated you while you were still here, they should be feeling guilty.

You were such a beautiful soul that had so much to offer this world. You had a beautiful voice that deserved to be heard. You loved my children so much and I never realized it until I had to go through all the pictures for your funeral. So many pictures with you and them. One of my biggest regrets is that while we have so many pictures of you from photo shoots I’ve done, I was always behind the camera and I don’t have a single picture of us together. Not one. My baby sister and I have no pictures of us.

It shouldn’t have been you. You made bad choices, but they were never to hurt other people. Yes, others were hurt because of them but your heart has always been so good. Why were you taken from us and not someone who intentionally causes pain and lies to others?

I struggle with you passing, even more than when my grandfather passed away. Because I now live every day wondering if I could have saved your life. I wonder if I would have pulled that car over and come over to you and asked you to come see the new house if you would still be here today. I wonder if we would have written you letters and explained to you how our lives have changed and how much we were looking forward to you being a part of it if you would still be here. I wonder if we would have let you see the kids more often if you would still be here.

I carry a lot of weight from you being gone. I find some peace in knowing that you committed your life to Jesus before you met Him, and that you now get to spend your time with your precious baby boy. But I so wish you were here. These holidays are going to be rough without you.

We plan on making sure that our kids never forget who you were. You were more than your demons. But you owned those demons and you never blamed others for them.

You should still be here.

I should have protected you.

I failed you.

And now I have to live with that failure for the rest of my life until I get the blessing of seeing you again.

I love you. You were so precious to us and I’m so sorry that we didn’t make it known more often.

I hope you left this world knowing you were wanted and you were loved.

May you rest easy, beautiful girl.

Love,

Your Big Brother

Just A Bit Longer

Family, Life, love, Prayer

It’s a sad realization that while we often remember many of our “firsts” in life we tend to not even realize that our “lasts” have come and gone. We take life for granted and assume that we are promised a tomorrow. Sometimes tomorrow simply doesn’t arrive. Sometimes it’s in the literal sense and your physical life will come to an end. But many times it will be in the things you prioritize today that lose their importance. Your relationships are good so you stop trying. Your life gets too busy so you don’t want to sacrifice the little time you do have to something that doesn’t matter as much.

To you.

I’ve had a lot of lasts in my life that I didn’t even realize had occurred. The last time I spoke to a family member that is no longer a part of my life. The last time I attended a church I never returned to. The last time I played a game that I once really enjoyed. The last time I watched a movie or read a book that really made me think.

The last time my siblings came over just because they wanted to spend time with me.

The last time my children came to me for comfort, or to play with their hair while they fell asleep.

The last time I hugged my grandfather.

These moments come and go and we never acknowledge them or appreciate them for what they are. Because we assume these things will always come again.

So I will continue to be intentional. I will hug you just a bit tighter. I will hold your hand just a bit longer. I will tell you I love you one more time even if it annoys you. I will write you one more letter. I will buy you one more gift. I will surprise you with texts and phone calls.

I will love you just a bit longer.

I can hope and pray that tomorrow will be waiting for me, but I can not live assuming that it will be. I know all too well the heartbreak and regret that can come from making that assumption. And I live with it every day.

If anyone comes to mind when you’re reading this, make an effort to reach out to them and just tell them what’s on your mind. Remind them how you feel about them. Because if their tomorrow doesn’t come, shouldn’t they live their last day with the joy that comes from being loved?

The relationships in your life will come and go. As much as we hope that things will last forever, it’s honestly rare that they ever actually do. Sometimes people just stop trying. And people grow apart. It’s okay for that to happen. We are all unique individuals who have their own things going on. But just remember that there will come a day when you have your last meal together. Your last holiday. Your last laughs. Your last hugs. Your last goodbye.

Your last I love you.

It’s an honest reality. Yes, it can be sad, but it can also be beautiful. Live your life with this mentality and show your love as much as you can.

When my tomorrow, inevitably, doesn’t come I fear that those most important in my life won’t truly know how I feel about them. So let me hold your hand just a bit longer. Let me hug you just a bit tighter. Let me love you just a bit longer.

I love you. I promise you it is way more than you think I already show or tell you.

Kyle

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay… Until It’s No Longer Okay

Family

I have come to realize that writing is the one place where I can quickly process my thoughts and get an answer to what’s going on in my head. Sometimes I just need to sit down, get it all out there and then go back through and address what comes up.

I have depression. Which is okay. It’s something that a lot of people have. What’s not okay is when I let it be carried by those I love.

I had a moment earlier this week. A pretty bad moment, if I’m being honest. And I need to walk through what happened so those of you who were there and were completely dumbfounded by what was occurring before their eyes can get a little understanding.

My moment happened like most of them do. The day was very normal. Nothing stressful going on, no crazy activities or events. Just sitting around having conversations with those closest to me. When life is normal I can be a pretty active speaker and contribute a lot to a conversation.

But then it happened. Someone made a comment that I didn’t really process at first. It was a simple remark that any other person would have completely overlooked.

Here’s kind of what goes on in those moments. Something will happen that will “trigger” an emotional reaction. My body will immediately react to it and go into self-defense mode, cutting off all communication to keep anything else from getting in. My mind still hasn’t processed what it was exactly that caused it, but the rest of me is still in that “protection” mode. Gradually I will start to realize what it was that caused me to feel the way I do.

Everyone could tell something shifted in me pretty quickly (let me interject by stating that this alone proves how much these people love me as most people do not realize something changed). I was asked if something was bothering me and I responded yes, I just didn’t know what it was. And in that moment, that was 100% true. I didn’t. I knew something was wrong but I couldn’t pinpoint the source. I got there not soon after, but didn’t want to address it.

Anyways. I shut down. As in hardcore I will put up huge walls and not hear the things you are saying to me. I also avoid looking at the person that caused it. It’s hard to look at someone that you love so much but feel that they have hurt you so deeply.

My immediate reaction is to run. And cry. But in this moment I couldn’t do either, so I sit there, hand over my mouth to keep myself from crying, not looking at the people who love me most knowing they could immediately address the irrational feelings I was having if I only were honest with them and spoke up.

Nope.

I sit there like a moron as they hold me and pray over me for about 5 minutes. And I completely dismiss it all and make them feel like they screwed up. And I completely ignore the amazing things that others have said to me about the way I make them feel and the difference I have made in their life.

I thought I could deal with my depression. I’ve had it for a long time and typically choose to not speak about it much. I generally just distract myself from it.

What I can’t do, however, is let my depression carry over to my loved ones. It’s hard enough having it myself, so the thought of those around me being burdened by me is overwhelming and just makes things 1000 times worse.

But I’m acknowledging it. I didn’t talk to my wife about it at first. In fact, I’m pretty sure she was completely embarrassed by my behavior because I’ve never done that around people before (shows how much I let my guard down around you guys, just an fyi). I think she knew what was going on and she tried to take responsibility for it and not let them think it was something they did. And I know she was completely hurt by it, too, because I took something that was such a great moment for her and manipulated it into something negative about me.

What an amazing person she is. What a terrible one I can be.

But I did talk to her about it the next day. In fact, I made her late to work because I broke down in tears and let it all out. How exhausted I am of feeling the way I do about myself. I don’t think people truly understand the extent of the negative feelings I have about myself.

And I did something else I don’t know that I have ever done before. I talked to the person who I was hurting from. And I opened myself up to them and was honest about why I was in a dark place. I wasn’t angry, I was just sad. But I couldn’t be when I saw them the next day and they immediately hugged me and started crying, pouring their heart out to me about the heaviness they are carrying.

I can’t add to that. I want to be a person who helps others and brings joy and love to their lives.

I struggle with talking in person, but they wouldn’t let me be alone that day. I processed internally. And they were just there for me. Not knowing what they could do to help, but just being present and available whenever I needed them. Crying with me, distracting me, bringing me into their lives and reminding me that they are always there. When I did get home I completely just poured my heart out to the person I thought hurt me in one of the longest texts ever (writing… go figure).

People know me a lot more than I thought. People care and love me so much more than I thought I deserved.

So enough is enough. Today is the day I go and get back on my medication. Do I think this is going to be a fix? No, but it will be a tool that I can use to keep the dark thoughts away.

And I’m going to finally do something that I never thought I would do. I’m going to seek help and go talk to someone about where the root of all these feelings come from. Because it’s not fair of my loved ones to have to manage that. They were not trained to do it, so I shouldn’t make it their responsibility to fix it. They are my problems and I need to fix them. I will need their love and support along the way, which I know will always be available to me.

Therapists scare me. Not because I don’t want to be better, but because I’m terrified that the root of my problems are going to run so much deeper than I imagined. Or that I am going to talk to someone and they are going to say I can’t be helped. I have nothing against therapists, I guess I’m just fearful of wandering into the unknown.

But I have to. Not only for myself (mostly for myself though because these feelings of self-hatred are getting really difficult to work through), but also so my loved ones can get 95% of the good side of me (as we still all need to have a really good cry every once in awhile). I want to be better for them. So that I have the capacity to be there for them on a much deeper level without taking the things they say so personally. I don’t want my wife to feel that she has to watch the things she says around me because I might take them the wrong way. I don’t want my kids to feel that I’m not strong enough for them to come to for emotional support.

I need to be better.

I will get better.

And I can’t do it alone.

And that’s okay, because I don’t need to. Help is available for a reason, and I have the incredible love and support from some amazing people.

It’s okay to not be okay… until it’s no longer okay.

Thank you for being the people you are, loving and supporting me despite my flaws. And fostering my growth, expanding my mind and for making me a better person. I love you so incredibly much, I could never fully express it.

Kyle

Just Listen (Part 2)

Life, love, pain, sadness

I am a broken person. I know this, and it is something that I don’t shy away from admitting. The problem, however, is taking that conversation any further than an oversimplified statement to avoid talking about my feelings.

I struggle with vocalizing my thoughts into words, so instead I decided to write them out. This isn’t a public forum that everyone I know has access to. I have personally curated my audience to those I am closest to, or those I believe care (as well as you random followers from around the world, too). And I know that some of you who read this say you genuinely do care, for whatever reason.


I love having deep conversations with others. The kind where people are a little outside of their comfort zones and are pouring out their hearts. Tell me your greatest joys. Tell me your fears. Tell me your passions. Tell me your life story. When I am close to someone I like to feel like I have had the privilege of knowing them for much longer than I actually have.

So I’m pretty good at initiating questions to get people to think. Because I have such a vested interest in their life. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again – when I love, I love deeply. And I think most people don’t understand what I mean by that.

But here’s something I don’t usually talk about.

I don’t feel as though I am worth loving.

So when I love another person so deeply, it is because I want to make sure they never feel the way I do. I have a lot of intentionality in the way I approach the relationships in my life.

I will randomly tell people I am thinking of them. Because I know what it feels like to question if you are actually thought of.

I will constantly tell people I love them. Because I know what it feels like to believe you’re not worth loving.

I will push to be involved in the day-to-day lives of others. Because I know what it feels like to be so alone and unwanted.

And usually when I fish long enough someone will bite and give me what I need to get through for awhile.

But sometimes, more often that I like to admit, I have these stupid thoughts in my head. “Just stop being the one to always initiate and see what happens. Let’s see if people even notice that you fade into the background.”

And the problem with that is it actually happens. Want to know a hard truth? I couldn’t tell you the last time either of my dads reached out to me just to see how I’m doing. I don’t know the last time I’ve even heard from any of my siblings personally. I don’t have many friends at all who even think of me.

And it doesn’t take long for the voices in my head to start attacking me on such a deep level. Here’s the problem with silence. When the world goes quiet the feelings of loneliness start to quickly set in. The thoughts of being unloved. Unneeded. Not relevant.

And the thoughts of feeling that the good things I do have in my life are just an illusion. They are there because I force them to be there. I interject my presence into people’s lives, pushing a relationship, not letting it be what it truly is. Or rather, that’s what I tell myself. Because sometimes I test it and I back off for awhile. I stop being the first to text. I stop being the first to say “I love you”. I stop asking questions to get to know people. And I wait to see if they will realize.

Totally unfair to other people, right? Yeah, it is. Because I make assumptions for others that might not necessarily be true. “Oh, they don’t actually care about me. They don’t actually love me.” No, Kyle, you moron. Maybe they were just very busy. Or maybe they don’t feel that it is as important to do that.


I have to be honest, guys. Before I start getting to this place, I always seek first. I can’t ask for it, but I drop hints like crazy. My S.O.S. is out there. I’m struggling right now, but do me a favor and go look at my last Facebook post. I yelled pretty loudly. I cried out for help. And yet no one heard me. Or, in my mind, they heard me and chose to turn their backs. I’m not worth the time and effort.


I’ve been in my head a lot lately but I’ve been trying to approach it in a way to communicate how I got there and how to get out of it. And I’ve come to realize it’s kind of fairly simple. It has to do with my love language

This is me, guys. And this couldn’t be any more true (although I will admit physical touch from some people may be higher. Hugs from some people literally make me feel so loved).

Words of affirmation. What does this mean for me? It’s simple. I just want to be reminded that I am here and a part of your life. A text saying “hey, I really miss you” or “I just wanted you to know you are in my thoughts today” are just major resets to my negative feelings. I don’t want praise, I don’t need you to say good things about me. I literally just want to feel like I’m not an afterthought.

Words to me are everything. The written word, especially. I keep cards. I keep letters (although I don’t have many of those). I keep pictures from others. I keep special artwork. I love to write letters. It is such an important thing to me. To take the time out of my day and to physically write down my words to another person. My personality flows through my writing. It’s personal. It is a physical piece of myself that I am giving to another. Emails and texts are great, don’t get me wrong. But knowing that someone went out of their way to do something that is so lost these days? Oh, my heart. I don’t have many letters. I’ve written a lot but I rarely get any in return. And that’s okay. When I mail them out my hope is that it just means to them what it means to me.

But the thing that can make me feel so incredibly loved is literally an “I love you”. Those 3 words say so much. It means you are thought of. It means you are cared for. It means you are important to the person saying it. Seriously, one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive is a letter just saying that. And I would hold on to it and cherish it for the rest of my life.


My other love language is quality time. Just being with certain people is an instant reset to my negative thoughts. I don’t care what we are doing. You want me to come clean toilets with you? But we get to do it together? Done. You want me to sit and watch a ridiculously unfunny movie, but we get to be close to one another? Done.

Quality time, especially when people can be themselves and it’s not forced. Be comfortable around me that you can literally just be yourself and not have to worry about anything. That’s quality time to me. If you don’t have to look a certain way, act a certain way or dress a certain way when I’m around, that makes me feel loved. That you make a conscious choice for me to be around in your life, and not putting on an image that you want to be perceived as. If I can be around you and you are the same person you are when it’s just your family? That makes me feel loved. If I come over in the morning and you aren’t around for the day, and you still want me to come in? Hair a mess and you’re still wearing what you wore to bed? That makes me feel loved. Just knowing that you are choosing for me to be in your life is huge to me.


Sounds like I’m pretty needy, right? You’re definitely not wrong. And that’s why I don’t like talking about it. That’s why I can’t ask for these things. I hint, and I make suggestions, but I hope that people want to do those things, not because I’m a high maintenance friend or family member. I don’t like feeling like a nuisance to someone.

I “jokingly” talk about how kids and seniors like me best because they don’t care enough to know any better. But honesty, it’s kind of how I feel. Little kids love me. I don’t get it, but it’s something about the way I can relate to them I guess. And older people always seem to have a special place in their hearts for me. But the weird thing is, I’m so willing to accept that these 2 generations have genuine love for me, but I can’t seem to accept that for anyone else who comes in between.

I don’t get it, either.


I try to be a good person. But am I really a good person? Or do I do it because it’s a distraction from being a terrible person to myself? Hmmm…


I have issues with pushing people to things that are more than they possibly are. It’s why most of my friendships have failed in the past. I put way more into it and ran a lot of people off. I probably still do. I do things like pushing that my closest friends are my family. Or always telling them I love them. Or a lot of things that I’m more than likely just overthinking.

Overthinking. It might be something I do best. Overanalyzing. Second guessing.


Do I know I am loved? Yes. Most days. Some days, however, I don’t believe it.

I have a lot less respect for myself than anyone knows. I feel like I am such an unworthy person.


So what can you do to help? Be intentional. But be intentional because it’s important to you. If it’s not genuine then it’s okay to step away. I don’t care about the quantity of love received. It’s about quality.

I asked my wife yesterday if I am a difficult person to love. She immediately told me that it is incredibly easy to love me. Do people really think that? And if that’s true, why do I feel the way I do?


To my family and friends, I love you so incredibly much. I hope you never go a day of questioning that. You are beautiful and mean so much to me.


Kyle

The Fragility Of The World

God, Jesus, Life, sadness

I should be praying tonight instead of writing…


It’s remarkable how quickly you can be reminded of how fragile your existence is. Or how suddenly you can be halted in your thoughts on your place in this world and your importance in other people’s lives.

Have you ever watched a planned building demolition? It’s absolutely mesmerizing. Something that stood for so long can be brought to nothing in a matter of moments. The history of the building will linger for awhile, but you know you can never put it back the way it once was. You could try, but I can assure you the explosion absolutely destroyed parts of the building and it would never be whole again.

And all it took was the simple push of a button. One tiny little action that sets it all into motion. All the good could be gone in an instant. And you could be the one holding the trigger. But, you could also have no idea who has it.


My building has been demolished several times. I try to piece it back together. I even find extra things to support it and make it stronger than before.

But I’ve realized I’m a little trigger happy and I always seem to find my finger hovering over that button again. And I’ve learned that I’ve handed it over to more people each time I rebuild.


Tonight, I take solace in knowing that if my building continues to be destroyed, my God is always there to help me pick up the pieces and try again. And He usually brings a friend or two along to help me try again.


I love you.

Kyle

Why Do We Struggle With Love?

Family, friends, God, Jesus, Life, love

I’m going to be honest outright and admit that this subject is one I struggle with. I have such a desire to love others, but I still have moments where my heart loses out to my mind. But what is love? Sorry not sorry if that song gets stuck in your head.

Love can mean so many different things depending on who you ask. It can come with the simplest explanation, or become mystified with an abstract definition.

My definition of love is simple. It is one of the standard definitions – an intense feeling of deep affection. What is affection? A feeling of caring and fondness. Basically, I care about you on a personal and deep level. I prioritize your happiness and joy.

But why do we have to overcomplicate something that should be foundational to society? As a Jesus follower we have been given the best example. It is literally spelled out for us.

Seems pretty simple. Jesus told this to His followers shortly before the betrayal that would lead to His death. He knew what was about to happen, and yet He still walked into it openly with a heart filled with unconditional love.

So… it should be pretty easy to love someone else when they accidentally say the wrong thing that hurts your feelings.

And it should be pretty easy to forgive others for their past mishaps, understanding that people change and they shouldn’t be judged on their past.

And it should be easy to simply shrug off the things that others have done to you, or the way they treat you. That even if they make you feel so low on a daily basis you should still love them unconditionally. Right?!

Alright, alright. Put down the pitchforks and stop practicing for your dramatic solo as you pull others into your negative feelings for others.

I get it. It’s complicated!

But why do we struggle with this? In theory, by loving others we should be shaping and molding the world to fit the perfect image of how we want it to be. Imagine it with me. A place where there were no violence. A place where you could let your children out to play without fear. A place where no one has any internal struggles with their own self-image because others are constantly raising them up with praise.

It’s beautiful.

So why do we not embrace that and work towards that? Why do we have to get annoyed that someone is doing something selfishly? Or why do we have to judge others for doing things that they know are hurting others?

It’s complicated!

And it’s complicated because we make it complicated. We have assigned a stigma to the word and given it definitive connotations as a societal norm that people think can only mean one thing. It is either “over-used” (not possible), or it is used only on rare occasions.

Or we live in fear that others will perceive it as something else.


Do you naturally tell your friends that you love them? Or is there a little bit of awkwardness when you say it, or at least when you say it around certain people? Can you outright tell someone “I love you” or do you have to cut corners with things like “love you” or “love ya” or even lumping them in with a group of people? Or taking the pressure off yourself by saying “we all love you” and not making it personal?

Let’s all be honest for a minute. We all do it. My hand is raised high. Guilty! Confession and all!

But why?! Do you know how incredibly impactful it is to tell someone you love them? Three simple words is all it takes to actually change someone’s day from bad to good. In three words you can make someone feel so incredibly valued.

I… love… you. That’s it. Is it cheapening it by saying it any other way? Maybe not. But as a receiver I can tell you it means more to me personally being said so simply.


So why don’t we do it more often? Well, for one, when was the last time you walked up to a coworker and told them you loved them? Or walked up to your married friend and said it to them? When was the last time you said it to a relative who has never said it to you?

It’s a whole lot of things from intimidating, scary, awkward, uncomfortable or just plain weird.

It’s fear of people’s perception. Its worry that others will misconstrue your intentions. It’s also being unsure of other people’s boundaries.

And also I think a lot of people don’t know HOW to love another person. I mean, we aren’t exactly raised to be this way. But we can be better.

So I try to live this out in my own life, or at least I have been these last 6 months as I begin to live my life as a follower of Christ.

There are people in my life who have severely hurt me in the past, and there are others who have hurt those that are closest to me. Those wounds are difficult to heal, but I am trying to love them unconditionally.

And I actively tell those who I do love that I love them. Straight up, point blank, to their face, or written in ink and saved forever (unless they decide to burn them). Why? Because it’s important to me for others to know how I feel about them.

Romance does not get to steal this word and hoard it for itself. Love goes way beyond that. Love is appropriate for the way it is intended, NOT the way it is perceived. If I tell someone I love them and another person takes it in a way that it is not meant, that’s on them. I know what is in my heart, the person receiving it usually knows what is in my heart, and my God definitely knows what is in my heart.


Someone very dear to me recently gave me one of the greatest compliments I have ever received – “you’re always looking for ways to express your love.”

And in those few, simple words I instantly received confirmation that the changes I have been making in my life were real and that my actions were finally matching my desires. It was a moment that made me realize that, yeah, I can be a disciple.

And it’s all because of love.

I let more and more of it out everyday as it brings me so much joy to bring happiness to others. But I still keep a lot of it held back out of fear. I make sure to tell my wife several times a day. I try to tell my friends and family as often as I can, but I can assure you a lot of times it will be the worried, condensed version I mentioned above. I’m fearful of loving others too much that it scares them off. No joke. Even those I am closest with I will tell them “I love you” and then a few days later make comment that I hope I’m not being too much.

Stupid, right? It’s more that it’s a shame that we have to hide it.

And I think that is what we struggle with with love. It’s not the act of loving another, or the desire to love others unconditionally, it’s expressing that love.

So, I’m hear to tell you that if you are family or friends that have access to my blog, I LOVE YOU! Actually, I probably love you a whole lot more than you think and more than I ever tell you. For some that’s saying a lot.

And, unless you politely ask me otherwise, I’m going to continue to tell you. To your face, in our texts, in my letters, etc. I hope it brings you comfort, love, joy and happiness. That feeling you get when someone special gives you a hug. I may not mean much to this world, but I hope I mean something to your world.


What you do with this blog is on you. As for me, I’m going to continue seeking new ways to share my love. 🥰


Dear God,

Thank You for filling me with so much love from You that I want to share it with others. I want to cast a light on this world where darkness seems to often try and invade. I want to touch the lives of so many people, spreading joy and love to others that they want to share it as well.

To know that others have had moments of happiness and had a smile brought to their faces by my words or actions will allow me to one day pass from this world as a fulfilled Christ follower.

Today I pray that You help others in finding the courage to express their feelings in a safe and comfortable way. Please give them the peace to go out and share their love with others.

I pray that the awkwardness for “I love you” outside of the family goes away.

I pray that You continue to look after those who need Your warmth and love. I pray for those who turn their backs to You and that they will one day see that, despite that, You always stay with them.

Please continue to protect and heal those who need You. For those fighting battles physically, emotionally and mentally. Please let them feel Your presence so that they may have peace in their lives.

Amen


You are beautiful and I love you so very much!

Kyle

All I See Are Funhouse Mirrors, And It’s Not Fun Any Longer

depression, Life, Weight Loss

Warning, this is a very serious post about a mental illness that I have. It is not to be treated as a light subject in any way.

Honestly, this post has been in my head for awhile now, but I’ve been dreading writing it down and giving it life. It’s a side of my life that I honestly hate talking about because it makes me feel so terrible about myself.

But I can’t really put it off any longer. Thanks to Facebook for throwing the reminder in my face, I was at one of my lowest weights a year ago.

Sounds exciting, right? Not when I have put back on almost 30 pounds over the last year.

Why? I know a lot of the reasons why. Most of it is due to complete laziness. It also has to do with stress. Letting my sweet tooth control me. Going through a severe stage of depression. Getting a promotion at work and taking on additional responsibilities. But mostly not putting the time into it like I did a few years ago.

But that’s not what this post is about. Let’s discuss something that has such a stigma around it, and you will rarely hear much about – male body dysmorphia.

What it is about is the fact that even at my lowest weight, after losing nearly 80 pounds, I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I hated pictures of myself.

I lost 80 pounds and could only see the 249 pound person I let myself get to.

And now that I’ve put on 30 pounds and am not even close to my original goal weight any longer? It’s terrible. All I do is look at myself and see the flaws. Constantly.

And you know what is especially hard about it? Is that I am such a hypocrite about body images. I highly encourage people to be comfortable with themselves. I use the word beautiful and share it as often as I can. I make sure to promote healthy self views from a young age.


I think stretch marks are amazingly symbolic of the journey that a person has gone through, especially after childbirth. I have stretch marks. Do I think that about myself? Absolutely not. To me, they are a constant reminder of what I did to myself.

I also have loose skin on my stomach from the rapid weight loss (60 pounds in less than a year). Could I do something about it? Probably. But I am always telling myself what’s the point? I have these stretch marks and this loose skin that I am never going to be comfortable in my own body.

I refuse to go swimming with other people because I have such insecurities with my own body. Is it really that bad? Probably not, but the way I see myself I just can’t get through that mental block.

I wear a compression shirt. Every. Single. Day. Why? Because at this point it is such a security blanket to me that I can’t imagine going a day without it. It squeezes in all my imperfections and hides them away, at least for the day. I can dress nice, and feel good about myself for a little while until I catch my reflection somewhere in something.

I know that it is such a problem for me that I intentionally go out of my way to try to make sure other people don’t feel the way I do about myself. When people say nice things about me physically, I generally do not believe it. In my eyes, I do not see myself as an attractive person, in the slightest. Which is ironic because people tell me my two youngest look just like me and say that they are beautiful. Should be a compliment, right? Right.


My negative feelings about myself physically have been the reason for many of my periods of depression. I start to feel so down on myself that I often will try to seek some sort of validation that things aren’t as bad as I think they are. You know, the cheesy social media post selfies seeking attention, or things like that?

But those never go how you imagine, and you generally do not get the feedback you were hoping for. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy and people aren’t comfortable giving men compliments? I don’t know. But when you’re already feeling terrible about yourself and you throw a final S.O.S. out there and get nothing in return? It’s a really quick shortcut to depression and negative self feelings.


When I did photography I would try to limit the amount of editing I did to my clients because I wanted to capture their true essence. Their genuine beauty. And I was great at it. I would often have conversations with clients who would ask for things to be removed and I would push back and tell them it’s a part of them that they should own and feel beautiful in their own skin (things that aren’t temporary like birth marks, moles, etc – not things like pimples that come and go).

But when I see pictures of myself? I want to edit one picture for hours. I want to make that person an attractive person. Because I’ve never felt that way about myself, maybe at least I can manipulate it through editing, right? Not quite.


Body dysmorphia is terrible. I should be proud of how far I’ve come, but all I can do is yell at myself for how close I was to my goal, and how much I’ve let slip away.

And what do I do about it? Nothing! I could be doing more exercises to tone the areas I’m extremely uncomfortable with (my stomach and my chest), but I don’t. Because no one is holding me accountable. Stupid, I know.

I started running a month ago. And I’ve put on 5 pounds. How flipping discouraging is that? I’m doing more strenuous activity than I’ve ever done and my body just mocks me.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do to fix my body image issues. I wish I did. I wish I could stop looking at a mirror or a picture of myself and just stop seeing a distorted funhouse mirror version of myself. But I can’t. I don’t know how long I’ve had these feelings. I was in amazing shape when I was in my first year of college (before marriage), but pretty quickly started putting on weight over the next 10 years. When I look at the picture above I wish I could get back to that. I tell myself I would be happy now if I were that person again.

But I know I wasn’t happy with that person when I was there, either.

I could lie and tell you it’s not an every day battle, but it really is. Every day when I have to put on this shirt. Every evening when I climb into bed (which, surprisingly I can’t sleep with a lot of clothes on so that certainly doesn’t help). Every time I see a picture of myself. Every time I look in the mirror and notice my hair is not looking good. Or that it is staring to recede. Or that I look terrible with facial hair. Or that I wish I didn’t have to wear glasses. But putting contacts in is such a hassle. Or that I never feel comfortable with my clothing style. Or how I struggle when I run. Or that I constantly question if I’m eating the wrong things or the wrong amounts. Or thinking about all the toning exercises I should be doing but never do. Every day when I see people who just make things look so effortless.

It’s exhausting.


I wouldn’t wish body dysmorphia on my worst enemy. It literally eats you alive from the inside out. Honestly, I’m surprised I never battled with an eating disorder as much as I don’t have self love for myself. I think it’s because I just stopped looking in the mirror for a long time. And I “noped” out of a lot of picture opportunities.

Someday it will get better. I’m trying to learn to love myself, but it’s not easy.

So the next time you hear me give someone a compliment about the way they look, know that I am saying it with a lot of intentionality and meaning. It is not a superficial remark. I don’t ever want anyone to feel about themselves the way I feel about myself. And if I’m giving you, or someone close to you a compliment? It’s coming from deep in my heart and carries more weight than you probably think (in a making you feel positivity sort of way, if that makes sense).


Dear God,

Today I’m praying boldly and selfishly. I’m praying that You help me overcome these negative feelings and help me to start loving myself. Please continue to guide me towards living a healthier life. I hope to be healthier to live a longer life to be able to do more good in this world for You.

I want to be able to be more active with my loved ones and spend more quality time with them. To be a support and role model for my children.

Please help me in overcoming my control issues with food. And help me in having more will power to be more active and do the things I know I should be doing. My body was given to me by You and I need to be treating it as the gift it is.

Amen


You ARE beautiful. Every single one of you. I hope if you hear it enough it will eventually start to sink in.

With all my love.

Kyle