Tuesday, October 17, 2017


"boldness, be my friend" (w.s.)

i remember the first time i ever felt like a fraud. 
i was going into the 9th grade and was transferring into a new school. i knew maybe 3 people at the school and decided to try out for the dance team. after i made it, i remember my sister (very kindly) writing me a note of encouragement telling me how much she admired my bravery. 
that was the moment. 
the moment that i realized that i was a fake, and eventually everyone was going to find out. 

the truth was, i wasn't brave. 
i was just good at pretending. 
where people saw bravery and a willingness to take risks, i saw a girl who would do anything in order to secure an identity. 
i wanted, no, i needed to be somebody. 
and i knew that if i could wear that uniform, people might think that i was somebody. 
i knew i was fake, but i also knew that the appearance of bravery, of boldness, made me feel strong. 
you know that saying "fake it till you make it"? i think that could have been my mantra.

really, if we're being honest one of my biggest struggles has always been placing more value in how things look, than how they actually are.  
i fall into a pattern of thinking that says, "the exterior determines the interior". if you look fine, then can convince everyone, even yourself, that you are fine...it works for awhile. 

until it doesn't. 

for me that process started 6 years ago. 
6 years ago i got sick, and save for a brief intermission, i have never gotten better. 
**disclaimer: don't. feel. sorry. for. me. that's not the point. (that's all)**
being chronically sick is a daily reminder that you are not "fine". 
which is a harsh wake up call for anyone, but especially for someone who fights to convince herself that outward drives inward. that appearance determines quality.  
it's funny that i've worked so hard towards that end, yet the body i have screams the opposite. 

if i take an honest look back at my life, i've always looked right. i've done the right things. said the right things. been the right person. always hoping that as long as the exterior looked right, the interior would follow suit. 
but when the interior feels so wrong, it gets harder and harder to appear right. 

enter: boldness. 
my idea of bravery was skewed in that for most of my life, i hadn't faced things that truly scared me. for most of my life i hadn't come up against anything that i wasn't positive i could overcome. in fact i never really even tried to do anything if i wasn't convinced i would succeed...there is no boldness in that. embarrassingly enough, it wasn't until recently that i realized, true strength, courage, boldness and bravery are found in facing the things that scare you most. it's when you jump headlong into an endeavor knowing full well that it has the power to take you out. no one is remembered for playing it safe. people are remembered for looking fear in the face and pushing on anyway. 

and that's where i am. 
the truth is that being sick is scary and confusing and frustrating and discouraging and, to put it simply, it's hard. when you struggle and hurt emotionally or spiritually, you know what you're supposed to do in order to get healthy. but your physical health, that feels different. even when i do the right thing, it doesn't mean that the problem goes away. i have absolutely no power to change it. 
but you never realize your propensity for bravery until you are confronted with your fear.  
i'm terrified of people knowing that i am not ok. 
and that? that is unavoidable. 
it looks me in the eyes every single day. 
so what does boldness look like? i think it looks likes like embracing the weakness, instead of trying to hide it. i think it means choosing joy, instead of just appearing happy. i think it means being ok, with not being ok. 

i write these things here because my nature is to hide and cover and pretend, but nothing feels more public than putting it on the internet for anyone. 

here's to being letting people see my weakness. 
here's to being rather than appearing. 
here's to boldness. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

you are h e r e

frankly i haven't thought about this blog in nearly a year. until today. i was talking to a girl about how beautiful it is that Jesus comes through the tangled mess of our lives and ties up all the loose ends, turning it into a beautiful story that reflects His glory. for whatever reason that jogged the memory.

it made my think about the life, the story, that the Lord has chosen me for. the one that He has set me apart for. the one that i have been consecrated for. it made me think about all the kinks He's untangled and all the ends He's tied together. My 20's have been significantly marked by refining. He's come through my guilt and shame and hidden places like a storm. storms don't discriminate. storms don't choose the weak over the strong or the incapable over the capable. they just rage on.

and that's how life has felt in my 20's (which are more than halfway over...what?). those waters have covered the face of my life and uprooted everything that sat in the darkest depths of my soul. my life has felt like the Earth must have felt during the flood. almost as if the Lord looked at my life with such great longing, such intense love, such deep sorrow, that He decided He could no longer allow it to exist as it was...He needed to wash it out and let it start over. start clean.

in the last 5 years there have been no parts of my life that haven't felt those flood waters. everything has gone through seasons of being bombarded, of being drowned.
my health. my heart. my deepest fears. my pride. my mind. my confidence. my identity. my hopes. my expectations. my longings. my body. they have all been painfully overwhelmed. beautifully exposed.
what began as a stomach ache, snowballed into years of unanswered questions. what began as one sad day spiraled into hundreds of days where getting out of bed was only the beginning of the battle and laying my head to rest was harder still. what began a painful memory, became a megaphone, accosting my identity from every angle. revealing fear and shame and doubt and self-loathing. making me feel like a bird who's had all it's feathers plucked out. a strange, alien-esque creature that only vaguely resembles it's former self.
that in and of itself is grim and hard and hurts. it hurt a lot. and i'm not really saying that the hurting part if totally over. but i would also be wrong if i said that it's the end of the story.

the pain in my body really was never about the pain. it was, and always is, about the way it hurts my pride. hurts my expectations. hurts my confidence. pain in my body spoke to me the lie that if my body wasn't working, then i was broken. that i wasn't enough. that i was too weak, too frail, too vulnerable. and i would never be good enough.
the sadness in my heart wasn't just about a painful, ugly memory of trauma and violation. it was, and always is, about the nature of hiding the things that make us feel ashamed. the things that make us feel like we have to prove that we are strong, because we are so afraid of people finding out just how weak we are. the things that make us hide and protect and freeze in our tracks.
these are only two examples, but this is all to say that those floods washed me out for years. they tossed me back and forth in a torrid sea of truth and lies. clashing and breaking and never holding still long enough to be grasped or even identified.

but recently something rather extraordinary happened. it stopped raining. (ironic bc it's raining outside as i type...). i think it's gotten to the part of the story where Noah is in the ark waiting. waiting for the flood waters to drain and dry. waiting to see the saturated ground that lies beneath and rediscover his world on (somewhat) dry land. i very much feel like i'm in that place. waiting to rediscover the heart and body that have been drowned out and made new by His flood waters.

by His grace, His prompting and His power, everything is being illuminated. the darkest places of fear and shame and pain have worked their way into the light; and much like the Earth feeling like the Earth again once the waters dried, i am feeling like myself again. sure, the Earth was different. it carried all the marks of the flood, the erosion and tributaries, the lakes and plains and peaks and valleys. but it became the Earth that Christ Himself would be born into. would walk upon. would live and laugh and sacrifice on.
my life carries the marks of my flood. those marks have woven their way into the landscape of my story. but those pathways in my story are the very ones Christ Himself walks upon. and that looks more like myself than anything i've seen in years.

and my rainbow? while i can't say that i have the promise of my life never experiencing a flood again, His faithfulness is the promise i hold to so tightly. because i am making it. everyday more and more. i am making it. and that promise. that faithfulness. it is worth more than the biggest, brightest rainbow i could ever ask for.

so instead of living in hiding and fear. instead of denying the flood, thank Him for the rain. thank Him for the hurt. thank Him for the love that is deep enough to uproot the hidden places and bring them into His glorious light. "just set your sail and risk the ocean, there's only grace". (david crowder band) this is where healing is found. this is where wholeness begins. i promise.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

let go.

as i sat and read the news this morning, i was reminded of the webs that weave all of human life together. the common experiences that we all share. i don't think that i have ever written about current events and it's been a really, really long time since i've written about my own experience with assault, but today those two collide. the New York Times posted an article today containing the personal response of the girl who was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner. i read her statement with teary eyes, seeing her strive for freedom on paper, seeing her side of the story thrown out there for all the world to consume and judge. knowing full well that releasing a statement does not bring her freedom. certainly it brings a sense of peace; a sense that you said what you needed to say, that you allowed your voice to be heard, that you took control instead of staying a silent victim. and that is valuable. that is important. allowing assault to take away your voice, your strength, your value, is heartbreaking. but even if every human who has ever been assaulted had a chance to broadcast their side of the story, and every sexual predator was brought to justice, the outcome would still not be freedom. not for the victim, or the criminal.

but, that's not the only reason that this story stuck. this girl, this victim, is my age. we probably graduated college the same year and started our independent lives at the same time. it wouldn't be a stretch to say that though we have never met, our lives are a series of similar events. and now we share one deeper. our stories look different, but the truth is no matter the circumstances, the violation is the same. the affect on your psyche is the same. the confusion and frustration and anger and fear and shame...they all match. and then, this poor girl had to go through the trauma of a trial, of seeing her attacker regularly, of hearing both himself and his attorneys defend his innocence, all while her body and her soul carried the scars to prove otherwise. to sit before a jury and a courtroom and attempt to convince people that your most basic right, the right to yourself, was stripped from you and violated, would be jarring to say the least. my heart aches for this girl for a number of reasons, but mostly it aches because we all know that a 19 year old boy behind bars doesn't take away the crippling anxiety. it doesn't take away the shame or confusion or anger. it doesn't take away the looming fear that you will never, ever be the same. for this girl, no amount of justice will ever take away the emptiness.  justice won't bring her freedom. only Jesus can bring freedom. she doesn't know that everything she lost can be restored. she doesn't know that her life and her story can have abundant purpose, not in spite of her trauma, but including her trauma. she doesn't know that someone endured every injustice so that no matter what, she could be called worthy, valuable, whole, clean, perfect. she doesn't know that her life can be more beautiful, more full, more complete than it was before her attack. she doesn't know that someday, she can supernaturally forgive the boy who did this to her, and let go. that's the real tragedy.

now please don't hear me saying that rape and assault are not tragic and destructive and paralyzing. trust me, based on experience, i know that they are. i've spent the sleepless nights. i've had the panic attacks. i've battled depression, shame, guilt, anger and unforgiveness. i understand. but i also understand that rape culture has existed since the dawn of time, and as long as evil exists, unfortunately, rape culture will exist. I completely believe that their must be repercussions for these crimes and that peace and safety exist when criminals are punished for their actions. I would never say to stop being angry at the crime. especially as believers who know the weight of our sin, we should never stop fighting injustice. What i am saying though is that in the meantime don't forget that our hearts aren't longing for earthly justice, our hearts are longing for Jesus. this unnamed victim, along with millions of others, is now faced with a lifetime full of lies rooted in a strangers "20 minutes" of unbelievable selfishness and the only thing that will begin to heal that kind of hurt, to break the chains of shame, is Jesus. This is why He did what He did, why He died, why He came back. because our world and ourselves are desperately broken and selfish. but He gives us a way out. hope. potential. purpose.

i don't talk about my own experiences often. i don't want "victim" to be a word that people associate with me. i don't want "victim" spoken over me. assault is part of my story, but "victim" is not part of my identity. but that should be why i write. because in the middle of despair i realized that Jesus had been weeping over me and my brokenness since the moment it happened. He never stopped. He never left. He was with me the whole time and always will be and He took my pain and shame and turned it to joy and purpose. He took a story filled with lies and heartache and confusion, and replaced it with one of truth and healing and joy. and the same thing is possible for every "victim".

So as you read about the Brock Turner case and hear all the voices, i pray that the loudest voice is the one that says "take heart, I have overcome the world"[john 16:33]. i pray that your heart is stirred to pray less for punishment and pray more for redemption. i pray that when you look at victims of abuse you not see shame and brokenness, but see a future of joy and abundant life, and that you be the salt and light that shows them they are worthy of love and capable of healing. the truth is that no matter which side of the story you look at, all you can see is brokenness and shame and guilt. my prayer is that as followers of Jesus we get less and less consumed with arguing sides and more consumed with helping the hurting find healing. the only way that we can win is not to see a criminal behind bars, but to see every victim freed from their chains. and i pray that someday the common experience i share with this girl, extends to freedom in Christ.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

awake my soul.

october is a significant month in my life. 

it's crazy for me to think that 2 years ago i was sitting in my car, shattered by a sudden memory of pain and guilt and shame from a decade prior. 

overcome by an ocean of fear. afraid to look at myself. afraid to trust myself. afraid to trust the Lord. afraid to speak or breath or wake up the next morning. 

i understand how dramatic that sounds, but anyone who has even grazed the surface of depression knows that the feelings are real, rationality holds less weight when fear is the strongest emotion. 

it was two years ago that i was in the car [lots of moments happen for me in cars] with my mom and sister, coming home from seeing Wicked in Kansas City, mustering up the courage to tell my mom about my trauma. 

it was two years ago that i felt like part of my life, a big part of my life, ended. 

but, it was two years ago that my life began. 

two years ago a lifetime of lying and hiding and pretending came crashing down around me. 

they had to. it had to fall apart. i had to fall apart. 

if i hadn't fallen apart i never would have known the joy of being put back together. never known the joy of of utter depravity and unconditional love. 

i had to loose who i was so that i could start finding out who i am. 

i had lived countless years trying to be the person that i assumed everyone else wanted me to be. changing masks at the drop of a hat out of the insane need to be accepted and needed, valued, relevant. 

attempting to control every detail is what eventually sent it all spinning out of control. 

convenient isn't it? 

but, wasting time is not my m.o.

a lot can happen in 2 years. 

a lot of growth, a lot of renewal, a lot of forgiveness, a lot of learning, a lot of restoration. 

730 days. 

some good. some bad. some really, really bad. but, by now the good outweighs the less than. and the bad doesn't seem so bad anymore when it serves as a reminder of how far you've come, of how different life is, of how much you are loved. 

there's this story about Jesus where He's having a meal with a bunch of outcasts; hookers and thieves. the religious leaders of the day crack down on him and start grilling him on why he is spending time with such lowly humans. Jesus responds to their judgment by saying "those who are well have no need of a doctor, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

i love this story. i love the kindness of the heart of Christ. i love that he didn't want to hang out with the people who were performing. he loved them, but they didn't think they needed to be saved. he wanted to show the broken that they were loved and known and valued and worthy. and here i am, in the middle of that love. 

none of my life looks at all like i had planned or imagined, 2 years ago changed all that...13 years ago changed all that...the love of a creator who knows me better than i know myself changed all that. my memories and my past were altered by the truth, which was the only thing that could make way for my present and future to be lived in truth. 

everything is different than i thought it would be, but everything is just as it should be. it is right and true and good and full. i am finding who i am in who he is and for the first time ever i like the reflection. i recognize the face in the mirror and it doesn't just look like me, it is me. 

like i said, a lot can happen in 2 years...and i am fully confident that it doesn't end here. 
thanks for joining me on the journey. 

xo, a.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

the waiting room.

for anyone who has ever been sick, you know the feeling...that life is measured in a series of doctors visits. sitting in waiting rooms, waiting in exam rooms, answering the same questions over and over again, rating your pain on a scale of 1-10 [what is that anyway? like sorry, the devil has a death grip on my stomach with his lava hands, but yea, i guess i'd say it's like a 7.5], you've looked through one too many People magazines,  you've talked about every single bodily function imaginable in the greatest of detail [no matter how uncomfortable], you've jumped through every hoop, had blood drawn, had tests and scans and the whole 9, waited for results, gone to follow up after follow up, and you've heard the words that are now, easily, my least favorite words to hear from a health professional...."trial and error".

[what can i say? i have an unfortunate autoimmune system.
like if you think i'm dramatic, just talk to my intestinal tract...it's the real MVP.
TNT claims that they know drama, but honestly they've never met my autoimmune system, so...]

sometimes it's hard for me to not get swallowed by the reality that the function of the body mirrors the function of the heart. broken, flawed, incomplete, lacking. it can all at once be discouraging and frustrating and overwhelming and at times even daunting...kind of a "what's next?" feeling. I mean it's been slightly more than 4 years since i first got sick + it's still not all figured out.

There's a commercial for headlights that says all you need in life is to see the next 200 feet...but honestly be it in my car or my life, i would feel more comfortable seeing more than 200 feet ahead. and yet.

like i said, sometimes it feels like having chronic illnesses just serves as a constant reminder that everything is broken. which on the one hand is good. it's good to be reminded that life here is incomplete, that we need Jesus, that we should never live under the assumption that this life is perfect.

but as i was sitting in my room a few nights ago, feeling anxious and frustrated and sad because of yet another set of doctor's visits and tests and unknown results, i had this revelation...
my future, my forever is soooooooooo much more real to me because of not only the imperfection of my heart, but also the imperfection of my body. my body is sometimes a mess. my heart is sometimes a mess. i have aches and pains and exhaustion and things that just don't make the proper connections in my body. i have selfishness and pride and greed and jealousy and things that come up short in my heart. it's messy all the same.

and just like that i am reminded of the gospel. reminded that today is not forever and this body and this heart are not the end all be all. reminded that Jesus is "making all things new" [rev. 5:21]. the heart. the body. the world. the pain. the sad. the unjust. the frustrating. all of it.
new is on it's way.
best is on it's way.
perfect is on it's way.

that's why Jesus came and lived and died and most of all came back. so that we would forever know that this is all temporary. that there's is better and wholer and completer right around the corner and all we have to do is press into Him. press into love.

for a very long time, like maybe 8 years one of my favorite verses has been habakkuk 3:18, where in the midst of turmoil and pain he says "yet I will take joy in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation".

sure my body might not work perfectly, but if it did work perfectly i would have one less reminder that i N E E D Jesus. now and forever. i can be joyful in the broken because i know that it won't always be.

here's to being thankful for the things that don't look like they deserve thanks. here's to choosing the good in the midst of the bad and the ugly.

xo, a.

**disclaimer: remember what i said about me being dramatic? this is a bit dramatic. while yes, i do have 2 chronic illnesses, it's really not all that bad. sometimes a girl just get overwhelmed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

just a fix.

you know how when you were in high school you would make some extravagant gesture to get a boy to notice you, and then you end up crying into your pillow, feeling like a fool because he didn't notice [or pretended to not notice] or even worse he did notice and didn't care.
if you were like me you were pining for him, building him up in your mind, making him the end all be all. 

cue the icy shock of reality.  devastating. humiliating. ultimately making you feel less lovable, less worthy, less valued. unless you are decidedly the most confident human being in the world, you've felt the sting of this particular type of defeat.

and here's the thing, when you're 16 years old and you make yourself look like an idiot all for a boy, you tell yourself that S O M E D A Y things will be different. you'll grow up and change stop being so awkward and embarrassing and desperate. you see all these people around you and you think, "wow, they've got it made, they can carry on a full conversation without sounding like a total moron, one day I'll be just like them".
**if you're anything like me you suffer from the delusion that every word from your mouth is some form of comedic genius...and then it leaves your mouth and you realize that you actually just sound like some kind of off-beat combination of early '00s Amanda Bynes and late '00s Bill Cosby, so it's mostly just confusing and awkward**
and then something happens. lots of things about you change, but mostly you just stay the same. because you are you. growing up isn't a magical remedy that erases everything awkward and replaces it with tact and class and appropriate behavior. no. you stay awkward, what changes is your shell. it's like my friend Claire said to me the other day, "we just get better at pretending". and it's true,
we just get better at hiding the fact that we're all just jonesin' for our next fix of one another's attention. 
we're just a bunch of addicts hoping that next time we're the one's getting the laugh or the look. and to make matters worse there's social media, so we're also hoping to get the like or the comment.

 in the land of plenty we're all starving for more. 

i've been struck recently by the reality that a lot of people don't outgrow the strivings that have always made them feel like an idiot. old habits die hard and i think these habits die the hardest. that need to be at the top of someone else's affections. the need to be someone's #1. we all feel the longing to be tops and the pang of feeling like we're the bottom of the barrel.

the thing is, i'm 23 years old. i've lived a lifetime of feeling like i'll never measure up. a lifetime of looking like a fool. a lifetime of being a try hard. with every laugh or compliment, i realize more and more that no amount of attention will ever fill the longing. i don't want to be addicted to the affection of other people who, like me, will never measure up. 

i think there should be a group for people like me. Attention Seekers Anonymous. i think if we were honest we'd all have to be part of it. we'd all have to sit in a circle and talk about the gaping hole in the middle of our beings. it's like a tire with a hole in it, you can fill it with air all day, but the air leaves as quickly as it enters. i think if we do things right the Attention Seekers Anonymous would also be known as the body of Christ. cause at the end of my longings, strivings, searchings, hopings, jonesings [not a word. so sue me], Jesus is there. always there. filling the gap over and over again. waiting for me to remember that people will never be enough. i will never be enough. this world will never be enough. 

color me thankful that there's more to this life than other people. 

xo. ab.  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

would a NORMAL person do this?

in my favorite novel one of the main characters has a younger brother, who through a series of events, comes to believe that he is a lamed vovnik...

**basically in the jewish faith they believe that there are at all times 36 righteous people inhabiting the earth who maintain the balance of good and evil and keep a connection between the people and God. don't ask me anything more, cause that's actually all i know.

...the novels focuses heavily on the fine line between normal + abnormal behavior. obviously Bird, the supposed lamed vovnik, typically falls into the abnormal category, and as a result the main character, Alma is constantly pleading with him to PLEASE ACT NORMAL. thus taking Bird through a journey that all of us have gone through, deciding if we are going to be ourselves, or be "normal". [Bird narrates a couple chapters of the story + in said chapters he frequently asks himself the question "would a NORMAL person do this", if yes, he acts, if no he modifies.]

let's face it, with or without thinking that you are one of the 36  righteous people on earth chosen by God to keep the world spinning, middle school is hard. being 12 is hard. navigating puberty and figuring out who you are is just hard. so we look at the most normal person we can find + we decide that we'll modify our behavior, hide our "worst" attributes and become like that person. we shift and mold and squeeze ourselves into a social construct that we call normalcy and decide to try and forget everything that we don't think people would like about us...all the things that make us different. all the things that make us individuals.

normalcy is a wolf in sheep's clothing. it tells us that it's good and safe and what's best and will help us fit in and have friends and not be a pariah. here's what i think. i think that another word for "normal" is "shame". when we decide to be "normal" we bury who we are, the qualities that we perceive as negative, under a thick layer of shame and mask ourselves in qualities that we have begged and borrowed from other "normal" people [which lets be honest, no one is normal. we're all acting] [also if you have read Scary Close he touches on shame on a pretty deep level in my favorite chapter].

and here's the thing. i think we are missing out on something really important. we are not understanding and believing and accepting that we were fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of an infinite, all knowing, all powerful, all loving God. it's a tale as old as time. thinking we can fill ourselves with something greater than what God has filled us with because we value His opinion less than we value the opinions of our peers. it happens. he knows. he forgives and loves us anyway. but we break his heart because where we see "abnormal" or "different" or "weird" or "unacceptable" he sees purpose and design and opportunity and His plan.

through a series of unfortunate and ill-managed events in my past i built my base layers of shame and for the next 15 years of my life they grew and developed until i was 6 feet under without any clue who i really was and who i wanted to be [which is a pretty terrifying place to find yourself as a new college graduate] and the funny thing is that being "normal" comes relatively easy to me + acting "normal" is even easier. i'm a pretty normal person, i'm not that weird, in some ways i guess you could say that according to social norms i'm pretty lucky. because for the most part i naturally fit. fitting in has never really been a stretch for me. and yet. i say all of this to show that even the most normal people find things to hide and bury and be painfully ashamed of. hiding is safe.

then yesterday i was reading isaiah 54, which is all about God's covenant of peace with His people, so basically it's beautiful and hopeful and something for us fickle, frightened people to cling to.
isaiah 54:4 says:
"fear not for you will not be ashamed;
be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth..."

cue the water works. i mean not really, but kinda. it's basically saying that the promise of the Lord is that the shame of our youth will be forgotten. that things that made us hide and disappear will be like chaff in the wind. how great is that? he created us and loves us and knows that much like me, people have "unfortunate and ill-managed events" that led to shame, and all of those things are void in light of HIM. because He is the one who makes us who we are. we weren't created to be "normal". 
"normal" doesn't even really exist. it is fluid; subject to change at any time. 

so i say reject "normal". we need to stop asking ourselves "would NORMAL people do this/say this?"
and start being vulnerable. shame is fear + Christ promises that perfect love casts out fear [1 john 4:18]. love, real love, is scary and uncomfortable and foreign and hard to accept, but in the same way that you have to lay into the cold and accept it in order for it to no longer feel cold, i think that we have to breath deeply and let ourselves relax into the love that tells us we are complete as we are, that we are loved and known and whole, without hiding and burying. 

that's what i need. that's what we all need. and how much more will the world see love if we stop trying to be "normal" and start being human. broken and flawed and weird and embarrassing and different, but true and honest and vulnerable? 

go forth and be not normal.