She would play a part in history. A part in the History of Love.


I rarely share stories as true and raw as this one but I’ve found that when you empty out your own pockets full of heartbreak and lay them before the world you often open up the door of healing for someone else, a door hidden in the vines and thickets for far too long.

When Depression first arrived, wearing quiet but bone-crushing shoes, I couldn’t call it by name.

It was just “sadness.” It was just “I’ll feel better next week.” It was just “I cannot get out of bed this morning.” It was anything but Depression—a diagnosis that hissed and hummed in my throat as I struggled to find the words to tell my friends that I was falling apart. That I couldn’t find a place in this world. That I felt sorry… Sorry for the sidewalks that took my footsteps. Sorry for the people that took my handshakes. Sorry for taking up space when I really should have been smaller. Skinnier. Quieter. Invisible.

It had gotten to a point where dressing was harder, where I ached while wearing clothing and wanted nothing more than to disappear when I walked out the front door. I didn’t want conversation— I didn’t want you to ask what set me apart or what lit my heart on fire. I didn’t know. I felt nothing. Nothing but hot tears on my cheeks. Helpless.

I remember crawling from my bed one morning, already knowing by the heaviness on my chest that it was going to be a Hard Day. Are you seriously going to unravel before you even get ready for the day, I asked myself. Are you really this pathetic?

I couldn’t stand. Couldn’t do anything but let my knees kiss the carpet and put my forehead down on the floor. Maybe to cry. Maybe to pray. I glanced to the right of me, noticing an object wedged underneath my dresser.

A pair of pink sunglasses. Little Girl Sunglasses. Barbie decaled. I instantly remembered Audrey—a four-year-old girl with a love for Nutella and Disney Princesses—and how she had sneakily placed these Little Glasses into my suitcase before my move to New York City. They were perfect and prim and a reminder to look at the world through Pink Shades every once in a while, if not always.

In just one summer, Audrey had shifted my view of the world. She had helped me to relearn the entire thing from a three feet tall perspective. We danced. We loved. We made wishes on hot tub bubbles. We painted our nails. We didn’t fear. We ate peanut butter on counter tops. We felt beautiful. We played in the waves.

Audrey—too young to even spell her name correctly—taught me Fierce Love for the first time, a love that literally wells up inside of you and overflows with all the things you want for Someone Else. I wanted the world to be kind to her. I wanted things to stay magical. I wanted her to believe in every dream she placed her finger upon. I wanted her to trust in maps and compasses, in the beating of her own heart, in the goodness of fairy tales and the love stories of life.

Clutching the little girl sunglasses, I began to weep. Collapsing onto the floor, curled up and shaking.

Remember how special I think you are, I had whispered to Audrey during nap time. Remember that you are limitless, I always wanted her to know. That you shouldn’t be fearless but don’t let those fears dictate your choices. That you may never remember a girl whose hair magically turned from curly to straight from one day to the next but remember her love. Her Morphing Love.

This is all your Little Bones need. A Love that morphs into Ambition. Imagination. Creativity. To Grow Them Strong.

A Love that will leave you seizing days and dreams with both hands long after I have stopped holding them.

I felt for a moment like a child coming out of the swimming pool, teeth chattering, being wrapped tight into the plush towel that mama used to pull and tuck around shoulders. Letting the warmth pour in.  All the things I had wanted so fiercely for the holder of these Little Girl Sunglasses, it was all the things I had forgotten to want for myself as the Depression took me in by the shoulders and shook me, shook me, shook me.

I had forgotten me. A girl who deserved fierce love. A girl who deserved quiet moments. Days of rest. Clarity. The truth that it is fine to not have it altogether. The finest laces of life. Good stories. Happy endings. A girl who deserved to stand in the world, unafraid to use her megaphone. Unafraid to make noise. Unafraid to be the foolish one with the will to change the lives around her and know that she would play a part in history. A part in the history of love.

Until that morning, it had been Get Stronger. And Stop Crying. And Be Better. And Eat Less. And Try Harder. And Do, Do, Do.

It hadn’t been Depression, or This is Beyond My Control, but rather a boulder on my back that I couldn’t stop apologizing for. I am sorry I don’t feel like talking today. Don’t feel like walking. Don’t feel like moving. Don’t feel like waking up. Impossible feelings that can only be met with Love, a Love that waters the weak and rusty limbs of the Tired and Trying in Tin Man fashion. Only met with a hushed whisper like the ones that come after nightmares, “Shh… it is OK. It is OK, my sweet one.”

I didn’t get better on that day. I cannot type out the miracle that didn’t happen. Getting out of Depression was a slow and steady process. It took many days of Change, snapping and shifting in my bones, to make me whole again. But I stopped apologizing. I started acknowledging that I deserved just as much as anyone else. Happiness. Joy. Moments tucked into sepia-stained photographs. Laughter that comes from the belly. I deserved that kind of Love and it was fierce and it was pulsing and I was craving and unwilling to let the prospect of it go.

Fierce Love. It is not a passive arrival. It is not a fearful contender cowering in the corner. Fierce love is a tidal wave of awkward and imperfect but incomparable passion for goodness. For ourselves. For others. For the world. But it starts in our own souls, bubbling up like a river. Eventually pouring outward onto others.

It’s sprawling.

It’s sun on the face after a cold winter.

It’s unfailing.

Unconditional. Unwavering. Constant.

It is saying, “I deserve this,” and finding the strength to hold out your hands.

This post is also featured on my second site, The World Needs More Love Letters, and is the launching post for the Stratejoy Fierce Love Course.

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18 Comments

Filed under Disconnect, Loneliness

18 responses to “She would play a part in history. A part in the History of Love.

  1. Sam

    Dear Hannah,

    I could gush a thousand thank yous for this post but I won’t. I won’t because I already know, I’m already by your side.

    The bubble is always bigger than you expect.

    Kudos.

    • thank you sam… It was quite the “palms sweating, knees shaking” post for me to publish… I rarely ever go deeper into the depression but I am really thankful that I chose to today.

      Thank you again.

      • Sam

        I’ve found depression can either cripple or compel. I’m glad it compelled you today. Indulge in something sweet and pastry-like ;)

        Sam

  2. What an amazing post. Thank you for sharing your heart and life.

  3. Sarah Koci Scheilz

    Amen, sister. Thank you for sharing this story. I know so personally how hard it is to put stories like these out for the public to see. As someone who has battled with depression too on and off, it’s always empowering to see fellow rockstars — women who I cherish and respect — share their stories too. It’s only an enemy if we let it become that. Love the beauty you share! Keep fighting, friend!

  4. Lorena

    thanks a lot. reminds me of Jesus’ love for me, very fierce. :)

  5. Eve

    This almost made me cry. Thanks for posting!

  6. Hi Hannah,

    Can relate to what you write! I spent a good chunk of my twenties dating Mr. D. I’m convinced that its because we do not allow teens to gradually become adults or instill in them that beauty comes from the inside out. We treat teens like non-people, lock them up in schools all day like inmates, test the crap out of them when it means absolutely nothing, promote the conformity that enables non-stop comparisons, then toss them out at 18 or 21 and say, “go be a success.” (success based on some warped view of making tons of money and nothing else.)

    And it’s much worse now then when I was a teen. So, I can barely imagine the challenges today’s twentysomethings must face. High school ought to be about given teens the tools they need to love life and grab it by the gusto. Set the kids free.

    I’m glad you found away to break-up with Mr. D. You’re doing heartfelt things in the world. You’re redefining success for your generation. There is no reason why the world can’t have businesses that actually help people like “More Love Letters” than some of the people-hurting ones that make a ton of money.

    You are fierce love!

    G.

    • Thanks G! I absolutely loved that whole comment. And I love how you have termed him as “Mr. D” You are such a writer.

      And I agree, I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like to go through high school at this age… I was out of high school about 6 years ago, which is not so long in perspective, but I know times have shifted so much with the ways of the internet. Terribly scary.

  7. Lauren

    This one is great. Depression is the “headache of mental illness” as my cousin would say, so common and yet so very rarely talked about, and so easily overlooked. The statement about “couldn’t call it by name,” could be a summary for me. Sometimes it is easy to see other people’s pain, other people’s depression, and yet impossible to mark our own. I could see the depression of the girl who locks herself in the bathroom crying, with her friends hovering outside the door, waiting to make sure she’s okay, but when my own snuck in, I denied its existence. When it went away and then came knocking again a year later, stronger, and fiercer than it had been the times before, I still couldn’t recognize it even with a past that included counseling and an official diagnosis. The idea of fierce love, and as an earlier commentor stated, the idea that it comes from love of Christ is an awesome one. It is definitely something I needed to hear right now. I think the hardest part of my earlier battles with depression is that I thought my faith didn’t care. For some reason I had the idea (no clue where it came from) that Catholicism scoffed at mental illness, said it didn’t exist, or that you were wrong to feel that way. I actually thought I was sinning! Thank God I don’t believe that one anymore! And thank God, you’re able to realize your beauty and strength once again, to love yourself once again. And most importantly, recognize that even if depression chooses to show up again, no matter how fiercely she knocks, or how long she tries to bust into your life, you have the power to – somehow – send her packing. Love you! XO

    • Great comment! I should have you come on board and write Part 2 of this piece because I whole heartedly agree with every statement ESPECIALLY how easy it is to acknowledge depression in others but never in ourselves… Oh, such a wicked thing.

      Thanks for always reading. Means the world to me.

      • Sometimes things can be weird like that. I think it’s hard to recognize depression in oneself, because the disease itself is fighting against you and telling you not to. At least that’s what happened to me. Even after having received an official diagnosis, when the depression showed up again a year later, I didn’t recognize it. Sure I recognized the tiredness, and the headaches, I knew something wasn’t right. But somehow I was just as sure that it wasn’t depression, instead I had myself tested for anemia, vitamin deficiencies, and everything else under the sun. The depression itself tried to convince me it wasn’t depression. Such a wicked thing is right. Thank goodness we have friends to help us through :).

        And thanks for always writing. It means so much to so many :)

  8. And I should not have put a smiley face in that comment, the icons are really creepy looking!

  9. This post is saved in my favorites, and as I reread it, I was reminded how we both have a certain fellow ACer to be thankful to for being there for us. Even though you’re not best friends with her anymore, and I certainly never was, she certainly managed to be there for both of us in some pretty dark moments. She was the best friend taking the time to check on you, the one sitting beside me in the hall as we listened to make sure you were okay. And she was the one who rescued me, who took the radio from me when I collasped one night on duty. All I know is that we can tell a lot about someone’s character by the way they react to conflict, and I’m pretty damn thankful that this person was there to help me in both occasions. The fact that she did so even though I was never the nicest to her, speaks even more about that character.

  10. Hi Hannah! What a brilliant post. Thank-you for articulating so beautifully how I have felt in the past. The interjection of optimism and the ideas of fierce love are so encouraging.

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