If you're not reflecting, you're not learning/How cool would be do a TED talk?

This evening in my group process class (which is hands down a favorite, in addition to my conflict management class) we watched a TED video about a woman with Schizophrenia, you can watch it here: http://www.ted.com/talks/eleanor_longden_the_voices_in_my_head.html (She has a British accent which is a huge plus, so if that doesn't give you more reason to watch it then I don't think we can be friends...just kidding). Eleanor tells us her story about her first encounter with schizophrenia about hearing voices in her head that were seemingly harmless at first but slowly turned violent and aggressive. To say that she stirred a lot of questions and emotions about my own identity is an understatement, because at the end of the class after watching the video, our professor asked us to reflect on what we have learned these past few weeks. Through this process of reflecting, I came to understand how deeply rooted I am in relationships. I am a being who I believe is so relational that at times it's a little unhealthy because I often dive head first into vulnerability with people without a life jacket whoops. So far, group process has helped me to better understand further who I am, what I stand for and what I'm passionate about all of these are so closely related to who I am as a relational being. So this is the conclusion I've come to through all of this, (if you're still readingthank you for trekking through that long introduction). My conclusion is this,identity is no longer mirror based, it is a process of internalawareness, internal understanding, and it is a form of internalexploration. It is because of this journey that we are able to see the internal make up of others. If that were the case, if this self awareness process was really the journey of knowing our internal, then I can't help but ask the question of Why is there so much weight/ focus on the appearance of the external? I think its because we've lost sight of the fact that we are internal, relational beings who have been hurt and maybe stayed broken. So as hurt and broken human beings, we cover up all of it with our external because we can control that. We can decorate it and paint it so that it looks pretty, presentable and pleasing, we also control when and if people see it. There is so much power there and we often abuse it. Imagine if we lived in a world, where mirrors reflected only the makings of our internal. Mirrors that showed us the raw and bloody insides in between our rib cages, all that makes us flawed human beings. Would we be able to see each other for our wholeness? Maybe. Would it scare us? Definitely. Would it be worth it? Absolutely.

I just finished reading a book called "A Severe Mercy" that was given to me by a friend. And man oh man what a read! (...Do people say things like that?) In a very small nutshell, this book has expanded my horizons on so many subjects such as religion/faith/love/relationships/identity/grieving. It is unreal how much this book has sort of just shaken up my world. Anyway, I bring up Severe Mercy because it is a love story of sorts (you'll only understand the "of sorts" part if you read it and if you don't well then sorry about it). It is a love story about two people, who meet off of the spark of a common ground that connects them. That small spark then fervently turns into a passionate, undeniable thread between the two of them. They don't just fall in love, they seek to explore the makings of one another in the most beautiful, intimate and yet (at times) painful ways. They saw one another for all that they were, but most importantly I strongly believe that they saw one another for who they were internally and it is their external (they were pretty attractive people) that was sort of just the icing on the cake. Two people unmistakably in love with one another and in the midst of their marriage never ceased to explore the other person for their wholeness, for their internal. They knew one another in the ways that would terrify us, because we've been hurt so many times, we've (okay maybe I've) made Adele songs our themes for our hearts state of being, we have been told that our internal needs work or it isn't captivating or worth loving. We are tattered, bruised and see no real hope or redemption in exposing the very core of who we are, because who is going to accept it?

I guess you could say that I am somewhat of a huge advocate for unadulterated, raw vulnerability. The emotional, mental and spiritual act of exposing ourselves for the sake of looking at our internal for all of its makings and embracing it. The scariest part of vulnerability, is that we will be left there standing bare and exposed left empty, cold and alone. But here's the best part.... (imagine this in a whisper but not creepily)... God meets us right there, in that place of bareness and exposure. I'd even dare to say that he comes up next to us, holds our hand and gives it a good ol comforting squeeze, then he fully embraces us right there in the midst of our journey of exploring our internal. He slowly pulls back every level of hurt and he unstacks every brick from the walls that we have so carefully placed around our hearts and he says,

"I want to know all of you. I see past your external and I so desperately and tenderly hold in my hands, the precious makings of your internal.  And my child, I LOVE ALL OF YOU."

Oh my Holy wow.... To be completely honest, I didn't really have very much expectation with how this blog was going to go but I find myself sitting in my mod, on this couch just drowned in.... complete awe.  Take a moment if you need to and let those words resonate with you in whatever way you may need them to.

In closing, I saw that there is such beauty in the stories of others. So imagine just how graciously we would be able to view other people if we showed our internal too. Showed our struggles, our flaws, our doubts, our confusions, our hurts and all the nitty gritty of what makes us stumbling, messy human beings. I have been on this journey myself for quite a while, assuming that it was a surface level journey of being able to see myself as someone of worth, someone who could be considered beautiful, loved and desired. I think it is so much more than that now, it is the exploration of my internal, all that makes me Arielle Estoria Leda Wilburn.

So, who are you friends? Who do you identify yourself as? Have you dared to look at yourself in the mirror and instead of seeing love handles, abs, dimples, freckles, moles, legs and arms... do you see your internal?  Do you see what you're passionate about casually swimming around your heartbeat? Do you see all of the butterflies in your stomach that each have different names of the people who remind you how exquisite it is to be alive? Do you see traces of grace in your lungs? Does it remind you how precious it is to breathe, inhaling and exhaling, does it remind you how so undeserving we are to be able to do so?

I dare you to dive into your own exploration of your internal and see what you can find. I think we would celebrate ourselves more and speak to ourselves with a little bit more acceptance. It is through this process, that I believe we will fully embrace our own stories and know how to embrace others as well.

This is a lot of wishful thinking and I get that... but I still think its possible. Day by day, year by year you know ...step by step. Who knows if we'll ever reach that "ultimate" understanding or acceptance (we probably won't) but at least we kept trying.

UncategorizedArielle Estoria