There is a tremor running in my veins, trembling out to the tips of my fingers. I press the arcs of my nails into the crease of my palm, leaving miniature moons, like kisses in my skin. I glance from person to person, desperate to read them. Are they judging me? What will they think of what I'm about to say?
In shaky words I begin to tell my story, starting at the beginning as I always do: with Bryan. With the little boy they'll never get to know. Piece by piece, the words are running together into sentences, the spaces inbetween vibrating with my anxiety, but at least I'm still talking. Until that one part, the same part that I stumble over every time. The moment when I have to admit Bryan is no longer here. This time I can't even open my mouth - I can feel the words evaporating in the back of my throat, the pain I didn't realize still existed, welling up and pulling at me, and finally I crumple; My face tumbling down onto itself and my hand pressing against my heart to hold it together. The tears, warm against my skin, are washing down and I look away, desperate to hide my ugliness in this vulnerability.
When I finally raise my eyes, with a spark of surprise I find wet cheeks and red rimmed eyes looking back at me. I find no judgement, only compassion. And so I start again, continuing my story, this time with the pieces that came after Bryan. The sinking emptiness, the devouring depression, the relief I found in cutting. Lastly, I hand them the final fragment - my healing through Jesus Christ, my freedom.
Afterwards, they show me parts of their stories in return for what I shared - the woman who looked so beautiful, so put together - she was the one who cried tears of joy for me that I finally knew how special I was. The man with the alcoholic father whose voice shook as he said he understood. The woman with the daughter who's battling depression and cutting. She said she never knew there was a way to break depression. She never knew there was hope.
As I listened, I remembered. I remembered why I came here. Because I have a story. A story of hope and salvation. And because I have a God who wants nothing more then to bind up our broken hearts. HE is why I am here.
I am so thankful today for the friends God has given me, who support and love me, even from far away.