Recently I listened to someone describe words as being material, like they weave together and create spaces and fabrics and identities. He said you can set up the frame work of a space with how you begin to talk about it. As if to say the opening line to any conversation can make or break the whole thing. I am so thankful that this is not the first time I am hearing this, but this morning I am finding myself even more grateful that this won’t be the last time either. I find myself thinking about the solidness of words and how, when put together, they provoke emotion and they really do build spaces.

I find myself looking at the neighborhood of spaces I have built, others have built and society has built within my mind. There is more decay than I would like. More toxic moldy words corrupting the foundations of myself than I knew and more than I want to allow.

I am finding myself looking at the blinking line on my screen wondering if I can bulldoze some of the thought houses that have been built up and start over with a blank slate. Can I find a way to look at myself and see beauty? Can I find my imperfections, quirks and joys that make up who I am and love them? Can I listen over talking and thinking? Can I stop the ever constant fighting inside that goes on between my head and my heart? Will there ever be a day that I can think of something I need to speak with someone about and not assume they will come at me with words that hurt me? Will the, “I should have said that,” conversation that replays every time I have not known what to say, please find its way to the city dump where it belongs?

About a week ago I was joking with a friend and told her, “There isn’t one thing I am confident in saying I like about my outward appearance”. I said it out loud, I said it in a flippant way and the words fell and settled in. I realized it was true. I honestly have for years critiqued every inch of myself and come up with nothing that looks me back in the mirror and says, “hello darling, you are beautiful”. Nothing that I just enjoy and cherish about myself physically.

So I have been looking at me, just looking. Not judging, not wondering if I could make something look better or different. Just looking at things the way God might. After a week I am still honestly at a loss of what I like but here is what I know. I am standing in a toxic house of words trying to find beauty. This space has been built with words of nothing ever being good enough and beauty coming at the click of a photo editor. It’s so completely overwhelming but also a relief knowing that I can call this space condemned. I can remove myself from here and move on to a space I build for myself. I can go walking to get my blood pumping and so my eyes can see more, instead of going out for a walk hoping to fit into my clothes better.

I will forever love going to the gym and pushing my body to create a space of health and I will bless my efforts with foods that nourish and heal. I just don’t want to do it in the same way, from the same perspective or from the same toxic word built fears.

Not all the houses are about my physical self. Some are attached to my education and some to my existence. Some are unnecessary arguments and caged in rage that should not have ever been granted residency.

One is full of conversations that never took place. Why on earth do I have arguments in my head with people? I don’t think I am alone in this but I don’t take comfort in that. The other day my husband was asleep, he was up all night sick and I was trying to keep the house quiet. Well that works fine when it’s me and the house. Once the kids wake up, every time they move, the noise follows. This is embarrassing but necessary to say out load, I had an argument with my husband over why the kids are always so loud. Mind you, Caleb was still sleeping and never involved. However, I found myself upset, wounded in the fear that I am not a better mom and kinda pissed, honestly, that he wouldn’t be grateful for how quiet I had been able to keep them. I was making coffee and just feeling the pain of having been fighting with the one person that is supposed to know how hard I try when Caleb actually woke up and walked in the kitchen. He smiled at me with sleep still in his eyes and a half smile on his face and said, “hey baby, how’s your morning?” I looked at him and all my frustration from our fake fight just went away because he wasn’t mad at me in real life. He wasn’t even involved.

I and I alone built a space with my own words of frustration over wanting to protect my sick husband’s sleep.

What is that all about?

All I know is that I can change it. I may not be able to stop or change what other people have said to me in real life, but I can put a stop to building arguments in my mind with people. I can build spaces of kindness and love, I really can. I may need to bulldoze a few developed thought patterns but I know I can do it.

So for now, I may not have one thing about my physique that I just love. I may not know how to come away from a mirror happy with what looks back at me. I may be in a bad habit of arguing with people who are not even there to say their own words. One thing is for sure, I have work ahead of me. The work of tearing down thoughts, not myself. Hauling away the decay, not my self-confidence and starting with new words that will face the same battles, but from new perspectives. I can’t change the way the world works or the issues I will face, but I can change how I face them and with what words I choose to live with.

May words find you and build beautiful spaces so that you find yourself coming alive.