Sep 182012

On September 11th our plane seats were rearranged at the last minute, which landed me next to a gorgeous, put-together, beaming woman. Half way through our flight, she began telling me a story. It was clear that her story was a gift to me and to you. Here it is. It is all true.

I will call the gift-giver Karen.

Karen’s grandmother was a tough woman. She was hard on Karen’s mother. One afternoon, Karen’s grandmother called Karen’s mother and insisted she come over right away. She had insisted many things from Karen for many decades. Karen’s mother said that she couldn’t come right away, because Karen was cheerleading that evening and she didn’t want to miss her game. She promised she’d be over first thing the next morning. This was the first time Karen had ever heard her mother say no to her grandmother.

Karen’s mother did rush to her mother’s home the next morning, and found her mother dead in her car. A plastic bag was tied around her mother’s head. The car was still running. There was no note. There was no need for one. Her message was clear.

Karen’s mother never said no again.

She never said no to her alcoholic husband, even when he abused and neglected her. Even when he abused and neglected Karen and her brother. She never said no to a charity, to a friend in need, to Karen’s schools, to an unkind neighbor, to a family member in crisis. The world was Karen’s mother’s to save or let die. Karen watched all of this. She watched closely. Closely enough to decide to live differently.

Karen spoke to her parents daily. She visited her mother one morning and then went home to care for her two young children. Karen’s husband had recently cheated and Karen said No to that, so he was gone. She was a single mother. She said Yes to that hard thing, to single motherhood. To Karen it was hard but true, at least.

That afternoon, Karen’s phone rang and when she answered it, she heard her brother say: “Come to mom and dad’s house. Leave the children. Do not bring the children.”

Karen left her children with a friend. She arrived at her parent’s house to find her mother dead in the garage. A bottle of sleeping pills gone. Plastic bag around her head. Car still running. Dead.

Karen’s father was a mean man and a chain smoker. Karen believes that her mother was hoping he would find her with a cigarette in his mouth, and she’d take him with her.

Months later, when Karen found the strength to go through her mother’s things, she found piles of books titled: “How to Say No.” “How to Become an Assertive Woman.” “How to Know When Enough is Enough.”

We must stop hurting ourselves because we are angry at someone else. That’s what we do.

We are too confused or tired to accept that love should not hurt us. Not that way. We want to be good girls with tidy lives so we do not dare to disturb the universe by telling a few people to be decent or get the fuck out of our beautiful lives. To be decent or get the fuck out of our children’s beautiful lives.

Instead of raging or running, like men tend to do, we swallow our anger instead. We swallow pills, too much food – we turn on ourselves. We turn all that anger that should be directed outward, inward – and that is the definition of depression. Turning anger inward. Then we medicate ourselves- because something is wrong with us. Why are we anxious? Why are we depressed? Because we are ANGRY. And we have reason to be. But anger is so inconvenient and messy. Easier to stay quiet and keep self medicating, one way or another.  It’s been easier for me, at least.

If you need to say No, do it today. Do not live a life of quiet desperation or of silent defiance. Do not live in a self created world of self inflicted and undeserved pain. Do not punish yourself for the madness of others. Be sane.

People do not save other people, people save themselves.

To Audrey- my beautiful fifteen year old monkee sister who won’t stop cutting and who uses Momastery to “know what to do next.”

Here is what you do next, precious girl. Stop hurting yourself. Figure out who you’re angry at. If it’s your daddy or the boys in your class or the patriarchy or your mom or the popular girls or the politicians or the liars or the glossy magazines or all of the above- decide. Decide who you are angry with. Step one. It’s not you. There is nothing wrong with you, Audrey. You are new. You are not broken. When I said I was born broken, Audrey….I don’t know anymore. I don’t know if that’s really true. I’m starting to doubt that assumption I’ve made my whole life, Audrey. I think maybe I was actually born whole. You were too, I suspect. You are a fresh, beautiful slate and you need to stop cutting yourself and instead, turn your body and life into a work of art.

Find your anger. Let yourself feel it. It won’t kill you. It won’t eat you up. Become Queen of the Wild Things, Audrey. Get the book. Read it every night.

Then learn that there are two words that belong to you forevermore. YES and NO.

Audrey- say yes to people and trips and activities and books and dreams and plans and conversations that feed you, that fill you up, that make you feel like Audrey.  You need no other reason or excuse or explanation for your yeses. You are like a scrapbook right now. Instead of cutting yourself, cut and save and paste experiences and poetry and people that feel like Audrey. After awhile, you will know who you are by looking at all the things and people you say YES to.

Say No to everything else. By the power granted to me by my own thirty year process of recovery (which is JUST STARTING, AUDREY, JUST STARTING! You know I’m talking to both of us right now, right, Audrey? You know that, right?) I hereby give you permission to say NO.

Don’t wait till the end of your life to show the world how powerful you are, Audrey. Show the world everyday. Get on with it. Get angry at the right people. Then get on with it. Create your scrapbook. Become yourself.

Never hurt yourself again. Don’t hurt yourself. There is nothing more beautiful and worthy of love and tender care and protection than you, sweet Audrey.

And you, too, sweet monkees.

And me, too.


Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  333 Responses to “Yes and No”

  1. […] other people from your anger. You have a belief that anger is always bad and dangerous, so often you’ll turn anger inward and hurt yourself rather than give voice to your […]

  2. This post really inspired me and this is what came out…

    I am broken
    I wasn’t born this way
    The world changed me from a perfect, whole child
    Into a dysfunctional mess
    The wold broke me

    But I’m getting better
    I’m tired of being broken
    I’m fixing myself
    I’m searching out the chips, dents, and cracks in me
    I’m smoothing, reshaping, and patching them
    I’m asking others for help to find my missing pieces

    I know I can never become the same as I was before
    But I can fix myself
    So even if I’m not the same
    I can still do the things I need to do
    Be there for those who were there for me
    I can laugh and smile
    I can sing and dance
    I can keep going

    Because my change has made me stronger
    I can help others find their missing pieces
    I can help them smooth, reshape, and patch the parts of them they want to fix

    I was broken
    Now I am more

  3. does anyone know “become queen of the wild things” is when G tells Audrey to read it every night? googled it and cant seem to find it as a book..?
    thank you to anyone who can help :-) maybe im just confused and G isnt even on about a book and its not meant for me anyway so now im thinking i shouldnt even be asking!
    urghh.. isnt life hard sometimes! my brain!

  4. […] because I realized: I don’t know how to draw lines. I don’t know how to say a true yes and no to others, or to myself. And that’s a […]

  5. Glennon, God has sent me to find you at a time when I so desperately needed it. I said “no” to a toxic man five years ago. For 14 years he found every way he could to put me down. I lived in a cage that got so tight, I felt like I was desperately clawing my way out. I lost most of my family and friends because they weren’t “good enough” or the right religion. I finally had enough. I divorced him. I made mistakes along the way, and my sunshines, my children I live for, were taken from me by the court. A court that chose to believe desperate lies from a “wonderful Christian man” vs. the mother who took care of her children their entire lives with very little help. The toxic waste is still at it. He wants me to fail. He wants me to have nothing. He wants to punish me the best way he can….by taking the one thing I absolutely live for, my children. That is why I have to stand back up. Your strength and all the strength of the “monkees” who read your blog helped me to stand back up from yet another blow. I had a glass of wine, cried…a lot….and stood back up. Please don’t stop writing.

  6. G, thank you for writing, for blogging, for being so wonderfully honest. I am reading this post for the first time and I feel blessed to have happened upon it today. I recently said no. It was the hardest no I’ve ever said. I am scared but I’m no longer unhappy. My children will be happy and no longer witness an unhappiness they don’t understand. It took me four years to say no, and I am super blessed with a wonderfully supportive family. I worry daily about how to successfully raise my children happily, with confidence and joy in their hearts, but I pray daily for strength and courage to give them what they need. You inspire me and remind me that I am human and I am going to make mistakes, but that I just have to keep my chin up and do the best I can. So, again thank you, thank you, thank you for being you. You are an amazing voice for so many of us. Love you :) M.

  7. Last night, a visiting pastor made the statement that she, and her church, made it a goal this year to “learn how to say NO with conviction so they can say YES with abandon.” I thought that was brilliant. How many times do we find ourselves with a to-do list of things that don’t inspire or delight us, but that we do out of guilt or a twisted since of obligation? I want to say YES with abandon to the things that will fill my soul, and the lives of those I love, with joy and memories and purpose. This wonderful essay is another reminder to live with intention and to fill our “scrapbooks” with what is truly valuable.

  8. I have become quite good at saying no and putting up boundaries with unhealthy people. However there is a lot of guilt that comes with it when that person is your mom. She is convinced I don’t love her. I have refused to “be her happiness” because that is a very big big burden to carry. I don’t know how to honor my mother the way God has called me to while also protecting myself from her with “no” and boundaries.

  9. Ah, my name could almost be Karen. I can’t figure out who I am mad at as I have just stopped feeling. Well, I know that I am mad at my mom for always making me feel less than, my sister for never being accountable. I’m mad at my dad for never letting me make a decision. Mad at myself for letting people take advantage of me and not doing what I want out of fear. I hate that weakness in me. I hate my cousin who molested me….it just goes on. I try not to think because when I try I can’t figure anything out. I just talk myself into living one more day as I can’t imagine the hurt I would do to my kids. I hate my job, I hate the disrespect and abuse every day, I hate not feeling, I hate wondering who would care…..I’m tired of pretending that I am fine when I know I am not. I am trying to read “Daring Greatly” but it is way too painful. I really don’t think I have ever made a decision on my own. Everything has been done out of duty or because my parents told me too. I don’t even know what my passion is. I don’t have one but I know that having a stomach ache every night when I know that work is the next day is no way to live. I married the nicest guy I ever met because I should…..I wish I knew how I really felt. I know I love my kids as they are the only thing that keeps me going. I want an authentic life but probably don’t deserve it. I’m tired of being broken and just feel like giving up most of the time. Is this the mid-life crisis? The nervous breakdown of the 40’s? That would coincide with my mom’s…..That all sounds so pitiful. I hate being pitiful! It’s hard to feel like I’m the only one who feels like this. I am alone. I am surrounded by people everyday and am still alone. Hmmmmm. This is the first time I have ever put everything out there. Thank you for letting me do that…..

    • Shelley,

      I feel your desperation. I really do.

      I also feel your courage. The courage to speak your truth. I do not know you personally, but I know two things beyond a shadow of a doubt.

      You are not alone.


      You DO deserve to live an authentic life. One that surprises and delights you. One that is full of freedom and peace.

      Please hold on, Sister Shelley.

      You are loved. You are beloved. You have found a resting place here. Let us hold a safe space for you to move through this valley. no matter how impossible it seems. I know something spectacular awaits you.

      I also know all that can sound like a load of you know what when you are really stuck in the trenches. If you want to stay in touch, to connect personallly with someone in this community—please let me know.. I will remain standing as an advocate for you living the life of your dreams. I also have a few resources that might help you on yor journey.

      With gratitude for your brutiful honesty,

      • Thank you. Trenches…the best description. Thank you. I don’t feel as alone and am hopeful for a friend. People would think I have lots of them but I don’t. Thank you Lisa for giving me a cyber hand to hold on to. It doesn’t feel so lonely anymore. Brutiful! Love that. I am usually so good pretending to be strong and happy. At times, that front can be might heavy. I did take a big step and applied for a new job tonight. Baby steps, oh, and hugged my daughter super tight as well.


  10. Thanks for posting this again Glennon. It was even better the second time. I got things out of it I missed the first time. And the most important, and something I really just got last year — Love and Anger can Exist Together. I have it on my bathroom mirror. xxxx

  11. This is a wonderful post thank you for sharing it, and I agree with it totally. I was told in 2008 that I was bipolar, and that I had to take medication to make it better so I did, and it helped until it caused me to lose my second child that I wasn’t aware I was even pregnant with. I then went off the meds and started living for my oldest child, and now I live for my family. I still fight the mood swings but I do it without medication and with my family by my side. Or at least the family that matters. My problems started with my parents divorce because not only did my father divorce my mom he walked out on me too at the age of 14 and hasn’t really been back since. My children don’t know him and never will, by his choice but I refuse to let him do them like he has me and my sister. My sister has seen him once in 11 years. I have seen him 4 times in 6 1/2 years. The last time was 2 years ago last month, when his father passed away. My 6 1/2 year old asks about “my dad” from time to time but I just tell him I don’t know where he is or why he isn’t around. He has never seen my youngest child who will be a year old in 5 days, doesn’t know if I had a boy or girl, nor does he know the fight we put up to save his when he was only 6 months old. My dad never seen me graduate high school, marry my husband, graduate college (twice), nor has he see the last 2 grandkids when they were born. HE is the one I’m angry with and I can say now after so many years I have abandonment issues but I know those that love me will never leave me. My mom is my rock and my husband his the best man in the world, he has to be to put up with me. lol SO… thank you again for sharing this story it is truly a wonderful story.

  12. This is beautiful and true and right and needed and perfect. THANK YOU for sharing this gift with us.

  13. To Audrey, and anyone else who needs to hear this,
    I cut myself for years. I had so little control over the outside world, so much pain inside that I had to let it out somehow. I had alcoholic parents, boyfriends, best friends. I was cheated on, used, abused, neglected, and somehow it all added up to me believing that the problem was with me. When I stopped cutting I started doing drugs, when I stopped doing drugs I started sleeping with people who didn’t care about me. When I stopped that, I cut again. Somehow, one day I snapped inside. Something broke so drastically that nothing would ever be the same again. I don’t know how it started, all I know was that like a rubber band who was pulled out of proportion, I could never go back to being the same shape again.
    I stopped everything. Cutting, vicodin, alcohol, sex. All of it. I chose from that moment forward to try to see the best in life, to acknowledge my depression and desire to harm myself, and to CHOOSE not to do it, even when it was the hardest thing in the world. When I was so depressed and sad and hopeless and alone, I would laugh. I would cry. I would bake cookies and take them to my neighbors, I would write letters to the people who hurt me that I would never send but needed to say. Somehow, one day became two, then three, a week, a month… I had stopped hurting myself in my billion different ways.
    Yet I still carried the scars. I wore long sleeves, I felt ashamed of my past. And then, that became something that was holding me down, so once more, I broke free.
    I carry scars, I always will. What once were marks of shame and a reminder of a horrid past are now a memory that I am strong. I am stronger than my depression, my anxiety, my diagnosis sitting on a sheet of paper in some therapists office. I am stronger than my abusers, stronger than my guilt. I laugh in the face of despair (no really, I do. Try it sometime… find the absurdity in it all and when there is nothing else left to do, choose to laugh because you know it WILL end. There will be better days.) My scars are my story to tell my children. They are something I wear with pride. They are the scars of a survivor. There are too many of them to count, all over, seen and unseen.
    If you need someone else to give you a ray of hope on a bleak day, [email protected] I WILL reply. I’ve been there. And you can break free. You are strong. You are priceless and amazing and the world needs you in it.

    • Amen, sister. I can feel the strength blasting out of your post. “I carry scars, I always will” — don’t we all? Some of those scars are more visible than others, but we all have them. Carry on, warrior Monkee friend — and may Audrey hear you.

    • God bless you! One day at a time…

    • I don’t even know you, but I am oh, so proud of you, Auriya!

  14. thank you

  15. This is exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you, G.

  16. What makes the arrested go back? The muted fears in to the ambassador. What makes any unseen chalk convict the cellular acorn? When will a dent puppy try out? The view delights an unreadable fact on the rebound.

  17. I love this post! It brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it and I go back to it often…..

  18. I’m just sitting at my computer thanking God for you. Thanks so much for embracing your own GLORIOUS imperfections and showing us how to do the same. Radical self acceptance (or at least aiming for it!) is such a beautiful thing x x

  19. I read a great book for people who can’t say No. It is called Boundaries. By Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend. It helped me a lot! Many Blessings!

  20. Today was one of those days, so I came back and read this post again. Because sometimes second and third helpings are better than the first… Thank you.

  21. G,

    You don’t know me. Or maybe you do. Sometimes when I get on I think that you must know me that, that the words you are writing were written for someone like me. So, maybe you do know me. I will admit, I have never taken the opportunity to actually put pen to paper and add my voice to that of the Monkees. Until now.

    I have read this post three times and each time tears fill my eyes and threaten to spill. Since June my youngest sister’s best friend, who we simply count as one of our own, has been thousands of miles away getting some help. She, like Audrey, has cut herself, multiple times. We have seen her on suicide watch and in hospitals throughout the past year. In June she went to a treatment center, or, as she calls it, therapy camp. Each time I start to pen her a letter I find myself grasping for words, looking for the right thing to say. You found those words and now I want nothing more than to print this post and send it to her, send it to my little R who has her whole life yet to live. I think I might send her a copy of Where the WIld Things Are and remind her that she is brave and beautiful. Thank you, G, for putting words to something I don’t know how to say.

    • Oh, Jess. Prayers for you and your sister and especially precious Monkee R. Keep being a beacon of love to her, to all.

      • Angela,
        I don’t know if you will ever see this but thanks for your prayers! R is sitting on the couch next to me as I write this. After a year away she is so much better. She is alive and fighting and finding joy in the days! We are excited to have her home and are willing to do whatever it takes to keep her healthy. Again, thanks!

  22. Sometimes life puts JUST what you need right in front of you…

    Read this while (once again) eating my lunch at my desk, while Anna Nalik’s “Breathe (2am) was playing on Pandora….as I was feeling:

    It’s only Tuesday and it already feels like I’ve been working for months…

    It’s only Tuesday and I’m 13 days from my next “day off” from being a single mom (I only get 48 hours off a month and you can be darn sure I covet every second!)

    It’s only Tuesday and the next 6 weeks are planned down to the second so that no one misses anything ever (except me) and so that they will one day reflect on their childhood as “Okay” or “Not bad” (because asking for more is surely unrealistic, right??)

    It’s only Tuesday and I’ve aready failed in so many ways that you can chalk this week up as a “L”…

    That’s how I felt before reading this…now, it’s still Tuesday, but somehow it’s also


  23. “Do not punish yourself for the madness of others. Be sane.”

    Love it.

    It sums up the ‘ah-ha moment’ I had a few months ago and has brightened my days since :)

  24. […] read from Momastery Blog shared via my friend on […]

  25. Well said and such a good reminder/ wake up call. Keep up the good work, I enjoy your blog.

  26. I occasionally read your blog (always love it when I do) and thought I’d look around here tonight for something along the lines of letting things/people go. And here it was right on top. Thank you.

  27. Saying ‘no’ is powerful. Sometimes I can’t believe how long it took me to get there. Most of the time I am grateful that I found my voice so early.

    To your monkee sister Audrey – many hugs and love and light to you, sweet girl.


  28. This was amazingly moving. I won’t forget this story.

  29. Thank you so much for this.

    “And I’m ready to suffer, and I’m ready to hope.” – Florence and the Machine, Shake It Out

  30. There’s a beautiful song about breaking from dysfunctional families like this called “Family Tree” by Matthew West. Anyone who is trying to break a family cycle of dysfunction should take a listen …. you’ll be uplifted.

  31. Thank you for sharing “Karen’s” story, as well as your advice to your younger sister, yourself and all of us.

    This really resonates with me:

    “People do not save other people, people save themselves.”

    So true and I appreciate the reminder.

    There are so many things to say “yes” and “no” to in life and so many reasons to choose both answers at times. Thanks for spelling out why we need to take care of and be true to ourselves more often.

  32. Perfectly said, as always. I am trying to get to a place where I feel okay about putting myself first. When I do it is always worth it, I just need to remember how important it is the next time.

  33. This is right on time. Thank you so much for writing this

  34. I just have to say this about being broken. I don’t have any idea of your spiritual beliefs or background, but I think this concept cross-applies to whatever your beliefs may be. I heard this in lesson once (church sermon, Bible study, I just can’t remember specifically)…God wants to use broken vessels. Picture a clay pot. I picture one that is fairly tall, narrow, a couple of curves…the type that they might have used to carry water in ancient times. If we are a perfect vessel, no one knows what is on the inside. It could be something good and beneficial, or something dangerous or poisonous. Either way, God cannot get in when the vessel is already full of something else, good or bad. It might be full of self-importance or denial or religious law. But, when we are broken and feeling empty, HE can fill us up. And those cracks and holes?? That is where the the light can shine through. Not our light, but His light. The light of something bigger and greater than we are. Like I said, it doesn’t have to be a God-thing, if that isn’t your thing. I have had the broken life that everyone else is decribing. I have searched and yearned for meaning. And I have spent a lifetime learning to say no to the unhealthy and yes to the healthy. At 45, I have come full-circle, and I am now watching two daughters battle their way through this process…and I stand as a warrior mom, ever watchful as they wage their own war, ready to help when they call me. I am proud of my scars from years of battle. I earned those badges of honor. I feel tough and strong. I am not sure when we decided that life was easy. Life has never been easy since the beginning of time, nor was it meant to be. I am glad there are “cracks in my pot” and am happy to let the light of love shine through. I have been able to give a hand-up to many other struggling through life. I am proud to tell my stories, to expose my failures, and to admit my fears and weaknesses. But, I must add this important point….that concept I have heard many other posters refer to…it is called BOUNDARIES. There are wonderful books out there to help to establish boundaries with even those we love the most. I highly recommend reading the books called by that name.

    • I was so engrossed in your comment that when I finished reading it I looked for the “like” button. Beautifully stated and written. Unfailingly true.

  35. I’ve just reread this post for the 4th time and Karen’s story still just makes me so angry. I appreciate the notes of bravery in her life and I’m trying to find my empathy for the suffering that her Grandmother and mother must have experienced but all I can really see is the waste and the pain.

  36. Thank you so much for this post. Really needed it today – and probably all other days too. So thankful for this.


  37. Wow…that’s it. Just…wow.

    Dearest Audrey, please STOP hurting yourself NOW. Use that word NO and say it to yourself the next time you reach for something to cut yourself with. PLEASE. We are each made special. You are special.

    I ask one thing of you and that is to Google these two songs and listen to them over and over again. The first one is Beautiful You by Trent Monk and the other is More Beautiful You by Jonny Diaz.

    Thinking of you sweet girl and praying!

    • Karen, I love “Beautiful You.” Such a good song for Audrey, and for all of us!

      As a former self-injurer … if stopping had been as easy as just saying No to myself, I’d have done it, a hundred times over. But it’s not that simple. If Audrey’s anything like I was, she’s caught in a spiral — she wants to stop, she can’t stop, being unable to do so fuels the feelings of failure and self-loathing that are leading her to want to cut in the first place, they get bigger … boom. Enter a bad night.

      I can’t tell you how many times I said “Never again,” and couldn’t keep that promise to myself. It’s a terrible feeling. I stopped saying it entirely, actually. I never promise anyone, including myself, that I’ll never cut myself again. Just like my sober partner never promises anyone that he’ll never, ever drink again.

      But he doesn’t drink, and I don’t self-injure. It gets better. You learn better skills — better strategies. You get the wonderful support of people like you and everyone else on this site who’s praying for Audrey, rooting for her, totally on her side. It heals you, and changes your heart. And one day you realize it’s been a really, really, really long time since you’ve needed to do that thing you used to do. And one day you start calling it “that thing I used to do.” And that’s a good day.

      I don’t mean to get preachy, and I don’t want to speak for Audrey — it’s just that I remember so clearly how it used to feel when people said “Stop! Now!” And even when they said it with great love, and in the spirit of compassion and support, it was so painful to hear. Because I just couldn’t stop. I wanted to. But I couldn’t. I knew they loved me, and that meant so much. But that word … it’s a tough one.

      • I’m Audrey’s mom, and I want to thank you for your words of compassion and wisdom. I don’t understand cutting, but I am learning to – you and those who have been there have helped me so much – and helped Audrey. Thank you for taking the time to share.

        • Brooke,

          Thanks for your post. I guess I want things to be easy for a 15 year old – or anyone for that matter – and I over simplify because I just don’t understand. I just want her to be better and know she is loved and thought of.


          Praying for you and Audrey. My prayer is that she can free herself from this horrible thing and know that she has a purpose. My prayer for you is complete and total peace and wisdom to help her.

          Much love to you both!

        • Lisa, I’m so glad you’re here. My mother felt so isolated with what she was going through with me — so alone, and so afraid for me. And sometimes of me, I think, which was worse. This was well before widespread internet use, and it before anyone talked about self-injury in public. Or even called it that, actually. She had no one to talk to, nowhere to turn for support. No Momastery. :)

          So I see you here, and I just want to cheer for you. Mothers of hurting daughters are hurting themselves, and they need community, and support. They need a soft place to land, or they won’t have the resources to turn around and try to provide one for their daughters. What a wonderful thing it is that you have that, here.

          It will be okay. It will get there. Both of you will find the light.

          If you ever feel you need a community of friends and family (mostly moms, honestly) of self-injuring kids to talk through some of what you’re going through, the Friends and Family forum over at is a good place to be.


          I know. :) And that shines through so brightly. Thank you for it.

          • @Karen your words are so powerful, and soft at the same time. You are an inspiration to many sweetie.I hope you know this.@Brooke Look on YOU TUBE “The Butterfly Project” I have been doing research on it and it has helped many! :) Good Luck Sweet Girl!

  38. Crying…. So powerful

  39. Is it divine intervention that I found and now read your blog religiously???…at a time when I desperately need validation. Thank you so much. Thank you so, so much.

  40. You have enough glowing comments to know what a great article you’ve written. And I thoroughly with you too up to the point that you suggest that depression is internalized anger, that you can simply choose something else.

    Here is a better definition from “Depression is a medical illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Depression can cause physical symptoms, too. … , it affects how you feel, think and behave. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make you feel as if life isn’t worth living.
    More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply “snap out” of. Depression is a chronic illness that usually requires long-term treatment, like diabetes or high blood pressure. ”

    I held off my own depression for years through balancing my needs, asserting myself as needed, and getting exercise. I believed (and still do) in the value of a positive attitude. But when my first baby was about 9 months old, I had a quick downhill spiral into an abyss of despair. Each time I tried to think positively, to think tomorrow would be better, I just needed some exercise, etc., it got worse. When I started thinking I was better off dead my husband thankfully made sure I got treatment. My treatment includes medication. Would you fault me for being weak? Should I set medication aside so I can find true peace within myself? This is the new me. Whole, medicated, and equipped with a whole lot of compassion for people with mental illness.

    To anyone who is suffering: if you are unable to enjoy life, love your family, if you have thoughts of death, that you should be dead or thoughts of suicide, you need help, especially if you have tried other changes and those thoughts persist. There is no more shame in seeking help for the pain in your head and heart than there is in seeking help for a wart on your foot. Call your primary care physician or go to urgent care, do not hesitate. If you have already tried positive thinking but you cannot shake the sadness/anxiety, a medical doctor or therapist can help you figure out what you need to return to yourself again.

    Perhaps this is not what you meant when you wrote “and that is the definition of depression. Turning anger inward.“ When you’re discussing something that can cause death it’s better to be accurate.

    • Excellent point, Amy. And well said.
      Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    • Amy, awesome points. I’ve battled depression my entire life, and have finally, after fifteen years of it, decided that medication is better than the constant battle. You’re right to point that out.

      I’ve also had a *lot* of therapy, though, and I think this question of anger is valid. Depression is a physiological, medical condition, and we should treat it that way. But it’s also a complex, interactive emotional cascade, and it’s helpful to treat it that way, too. Why do we feel this way? Where does the despair come from?

      I think, in many cases, Glennon’s answer is on-point. I found that it was in mine.

      If we want to tackle something that can lead people to death, you’re absolutely right …we need all voices. All points of view.

      Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Thanks, Amy. I too was really good at hiding the depression from myself for a long time too: basically living in denial, even when I knew something was wrong. And when I had my son, it all erupted. But again I was in denial until my son was about a year old. And then I finally couldn’t live in denial any more, and I slowly began to listen to words of love from my husband, “You need help.”

      When you are depressed there’s two ways out (like you express): either you say, ” I want to live and get through this” or you say, ” I’m done with life; and you literally give up.” Thanks be to God, that we have chosen the path of living life…and to all of us who have. And the ones hurting: You are not alone in your pain. Share it. Let it be real, so the healing can begin.

      And healing is an every day journey. The healing happens day after day. And it’s hard at times. Really hard. And it’s an ongoing struggle of saying, No to myself, when I don’t want to go down into the darkness, and Yes to myself when I need to do things that are good and wonderful for me.

      I started writing earlier this year. And I have to say holding myself accountable to my struggles, and learning how to love myself, ask for help, and share with others about the deep, real, parts of life have been so liberating, and most certainly healing.

      Thank you, again Amy for sharing your story, so I could share some of mine.

      Blessings to all of you, to all of us. I wrote this once, and now I write it often in my blog, because it is a strength for me, for all of us: “We were not put on this earth to journey alone, but to journey together and that is what makes Love grow inside of each of us.” It is wonderful part of Divine Love: “Love each other.”

      Go gently with yourself: each and every one of us.

  41. Wow. Trying to say thank you through the tears in my eyes. These words are so needed by so many. We are not doomed to repeat our mistakes, or the ones we watched our parents made. We can learn and grow and take better care of ourselves. Thanks for the reminder to me as well that not taking care of myself because I am unhappy with someone else’s behavior is unacceptable.
    And no one is born broken. We are born into a broken world, but He made us each in His own image. We are all precious to our maker. Thanks for having such a heart for people Glennon.

  42. Amen! Glennon, I think you are my favorite preacher. And what I mean by that is that you tell the truth. The deep truth. The hard-yet-beautiful truth. You testify to the horror and the glory that is this life, and you fight for that precious little butterfly of light in each of us.

    And for Audrey: I have no firsthand experience of cutting, so I have no particular right to speak, but I think Glennon is so wise on this point….Get angry at the right people. Get smart-angry, productive-angry, creative-and-constructive angry. And I hope the monkee-love can help hold you up as long as you need it to.

    • “You testify to the horror and the glory that is this life, and you fight for that precious little butterfly of light in each of us.”


  43. “Don’t wait till the end of your life to show the world how powerful you are.” That absolutely gave me chills, made me take a very sharp breath in, and brought tears to my eyes thinking of all the people who need to hear that one sentence. Wow. Well said, Glennon.

  44. THE single most important thing I’ve ever heard! Glennon I am positive you have just changed so many lives….. You are not angry at yourself….. It was more than a lightbulb going on for me- I think I’ve just been hit with a bloody giant anvil! Suddenly excited for the day now. Thankyou a million times… don’t even know!!!!

  45. Glennon: thank you for providing a space so that all of us warriors have a soft place to land at any age, any life stage, any mood, anywhere, anytime.

    Audrey: You are so loved, and you are so worth it. All of these strangers/friends are here standing behind you, holding you up if that’s what it takes. You can do this, strong warrior. Carry on. Trust yourself.

  46. You are amazing!! I have been struggling with depression for awhile now. As a therapist, it’s a harder pill to swallow, because I KNOW I’m depressed and angry, but DON”T KNOW HOW TO FIX IT :(

    So I decided I needed a dose of Monkee Love. And this article was there waiting for me. To devour. To inhale. And I did. Thank you for speaking our language, for saying what I can’t or don’t know how to say. Can’t wait for your book to come out, and maybe one day I will meet you in person :)

  47. Audrey, I’m saying a prayer for you right now. And I’m living a prayer for you today; I’ll think of you at stop lights, and when my children get so loud I step out on the back deck for a breath; and when I sit down to read a book of my choosing or watch some dumb TV because I love it, I’ll pray for you at the beginning of every chapter and during every commercial break. I love you, Audrey. You are worthy.

  48. Thank you for this!

  49. Speaking my language….Matthew 5:37 – Let your “yes” be “yes” and let your “no” be “no”. Explanations are a gift….such a GREAT concept to embrace – yet so difficult!!

  50. Oh my god, Glennon, you’ve filleted my soul this morning.

    It’s hard to say no. It’s hard because of the people you hurt with that word. It’s hard because it feels so much more ethical to allow yourself to be hurt instead.

    So, most likely an impossible question to answer, but I’ll pose it anyway. I have a beautiful life. I have three healthy children (4, 2, and 7 mo,) a supportive husband who is my best friend. I have a mother who is manipulative and needy, who has a terrible life with my abusive father who she should have left years and years ago. Every interaction with them sends me into a tailspin of PTSD and depression, and I have not been able to say no. I haven’t been able to cut them out of my life. My mother has nothing, nothing due to her inability to say no. If I allow her into my life, she hurts me, If I say no to her, she loses so much. Where do you draw the lines? You need to allow yourself to be hurt sometimes, yes? To let someone walk in and walk all over so they can have the micro bit of joy in their lives? You’re not a therapist and you’re not my therapist, but it’s the question that’s keeping me from saying that hugely important word. I agonize over what I’m teaching my children, allowing myself to give too much. But I keep coming back to the joy of my current life- my happy, my healthy ones. I have so much- shouldn’t I give? (Maybe that’s female guilt.)

    • Kerry, when you figure that out, will you let me know? :)

      I know exactly what you mean…I have a similar situation with my mother…she has NOTHING but me and so I suffer from major guilt at the thought of cutting her out of my life…I have had these feelings my entire life…have never been able to really fully enjoy the good in my life because her misfortune is always on my mind…over the past year I have started to say no to her for the first time in my life and that feels good but then that is tempered by feeling bad about myself for doing something that is causing her pain. Especially when I have so much and she has so little. It does give me some measure of comfort, though, to see that I am not the only one struggling with this, so thanks for your post! xoxo

    • Yes! I have the same question! Could someone wise please answer? How do you say “no” when your “no” is going to hurt someone, but saying “yes” is hurting you?

      I recently read this quote by Ursula K. Le Guin, “We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains. That what I want–to hear you erupting.”

      So, what if saying “no” will change the whole landscape for the better? Even, eventually, for the people I think am hurting with my no?

      Still, I am scared. What if the geography of my life stays exactly the same after I say no, only more people are mad at me than before.

    • “You need to allow yourself to be hurt sometimes, yes? To let someone walk in and walk all over so they can have the micro bit of joy in their lives?”


      You don’t.

      For one thing, walking all over people doesn’t give other people joy. It gives them fuel. To keep walking all over people. When a person is in deep pain, the way it sounds like your mother is, and unable to see how his or her actions are draining the life out of the people he or she cares about, then perhaps that fuel *feels* like joy. But it’s not. It’s just not.

      Ask yourself this. The last time you said yes to something your mother needed, and she derived the satisfaction she derives from your presence and from her power to make you say yes, and she was fueled by that in some way, and then you were correspondingly drained (because that’s what her fuel is — *your* peace of mind, your easefulness, your happiness) … did you ever, once, during that interaction, see honest-to-God joy on her face?

      I bet not.

      Because joy requires freedom. Joy in another person’s presence requires the knowledge that that person is *free* to do anything he or she wants to do, and has narrowed the tremendous scope of that vast possibility down to the *choice*, in this moment, to spend time with you. Knowing that people are made happy simply by your presence, as you are made happy simply by theirs? That’s joyful. Knowing that someone is with you despite the fact that you make him or her tremendously unhappy, and wanting him or her to do it anyway? That’s something else entirely.

      I hear you. Families are complicated, and obligation is complicated, and saying no is complicated. I’m not trying to judge your choices around your mother. It’s so, so complex.

      But if you choose, out of a sense of obligation, to spend time with her, try to see it as *your* choice, because you want to be a person who honors her familial obligations. And that’s all. Take back your power over the decision you’re making.

      Because if you see it as something over which you *have* no choice, because you are the only thing that makes your mother happy and it’s somehow wrong to deprive her of her small happinesses … you’re allowing her to put her guilt-glasses on your face and then tell you it’s raining all over your perfectly sunny day, and that she desperately needs your umbrella. It’s not raining. What she needs can’t come from you. And the satisfaction she gets out of making you wear those incredibly cumbersome accessories and then lying to you about her need of you, and making you believe it, is not the same thing as joy. Not at all.

      Sometimes I think the hardest job we have with our families is learning to see the human — the broken, needy human being — behind the people who excercise destructive power over us, and having compassion for that person’s pain *without letting that person keep taking our power.* It’s a tricky balance. But I believe it’s possible when, and only when, we understand that we cannot provide the healing that person needs.

      Your mother is in pain. You’re right that she needs joy. But it can’t and won’t come from you. If it could have, it would have already.

      • Brooke, this response is amazing. Thank you for sharing your perspective. Powerful. I am so glad you are here. Elise

      • Brooke,
        I scrolled down to write a very small portion of your beautiful response, the part about reframeing the time Kerry spends as “her choice” but you said it so much better. Thank you for your response I enjoyed reading it.

        Making a choice to be the kind of person who gives time and energy to people who cannot respond in kind is a lovely choice, but it’s important to remember that it is a choice and it should be limited and monitored just as you would any other obligation. You are not responsible for saving your mother. You cannot save anyone but yourself. But the compassion you are able to show your mother is a gift not only to her but to you and to your children AS LONG as you temper it with boundaries. If you can’t do it for yourself then reframe it as an example you are setting for your children.

        • “If you can’t do it for yourself then reframe it as an example you are setting for your children.”

          Lori, I love this point. A dear friend and I were talking about this just the other day. She has two young children, one of whom had grown very attached to a friend who was in my friend’s life. This other person is … not necessarily a good person. He was really tearing my friend up, emotionally, but she kept giving and giving, and being drained, and he’d take and take, and then blow up and disappear, and then come back again and take more — on and on. But my friend couldn’t end the relationship.

          And then one day during one of his disappearing periods, her daughter started asking where he was, and really missing him. And she realized she was allowing this person to do to her daughter exactly what she was allowing him to do to her. And modeling that behavior for her child.

          And she cut him out of her life. Immediately. I was really, really proud.

          And you know … I wonder if there’s not something to this re-framing … another way to see what Kerry called the ethics of the situation. We need to model the behavior we want our children to emulate. Including how we allow ourselves to be treated. And I wonder if it’s any easier to do that if we reframe ourselves as children … children we need to protect, just like we’d protect our own. We are God’s children. Or, for those who aren’t much into that word … we are precious children of this world, of the great and sacred dance of life. We are charged with our own protection, on behalf of that great and beautiful dance. On God’s behalf. Is it then any more ethical to allow ourselves to be mistreated than it would be to allow our children to be mistreated? What’s the difference?

          There isn’t one, I don’t think. That word’s been bugging me since you used it, Kerry, because you’re right — I think a lot of us *do* think that there is a sort of compulsory ethical good in self-sacrifice, especially if it’s for family. And in some ways, yes, perhaps. But self-sacrifice of our own health and happiness to people who abuse us? No. There’s another ethics at work, in that case. We are obligated to protect what’s precious and defenseless — our children, the poor or hungry in our communities, our environment — and also our own hearts. That protection is ethical and necessary.

          • Brook – and keeping that analogy going: Would I want my daughter to stay and minister to me if I was not reciprocating. Would I want my daughter to sacrifice her happiness and comfort to provide companionship to me? I would not. I hope that my daughter will grow up and want to share her life with me, yes because of our shared history but also because I still have things worth sharing with her.

            Is there room for sacrifice? Sure, if there is illness and incapacity then I would hope we would all be there for each other to support those who cannot care for themselves. But if you would not ask your child to sacrifice it for you why would you ask yourself to sacrifice it for someone else.

      • I love your response, Brooke.

        It really reminded me of a song by one of my favorite artists. I’ve included it here for those of you who love a little music to go along with your Glennon. And Brooke!

      • thank you for asking the question, kerry. I struggle, in a very similar way, with my dad. brooke, thank you for your response. I really need some time to process it. I want to give, but I don’t want to be taken from if that makes sense. “we cannot provide the healing that person needs.” yes, this is it i think.

      • Brooke, your comments are indeed amazing. This line in particular: “walking all over people doesn’t give other people joy. It gives them fuel.”

        Thank you!

        (Dang, I love this space!)

      • Everyone, thank you for those replies. I appreciate your support so much. And Holly — WORD for the song! :)

    • amazing responses from all of you. I can only offer this little piece: I was seeing a hypnotherapist for a while while pregnant with my second child, sue to a lot of emotions that came up around having a girl – there is a history of sexual abuse in my mother’s family (and hence, mine) and suddenly it was overwhelming and scary and I felt the fear of how to protect my child from the dangers of the world… anyway, while seeing this therapist, she hypnotized me (another very amazing tool and not weird or scary at all) and took me back to the time when I first felt alone, abandoned, hurt, rejected…. it floored me. My bottom line hurt, under everything was that my parents didn’t love ME for me. You could say I have a pretty good childhood for the most part (except the family history part) but I still felt unloved and unaccepted and angry. She took me through the feelings and by the end of it, I was saying to my parents, in my heart and mind only, I forgive you. I forgive you and I understand, finally, that you did the best you could at the time and even though it wasn’t enough, it was all you had. In that instant, I was able, for the first time, to see my parents as individual people, separate from me, who had their own journey in life, who made mistakes, who hurt, who lashed out, and who struggled, just as we all do. While it didn’t make everything ALL better, it sure did take a huge burden off my heart and allow me to be in the company of my parents without getting caught up in their pain, misery and drama. I was able to stay separate while still having a relationship with them. If you can get the chance to try this with a therapist, it may just help give you that protective shield, the strength to say “No” in a kind and loving way so that you are saying Yes to love, and no to something you can’t handle.

      • Me too. I was sexually abused as a child and was in therapy for a few years. Yes, it was daunting to learn that I felt neglected and unloved. For years I had tried to ‘save’ my family from the big black hole of despair. I learned from my therapist in situations where you want to say yes because you don’t want to hurt your family, you have to stay away from them until you are able to say no and it not hurt as much. At first I was crushed but then I started to see that I could only be a model. I had to be the one to create the new paths and if they followed, great. They don’t follow to this day. I watch them struggle but I also now see they bring the pain on themselves. It’s painful to watch but I know I can’t save them and that it’s not my role to save them. The other side to it is because of all these epiphanies, I was also able to see that they are who they are. I am able to love them just as they are.

        • You said it perfectly “It’s painful to watch, but I know I cant save them and that it’s not my role to save them.” I spent my childhood trying to heal my Mom’s wounds, my teenage years all the way up to 34 years old trying to mediate their marital problems, until I finally got it – you are so right – it is not my job. All I can do is trust in something greater than myself that this will play itself out the way they need it to… not for me to judge or to save. Thanks for sharing. It’s a shaky path… raising kids in this world, knowing the endless “what-ifs” that lurk while trying not to let fear rule.

          • “It’s a shaky path… raising kids in this world, knowing the endless “what-ifs” that lurk while trying not to let fear rule.”

            As my fiancee and I plan more about our life and kids, I feel this fear more and more. Thinking of my daughter experiencing some of what I have is terrifying in a way it never was, when it was just my life.

            How? Where do you find the strength to do that? To risk that?

          • Brooke, believe me, taking that step is terrifying, choosing to have kids was hard for me because of all I was afraid of, all I feared I could not protect them from. It is still hard, I try to balance it everyday and all I can tell you is that at some point you have to decide to choose love over fear, to chose to open your heart to the incredible love of a child (for those who don’t want a child for their own reasons, this is not a jab at you) and to take that risk, the risk that something terrible could happen to them, and hence, to you… I tell myself that I cannot control the outcome of every event… but I try DARN hard to prevent catastrophe everywhere I can and I keep my instincts on high alert (absolutely draining at times) for danger. Just think of Anna and her beautiful son Jack who died. That is a loss I cannot bear to fathom, but we cannot let that fear of loss or seeing our child hurt or suffering prevent us from missing out on knowing and loving that child. It is the risk of loving. But if you don’t let yourself love, no matter who it is, you will miss so much, in the name of “what-if”.. It is my greatest struggle as a mom, my greatest source of fear, nightmares and stress, but I wouldn’t have known how much I could love if I had let my fear stop me from becoming a mom. Sorry, I’m rambling, I hope that makes sense.

          • Me Too — thank you. It terrifies me. But I’m going to do it anyway, and I know it, and hearing people “Yes, it’s terrifying, and yes, it’s worth it” really helps.

    • Maybe you need to tell your mom “no” so that she can quit depending on you and learn how to create a better life for herself?

    • I cut my mother out of my life when I was 17.
      She has on and off- depression longer than I know her and this was the reason for the divorce of my parents when I was 13. My parents separated when I was 9 and when I was 11 I began to feel pulled down by her whenever she had her depression. She told me all about her worries and was almost never strong enough to handle mine.
      At first I had no real options to pull myself out of it but the people of my church convinced both my parents that it would be better for me to solely live at my fathers without seeing my mother out of the church we all go to for a whole year.
      After this year, however, I started to live 5 days at my fathers, then 9 days at my mothers, then 5 days at my fathers and so on. Each change was quite depressing for me, I had tummyache, headache and the change days from my father to mymother were often the worst. My mother had a very vicious lawyer while my father hoped to talk about everything in peace, so he had no real chance to get me for the whole time without me saying I would wish so. I was not ready to do this at that time because I knew how much it would hurt my mum. I also knew that even those from church who really wanted to help her were angry at her and could not always be there for her. So I thought I could not leave her and tried to make her life easier while at the same time allowing myself to be at least as angry at her as all normal teenagers seemed to be allowed to be at their mothers.
      Therefore we had many fights in which I was really angry at her and shouted and stomped while she simply sat there and cried until I calmed down and asked her for forgiveness.
      Finally, after an especially tiring christmas with her and her parents whom left the job to counsel her when she cried to me, I had a breakdown. I moved to my father for the days after christmas as planned and simply stated: I stay with you. Thankfully, he organized the rest, while I was not able to feel or do anything for one month or more.
      Now it is about four years later and although I tried many times I was not able to forgive her completely until now. Nevertheless, I will not stop working on it and hope that one day, I will be able to love her wholeheartedly again.

      What I really want to state with this much too long text: I now know that she and I had been able to heal that much in these 4 years only because I had left!!!
      My mom now can take better care of herself, she is still depressed sometimes, but she no longer depends in other people to help her out of it like she did in the past. In fact, I had to struggle with the feeling of not being needed because she was never as well as she is since I left! I am still in the process of healing but I know God is by my side and will never stop loving me. If he caried me through all of this, why should I fear the future (to be honest, I do it anyway, but his love helps a lot)
      Love, Sam

      PS:If you have a hard time reading what I wrote do not be too surprised: This is german school english 😉

  51. Saying no to my husband was the hardest thing I ever did, but what I really was doing was saying yes to myself. Yes I mean more than putting up with a liar and a cheat, yes I can be who god designed me to be, yes there are better and brighter things out there for me.

  52. Learning to say no is harder, but learner to say yes can be even harder. Once I said no to my cheating no good husband I felt released but now I have to learn to say yes to new experiences, otherwise I will never work out who I really am and who god wants me to be.

    • “…now I have to learn to say yes to new experiences, otherwise I will never work out who I really am and who god wants me to be.”

      I think that’s such an important point, Ruby. Because like Glennon said — the Yesses are what end up defining us. Learning to discern what they should be, what turns our spirits on … that’s the good stuff.

  53. You mention anger here and in another post I read (I’m a new reader). I have learned that usually anger is fear in disguise. What do you think about that? It makes a lot of sense to me and has helped me.

  54. Yes: and you, sweet Glennon. And you.

  55. Thank you for ALL that you do. You change more lives on a daily basis than most will change, for GOOD, in a life time. Your weight is very heavy, I can tell, but I am so incredibly thankful you have learned to carry it so well.


  57. You are an amazing writer. Your post about not having a child with DS was the beginning for me and I am not mesmerized by your words. Thank you for using teh gift that God gave you to write beautiful words to help direct others.

  58. Brutiful. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Over the past six months I have worked hard to find happiness instead of filling my usual people pleaser role!

  59. Monkee friends,
    I have 3 beautiful sons, 4 great nephews, and on lovely niece, Audrey, who is about 15. Tears streamed down my face for my dear niece, (and G’s writer; not the same person), and I am so grateful for her strong gentle and gracious mother, and all she is teaching her. Oh, and I think my little bro isn’t doing a bad job, either. May we weep for all the Audreys and keep telling them that God loves them, and that no and yes are theirs.

  60. Finally at 42, I feel like I can say NO and YES in my life and don’t care a flip about what anyone else thinks. I needed to be reminded of this today.

    Thank you.

  61. Amazing post! I hope you dont mind, but i actually “referred” on of my patients to your page. I am a health care professional and sometimes it is difficult for me to explain to my patients that their depression/anxiety/OCD/eating disorder is NOT a personality flaw. They (and you as well) are not born broken. God, He is good, and He doesn’t make mistakes. It is the life situations that we are born into that may break us, but that does not mean we can not be healed. Sometimes it is difficult for me to get through to my patients because when they look at me, they see a young woman who has it all together, not a woman who was once falling apart. I hope that your story can bring relief, understanding, and most importantly hope to some of my suffering patients. <3 Much love.

  62. It is nothing short of incredible how the universe is conspiring to get these stories told. Glennon, I love that the airline changed your seats at the last moment. And I love that Karen felt inspired to share her story with you.

    I don’t blame her. :)

    Karen, I am rarely speechless, but in this case, I am close. My heart goes out to you, and I thank you for your bravery in sharing your story with Glennon.

    I recently decided that, once and for all, I’m going to stop the cycle of depression that has been spinning through my family for generations. If I handed my kids the genetics to make them predisposed to depression, then I’m also going to hand them the tools for conquering it.

    How wonderful that you, Karen, are in the same empowered position to stop the cycle in your own family.

    Audrey–please do listen to Glennon. I too have learned that anger is a dangerous pill to swallow. Once you liberate it, it will liberate YOU.

    It’s very scary and embarrassing to let the anger out – we are wired to think that’s not something “good girls” do. But don’t be afraid of what your anger says about you, Audrey. All that it says about you is that you, Audrey, are ANGRY.

    You are not broken, Audrey. Neither am I. Neither is Glennon. It is not possible.

    What we are is beautifully, divinely, PERFECTLY hu-man.

    And thank God for it. Because underneath our challenges hide our greatest gifts.

    Once you can get past the anger and the cutting, Audrey, you will find beauty beyond your wildest dreams.

    Just like Glennon has done. :)

  63. I love where you talk about “Just Starting” after 30 years.
    My grandma was abused by her dad in every sense of the word. She was a mean, angry woman who emotionally and physically abused her kids. She died without having ever “Started”. My mom was the oops child born 11 yrs after her closest brother. Her dad died when she was 10 which left her alone with her abusive mom. She is 63 and hasn’t “Started”.
    I am 38 and 9 years ago I “Just Started” to say no and take my life back by leaving my emotionally abusive husband and taking our son with me. He told me it was a surprise to him that I was unhappy. I reminded him of all the times I told him I just couldn’t do it anymore. He said he hadn’t thought I was really serious. Well, eventually I was.
    I work each day to find the balance between standing up for myself and being kind to others. Sometimes I fail, but I have Started and for me and my son one step out of hell in the right direction is better than a mile away from it in the wrong.
    Thank you for your thoughts!

  64. Glennon & Audrey:

    As a previous 15 year old cutter, angry at my parents for their total inability to model a healthy relationship, to eachother or to their children, and for the verbal and emotional abuse that was ever present in our home as a result…. while I would love to believe, I cannot concieve how “No” would have played out in that situation.

    In an already hostile situation, does “No” result in verbal and emotional escalating to physical? Does it result in being kicked out, and living on the streets, where you likely end up raped or trafficked (as a 15 year old girl)? Does the state intervene and put me in a system that is already failing thousands of children? The fear of what “No” looks like to a minor is so much more complicated.

    To you Audrey, I say this…. Survive sweetheart… you CAN and WILL do it. It might not be pretty, but your story of survival will save another, always remember that. In 10 years YOU will know an Audrey, and SHE will need your words, she will need your example, she will need your life, to believe she has a chance. Dream. Dream big, and get started on what you can do when the time allows you to do them. You might have to play by rules you don’t agree with, but in life you will always come up against rules to play by that you don’t agree with…. in each case survive and thrive as much as it is up to you, so that when you are released from that season you thrive ever more in the new season.

    My survival was NOT pretty… but I survived… and God has blessed me tremdously as a result… He wants to do the exact same for you, He just needs you to stay in the game long enough to do so. Do not entertain lies about who you are and what your worth. You are a beautiful daughter of a God who is bigger than EVERY circumstance, and he will turn Hell into Heaven for His children, if all they do is hold on (3 years until graduation love, and then your WHOLE life before you). God says Himself that in this world we WILL have trials, but He has overcome the World. Believe. Hold On. Survive. You are loved!

    • I wanted to clarify one thing… Survive by no means is to be done alone…. please don’t read that you must swallow any of this, but just becareful who you say “No” too…. If there is a fear that the result is worse than your current reality… tell a few trusted friends… Tell them, NO this is not right, and let the words of their truth validate you, build you up, encourage you through this dark road. That is what our community of Monkee’s is doing here, and why I love it so much… when we can’t find the courage to say NO to the people we need to, we can try it out here, and work on building up our courage. You need some people to surround you too, to give you a big hug, hold you while you cry, and help you to stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope that helps a little….

    • “In 10 years YOU will know an Audrey, and SHE will need your words, she will need your example, she will need your life, to believe she has a chance. ”

      Julie, from one former self-injurer to another: DAMN STRAIGHT, girl. This is incredibly true. Audrey, one of the greatest blessings in my life is knowing that something about how godawfully terrible all those nights by myself with my misery were can be *useful* to people. Healing ourselves, we heal each other.

      • I’m also a former cutter, Brooke and Julie and Audrey and all the other brave ladies who have bared their hearts on this comment thread. There was a moment when I sat in what I believed was the wreckage of my life, when I believed with every ounce of my being that I was a failure, that I had failed at my life, that I would be given no more chances, that it was over. it was the darkest, scariest, most painful place I have ever been, brought to pieces by grief and rage and shame and betrayal and self-hatred. For years after surviving this moment, I raged and panicked and felt no joy. For years. I barreled through it – I told myself, well, if I can’t be happy at least I will *live*, I made peace with who I was and slowly all of it eased. The darkest moment in my life was almost twenty years ago, over a decade now since coming out the other side. I have such joy, you guys, such joy in my life.

        It is possible to come through the other side. You have a chance, Audrey.

        Hold on.

        • Erin —

          That gave me chills.

          You just described the last fifteen years of my life. Every word, exactly.

          Thank you for that. There’s abundant, amazing joy in my life, too, and I’m glad and grateful that it’s here, and that it’s also in yours, and that we *survived.* Survived to allow it in.

          Thank you for this. Well done, girl. Well done.

          • Thank you. I’ve been moved by your comments throughout this thread.

            The best thing about where I am now is that I can remember all those dark and scary things, but I don’t *feel* them anymore, I don’t hold it in my body, it’s a memory. I remember hearing of a terrible thing that happened to an acquaintance, and I wanted to write her a letter, I wanted to tell her, “*Hold on*. One day, I promise you, you won’t feel it in your body any more. That’s not the same as forgetting, or “getting over it”, it’s deeper and more meaningful.” I can’t tell you how astonished I am to be able to look back and have to work to remember how those years felt. It feels like peace.

  65. So, first I was crying for Karen. Crying for the hurt and loss. It really is too much. Then I was crying for Audrey. I know this girl – or at least girls like her. I hurt for her. Oh, I am praying hard for her to know her gift to us. She is so precious. Damn the people in her life that have made her forget that! Then, I cried a little for myself. Lastly, I cried for you,Glennon. Because I have been privledged enough to have seen a glimpse of your stuggles.
    But then I laughed! Hard! Because you cursed! I searched all the comments looking for an admonishment from Bubba. Nothing yet!
    Thank you.

  66. For me the saying no is to myself. No I will not undermine myself! No I will not put myself down! No I don’t need anyone else’s approval! No I don’t need to keep punishing myself!
    I am very good now at saying no to others but it’s to myself that I struggle.
    Lately though I have a feeling in my gut that says “enough is enough!” I don’t know if it’s courage or determination but I am learning to say yes to being healed and yes to being happy. It takes time but eventually I think it’s a place we all get to.

  67. So true. And terrifying. I have had so many terrible thoughts about what I could (but never would) do to my husband when he’s horrible and humiliates me and berates me and threatens me and puts me down…but do I leave? Not yet. I am too scared, and don’t know what I’d be saying yes to, or giving up. And then…he’ll act like a kind and normal person for a while, and I get lulled into thinking I live with an actual human, not an unpredictable wild animal pretending to be domesticated. But those wild animals living in people’s homes, they never can behave like that forever, eventually they will attack again…

    • I was you, 15 years ago….finally I packed my kids and left. We have been amazing ever since. I know you can do it, too. Stay strong, sister.

  68. Make no mistake, saying no has consequences. Especially if you’ve never done it before, if you’re just finding your no. People who take your yes for granted, who assume that you’ll roll over and let it go again, forgive again, stuff the anger down again – when you say no to them, there is a price. That price can be high – it can cost things you thought you’d never willingly give up. But the cost of continuing to say yes … that can be everything.

    In my case, finally saying no to my mother – no, you may not hit my kids, no, you may not treat them like you treated me when I was small – cost me my relationship with my mother. You might ask why that matters, but we’d forged a balance, and that relationship was important to me. That ended when she told me to take my children and leave her house – we were visiting from 2500 miles away, staying with them – leave, right now, at bedtime. I spent 40 minutes gathering our things and my children, choking back sobs, calming my kids, praying that she’d realize what she was doing, and praying for the strength not to cave in, again, to preserve the peace at all costs. She sat in a chair and watched me, not speaking, not even to say goodbye to her “precious” grandchildren. She bullied my step-dad into sitting there with her, and I saw it break his heart, because he truly and deeply loves my kids.

    I did it. I got us out of there, all together, and kept it from being too traumatic for my kids. But I see so clearly where my anger begins, and what it will do to me if I don’t figure it out. Most horribly, I see it in my daughter, and I never ever ever want her to be sitting in therapy at 41 crying because someone finally said to her “you know, you had a pretty terrible mother”.

    So I’m clinging to my no. And my children. And my husband. And my God. And this wonderful, awful, awe-full, painful, amazing, brutiful life. And you help with that, Glennon. I’m a new Monkee, but I’m here, and that’s a gift I’ll say yes to.

    • Oh MK, thank you so much for writing this. I read Glennon’s post and then I read your comment b/c it was the first one listed and I cried like a baby. Sobbed. I so indentified with what you wrote I cannot even put it into words. I lived through a terrible abusive childhood but honestly thought I had left it behind and forgiven my mother for making choices that put me in harms way. I’ve gone on to marry an amazing man and we have two great kids and have built a solid loving family. But a year ago my grandfather died and it was just me and my mom left and I started to feel this slow burning anger bubbling up inside of me…and I’ve realized that I never really did forgive her and that I’ve just been swallowing my anger all of these years to keep the peace because I thought that was what my grandparents wanted. It’s like now that they aren’t here anymore, I have permission to finally FEEL the anger. It’s been so confusing for me because I try to be kind and loving to everyone in my life, try to set a good example for my kids, try to express God’s qualities in everything I do. But then there’s this anger. And I feel guilty because over the past year I’ve totally pulled away from my mother, hardly talked to her at all, haven’t encouraged visits and I know she is confused and doesn’t get it. But I keep the distance because even though the anger is confusing and unlike me and overwhelming, there is also something about it that feels so ::right:: I haven’t been thinking about it too much but Glennon, I recognized myself today in your words and it’s like a dam broke and I cried. xoxo

  69. My neice and I were just praying and crying over a tumbler entry by her sister and then I read this and we are now uplifted and encouraged as to how to help and love her. Thank you so much. Your words have been, on more than one occasion, an answer to prayers in my life.

  70. who doesn’t need to read that EVERY DAY?
    i don’t know anyone.

  71. Thank you. I needed to read this today. Thank you so very much.

  72. NO ONE is born broken! I don’t think God rolls that way. Don’t ever let the world tell you that you are anything less than perfect.

  73. I wish I had this when I was 15. I was Audrey. I was cutting. I was angry. I was anxious. I was depressed. I was lost. And Glennon, as someone who has COME THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE, who is at the end of my journey, at 28 years of age, having been depressed and broken since I was 12 years old and 16 years of therapy, I can tell you that you are ABSOLUTELY right. Allowing myself to be angry was the hardest part, that and loving myself after I got angry. I was SO terrified of being angry, getting angry, telling people I was mad at them, and then watching them leave because of my anger. I can say, honestly and unequivocally, it never happened. Now, I’m getting married in one month to someone who is willing to promise FOREVER and that he will never leave, no matter how hard things get. I don’t think I ever believed that would happen for me, that someone would make that promise. So, Audrey, I agree with Glennon and am saying this as someone on the other side, who is finishing therapy next month and who can honestly say I am actually happy, she’s right. Get angry at who deserves your anger, not yourself. Cutting only feels better temporarily; you have to let that anger out, in the right way, with words and crying and screaming and ripping paper (like I learned to do). Let it out. And then be good to yourself – take yourself out, experience life, join a club, take a walk, paint a picture, do things that make you feel whole and alive and worthwhile. Say nice things to yourself every day and let yourself believe them. You will be okay. Really, you will. Some day, it won’t hurt so much. I promise. I love you, as someone who I share a broken soul with, who deserves to hear that, as much as I deserved to hear it when I was your age. We all do. You’ll be okay.

  74. Glennon, what are we supposed to do if we don’t know what or who we are “angry” at? I have wonderful parents, a wonderful fiancé. I’ve never been beaten or abused, or bullied. I feel everything that you feel, that Audrey feels….so I started to wonder- what is it than that angers me? And honestly, I don’t know. I think I was born a little broken, like you said you were. If there is something I’m supposed to be angry at, I wish I could find it, scream at it, and then move on….. but I can’t find it. I don’t know where the pain comes from. Glennon, what do you think? Monkees, what do you think? Help.

    • You Know Amy , I think daily life is hard ,sometimes is not about being through bad things, or not about other people. Sometimes we need to look inside us first. Small things in our realtionships with other people , with the world , can really take us down. Dont loose you hope , and you faith in yourself .. brokeness is part of life, is part of growin up. Try to exercise .. the NO AND YES questions. Maybe the answer can suprise you. With small steps , you can gain some control over your fellings , over our decisions .
      Lots of Love .
      Maria ..

    • I, too, have a beautiful life. And I, too, have anger… it’s old, it’s deep, and it’s cumulative- not just one significant thing (though I’ve gotten those as I’ve gotten older, too). Anything that knicks the self-confidence, the belief in beauty and kindness, and the ability to make life perfect is going to challenge a soul. Add to this the beliefs- many false- that others hold about who you are, what you can accomplish, and what you should be doing with your life and anger comes to a slow simmer that eventually threatens to rage.

      I believe this is why we have to listen quietly to our soul, do things we love, and make sure we figure out how to say yes to ourselves. It’s how we patch ourselves up and bear the wounds of real life. Any time we aren’t doing so, anytime we say the opposite of what we want, is simply to add more knicks to the armor that keeps us together and able to access the joys, too.

    • This is from a therapist, please don’t forget that there are organic reasons and there doesn’t have to be anything wrong in your life. Make sure that your thyroid is ok and that your body is healthy. Depression/Anxiety could just be in your family. There is a genetic component. I would start with your doctor and rule out medical and then go from there. Our mind, body, and spirits are intertwined and have to be looked at as a whole. It doesn’t have to be anger. It could be that there was an invalidation of another emotion in your family. There are people that weren’t allowed to be happy, others that weren’t allowed to be sad. There are people out there that are ready and willing to help you navigate your thoughts and feelings so that you can live a life worth living where you can experience all emotions/life without hurting yourself or others.

      • thanks so much, Laura. I have gotten my thyroid checked in the past- it was okay then, but maybe it’s time for another check-up. Depression/anxiety does run in my family. As a nurse, I have a “little” medical knowledge, so I know some of the medical aspects to this, but just as I’m sure all of us with depression/anxiety feel, I sometimes wish it was just as simple as an event or something specific that hurt me that I could address, forgive, and move on. Sometimes it’s harder knowing that it’s medical and something I’m just going to have to live with. I was on a med at one time, but I stopped taking it because I felt like I wanted to organically beat this and organically be happy. I do exercise- quite a bit actually- and that helps. My relationship with God helps. And people like you help. Thanks for taking the time to give me your input. Crazy monkee love, sister!

    • Amy, I have these suggestions: Definitely follow the advice from Laura (the therapist) re: getting your thyroid checked. What a difference that can make!

      But also shift your focus. Become aware of your thoughts & choose to think of something positive. You CAN make that choice!

      Start the day with a Gratitude Journal–just list 5 things you are thankful for. I started doing that about 20 years ago at a really low period in my life. Some days you might have to really stretch to come up with 5 items, but before you know it, you’ll reach 7 and then 10 and on and on. Some days I had to include something as basic as having a pen to write the list.

      Don’t watch the news. It’s so negative, and you can’t do anything about it anyway. Listen to positive, encouraging music. (Are you famiiar with K-Love radio?)

      Get up and move around. Do slow, deep, cleansing breathing. Get physical–go for a walk, do yoga. Those things have proven as effective as anti-depressants for some folks.

      Pray! Write index cards or Post-It notes with positive Bible verses. One of my favorites is Jeremiah 29:11.

      You CAN get better and enjoy life again! Hang in there!
      Blessings, Vivi

      • Thank you.

        • This thread is so powerful. I wish all who feel this way could read it. Not alone? That must be comfort in itself.

          • Tiffany, I totally agree. I can’t tell you how much better I feel after just seeing the love from other monkees who took the time to give me, someone they don’t know, advice on this topic. What a beautiful place this is. Thanks to all you ladies!

      • Thanks Vivi. Thanks for taking the time to give me advice. I do exercise and I have gotten my thyroid checked, like I told Laura- however, maybe it’s time to get it rechecked. I like the idea of the gratitude journal and I’m definitely going to try that. I understand that likely I just have some idiopathic depression/anxiety, but sometimes I just wish it was SOMETHING that happened to me that caused it- something I could address, fix, and get better. It’s hard knowing that it’s probably something I’m just going to have to deal with forever. When I read Glennon’s post, I felt like she was saying that the hurt/brokenness comes from anger and something in our past that makes us angry, and I was having a hard time with that because I can’t find something specific. Honestly, just reading your advice as well as the other monks that spoke to me really helped. Thank you thank you thank you for taking the time to reach out to a stranger- actually we aren’t strangers are we, we’re sisters. we belong to each other. :)

        • Amy, I totally hear you. I struggle with depression and there is no “reason” for it. I have a lovely life, a fabulous husband, wonderful kids … everything is good.

          I definitely had some tough times in my childhood, so maybe my struggles come from that. But honestly? I don’t think it matters. What matters is that when I get to the point that I can’t handle it on my own anymore, I need to recognize that I need help. And for me, that help is antidepressants.

          Whatever help you need – be it natural options or be it medication, like me – I hope you find it and feel better soon!


    • I have no idea if this applies to you, but my spiritual director recently said to me, “Maybe you’re angry at yourself, for not giving yourself permission to be you who you are.”

      As women, I think we tend to lose a bit of our identity trying to be the good daughter, good spouse, good mother, and good everything else. All our energy is expended on how we relate to another person, and we forget who we are, and something boils down deep inside, our feminine soul, begging us to pay attention to our very own lives.

      Just my two cents.

      • Kyndall, you’re absolutely right. I do devote so much of my life trying to please others. I’m a nurse, first off. Secondly, I’ve ALWAYS been the ultimate perfectionist. Maybe i am angry at myself for that. Sometimes, I’m not even quite sure who I am yet– and I just turned 29 years old. It can be frustrating not knowing if what I’m doing is what i want, or if it’s to please someone else. I have a lot of work to do on myself I guess. thanks for your insight!!

        • Amy, I recently wrote in my journal, “Who am I?” and realized I had a hard time answering that question if I didn’t use any titles (my job, my relationships, etc.) Who am I if all that is stripped away? Once I know who I am, I feel like I can move back into those roles and relationships with confidence, less fear, less frustration. Personally, I had to get away and be alone, BY MYSELF for several days to begin to get a sense of it. When I was finally alone, it was like I was able to hear myself, my soul, for the first time.

  75. Hi Monkees
    Following Glennon post , I woul like to share a decision..

    YES – TO MY NEW DREAM JOB …because I deserve to be happy and I worked hard for it !
    NO – TO A MEDIOCRITY JOB – because I deserve to be happy and Im not going to be afraid anymore !

    well, that fells good …we all should to that .. every day!
    Lots of love to all !

  76. Your writing is such a real, authentic place for me every day. I start my day with the internet trying to distract myself from the stress and pressures and very hard things that I need to to that day and end up reading something by you that inspires me to just face it.

    I spent last night listening to Romney talk about how half of the country is entitled and lazy and wants government to take care of them. And I got very angry that (it seems like) so many people in our country (or maybe just too many of the loud ones) don’t want to be in a community at all. You take care of yours, I’ll take care of mine, and maybe hurt yours in the process. So disheartening.

    But this morning your post was an antidote to all that. Thank you so much.

    • Many, many, people (like me) want to be in a community. But I’ll be damned if the government is in charge of that community. A bunch of rotten crooks who should not be in charge of my life or yours. Community comes from trust and choice and cannot be controlled and regulated. We can take care of eachother, we don’t need idiots in DC to do it for us. Climbing off the soap box.

  77. Hi Glennon ,
    Let me say .. FINNALY ..I fell so much better after you sad that maybe your were born whole ..Cause … I was felling that I was missing someting .. Im pretty sure that Im whole . I have sadness , questions , depression ..but I was not born this way ..
    You Know .. did you ever broke a glass .. and tryed to fix it , with super glue , in the dark and alone ? You would probably glue your fingers … The think that you do is that you help us… Momastery , is the glue , the light and the extra hand . I trully belive that life is about to get broken .. nobody will live a full life and say _ Well .. that was easy , lets do it again?The same away.over again?
    No! We all have regrets , and sadness, and brokenss.. adn that is ok … that is necessary !
    Our souls are made whole but LIfe , relationships , family , will break us and LOVE will fix us. And love is not made without people ! You are doing Glennon !

  78. Amen.

    I think this bit especially – “After awhile, you will know who you are by looking at all the things and people you say YES to.” – is so true. The things we actually DO (rather than the things we think we’d like to do … someday … or the things we did once but don’t do any more) make us who we are. Not that there aren’t other influences, but I think what we say yes to and do tells a powerful story.

  79. wow. just. wow.

  80. My sister always says to me “Saying no to someone or something is saying yes to your self” I over commit, struggle with anxiety, worry about everything and am a people pleaser. I am better about not saying yes to everyone & everything but I always remind myself that when I say No to something that I am saying yes to myself, my sons, my husband.

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