We are so excited to share a glimpse inside our most recent MOVE Community Conference held in a town called Downey, a half-hour east of downtown Los Angeles, CA. One of my favorite parts of running these conferences is getting to interact with the attendees and watch them grow and dream big dreams about being part of an honest community where healing conversations can occur when people around us are hurting. After we wrapped up MOVE Los Angeles, I received this email from one of our attendees, Alexis. Her words were so wonderful to read, and resonated in me. I am happy to share them with you now, in hopes that you’ll be encouraged, and that you may also consider joining us at a MOVE conference in the future.
Applications are being accepted for MOVE Dallas through this Friday, November 19th. I hope you’ll consider joining us. For more information and too apply, visit our website here.
Road trips have always been pretty tough to get started in my family. No matter how much planning we do, something always manages to delay our departure and the MOVE Community Conference was no different. My sister, mom, and I didn’t hit the road until 2am Friday morning, much later than anticipated. I was trying my hardest to stay awake with my mom so she would have some company as we drove, but I was only able to last a few hours. At about 6am I woke back up as we were passing through Pasadena, and I was admiring the windmills as my mom called the rest of our family back home to make sure they were up and functioning for the day ahead. I could only hear my mom’s half of the conversation, but I assume my little sister asked something along the lines of, “Is the sun coming up yet?” and my mom responded, “Yeah, but it’s behind us, we’re still driving into the darkness.”
The more I thought about it, this seemed to describe the weekend ahead. I was about to enter a weekend-long conversation about depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide, some really scary things that are kept in the darkness because we don’t know how to talk about them. But this weekend a group of strangers would walk into the darkness together and come out as friends.
The conversation started by addressing the stigmas attached to each of these issues and facing everything head on, but the common thread in all of the conversations were that people just want to know other people and be known in return. In my years of involvement with TWLOHA I’ve been aware of the organization’s strong belief in community and that people need other people. I have always strongly agreed with this belief, but it wasn’t until MOVE that I realized I wasn’t anywhere close to living this in my own life. I became caught in the cycle of shame, and despite my belief in TWLOHA, convinced by society that my problems didn’t matter and were not something that could be talked about. I was functioning just enough so that people didn’t ask questions. Sure I have people that I “know,” that I hang out with, and we share a few laughs, but it’s rarely anything more than that. I don’t know anything about their hopes and dreams or their fears, and they are no more aware of mine. And the saddest part is, is that I was totally content living this way. I had convinced myself that my life was just fine. I would always think to myself “What do you have to be depressed about? You’re going to school, you have a good job, and a wonderful family, and great friends,” but part of me knew that something was missing and after this weekend I realized that I had bought into almost every myth or stigma that we talked about at MOVE. I didn’t want to be a burden to others, or I didn’t feel like I deserved help, I got myself into this so I can get myself out. You name it and I’ve probably felt it and believed it about myself.
But after this weekend I am hopeful. I have learned that it’s ok not to be ok, and that I am not alone in my struggles, and like I’ve heard TWLOHA say so many times before, that rescue is possible. So today I made an appointment with a counselor, and I have plans to go to dinner with a friend and share these words in the hopes that we can walk through this darkness together. I am going to try to really listen and know the people around me, while also letting my walls down so that I can be known as well. I am excited for the days ahead, to continue learning and get the help that I need. I am excited to strive to build a community where these things can be talked about open and honestly and met with reality and compassion. Today I am excited to be alive and breathing, and I’m trying to really appreciate what that means, and learn to share my life with others. So thank you TWLOHA and the MOVE team for reminding me that we were never meant to go through this life alone.