There are a lot of areas in life where I just don’t fit in. I’ve learned to accept this fact. When I was younger, I didn’t understand why I just didn’t seem to “get” normal social guidelines. Something in me never seemed to click and I didn’t understand why so many acted the way they did and covered up so much of who they really were just to abide by someone else’s set of expectations. I said the wrong things at the wrong times, I shared way more information than anyone often wanted to know, and I generally made people uncomfortable. It wasn’t hard to see, still isn’t at times. I remember saying something and immediately regretting it because it wasn’t “okay” based upon what somebody else thought. I saw so many others acting completely different for different people; personalities adjusted to the situations. And while it works for some, and may even be necessary at times for some people, I just didn’t (and don’t) get it.
There were some people who would truly turn their backs and just walk away from me. It’s not hard to see, or even feel, an awkward hello or an eye roll. While it hurt my feelings long ago, I laugh about it now. This is me. This is who I am. And it’s okay. If someone doesn’t know how to handle my personality, I don’t believe that should be my problem. I’m annoying and odd. And I’m okay with that.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized there are so many of us “outsiders” who don’t like, or don’t know how, to play by the normal rules. And my reality now is that this is who I am, and if some don’t know how to take me, they don’t have to. It’s okay. Those who truly don’t know how to talk to or handle anything out of their comfort zones are really no different from me; we just have different comfort zones. Hiding makes me uncomfortable. I know everything about my close friends and family; I can’t handle hiding.
And now I get it. I get why I am the way I am. This “weirdness” is a God-given strength, and it got my family and I out of the hell we were living in behind the scenes. My being an outsider is the best thing that ever happened to me, but it took me years to embrace it.
Do you know how I actually started learning to accept who I am? My husband, the show “Friends”, and the song “Firecracker” by Josh Turner. Sound strange? Get used to it; not much is normal when I’m around. One day while cooking supper, I had my favorite show playing in the background. Phoebe was getting married in the snow in the street, and her soon-to-be husband said to her, “You’re so wonderfully weird.” Jeremy turned to me and said, “You know. That’s so true. You’re my Phoebe. You’re so wonderfully weird.” Jeremy loved that about me. He always loved and appreciated the me that so many made me believe I needed to cover up. I started learning to embrace my outsider status outside of our private life because he let me.
Then there was the song. Another day, a few years later, I was driving and talking on the phone with Jeremy. Over his radio, Josh Turner started singing “Firecracker.” Jeremy turned it up so I could hear. In his wonderfully off-tune voice, he sang…
“When I light the fuse I gotta get back quick.
You gotta be careful with a dynamite stick.
Son of a gun she’s fun to handle,
and she packs a punch like a roman candle.
She’s a pack of black cats in a red paper wrapper.
My little darlin’ is a Firecracker.”
And again, my confidence started to grow. Maybe being an outsider was okay. Maybe I was good enough. And I started putting it together. Jeremy had been the reason I was learning to be okay with who I am, now it was my turn to help him be okay.
Jeremy was diagnosed with severe depression in 2009; we lived a terrible secret for more than three years because he was ashamed of what his brain would do to him. Between 2009 and 2012, Jeremy attempted suicide five times. I flushed countless medications that caused his suicidal thoughts to escalate, and he was nearly killed in a head-on collision with a semi truck.
But it was later in 2012, after God gave him the strength to leave the suicide note on our computer for me to read even after He saved my husband yet again, when I figured it out. Unfortunately, I found the note before I found that Jeremy was still alive; that was the most terrifying night of my life. Fortunately, Jeremy finally shared the truth, the whole truth, and began healing. I realized being open and honest is what would save my husband. I realized my outsider status may just have not been an accident.
We found true faith because of two things we believed were the worst that had ever happened to us: outsider status and depression. I remember the first time I said something about Jeremy’s depression in public. We were walking around in Menards in Kearney, Nebraska and ran into some friends. They asked what we were doing in Kearney that evening. Without thinking, I said, “Jeremy suffers from depression and our support group is here in town.”
You wouldn’t believe how fast Jeremy’s head spun toward me. He gave me this look of, “I can’t believe you just told them that.” I didn’t care. It was a God moment; He put the words in my mouth. But do you know what happened next? Our friend answered, “I have depression too. It’s so hard sometimes. What support group do you go to?”
Destiny. Support. We learned to be open in every aspect of life. It was excruciating for Jeremy at first, but it didn’t take him long to realize we were helping people. We were allowing people to be honest and open about their realities too. We were allowing God to take something meant to harm us and use it for His good.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20 (NLT)
Now published authors, we shared our entire truth with the world. Why? Because it’s okay, and because God will use us to help people. “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” was our destiny. We wrote, now we want to travel the country and speak to anyone and everyone who will listen or who needs to hear the truth that there is hope in mental illness, there is hope for healing, and God gives us that hope if we learn to see Him and accept His good. We share more at www.jeremyandbailey.com and post almost daily on our Jeremy and Bailey Koch Facebook page in order to continue inspiring and providing hope.
I won’t hide who I am now. I won’t be ashamed, and I won’t hold anything back. For every person I annoy or make uncomfortable, I have two more who message me or tell me thank you for making them smile today because they needed it. My husband began healing when God showed him what it felt like to be honest. So when God puts it on my heart to say something, I’m going to say it. And while it may make some uncomfortable or even annoyed now, I know those people will know they can come to me and be completely honest when they need to, when they allow themselves.
I may be an outsider. I may have been misunderstood my entire life, but there is a reason God made me the way I am. There is a reason He made you the way you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Learn to embrace who you are and find your reason. Be okay with you; I’m okay with you.
Be your own kind of outsider, because, let’s face it, we are all outsiders. None of us are “normal” because there is no normal. God made us so we could use who we are for His good.