I wear it. My stress clothes me like an ill-fitting dress. It tugs at me here and hangs to loose there. My confusion and anger and the feelings I am trying to keep bottled up just manage to appear in other ways. Today, it is manifest in the draw of my shoulder and the circles under my eyes.

We wear it. We hear our bodies screaming at us as we try to push through what we are doing or what we are feeling. When we pretend that nothing is wrong for strangers and refuse to allow ourselves to hurt, we wear it.

I must find a way to undress myself from this ugly garment that cloaks me. I don’t have to spew my pain on others, though that is my inclination. In an act of desperation to relieve myself of this straitjacket, I unleash my stress on someone else only to find that it fits even more uncomfortably afterward. The guilt of my tirade only adds to the stress that already pulls at me.

I don’t have to ignore it. I don’t have to pretend that it’s not there and hope that it will go away. That is how I got here to begin with. That is why this vile pain and these sagging eyes are present. I pretend too long. I hold back tears and make believe that everything is okay when I am breaking. I am scared. I am tired. I don’t have to ignore it.

I can heal. I can breathe. I can cry – alone or in the company of trusted friends who are willing to hold me in silence or listen to me pour out my heart about hurt and fear and hope.

I can forgive – sometimes by the hour, but often minute by minute. I can choose to forgive. Forgiving doesn’t mean I will choose to be hurt again. It simply means I choose to release the hurt and know that it was caused by someone who was hurting, too. I can release my sense of entitlement and retribution to the universe trusting that I am where I need to be, and I will get to where I am going whether I can see the next step or not.

I can look. I can shift my focus from what hurt me to what gives me hope. I can choose to look away from the negative and focus my gaze on the positive.

I can choose to change my dress. I can put on peace, hope, joy. I can undress from those things that bring me pain. I can, without being anything other than I am, find peace and release the stress.

What are you wearing that is ill-fitting? Are you desperate enough to take off the stress and put on hope. It fits so much more elegantly. We look ravishing in hope. We look stunning in joy – head thrown back in a full bodied laugh.

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