On July 19, 2012, at 9:55PM, I shared the following in a Facebook message to my closest friends and family. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t talk more about Demi Lovato, but at the time, I was obsessed with BarlowGirl, so I felt more connected to them, which is odd, because these days, I feel more connected to Demi Lovato.
The Truth About Me (Brittany Willis’ Testimony, Story, and Open Confession)
Growing up, I was very insecure in who I was. I tripped over nothing, dropped everything, and was so scatterbrained you would not believe it. Normally my insecurities would only hit me in spurts and I would be able to push them away quickly, but in 2011, they were coming and coming hard. It felt like everything I did, I messed up and the insecurities soon turned into depression and self-hatred.
It started sometime between late 2010 and early 2011 when I realized that, had I been a junior like I was “supposed to be” rather than a sophomore, I would be graduating the next year. I hated that I was a year or two older than everyone in “my” grade, so I tried pushing myself to get caught up to where I was “supposed to be” in the self-paced curriculum my school did. Unfortunately, instead of accomplishing my goal, all I managed to do was stress myself out. I rushed my schoolwork, and at night when I attempted to do my homework, not understanding what I was doing, I would cry. I thought that because I was a year older than most people who did that work, I should be able to understand it. Boy was I wrong! I was never good at science or math, but that year I felt exceptionally terrible at it. Not only did I not understand what I was doing, I would also “oops” (which meant fail, but be allowed to do it all over again) many of the main tests, even though I only took them when I thought I understood what I was doing… I felt utterly and completely stupid for the second half of that school year and the first half of the following school year. At the end of my sophomore year, I took a science main test for the second time on the last day of school, and oops’d it for a second time, which meant I would have to come back to school and take the same test again. I spent the summer stressed out and feeling stupid because I just wanted to hurry and go back to school so I could take the darn test again. I went back to school and oops’d it yet again. Finally, taking the test again, I barely passed it.
Along with the stress of trying to push myself, came a bad attitude as well. At school and in public I would try my hardest to keep my attitude and stress hidden inside me, then when I would get home, it would just kind of boil over and I would yell and complain about everything. My mom would then correct me on my behavior and I would just yell and complain at her, causing a rift in our relationship. Eventually it came to a point when, if I was at home, my mom and I were most likely arguing and more times than not, it was my fault. I hated sharing my feelings with people, because it made me feel weak and vulnerable, so I would cry myself to sleep at night. Often after arguments with my mom, I would go to the bathroom or my bedroom and all my emotions about everything would come flooding out of my mind in the form of tears. In the privacy of the bathroom or my room, I would be thinking about and listing all the things I thought were wrong with me. In my mind, I was stupid, worthless, annoying, the cause for everything bad that happened, and I must have also been ugly—why else would I not have boys giving me their attention.
Eventually, probably around October-ish, my hatred toward myself took its toll and the “love” playlist that I had made to help me feel better wasn’t helping anymore, because I started thinking about the unthinkable. I thought about self-mutilation. I considered cutting myself. One day, I thought, “Hmm… it’s obviously stupid to cut myself… why don’t I just prick myself with a “safety” pin? That won’t leave marks, and no one will ever have to know.” So, I started pricking my fingers with safety pins until it hurt and bled. The physical pain took the mental and spiritual pain away for a while, then it would come back, and I would do it again. Another day, I was sitting in my bedroom floor crying and thinking thoughts of self-hatred. I picked the keys out of my bag and wondered if they would hurt me. With the Books-a-Million key card on my key ring, I started to rub the rounded edge along my leg (because if it left a mark, at least it would be less visible than my wrists), honestly not thinking it would hurt me. I was wrong; the rubbing started to cut through my skin and instead of stopping, I kept rubbing my leg. The pain really didn’t hurt as bad as the safety pins, but the stinging was more intense. I thought it was a better replacement for the mental pain than the prick, so I grabbed a safety pin and rubbed it along my leg in two other places. I felt a deep conviction that I needed to stop, so I did, but the damage had already been done. I now have three scars on my leg from that day. I continued to prick myself though, because it didn’t leave marks, so I thought, “It can’t be that bad.”
Later that year, I had started doing better in my schoolwork, so I stopped feeling bad about myself and stopped pricking my fingers. Then in December, when Christmas break came, and I hadn’t accomplished everything I was supposed to accomplish for the second quarter, I started feeling depressed again. Coincidentally on the night my eighteenth birthday, I was lying in bed and just decided to write a love letter to my future boyfriend. I still don’t know how, but that somehow turned into a love letter to God, in which I promised to let go and let God. Slowly I started to do pretty well with letting go of most things to let God. I didn’t completely give myself up to God though.
I still sometimes stressed myself to graduate on time though, and with the stress came self-destructive thoughts. In maybe February of 2012, I learned a favorite singer and actress of mine, Demi Lovato, had just come out of rehab for an eating disorder and cutting. Not only was I shocked that she had done a thing like that, especially for so many years, I was shakwn by the fact that if I didn’t completely let go of my depression and stress, I could end up like that someday. I made a new playlist with these songs on it: “You Are More” by Tenth Avenue North, “Broken Girl” by Matthew West, “Indestructible” by Britt Nicole, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson, “Someone Worth Dying For” by Mike’s Chair, “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato, “One Girl Revolution” and “Not Done Yet” by Superchick, and “We Won’t Give Up” by The Afters. I would listen to those songs nonstop, and mostly it would make me feel really good.
After a couple months though, I realized something was missing. I wasn’t really sure what it was though, until I came across a girl band that I had loved when I first heard them at twelve years old and kind of forgot about—BarlowGirl. I listened to the music I had on my iPod from their first CD and proceeded to download every other song they had. I still wasn’t sure what was missing though, I just knew that when I listened to BarlowGirl I felt better than I had in a very long time. Then while I was Googling them on the internet, I came across their stories. “Average Girl,” “Mirror,” and “Superstar,” and always been my favorite songs of theirs, but when I read and heard their stories they became even more important to me.
I learned that Becca Barlow, the oldest sister and guitar player for the band, had had an eating disorder when she was my age. In her testimony, she shares two things that made me realize part of what I was missing. She shared that God told her she was destroying what He had created; I realized that I was doing the same thing, mostly mentally, but also had in the past physically harmed myself. She also shares that a book that really helped her out of her hard time was, “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer. The name of that book itself spoke to me. I realized that my problem wasn’t what was going on around me, but what was going on inside me. I immediately checked the teen version of the book out at the library and read it. Almost as soon as I started to read it I began to feel better. I am now reading the adult version.
From Alyssa’s testimony, the middle child and bassist, pianist, and co-lead singer of the band, I learned that my major problem was that I was not letting God control my life as I had promised in December. Immediately I decided to completely give my life over to God and start reading my Bible every day. I had already said I would do that at a student convention with my school a few weeks prior, but I did not act on it. I have been reading my Bible every day since that day and have even started a “90 Day Bible Challenge.”
In a video about Lauren Barlow she confessed that she struggled with loving people the way 1 Corinthians 13 commands us to and God used that to make me realize that a lot of my problems also stemmed from not loving the people around me, as well as not loving myself. I’ve been working really hard on remembering ‘love is not self-seeking’ whenever I start to think or act badly toward people. I haven’t gotten to the point where I think it before I act, but I have gotten to the point where I think it while I act and have been able to make myself stop in the act or thought.
Finally, the fourth major thing God has used BarlowGirl to show me in my life is that I have to be totally and completely honest with Him. Often the girls talk about journaling their thoughts and talking to God through writing as well as prayer. Because I tend to speak better through writing, I immediately jumped at the idea of writing my thoughts out to God. I have felt an almost constant sense of overwhelming love and peace since I started doing that. God has used the Bible (which I also go to confirm ideas and things that I get from BarlowGirl) and many other songs and people to touch my life in an impacting and Biblical way, but nothing and no one has left as big of an impact on my life as God has through BarlowGirl.
Now all I can say about my life is that I have not been happier since I started reading my Bible and talking to God like He’s my Best Friend and True Love. I am also extremely grateful that He cares so much about me, that He used something He knows I thoroughly enjoy to speak to me in a way that I can understand and grasp.