PTSD

What does PTSD feel like? What causes it?

I remember first finding out about my husband’s arrest, then slowly learning of the betrayals, addiction, and complete destruction of our family. I felt very much like Alice in Wonderland . I would dream and cry upon waking to find that my life was real and the dream was only wishful thinking. The PTSD came on as a result of the nature of the secret lies, the public arrest and media coverage, and the fact that I was married to someone for twenty-five years that suddenly became a stranger to me.

Suddenly my world no longer made sense.

I felt like everything was unreal.  The trauma was palpable and unnerving. I walked around in a daze for hours and days and then weeks and finally it felt like years. I had to numb my heart and mind or it would not recover. The very first full day after no sleep….I cried like there was no tomorrow. I couldn’t even breathe.

I completely lost my ability to think clearly for a while. I couldn’t do simple math, and my memory came at a very labored price. I forgot simple things like names, phone numbers, and history stories that I teach. I had to read each story five minutes before I would teach it for that first year. I had to make lists for myself in every area and carry them around so I wouldn’t forget to pay bills….cook dinner….do laundry….water the plants….get gas…..and breathe!

I was able to function…talk…dress…and even teach if I didn’t have to use my memory. But anything complex became a horrible struggle. I have NEVER felt so stupid in my life. Sometimes I would just cry at night….my heart broken over the fact that I had forgotten how to spell a simple word like awful…..or couldn’t remember the name of a colleague in the hallway that day.

I would also see things out of the corners of my eyes that were not really there. I would jump at the slightest sound. Trusting anyone felt like it took the strength of Hercules…..and just desiring to eat was a conscious choice I had to make. I was weepy,  and yet prone to days when I could muster no feelings at all.

I j umped at roaches and would see them crawling in my peripheral vision. My heart would tremble and my body would go into fight or flight at the slightest stress. The slightest trigger could make me cry for hours.  I remember someone sharing a song with me….and the lyrics made me cry for hours. I would watch a movie and have to cry…..see a commercial and totally be triggered by the women……..I remember going into Publix for the first time after I had learned everything….and being completely overwhelmed by the feeling that everyone knew….and some of the women might have met up with my husband. It was completely unnerving and disheartening. Feelings of intense hopelessness and worthlessness would flood over me seemingly out of nowhere. I was in very real danger of closing up my heart and never opening the door to my emotions ever again.

I remember my saving grace was teaching. I would walk into the classroom and could immediately feel almost normal. I could be the Leslie I used to be in front of the children. I could run my classroom and take field trips and forget that I was this broken woman in my other areas of life.

There are days now when I am able to be strong. I can believe that the world will be a good place and I have worth. But there are still times when the PTSD will return briefly. My heart will falter. Something will trigger an emotion or a memory, and I will feel so alone or so unable to move forward. My whole sense of time goes off kilter….five minutes can seem like five days. I lose the ability to think for awhile. I cannot plan. I cannot execute my plans. I simply have to hold on emotionally and try not to drop out the bottom of the black hole. This week it was returning to a pizza joint. I went there with my ex-husband….pizza night….anniversary dinners…take out. Sitting there in the restaurant, I could feel the wall…the numb….the dizzy feeling of all the emotions crowding around. I couldn’t be comfortable, and I just wanted to run out. It is crazy. I know when it is happening….and can look back and see what I should have done…..but in the moment….I am not able to deal with all those emotions. I will become numb.

Sometimes during this time, I will write. I often will try to do something that has beauty attached to it…..music, art, poetry, reading……a wonderful movie.

I try to pray or read scripture but often….I am immobilized and unable to do anything but feel like a scared rabbit in the grass being hunted by a giant war eagle.

Today it is not as bad as it has been in the past but it is there occasionally. I feel the tremble. I feel the fear. I feel the spinning that could go out of control.

Time seems to be lingering and hopeless. I cannot seem to trust that Good and Perfect gifts come from my Father. I cannot seem to believe fully that I am lovable and that someday I will feel loved again.

I am trying but my mind keeps getting stuck on what I do wrong in relationships. I have been up since three am and I need sleep. I have not been able to eat much and my heart is aching. I am longing again….longing for someone to hold my hand…..someone to see me…someone trustworthy to come into this mess and help walk me out. I am beating myself up….hearing the words that tell me I am not enough.

These and ten million more thoughts cross my mind and make it difficult to even breathe.

I have been in touch with a wonderful woman, Laurie Hall. She wrote a book called: An Affair of the Mind, which I read two years ago. She has walked this road and had some wisdom for me. She said:

Your fear of trusting anyone is very normal.  PTSD is also very normal when you’ve had this kind of trauma.  I lived with PTSD for over 20 years.  It was awful: self-condemning thoughts,
panic and anxiety, that would come out of nowhere and torture me.  I have finally found peace from that.  

Try this: when you go to bed each night, remind yourself that God is present with you and loving you and then repeat, “I let the love wash over me, I let, I let it be.”  Keep repeating this until you feel the love.

Then, repeat “I let the peace wash over me, I let, I let it be”.  Keep repeating until you feel the peace.
It was so good to just hear that all this is normal….that I am not just so broken in a way that cannot ever be fixed. It is so comforting to know that this is not something I am just making up in my head. I forget that broken places can take on normal ebbs and flows and others can help guide you through them. I am not broken because I did something wrong. I am not experiencing something strange…..I am experiencing something known and that gives me hope.
I can begin to use God’s word to fight this battle. I can begin to strengthen my mind and my spirit along with my heart. God does not fail us. When He says the truth shall set you free….He means it.
So I intend to work hard to gain freedom over this PTSD….these feelings of hopelessness…panic….anxiety….worthlessness….they will pass. I can identify them and feel them coming…..and I can fight them in the power of Christ’s love. I am so very grateful to Laurie Hall for speaking into this situation….and Barbara Steffens and Leslie Vernick for their powerful books as well….three women who are valiantly fighting for the hearts and minds of women (and men) who have been scarred by someone else’s sexual addiction.

God come for me in these moments. Help me to release control, breathe  your vision into my life, and walk forward making beauty out of these ashes. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder……PTSD…..

Come Lord Jesus…..create in me …..Patience, Trust,  and Self-Control …a reordering of my mind!  PTSC……a much more pleasant way to spend a morning! Take even my mind and make it yours today!

Plenty of Fish

I just spent some time looking through a website for dating….Plenty of Fish.  I heard about it while having coffee with someone. I am laughing and horrified and so aware that I am feeling like a high school girl all over again….you know….the one who walks down the hallway carrying her books….carrying her dreams in her head….carrying her hurts in her heart…..wanting someone to see her but terrified of rejection. THAT girl!

I cannot believe we have come to this. We put up some pictures of ourselves….some look professionally done and others look like the person doesn’t know how to take a good picture……We write what we consider to be a witty opening….”Will You Be My Valentine? Are you Looking for Me? A Cutie with a Booty” (that one made me laugh out loud!

Then we fill out all the statistics about ourselves….5’8″ tall….brown eyes….desire a woman between 34-47…..looking for someone honest, caring, compassionate, and sexy!

Wow! I am reading through these and the fear is sky high! I see men that look absolutely crazy….others who look great but sound absolutely crazy…..some that look lost….a divorced, shy man who has young kids and admits that they are just getting by and things are tough because of the divorce….another that says he has a brain injury and is so lonely…..another who looks so arrogant…..and another that has posted close ups of his biceps and every picture shows off his chiseled physique.

My mind is spinning….I cannot make myself sign up. Online seems like an irrational place….a place where people go to pretend they are real people…a place where we go to look through shop windows and try to find someone in two dimensions when real people exist in three. How on earth could I click on someone’s profile and invite them to a cup of coffee? I would not sleep every night before the coffee. I would have to have my friends do a complete background check…fingerprints would be great, and then I would need three references and would need to find someone that I know that actually knows this person and their story! I would have to find someone from my area, and I would have to actually find someone who knows them first and could introduce us in person……perhaps dating sites need to be like LinkedIn….where you can see how you are connected to people…..then you could date within a real life realm….if everyone in your Facebook or LinkedIn or Pinterest…or Google circles who was single would show up…and it would tell you who you know that knows this person….then a dinner could be arranged…..a background check could be done….their story could be shared and there wouldn’t  be flipping out ……worrying that this stranger was not really who they claim to be!

How on earth could I trust someone to tell me the truth about who they are?

And that is the reality….I think online dating just sets it right up there in front of my eyes….on the screen….I am seeing my ex! I see him in every profile….

I remember sitting at lunch with someone who was telling me their story. She was telling me some very tough things about her ex-husband and she stopped a minute and looked at me….”But if you met him….you would think he was wonderful! You would think he was one of the nicest guys you had ever met!”

That stopped me in my tracks.

It made me think about people and their stories. How will I move into a place of trust? God this is scary! I know that for me…online dating can probably never happen….my story is of such a horrible online betrayal……I know for others online dating has led to wonderful marriages….my own dad found his wife online, and they are very happy. I have heard stories of lots of women who find  online dates and have met wonderful people.

I am the one broken…..and I can see that now. I just need to quit beating myself up over it and realize that for me….God will provide a different way because He knows my heart. He knows what I need.  I need to continue to live into “Try less and trust more!” So online dating is really no different in the end. Someone can deceive you in person as well as online. I am well aware of that!

There are plenty of fish in the sea….I am still trying to figure out how to trust just one of them someday.

For Sale: One Slightly Used Wedding Dress

Wedding Dress

For Sale……One slightly used wedding dress.

I ran into it at the back of the closet today.

I didn’t think it would make me cry…..

But there it was….all white and beautiful and outdated…..

It looked just like it did the day I wore it……but now….

….it has too many memories to feel safe in my closet.

I have had a friend bury hers. She took it out….had a ceremony….. and actually buried it six feet under.

I have had a friend sell hers and another give hers to someone who needed one….online I have read about people who made theirs into pillows to give to their daughters. I don’t think mine want any reminders currently…..

I cannot decide what to do with this dress.

None of my girls want it…….I wouldn’t want it if it had been my mother’s….a constant reminder of failure.

………..and I do not want it either. I find I don’t want anything from him anymore. I want to be completely done. I want to put my face forward and I don’t want to look back.

I am still dealing with how to be happy at any weddings that actually do take place…how to overcome the shame of a failed marriage….how to be a mom giving a bride away because there is no father…..how to stand there and wish them well…knowing that in their heads they might be thinking …”Well…it didn’t exactly work out for you now mom did it?” or they may just be hoping their marriage will work out better than mine did.

I brushed against the garment bag…..I heard the familiar rustle of the taffeta ….the organza….the ruffles.

I chose this dress because it seemed beautiful to me at the time….a lot like I thought my marriage would be.

The dress was flowing and feminine…..and so much like a  princess in my head. I wanted to be radiant and beautiful. I wanted to be a woman who felt her husband thought she was beautiful that day….

I desired to make a memory that would last…year after year…watching the video and reminiscing about how wonderful the first day was and all the wonderful days that followed.

In the closet, it brushed against my arm…..now a reminder of all that did not happen….and all that I failed to do….all that I had dreamed …….and all that came crashing down in an instant.

It is hanging there in the closet…..

…….and I am sitting here crying…. I am allowing myself to grieve.

I need to figure out what to do with one slightly used wedding dress…..

I need to figure out what to do with one slightly used heart.

Phone Calls

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I hadn’t realized how much I missed my friend until I heard her on the phone. I called her after she requested that we talk…she is kind and thoughtful like that….demanding to speak to me after I have not called for so long!

Her husband picked up the phone….we talked for about twenty seconds….just pleasantries…but then as he was about to hand the phone to my friend…..he paused….

“It is so good to hear your voice!”

The sincerity and simple honesty in his voice touched my heart.

Then it struck me……

It WAS!

It was SO good to hear his voice and then to hear my friend’s voice.

There is something in hearing someone’s voice….it is unlike a letter…unlike a text….unlike anything else in the world.

I have missed their fellowship and time has slipped by unknowingly…..imperceptibly….like a rushing river to the ocean…….

But the voices brought them close again…..suddenly they were here….in my living room…..their bodies were in Hawaii….but their voices were right here….in my house!

We talked for hours! It was like trying to drink from a fire hose….so much has happened in the past year and a half….so much to remember….so much of our hearts to share.

The two hours on the phone slipped by so quickly….we laughed….we cried…..

There is nothing quite like hearing the voice of someone who knows you….someone you trust to hold your heart…….

I so miss my friend. I miss seeing her face and just being able to call her and know she could come if I needed her…….

But then I realized….if I truly needed her….she would come! If she needed me….I would find a way!

We are made for fellowship like this. Our hearts grow cold without people to open up with and friends to trust completely. This friend is someone who has been here for most of my life…..

We went to High School together….but didn’t know each other there. We met right before we were married women…..

We used to talk about pregnancy and babies….nursing and toddlers…..the frustrations of parenting and the joys of little children…….husbands and mothers….and just life and living.

We still talk about all the same things….just not little babies anymore (until grand babies come I suppose).

Now we can talk about anything….and I trust that she holds my heart………. and it moves me to tears when she cries…..and I cry….and then we are both crying….and then laughing because we are crying for each other……

Love comes in so many lovely ways throughout our lives…..

This week it came in a phone call!

Questions for a Daddy

Beloved daughter, wandering, rejected, found, rejoicing

I was so anxious and filled with trepidation at the time.

He was going to call…..my dad was going to call.

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I hadn’t spoken to this man for 30 years……

I was frightened.…I was excited.

The Facebook message I sent him was filled with questions…..Why did you cheat on my mom?…..Why did you never pay child support?…..Why did you never call me?…..Why did you want me aborted?…..why…why……why?………………every mean thing I could think of that my mother had told me….. I fired off every mean question I grew up with. It was a horrible message. Not exactly a friendly…”Hey dad….how are you?”

He didn’t write back.

I remember worrying for days. I was a nervous wreck wondering if he just hated me. Perhaps he was just indifferent and didn’t even want to open the door to a conversation. Perhaps I had hurt him deeply with my questions……the days dragged by.

Then my sister told me that he probably didn’t even read Facebook messages. He was a newbie to Facebook. So I copied my message and wrote it on an email.

I got a quick reply.

“Leslie, these are a lot of questions to answer in an email. Can I call you?”

Can I call you?

I had waited forever to hear words like that….I had been desiring to know him a long time. I wanted him to call and at the same time, I was afraid of his call. What if my heart failed me? What if I couldn’t hear the answers or even ask the questions? What if he was unkind? What if all the horrible things I was told were true? Would I be able to discern who he was? Would my heart be able to withstand someone else being dark and hidden…..It was not pleasant….waiting and wondering was painful.

But my little girl heart wanted to hear his voice and the grown woman needed his answers.

So I took his call.

It was strange to hear his voice over the phone. I had to go down to the car to take his call in order to have some privacy. My girls didn’t even know he existed. They grew up not knowing that I had been adopted by my step father….for the most part…they thought my childhood was idyllic and that their grandparents were my parents….end of story. I hadn’t shared my pain or my story. I didn’t think I ever would. It wasn’t until my ex-husband’s arrest that any of the old longings and old emotions began to surface with a vengeance.

I remember that he let my questions from the email tumble out without interruption. Then he told me the story………

…..as if I was ten.

He kept it very age appropriate….but there is was…..a story so different from the one I grew up with. His story was not like my mother’s at all….it was the opposite….she had left….she had found another….she had needed more and wanted more…..he was the one who loved….he wanted the kids….he always wanted me…….she kept me from him. She made it difficult…he had loved her very much.

What do you do with competing stories?

Suddenly my life had more competing stories than I could deal with……my heart just burst…right there on the phone….I couldn’t stop crying…..all the desires of childhood….all the love I had wanted to have for this man…..all the anger at my mother…all the anger at my ex-husband and his lies…..all of it came crashing into waves of tears.

My dad just listened and talked to me. He told me I was strong, and I could make these decisions….no one could tell me who to love and no one should. I could let go of the past and move forward………He told me about some of his story……….. growing up and being a boy without a dad. His dad left the family…abandoned the family and he didn’t get to know him until he was in his twenty’s. He told me some of his story of life with my mom………. Saturday morning cartoons when I would snuggle up in his lap before mom would wake up. He patiently let me ask questions and patiently answered them.

It was a conversation that I had waited 30 years to have, and I was so sad to know that it took me that long to finally stand up for myself and talk to my dad. I was sad that he hadn’t broken through my wall and come for me himself. I was angry that my mom made this relationship so difficult. I was heartbroken that my world was so very broken.

I got off the phone and realized that I now had a daddy. I had been longing for one forever! I was someone loved by a father. I was someone’s little girl. He HAD delighted in me. He even remembered it! And even if I hadn’t received all the truth or even if I never learned what the true truth of the story was….I had done the impossible….I had talked to my dad….and my heart got a little larger.

Files

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I was divorced exactly one year ago today. It was a simple proceeding…..I really was in shock at how God wooed my heart that day. Everyone in the courtroom seemed to me to extend an extra measure of kindness and concern for my heart….the guard who opened the door and pulled out my chair like such a gentleman both at the start and finish of the proceedings…the judge who asked me no questions except to state my name and who looked at me so kindly and told me I was done…. with such concern in his eyes for my children…….and the friend who was with me…walking me through such a difficult day. There are days when I still cannot even remember how I got to this point in my life…..where did the tapestry unravel and how was it that I didn’t see the tear before the whole thing unravelled? But God has walked with me every step of the way and has shown me that He is not willing that my heart hide and be overlooked. I feel like the one sheep that he left the 99 for….I feel like I am in some ways more than I was…..in some small way, I have been brought low in order to be strengthened and shown the depth and breadth of His love. So today….I remember……..and I am preparing to start a new file!

I just picked up my divorce file from my lawyer. The case has been closed since last year and she wrote me and asked me to come and pick it up. It was an unceremonious proceeding. The divorce was simple. The only complicating matter was that my husband was in prison at the time. Some things had to be routed to a police officer up in the area who would deliver the materials to get signed and then bring them back out of the prison. The only complicating matter on my end was the cost and the heartbreak.

My life with him now sits before me in a brown expanding file. There are four sections. Each one has different information about my marriage and my life stored in them. Each one is a reminder that nothing went according to plan. There is a file for the original workup, one for the bankruptcy case, one for the mandatory disclosures and then a final one for the pleadings.

I feel like they are a metaphor for my own journey.

The original work up was the wedding and my life before June 15, 2012. It should be full to the brim with details about birthdays and Christmases. There should be a whole sheet in there on the birth of each baby and the adventures we had moving so many times when the kids were young. A page on Seminary, long walks, and holding hands would fit in here. There could be a section on the visiting of relatives and the friends we shared and kept in contact with from high school.  The school where we taught, the church we attended, the lives of our girls, and vacations would all have a page. And it might be mentioned in there somewhere that we rarely fought. We were friends and enjoyed talking to one another.  All the good and wonderful things about our marriage would go in here. All the love, joy, and happiness that filled those years carefully and lovingly written all over the pages of this file.

The bankruptcy case would be full of all the times I felt unprotected. When he left his teaching job unexpectedly after his first year, that was the start of eight jobs in twenty-four years. The disengagement and the yearning for a different life that was expressed so regularly are slipped in on a scribbled note on the bottom of the file. The abandonment I felt, and my inability to express my feelings and thoughts all get to go in here. All the times I was told I wasn’t enough, or that I was holding him back fit in this file. The moments of loneliness and the slipping into an addiction that slowly happens over time all crowd this file. This is a terrible file. All the notes are red or black. They are written with heartache and unresolved anguish. I feel like the bankruptcy file was never-ending.

The mandatory disclosure is the file that contains the story of what really happened. It is where I found out about the addiction. I found out about the shadow. The ugliness of what I discovered fills the whole file! Disclosures are mandatory….but they hurt. Even my own disclosures are mandatory. They go in this file too. It is full of the moments when I failed and the moments when I was small and unkind. The story of my life is in the disclosures.

The final file is the pleadings.

What exactly are pleadings? The dictionary entry was surprisingly accurate here. The sentence they chose was poetic.

  1. the action of making an emotional or earnest appeal to someone.
    “he ignored her pleading”
  2. LAW
    a formal statement of the cause of an action or defense

I filled this one with my tears. I pleaded quite a bit. I know I didn’t always say what I should have, but I did have pleadings. I didn’t have the boundaries I should have, but I did make earnest appeals for what was right and good and beautiful. I am allowing this file to be the formal statement of the cause of my actions. My earnest appeals are done. My time of grieving is continuing. My understanding of the reasons I walked away are clear. I am done pleading. I am instead going to choose. I choose to walk forward, and I choose to see clearly. Pleadings won’t help. I am finding that only facing things squarely and speaking truth help.

As I carried my prize back to the car that day, I passed a man and his two children. His little boy and he were out walking with the cutest little girl. I stood watching  this lovely scene. Her guide stick got stuck and her father was patiently guiding her and teaching her how to see in this new way. She was smiling and bouncing along tapping her stick out in front of her. She was just a seven-year old girl out on a walk………..walking blind and trusting completely.

As I got in the car, the grey rain falling down was mirroring the tears falling inside the car. I realized that I longed to be blind. I wanted to be blind to this ugly mess. I didn’t want to be left holding this particular file. I wanted to believe again that someone could love me faithfully. I wanted to believe that someone IS who they say they are, and can be trusted to tell the truth. I wanted to skip along confidently knowing that someone knows me and guards my heart. But I am not blind. I am not innocent anymore. I have a file full of memories.  I would like to burn this file and start a new one some days, but I know that I love too much in the files to get rid of it. Files like these are an all or nothing proposition.

So, I will keep my file and learn to be thankful for it. I know it will be in the learning to be thankful, that I will truly learn to see.

Disclosures

I want to scream at him……

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“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?”

It hurts so deep that even tears cannot touch this. Where did the happiness go? Where is the trust? Where is the carefree girl who could laugh and play? Where she went is a mystery. In her place, there is this woman who is grieving and hurting and questioning….”What have you done?”

The question bubbles up and sticks in my throat. I cannot utter it out loud. I cannot cry it out of my chest. I cannot make it go away.

“What have you done?”

 My head wants answers. I want reasons and things to fix. I desperately want to fix all this and make it as if nothing ever happened. I want someone to come and tell me that I am mistaken. I am not seeing clearly. I want someone to hold my hand and let me know that this craziness is just a dream.

“What have you done?”

How can I get an answer from the one I do not trust? How can I get answers in the dark and hopeless place which this has sent me into?

I am incapable of fixing this one. I am incapable of bringing healing. I can only lay prostrate on the floor and utter the question.

“What have you done?”

I am sick in my heart. I am sick in the pit of my stomach. I am sick in the very place where I am supposed to feel his love. I am tired and walking in a fog.

The tears stream down and the cries are painful and deep. I cannot wish for a father to hold me any more than right now. This is the time when a girl desires that her daddy come for her and take her up and just be a father. This is the moment when a girl longs to be known and protected and given assurances that her father will always cherish her heart.

“What have you done?”

I want to know and I don’t want to know. I desire the facts and yet the facts feel as if they will kill me.

This tsunami is flooding in and I am ready for it to pass and be done. I am ready to be beyond the knowledge that there is always more. I am ready to move beyond the brokenness and into a place of healing. But I am not able to yet. I have to face every piece. I have to hear the answers that I don’t want to hear. I have to face the things which I do not want to face. I have to walk one more road.

 Instead I will ask Him…..”What have you done?”

And I have to let Him come and gently take my heart and lift my face and tell me that He has done all this for my good…..for my salvation….for the love of me…..in order to draw me to Him that I can live with Him forever.

“What have you done?”

“Lord, you have come for me and that is all I have ever needed.”

 I will rest in that tonight.

Ordinary Me

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People have asked me if I feel ready to date. The minute I hear that question, fears begin running around in my head.

I was married to the man I met in 10th grade in high school….

I dated (and I mean one date) a boy named Derrick…he took me to a movie. We drove in his truck. It was so high off the ground you had to jump to get in. He was a fun date….but he moved away!

Then I had my first real boyfriend….we walked around the mall…we went to homecoming….we sat at my house and talked. We hung out with our circle of friends.

I went out on one date with a body builder the summer of my senior year of high school. He took me to see Cujo and then to Pizza Hut for dinner. I literally ate one slice of the large pie and he ate the rest while he showed me the multiple pictures of his flexing poses that he kept in his wallet. He listened to me though…he heard a little of my heart as I mentioned that I loved the park, sitting on the swings, and watching the stars. He took me there before the night was over. He was at least a gentleman.

That is it. Then I dated the man I married.

That is my whole dating history. It is not exactly stellar and varied.

Lately I just feel like…………………….. a wanna be…I wanna be younger…I wanna be special to someone….I wanna be healed already….I wanna be prettier….I wanna be more confident………….….I wanna be secure in myself……………I wanna not cry anymore and I wanna be all God desires of me and perfect!

There is so much to being an adult, and I am finding there is so much to being a woman who has been hurt.

But all these fears would be able to fit in a tea cup….I could get past them easily if someone came for my heart. I could easily talk and share if someone just helped me open the door. These are not the fears that make my heart stop beating.

It is  other fears that stop me in my tracks. The ordinary life fears.

Isn’t that funny?

It is the ordinary every  day things that have hurt the most.

I am brushing my teeth and it hits me….no one else on earth has shared this moment and seen me with my towel on my head…brushing my stupid teeth….rinse…spit…the very ordinariness of it makes me cry. I am afraid that it is here that I was not enough….perhaps I am too …..too….lacking in these ordinary places?

I wake up now in the mornings and look in the mirror….I am distraught…perhaps it is here…perhaps the lack was in the morning….my bedhead and wrinkles? It is horrifying! I am not making this up! It is actually horrifying to me to even consider letting someone see the ordinary me again…ever!

The me without any makeup…the me that leaves her shoes on the floor by the bed and gets way too many clothes out in the morning and doesn’t have them put away by bedtime neatly in the closet. It is the me that was too tired to get the dishes done so the kitchen is a wreck in the morning at times….the me that didn’t take out the trash right away so the bag sits by the front door for a couple of days…..the me that doesn’t have time to vacuum the car so the jackets are piled up on the back seat because I haven’t had time to take them upstairs.

It is the me that sniffles in allergy season….the me that has puffy eyes after a night of crying….the me that wants to complain about a small hurt someone gives me and the me that has four books open to the page I left off on strewn about the bedroom. I have piles of papers that need filed and eyebrows that aren’t always plucked to perfection…..I can ruin good clothes in the wash and easily forget to be kind to my daughters.

It is the real me…the ordinary me that I am most fearful of lately.

It is the horrifying moments when I remember that I am just this ordinary, less than perfect by far, completely stubborn woman. That thought make me shrink back and know that I am incapable of being anything like one of those girls in movies that can be everything all the time. I am incapable of being witty and smart and generous and loving all the time. Most of the time, I am just a small, ordinary, run of the mill, slightly selfish, sinful human being that gets most of the things wrong in her life. I see every fault, every flaw and every weak area so clearly now.

It is these moments of terror looking in the mirror for rinse and spit that I realize where the deepest wound is…..

He saw the ordinary me and decided he needed something much, much more……

I have been known and rejected.

That is the wound that just won’t seem to heal…………… because……….. I see the ordinary me too…………and I certainly don’t think she is exciting in the least.

She is just……ordinary.

It is in these moments that I have to step away from my feelings.

I have to step into being a beloved daughter on faith alone.

I have to remember whose I am, and that He made me for a purpose.

I have to trust that His plans for me are good and He is faithful.

I have to trust…………even when I don’t see or feel any truth.

I have to remember that I don’t see clearly……and I don’t  remember who I am yet. I am still healing and still becoming.

I have to trust that it is OK to be ordinary.

God help me see myself through your eyes today.

Father’s Day

I was simply sitting at church on Father’s Day.

It should be one of the loveliest days of the year.  Having four gorgeous daughters….who have gorgeous hearts…..and well trained minds……and who are loving and kind and giving and beautiful messes….just like they should be after a life with two imperfect people…… THIS should be an amazing day of growing more together and more in love through the grace and mercy of Christ.

But it isn’t…..and I am finding that it hasn’t been for far longer than I EVER expected.

But I was simply trying to set aside the memories that come crowding around on this day.

I was with my best friend  who had given me one of the loveliest days EVER at her house the night before……and a whole church of people who have stood with me…….just trying to be there and trying to concentrate on the memories of a Costa Rican mission trip that was to be discussed and sunshine after a week of grey rain as well as people with adorable babies. I was simply trying to numb the memories of five years ago…….

And my Bishop had none of that.

He walked up and looked me in the eyes and remembered with me. He spoke words of blessing and remembrance and suddenly….the numb was gone and a flood of emotions brimmed up, and I felt a wash of release and relief and grief and sorrow as he spoke and blessed me and looked right into that place of my deep, deep pain and didn’t turn away.

He was there on that day five years ago…..at church….the morning after the revelation from hell. He was there trying to hold a flock together as reporters came and camped in his parking lot. He was there as they interviewed parishioners. He was there as my friend made a statement to the cameras. He was there grieving for me and making plans to come and help me. Communion was brought to me after the service……people were being called and lawyers were being sought out……others were making plans to help me have time away at the beach and at a guest house. Still others began thinking through what would happen in my life even as I sat in my house answering the door to a DCF officer and policemen who had come to interview my children and me.

My Bishop and his wife were making plans to help and my friend from Global Teams was making plans and my friends from school were making plans…….plans to come in and walk with me in any way needed: standing in my driveway to keep reporters away, buying no trespassing signs, bringing meals, finding a lawyer, sitting with me as I cried and cried and cried after the door had been shut on the police officer and DCF representative. Patiently telling me there would be more so I could prepare my heart for all that was to come…….finding a way to make space in a relationship that felt like the very weight of it would break my neck and rip out my heart.

I remember this day, and I feel it now.

I couldn’t feel a single thing then….my heart had to be put away……tears would come automatically as if to keep my heart from exploding….but I couldn’t properly feel them. I couldn’t feel anything except a panic and fear and lostness that was threatening to engulf my very soul.

I remember sleeping and dreaming…..life would be either a nightmare or a fond remembrance of what I had thought was real life…..and then I would wake. There is no dread quite as thick as the dread you feel upon waking and finding your life was a lie and is instead a nightmare. There is no terror more complete than that of finding everything you held dear to be a lie.

I sat in my pew at church and began to feel all that day held….and his eyes and blessing were an immeasurable comfort. He knows loss….this man knows grief and betrayal and loss and pain…..and yet he would stand there and be willing to fully walk in mine with me. IT was a gift that I simply can never repay. And during the sermon….he told the congregation that someone translated the words of God at Christ’s baptism as “This is my precious child….whom I love dearly.” And later after the service, sought me out again and told me that was straight from God to me.

I CANNOT tell you how meaningful that was…..how much healing that holds for me that my Father on Father’s Day would send my Bishop to speak those words straight into this feeling heart that is falling apart still and yet  is healing and can only be healed by words like this.

I am His Beloved Child……His precious child……in whom He is well pleased….whom He loves dearly.

Amen.

Crashing

Crashing……………

…………………………sometimes….it is what happens when you are grieving.

Crashing is to be expected. It is not the end of the world…..it is simply feelings that are coming out all at once after a heart wakes up from trauma or numbness or a couple of months of regular every day joy….or you see pictures of a friend that just found Mr. Right and got married……. or you see someone with their girlfriend on social media……..or you just have an aching heart and cannot quite figure out why.

Crashing is not fun.

It feels like the world is ending. It feels like nothing will ever be joyful again, and you are simply not worthy of joy and goodness and what other people take for granted…….

You should NOT go on social media during crashing.

You should not look through old photos or meander down memory lane.

You should not isolate yourself.

You should take a bath……

You should eat something healthful and delicious…perhaps cook yourself a whole meal of super healthy broth and steak and veggies and  learn to make kombachu

You should talk with friends and ask for prayer.

You should paint or practice piano or take a walk in nature or swim or go shopping or go out to eat with a good friend.

You should read a great book….just not Wuthering Heights…..not something melancholy….read something happy and cheerful.

You should not sit alone and simply try to think your way out of crashing.

Get a manicure….get a massage…..get a glass of wine or tea or coffee…….get a new song and listen to it as you walk on the treadmill….try Audrey Assad…..VERY lovely and positive.

Find a way to get into something that leads you forward like signing up for a trip to train teachers…..

Or simply eat a little dark chocolate…….

…….. And write yourself a blog about all the things that work and all the things that don’t so you will take your own advice!

 

Finally…..remember that June is only a month long…..no more………30 little days….and then July 23rd will pass and then October will pass and finally……the holidays will roll around and you will be in a much better place simply by taking good care of yourself….being kind to yourself…..pampering yourself and fighting for your own healing because you are the one that has to walk forward. No one else can do this for you. You must pray into this and allow your heart to feel this…..and open up so that others can see this…..and do the things you know in your head make you better….even as your heart would desire to simply run away and never face anything ever again!

Different Kinds of Bridges

Groom Stops Mid-Vow & Admits He Loves Someone Else—When He Points Her Out to the Bride, Her Heart MELTS

I have been having a few difficult moments in the last weeks……relapses from foods I should not eat…..illness from too much stress and too many memories……as well as wonderfully joyful moments with daughters and phone calls and mission trips and late night shopping runs with my favorite driver! Life is so full that I am afraid to take time to reflect sometimes….until I come across terms like “highly sensitive people” and take the test and score pretty high and begin pondering why I never have known about this term and why it all makes so much sense after reading about it……retaking the Myers Briggs and applying that to the other knowledge of highly sensitive people and beginning to make connections between the personality of an INFP / INFJ hybrid combined with a highly sensitive nature. So connections are what I do apparently. Making connections and dreaming and thinking and feeling emotions and desiring to teach and talk and discuss and build bridges between people and ideas are the things that energize me……..

And then on Sunday afternoon, after a week of pondering a poem by Rudyard Kipling called The Sons of Martha (it is posted at the bottom of the blog), and talking with an engineer about the poem…and later that afternoon rereading a blog of mine called Shouting and having a section leap off the page at me….

Admitting defeat is so much easier than walking the precarious, preposterously difficult road that a sex addict would need to walk in order to make it right and build a bridge to healing for all the hearts destroyed by the lies.

…After all that…..I happened upon a Facebook post that connected everything and reduced me to absolute tears.

http://faithit.com/groom-makes-vows-brides-daughter-jefferson-jessica/

I read it and couldn’t even get through to the end of it the first time. Suddenly all of the things I had been reading and all of my homework, which has been to write down all of my desires in each of my various relationships…….suddenly it all came together into a giant heartache which let me know to look more deeply for the desire of my heart that was staring at me…..trying to get my full attention.

Suddenly I was seeing with fresh eyes and feeling with the heart of an eight year old little girl….and a wounded eighteen year old woman….and a pregnant mother……. and a broken-hearted forty-six year old wife. Suddenly all the desires were rolled into one very poignant desire that pierced my heart to its very core.

I needed a bridge builder. I needed someone who saw me and desired to build a bridge to my heart.

I desire a bridge builder even now. It is one of my deepest desires.

Suddenly the Sons of Martha poem made more sense and the passage I had written made more sense and the Facebook video crystalized what I needed to know about my heart. Suddenly…the Sons of Martha became the men like the one in this video…taking the burden laid on them by God and building a bridge for the heart of their beloved. The Sons of Martha became the brave men who take the cares of others placed in their life by God himself, and simply serve in powerful and profound ways. It was an aha moment for me, since I thought I knew what the poem was trying to say, and I had been fighting with this poem all week.

God is so tender and always shows me so sweetly how stubborn I can really be in my self-righteous little way!

I choked back tears watching the video for the third time….the ache was palpable. This little girl has such joy and surprise on her face. This man has given her such a gift. She was being fully loved in that moment right where her largest wound was located. His bride was being fully loved in that moment….right where her greatest fears were. I could suddenly feel exactly how much fear there is around allowing someone else into a life that includes four daughters. Mine are grown….but the desire is the same. I would desire a bridge builder like this man, capable of coming for their hearts as well as mine.

And I realize….in my story….that bridge is so complex and so difficult to build that only God himself may be skilled enough to construct it. I realize that my heart may be so far on the other side of a canyon that no one can ever see it and have the strength or desire to construct that bridge.

And so I cry.

I cry out to God about how unfair that feels. I cry out to him about how scared I am and how very much I do not want to be alone forever. But I also cannot find a way out of the dark woods on my own. I cannot build that bridge myself. I am not that kind of engineer.

I cry out because when I was that young girl…..I desired for someone to come for me like this. I wanted it even then….a bridge builder who would pledge to love and come for me faithfully…..because I was part of a family……because I was seen and loved and included in that vow.

I cry out because as a wife…..I desired that bridge to be built, and I was part of the destruction often times. I see my lack and my places where I hid and refused to open up. I see the places where the bridge was poorly constructed and was only a hollow structure just waiting to fall apart in the first storm. I see the lack of craftsmanship and the way in which it was for show only and not carefully and lovingly constructed with wisdom and precision.

I cry out because as a pregnant wife…..I wanted that bridge to hold me steady during those difficult months and years, and I wanted that bridge to be a way to meet under a full moon and build an even deeper romance with the one whose children I was mothering.

I cry out because even today…..I desire that bridge. I desire a bridge so strong and true and faithfully built. It is one of my deepest and truest desires even now.

I cry out because part of me wonders if this bridge is even possible for someone as old as me and someone as unable to be brave at times as I can be.

So….this revelation and connection is beautiful….and horribly difficult at the same time. Healing from a destructive marriage can be intensive at times. Trauma can be difficult to maneuver at times.

But God is certainly faithful all the time.

 I can see how he helps me to make these connections and come to a place of seeing clearly…..even if he doesn’t always take away my desire or give me the things I desire in the way I expect……He always shows me my desires and then invites me to come deeper into his heart.

God help me to lay this desire at your feet. It feels so overwhelming and so raw. It feels so big and so empty in the place where I desire this. It feels impossible at times to even imagine a future in which this desire is met. Help me to see with your eyes and not my own here. I am not an engineer, and I am not capable of building this bridge without you and without a man of your choosing. Help me to know if there is such a man and if not, help me to walk alone with grace and confidence.

 The Sons of Martha

The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains, ” Be ye removèd” They say to the lesser floods ” Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd – they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earthline their altars are
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s days may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that !
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd – they know the angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons!

 

June…yucky June…I hate you! You stink!

June

June….yucky June…..I hate you, you stink….

Because of the memories you make me think

If only this bomb our world had not exploded

Summer and sunshine would be all that you boded.

June…..stinky June…. with your holiday flair

A Father and husband for which we cannot care

Memories and trauma and songs make us cry

Five years ago and we still ask “Why?”

June simple June….we hate you! You stink.

Only because of the things we must think.

Someday you’ll lessen….. And someday be fair….

June, yucky June, you are too much to bear!

I am having to slow down and take more intentional care of myself this month. Every year it seems to hit me by surprise…..a sinus infection……an aching….a heart that cries at the drop of a hat. June is just going to be this way for a bit longer. I have to talk to the girls more intentionally and more openly about how it affects me…..because it affects them too. I have had discussions with a couple of them, and they struggle here as well. Our bodies remember the trauma….the arrest, police interviews, terror and shame. Our bodies remember the abandonment and shock……the sense that the whole world was crumbling and not a thing on earth was every going to feel joyous and right and good again.

Ugh!

I hate that they have to feel this too……and will feel it for many years to come. I hate that they don’t get to be married and have babies and just live carefree lives in the full knowledge and love of both their parents. I hate it!

Yet….this too will be redeemed. This too will form a place in their hearts that God uses for glory and will make more beautiful if they will allow Him. This too will shape my soul and make me more compassionate towards others. This too I have to give to Him because to bear it alone is too much. It will crush me.

This too will ultimately allow me to love others and myself more completely.

So June…..I hate you right now…..but hopefully, I won’t always hate you like this. Hopefully the day will come when June won’t include a single tear! Instead….it will simply be that month in which people go on vacations…..and sitting by the sea is filled with stars and moons . Perhaps one day….it will be the month in which someone has a wedding or a baby shower or some other grand and glorious thing that will eclipse this memory just a bit…..and allow us to put these memories in a box, tied with careful twine, to rest in the back of our hearts instead of up front, where they sting and feel like rocks some days.

Until then….I will be in an Epsom salt bath filled with lavender oil and bubbles……reading a good book and listening to Spanish guitar. I may even contemplate Aristotle’s four causes for a bit, and write a poem about what I desire in life. Who knows….this walking through mine fields may one day produce fruit in my life that produces a joy unimaginable!

Happy Friday!!!!!!!

I have been praying and thinking and reflecting lately about this blog. I have poured out a lot of the things in my heart over the last years. It has been a very humbling and vulnerable place to be……

But more and more….I am yearning! I am yearning for a new kind of energy and passion to my writing.

I am yearning for the beautiful to be more and more whole within me….and I feel like I am embarking on a new sort of adventure.

Today as I sit here contemplating the future….a future I will freely tell you is unclear to me……I am excited.

I am going to travel. I get to take a trip to train teachers.

I am going to get better at being a teacher. I may even go back and get my master’s degree….……or just have one of those years teaching where everything falls into place easily and the curriculum and presentation of lessons is at its peak!

I am going to date. I want to meet someone who is a match for me. I want to be able to have more than this sorrow to offer, so I am going  to continue to explore the exciting parts of me. I want to be able to open my heart as well as my mind as well as my passion to this person when I find him.

I am going to discover more about myself in this process and that is incredibly freeing and wildly exciting right now….here on the cusp of healing.

I can envision a whole lot of fun things….but I also know there will be difficulties and valleys of sorrow. I know there will be triumphs and mountain top experiences that rival anything I have experienced thus far on this journey.

I am packing my bags….literally…….and I am embarking.

So why am I telling all of you?

Well I want to finish this process…..I want to blog until I am completely past this sorrow and pain and completely healed and restored…..married again….or completely alone and embracing singleness in a way that allows me to feel God’s pleasure in the midst of other relationships.

So I will continue to blog….just not as frequently. It may end up being once a week….it may be once or twice a month…..but I know……

I am coming out of the woods now. I am stronger and more wholeheartedly able to be authentic and vulnerable in relationships and in life.

I am enjoying being me.

I realized it Monday when I snapped a photo of myself and ….I LOVED it! I actually enjoyed not only being me but the idea of being me.

I realized it yesterday as I chatted with a few people. They were gentlemen. They wanted to be gentlemen. And I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t afraid to just be me and have fun. I wasn’t afraid they wouldn’t like me, and I wasn’t trying to be anyone but me. I realized that I was simply enjoying meeting new people and having fun being myself learning about someone else..

Contentment has been a long time coming….but I think the next phase of being me….is living into a little more of this contentment. I go home in the afternoons and often play my scales and practice my piano first…..just because I love it. I often leave the dishes for last….because they can wait. I write poetry when I want to and when my muse strikes a fancy. I enjoy my classroom and my students more often and more completely…..even their struggles and their foibles. I am sitting here at my desk….which is overflowing with teacher appreciation cards and flowers and a bath set and a restaurant card and a lunch and a dinner for me…..and my heart is full….not because of the gifts. They are sweet…….. but the cards……the handmade and handwritten words that mean so much to me are sitting here in my heart making me cry.

Contentment has been a hard-fought and hard-won victory. I am sitting in my car talking with the girl….and telling her how much she means to me….we are just living and being…..I text one, call another, Facebook chat with another…over and over….I get to hear their struggles and joys. I get to decide each and every day to engage their hearts and be a witness to their lives……and I am realizing that I am on the path that leads to life and life abundantly.

I am sitting at dinner with a man….a date….and I am enjoying being me. I am enjoying being enjoyed. I am enjoying conversations and wearing my clothes and having someone notice that I put on makeup. I am enjoying walking and drinking coffee and learning about someone else’s life and struggles. I am enjoying making up stories in my head about what might be…..finding out what is…..and living into what God desires.

The fears will come again….I am sure. But so will this incredibly sweet joy. These tides come and go and return again…..like my favorite beach. I get to walk them a little more slowly in the future. I get to linger with the joy and wistfully remember the sorrow. I get to love doing my hair on the beach and even wearing my bathing suit. I am content with this body more.

Today I am content with who I am becoming. I am content that this life is good, and true, and beautiful because He tells me I am beloved.

Happy Friday!!!!!!!

Got Porn?

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I feel like such an ugly person today.

I am the woman who thinks that porn and chat rooms and Ashley Madison and PornHub and all the darkness out in today’s society….is normalized.

I have to ask men, “So…what is your relationship with porn?” as I date because I know….I am have first hand experience…I am a real life survivor of a spouse who was a full-fledged sexual addict. And no one….not even me….had any clue!

I was as naive as the next girl….maybe more.

Today….with my eyes wide open….I have seen and heard from women who come from good marriages and are good Christians….their sons are affected…their sons are drawn in and it grieves their hearts. I have heard from women whose husbands of 10, 20, 38 years have been living in this darkness and living another life on the side and they didn’t know….they had no clue. I have heard women tell me about being raped…..having their children molested……enduring verbal abuse…..physical abuse…..and just feeling so empty and disconnected for years……never figuring out the causes or the root problem until….either he was arrested….or he decided to give up and divorce them. Then the pieces fell into place and the world began to take focus and all the little red flags that seemed so harmless came into view and then….and only then….after the trauma of discovery and destruction of their lives….did they see what sexual addiction really is and how pervasive and wide-spread it is in society.

I would love to say I have heard just as many success stories.

I have not.

I have yet to hear of one. I have only heard of delayed hopes….of trying to work through ….of supporting and praying for restoration and repentance….of thinking you were through the worst and then….BAM! It rears its ugly head again, and now he has decided you are not worth  fighting for and this darkness is more captivating than you or your children.

Porn is not the only portal into this world……there are chat rooms for those “honorable” men who would never debase themselves with mere images on a screen. There are those that would only visit prostitutes because obviously those women like it….or those that go to strip clubs…massage parlors…..or simply cheat with whomever will talk to them in the real world and get pulled in by their lies and seduction. It is a myriad multifaceted destruction…..sex addiction. It plays no favorites….priests and teachers…..bankers and financial accountants…..scientists and artists….doctors and lawyers…..there doesn’t seem to be a preference or a job that helps a man stay out of the pit….

And what would sex addiction be without women to help it along.?

There are numerous women….looking for intimacy…..looking for desirability and acceptance…looking for anything “not boorish or housewife-ish”…..There seem to be no end of the women who would cheat with a man….and men who would cheat with a woman. There seems no end of men who would film rape and sex and deviance and darkness…..and no end of men who would consume this “free speech”.

So here I sit….having been forced to see with no blinders on to shade my view……

I am at once heartbroken….and hopeful.

I see that my heart is broken. I have heartache for the way my life was destroyed…..by the way my daughters have been hurt…..they lost a father and I lost a husband to this plague. I am heartbroken thinking about how they will find men to marry who are pure and honorable,  and who will choose not to give in to the culture on this. I am heartbroken thinking of the women who feel the need to be in these films and the men who desire to make these movies. I am heartbroken over the prostituted, the abused, the used and objectified……the empty….the seeking….the lusting masses who are searching for something more and deeper and fulfilling in a way that this cheap sexual exploit can never, NEVER give them. The meaning they so earnestly try to devour in their flesh….only comes through truth, goodness, and beauty. They will never find what they are looking for inside a woman….or in the arms of a man.

I am hopeful because I know my God. He will find a way out of this….for me….for my daughters….for those who truly seek Him with their hearts and minds. I know that even if the whole world should consume this lie…..even if every man I know and every woman I know succumb to this evil…..my God will still find a way to make something beautiful of this mess. I will not seek to find a man who is perfect….but I will not settle for a man who is perfectly OK with evil and darkness. I will find a companion to fight this battle alongside…..someone who abhors using others for selfish reasons….someone who believes heroes still exist, and that they are ordinary men who love and cherish their wives and raise their sons and daughters to know what that looks like.

What a long month I have ahead…these are the weeks that try my soul and grieve my heart. I remember…..I remember, and I refuse to give up. This sexual addiction plague will not define my life…..but neither will I ignore it and pretend it does not eat away at the very moral fiber of our homes. I will become brave enough to speak up and honest enough to tell people what I experienced and what others have told me.

It is only in darkness that evil thrives….light reveals and illuminates. I will choose to be a light here….not because I enjoy it…..or because I feel the need to tell people about my pain…..

I will choose to be a light so that others can see and avoid and teach and plan and come together to heal each other and refuse to let shame and darkness destroy their lives.

God come for us here! Come and reveal all that is hidden….give men and women the courage to speak up and repent and turn away from this evil. Help families to bear the burden of this broken sexuality that has devoured so many. Help us to walk together in love and hold one another accountable to love as you would have us….selflessly….generously….firmly…..living in ways that please You….not out of obedience only….but out of an abundance of our love for You!

Lung Nodules, Lyme’s Disease, Losses, and Little People

Lung nodules, Lyme’s disease, losses and little people….

I seem to have hit upon the L’s lately………

I was having a bad day …….and she just happened to wander in.

I never knew the friendship of women was such a necessary thing to feeling sane…..

Before I knew it, I was pouring out my heart and telling her about my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day……the one in which I woke up to find the tick bite…..went on to have a pretty tough counseling session…… and ended by crying my eyes out over a relationship that was shattered. I was crying and just needed someone to hear my heart a little. I cannot express how different that is than what I experienced growing up, and who I thought I had to be in my life up until five years ago. I thought I had to be so strong. I thought I had to make everyone’s world perfectly good and happy. I felt the weight of the world….just trying to fix all the problems

I felt my emotions swirling around but could never give voice to them.

I was never safe.

In the course of the conversation……I realized just how beautiful the moment was…..just how lovely the friendship of a lovely woman can be. Sharing our hearts makes us stronger and more connected.

Being someone who is vulnerable hurts……I even shared that with her

Being vulnerable means not having to tell someone it will be OK when you feel your life is falling apart because suddenly you might have Lyme’s disease. It is OK to cry and feel like everything is broken and life is horrible. Being vulnerable is being able to share how your heart is grieving over the lack of perfect mothering….over the way your heart was closed off…..over places in which you see the brokenness in your own family.

Being vulnerable is being able to share how you risked a bit of your heart and put it out there and thought that someone saw your beauty and desired more …..and how much that hurts and how much that stings when you hear it doesn’t really have anything to do with you. Being vulnerable means you actually feel all that heartache and don’t hide it.

God is so good to give me lovely friends…..who are just as vulnerable in return.

Later as I poured out my heart over the phone with another sweet friend who has walked this very road, my heart received even more ways to open up.  I could listen as her heart shared with me her journey…..her time of dating….how the hopes can run so deep….how the desire for romance and closeness and connection can feel so utterly difficult and how the breaking of your heart each time feels like a death and a creeping worry enters in: ” No one will ever desire me or fight for me and God has planned for me to be alone forever.

I got to talk about how the story in my head was so beautiful and how much I can write a story before the actual one even happens. I got to hear that I was not imagining everything, but that the unkindness of someone playing with my emotions was supposed to hurt that much because I was playing for real….and perhaps he was not. I poured out my grief and my hopes and my desires and she patiently walked with me through them to a place of prayer and peace and hope.

And finishing the night at another friend’s house…..being cared for in ways that only she can do, I received so much more than I am ever able to give. I was allowed to be…..just be.

She accepts me….the flawed and weak and ugly places are safe here. I can pour out the grief of that marriage…..that date…..that day……that diagnosis….that worry……whatever my heart needs to pour out…..and I can listen to her heart and hear her worry and together we can share anything.

That is so freeing!

I was blessed to have three GORGEOUS friends care for me in ways that felt incredibly sweet and more vulnerable than I ever imagined relationships could be. I am lucky that I have been given people who surround me with love and care and give me a voice and a place and ears that just listen and feel with me.

It doesn’t matter what my day holds…….bring on the L’s……..everyone is going to have these kinds of days, weeks and months…..

I have fabulous friends! Freedom…..friendship….and  fierce vulnerability………

Thank you God for women who love me well!

I Cannot Change This…..

Sometimes……I am simply surprised at how much I still have to learn in life. If someone had asked me at 16 what I would be like at 50……..I would have said wiser and probably a lot more confident in what I know. The reverse is true…..I am not wiser, and I am less confident in what I know. I am more and more sure that I only think I know and daily find that there is so much more to know that I can only ever keep learning and never even begin to take it all in.

I am learning lately that I am always striving for the wrong things. Yup….I am always trying to make things happen or figure out how to understand why things happen or work my way into providing opportunities for something to happen. I am serving someone, teaching someone, cleaning something, grading something……..writing something…….worrying about something……and the list goes on and on.

Today I recounted with a friend of mine some happenings in relationship that have been difficult lately. I told the story and we talked about her story and her remembrances of similar situations. She was able to walk alongside me and give me some very good wisdom from her past. We discussed how to open up and vulnerably tell someone when you are hurt…..and how to be responsible for your own boundaries and feelings. We discussed how any trauma….even little ones like a date rejecting you or someone telling you that you hurt their heart……can send you right back into that giant wound and make all the hurt come alive again for a day….a week….a minute….however long it takes for your heart to recover again. We talked about the lies and words from the enemy that tend to crop up during these moments…..things like “I will always be alone…..I need to give up even desiring to remarry….I will just become a lonely woman that no one loves…..No one could ever love me….and the all-powerful I should just quit talking about all this and move forward as if nothing ever happened.

As usual though, God provides exactly what I need the day I need it.

Another friend sent me a devotion out of the blue….

It was all about grieving……how grieving is exactly what we need to do….sitting in the broken….feeling the loss….connecting with the brokenness in the world and in ourselves. Because there….we can begin to feel how all of us is incapable of fixing ourselves, and we can connect with a larger world that is broken…a hungry child….a battered woman….a man who has lost his wife….an addicted junkie….a war torn village……brokenness is everywhere and until I can feel it deeply, I cannot empathize and walk alongside others……I cannot feel my own need for a Savior…….and I cannot allow myself to enter into the mystery of being broken and redeemed and then given out for others’ healing.

And another friend shared a thought with me that she held onto during a difficult time…..our job is not to serve God….but to rest in the knowledge of His love for us deep in our hearts….in our souls….in that most inward place. That is a difficult thing for me. I tend to rely on doing to please others…..that makes me feel as if I have purpose. If I have to rely on simply knowing I am loved…..I cannot feel whole and healthy yet. I still always feel as if I have to do ….to serve….to have purpose I must make something…..say something and give something that will help others or be useful or make someone feel good about themselves. Ugh! If I knew deep inside how very much God loved me……that doesn’t even feel comfortable to say because I do not feel that deep….DEEP inside in the place that would let me rest in that love even if I screw up and mess up everything!

And then it hits me….my ex probably feels the same way…..he probably does not FEEL the love God has for him in those VERY deep, deep places in his soul and mind and heart.

MY mom probably doesn’t feel that deep, deep contentment either….that absolute assurance that God will love her no matter what she has done or not done…..said or forgotten to say…..

We are all broken, and I am struggling with how to approach all these pieces of my life…..

I can grieve……I don’t have to be silent.

I can need and desire and dream…..I don’t have to be selfless and only serve others ….there is enough of everything.

I can love people who have hurt me……I don’t have to be bitter or hateful.

I can choose not to let people into my life…..I don’t need to fix others and do for others what God desires they do for themselves.

I am loved by God. I cannot change this.

I am worth loving. I don’t need to do anything to deserve it.

I can mess up. I don’t need to be perfect.

Faith NOT Fear!

Why am I triggered and feeling crazy and like the world is going to fall apart if I enjoy someone?

Am I not trusting enough to know that God will show me what is true? God will bring to light any dangers and areas to discuss further or be wary of?

I have been hiding behind my blog.

It was pointed out in a way that to one friend seemed manipulative and to another seemed romantic. He is right to desire to get to know me….not my blog. He desires a relationship to unfold naturally in a way that leads to being closer in real life…..not by reading the shorthand version but by allowing someone to open up. But there is also nothing wrong with reading my blog and then asking me to open up more in order to hear my heart and gain a fuller picture of me.  That may create a safeness and an intimacy too.

It does feel right to slowly unravel the past. But I will also need fun and romantic.

I need to relearn fun and romantic.

What feels romantic is so unknown to me sometimes. I feel as though I have forgotten how to have fun. It is just like one of my sweet friends said so long ago……… She needed to practice having fun.

I need to practice playing again.

I have been walking in the midst of a long, dry, journey. I have begun to live there. I need to wake up and feel and be again. I need to move on from the grieving just a little and enjoy life a little and allow my heart to heal in the good places again.

I am not my blog.

I am not the girl who was betrayed and who divorced that man anymore.

I am more.

God is growing me into more.

I have watered the ground with my tears….He has watered the ground with His Spirit.

It hurt….it stung…to hear my sin so clearly in that phone call this morning. It hurt to see that I am not completely healthy and not completely fearless. I am still hiding in places and am not always facing my sin squarely.

Fear is no place to live. It is no place to stay when desiring to meet Jesus and walk with Him.

Fear not! Trust more and try less. Enjoy being enjoyed. He will give me the desires of my heart!

I am praying for this. I am praying that I would find an honorable man….a trust worthy man….a romantic man who loves poetry….who is good with words…..well read…..and who has a passion for life. I want a good father…..a man strong enough to hold me accountable for my sin and who is tender enough to heal some of these wounds. I desire a romance….a wild, passionate romance. I want to feel it in my heart and mind and soul.…….

God I need you to calm my fears and walk here….even here with me.

The prayer today at church was invaluable. Some wonderful men prayed for God to heal me and show me I am worthy. One looked at me after and told me that sometimes God just asks him to walk up to widows and divorced women and take their cheeks in his hands…… and look them in the eyes….. and tell them they are worthy. Then he looked at me and said….”I am telling you that today. You are worthy.”

Well….I was bawling in seconds. That was unexpected.

Then a sweet friend prayed with me. I prayed for her journey…her pilgrimage in June and she prayed for my lungs. Others then prayed for my Williamsburg trip.

I feel so full and satisfied by the Holy Spirit and God’s love.  Even if I never find a real and tangible man who will care for my heart….I have a God who loves me fully! I get to participate in a community of teachers and a school that allows true community. I get to open up to hurting women and they get to open up to me. I get to love their hearts and they get to love mine. I get to flirt and enjoy being enjoyed. I get to have fun dates. I get to have a fun trip and have family care for my girls when I am gone. I have girls to love and walk with. I have a lovely place to live…..and an income that is steady. I have counseling and men who pray and friends who pray and have fun adventures with me.

God….help me remain open and safely relying on You for all my needs. You will show me if someone is safe. You will show me if someone is not the one you desire to walk with me going forward. You will direct my path.

What I heard on the phone was correct….I need faith not fear.

Faith not fear!

 I will write it on my heart and my mirror to remind me over and over and over!!!!

 Faith not fear!

The Story…..The Emotion…..The Desire.

you know how hurt people, hurt people? How to stop the cycle of hurt

So I sat in the counseling session….learning…..learning that connection only reaches a level of intimacy when you share your story….and your emotions around the story….and your desire in the story.

Ugh! I finally see my lack very clearly.

I am a fixer and a hider and someone who does not in any way have a paradigm for these three areas that lead to intimacy.

How….how do I balance this? How do I not be a doormat and yet love? How do I open myself to my children without desiring to fix the uncomfortable places? How do I allow someone else to just be and to come and hear my heart?

It is so confusing!

God I don’t understand. How can I be someone who loves well and yet doesn’t allow someone to abuse me?

There is a something I am missing….is it the love yourself part?

How do I love myself and yet respond with kindness and love and boundaries and point out sin in a way that feels authentic?How do I voice anger and hurt and confusion and feelings in a way that is still kind and loving?

Am I allowed to have feelings?

Am I allowed to desire?

Can I want someone to desire me and reach in and care for my heart while at the same time….remain someone who is being loving and kind and putting others first?

I don’t quite understand all this.

How is it that I screw up so badly?

I feel like my lack of passion and cold heart created all this, but then I know that his lies and distance created it as well. I feel as though my lack created a grand canyon of lack and my whole family suffered.

I know that I was not who I needed to be, and yet he was not who he needed to be. I was born into brokenness and formed by it……but I am also redeemed and transformed.

It hurts my heart to see the places where I failed them.

It hurts my heart, and I want so badly to fix it….to find the ten steps to better relationships……The twelve ways to get closer to your children.

But every time I find a step, it seems that only makes the distance grow.

I am supposed to simply hear them…..to simply see them.

What do I desire here?

Lord, I desire your closeness…..your empathy….your intimacy…..your loving nature. But I have no idea what it looks like. I have no idea how it is put into practice, I have no idea how to make it a reality.

Part of me, like my own mother before me, wants to blame everyone else. It is his fault. It is their fault, I am trying, and they turn away.

Part of me wants an out…wants to run away from all this……it would be better if I wasn’t here. They could all develop the skill unhindered by me and the chain would be broken.

Part of me wants to fix it through my own might….I can figure this out. There has to be a solution that is logical and step by step….easy enough for anyone.

But my soul and heart and mind know that without His redeeming grace poured all over this, it too is doomed to failure.

I cannot do this. I cannot fix this. I cannot make it right or good or healthy or beautiful.

Here too…..only grace….only love….only His redeeming sacrifice is enough.

God this is scary.

Nothing went right today….from the tick bite that I discovered in the morning all the way from Yorktown…..to the tired body….to the counseling session that opened my eyes to the myriad mistakes and lack and sin in my own attempts at mothering well….to the heartache of a phone call that made me cry for hours…..this day was awful from every ….EVERY angle.

I am going to sleep. I am going to pray and sleep and hope…..hope that tomorrow my world will magically appear to be in better order in the morning.

I know that His magic is a deep one. I need only ask, and He is there.

So God, I am asking. Come into my heart while I sleep and help these cracks….these broken bits….because if you leave….if you abandon me…..I cannot go on.

I need you, Lord, in a mighty way tonight. I need you to come and hold my heart as it is healing because neither I, nor my girls, can do this alone. It is too big….too weighty….too much for a human heart and soul to fix. Only You can accomplish what You have planned.

I am sleeping tonight on that promise.