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.

Shouting

There is no goodbye and some days that is what is killing me….

There are moments when it is brought fresh into my psyche again and again. I was reading and listening to others read ….a wonderful poet. It was an exercise in reading and listening and picking out what resonated with your heart. He was a man born in the WWI and WWII era. He had grown up in Lithuania among orchards and rivers that filled his soul with beauty. An uncommon beauty was given to him in his youth….the kind that could sustain him through the horrors and atrocities of war and genocide and Nazi death camps.  He had tasted the apples and pears grown by his great grandparents and explored among the forests and rivers to his heart’s content until all hell broke loose in the world.

I read and delighted in this man’s poetic voice and ability to capture both the horrors and the joys of simple life and complex evil.

I immediately was drawn to his sharp mind and keen observations……until….

I had to read and hear the poems about his musings on women…..his using of woman….his desire for legs and necks and other very graphic body parts……..

Suddenly…I hated this man. I was so angry at him for not holding onto beauty more tightly….or perhaps not seeing the beauty in woman clearly and instead allowing his passion to be directed only toward a body and not toward any other pure and beautiful love. I hated that he could so casually acknowledge the darkness and pass it off as “I was simply made this way.”

I hated what it must have done to his wife and children. I hated how the darkness of war and oppression of his era might have contributed to the deepening and darkening of this man’s soul. I hated that he chose to walk further and further into it instead of fighting it and pleading with God to change his heart. Yet….I had to also acknowledge that I loved this man and wanted good for him.

And I realized…..I wasn’t angry so much at this man……although I was angry at him. I didn’t really know him. His life was simply a trigger for all the pain I had experienced. I could see my story in his. I could see that I hate seeing the good and the beautiful and the true in someone and then having it dashed all to pieces by the darkness and surrender to that darkness by the one I so highly esteem.

I wanted to tell this man at the end of his life as his poetry got more and more doubtful of God’s love and adoration for his very being…..”He LOVES you! He always has. You don’t need darkness or that false statement that this is how you were meant to be. You are His beloved! Remember the orchards and the pears…..your children and wife…….the beauty?…Those were the true beauty!

I wanted to shout to him on his death-bed….”He loves you! You are amazing! Your vision and ability to just see the things around you was given to you by Him! But the darkness wants to warp it and break you and make you believe you are simply a body part and an appetite. You are NOT! Those women are NOT!”

But I couldn’t. I couldn’t speak to this dead man…..just like I cannot speak to the one who, though he had my very heart…..who had four beautiful girl’s hearts, walked into that darkness. I wanted to shout…”You are amazing! You are loved! You don’t need that twisted, warped lie that parades itself as beauty.”

Bu there is a separation…a canyon that opens up  in betrayal and sex addiction…..you don’t get to say good-bye. You don’t get to hash it out and scream and come to an understanding together….for the good of each other and your mental health or for the good of the children. You cannot trust because of the lies…..you cannot trust or invite even a conversation because that opens a wound that never can be healed without confession and repentance and a complete reversal and building of trust again through actions….hard….difficult….time consuming…money consuming…..daily-needing-walked-out actions that are more difficult than simply walking away and giving up……

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.

Good bye is what I have been grieving and reconciling my mind and heart to these last few weeks. I can never get to say good-bye. There will be no co-parenting…no talking it through for the children…..no friendly ex relationship…..no letter to his new wife from me talking about how I just wasn’t able to make it work, but I hope she can…. type stuff….no helping each other out in reasonable ways as adults who wish to be good parents ……..

I so grieve the lack of good-bye that it sits in my chest as a brick…another brick that feels impossible to remove. It sits in here and awaits the day I can cry it out or find a soft covering for it and pack it away in the back….way back where it won’t hurt so much at just the sight of it.

I so grieve  the inability to find the reasonable road…the way forward to healing….the strong, brave actions that would make those hearts KNOW they were loved and cared for and seen and beloved.

It is more difficult to bear than I ever imagined, and I hope not to come across it in another poet for a long time…….

I think I will stick to fairy tales this month.

Train Stations

  What do you do in a train station when you meet your past face to face? Your children are unaware and awkwardly standing there……wondering about the woman who is hugging you with tears and smiles and questions.

She just wanted to know how he was doing…..to know what had happened to the man she so loved and was ministered to by at her church so long ago……

Speech was something I couldn’t make happen….I was caught unaware in the moment….not expecting to see her or anyone or anything associated with that other life.

She asked how my husband was doing……it is an innocent question from someone who hasn’t seen me or my family in over five years. She simply was asking if he was ok….if he had made it through the storm….if we had made it through the storm.

But….I only had one answer…..He isn’t.

She understood my words perfectly, and I was so relieved as my girls stood watching and hearing and feeling the awkward silences even more painfully than anyone could imagine.

She looked at me with a recognition in her eyes…..Divorced?

The question was really a statement and a plea and a longing and a hurt all wrapped into one word thrown out at the train station to wreck my day.

Yes….Yup….that’s me. I am the divorced wife of the man she loved and was ministered to by so long ago. That is me. I am divorced. I am the woman who was not able to stand in that storm and not able to make it work……..not able to remain.

She hugged me even tighter and told me to get in touch with her. She looked at me and asked me if I was still here……if I was still living here. She hugged me and made small talk about my babies all grown up and how beautiful they are. She told them to be safe and well.

Then she looked at me and said she loved me.

What grace words can give.

Yup….that’s me. I have remained. I am the woman still living here and still running into my past at unlikely moments….so I can answer the why and the what and the where and the how and the questions that people’s heart long to know.

Yes……I remain…….Thank God!

I remain because He was faithful, and He released me, and He helped me put away the need to know all the why and how and what and questions I long so very much to know the answers to every day.

I am that woman. I am divorced. I am still here. I remain. I am loved.

It is curious how shattered your heart can feel in a moment and then how gracefully it can be glued back together with a few simple words.

 

I Am Putting This Away

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/telling-lie-rewires-brain-keep-lying/

News stories like this make my heart hurt.

It makes my mind wander down paths of recollection and memories spring up frequently. I cannot tell you in words how it feels to re-live a Christmas memory…. and overwrite it with conversations that were secretly there. I cannot make my words spill out the bewildering ache that fills my heart when I walk through the memories of my marriage and life….. all the while….. having to re-live them through a lens of lies and darkness. It is something that makes my heart forget that life was once happy and that I actually felt loved.

It makes my life feel fearful and makes life unsafe.

Suddenly nothing makes sense and my senses reel and shake and quiver while my body tries desperately to just keep breathing……just keep moving forward so I don’t……fall….off………the …..earth.

I am putting this article away.

Some day…..I will come back to it.

Some day….when I am safely beyond the ability of articles like this to make me wander back into memories and painfully re-frame them in the light of what I now know and understand.

Try

Watching this beautiful collection of women….going from made up….make believe….to real and vulnerable and open makes me cry every time I watch it.

I realize the fear is real.

There is a fear about being me…..being seen….being uncovered and open and vulnerable.

I think I do not believe in a real and tangible way that I am beautiful and worth loving. I don’t really believe that without any make up or without any facade of ‘having it together’ or ‘being in control’ or ‘giving and not needing’…..without my covering, I am afraid that there is nothing that anyone would find fascinating or captivating enough to love me.

To not “try” would be unthinkable.

I recall, in the last few years, spending hours dissecting conversations and coffee dates and trying to figure out how to be “that girl”….the one someone would be interested in. I recall feeling the overwhelming fears of “what if he saw me without any make up….. What if he saw my bedhead in the morning….what if he saw my legs”….you know…. in the places where there is a bruise or there is some crinkling and flabby muscles.? What if he notices the wrinkles or the lines? What if he sees that I get cranky or impatient or afraid or unsure or discouraged? …… or……and the list could simply go on forever.

I have an unrealistic expectation for myself. I demand that I be perfect. I demand it, and then immediately realize it is impossible, so I simply resolve to remain behind the wall.

This fear is real.

Is it a fear that everyone has? Do all people hide and pretend and cover and demand perfection from themselves?

I love at the end of this video….the feeling that these women are full of mystery and joy and light and……they have less makeup and less covering. Why is life so mysterious? Why is it that the more I can uncover and open up and be vulnerable….the more I will feel loved and feel worthy and feel my heart?

I am working hard to be more by trying less. I find it so difficult some days….those are the days when I am struggling and trying and striving and full of fear.

There are other more joy filled days when I can absolutely walk out into a day and feel with so much of my heart….the beauty ….the joy of loving four incredibly beautiful girls…….the joy of teaching…..the joy of being a woman in her fifties that has learned a bit……the joy of a God so loving that He gives me so much more than I can even comprehend….and the simple pleasures of good food…..good friends….and good conversations. I can feel my life as someone vulnerable enough now to allow both pain and pleasure.

But this fear is real.

And I don’t intend to allow this fear to take over my life anymore.

I am beginning to release control of who I am and how I look and my capabilities and gifts.

I am beginning to enjoy who God made me to be……I am not a lot of things……

But those aren’t the things I need to worry about.

I am to enjoy being a 5’2″ blonde woman with some gifts in  writing, teaching, and being a squirrel.  I get to see through these eyes and no one else’s. I need protection and love, and I have devotion and love to give. I am not perfect, and I am learning to live with the fact that comparing myself to anyone else is a futile experiment.

No one is me. I am no one else.

Someday soon….I will look in the mirror and see someone as beautiful as the women in this video.  I will try less and lean into the shoulder of  someone who loves me as I am…….. in full contentment.

What a sweet thought that is!

 

Jealousy

KODAK Digital Still Camera

I think the hardest thing to get over lately has been the jealousy….and it is not really jealousy…… but fear……I saw a beautiful woman in Trader Joe’s. She had glossy black hair and was so confident (or so it seemed) in herself as she was shopping.

She was beautiful.

I knew nothing else about her, but immediately she was what a man would desire.

 I saw myself in the glass as I checked out, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was not enough. I was not what anyone could desire above that creature. I was worthless. I could entertain but was not capable of ever holding someone’s heart forever.

Those fears are so painful in those moments.

How can I get past this fear? I don’t know how to be healthy in this area currently? I don’t know how to let go of the notion that I needed to be more beautiful and more confident and more……. everything else…… in order not to be hurt and betrayed and seen as less than all those others.

I cannot seem to fully trust what bonds a couple together and keeps them together. How does one man choose one woman and want to stay with her for a lifetime? What makes one woman choose a man and want to stay with him forever? How do they forsake all others and troth to thee only? It is my major fear……I am unable to believe a man desires to forsake all others….EVER….I do not believe I am capable of inspiring such love.

I feel absolutely unable to be that woman.

I am lost on a sea of uncertainty and moving forward is uncertain. I feel as if I have explored my feelings, and I have seen my faults. I am less than average, and I wish to be more than average. I am trying to be so beautiful or so captivating or so good or so completely confident….I am striving to be something….something that was missing and something that was elusive. I am trying to find that lack….the one that allowed all this darkness and void to take over. I am still searching for whatever it was that was missing so that it will not be missing as I move forward.

I have looked into the darkness, and I am trying to find my feelings and work through them.

I am trying to move forward and learn from all this but it is difficult and treacherous and filled with dark days and moments of horror still….and it has been more than four years.

I see changes in myself as well….I have a better sense of who I am now. I know that I am someone who was loving. I know that even in difficult times, I loved my husband and sought to find his heart. I searched and prayed and was willing to move in the direction of his good even at my loss.

I have begun to tell my story…the story of God’s relentless redemption of my life. I am finding His love in so many of my stories, and the picture He creates for me is irresistible.

I have grown….my world has enlarged.

I am now an international traveler and have met and worshiped with people in another country. I have traveled to Guatemala. I have worked on a mission project together with such wonderful people from my home church along with new friends from the church there. I have made new friends and really begun to see myself in ways that were impossible just four years ago.

I have traveled to Tennessee. I was privileged to drive all around that state and hike some of the loveliest trails I have ever seen, saw so many stars, and shopped at some very unique antique shops.

I have been to a major city and stayed and lived downtown for a week. Chicago is one of the largest cities I have ever stayed in. The walking was amazing. The buildings are just exquisite. My tour guides told me so many good stories and I ate more delicious food than I have ever had in my life. The Chicago Art museum, Sears Tower, Navy Pier, Trump Towers, The Chicago Temple, St. Patrick’s Day parade, The Bean, The Cultural Center, and so many beautiful cathedral-like churches….my senses are reeling!

I have been to Chincoteague Island and watched horses swimming….seen a space center…met lovely, beautiful people. I watched as a daughter learned to body surf and cried as little ponies whinnied for their mamas.

I have been to New York City. I have walked in a city larger than any I have ever been in and even ridden a subway. I caught big, fat, fluffy snowflakes on my tongue and haggled with a vendor for trinkets to give my students when I returned.  I was not afraid , and I met people there who were working to make life beautiful.

I am more confident in myself now than I have ever been. I feel as if God has stretched me beyond what I ever thought I could do. Some days, I feel capable of anything. I have walked through darkness and survived….even thrived.

I am ready to move forward and find out more …….I am ready to find dreams and hopes, and realize I have always been heading in this direction.

Sometimes……….. I just take a longer route than expected. Sometimes….I detour into fear and fear makes me draw back. I am praying for less fear and more reality.

God show me who I am in Your eyes!

Oh Help!

Oh help!!!!! 

There are moments that occur sometimes in this journey….moments when I lose myself for a few seconds and I shout…”Oh help!!!!!” to the universe because I feel totally alone or totally disconnected for a moment. It was taken for granted in my psyche that I was connected for so many years. I took for granted that till death do us part and the honoring and cherishing etc….were for real….in earnest and reciprocated. I took for granted that I was someone in his eyes…

That phrase has come up in my mind and in the reading of some short stories over the last few years. I read that a woman’s beauty is known to her sometimes through the eyes of her love.  I sometimes wonder who I am to someone else…. I have contemplated what I was like to him.  If I could but see myself in that marriage….I wonder and worry at times if I would understand how he got to where he ended up. Would I see bits of myself that pushed him away and bits and pieces of my ugliness that made him choose someone else…someone with different hair, vivacious lips, and a curvy figure….someone wicked and exciting and so ….so very….not me? I wander down that lane for a few steps before having to halt my brain and remember that even though I saw faults in him….even though I saw weaknesses and deficiencies because don’t we all have so VERY many……even though I saw those……I didn’t choose to use them as an excuse to wander and lie and commit great acts of adultery and licentiousness. I didn’t always choose to love and love vulnerably and openly or honestly….but I also cannot allow that my weaknesses and faults drove a man over the edge and MADE him do anything.

But I do often wonder what I was like to him. Was I awful? Was I selfish? Was I ornery and stubborn and difficult and preachy and judgey and cold and all those horrible things I think in my mind now because I am afraid and lost and fearful and the enemy likes to whisper that I was difficult to live with and horrible to be around?

But even here….I know I cannot get a truthful answer. I will either hear that I was perfect….saint like…..and amazing (which is not true) or I will hear how horrible and cold and unloving I was (which also wasn’t true). There is no way to go back and capture the truth of who I was there…..mainly because there was no truth. He was not truthful…..ever…..hiding behind an addiction and storm that was waiting to drown us all….and I was closed and unaware and hiding inside a heart that moved further and further away from a man I felt less and less connected to. I was becoming smaller throughout the marriage as I became convinced that he didn’t want us and desired something more……and he was actually desiring all that whilst at the same time pretending that nothing was wrong, and telling me I was simply crazy and couldn’t feel his love because I really didn’t love him.

What a horribly destructive dance. I often wonder if we ever were open and honest with each other. Were there ever moments of true vulnerability?

Who am I now? Am I able to be a whole person again without anyone else? Do I ever think I can trust someone to let them in, but also do I ever think I can be satisfied as just me?

And who is just me?

I heard a talk about original sin and the covering that Adam and Eve were striving to put on as God came near after they had sinned. The speaker talked about the covering we try to put on as our personality. We strive to be something….powerful….beautiful…..witty…..intelligent…..athletic….wealthy….in charge….in the know…..popular….you name it….we strive to be in a group with a set of like-minded people…classical…..conservative…liberal….Republican….Democratic…..upper middle class…..lower class…..laborers….executives….

We are all striving to put on the covering that will make us acceptable……

I am striving to put on some covering that will cover this wound and make me attractive to someone new. I am striving to cover up my inadequacies as I see them…..and make myself appear put together……captivating….and desirable to someone else.

God…… it is exhausting!

I am literally exhausted by the end of a day with the mental gymnastics I have gone through to just remain covered. I need to feel like a good mother…a good teacher….a good citizen….a loving daughter and sister and friend. I need to be seen as attractive and intelligent and desirable and I don’t even know why. I dance around trying to remain centered and upbeat and making life work….whatever that means!

Why?

Why do I have to cover all my faults and weaknesses and appear strong?

Why do I have to show my weaknesses and appear vulnerable?

Why do I have to do anything other than just be?

This having to think about myself and strive and think and make myself anything are too much for me today.

Can I just be ugly and inept and small and unable and disorganized and disenchanted with this whole lousy mess?

Can I just face this dis-ease and call on the One who is the healer?

Even here….I seem unable to fully let go of my fig leaves.

God….you will have to do this. Cut them off…..help me learn to just accept that in your eyes….I am beloved…..not beautiful or smart or deserving or with it or put together or popular or anything…..just beloved.

Why is this so hard?

I feel like my whole life will be spent trying to knock some sense of beloved into me…….and knock all kinds of fig leaves off of me so I can quit pretending to be anything I am not.

The Mind Body Spirit Connection

 

 I did not grow up in a health conscious family….we just sort of ate good food because mom was an excellent cook…..roasts and fettuccine Alfredo from scratch…. We enjoyed sweets because she was an excellent baker….banana bread and chocolate chip cookies….pies and walnut loaves made from scratch every Easter from a recipe handed down for generations. I grew up loving the kitchen and loving food that was made from fresh ingredients.

But somewhere along the way…..in the last four years….health has become very difficult. I have researched until my fingers bled on the keys…..(that is hyperbole in case you are wondering)……

Right before my ex’s arrest…..in the years before…… when things were just slowly falling apart….the affair….the gas lighting…..the stress of teenagers and toddlers…..life was growing very difficult in a vacuum where I thought I was the problem, and that I just needed to be more…..more loving….more giving….more sacrificing and more woman than was humanly possible…..

Somewhere in there my stress became too much for my body, and my body began to fall apart. I remember before I even knew about the affair, having panic attacks and heart palpitations…..my center of balance went off one year and the world would completely spin at a moment’s notice. There was fatigue beyond any fatigue I had ever experienced and sleep was not something that helped but became something I longed for….hours and hours….10-12 hours a night wouldn’t even begin to slake my body’s need for rest.

My ex told me he thought I was going through menopause and that is why he never worried. I would have heart palpitations so distressing that I would have to sleep sitting up. I had symptoms of a hormonal imbalance as well as symptoms of what I now know could have been an STD…..um….it is really….really….distressing to look back and know that I could have been exposed to all manner of horrible diseases.  I was praying for an end to the madness and subconsciously thought my body was falling apart. I thought many a time during those years that my death would free him up to find what I felt he longed for……

I recall speaking to him on the phone after the affair….begging him to tell me if ANYTHING physical had taken place. I needed to know in case I had been exposed to some dread disease. I was assured that nothing even close happened.

I muddled through trying to eat right and exercise and find a way to be happy where I was.

Then came the arrest…the trauma….the slow and painful discovery over the eighteen months and then even more that followed…..

My body actually improved……I think the levels of stress hormones spiked off the chart and then the fight or flight response kicked in and man…..did my body fly! I was so strong for three years that I rarely was sick at all. I just had slightly elevated thyroid readings……..so my doctor treated them with a thyroid medicine, and it seemed to help.

Then in year four…..suddenly I was allergic to everything…..my allergic response system was suddenly in full swing….

Here in year five….my whole body has decided rest is not a luxury….it is a vital necessity….I cannot function without adequate rest again.

My thyroid has completely decided to become a stranger to my body….Hashimoto’s is raging….hypothyroid symptoms that swing occasionally into hyperthyroid and all the accompanying fun that goes with that….heart palpitations…anxiety attacks….sinuses that just won’t quit……thinning hair….dry skin…..and every virus in town seems welcome in here this year. I have missed more days this year so far than in my whole career.

I told my wonderful counselor that I just want to sit on a beach for a solid year….in the sunshine…..just thinking and praying and worshiping.

So he of course gives me homework……I am to sit on that beach…..to walk on that beach with Jesus….in my head.

That is it.

I am not to strive to do anything….just sit and ask Him to do things for me. I am to talk and walk and pour it all out….as I drink in the beauty of my beach. What a difficult assignment!

Sometimes……he can be too insightful!

This week it is the flu……after a field trip, funeral and whirlwind college tour weekend. I think my body has run out of steam. I have been plagued with lung nodules and bronchitis, aches and pains……stress upon stress out of nowhere…..and so I look back and realize….

There is one thread that weaves through all the research…all the plans for holistic healing….

Stress reduction.

Stress will wreck my body if I let it.

I could let stress ruin my health………unforgiveness…..living in the past…bitterness….stress about finding a new partner….stress about girls and their needs….stress in my work…….stress in my head…..STRESS!!!!!!!

So I have begun addressing it.

I am eating a clean diet…whole fruits  and veggies and grassfed meats and wild caught fish. I am staying away from things that stress my body for now….sugar….prepackaged foods….coffee….dairy…..and gluten. I am talking and writing and getting EMDR and going to counseling more often. I am reaching out to friends who can guide me again. I am breathing deeply…yup…just the simply act of consciously breathing deeply is helping. I think I breathe so shallowly all the time because I am holding myself together.

I am reading books that feel good to my soul. I am praying and trying to find beauty everywhere again……..and I am walking on my beach in my head.

Goodness….healing seems so complicated until I simplify it.

God desires good for me.

I will eat good food. I will listen to good music. I will treat my body to good things like baths and walks and sunshine and rest. I will say good words in my head and look for the good in others.

It is good to be healing!

Waking Desire

https://theallendercenter.org/2017/02/waking-desire/

 

I didn’t know that waking desire would hurt and feel so good at the same time.

I have been trying to do my homework. I am supposed to be walking along the beach in my quiet times…..walking with Jesus…..just walking and only talking if I find a desire to talk to Him.

I have also been trying to integrate myself. I feel like the author of this article.  https://theallendercenter.org/2017/02/waking-desire/. I feel as if parts of me have been in the shadowlands. Parts of me have been there for the last four years and other parts of me have been there for the last 51 years. There are parts of me that never made it out of the womb undamaged by the wounds of others.

I have been eating whole, healthful foods……finding ways to de-stress my body……finding healthy ways to change my thinking and relational patterns…..and soul satisfying activities and books and conversations.

I have seen some very positive results in the last two weeks.

 Isn’t that funny…..it took over four years to have two weeks of some small positive results.

The first one that was VERY exciting to me was that my hair has stopped falling out! I first noticed it in my morning shower last week. My morning routine for the last five years has been to clean out the drain after I shower because there would be a substantial amount of hair in the drain. I would always clean it up and wonder how on earth I wasn’t bald……then I would find that as I dressed (especially in black) I would notice strands of hair on my shoulders and on the floor after blow drying or brushing in the morning. It has been a constant fear….this thinning and losing. I watched my head for signs of bald spots and signs of thinning. At a low spot about a year and a half ago….my hair in a ponytail was only as thick as a pencil. I cried that morning……girls are very attached to their hair and very undone by any destruction to it.

But this week…..I have not had even a single strand in the drain. I nearly jumped for joy when I noticed it. I am hopeful for the first time in five years!!!!

The other sign of healthfulness returning has been tears. I have cried in the last five years….but only in pain. The tears lately have been for awakening desires. I didn’t know my heart could feel this much. I didn’t know I had such deep, deep longings that are good and beautiful and complex and rich and just……healing.

I find myself getting angry with God as I walk with Him on my beach.

Why….why did my story have to be without parents who were strong and godly and nurturing and whole? Why did my husband have to be broken and choose darkness over us? Why have You not sent a man to walk with me and comfort me and take my hand? 

I have also seen more health in my thinking. I am able to get more done in a week. I can plan and execute things again with more of a vigor and feeling of enjoyment.

I am even feeling like there may be times of further pain and anguish and that doesn’t undo me.

I am thankful as I head into Lent and then run headlong into Easter…..

I am thankful for healing after destruction. The simple liturgy of natural rhythms….. the constant and returning cycles of everything around me is giving me hope again. I love that morning follows the night…..full moons come again and again…..flowers die and then new ones burst forth. Everything is going through this healing restoration with me.

It is good to be healing!!!!

I Am Everything I Never Wanted to Be

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I am everything I never wanted to be…….. an abandoned and rejected daughter, a divorced middle-aged woman, a single parent, a one income lower class family, a woman struggling to feel beautiful, a rejected spouse, the survivor of a spouse’s sexual addiction, arrest and trial, and someone who has walked through a traumatic life event a few times.

Boy….that would make one hell of a dating site introduction…..

God is a master craftsman though. He is not a shoddy worker or a slipshod artist. There is no modern art here….He is one of the masters.

I would not have crafted my life-like this…..I cannot imagine this would have been the script I would have written for myself:

 born into a dysfunctional family

live in a broken family with very broken people

hide your emotions because everything is unstable

grow up unconnected relationally…… without anyone……alone….afraid

hide behind a wall and just look happy

be the good girl who has to be perfect in order to feel loved

get married to your high school  sweetheart

see red flags emotionally but ignore them and try to look perfect

see the birth of four daughters

try to be a perfect family

see more red flags and ignore harder

Confront a red flag and then be told it is all your fault

love harder….give more……

hang on to your marriage because marriage is what God desires….God hates divorce right?

put up with distance, disengagement, anger, and a lack of emotional intimacy for far too long in order to look perfect

have the world implode in the space of one day

walk forward desperately trying to fix this thing

walk forward desperately trying to understand your life

walk forward trying desperately to figure out who you are now

limp forward trying to hold on to reality….one day at a time

limp forward……..cook, eat, teach, cook, homework, bedtime

limp forward….counseling…more counseling….

a trial….a conviction….a year or two from hell…and finally seeing some reality…finally opening your eyes

crawl forward……this has to end…right?

finally……. give up………

finally see…..finally understand that you cannot do this….any of this….only God’s mercy accomplishes…only His strength

release the grip on your life and allow God to take control

move forward allowing Him to carry you

limp alongside Him as He teaches you to walk again

pray and cook, pray and clean, pray and  teach, pray and cook, pray they do their homework, pray before bed

Simply understand that I am  broken and  cannot ever fix myself.

I have no answers……

Only the One who has saved me can answer these deep longings and these deep questions.

When will I begin to understand completely?

I am nothing except when He uses me.

I am everything I allow Him to make of me.

If I lay it all at His feet…..I am enough.I am everything I never wanted to be…..and in Him……that is enough!

Match Madness

Image may contain: textI just got an email from a man on Match……it is not the first.

I have found online dating sites to be both better than I expected and scarier than I realized. Everyone I have actually met for coffee has been  a gentleman at least during our visit. Some proved to be manipulative and difficult after…..but at least during a coffee and even for a few dinners, every man has listened attentively and politely.

But this is the first time….a mere message has made me cry. Well….actually it was not the message….the mere, “ Hello….How is your evening?” That didn’t set me crying. But I always look up the man’s profile before even considering answering. I always take the time to read their words….look over their likes and dislikes….look at their pictures and consider whether this could be someone with whom I would enjoy a conversation.

But this is the first time a man has put…”I will tell you later” as his relationship status……and that is when it hit me. Here are the pictures of a man….clearly a man of means…..who doesn’t want to tell you his relationship status…..And I quickly conclude it is because most likely….he is married. I have seen separated as a status….and I never answer those emails. It is simply too close to married for me to feel comfortable when someone is only separated. It feels somehow unfinished or precarious. The nature of the betrayal leaves me in a place where I need the man I am even going to coffee with to be completely and most assuredly NOT married, and then to continue I would need him to be widowed or divorced with Godly cause.

But to simply put “I will tell you later”….that struck me because my mind immediately wonders if he is being utterly up front in a way that I am too naive to understand?  Is it code for I want someone to have fun with because my marriage is boring me?

Is it a line that was used in online places by my own ex-husband?

God….that hurts.

The mere fact that he was online used to bother me.

The fact that he would have had to explain his family….his wife…..with words that could satisfy some girl’s desire for him to be so dissatisfied that it would leave room for her in his heart……those thoughts just plain hurt.

Looking at this profile….I imagine the children and family gathered around the dinner table and then this man tucks the children into bed and tells his wife with a quick kiss that he has some work to do in the office. He slips into the room and slides open his computer in order to indulge in a little “innocent” fantasy. He sees my profile…..and sends me a quick note hoping I will write back!

UGH!

I prefer to live in a world where men are honorable. I prefer to believe in my naive way that no man would betray his wife and promises like that.

Even here five years out from a betrayal that literally won’t allow me to be naive like that ever again….I would still prefer that the world were all roses and sunshine and good was good and bad was easily seen and put away forever.

I would prefer to pretend that men get unwittingly sucked into a sexual addiction instead of believing that they plunge headlong into that ugly hateful betrayal with their eyes fully wide open.

I am trembling as I sit here.

The reminder that there are many men capable of such ugly betrayal and selfishness makes me want to run away and never stick my feet outside my small comfortable world ever again. In fact….it makes me want to never speak to another man ever again. There are moments when I believe I am so utterly shattered that no man could ever love me, and I could never make that leap to faith again.

And that makes me weep. It breaks my heart.

I don’t quite know why.

I see how busy I am with work and weddings and a girl becoming a senior in high school next year. I see how wonderful my life is with ever expanding relationships with my girls that get more open and vulnerable and lovely with each passing moment. Every day a new memory is formed and a new adventure awaits. I see trips to see family and trips to train teachers……..I see friendships  that are just so meaningful and rich and deep. I have so much to love about my life…..and yet…here I sit weeping because of this brokenness.

It mystifies me.

I want it to heal. I want this deep place of hurt to cease hurting…..and it simply cannot yet.

I desire to have the wounds of my childhood completely healed and the wounds from that marriage completely healed…..and God refuses to let me brush any of it under the carpet. The healing of these wounds has at times been a throbbing, aching mess that hurts more than the inflicted wound at the time. The tears from this place in my heart feel like an endless well from which all the aching bursts forth.

Tonight I am just going to close my account……take a warm bath with lavender…….and cry. When I wake up tomorrow….the sunshine and fellowship at church will revive me, and I will continue to seek direction and guidance from my Father and my Savior.

 Fear is never a place to work from….and neither is exhaustion.