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.

Marvelous to Behold

photo (13)http://drkellyflanagan.com/2016/06/21/the-parable-of-the-mass-shooting-that-didnt-happen/

I read a lovely post today from one of my favorite bloggers….talking about potential….the potential of others to influence our lives…..

I am finding that one of my gifts is seeing potential….As a fifth grade teacher…I peddle potential on a daily basis.

Yet it was a  quote by a guy named C.S. Lewis that stuck out to me……

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.

It made me think deeply about some people I have met lately….I hear the stories of my hair dresser and another friend in my head…..

I sat in the chair at the hair dresser’s shop and listened. I listen a lot better now in my life…it is a result of opening up and being vulnerable. Everyone’s stories are much more interesting to me now. I just cannot seem to hear enough. I love knowing that everyone has a story and a purpose and is loved by God. I can appreciate some of the gifts he has given me…..I see potential….I see who they are….the real them….the truest them…..I don’t always see the broken them. I am working on that. Seeing both is important and healthy.

But this woman…my hairdresser was beautiful. She began telling me her story….of desire…..the desire to find an honorable man, a man to care for her heart……

That certainly resonated with my heart.

I asked a simple question as she told me about her plan to get on Match in a few months.…….”So….What would you be looking for on Match?”

She told me she was looking for someone she could respect and look up to…..someone with a vision and a purpose. Someone who had a passion for his work and a direction in his life was what she was searching for. She wanted financial stability……a lack of rage and anger…….kindness and a man who would see her heart………

Those were all things I am looking for.

She was a little rough around the edges…..her language was colorful…..she has worked hard and had a life that showed her determination to succeed even in the midst of having a father filled with anger…..and a divorce that rocked her world. She had a first husband who had been an addicted man and a relationship in which her partner ended his life in suicide because the economy had taken worldly things and made a wreck of them…..and on top of this…her father, whom she loved despite his myriad faults, was dying.

Her heart was beautiful. I loved hearing her goals and hearing her talk about what she desired in a man.

My heart was immediately reminded of another person I had met recently…..a friend. He is someone who knew he needed to find a profession to fill his soul……and who seemed to be looking for a relationship with a woman who sees him. He was looking for meaning in his life and a woman to bond with deeply who would respect him and support him in his work. He was looking for someone to love him deeply and connect on the deepest levels with him. His language was colorful, and he was rough around the edges…..

But they were searching for the same thing…..

And they each thought it would be found in a person….a mere mortal. I do not think either of them sees themselves as worthy or beautiful or as a god-like creature.

It is amazing to me…..this quote from C.S. Lewis can change how you see others….

My two friends are going to be worthy of so much more than they ever imagine. If I were to see them unmasked…..as they really are….wholly Holy…..I might be tempted to fall down and worship them…..my mortal senses would be overcome.

In the Power of the Holy Spirit, I am able to glimpse a little of their true natures. She is a beautiful, tender, and giving woman. She loves so deeply and desires to be so giving and open and vulnerable. She took care of my hair and my needs so completely. She desired to serve her father and bring her family together to honor this man even though he has not seen or cared for her heart in all the ways she needed growing up. She was grieved by his impending death and was ready to do anything needed to connect with her father at the end of his life. She honored his second wife as well as her mother….holding the good that both of them had brought to his life without bitterness or hatred. She loved them all and desired that all of them love him in the end well.

My other friend loves his work…..he desires that people eat food that will heal their bodies and not hurt them. He desires to connect and reach someone’s heart. He loves his wonderful parents and his sister and desires that she be taken care of in ways that would honor her and reach her heart in the midst of illness. He is able to see the injustice of a husband that isn’t caring for his sister’s heart, and he is able to see the injustice of  animals that are not cared for kindly in a world that should honor the lives of the animals that provide food for us. This man holds a moment of silence before a meal and works with the natural rhythms of the earth and all God created it to do. He is not afraid to take risks and is successful in his field.

My thought was that these two souls…..need to really see themselves. Each of these people doesn’t necessarily see their greatness…..and because of that is having trouble seeing the greatness of those around them.

Recently my counselor gave me homework…..the job of finding out what I bring to a room. My goal growing up was to be invisible. I wanted to be absolutely unseen…so no trouble could come to me….no heartache….no danger. I needed safety and caring and decided as a young girl that being invisible offered all that to me. No one can expect too much and no one could hurt me too much if I was invisible. I would simply be a fly on the wall. I wouldn’t miss anyone, need anyone, desire anything, or take too much.

I could simply be.

Well ….figuring out what you bring to a room is difficult homework when you have been invisible for so long.

I began to have to take stock of seeing my beauty…..what are my spiritual and physical giftings? I have to be prepared to use them and bring them to bear for the Kingdom. Knowing you gifts means being ready to use them and hone them and offer them to the King at a moment’s notice. No longer am I able to pretend I am invisible…..I now have to see clearly what I am able, called, prepared, and made to do….and then do it…..for the Glory of the One who made me.

I am not to be prideful….to pretend that I have no gifts or that I somehow created these gifts through my own doing. Instead…in humility….I have to acknowledge my gifts and use my talents to make my gifts shine even more brightly through discipline, hard work, humility, and generosity. I have to make more of them and offer that more to the King…..the One who made me…..so that I can glorify Him.

It is a strange and humbling thing to walk out of invisibility into who He made me to be. I have no idea……where and how and to what end I am learning all this. I am simply aware that it is happening.

I no longer struggle moment by moment with a notion of worthlessness and invisibility…..

I am now grappling moment by moment with ideas and thoughts such as “How do I serve Him more?…How do I use the gifts He has given me in His kingdom here on earth? How do I begin to shine more brightly by allowing Him to use my gifts with the aid of the Holy Spirit?

I hope these two individuals  see themselves in that light. I hope they see their greatness…..their gifts…their holiness that can make them Whole…….and that they shine like the light of a thousand suns. Each of these wonderful people have sin in their lives….just as I do….but they were made for greatness.

I love the CS Lewis quote because even though we are all different…..even when I meet people who are seemingly so different from me…….from the taxi drivers in New York to the man on the subway begging for food…..from my hair dresser to the people I love in Guatemala…….I can begin to appreciate their greatness and look beyond the sinfulness of this broken world. I can begin to see who they really are…..and pray into that for and with them.

It is the same in my fifth grade classroom. I see my students for who they are becoming and are made to be.

I love that I bring something to a room. I am not made for nothing….I am made to reflect the glory of a King so great….a Love so big….that He can take even the broken  vessels of clay and turn them into the most magnificent works of beautiful art.

Thank you, God for giving me eyes to see and ears to hear. Your works are marvelous to behold!

When Image is Everything!

IMG_7943

Learning to communicate…truly communicate is difficult.

Learning to communicate around trauma can be heartbreaking.

When I am in counseling, I am always learning things that teach me how to communicate:

Get a CLUE……Curiosity…..active Listening……..Understanding…..and Empathy………I begin to understand the basics of real, open, vulnerable communication. This is the kind of communication I had never ever experienced growing up or in my marriage.

I learn these and practice them. I feel good about learning them….I even find it easier and easier to practice them in my daily life. I can now listen….and not try to fix something all the time. A daughter can come to me and rant about their horrible day…..they can voice their negative emotions…..and I won’t automatically just try to erase the bad…..cover it up….look only for the good….manage their emotions and then offer them a fix for the solution that negates their feelings.

Now I can sit and listen….really listen and then ask good questions so that I can learn how their heart feels…..I can ask them to tell the story, give details,  offer to hear even more of their emotions……

And then I can understand where they are coming from….how they feel in that place….

And finally I can walk in their shoes and feel WITH them. We can truly connect!

But when the story is around our shared trauma…..

My heart stops, and I just want to see the good and cover the bad and run and not hear more and find a fix for all this brokenness.

But I can’t.

I have to learn to listen and be curious about how they walked through the same story……I have to ask them their story and hear it….really hear it and begin to understand what the same trauma has done to them….in a different way because I walked it as an adult. Then I have to understand the bigger picture with them….pull in what was really happening in our lives at that moment…in his life….in my life….in society….in school….in our marriage….in their family…… with sisters….all of it.

I have to help refocus and fill in gaps and answer questions and relive the moment.

And there is the trouble.

When someone you loved…..was living a double life……whose motives were split up between goodness and evil….EVERY memory can be swept away……

Today we discussed how the good memories are the most difficult. The happy birthday party from when she was nine…….the balloons and under the sea theme….the papa who was King Triton……the happy, safe, wonderful feelings of having a daddy who cared for her heart and was there making her day so , so, so very special…….

They are all smeared with trauma.

Now we have to re-see that day and feel all the love and beauty…. and ……….now doubt and evil.

We look for the real motives….Was he unselfishly enjoying his little girl…..or showing off and being “the good dad” as  image management? Was he full of love and strength and valor……or vile desires and selfishness and horrible thoughts? Was he really wishing he could be somewhere else, doing something else…..with someone else? Or was he fully in the moment, wonderfully playing the role of father because he cherished his little girl?

My gut tells me it was both. The evil was completely mixed with the good. They were both present. Conversations from chat rooms tell me that it was both…..each moment he desired to be and do and become both the evil and the good man.

And that hurts the most!

I didn’t know that until today. I didn’t realize why that hurt the most….but today it became clear.

Those good and bad….evil and good mixed……make me cry the most because…….

He truly loved us.

He really was feeling the love and pride and desire to be a father, and he cherished that role as well as the role of husband….

But he loved the other more.

He didn’t feel the desire for the good man deep down in his heart overwhelmingly crowding out the evil…… the love he felt for us and for his role as father and husband did not help him desire to leave the evil behind and walk away…..and ….he did not use that love to be brave and honorable and open and vulnerable. He decided that his “good man” image was more important than leaving behind the “evil man” who lived in his heart. His love didn’t drive him to the cross to confess…..instead the evil man decided addiction was more important and managing his image was easier than falling at the feet of the One who could have saved him.

And that hurts so much.

To know that someone loved you…..and your children….his children….but it didn’t impact his choices…….he didn’t let it reach his heart deeply enough to bring sin into the light…..

To know that his image…..the role and looking good was more important to him than actually being good…..is the MOST hurtful thing of all.

It makes my heart grieve….because the damage that lie caused was unbelievably painful, and my girls and I will continue to suffer from the consequences for a lifetime. IT will lessen….it will diminish…but it will never go away completely.

When a man’s image of himself is that he can manage his own sin alone, in secret, without dying to himself and inviting light into his soul……

When image is everything……..love becomes nothing.

When image is more important than repentance……love cannot take hold of your heart.

I desire to be open and vulnerable and real and filled with light.

I will not maintain an image.

I am asking God to come and break me open and see my ugliness and love me still. I am asking for a man to come and break open my heart and life…see my ugliness…..and love me still.

I am trying to open my life to my children, show them my sin, show them how I seek repentance…..and love them with all I have in my heart.

My image is meaningless unless it conforms to Christ’s. If others cannot see Christ in me…..if I am only a shell…a good picture…a seemingly good person….but I know that sin has hold of me, and I am hiding it…………love cannot flow out of me……and love flowing out is the most beautiful thing a broken person has to give.

Thank you, God for breaking me open. Thank you for allowing me to see where I was managing my sin. For showing me how I was trying to “do” everything…..manage everyone’s image of me……and guard my heart so it couldn’t break. Thank you for allowing me to show my ugly parts…..my sinful parts…..and my broken parts……so that you can love me even in the midst of them. Thank you for your extravagant love…..that through these broken places…..can now flow out…..overflow….into a needy and dark world.

Less of me….more of Him…..I need no image but the image of my Savior opening His arms to take my sin as His own.

Two Messages

2015-07-27 15.30.30So in my head….I hear two messages…..

#1 – getting married again is difficult if not impossible and you should just give up!

#2 – You are very attractive and will easily find a man who wants to date you and marry you.

These are very conflicting messages.

It is heart wrenching to consider either option.

One thing a sex addict assures their victims is that they will struggle for a long time with trust issues. I am someone who used to easily trust! I assume the best in everyone! Really…when my husband was having an affair….I actually didn’t know it……and I liked the new secretary. I gave her much benefit of the doubt. I helped buy her a new dryer when hers broke. I invited her over to parties for New Years with her then husband. I went in to the rector and defended her against the people who would judge her just because she had tattoos and was a little rough around the edges. I was not someone who allowed myself to just feel jealous and give in to the pressures of my own sinful heart. I decided I would love her and her family….regardless of how I felt. Now….I now know this was stupidity and naivete! I now know that when you feel the intuition….you should confront. I did finally confront…several times….but the thing about Sexual Addicts is that they lie. I think it becomes the air they breathe and feels so natural that unsuspecting trusting types ….fall prey to it every time. I  find myself even now desiring to trust him….wishing his words were truth.

So what do you do with two opposites when you are trying to figure out your own heart?

Well…if you are me…you begin to look for ways that God is answering both messages with His wisdom and with His words. I can see that marriage again is difficult. I even asked my two friends about it earlier this year. They both agreed that it is difficult to trust again as well as difficult to be married again. There is a duality to the being able to trust. You actually just have to begin doing it….for it to grow. So I can never trust anyone until I actually begin to trust someone.

It is difficult….yup…finding a good man is difficult. We live in a world that normalizes porn and that feels like death to all relationships in my world. I am someone many would consider to be a difficult person. I have a tough story, and I want to be vulnerable and intimate. I don’t want a surface relationship, and I also don’t want porn, chat rooms, spiritual darkness, or lies. I don’t want bullshit, and I don’t want less than masculine.

I want strong and tender. I desire honorable and faithful.

Someone on eharmony wrote me….all smiles and five quick questions….then skipped right to email since he told me I was so very attractive and had answered his questions so well with my own words. So he asked me what I was looking for. He was an empty-nester and looking for someone to spend “quality time” with. So I answered him…

I am looking for a good man…someone interested in having a marriage that is based on mutual faithfulness and trust. I am looking for a man who is tender and strong….someone capable of being a man of honor and integrity.

I did not hear back.

And so goes the difficulty of finding the balance between being honest and forthright and being someone with a story so difficult that she cannot open her heart because when she does…..it is too difficult for someone. Certainly men don’t desire beautifully broken…..but instead want beautifully fixed.

So I understand that I may never remarry….not because I don’t desire it….but because I desire it and cannot flirt and cannot open up easily in the way I used to be able to before my  trust-o-meter was broken.

 I will need a man who is strong enough to fight for me here….and that is not what most men desire to do.

But then there is the other message….the I am pretty and many would desire to date me.

That I am beginning to grapple with.

There are men who would date me…I have no doubt I could have  dates very often if I played my cards right. I could send messages that I am easy and open and just looking for fun. In fact, I received some wonderful advice on eharmony after a coffee with someone who asked me out. He told me to just pretend I was in college….not the sex, drugs, rock and roll mentality….but the have fun and try people out and just see what I like mentality.

That is not horrible advice after a horrible marriage. I should be able to enjoy myself and learn what dating is  like. I could try being friends with people and try finding out what qualities feel real and genuine in a man and what qualities feel fake. I can ask the important questions like “What is your relationship with porn?” and “What does marriage mean in your world?” I can have coffee and wine and conversation……and begin to decide what works and what doesn’t in my world.

So I thought about me…who am I?

I am someone pretty deep….I ENJOY those deep conversations. I enjoy talking about philosophy and stories and literature and history and raising children and Classical Education and God and faith and missions and all those things that feel weighty and deep and don’t exactly make you dating material. I know it. In High School….it was the same. I enjoyed classes and enjoyed studying and practicing the music and being a thoughtful person….I didn’t exactly get dates

So I am resigned here in 2016 that I will just learn to be me. I will accept that I can like myself….I like deep waters and missions and thinking and learning and philosophy and godliness. I like talking, and I like exploring the inner things of life as well as gardening and cooking and reading.

I like going on adventures as much as I like just meandering through Lukas Nursery picking out plants. I like riding on the back of a motorcycle as much as I like walking hand in hand. I like cooking and being cooked for……and I enjoy standing under a full moon and drinking a glass of wine on a sultry evening in summer.

I may never find a man who enjoys any of that with me. I may never find a man who desires to be strong and tender; one who is also interested in being academic and intellectual, and who desires to come after my heart. I may never find a man who hasn’t decided that porn is simply a normal, manly escape. I may not ever feel comfortable and safe again.

I may walk alone forever.

I am not going to be afraid here.

The natural feeling is fear….the one that comes up first in my heart and springs to my eyes. I can still feel the story and its hurts….my story is not over. Learning to deal with an ex is difficult. Learning to navigate the ways in which I will screw up and be mean are always just at the back of the brain simmering like a kettle that may boil over.  I have to be able to express these fears and emotions, and I may not always do so gracefully. It will take a strong and tender man to deal with brokenness.

Forging ahead with daughters and keeping an open heart at the same time is difficult. I may never feel comfortable enough to be flirty and fun ever again.

What if I I give up?

What  if someone actually pursued me?

What is the right course of action?

I know I am trying to control myself and control my world by finding the ten best practices….and I know that I need to relax and just have fun….but honestly….for a heart that is broken….this is a difficult assignment.

Trauma Around Being single?

Post Traumatic Single Disorder

I read an article this morning about a young girl and her trauma around being single. She was single into her 30’s and is now happily married. She has experienced nightmares around losing her spouse and returning to that single state…..the one where she is alone and has only herself to walk through life with.

It made me cry.

I can oddly identify with her. I was married and now all the alone is very painful. Yet, some of my identifying is done from the opposite direction.

I do have trauma…..around being single. I loved holding hands, having someone to witness my life and whose life I thought I was a witness to. I loved family times, walks in the neighborhood, having friends over for dinner, playing games, sharing a movie while snuggled on the couch. I loved having someone to walk into a party with, and someone to feed me soup when I had the flu. I loved feeling as if I had someone to walk through life with even if that life wasn’t perfect.

But my nightmares now come when I think about being married again.

My trauma was around being so blindsided and so completely shaken when my ex was arrested. My nightmares come when I even think about sharing a life with someone…..loving someone….having to face the reality that they are not who they proclaim themselves to be. The horror is unimaginable at times…..this fear of finding out again. I know that pornography and chat rooms are a rampant disease in our culture. I know that men…..seemingly good men…..fall into the trap of lust……some are even quite skilled at hiding it even from their closest friends. Some are upfront and honest about their use.

My trauma comes because I wonder if I will have the strength to really see…..the strength to really face a man again. I wonder if I will be able to trust that his words are truth……that his actions are honorable. Even when I hear the right words….I still panic when I am alone and thinking through my story. Suddenly…….the trauma will return, and I am in a whirlwind of lies, disbelief, panic, and grief that can make me sure that man is really only someone who is watching porn, chatting up women, and lusting for something I can never give him. I am sure any man is really unable to resist that sin, fight that fear, break through this wall, and really care for my heart.

As I read I really resonated with the following:

What I have learned about trauma, my own as well as the many whom I engage in my therapy practice, is that the heartbreak and horror needs to be integrated. PTSD (both varieties) can only be “cured” if that which we had to endure can be given voice, emotion, witness, curiosity, soothing, and care. PTSD remains alive and activated on the eternal merry-go-round when the survivor attempts to bury, ignore, numb, and silence.

So, in the midst of my happily ever after, I am giving space to the grief of what is in my not so distant past. I am beginning to weave my past and present together. Sometimes, often by surprise, a deep sadness surfaces. It is not current sadness, it is past sadness. It is puzzling because it often doesn’t match the moment. But my Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty self is reminding me that there are remnants of pain that need my attention. As I have wept and furied, oddly, the nightmares are becoming less common and their content far less potent. I await the day when sound sleep returns. (http://theallendercenter.org/2016/05/post-traumatic-single-disorder/)

I had to read it again.

the heartbreak and horror needs to be integrated. PTSD ……can only be “cured” if that which we had to endure can be given voice, emotion, witness, curiosity, soothing, and care. PTSD remains alive and activated on the eternal merry-go-round when the survivor attempts to bury, ignore, numb, and silence.

I am always telling myself I need to quit talking about this already. Every day I am sure I have said too much, and everyone in my life must be at the point of saying that I should just move on already. I am always quick to judge myself when I read a person’s profile and it says….I just move forward, I never look back. What is done is done….you can’t change the past……

I am sure that I am weak when I really desire to be strengthened by what I have walked through.

I know I do not want my past to define me….nor do I want it to control me. But I found a lot of comfort in the notion that I have to talk about it. I have to give it voice and emotion. I have to process it and integrate it and give the witness of words to it. I have to be curious about it, care about it and thereby sooth my aching wound.

I have done research because of my past. I have written with my heart wide open. I am becoming someone I enjoy being. I am facing instead of burying all these emotions, and it was good to hear another tell me that this is the way to healing. I grew up in a place where voicing and healing were opposites. I was in a relationship where vulnerable was not an option, and I allowed myself to build a wall between my heart and the world.

This morning, I am glad to know that all this work I have been doing is moving me in the right direction. All this talking and opening and revealing and practicing of being vulnerable is actually healthy and good. I will actually get to the point that the PTSD will lessen because I am giving it space and voicing its pain. I am glad to know that this journey doesn’t end when I finally shut up already and pretend that everything is perfect. I am glad to know that doubts and fears and all the emotions around ever being in a marriage again are normal and talking about them won’t make them worse….it will actually make me feel closer to someone someday.

But I often write a post and then realize that I am not in that place any more once it is published.

In her post, Abby wrote of her trauma:

It is puzzling because it often doesn’t match the moment.

I am there. I often have a very wonderful week…..I often find great joy and contentment in life, in mothering, in teaching, in just being alive and worshiping my Creator! MY sadness like hers, can return at the oddest moments and doesn’t always match the situation. It is a relief to know that this too is normal!

So thank you happily married Abby! I wish you the happily ever after you are deeply desiring…..thank you for sharing your trauma. Thank you for affirming my need to honor this part of me and to treat myself with patience and care as I move into further healing even as I continue to find a voice for this pain.

No Matter How Far

http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi999228185

“I will find you…no matter how long it takes, no matter how far. I will find you.” – Nathaniel  to Cora, before jumping through the waterfall in The Last of the Mohicans

I have recently had the time and opportunity to think about my story more fully…..

I see a glaring theme…..it stares at me today….from inside here I feel it deeply!

I hear it in literature books……the most obvious example ….the one that moves my heart and makes me recognize my desire most is from The Last of the Mohicans:

I will find you…no matter how long it takes, no matter how far. I will find you.”  says  Nathaniel  to Cora before jumping through the waterfall.

I have been waiting for someone to come find me….to come for me….no matter how far….

It is a longing…perhaps borne out of my childhood…perhaps a longing placed in my heart to draw me closer to the One who made me…..

But it is there none the less.

I desired as a young girl that my father would come for me. It was far……it would have taken a long time…..but I desired that he come for me. Even though it was difficult, and I said words that were hurtful…..I wanted him to see me as valuable enough to fight for and love me enough that he would overcome hardships to restore me into his life. It did not happen as a little girl. I finally decided as a high school girl that I was not worth fighting for.

I desired that my husband come for me….in my marriage and even after it was ended. I desired that he would fight for my heart….fight for my love…..move beyond himself and come to find me….no matter how far apart we seemed…..no matter how far away his heart or my heart had wandered. Even though others had come between and temptations had presented themselves…….

It did not happen.

I finally saw….I finally came to realize that I was not seen…..I was not important enough to fight for in his world. I was someone who was expected to fight for him….to make him feel loved….but not worth battling through his feelings and his doubts to come for. I foolishly hoped he would do anything to fight his way back to me….to destroy the enemy…..to come for my heart and make me know how much I was worth to him.

It did not happen…..I was not worth any fight. I was not worth even a semblance of a fight to him. I finally came to see that I had never been in his heart and never had my heart been what he was striving to protect..

So as I date….it is not surprising to me that this theme is reoccurring….

I will find you…no matter how long it takes, no matter how far. I will find you.”

I am hoping someone will come to find me…..my heart is now hidden amongst fears and doubts. I am working hard every day to open up and be vulnerable. I am figuring out who I am and what I need to feel safe, and known, and loved……

I have so much more respect for myself and feel deeply the love of the Savior that did come for me….the Father who tells me daily how beloved I am….and the Spirit who teaches me what is good, true, and beautiful in this world……

But I still desire….like that little girl…..like that abandoned wife…..as a woman…..

I still desire to be a woman a man would find worthy of fighting through anything to protect…..worthy of going any distance to secure her heart….and spending any length of time to work through difficulties because he found her heart beautiful….

It is a good desire. I will not give it up. I will continue to long for this.

I will also place it squarely where it belongs. I know my Savior has already fulfilled this longing and whether or not an earthy man ever finds me worthy…..I am finding that this longing has been used to draw me closer to the Only Faithful One….the True Lover of my soul…..and I know…only the man He sends me will ever even come close to fulfilling this desire of my heart.

“I will find you…no matter how long it takes, no matter how far. I will find you.”

So am I worthy of this….am I worthy of a speech and a love such as this…..

I have already experienced it………

I need look no further than the cross……the beauty of the world He made for me…..the distance He travels to forgive me daily and the unworthiness of the heart I offer in return.

God, thank you for desires that are good and true and beautiful. I need not be ashamed that I desire a man to come for my heart. I need not be ashamed that I desire love that would fight for me. Thank you for using these desires to guide my heart to You and for helping me see my worth through Your eyes.

 

 

 

D-Days

Ornament

We spend that day reflecting….remembering with our bodies and our minds and our spirits.

There was the phone call…..the realization that something was wrong.

There was the phone call from prison….the voice from a thousand miles away….the small confession that something had happened….

There was the long day from hell that just wouldn’t seem to end….

The endless wait….the phone call from a bail bondsman…..

….the slip of napkin….the only writing paper available where I scrawled everything the man was telling me in an effort to make it come into focus….to make sense…to somehow have meaning…..letters and words indelibly marked on our minds…our hearts….

Arrested……..for unthinkable acts and intentions…..

There was the gathering of children and the taking of my children to friends’ houses….no explanation other than I had a need…..

There was the silent house…..the computer that I kept checking…..I had a desperate need to know what was happening….I checked every five minutes on the news and on the websites for the prison…..

nothing came into view…..

Then there was the moment at eleven pm. when it all came into focus……..

There was the news headline…..the details as the reporters saw them…..splashed across the front page of a newspaper…….

There was horror and disbelief….shock and tears……so many tears…..

I wrote a few friends on Facebook begging for prayers……

I wrote a friend asking her to call me…..I had a desperate need for someone….anyone to come and see me here and tell me I would survive this day!

Then there was the moment at two am. when he came home…..and walked in….and began answering my questions…

I still remember my first question….”Was it an “emotional affair” all those years ago or had it been more?”

I knew the answer already in my spirit….but the hearing of it……completely devastated my heart! I remember kicking a hole in the nearest door. The anger and hurt and shock and complete destruction were more than my heart and mind could stand.

That was D-Day……number one!

The days that followed were even worse…..

The discoveries were like open heart surgery….without anesthesia….. over and over…..cut and bleed…….cut and bleed…..

The pain was indescribable.

The numb I had to endure just to survive was soul draining and made me feel like I was walking around in hell and that death would be a blessing.

These D-Days lasted for eighteen months…..more and more revelations….none brought out into the light by choice…..only by discovery. I was cut and bleeding and asking for the truth….. but none came….only more and more discoveries.

Finally….finally…..it was was complete, and I could walk forward out of the ashes of destruction into healing. Finally, I was released from that vow. I was released from finding out more…..I was released from walking further down a road into hell itself.

I was free to begin the ascent…..

But we will all always remember that day. We will always feel it deep inside and tell our story again. The destruction was complete and utterly dark and painful. The wounding was forever and is not able to be completely erased….the scar will remain and will always hurt.

We will always remember that day. We will always talk about its destruction and devastation.

D-Days are difficult.

We spend that day reflecting….remembering with our bodies and our minds and our spirits.

Beautifully Fixed?

Chicks Helmet head PenelopeThe three things above are beautifully broken…..They have all faced trauma….and they are all stronger in ways because of it.

I read these words recently…….I do not need a woman who is beautifully broken. I need a woman who is beautifully fixed.

What do you do when the words you have shared….the words from your heart….are used  as a dagger to hurt you?

These words hurt.

They were meant to hurt.

The one using them was hurt by me……I had to tell this person I could not accept a part of their lifestyle…in any fashion…in any way….in my life, and I did it in a way that probably felt like an attack on his character……. then I asked for a clear, simple end to it…and this request was seen as a test….a way to hurt them….a way to make them feel they were being disrespectful to women when they were only being honest about a part of their life…..a part that they feel is so normal that all men if being honest would answer with the same response.

I wasn’t asking for them to make an empty promise. I wasn’t asking them to lie to me. I simply couldn’t live with a view of this  as normal and healthy. I couldn’t handle this particular action in a relationship.

I used strong words. I used words that tried to convey the despair this particular habit causes me……

I used words that tried to convey the depth of the pain that this action would cause me……..were I to remain in relationship with this man……I desired that he would come for my heart here….turn away from this ……tell me he understands why this feels so dark and horrible to me……tell me that he would protect me here and that he would walk through this with me in a vulnerable and honest way.

I seem to have caused him to feel very hurt and very insulted instead. My words were not words that brought him closer….he could not see my heart…..my words did not get through to his heart in a way that allowed him to take a step closer to me and bring us closer into an intimate relationship.

Instead my words…..hurt his heart, and he decided that I was not worth it. I was not worth fighting with or for.

 

At first….I was heartbroken. I had tried and opened up and been vulnerable. I had grown very fond of this person and liked a great many things about his character and his life.

But then a friend stepped in and read through my emails and his responses and helped me see more clearly.

His words were hurtful….. …. He has decided that I am not worth fighting for, and working through this was not something he desired to do with me……and that is OK.

I will be worth more to someone ……..

 I am worth a few arguments and misunderstandings. I am worth honesty and repentance. I am worth fighting for and protecting. I am worth feeling upset and grappling with difficult issues.

I am happy that I had this opportunity to practice boundaries. I will not allow certain things into my life or the lives of my daughters….….

But even more than that….I will not allow someone to tell me I am worthless.

I will not allow my worth to be found only in my kindness.

I am worth fighting for, and I am worth fighting with!

If I say things through my fear….if I say things that feel hurtful to someone else….I am willing to stay and work through repentance and find a way to stay in relationship…..but he must be willing to stay and work through repentance as well.  I will not be told I cannot voice my hurts and that I am to just play nice or not play at all.

Perhaps I have said things that others will not like…..perhaps my blogs will lose me a lot of relationships….perhaps my heart is not lovely and to some…..I am not someone worth walking down the road with.

I am finally at the place in my life where I will not allow that to crush me. I will continue to speak up about what I need and what I can and cannot accept in my life. I will continue to voice my needs…..reveal my heart….be vulnerable……and speak out against things that I consider to be sinful, dark, hurtful, or unjust.

If a man cannot find those qualities in me desirable along with the kindness and gentleness and beauty…..then he is not the man for me.

If he can wrestle through difficulties and darkness and is man enough to face his sin and call out mine…..if he can bring order out of chaos and seek beauty with his whole heart and not just with his eyes only…..if he can love deeply and talk freely…..and think through things in the spiritual realm as well as he can in the physical world……perhaps….just perhaps, he will see me for who I really am and find my heart worth winning, worth unraveling, worth sharing, and worth keeping.

 

A Rape Culture

VIDEO: Jessica’s Story – My Life As A Porn Star

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/what-makes-the-stanford-rape-case-so-unusual/486374/

The Stanford rape case is puzzling me today….. not because I am not horrified at this young man’s actions……….

No….it puzzles me that people are outraged at this sexual misconduct as if its cause comes somehow  out of the blue. It feels as though we are refusing to look around at the things we tolerate…..in movies and print and videos….as if they didn’t shape this young man’s mind. Can the outrage for this horrible act come from ignorance……… as if what we choose to enjoy as entertainment doesn’t shape minds.? Can men and women who get online to view porn at daily rates that astonish really be confused or outraged at how a young man could so brutally use a young woman for his own pleasure? This ex- Stanford young man was merely acting out of his upbringing….by a society that sells this kind of objectification of women as candy and entertainment. Go on Porn Hub…..go to Backpage….visit chat rooms in any adult section…..and wake up! Talk to real, average, good men……who will tell you that everyone does porn…..everyone thinks these things and would look like a sex addict if we could but see in their minds………

This rape is not borne of a single outrageous young man’s brutality that has no causation other than his own brokenness.

This young man is simply bearing fruit.

He has been molded and shaped by a society that on the outside pretends  to honor and protect women but underneath daily sells them, beats them, objectifies them, and brutally rapes them in even more horrifying ways. But….it is only on videos, in movies, or in chat rooms so it is make believe….right? Certainly Mr. Grey asks permission and she enjoys it…Right? It is between adults who get paid and desire to act out these scenes…. right? The women who make porn or movies love doing it. …..Right?

I have literally been told by several men that all men do porn! That if we held any man up to a standard of purity…. all would look like sex addicts. I have been told by real, average, good men that all men’s fantasies are like this and worse. I only had one man tell me that he knew a few men who had managed to keep themselves pure and another who told me I could search his computer history to see that he has never once looked at porn intentionally.

Do some research….talk to real women….women who are victims of the porn industry…..or prositutes…..or victims of sexually addicted husbands and boyfriends. Speak to men who have been used by women and devastated by their selfish sexual outlooks and porn infested minds. This is not outrageous. This Stanford man simply lived the dream! He simply did what most boys are dreaming of doing and prepping themselves for as they pour through pornographically violent movies and pictures and books. Women are simply conditioned to accept this behavior and come to believe their worth is only in their sexuality. Men are conditioned to believe women like violence and belittling. Women come to fear men and men come to desire domination.

What a twisted warped view we have of this rape.

How can we not be crying out daily with the same fierceness at the videos….at the wicked pictures…..at the movies that depict this very evil as good and wholesome sex? Why is it acceptable there and yet outrageous here in this court case? Is it because of consent? If she had said yes to his offer of sex, would that make brutally using her ok? If she had consented…..would his objectification of her been less?

I would say no.

Her consent would have made little difference. No woman…..no person loves, desire, or grows up dreaming of being used, objectified, beaten, demeaned, penetrated brutally, and made to feel worthless. It is simply not what a little girl, a young girl, a teen, a young woman or a long married wife ever wanted at the core of her being.
I grew up seeing objectification……porn…..and greed and darkness. I saw the consequences played out in my own life for the selfish sexual desires of people around me…..sex …….the closeness removed and replaced with darkness is not something to look forward to anymore. It is seen as a powerful, fearsome, ugly, horrific way that people use each other to gratify their urges and desires.

I married hoping to break that cycle. I wanted nothing but goodness and purity and real intimacy. I desired closeness and freedom and oneness……but instead….through chat rooms and darkness and who knows what else…..I received nothing close to my dreams.

I am  sure this ex-Stanford student probably thinks all he did was use a girl’s body inappropriately for a few minutes.

He probably sees nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage…..sex for pleasure….sex because he wants it….sex that is forced…..sex that is brutal….sex that makes him feel excited and powerful….sex that seeks to devour….sex that uses…..that pushes boundaries…..that hurts……that in the moment feels so…..so intoxicating and exciting because it is dangerous,,,,,,,,,, and he needs more and more dangerous sex to fill the void in his heart…….the intimacy he seeks that is elusive….the power he seeks that evades his grasp…..the deep, deep longing he has for something more……more than empty…..more than fleeting…..the joy that never seems to be attainable.

http://www.blogher.com/frame.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.feministcurrent.com%2F2016%2F06%2F13%2Fbrock-turner-and-porn-users-share-a-culture-of-sexual-entitlement%2F&_back=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.blogher.com%2Fbrock-turner-and-porn-users-share-culture-sexual-entitlement

It doesn’t surprise me….this rape. We all suffer from a disordering of our affections.

 If you knew your neighbors deeply….if you could but be a fly on their walls….you would literally see thousands of these kinds of rapes and even much worse ones committed by husbands……….

….or perhaps you only need look as far as your computer history?

Perhaps you watch daily or hourly….because this darkness has you trapped as well?

I know….this darkness was in my house. I read the conversations…..saw the darkness…I hear from women whose husbands committed atrocities…….in secret……and I am sure the ones who consumed  their own flesh would be outraged at this verdict and this sentence and this horrible rape.

I know because women write to me.

They suffered rapes at the hands of their spouses…..they suffered verbal abuse…. years of secrecy and lies……. demeaning and intentional gas lighting…….their children suffered….and no one knows because it is behind the walls of their houses.

The family doesn’t know because it is too shameful to even tell them why they finally had to leave. These beautiful women cannot believe others would do this so there must be something wrong with them that made their husband need more and more until it ate up their entire world……

Perhaps each of us should take stock of what we consider entertainment before casting stones at this young man…..

Do we consume porn? Do we watch movies or television that show the degradation of women and the objectification of them? Do we allow ourselves as women to be used? Do  we subtly use each other every day in the movies we choose to consume or the people we are in relationship with?

When we touch someone….do we see them….or are we simply using them to satisfy our own lust and desires? Are we teaching our children to honor and love a future spouse? Are we teaching them to face the consequences of their actions….to cherish others above themselves….to serve others…..to see the sacred beauty in others….and to love others as themselves?

My fear is that if I look even slightly into my own habits and choices….I might find too many ways in which I myself contribute to a society that teaches men and women to live in such ways that this rape will lose its outrageousness…..and become acceptable and commonplace.

I am going to challenge myself to locate and root out those places so I can completely feel the aching reality of this young woman’s pain and the horrific brokenness of this young man’s sexuality.

https://www.rawstory.com/2016/06/brock-turner-is-everywhere-heres-what-its-like-to-live-inside-nightmare-of-rape-culture/

A Hot Mess

KODAK Digital Still Camera

She is a hot mess……

I heard someone say this about another woman this week…….

Those were the words that echoed through my mind today and they fit perfectly.

 I have been a hot mess.

Every time I run into something that reminds me of my past….I melt. Every time I feel the world spin the least little bit out of control….I melt. Every time a daughter seems the least bit wounded or down or stressed….I melt.

It is no fun melting into a hot mess all the time.

Now….there are days of sunshine and roses too. I am stronger now than I have ever  been in my life. It is disconcerting to even know that. It is a strange and fascinating thing to look into a mirror at 50 and know that it took this long difficult road to get to the happiest you have ever been in life, and it is still so far below where you desire to be….where true joy can take over every minute….where following His call and remembering……and walking faithfully and walking daily and walking into the future can melt away from your conscious thoughts…..and you don’t melt anymore….but instead you just kind of get soft and then stronger and then soft again in your heart…….emotions won’t fly away with you…..thoughts won’t run away with you…..and moments won’t stand still or flood by in an instant.

I have felt like time is a little wonky lately. One day will seem interminably long…..and difficult…..and moment by moment I am aware of my grief or my story or my pain or my fear. Moment by moment I will have to remember to breathe or remember to concentrate and get work done. I will have to drown out superfluous thoughts and tune into my life as it is happening. It doesn’t feel effortless and easy. It feels like work and like breathing after a real fright feels….I am struggling for air and having to manage my emotions instead of just feeling them.

Other days, I am flying so high….the very air around me feels filled with joy or happiness or good thoughts. I can see the birds take flight and feel the rush of air under their wings. I can look into the blue and practically taste it. I hear more clearly….in every realm….in my heart, my mind, my spirit, and poetry seems to dance everywhere I look. Yesterday was one of those days. I literally couldn’t remember the last time I had just felt joy in an ordinary day. I was so surprised by the thought when it hit me. I haven’t felt this ordinary joy a lot in the last…..well….lots of years. This kind of joy makes everyday things seems extraordinary. The sky was gorgeous. The girls were simply delightful. I loved my classroom and every lesson seemed to flow naturally and effortlessly. I felt loved. Believe it or not….flowers came…really pretty ones in a tea cup….without a signature or anything to let me know who they were from. They just sort of came and fit right into the theme of the day….they brought joy. Pink and lovely and beautiful….they sat on my desk as if to say….Yup…today is delightful. I was driving home later that day after taking my oldest home….and I was listening to music and even the songs seemed happier and more real. It was then that I reflected on the joy of my day…..and a picture popped into my phone. It was a picture of pure joy. My heart leapt up and said….YES! That is it….I am just enjoying….just being….just living today. This is how it is supposed to be. This is where my heart leads when I follow His call and allow Him to work in me.

But today of course….the opposite was true. I was heavy and fearful and filled with those words….I was a hot mess. Every conversation I had left an indelible mark on my heart. I was having to think about something painful and reflect on something that broke my heart. I was dealing with broken relationships and walking on eggshells around a daughter whose heart was grieving. Thank goodness these days don’t last forever.

I will be glad when I am done being a hot mess. I will be happy to be a mildly warm mess or a fiery passionate on fire joyous again. I am longing today for a part of me that desires rest…..

……a rest from this story and a rest from this mess. I desire to move ahead and linger in the present more fully….pressing on to that place where this story no longer defines any of my days…..but instead it becomes the story from which my other, greater story developed. My heart is longing for the picture to be complete and the plot to take a sharp turn upward…..toward joy……toward long stretches of normal and healthy…..toward less fear, less grieving, less trudging and more beauty, more joy, and more plain ordinary happiness.

I will choose that….right now…..

God, come and show me some plain ordinary happiness in my life right now. Help me to attune my heart and mind to those things from you…..crowding out all the noise of the world and the enemy…..help me to fix my eyes on the true reality …..the one in which You are making all things new! And help me to choose Your Word…..Your beauty…..Your eyes…..when mine fail me!

Fearless

DSCN0153

Fearless…..that was the word I got.

I don’t quite know if it comes from God or from me. It came suddenly after praying a few weeks ago. I have never before asked for a word from my Father.  It was a beautiful woman of God who suggested it in a Bible study I was attending.

So what am I afraid of?

I am afraid to lay this down….to not be processing…to just be happy. Moments when I forget or when I am happy or when I feel myself returning to normal feel as though I am on a slippery slope or a roller coaster in the downhill slide. I will catch myself….panicking and for a moment worrying that I will return to who I was.

Now I need to qualify that.

I don’t feel significantly different….as in…I used to be a mean, horrible, other personality or something…..but I was different. There was a tension in my life that was unaccounted for. I was angry deep inside at times….my life was difficult in places…..places that mattered. I wasn’t open enough to know what they were. I wasn’t open enough to shout them out all the time. I wasn’t brave enough to voice my feelings all the time…especially to my mom or my ex-husband. I was hiding my heart and hiding my feelings sometimes even from myself.

This doesn’t make you happy inside, and it doesn’t make you feel free or fulfilled.

Today I am much happier. I teach differently. Not differently academically….not differently in my level of kindness or ability to love my students….just differently in the way I express that love and care. I am more open. I reach more hearts. I reach deeper into the learning in ways that couldn’t be reached by a closed heart.

I love more deeply and more openly. I speak differently to my children at times. I have deeper friendships and more happiness deep inside. I give myself grace and I am beginning to enjoy just being…..me.

I talk more….and that is truly scary!

Fearless….word of the year?

I am having a crisis of words.

When people write or speak to me…….. I cannot trust…words can be made to say almost anything. Someone says they are sorry and at first…it feels like I hear it…..and then a wind of mistrust blows carelessly through my head and twists up the words until really they mean the opposite. What is happening here? I can hear a conversation and at once think I know what is being said….and then two minutes later I doubt my heart and feel a panic over the fact that perhaps I am not hearing rightly…correctly….clearly. My head and heart seem to be doing a dance to see who will win. Will I hear with the head….which tells me that everyone has motives and meanings and darkness and other meanings than the ones I see? Or will I hear with my heart that would like at once to hear the best and loveliest and most comforting thoughts in everyone’s words. My heart would like to never hear a bad word…a mean word…a word that wasn’t completely honest and loving and heartfelt.

I know the answer……..fearlessly…… I need to use both my head and my heart. I know I need to weigh the two and not discount the sin of others but also give the grace of my heart to every word as well.

It is broken just now….the bridge that would connect these two effortlessly. This bridge was burned as I ran from my broken heart….the easy grace….the simple innocence that wants to believe that no one who loves you would EVER purposely hurt you. The bridge burned down and left me to deal with only my head for a while.

 That is what trauma feels like.

You trust no one…you test everything….you are aware on ten different levels……. ready to flee….. and fly….. and jump down a rabbit hole in a moment’s notice.

 You feel as if no one tells the truth and no one can be trusted.

Whew….those were difficult years to get through. It is only looking back that I can truly appreciate how much suffering and effort and energy and pain was there. I can begin to see now how much of my life was one-dimensional for a bit. I lived in the flatlands of black and white with nothing in between.

Today, I can actually begin to process conversations in my head and see with a new vision….perhaps not a totally healed vision…but a new vision that feels healthier.

I can begin to see the black and white….the mistrust….hear the conversation in both its parts…give the grace and understand that some of the things I feel and hear are not real but are only shadows of the place I have been. ……

Head and heart…… I can begin to integrate them together.

Fearless…….

It is a position of strength when it comes from a God so loving and so powerful that He can take the broken and make it beautiful!

 

a life in process, beauty all around us, and finding our place in the world