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.

Silence

 

I am trying so hard to peer into people right now…….I want to know if their wonderful words actually mean they have a wonderful heart.

And there is no way.

I lived with a wonderfully worded man. His words were of godliness and truth, beauty and holiness. He was someone for whom I would have thought any of the life I uncovered would have been impossible because of his love for others, himself, and God.

How can I ever trust that a man’s head is not full of lust and porn and sexual debauchery covered up with sweet  -isms and poems and honey dripping words?

Words……

Words…….

I hate them currently. I hate them in myself and in others.

What are words?

Words have consequences….that was what one of my academic deans once said every year in teacher training. Words have consequences.

Do they?

Do the words I speak really have consequences? Do they have the capacity to break hearts, heal wounds, shape children’s souls, inquire about new information, describe my surroundings as well as my emotions and beliefs……Can they deceive, deflect, uncover, cut, jar, and stab as well?

Words have consequences……..

Words……

They are bothering me today. I am bothered because I wonder if I am able to use them effectively to even write this blog. Am I conveying the meanings I truly desire and feel? Are reader’s able to discern my heart? Am I able to show someone who I really am, so that they wouldn’t come to the conclusion that I am someone different when they truly see me for the first time after any glow of romance has worn off?  Those words….”You are so much less liberal than I thought when we were dating“….still stinging in my heart.

Words……..

Useless empty words that try to hide someone’s sins……

Fig leaves to cover our insides and make the world think our heart is actually seeking God when in fact it is not.

Hiding…..with words. It is a dangerous lie we tell ourselves….that words have no consequences.

My words have hurt and my words have healed. My words have built up and torn down. With one word I was able to build a wall of separation with a daughter….and with another girl my words could offer a bridge. With one word someone was able to strike fear into my heart and someone else was able to offer hope and healing in my most broken places.

Words…….there are often too many and sometimes not enough.

I am praying today that my words and the meditations of my heart may be acceptable to you, oh Lord.

Letting someone’s words and actions guide my heart is very tricky after devastation…..after a lifetime of interpolation…..after a lifetime trying to think the best of everyone and everything regardless of the facts.

Words……..

Silence is the one thing I am thirsting after lately. Silence and integrity…….

Silence, integrity, and mercy.

Silence, integrity, and mercy.

Silence

Remember When?

I was sitting with a beautiful woman this weekend….just chatting. She was remarking about her thirty years……of building a life.  She simply cannot understand how it was so easy to throw away and now how to move forward knowing she will never say…”.Remember that time when….” .and ” Do you recall that person….?”

A life lived with someone else that simply won’t be able to be wholly shared with someone new.

I have spoken to others about it.

Some of them are happily married. They tell me that there is that sadness. There is a portion of their life that was lived elsewhere that cannot be fully shared, and it is OK. It can be somewhat shared. It can be opened up and talked about.  It can be healed even….in that new relationship certain things can be healed as memories. But the actual day-to-day life…..all the memories inside a person cannot be shared unless they were there.

It made us cry as we sat at dinner feeling the loss.

So no…..I will never be able to say to someone new…”Remember that day when this baby or that baby was born? Remember when……?”

It is a painful part of the healing process to allow yourself to grieve over the remember when’s.    They are important parts of the dream that my friend and I  had for our marriages. We talked about how we thought we would be those lovely old people walking on the beach hand in hand with our husbands; the kids and grand kids trailing behind. We thought we would have all the stories in tact and able to be pulled out in  a moment’s notice…..”Remember when?” …….and out a lovely story would flow.

I realized today though that as I heal……those remember when moments are not as painful now.

In fact, I am looking forward to sharing those stories….with someone else. I can tell them to a new man or a set of grand kids just as easily by myself. I can pull on the stories and draw in those newcomers to this family by using the stories of the past. I don’t have to chuck them or stuff them or never mention them simply because the man in them is no longer my husband. I was still there. I was loving and living and becoming who I am today. That daughter’s exciting ride in an ambulance as she was being born…..the harrowing start and tiny weight of the next baby….my sunshine and roses girl and her 7 am wake up call birth that was textbook perfect and my youngest…..her afternoon arrival in the shortest time possible as the nurse had to do most of the  delivery since this baby was ready to greet the world in a hurry. I have stories of places and events and all the times that built these little girls and this now middle aged woman I have stories of my family and friend and past……all of them are going to be told. I don’t plan to shelve certain ones simply because one of the characters decided to leave the story.

I will build new memories too…perhaps I will be married again someday…… when the first grandchild is born….and then I can say”Remember when we were there for the birth of the first?”

Perhaps I will be married again when one of the daughters gets married, and I will be able to say…”Remember when that girl’s wedding was so beautiful?”

There will be remember when’s for meeting my girls….for Christmases…..Easters…and Thanksgivings. There will be remember when’s for family vacations and vacations just for two. There will be remember when’s for moments and difficulties and growth and challenges. There will be remembering when’s for painful things and passionately beautiful things……

Remember when’s can be painful. There is no doubt. But I am finding that as I move into a new phase of healing….one in which I am able to feel my heart and find myself apart from my past…….. I can feel both the sorrow for what was lost and the joy for what is coming. I am able to grieve the broken now and also rejoice in God’s never-ending healing of all of this into something even more beautiful than I could have imagined. I know there will be moments and times of further grief, but I am no longer drowning in them. Walking forward….blindly at times….through tears at times…..into a future that I trusted God had for me…….has been scary and difficult and filled with tears and heartaches. I am simply more able to look at them as blessings and healing measures now. I am able to have a fuller measure of hope and joy and expectancy as I move into a time of remember when…..

I remember when all of this was so terribly painful that I thought I would not survive it. I can now say, ” Remember when God came and walked me out of the dark and broken place I was in so lovingly that no amount of begging on my part to make it quicker would change his hand and make him shortcut my healing?”

Remember when I never thought looking forward to a holiday or an event would ever happen again?”

Remember when those empty days of a life being destroyed were finally and for all time put asunder so something glorious and vibrant could take its place?”

Remembering together will eventually become a joyous reminder of something new that God brought out of a very dark place.

Dear Readers…..a little help?

I am sitting here in my living room wondering….wondering what other women are doing to heal?

I wonder if you are finding ways to wade through the stories…….swim across memories and find places of refuge and strength?

I suddenly realize that I am extremely curious about all of you….those readers with similar stories.

If you feel up to it, I would love to hear from you. What is working? What helps? What are you finding doesn’t help in the least, and what makes you know everything will be alright in the end?

Do you have some music to share……some quote we can all put on our mirrors for the new year?

Does anyone have a favorite activity or food? What about an idea that we can all grasp onto and use to climb just a bit closer to healthy this year?

I need some inspiration this month and this year. There are moments when I feel drained and unable to even go one more step in the right direction. There are moments when I am running headlong into healing and finding that I am seeing sunshine and roses in front of me again. There are days when I am strong and breathe freely again and days when I am crying and wondering if this is all I will ever do for the rest of my life.

Perhaps you have had moments like these too and can share a bit of wisdom for others?

I am heading off to take a bubble bath. I found a recipe on Dr. Axe’s website for homemade…..good for you…..luxurious bubble bath and on a cold winter’s night….I placed the link to the recipe below. I am off to soak and relax and listen to some good Spanish guitar and perhaps a little Yo Yo Ma and The Avett Brothers ( a new band my oldest introduced me to last night). If you feel able to, please offer us some wisdom for our 2018. I think together…..we can all give each other a tiny piece of a puzzle that takes years to put together…….It is called Healing! I certainly am praying the healing will flood over us all this year in ways we cannot even imagine!

https://draxe.com/homemade-bubble-bath/

Burning Down the House

One of the most difficult tasks of this journey called betrayal and sex addiction recovery is the wading through of past memories and those days spent having to drown in documents from the past. Everyone has to clean out their files once in a while…..it just happens to be a very painful process when those memories used to be attached to wonderful moments in life and now…..NOW they produce the most painful questions, doubts, fears, memories of conversations read online and time stamped with a precious moment that you didn’t know was being destroyed………..

I am finally weeding my garden……cleaning my files…..purging my memories of many of the places that felt too painful until now.

It is difficult to come to the bankruptcy documents and the final divorce decree…….the summons to court or the lawyer’s documents surrounding the trail……but they pale in comparison to having to wade through those papers from the hospital surrounding the birth of each girl…..the photos and cards from precious friends congratulating you on such a beautiful family.

Oh God….help my heart.

The documents on the short sale of the house and the arrangements for shared custody and parenting while he was waiting to go to trial……are painful but bearable. There is no second set of memories attached to them that used to be beautiful and very close to my heart.

It is the hospital bands that I wore while we were in Sewickley General supposedly cherishing that third……the tiny footprints of the first and second and the stories around their births…..the baptism picture as he held the youngest baby and brought her into the household of faith……..those memories need rearranged…..reordered……resurrected and made new…….

Those memories are the ones that used to be reminders that he was faithful and loved me….me, his girls, and no other. Those memories were the cement that held my world in place and kept me moving forward even when there seemed no light or hope or feeling of goodness attached to anything. It is those memories that a sex addiction survivor must reassemble and make sense of in order to move forward.

At the beginning…the “How could he?” and the “What did I do wrong?” are so loud and need immediate attention.

Then later the “It wasn’t about me.” And the “He is and has been choosing to destroy himself,” take over and get explored.

Now here…..five years plus out from a d-day that rocked the foundations of my world…….I can finally relive those memories….I can face them and cry. I can see that I was present there. I was loving my family. I was loving those tiny babies and their tiny feet. I loved nursing them and smelling the tops of their heads. I loved making dinner and gardening and managing a house. I loved dreaming about summer vacations and holding hands with a man who I thought was loving all those things as well. I can look at that and even grant that there were parts of him that enjoyed some of that too. But I can also face that there was a monster growing daily that hated all that and desired to destroy anything good, true, or beautiful about that life.

And the monster won.

He did in the end get what he deeply desired. He got the single life of adventure….the ability to chase women……the wide open playing field of a sexual candy land……unperturbed or judged by a nagging, moralistic wife who wouldn’t understand.

I do understand.

I understand completely some days and only in part on others…..but the understanding is finally not what I need anymore.

I don’t have to understand why….why he would choose those other people….that other life….that appetite over what he had. I don’t really care anymore. I made it through that need…..and now I simply need  closure. The kind that comes when you can burn some…..mail some….and pack some away to give away when the time is right. I finally am at the point where I need to move forward and quit looking back. The past will not define me…..nor will it hold me down. I will choose to make it into a story about how much I loved my girls and worked toward the goals of a healthy marriage. There are places I failed miserably…..but I did have solid goals and a solid plan for achieving them through the grace of Christ.

So the understanding of all this mess….is burning now in the fireplace. It is keeping me warm on a chilly New Year’s day. It is interesting to watch the coils of flame and the silver smoke playing in the air. It is dangerous if it should burn out of control….so slowly……slowly I will burn this away one memory at a time this evening. My heart will wake tomorrow……ready and willing to start new memories.

My heart is finally strong enough to make new memories.

Walking this journey has never been in a straight line. It has never been only on solid ground. Sometimes I have been drowned by tidal waves of grief. Other nights I have trod in a desert of emptiness. Tonight, I am comforted by the release of memories into a burning fire.

Who knows…..perhaps the next step is entering into a new garden….of delight.

I am ready in 2018 for a little delight.

It is Good!

I am sitting here in front of my fireplace in my living room. It is finally cold enough for a really good fire!

 I have had a difficult time sitting here in the past. There was a particular memory that would spring up into my mind and make this a very sad place. I recall the evening he was here….…..before the trial had finished and before the prison term and final revelations that really killed all hope of resurrecting the life I desired. We were here in this room; I sitting before the fire with my arms wrapped around my knees; he standing and talking…….. a seemingly endless stream of consciousness about his circumstances and the fears about worst possible outcomes. I remember sitting and listening for what seemed like hours. I recall wondering if there was any room in that huge pile of fears for my needs. I decided there was not, and I kept quiet about all the things swirling around in my heart. I rather hoped he would at some point take a deep breath and look at me and perhaps realize that all of this chaos and all of this pain was rather difficult for me as I navigated the shame, financial ruin, and shattered lives of girls ranging from 12-47.

It did not happen.

I still feel the deep sadness, loss, and abandonment at times, but I realize, sitting here in front of the fire today, that those feelings are receding. It is like a great tsunami came through my life, and now here…..five….almost six years later……the ground is dry again and the plants are beginning to grow. I can again build a house and walk in sunshine. I am again springing to life along with the interior landscape of my life. And in some very important ways, everything is washed clean and has been made more beautiful than before.

It is good.

I like being me again. It has been a long time since I have liked being me.

I have done so much difficult work in the past six years. I have looked at this sin and abandonment and faced it. I have come to grips with who I thought he was and who I found him to be. I have faced the further abandonment of a man incapable or unwilling to fight through walls that he created and shoulder the heavy burden of fighting for the healing of his children’s lives by doing any and everything needed to prove his health and sobriety. I have come to grips with loss….losing a house and poodle and pool and garden and income and lifestyle and dreams and rose-colored glasses.

I have faced myself.

I found a barely alive little girl who desired to pretend that everything was fine rather than a strong, vibrant woman ready to face any challenge with courage and dignity. I have faced the wounds of children and family members and failed to soothe them properly as well as fight to heal them with assistance. I have found that all of this….all of it….is being worked for my good by the One who loves me more than my words can adequately express.

All of this comes to me as I sit here in front of this fire remembering and not feeling the hurt as deeply as before.

It is good.

Time doesn’t heal these wounds….but the Father who made me, who loves me, and gave His own Son for me…..He heals EVERY wound in time. I am deeply grateful that even though the feelings of fear and abandonment and of being alone and not being enough surface occasionally…..I am now able to process them….ride them out…..and then sit by a fire and enjoy being me…..just me…..the slightly afraid, melancholy, dreamer who deeply desires a romance and hopes and has an unshakable faith that walking forward will lead her home to that place she has always REALLY longed for….her heavenly home….her earthly paradise….her place in a family so large and glorious that her mind cannot even comprehend how wonderfully enough she will be when she enters into it.

It is good.

As I wait for Christmas here in Advent, I am simply waiting for Him. He will finish what He has started….in me….in the man who walked away…..in the girls He created through us……and in this whole universe.

It is good!

Amen!

Liesegang Patterns

I  was mindlessly wandering through my Twitter feed ……..detoxing……and I came across this post.

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. At first glance, I thought it was just another photo of bricks…..until I took a closer look. Then the beauty of it leapt off the page at me.

Ah beauty….how often I miss her because I am only thinking she comes in great, grand paintings and poetry. I saw this photo, and I suddenly realized how often I must miss the greater portion of beauty every day simply from blindness, misunderstanding, and pride. Would I have ever thought about the swirling patterns in grout….in mortar….as beautiful? How small and prideful I am to simply think that beauty only is found in things I consider worthy of beauty. I am like that with people no doubt. I consider only certain qualities beautiful and instead of looking deeper or in a different way, I can write someone off as not worthy of the title. What happens when I look deeper?

I often find beauty startles me. She is seen as I stare at a woman standing before a bunch of people teaching …..expressing her doubts and misgivings…… and showing the most beautiful parts of herself without regard to my opinion.

I find her in the mother…..the newcomer……. who is simply looking for community and sharing her love for writing and blogging with me one afternoon. I might have missed beauty here, because I was tired and had no connection yet.

I see it in the details….of someone else’s love of details. The beauty of their service simply given and the ideals held in such esteem…..

Perhaps beauty is hiding in places and in people so that I have to search…..be an active participant…….

Perhaps a model’s beauty is so evident that I can feel no attachment to it…..because I don’t have to work at all to see it.

I wonder if I would appreciate a flower more if I had to hunt all day just to see one? Would I appreciate the beauty of the stars more if I never saw them and had to travel hundreds of miles to catch a glimpse?

Or is it that I am clouded and choked by my own pride and ignorance, and so beauty hides herself from me in all but the most evident ways in order to reveal my pride when she does shine forth in unexpected places?

I had hoped to be a tender, old woman faithfully seeking the beauty, truth, and goodness in my husband and being the tender, beautiful beloved he sought after even in his golden years. I knew in my heart that if we could weather all the storms and seek the good in each other’s hearts year after year….a well-worn beauty would emerge and shine forth…….a loveliness seen through, and in spite of, the human frailties and sin.

Unfortunately I did not count on the strength of evil. I am not someone who sees evil easily. Isn’t that funny…..I tend to miss the evil and the beauty at times.  Now I desire instead to see the good….the potential…….the beauty people have deep inside……without ignoring the evil ever again.

Liesegang Patterns……Swirling grout…..who knew it could hit my heart so profoundly today. Will I soon be able to look back at a twenty-five year set of marriage memories and see the lovely swirling patterns amongst the ruins and crumbling bricks of the demolished structure?

Sometimes the simplest things can be the most complex.

I am finding that I learn a great deal in the oddest places lately.

Disco Diva

I am staring at some words on a page right now……..”I love to dance!”

They are true……but not true ……..hmmmm.

 I don’t want to go out to meet a match that has written to me…….. because he says he loves disco and freestyle dancing.  He says he really doesn’t like to waltz or Texas two-step…….

 It just triggers the hell out of me.

One of the places I feel not enough is dancing.  I just don’t get it. I don’t like being the center of attention in that venue. I don’t feel like I look good or pretty or even remotely sexy while I am dancing like that. It conjures up all kinds of horrible feelings for me to hate disco this much and feel so inadequate around that type of dancing.

 It makes me remember someone. UGH!  I remember her ability to be a wonder woman in this area. She loved dancing. I was told she was a dancer at a local strip joint. She could free style dance and be the sexy woman on the dance floor. I actually admired her ability to be so carefree. I, on the other hand, am more like a wooden doll on the disco dance floor.

 But in social dancing…… I can be myself!  Give me a Colonial gown and I can dance the Virginia Reel and feel absolutely lovely. With a pair of boots on, I can do the Texas Two-step (albeit not very well) but I love it! I could practice and get much better. I loved Salsa lessons, and I am sure I would love to Waltz and even do the Jitterbug! I would enjoy Swing….anything that didn’t require me to pretend I am super sexy and able to think up all those moves on my own…..to impress some guy!

Ugh! It is maddening. I just don’t desire to dance like that. I admire people who can, but I cannot!

So here I sit about to write some guy and tell him that I am too busy to meet at all this week or ever. I cannot meet him. I cannot. It would take all my energy just to pretend ………the memories of feeling so inadequate would make me feel so totally crazy and not enough and stiff and unsexy and……the list goes on!

I see now that I will never be that dancing, disco diva. I am simply a silly, melancholy maiden…….who turns down dates because she cannot stand the thought of not being a good compliment to a disco man. I am not a Disco Diva. But I at least love that I am a Social Dancing girl. It is a real step forward to be able to love this part of myself!

Someday….someone, who also loves social dancing, will be interested enough in me to call or write.  They will invite me to some shindig with fiddles and waltzes  or quartets and Virginia Reels……then I can write back…

“YES….I would LOVE to go dancing!”

Learning to Live With an Open Hand and Open Heart

I am sitting here staring at a picture of a family…..a broken family. I see the mom and her children and the dad….the man I know is addicted to Porn and all manner of sexual darkness. They look so perfect in the picture. Everyone looks so happy and full and real and unbroken.

That is the crux of the madness……the looking perfect but being full of sin and sexual addiction and broken sexuality…….it gnaws at my soul just now.

I saw pictures yesterday of a bride. She was beautiful! She was radiant and lovely and looked so happy. All the congratulatory comments and words of affirmation were most likely so heartwarming to her soul.

I could only stare in disbelief as my heart did somersaults and flip-flops and my brain was screaming at me…..about how difficult this was and what would five years from now look like and didn’t she see the potential pitfalls of marriage……… and what kind of man is he really?….Will he care for the children or end up hurting everyone….EVERYONE….when she becomes not enough to fill his soul and this life not enough to validate him…..and darkness becomes the only thing he really desires.

I am sitting in my bathrobe, and it is still dark outside. Learning to sit and just be with myself is a major victory for me. Just learning to travel and go through holidays and teach and clean my condo and enjoy my sense of style in my condo and in my clothes is a victory.  Finding out what it is that I like and which foods that I enjoy and allowing that I make mistakes and allowing myself to suffer the consequences without moving into shame….and allowing that I can be late or forget something or worry about money that I have to earn…. or even desire to learn piano or how to re-mineralize my teeth….all of this has been a fun and painful journey. All of this has been me learning to be an adult….an individual.

But….learning to say no and to accept that I have desires and want things out of life…….learning to say no to a man  with whom I just don’t feel I have a connection that will lead to more…..learning to accept that I cannot be all things to anyone……..learning that I am not even pretty to everyone……learning that some men don’t feel a connection with me…..

Learning that I am small and insignificant and barely tolerable at times…..learning that I can be petty and selfish and stubborn and prideful and vain and full of the most stupid, insipid ideas of all time……. These lessons have been important too.

It takes me by surprise every year when I read The Horse and His Boy with my fifth graders….there is a  line about the war-horse that I love and hate. He is finally in Narnia and has run away from a lion instead of running back to save the others and the  main character,  a mere scrawny boy, was braver and ran back instead of away…….and this horse is lamenting and has decided that he should return to captivity instead of entering glorious Narnia because he is unworthy. And the wise old man comes to him and tells him that learning his lowliness is what will actually make him a real candidate for entering Narnia where some horses are much greater than he and others are just like him while still others may be less than he. It is the finding that we are ordinary and not as great as we thought ourselves to be that allows us to finally reach a place of becoming someone pretty good….pretty capable of being used by God.

I am finding that place.

I am finding ordinary pleasure again….the kind that allows you to sit in your bathrobe and enjoy that your bed has fresh clean sheets and a pretty comforter…….that your pictures still aren’t hung from the move five years ago but that you enjoy looking at them lined up on the floor……that the old computer still has the photos on it and still works, and you still need to log on and go through all those memories one more time for the next graduating girl…….that all this living is getting easier some days and more difficult on others and that is how it will always be because that is what life feels like……you just hadn’t noticed because your heart was so closed off.

Learning about myself from sitting across the table from dates and learning about myself through close friendships and learning about myself through writing……and learning about myself through soaking prayer and counseling and living and family and just being a person has been a journey……and continues to be a journey. Perhaps all the blithe stickers are right……it is not about the destination….it is about the journey.

As I prepare for a journey that quite frankly feels larger than I am able to handle……..I am seeking God’s will. How do I reach the hearts of other teachers? How do I communicate with people who do not understand me completely? How do I fly so far away? How do I trust another man with my heart? How do I open up and have a voice for all these desires inside this head?

Learning to live with an open heart and an open hand before God has been quite a journey in the last few months.

I am getting lots of practice!

Mostly Dead

I don’t want to slay dragons!

Right now in my bathroom  there is a roach! It is under a bench and lay dying. It is legs up and wiggling its antennae and front two legs……and I don’t want to have to go in there and drop a book on it. I discovered it last night as I was on the floor texting a friend. Just sitting in the dark talking electronically about a college trip upcoming and asking how a flight went, I was startled when it climbed around making noise in a box that had delivered a package to me a few days earlier. The packing peanuts were making noise.

I screamed and flicked on the light and out it jumped….terrified like me,  I suppose. I ran to the kitchen and got the roach spray. I hate pesticides and try very hard not to use chemicals….until a roach jumps out at me. I stood up on the bench in my bedroom and sprayed the whole can at a bug that was only an inch and a half long. It ran around like a crazy out of control creature….which of course it was. I then ran out of roach spray and got some gardening chemicals left over from a plant my daughter had left with me years ago. I sprayed that on the bug next….well really I sprayed it in the general direction of the box and bug. It jumped out of hiding again and ran for the bathroom……

I sat in my bed brooding. What do I do now?

I decided to turn out the light and call it a night. I sat afraid and grumpy and hurting in my heart….in bed….in the dark….

Angry.

I always get a little angry with God when bugs show up. It is an ongoing argument.

Me: Really God? I simply hate bugs. You know this, and yet here is this disgusting, large, horrible, scary bug….and I am alone and supposed to get rid of it?

Him: Silence

Me: But I hate bugs….and I hate the helpless feeling that being scared of them gives me. And I hate having to squish them and hear the crunch and feel all weak and scared inside over a bug. I know this bug won’t hurt me, but I am afraid all the same.

Him: More silence and a gentle smile……

I brushed my teeth in the front guest bathroom, crawled into bed….got out of bed….turned on the light….hunted for the roach and found him lying under a bench in the bathroom wiggling slightly but legs up.He was mostly dead.  It was good enough for me, and I went to bed .

This morning however…..I had to check to see that he was still dead. He is still only mostly dead.

I am debating about which book to use to crush the remaining life out of him. I am still conversing with God. I am still feeling small and afraid of a roach. I feel vulnerable here.

That is it.

I hate feeling alone and vulnerable and desiring a protector.

I want someone who isn’t afraid of roaches. I desire someone who would protect me from bugs.

Isn’t it silly? Here in the 21st century, I desire a Knight.

I just don’t want to be the bug killer and have to make myself safe in every situation.

I want to trust and be protected and not have to hear crunching bug bodies. I desire protection.

It is very simply a desire of my heart. I want a hand to hold and a man who will hear my screams about bugs.

It is ridiculous and old-fashioned and so….so….disheartening to me when I am not able to feel safe and not able to just be brave.

In my fifth grade classroom, a boy usually steps up and kills bugs easily,  or I put on my teacher face and simply step on them, and it is done.

But in my bedroom…..in my own house….I want a protector. I desire a Knight to come and protect me here.

Ugh!

Off I go to face the dragon….er…I mean cockroach.

Yuk! I hate this part of being single!