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.

Waking Desire

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is good to be healing!!!!

I Am Everything I Never Wanted to Be

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

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

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

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

 born into a dysfunctional family

live in a broken family with very broken people

hide your emotions because everything is unstable

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

hide behind a wall and just look happy

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

get married to your high school  sweetheart

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

see the birth of four daughters

try to be a perfect family

see more red flags and ignore harder

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

love harder….give more……

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

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

have the world implode in the space of one day

walk forward desperately trying to fix this thing

walk forward desperately trying to understand your life

walk forward trying desperately to figure out who you are now

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

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

limp forward….counseling…more counseling….

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

crawl forward……this has to end…right?

finally……. give up………

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

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

move forward allowing Him to carry you

limp alongside Him as He teaches you to walk again

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

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

I have no answers……

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

When will I begin to understand completely?

I am nothing except when He uses me.

I am everything I allow Him to make of me.

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

Match Madness

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

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

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

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

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

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

God….that hurts.

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

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

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

UGH!

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

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

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

I am trembling as I sit here.

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

And that makes me weep. It breaks my heart.

I don’t quite know why.

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

It mystifies me.

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

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

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

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

Small Acts of Love

The only way to live a truly remarkable life is not to get everyone to notice you, but to leave noticeable marks of His love everywhere you go. Love is so large that it has to live in the holiness of very small moments of sacrifice. Love demands you lie down and die in the small moments, the moments not scripted for screens, but written into the inner hem of a heart that can change how someone breathes. – Ann Voscamp

I read this while sitting at Starbucks this morning. I get to sit here after I drop the girl at her job helping in the nursery at church. Forty-five uninterrupted minutes to read and think and people watch. I enjoy it very much. Two older gentlemen are having an animated conversation there in the center of the room; his big southern accent and arms gesturing as he relates his stories. The man sitting next to me is reading his newspaper and eating yogurt while two other customers wait for their order…. And a young girl flitting around gathers her napkins and straws while her long hair falling well down her back almost to the hem of her grey cotton dress shines in the sunlight filtering in through the window. These are all ordinary moments that carry …. No…. conjure up….. a host of difficult memories.

 I come to Starbucks consistently even though it often leads to a memory. Just a month ago, I tutored a student here at Starbucks…..

Suddenly memories of that morning before my ex was arrested…. flooding over me. He was at a Starbucks. The text from a parent asking about that Starbucks meetup hours after the arrest swimming before my eyes again. The memories sit there in my heart and occasionally push forward into my consciousness to remind me that he was not choosing to leave marks of His love everywhere he went in small moments of sacrifice but was desperately trying to be seen….. trying to find a measure of worldly success and a measure of fulfillment at the expense of someone else.

 I forget.

I forget and find that it cuts deeply still as I read Ann’s words.

 I long to leave such loving marks even if they are unseen by anyone else. I long to be sacrificing with someone else and be carrying the laundry back into the house and to stop and ask my husband what he is up to now and not fear that he is despising me and searching frantically for a way out and desiring to been seen by the whole wide world.

 I desired this:

“What are you up to now?” It’s the way he wears his work, his dirt, like he’s broken out of the earth, his jeans looking like he’s wrangled for a piece of this sod. He doesn’t even look down from the ladder. I hear the smile in his words: “Loving you.” Ann Voscamp

I desired a man who would leave marks of His love all over our family. A man who would write love notes to his girls, clean out gutters and fireplace flues and mow yards and move garden beds and build fences and lay wood floors with love in his heart….not anger and regret and desiring the whole time to throw it all away for a real adventure… a fulfilling adventure…. a someone or something elusive who would fulfill his desire for greatness…..when all the while greatness was to be found in those small acts done with great love.

Where would our little family be if he had chosen to see those moments as the ones Odysseus longed for instead of chasing after the dryads and goddesses and nymphs who would make him feel powerful and seen? What would the hearts of these daughters look like if he had chosen small acts of sacrifice instead of small acts of selfishness?

Door after door… choice after choice…..  me asking…. “So what are you up to now?”

And hearing “Loving you.”

Small Beginnings

I am tasked with finding my desire lately….homework….UGH!

I have to face what I desired in my marriage and family…..I have to find it and grieve it.

 I have to find what I desire even this week after writing an email….an email I rashly wrote and probably wasn’t even aware of having desires around….until my gifted counselor asked me about them, and I melted into teary eyed grief.

How can my heart have so many desires?…..Why don’t I always see them?….Why am I not always able to feel them?

My wall is so high and so well built.

Dismantling it will take the strength that is beyond me…..it is only found in Him!

So I desired a lot….and this week as I have prayed and asked for guidance to find my desires, I have run into them everywhere.

I read them in a book from a friend…Hind’s Feet in High Places…….

I saw them on a Facebook page….a husband so tenderly holding his wife and closing his eyes as he holds her hand close to his heart.

I heard it on the radio as I listened to a song about a man who desires to know a woman in her deepest places and sees her in all her most ridiculous places and loves her even more.

I read it tonight in an Ann Voscamp article about the small things that help a couple navigate the hard that is marriage……

http://annvoskamp.com/2017/02/why-small-beginnings-matter-in-a-lifelong-marriage/

And I have cried each time this desire bubbles up into recognition. It is the desire that seems to break my wall down and crush my heart all at the same time.……and I ache for the choices that show me so very clearly that his small things always led him further and further from making the love-building choices that could sustain a marriage.

Why does it hurt so much to read about a man who knows his wife likes tea so he buys her favorite kind? Or a husband who warms her side of the bed in winter or turns down the bed covers each night?

Why does it make me cry to even think about a man calling his wife beloved or a man making the small daily choices to love from a deep, deep place of faithfulness and sacrifice?

My ex did some lovely things….always walked on the street side of the sidewalk to protect me…..always got up to investigate sounds in the night if I was frightened……wore the Santa hat and cooked the eggs Benedict……..held my hand and traced hearts inside my palm……held me close when our first dog was killed….and was there at the birth of each child. I can find things that were like the ones in her article.

Why do I berate myself as if the things I forgot to do or didn’t know how to do were the cause of his choices? Why do I sit and pretend that some magical action on my part would have changed his raging ocean of choices?

This sexual addiction world leads to some pretty maddening guilt trips.

 I sit and grieve over my lack of prioritizing…..but did I forget to prioritize? Was I horrible?

 I cannot find the places where I was horrible….normal and tired and forgetful and cross at times…..yes I got angry and brooding if I only received sexual touches and too few hugs and back rubs and kisses. Whole years without kisses cannot be a good thing!

I am normal….if I feel lost and upset and ignored and betrayed by an affair…..I need healing. My desire for a husband that would have taken my invitation to heal together and who would have led the way forward instead of hiding and returning to a secret addiction was HUGE. Of course I desired more…..but I think I honored him even there. I think I forgave and tried to find the good and tell him that I loved him in the small ways I knew how…..birthday celebrations….holiday cooking and gifts…..admiring his teaching and telling him what a good writer he was. I think I told him I loved his muscles and adored watching him chop wood. I recall running my fingers through his hair and massaging his shoulders…..

But oh my word…..the desire was to be seen and heard. When I asked if there was more….when I inquired about the past or the things that seemed off….the silence was deafening or the anger was overwhelming…….the brutal truth became clear….and the answers only made sense after the arrest.

I know I wanted a husband who could honestly love me…..not play a game of secrecy and betrayal all the while subtly blaming me for anything he felt I wasn’t doing correctly.

The grief in the small choices that I know now were daily made….hourly sharpened….building a wall of dissatisfaction and pain minute by minute……These choices drown out the good that could have been building a marriage and instead make that life an impostor……turn that lovely marriage on its head and dash it into a million pieces replacing it with an image of an evil, manipulative man who never loved and never desired my good in any circumstance.

And that hurts more than I can say.

I know I still desire a husband. I desire a man who truly sees me….not someone who pretends to see me.

I can tell the difference. I am sure of that now.

I desire the man who will do the protecting and who will also live out the vows. I desire the man who could face the sin of us both honestly and openly as well as tenderly do the small things….. the things that are beautiful and holy.

I am going to prioritize a husband…..I will do it poorly at times…..I will hurt his heart at times…..I will no doubt stumble and fall into all kinds of moods and panics and places of doubt…..but I am going to find a man who will prioritize seeing me and who will stumble and fall into all kinds of love with me……..so that we can find those small beginnings that matter in a lifetime of marriage.

Do You Suppose?

http://www.imdb.com/videoplayer/vi3476357913?ref_=tt_pv_vi_aiv_1

I sat watching a movie by myself on Saturday night. It was called The Spitfire Grill.

I am trying to piece together words of wisdom from people I have been entrusting my heart and story to, and I am trying to practice the healing homework I am given regularly by my counselor. All this of course is on top of trying to find Jesus’ voice in all this…..the Shepherd…..hearing what he would say is a priority but sometimes I find that his words come more in pictures and snippets through moments in time that stick out and resonate in my soul even more clearly than an audible voice can. I guess I think in stories and pictures and words so he comes to me and whispers there.

I have been piecing together how to awaken desire…….my having to actually go back and find the parts of me in the shadowlands and the parts of me lost along the way to adulthood. I am trying to find my heart and feel the feelings of all those years I hid and built a wall around my heart to keep it safe.

I am trying to manage the fresh triggers that keep cropping up around weddings and boyfriends and trying to be a good enough mamma………along with trying to manage how I feel about dating or not dating…..moving out into a place of vulnerability or staying here in the place of grieving and healing and getting stronger.

I hear one trusted friend tell me some of my healing will come through relationship…..another who counsels that perhaps I won’t be called to remarry at all…….someone else who says she remembers the dating and the panic and the feeling like the end is just 20 cats and an isolated farm somewhere off in the wilderness all alone. I hear the fears inside my head and the counselor who walks through with me how to tell a good man from a player…..a man who is seeking Jesus versus a man lost in sin and hiding. We discuss desires and what my heart is made for and longs for. I hear other people’s stories of redemption and healing from very similar places and similar stories……

And then I sit…..I sit and try to listen and end up……both angry at God and begging him to come and take this all away.

Some days the healing is almost as painful as the fresh wound was. I sat watching The Spitfire Grill, and I had forgotten that the main character asks this little question there in the middle of the film. It is almost a throw away moment it happens so quickly…..but MAN….it clobbered my heart and I was bawling in seconds.

“Do you suppose if a wound goes real deep, the healing of it can hurt almost as bad as what caused it?”

 Percy just asks this there in the middle of her pain. I know how she felt. I feel it too….I feel it almost daily sometimes. That is the question…..because I worry that this wound is so deep that it cannot heal. I worry that this wound is so large that to sew it shut will take so many stitches that I will simply be one big ugly mess of scars and will never…..ever get to a place of being carefree and whole and beautiful again.

I know this character felt ugly and worthless in places. She was broken and suffering and trying to find a way to work through the pain and work her self into a place of redemption and healing. And I love how the movie shows us her heart and her sacrifice even in the midst of being broken.

But oh man…….I KNOW the anguish of this question.

I know the feelings around not being enough and not being able to heal and needing so much beauty that you cannot seem to be able to pour enough into your soul in any one day to feel like a woman who is lovable ever again.

I am so thankful for friends and good counsel and a Savior who come and tell me that the healing of this wound isn’t going to ever be about how I work it through. I am so thankful that I am never going to have to feel beautiful and lovable in order to be BELOVED.

I am thankful that crying out to God and crying in anguish and heartache are acceptable and encouraged here. I can tell Him how hurt my heart is that I don’t seem to have the right story. I feel lost in someone else’s story……a nightmare one in which everything goes wrong. I can cry for injustice and ache for broken families and hurting daughters.

I am thankful that on days when this question and this healing feel so difficult……that I can sit and feel it and still remember that even if I never am called to remarry again…..if I never find peace and balance and a place that feels like home again deep inside this heart…….I will still be OK. I will be guided through the shadowlands and given every good thing…..even if they don’t feel like good things all the time to me. My healing does hurt almost as bad as the thing that caused it….. but I am growing more real through it….more bold because of it…..more vulnerable in spite of it…..and more lovely because my God finds me worth loving and desires that I spend eternity loving and praising Him while discovering how loved and precious I am to Him.

Somebody That I Used to Know

I remember that he played this song for me…..and I wondered what he loved so much about it. Now I see it differently. I hear the woman in the story much more clearly now…..

Dating has been on my mind again……or more accurately fear of it. I was on Match for awhile….and forced myself to go to a lot of coffee dates. I met some wonderful people. Really…I found nothing but gentlemen. But lately….I cannot make myself go to a coffee at all. This stress bubbles up, and I cannot feel safe there any more.

But………I have a plan….well….a plan for other people……

How about  if everyone I know digs into their memory banks for a handsome man….someone trustworthy….intelligent….happy….outdoorsy….. and at least just a little bit taller than me.

Wouldn’t that be the best dating scenario EVER!!!!

What happened to the village match maker?

I think I am up for that some days.

I realize a lot that meeting strangers is VERY stressful for me…..but meeting people who have a connection to people I am already familiar with and trust is so much easier. I can be much more myself.

If someone is associated with my school I feel better……when someone is associated with a friend from church I feel better.

When someone knows a high school friend or a college friend or in general there is a real, live person I already trust to ask about this stranger….I feel a palpable sigh of relief…..the stress fades just a bit.

But I am still struggling with EVER thinking that someone could really and truly love me. I know it is because of the secrecy and the betrayal. I know it is because I truly…TRULY thought that man loved me……I truly believed his words, and I even believed he thought I was beautiful.

The horror of finding out that it was all a lie is still too much some days. I am still finding myself looking back and realizing that I NEVER knew him….not in any sense of the word……I have to go back and question EVERYTHING because his choices unveiled the man underneath the mask and that man was NOTHING like the man I thought I married.

That man was choosing evil daily and manipulating daily…..for his own gain. He was not loving any of us in the ways I thought a husband and father would. We were not safe, and known and loved…..even though on the surface, we thought we were…..well I thought I was.

I cannot put into words exactly how that messes with your brain and your heart. There really are no words to describe it other than a complete and utter destruction from within the marriage. The one person you trust turns out to be the one you should have run from….and it is too late when you find out. The damage is done….the destruction is complete….well almost complete.

The continuing discoveries and continuing destruction of relationships will probably never end when children are involved….every wedding….every grand baby….every birthday and Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and on and on……each one is a reminder…..Oh yes….even here….he chose and chooses not to love. Even here……the destruction is completely, unimaginably difficult some days.

But we are getting through it…..learning from it….allowing God to heal it.

Someday…..I will meet a stranger, and I will simply introduce myself……I won’t feel the need to introduce my past. I will be someone so whole and healthy and full of joys and happinesses that the story will have to take a back seat. Someone will get to know me first……this person who has so many emotions and so many other things to discuss and do and enjoy that this story……of a failed marriage……. will simply be a small part of what used to be.

DIS – EASE

I have an autoimmune disease.

I am at dis – ease. I have reached my body’s saturation point for stress and toxic everything……

So I sit on weekends reading and reading and reading. I have read three books……many, many great websites…..and have a pretty good idea of how to put together a protocol to help my body heal.

It all makes sense in my head……identify your stress points….bacteria, parasites, toxic foods, toxic thoughts, toxic lifestyle patterns…….

I know what I need to do if I listen really closely….if I get quiet and actually listen to what my body and God are whispering to me through this autoimmune disease…..

I need sleep……

I need relaxation on a beach and out in nature…..

I need good foods….high quality meat….veggies….fruits….nuts…..water…….

I need good thoughts…….lovely thoughts….a thankful heart and a heart full of hope and joy…….

I need ways to get rid of stress….epsom salt, lavender baths…candles….healing music……fir saunas….massages…..and TONS of good hugs.

I need time away….from work…..from blogs…..from trauma…..and from stressful situations.

I need family and friends and conversations about ideas and thoughts and futures and all the things I enjoy.

I need a respite…..a year of jubilee.

I cannot ignore my body. I cannot just swallow this autoimmune disease and take a pill to cure it. I have to be mindful and prayerful and purposeful and walk forward caring for my mind, soul, and body in a way that leads to health instead of crashing my body disasterously into a vat of shame and exhaustion and self-pity.

So I am writing it all out….I am posting it to myself…..

All of you are my witnesses……I am going to walk out of this         DIS-EASE and into prayerful EASE.

I am going to love myself enough to actually spend a little money to get healthy……

I am going to love myself enough to take breaks from stress and find things I love doing more……

I will write some fiction…..I will play more piano…..I will finish that painting……I will visit more friends and take more walks and drink more tea and eat things I enjoy that are tasty and GOOD for me. I will practice prayer postures……and I will choose to be thankful in all things and joyful in the beauty all around me.

I know what I need to do……

I just need a little help getting there…..so I am reaching out to someone qualified to lead me forward……

Just making a decision to move forward is good….just choosing today to love myself and move forward is a milestone for me. I am worth taking care of and so are my daughters. We deserve to enjoy  life and to feel safe and known and loved. We deserve to be protected by a strong man and cared for by a loving man. We deserve sunshine and roses and healing and health.

Thank you God for internet people who reach out and help heal other internet people. Thank you for real friends who reach out and help heal real friends. Thank you God for real men who love and heal their families daily…..and thank you for real wives who honor and love their husbands every day.

I am just beginning to see that only when I give up do I stop healing. I cannot imagine just thinking that I screwed up, so I get to give up and leave these lovely ladies to fend for themselves. Only when I decide there is no way, and I pretend that I have no options….do I stop healing.

I will never give up……my daughters are WAY worth investing in and pouring into even when they don’t see it or even know healing needs to take place. I will become the very best me…..to be the very best mother and very best grandmother…….I will invest in relationships and people and continue to grieve and ask questions…….and heal and ask more questions.

Not even tiny parts of me can keep me from healing….I cannot change things about me…….but I can become the very best me possible. I cannot change the choices he made….but I can learn every drop of anything I can from the time I had in that marriage and family……I cannot forget the past…..but I can certainly release it and allow it to be formative and used for my good.

Yay!!!!!! I am getting better!!!!!!

Running Away

Why have I stayed?

I thought about this a lot this week……….

I have been going with a friend to help a beloved friend of hers……a recently widowed husband. We get to finish a piece of artwork. It is a beautiful mural…….well really two murals and a mirror mural that his lovely wife almost finished. I simply get to put the final touches on them and sit back and admire her keen eye and sense of style.

But it has made me realize…….why I stayed.

I need to finish my life…..my piece of artwork needs to be finished with the help of people who know me.

I thought about just leaving at first….a LOT!

It would have been easier in some senses to pick up my girls and find a new city and find a new life….one without anyone knowing……having known…..having seen the before and the after……

I thought about how it would relieve the stress and the shame. I could simply be a single mom and someone who was without a story and without a past. I could have written the story any way I pleased. I could have forgotten the story and forgotten the people and places and events and instead concentrated on making new memories and meeting new people and going to new events.

But something my headmaster said one year kept coming into my mind….He said that in the past, people all knew each others’ stuff. The drunk was known and cared for…..the adulterer was known and seen and the towns knew and could offer forgiveness and help walk someone into restoration.

I recalled The Scarlet Letter. The main character was branded with her letter….but the town became a place who knew her….for her kindness and acts of charity….she turned the letter into a badge of love.

I recalled my own desire to be known and realized that I could never be known if I ran away and tried to create a new me. Everywhere I would try to go…..I would be there…..my story and all my flaws and failings and shame and glory……it all is with me no matter the physical location of my body.

I needed people around me who knew me and knew my story who could restore my faith in kindness, goodness, and faithfulness……I needed restoration.

 I needed people who could help my family re-form…we needed a new structure and a new way to relate based upon our old foundation but entirely new in its mortars and beams……..I needed reformation badly.

I needed people who could support me and help me see truth….I needed visualization very badly.

And lastly….I needed people who could help me remember that I am not an island….I cannot do this on my own…..I need a country , a city, a community to which I belong and individuals who will walk alongside me, carrying me when needed, and holding my hand when I feel strong enough to walk. I needed people who would help me become a citizen of that heavenly city, not someone who would run from all vulnerability and truth……I needed naturalization.

I am lucky enough to have people from every corner of my life who have allowed me to stay and who have provided more than enough finishing touches on this artwork to last a lifetime!  I have been restored to health, reformed into a happy little family…..made to see clearly as I visualize a brighter future, and I have been welcomed into community as a naturalized citizen who thought she would have to run away to find this level of freedom.

A Day Filled with Sunshine

My counselor has me working on some different things again…..now that I am beginning an uphill climb.

I didn’t know I had been walking through such treacherous waters….I knew they were stormy but when you are walking in them….you cannot step outside and look at them properly. He helped me see the timeline pretty clearly as I puzzled last week over the amount of crying I still have left to do and how I never seem to be any further ahead.

He led me through it from his perspective a little…..He told me I have walked through a lifetime of being strong as I needed to feel in control as things around me swirled out of control from age three forward……then I was managing an overwhelming situation in my adult life and marriage as an affair came to light and no healing or honesty was forthcoming. I walked through a devastating time after the arrest of my ex-husband as I was trying just to survive……I waited for a trial and was trying to help my children survive as things fell apart. I walked forward managing the fallout around me and within me as the realities of prison time and further revelations came to light. I walked through deciding if reconciliation or divorce were God’s call on my life…..and I walked through bankruptcy, financial strain, mental strain, physical strain, emotional strain, spiritual strain and finally came to a place where I can grieve more intensely as I am not in a place of imminent death and destruction anymore.

No wonder I am exhausted and my body has decided this year it can finally fall apart a little.

Now I can begin the healing journey because I am finally through the fight for survival.

Interesting….this feels very difficult too….…..not death and loss and destruction…….. no…this is difficult in the way childbirth is. This feels more healing as though it will bring life….. even as it feels weighty and like hard work.

I have at least come to the place where looking ahead I see the possibility of laughter and freedom and being comfortable being me again….having whole days of not thinking about or talking about pain, ex’s, loss, destruction, or even sexual addiction.

I can see ahead days of planning weddings, graduations, birthdays, holidays, and summer vacations….without having to remember the past so much. Instead things are beginning to take on a shape of their own….this little family is beginning to feel complete like it is……I can walk that girl down the aisle. I can lead this little family. I can tend to the relationships and even possibly form new ones that are healthier and more vulnerable than any I have had in the past.

I know there will be triggers for the rest of my life…..but I am finally hopeful that someday…..hopefully sooner than later……I will experience that feeling of walking out into a day filled with sunshine and laughing and smiling and enjoying all that it has without looking back.

Whew! I think I can do this!