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…, 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.

So What!!!!!!


Musing over Facebook and the wonderful people who donated to a cause close to my heart today……

There are so many kindhearted people in the world. It is too much to take in some days.

But one particular entry made me pause….it was only a first letter in a name, and I didn’t know who had donated. I am like a cat in some ways…a squirrel in others….so my cat nature made me search and get inquisitive….I had to look around and play with the information I had, but finally I found the donor. She is a lovely, beautiful woman with a family and a story. I am sure her life has not been perfect…..but it is perfectly beautiful from my vantage point.

I sit here and stare at her photos… know….the ones on Facebook that look perfect. Oh…life is never all roses I am sure….but I see a confident  woman who knows she is loved. Her husband is a good man….I have known them since I was just starting out in life. I remember a few times in college…..sitting in my dorm room or hers helping her study for an exam…sharing sorority activities and generally just watching her life a little. I remember her gorgeous wedding…the family….the traditions….the dancing and happiness around it. I have loved seeing her children on Facebook and watching her story unfold. Her story is beautiful. Her husband has been in her life for a VERY long time….longer than any other couple I know.

They seem…….solid. They seem like salt of the earth.

They are one of a few couples from college that I keep up with…..who seem like salt of the earth……who just make me cry every time I see them. ….not from sadness exactly….more like from a place of deep hurt and woundedness…….but also joy. They restore that feeling that there are men of valor and honor who love their wives and families completely. I know I could be wrong and completely have on rose colored glasses…..but I don’t think so here. My intuition tells me that these couples are real….and forever…..and more in love every day……because they have chosen to love faithfully even when it was difficult and messy and hard and seemed like no one else in the world could.

But it does make my heart so sad right now.

I sit here looking at the picture of what my heart desired. I see what  I will never have. I can never have that picture of my family….the one where the father of my children…..the husband who loved me since tenth grade…..the man who would forsake all others and love me because I was worth it….standing next to me after 25 or 30 or 50 years of marriage. I will never feel that sense of being known since I was young and silly and innocent.  I don’t get to have that story any longer….and I loved that story even when it was difficult.

I didn’t know…….. that the difficult was because the story was fake…….that his heart was not here……that my eyes were blind.

I am not saying I will never feel loved or never find love….even a love that is greater than the love that man and I were able to scrape together.

But I can never be THAT woman. The one with a story so sweet……so lovely….so unbroken.

And it hurts my heart.

It makes me cry.

I am now the woman with a story like countless millions of other women…….the woman with a black mark…..a tear in the fabric of her soul…..a heart that needs mending……and the woman who stops and has moments when nothing will ever seem to be possible again.

I am the woman….like so many others…who sits alone at night and often cries and has to take stock of the pieces that are lying there on the floor……I have to gather them again……see if there is even enough of them left to build something new out of…….and carefully wrap them up in something so that they won’t shatter into dust before morning.

I am now the woman who wakes up and puts on the brave face to face the world because underneath…..there is a story that feels so difficult to bear. I am that one who averts her eyes when women talk about their wonderful husbands because I am about to enter into a memory and that will break my heart.

I am the one who gets closer and closer to the holidays and wishes them to be over more and more…..because it feels so empty at times….watching all the stories scroll across Facebook and knowing that mine will never be light and easy, and  I will never be the one hearkening back to all those early days and early memories in an unbroken chain of sweetness that simply floods my soul with light.

Instead….I cannot look back….I have to turn away……the memories were not that sweet and the ones that were…..I have to filter because if I didn’t…..I wouldn’t be able to function. I have to figure out where the truth was and where the lie was and put new memories on top of old memories so my heart and eyes will never be blind again.

Instead…..I am building new places….new adventures….new memories. I am getting stronger and stronger…..

But nothing will ever remove the fact that I am forever a woman whose story has taken a dark turn for the worst……whose story  has  places that feel like a cliff…..a sharp, jagged edge…..a place where you could toss yourself in and keep falling and falling until you hit the bottom.

I have to choose to walk away from the edge and keep walking away from that edge until I find another mountain to climb.

This morning….I will walk away.

So what that I don’t have an unbroken story!

I will have a mended story.

I will have a story knit out of tears and laughter and pain and joy.

I will take these broken memories and soon…someday… them with whole, wonderful, loving memories….authentic memories….not built on deceit and lies.

I will build a story of triumph and glorious light…..a story of giving with my whole heart….and having a voice so strong that my very soul shines out of it.

I am not defeated…..I am not done or complete or even a woman scorned…..

I am simply a woman in transition…..who is learning to sit and grieve and cry and feel and be….

And in being….in listening… silence and contemplation….God is coming and filling me anew….rebuilding those fragments…..tiny piece by tiny piece…..and this morning…I get the feeling that even if He takes until eternity to mend this….

I will be made whole. There is no doubt.

I simply need to continue allowing my heart to feel and express and reach out. It is connecting with wonderful, lovely people like my Facebook friend….my college friends… high school friends…my church friends….my school friends….my blog friends……and my family… lovely daughters…..

Through all these relationships… heart is being remade.

Thank you friends….for reaching in to me….even when I cannot reach out to you. Thank you for having gloriously beautiful, messy, real, vulnerable lives…..even when mine feels flat and small.

God….thank you for the gift of tears and grieving. Thank you for the gift of families who are real and vibrant and loving. Thank you for Autumn and weddings and daughters with birthdays and people to worship with on Sundays. Thank you for school fundraisers and pine cones and pumpkins and Schooners. Thank you for food and shelter and paintings and everything else that is running through my brain. Help me to continue to focus on the thankful parts and let the painful parts wash away in the tears. Help me to see what was real and allow the parts that were not to be forgotten and have no hold on my life. As I pray for all the women I have heard stories from….help their hearts to grieve and heal and become beautiful pieces of art in your hands.

Father… us to love in a world so broken that love often feels like this.

A Bull in a China Shop

KODAK Digital Still Camera

How can I get curious about this instead of beating myself up?

I totally messed up a discussion I wanted very badly not to mess up. I totally said everything wrong…..I said everything I should not have said and probably said everything that made it more difficult for the person I was trying to reach to hear me at all.

Why is it only in looking back that we see the folly of our ways? Why didn’t God give me more wisdom and more patience and more knowledge and more humility?

I see now that it was a lack of humility….a rush to make someone see what I was observing instead of guiding and asking and gathering information.

It is not the first time I have experienced this concept this week.

It is the third time…..

I have not been feeling well lately. I have been coughing and feeling very tired and worried that perhaps all this is something serious just like any normal human being might. What isn’t normal is that I have to worry that perhaps I was exposed to some horrible disease or pathogen unknowingly through the deceit of another…….I have to worry that something has been silently in my body working against my health for years unbeknownst to me because of the cowardice or evil or selfishness of someone I trusted and loved…..all that adds a layer of anger to my worry that simmers under the surface.

So when I screw up…..I immediately start to spin….in my head…..

What if everything goes horribly wrong?

What can I do to fix it?

What can I do to make sure I never mess up again?

What can I do to help the other person see the problem as I do?

And I find a part of me always believes I am right….correct…..justified completely in my thinking……

Until I reflect and step back and begin to get curious about what is going on in my heart. Only then can some humility begin to enter and begin to soften my hard heart. I can begin to see where wisdom would have said things differently and where my hardness of heart caused someone else pain…..even when and if I am right.

I saw this happen in a conversation about wanting to try a new approach to eating healthy……I was like a bull in a china shop. Ugh!

I saw this in a parent conference…….I was not listening as much as I should have. Ugh!

I saw this in a conversation with a friend about some websites I was finding interesting. Ugh!

Suddenly I am swamped by visions of myself that seem so clear and powerful and ………UGLY!

I had to step back and allow that I am ugly in quite a few places still. I am hard-hearted and unable to consider others before myself much of the time.

I am very much like a fifth grader.

I desire to please the Teacher, but there are just days…..moments….lessons…..when I cannot or choose not to slow down and consider quietly and humbly that I might be wrong or that I might be making hasty judgments.

I get afraid….and that makes me do things that might hurt someone even when I desire to be loving and kind.


Being human is difficult. Being a human who is so far from perfect is even more difficult.

I begin to wonder why God takes the time to walk with me at all.

I have to look at myself the same way I look at my fifth graders……through the lens of what I will become and what God has made glorious inside of me….instead of through the lens of what I am now and what is broken inside of me.

God is giving me an opportunity to begin to face the things no one in relationship has had opportunity or desire to shape and mold and call out of me…

….my sin.

God is giving me the opportunity to face some of the fears I have had around needing things….around being perfect….around having emotions….and around making mistakes…..and it is difficult and messy and painful.

Every day it seems I do something that I have questioned in someone else…..and I am having light bulbs flash in my head….”Oh…that is how that person felt about me when I felt like that to them….” “Oh…..this is the same fear that person was having when they said that to me.”Oh….wow….that is how judgmental a conversation like that felt when I spewed all over…..

Growing up and growing independent after a 25 year marriage is painful work……I don’t like it. I am too much like a toddler stamping my feet and looking up at my Father shouting….”NO!”  and  “WHY?” with grubby hands and a tear-stained face.

But God is showing me that I will grow up….and I will be made strong enough to have emotions and make mistakes and not be perfect……….. and someone….a friend……my family….or a husband….may someday even be treated to a display of the real me….unfiltered to the point that I would later have to apologize……


What a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day that had lovely, beautiful and life-giving moments in it……

Or was it a wonderful, beautiful, life-giving day that had horrible, no good, very bad moments in it?

This Man


I totally remember that day back in September of 2014….. I completely felt convicted for disparaging all men in a Facebook post….. I prayed and asked God to bring to my mind some good men. I figured I would only be able to come up with 5 IF I tried REALLY hard….I have reached 18..and there are still more I could write about!

f you want to know their qualifications read on…otherwise stop here knowing I have redeemed myself and my rant against men! 🙂

Good Men: 2014
This man calls me or texts me on a fairly regular basis. He makes sure my kids get dental care and our car gets fixed and we get counseling. He tells me that he wants me to know God made me beautiful. He makes sure I know I have brothers who will come if my tire is flat or I need something to survive. He even makes me think about things for myself. He lets me ask tough questions like, “Do all men look at porn?” and he doesn’t even flinch as he gives me what feels like a very authentic and vulnerable answer.I have never met a larger heart or a more honest spirit!

This man was able to walk me through such a desperate, horrible time. He was able to keep sanity and reality in my life at a very difficult time. I was treated with respect and generosity. I was also able to see his compassion and love for his children and wife even as I observed him. I also found out that he helped my girls get what they needed for counseling.

This man has given me a compassionate ear whenever I needed one to talk about how I need things taken off my plate at work. He has let me know his heart feels my pain with a simple folding of his hands and a sigh. He has helped me believe I could continue to be a teacher. I have also observed a great wisdom and love for his family through attending the funeral of his mother. The love of that family made me cry! I continue to enjoy working at a school where good men live out their walk for Christ boldly and authentically in front of everyone in their community.

This man waded into the mess of my life early and let me know in no uncertain terms that I was not to be ostracized or looked down upon. I was made to feel the love of a very powerful community and made to feel that I could make good decisions and walk faithfully forward. I am also privileged to hear him speak regularly on the Gospel and have been amazed at his wisdom and insight. I can also see the great love he has for his family. He leads my school in gentle humility.

This man called me to let me know the men of my community would be making sure Christmas came to my house. It was September. I cried for hours to think that these men even cared. He walked with me during a very stressful few months making sure I could visit a dear friend in prison and made sure I was comfortable doing so. He and his wife made sure everything was wrapped and even made sure there was a present for me. I have been privileged to teach a child of theirs and have seen the fierce Godly love this family has as they walk out their faith.

This man has been a true brother in Christ. He has walked with me through very, very dark places and helped me see God’s light in them. He continuously feeds my mind and soul with scriptures and examples of what a good man is and does. I see the love he has for his wife and family, and I see his heart. I am truly grateful that my Father put him in my life at just the right time. I am thankful that unlike so many others that I have heard about, I receive counsel from a man trained and gifted in seeing the trauma of sexual addiction and healing it.

This man is truly my brother, and I love him! He has walked in dark places and seen me do the same. He invited me into his world and gave me a summer that literally sustained me through the next year! I saw how a good man loves and fights for his family. I saw his care and compassion for everything he put his hand to whether it was giving a kidney to a stranger or getting a niece to drive a four-wheeler when she felt she couldn’t. I love this man!

This man has walked in hard places. He opened his heart and shared some of his story….enough to help me understand. I am learning to love him more each year and I see how he has loved his family. I will never forget the story of him taking his son outside in a fight and telling him that he could punch him with his hardest if he needed to but that he needed him to know one thing. He told his son that afterward, he would still love him. He would always love him. That made me cry. I remember his daughter telling me that when she was headed in for emergency surgery she was screaming for her dad. She would not them operate on her until he was in the room. That made me cry! His other daughter told me about how he came and “worked” with her for a month. The stories were hilarious and made me cry! I missed so much! Brokenness is no fun!

This man has pastored a ton of people and made sure they were offered grace and redemption. God has walked with him through dark places and shaped his soul into a wonderful, insightful, caring tree of life. He has loved my family and sat with me on some of the darkest days I have ever walked through. He has seen me cry so hard that I couldn’t stop. He prayed with me for generational healing and had me over for dinner when I was falling apart one day early on to watch a video that would forever change my life. He made sure I had someone with me to walk forward and get what I needed. He sent people into my life to walk with me through the storm. He and his wife have been grace and mercy to my family in a way I can never repay!

This man has a wisdom and a simple, gentle soul that I have not often experienced. His sermons are so life filled some days that I walk away and live off of them for weeks. I know some of his wife’s story and I am amazed at the way he loves and cares for her heart!

This man helped me prepare for Guatemala and gave my daughter a camp that literally shaped her soul one summer. He has spoken words of life into me at a time when I desperately needed to hear them, and I have seen his tender love for his family. I reread his emails regularly to remind my brain that there may still be good men in the world.

This man sees my girls and sees the people around him with a compassionate heart. He is a farm boy and deeply loves and deeply believes. I see the love he has for his wife. I hear the stories of his family and see his love for them. My girls were so totally moved when in his compassion at breakfast one morning, he noticed a handicap child at the next table over with her mom and brother. She had spilled a whole glass of water across the table. He quickly got up and helped that family clean up so tenderly and sweetly. My girls have never forgotten that example of chivalry.

This man flew across the country to take my girls when I was unable to care for them. When my life fell apart, he made sure we had what we needed. He and his wife helped during a very dark time and made sure this wouldn’t be a time that was totally filled with only black and hurtful memories. He still cares for our family and makes sure we have what we need. He always reminds me that we will always be family no matter what!

This man gives his wife scripture and words of wisdom when she has bad days. He handles his daughters with a love and compassion that I rarely see these days. I see his hard work and his heart for God all in one day. There is a steadiness to him…an ability to lead his family and be kind to others.

This man took us fishing and walked with my family in a very dark time. He gives his life to his ministry and his family. I know he understands life can be tough and has had to walk through tough things himself. He has helped my daughters understand their faith and walk forward in it.

This man had me over to dinner with his wife and a friend of mine. They prayed with me and I heard his story. He prayed over me and let my heart hear words that have sustained me. He and his wife continue to be blessing in my life as they live out the Gospel.

This man loved his wife when she was in a very dark place because someone else had betrayed her. The story of his love has been very hopeful to me. The wisdom with which he wooed her heart back from destruction and darkness is impressive. I continue to observe his love for her in small ways as I am able, and am moved by the good man I see. I love listening to him talk about his wife!

This man was the first one who walked down to my classroom to look me in the eye and tell me that whatever I needed for my girls as far as he could make it happen, it would be done. And he has lived up to it for the third year in a row…whatever I asked for them for their sports, he has provided. He let me know that good men would still look me in the eye and treat me with respect.

There are many more good men in my brain….some I have had the privilege of reading about in books like A Grace Disguised……A Grief Observed.…..A Severe Mercy……

Others I have had the privilege of observing in a wedding and newly started life, as the husband of a colleague, or on a mission trip to Guatemala. I have seen and talked with real, flesh and blood men who have made difficult choices to love even when it would have been easier to be selfish and live only for themselves. I have even found good men sitting in airports making Skype calls to their families as they were trapped in a snow storm or driving a taxi cab in Chicago when they would rather be chasing their dreams because it is what their family needed at the moment.

God knew I needed to see and experience good men. I thought I had a good man looking after me…..I thought I was in a marriage with a man who loved not only my body….but my mind…… and my soul.

I was wrong.

After a spouse finds out that her love has been her betrayer…..after a wife finds out that nothing she thought was real……after the lies are uncovered and the gas lighting and manipulation are peeled back to reveal the real man who was there…….faith… feels dead for a while. There is just no space for trusting and believing that some men can actually be….honorable….truthful….faithful….or good.

Thank you God for setting me straight and sending me tons of men who demonstrated tangibly that men indeed can be good fathers….good husbands….and good men who seek after Your heart with all they have and all they desire!

I Simply Don’t Deserve A Party


So….when you have had enough of your story….what is next?

I am recently just feeling more and more….done.

You know….finished processing for a bit. Oh…..I  am sure things will crop up….especially if I get into a relationship that goes deeper and deeper…and gets more and more vulnerable and sweet.

I am  trying patiently to listen for what is next.

I think I heard a piece of it Sunday.

Fr. Christopher preached on three stories….The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin and The Prodigal Son. I had never quite connected them as brilliantly and as simply as he did. I had never quite looked at them so clearly…..I felt like they were brand new. But my takeaway….besides the beauty and glory of the stories and the Son who searches until he finds….sweeps and keeps looking….who celebrates when he finds…..and who runs to meet us before we even know we are close to home……besides all that glorious stuff….

I heard…..”Leslie….search for them…..go out and find them…..see them…..and then run after their story…..invite them in and hear them. “

I had been reading Brene Brown right before church. I often hang at the Starbucks down the street after I drop my youngest at the church nursery to work. I get a whole hour to just read and sip tea. It is something I don’t really like missing…..a WHOLE HOUR! And that morning the reading was about seeing the lost and hurting and needy people around us….or….rather….NOT being able to really see them because to see them makes us uncomfortable. Brene was trying to figure out why they made her uncomfortable…. and concluded that it was because she herself doesn’t like to need…..she would rather be in control and perfect……. I am not a perfectionist….I will do a little of that sometimes…..well….probably more than I would like to admit….but sometimes….I also just want to sweep things under the rug and pretend they don’t exist. That feels comfortable to me.

So….I read that, and then heard the sermon…..and then on the way home….of course……… there were the people who stand on the corner and ask for money…..they are homeless…… and hungry…….and look weary and hot and……. goodness….how do they stand there all day, and where do they go at night and….?

Well my brain was flying through all I had read and heard, and I was  trying to figure out what God was saying to me. I recalled a conversation I had once…..…..early 2012…a funny conversation we had in the car heading to Millennial Mall……….a weird one actually that stuck in my head…..…..It was about what we would do if we ever were not married ….I told my ex right before I knew anything was amiss that I knew what I would do. I told him I would go and be a missionary in a foreign country….like Mother Teresa….simple stuff….just serve and live out my days.

So….God, here I am ….not married….and those words are stuck in my head and my throat…..

This sermon is stuck in my head and throat along with the reading from Brene.

What am I to do next?

Where am I to serve next?

I served in a family for 25 years. I served children and a husband and a church and relatives and….well…..I don’t know ….I thought I was serving God….I thought a whole bunch of stuff….but I am not sure now looking back whether what I was doing was serving…..or hiding.

So perhaps God is moving my heart in a direction to really see….perhaps I am going to have to sit and hear people’s stories and listen….with ears that don’t judge or don’t have an agenda…..just listen and search and sweep and rejoice and offer the Good News in a way that feels like telling my story.

I am excited to hear more about this direction…..and terrified….at the same time. I have a real fear around needing……I don’t like to be the one served…..I would rather serve.

Perhaps part of finding out that the good news is GOOD…. is that for me it means I can actually have needs and because I allow myself to actually have needs…..I can finally and completely serve the needs of others with a grateful heart and a fearless soul. I will be able to finally not be ashamed for not being perfect and instead….embrace my faults and see the faults of others and not need to fix them…..but just listen and offer a Savior that can come running even before they know they are close to home. I can pick up a broom and sweep until I find the valuable lost ……and allow the Son to make a way for this oldest brother… love that younger one even when neither of us deserves it. I can allow the Savior to find me….pick me up on His shoulders….and carry me back when I am lost…..and then join in the partying because all of Heaven is rejoicing…..and I can then be happy when another lost sheep gets a party……because I know that I didn’t deserve mine either.

For Mandie

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Mandie… are beautiful… are loved….you are Beloved!

To my sweet blog friend…….those 32 years….they will not be wasted. He is coming for you because you are His… are His Beloved! Even when you cannot feel it…..even when you cannot see it…..even when you cannot believe it…..DO NOT fear….you are His! Mandie…….nothing is too great…no wall is too tall for our God to break down to get to your heart. He loves you and if you continue to seek Him… will find Him. The door will be opened, and He will speak His love song into your soul. Your heart will be mended, and He will make all those tears turn to laughter and all the sadness….. He will turn to Joy.

These books are in no particular order and the websites are just the ones I have in my bookmark section that I have collected over the last four years. I am in no way special nor more connected to God than anyone else. I am simply a girl….who has opened a window into her soul… other women and men can see a little light at the end of this long dark tunnel called sexual addiction recovery for spouses devastated by secrets and lies and sex addicts.

You asked me for books. These are only a few. I love to read, and God sent book after book through my counselor and my friends……..they just kept and continue to keep coming.

Books to Read:

 The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick

A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser

Rising Strong by Rene Brown

Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend

Till We Have Faces C.S. Lewis

Manalive by G.K. Chesterton

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

Dangerous Journey by Oliver Hunkin

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (the whole Narnia series and Space Trilogy)

Prayer and Our Bodies by Flora Slosson Wuellner

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

Your Sexually Addicted Spouse by Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means

The Healing Path by Dan Allender

Tea and Justice by Becca Stevens

From Bondage to Bonding by Nancy Groom

Captivating by Stasi Eldridge

A Critical Journey by Hagberh and Guelich

Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldridge

Intimate Allies by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman

From Dawn to Dark by R. Douglas Jones

Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard


Websites for everything from songs and prayers  to financial advice and parent alienation articles

In the end Mandie….the most healing has come when I opened up to real, live people. When God spoke through my counselor or my friends……He moved my heart the most.  I had to be brave enough to share what was really going on in my head and heart….God did the rest.

In reading and proofing this blog…..I suddenly felt very protective and nostalgic about my lists of books and websites. They are like a favorite blankie from youth or a the voice of a friend from high school. These books are like seeds……my friends and counselor are the dirt supporting life….and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit make it all grow in me.

I am His not because I am good or special or connected…..I am His because He loves me even when I am unfaithful and ugly and dark and  disappointing to Him.

He loves me.

I am still asking Him why on most days….

But at last……I know in my bones…I am beautiful…….I am loved….

I am Beloved!

(And Mandie……so are you!)

Battle Scars


Some days….the broken in a family breaks out, and the sanity just flies away!

For me….it is always around family events where a grandmother and grandfather have been invited……

All the old wounds….the ones that just never were allowed to get addressed….to be spoken….to be released………. just start bleeding again…..and hurting again…..and destroying more and more.

I want so very much to change the story….to be an agent of change and healing and goodness…..but in the end…..I was a wounded child, and I feel like a wounded adult.

I always have a racing heart and words that desire to tumble out….the anger….the pain….the places that still feel raw….from a little girl who was three…..five…….ten….sixteen…..eighteen…..twenty-three having her first baby……and even now….fifty……trying to put bandages where the pain just oozes out and spurts out and fills the atmosphere with pain and darkness and turmoil.

What can I say to make it right? Where could I go back and get a do over? Do I really have to pretend that nothing hurt me and no one was making poor choices? Do I honestly have to cover my wounds with makeup and pretty clothes and pretend that what is in my heart are only memories of sweet family times and Christmases and band concerts?

Yes…..I received all the bodily needs a child could desire…..I had food and clothing and shelter and glasses and dentist appointments and doctor’s visits and parents at band concerts and who got me my first jobs and two years of a car in college. I had a wedding paid for and even a honeymoon given to me. I had letters from home with $10 telling me to get a pizza while in college and plenty of gifts and even religious training….first communion, Confirmation…..and wedding preparation.

But what wasn’t there….the silence….and what was in secret…the ugly words….the porn…..the  breaking apart of a family….the destruction of lives because of choices to take and be selfish and be human and make mistakes……..hurt deeply and caused destruction in so many lives.

Those in the end didn’t even hurt the most… was the bitterness….the inability to forgive that poisoned the hearts that grieve today. The poison of bitterness….the unforgiveness of any wrongs…..the need to make everyone else feel the pain that they felt or think the same thoughts that they think.

So I am resolved… children will have the freedom to decide to love whomever they want. If they decide to invite their dad to their weddings….I will be there with bells on. If they invite him to baptisms and family events… will not become a contentious hotbed of drama. I will be there. He is a man I loved for 25 years. They know the story…..from my point of view and from theirs. They are more than able to invite him to tell them his story. It does no disservice to me. They can listen and remember and piece together the truth of their lives. I am not the only person in this story that walked through hell. We all did. Sexual addiction makes life hell for everyone….even the addict.

I don’t hate him and I don’t desire that my children hate him. I desire peace and godly love….if he is healthy and repentant…..but even if he isn’t…..if they think he is, and I don’t think so…..I would joyfully lay aside my desires… hurts….myself….to honor the family that they lost…..that they saw crushed and broken. I would put aside the wounds…..and allow healing and forgiveness to reign in their place.

I was told I was not allowed to think that anything my parents did hurt me….because they loved me and gave me a very supportive upbringing. I will not tell my children that. They can yell and holler and cry and wail at the pain their father and I caused them. They can be angry and tell me their truth at any time…..I can handle it. I will still love them. I desire for my girls that we all tell the story in love and mercy and truthfulness and openness and vulnerability.

Choosing not to be bitter will be a lifelong lesson for me. Choosing forgiveness will be a lifelong lesson. Choosing vulnerability and openness after living with secrecy and silence for so many years as a child….feels counter-intuitive and dangerous….but I will. I will choose to open my heart and allow God’s correction and His love to flow freely in….so that the hurt and the wounds can flow freely out.

Shabar and Ogygia


Shabar  and Ogygia

 I saw these words online a few months ago. I was surprised, and they made me think deeply for a long time. They fit in perfectly with my summer reading from Brene Brown around Rising Strong and being story telling animals.

shabar: to break, break in pieces

Original Word: שָׁבַר
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: shabar
Phonetic Spelling: (shaw-bar’)
Short Definition: broken

Ogygia (/oʊˈdʒɪdʒiə/Ancient Greek: Ὠγυγίη Ōgygíē [ɔːɡyɡíɛː], or Ὠγυγία Ōgygia [ɔːɡyɡía]), is an island mentioned in Homer‘sOdyssey, Book V, as the home of the nymph Calypso, the daughter of the Titan Atlas, also known as Atlantis (Ατλαντίς[1]) in ancient Greek. In Homer’s Odyssey Calypso detained Odysseus on Ogygia for 7 years and kept him from returning to his home of Ithaca, wanting to marry him. Athena complained about Calypso’s actions to Zeus, who sent the messenger Hermes to Ogygia to order Calypso to release Odysseus. Hermes is Odysseus’s great grandfather on his mother’s side, through Autolycos. Calypso finally, though reluctantly, instructed Odysseus to build a small raft, gave him food and wine, and let him depart the island.

When you frame your story……

Framing a story in our minds helps us process events and actions and relationships. We are story tellers at our very core. I cannot go a day without telling my story… little ways….in big ways…..with others….and in solitude. It is no real mystery to me where I got this skill…God spoke and the worlds…the heavens and earth….. were created. He tells us the story….He writes His laws on our hearts…..He gives us an inspired set of stories to guide our thinking….and He whispers a love story into my very soul.

So how we frame a story matters.

Framing a story as shabar and ogygia…..those are interesting ways to frame a sex addict story.

Shabar: hebrew for breaking into bits…….it is a verb. That fits….a sex addict takes bits of his soul and breaks them off…giving them to strangers on screens or in real life. They take little bits that belong to those they are in relationship with….that should be freely given in selfless love to those they are married to or are a parent to….and selfishly hand them over to strangers for the self-satisfaction of their sexual urges and desires….trying to fill a deep longing and emptiness in their soul through their bodies. That frame certainly fits…..

Unless they are trying to say that they are broken…..and not the breaker. If they are trying to claim victimhood….or an unconscious process of which they themselves were not an active and purposeful participant then the story begins on a trail of untruth. Some do try to frame it thusly….they are broken by others…coerced into actions they themselves did not want to take but felt compelled to take. Some sex addicts try to blame shift and cover up in shame and fear….their true level of participation and sinful desire. They try to make-believe to themselves and others that they were not the chooser….the breaker…the one selfishly seeking out and destroying….but instead try to frame their story as someone who was broken by others and evil and choices that simply seemed harmless until that fateful day they were discovered.

Ogygia is another frame……a very clever frame. The Greek story of Odysseus…the honorable and strong….passionate and devoted husband….who battled through giants and whirlpools…..enemies galore and even gods to get home to recapture his beautiful wife’s heart……..

To place a sex addicts journey in this frame….you would have to believe that the choices made were put upon him by the gods….that the desires and urges….the relationships with strangers and pictures and women and men and animals and children…thoughts of rape and abuse, violence and excitement or any other manner of darkness a sex addict can think up were not of his own free will or volition. A sex addict using this frame would have to try to cover his own heart and motives and shame by framing his actions as irresistible….actions that every man would choose if presented with the same scenarios….that no man ever really could withstand this temptation and that no one is ever pure in their minds. A sex addict would have to frame his story in such a way that he is a hero….the only faithful one….turned to darkness by the power of a goddess……seduced….and yet able to have a heart that yearned for faithfulness……a tragic hero.

Frames are important. I have framed my story. I chose lots of literature that I had read… longer did I marry a good man….instead I became someone like Kitty in Pride and Prejudice that had married a Mr. Wickham. I became someone who like Marianne was in love with a Mr. Willoughby and now would need to heal and re-adjust in order to find a man more like Colonel Brandon. I saw my life framed in much different terms than when I was married and blind to the realities of the choices being made around me. Suddenly my frame became one in which he was more like Ralph Nickleby from Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. Ralph is the uncle of Nicholas and Kate.  He pretends to help them after the death of their father.  However he really uses them for his own purposes.  Later it is revealed that he is the father of Smike.

Too many times….spouses of sex addicts are framed as accomplices….codependents who enabled the addicts behavior. Too many times…..spouses are further victimized as they are told to just wait and allow his healing to take place….don’t pressure him….don’t ask for details….don’t pry and don’t police. These faithful women send me their stories….of battling for years. He went to counseling and seduced the counselor. He went to rehab in treatment facility and portrayed himself as a victim. He relapsed. He changed his mind and flung himself headlong into darkness…..leaving the bewildered family to pick up the shattered pieces after a quick divorce. The spouses are left to integrate memories with a new reality… explain what just happened to grieving children… try to cope with friends and family that don’t understand and often cannot help.

This is a long and tedious road. It is painful in your body and soul and mind. Often….the lasting price is a sexually transmitted disease that was unknown and silently hiding just like the addict. Often….the mind is bruised and battered and has been fighting for a long time trying to make sense of an intuitive darkness that wasn’t consciously known….but was unconsciously felt. The soul becomes weary and so the whole of living takes on a sharper, less joyful existence as a wounded spouse tries to relate to a world that has just shifted on its axis.

My body is tired tonight. I have been fighting with allergies and some strange coughing and tiredness. I am weary. My soul is weary. I am struggling to regain that sense of balance. Some days I will be light and feel free and happy again. Other days I feel…..devastated and unable to process even one more difficult thing in this life.

I have found comfort in others. I have friends who will walk with me through those dark times. I have found people who will talk with me and share their world and give me a sense of calm when my senses can only reel in the waves of grief washing ashore.

Thank you God for this journey. Thank you for making me real and for giving me the strength to come this far. Thank you for growing me through adversity and yet…..for surrounding me with beauty and grace and goodness. I will lean into what you are showing me and listen more closely. I feel like the winds of change are sweeping through again, and I need to walk even more slowly so I hear your whispers more clearly. Lord….here I am. Come and heal me so that I can be made whole in You!



Do you realize how much I knew about you?

 I know your passwords…and why you picked them. I know where your bald spot was and how it developed……. and how you look lying in bed asleep. I know how you chew your food and just what songs you listened to in high school. I know what plays you were in….the sports you played….I know your friends….all of them in high school and college and at your first job after college and in seminary and when we started the church.

I was there.

I know the story of your relatives and have heard your father tell his jokes. I know how you don’t like your back to the door of a room….you loved to change the color of your office….the dark blue was very pretty. I know we can lay a laminate floor…if not perfectly….at least adequately. I know that you liked me playing with your hair and rubbing your neck or shoulders. I thought you liked my kisses, and I was fairly sure you enjoyed the fact that I loved caring for you when you were sick or celebrating your birthday with a cake and presents and having the girls make cards and giving you gifts. I thought you enjoyed the Father’s Day celebrations and the fact that I read your writing and encouraged you by telling you how well you wrote.

I liked listening to your teachings on the literature and history and Bible subjects. I really thought you were witty and funny. You were not cruel or mean to anyone, and I liked that you loved helping people….whether it was taking in a stray kitten or stray people. I saw that you had a good heart. I know what type of cigar you like and even the liquor to go with it……..I know about your dreams to write and travel and have time to write and travel. I know how you held each baby the minute after they were born. I know how we picked out each name…the process of elimination and the search for meaning to their names. I know why we picked each godparent, and I recall that job waiting tables and the trip to get the Christmas Tree out in the woods of PA.

I was there setting up the birthday for the one daughter right before the other was about to be born, and watched how you built them the playground in the backyard.  It was me who listened to you read to the babies and bless their heads…..and me who waited up to see if you would come to bed. I tiptoed around trying not to disturb your studying and tried to keep the kids quiet as well. I was in the car with you as we drove the Bishop home from the airport, and it was me…with you in the car when we slid on the black ice. I was also there when we saw the first snowflakes of winter. I was the woman standing inside with the youngest when you had the snowball fight…..and it was me you left to watch the babies when I had pneumonia and you needed to get a paper done in seminary before finals.

I was the girl in the spare bedroom when your grandparents came to call after we got back from the honeymoon… we laughed and laughed over that……and I am the one who remembers how you sat on the hood of the car and told me that you couldn’t imagine a day in which you couldn’t talk to me….that I was the one you wanted to share everything with….always…..

Only….you didn’t. You hid……a whopping big part of yourself.

I was the one planning the church dinners and helping you with studying at seminary….cleaning houses and nannying so we could afford to get your through to the job that would make life better….the calling…..

I was the one who cooked the dinner for the priest who was coming to talk to you about going to seminary…..

I was there when you were ordained, and I stood there so proudly as your grandmothers and parents looked on. It was my scrapbook of your accomplishments in high school and my hands that put the photos in all those albums…the wedding…the babies…..the life we were building…. ….

Only you weren’t….you were slowly destroying it….choosing one woman at a time…one conversation at a time…one dark and licentious act at a time……to destroy….us.

I was the one wrapping Christmas gifts and filling Easter eggs and making plans to go on vacation and finding a way to have an office for you to write in privacy……and listening and learning what you liked and trying to learn to be more like the things you were attracted to……always praying for your good and asking for God to make me more……so I could finally feel secure and beautiful and sensual and passionate……

Only…… no amount of changing was going to satisfy you….you weren’t looking to be satisfied….you were looking to be free.

                You see….I really was falling more and more in love with you….even through the times when I was so tired from mothering….and so worn from teaching….and so lonely and feeling ugly…..I was learning to appreciate and love little bits of you more each year. I was building a story of us……

Only …… were not. You were building a story of you…….. You were building a story of my lack and your need…… inability to love you and your desire to have a love that was epic…..

I really was meaning it when I wrote I love you in the palm of your hand….when I curled up next to you at night….when we walked hand in hand and arm in arm…when we rocked on the front porch and sat under the stars……my words were for real and for life.

I didn’t know…..I didn’t know….I didn’t know……….. yours were not.

 I didn’t realize that you turned away in bed……… and never came to bed…..and went out each day……to escape… shut me out… run away….to regret…..

You regretted so much…..I just didn’t know I was one of the MOST regretted things.

It was me….at the wedding….I was there when we couldn’t rent a car and when we went to Aunt Mahalia’s and couldn’t get enough of the fudge. It was me who knows what you ordered at the Burning Bush and how we almost ran out of gas driving down the mountain. I was the girl making strawberry jam and homemade bagels and English muffins for you and praying about spiders and experiencing the miracles with you ……I was that girl who was there at the hospital and at your grandfather’s funeral….. and  the one walking outside with you to look for Santa because our girl was sure she heard him there……and helping our girl celebrate when she won the writing contest. It was me….and I was really present….

Only ……..I didn’t know you  were wishing you really weren’t there and that you really had someone else…some other life.

I recall how you made bread every morning since my morning sickness just wouldn’t end, and I couldn’t stand anything but fresh bread.  I remember that it was us against the termites in the house “not on the hill.” I recall the words you spoke to me as you stood on the stairs… the words came tumbling out about how lost and afraid and upset you were at my announcement of  another impending stork arrival. I recall the look of your back as you walked away to spend a day deciding if you would stay and how to tell………….her.

I recall the night of darkness as I searched the local paper online to see if any news of you came into view…..since the county jail had no record of your presence and only a bail bondsman had brought me word.…….and I recall the first apartment and the conversation about “Middle aged man”…..who was “still working on it….” and how we laughed…..and I remember thinking we would never, ever be apart and have distance and not love each other.

I was there when you told me I got to live the life of my dreams and that you sacrificed it all for me….you gave up all your dreams ……..


I didn’t get the life of my dreams, and you weren’t giving up anything for me……

You were giving up ON me and us and our family.

You were making your dreams come true…in ugly….dark….meaningless ways.

It was me…..the girl at homecoming….who did her hair and bought a dress and thought you saw her beauty….

It was me….that girl in college who sat and cried with you over near the music building….and the one who drove the colt….the one who walked to movies with you and walked around Lake Hollingsworth….and watched you play tennis and even knows your social security number to this day.

It was me…..the girl who was there as you dressed up as Tritan for the girl’s party….as you played with the remote control car I bought the girl for Christmas….as you swam and played Marco Polo or basketball or ran or raked leaves…..

I am the woman in those videos…..laughing and filming and thinking her life was real.

It was me gardening and watching the rabbit in the lawn……thinking that you were there enjoying all that too. It was me you supposedly were wooing with that poetry at teacher training and me you were supposedly singing to in my classroom….

………Only you weren’t. You were singing to the others…..the ones who understood you and called to you from a world I had no idea existed.

My heart is still breaking….because I was really there. I was really engaged and telling myself a story of us…..and you?

You were telling yourself the story of them….of how they made you feel….of how they were worth more than all we could offer you…..of how we were holding you back….

from your dreams……your desires…..your life.

Only…..your life didn’t include us.

But it was me….I was there when you were arrested listening to your excuses….and confabulations and half-truths. It was me believing you even then. It was me…on the witness stand and talking to your brother and trying to hold a family together. I thought you were changing…..

Only….you refused……you decided to hold on to darkness even then. I just didn’t see it.

So now I sit here….with my hands full of memories from a man that really wasn’t……I keep trying to understand how to EVER have memories again.

How do I have memories when they are things that slip away and drown me and make my world unsteady and unsafe?

How can I ever pretend that someone is here and real and present and loves me…..when the boy I knew in tenth grade…..who is the father of my children….who was the center of our world….who pretended to love us…..really wasn’t good and honorable and loving or real?

How can I ever feel comfortable and good again?

Blessings on My Head


Grappling……It is what I have, and it is what I do. .

I am still grappling…I have lost mine…….defined as a small anchor or as a struggle to overcome. I feel as though I have lost my anchor to windward. I am struggling with something big. I am still looking for something I am missing. …something to steady my heart and help these tears end for good. . I feel like it is still a mountain, and I am journeying to a difficult place….a familiar place….a place I long to return to and fear all at the same time.

I was just standing in the kitchen putting away the groceries…..

I had a long day of teaching wonderful students. I have a wonderful, loving class. I have instituted a new routine this year. I read about a few things over the summer and listened to some colleagues….and decided that along with the greeting of my students and the prayers at devotions….I wanted to make sure I connected with them before they leave every day. So I decided that blessing their heads as they leave would be a lovely way to make sure they feel not only my presence and love at the end of the day, but their Savior’s as well. So each student comes to find me in the room before leaving. They present their head, and I lay my hand on top and give them a very short, quick blessing. Most of them give me a quick hug and then they are off. I realized it was a big deal to them when one day one of the students almost left without theirs and the other students were all fiercely calling to them as they headed for the door….”DON’T forget your blessing!!!!!” The student rushed back and came straight away to get it. No one has forgotten again so far.

I am finding it blesses me more than them. I can be busy with a student…a parent might be standing talking to me…..each student comes and presents themselves….they need their blessing. It is now a way to end the day that feels good and right and joyful to us! We know that no matter what else happens in a day……we will be blessed. So I carry the blessings of these students with me…and I begin to feel normal and full and happy….…but the waves of grief still come……..

So the groceries were going away into the various places…..and suddenly I cannot stop crying. These waves come more seldom lately….yet are so sharp and unexpectedly painful. Then it hits me…these tears are falling because I am feeling more normal…..and because I am feeling more normal….I long to have again that normal that was so dear for so long. I long for a familiar rhythm…a familiar conversation style….a person who knows me. I long for someone to know all of me and all about my girls and all about what I love and how my brain works and ……..and….then I remember that all of that was a confabulation. He didn’t know me… the depths of my being……or perhaps he did know me and it was me who didn’t know him. It gets confusing.

At any rate….my heart wants to know someone again…..and have them really know me and be really known. I want to know a man who loves Jesus and loves goodness and deep, deep conversations about beauty and nature and philosophy and politics and the power of words. I want to delve into astronomy and the physics of the heart. I want to know a man that can look into my eyes and see when I am sad and care that my heart is not light. I want to be able to love a man that I can respect and honor. I want to be able to know that I can say anything….anything…….I can cry and fall apart……and he will stay and work it out with me. I want to know a man that I trust….trust to be good when another woman tempts him. I want to know a man that I can trust to be good when a job woos his heart and would consume all his time. I want a man that I can trust is a good man when I have grand babies, and they need a grandfather to teach them what a man says and does and believes.

I desire to be a woman who can be trusted by a man to carry his heart. I want to be a woman that a man can protect and cherish. I desire a man that would trust me enough to show me his insecurities and places of sin…..and I want to trust that he is good when God calls him to do better……and I want to trust that he will call me to do better when I sin.

This longing has not changed. IT is what I have longed for…..for a long time. I just didn’t know that it was what I was longing for……..

But this grappling means that the thing I desire is also the thing I most fear right now. I wrote a response to a woman on my blog….she said she would remain single until she found the right man…a man who was a strong Christian……..

And I realized that for me……I fear even that. A man can talk and seem and pretend and fake……

I am still not sure I can see beyond the words and beyond the mask. I fear the very thing I so desire. I find 10 million reasons why I can never, ever trust anyone again…….and I shut my heart up and walk forward without it.

So…the tears sting tonight….as I wish that someone was here to help with dinner and talk with long into the evening…..someone with whom I could feel……at home… peace……someone to bless my head and hold me close.

I will run tonight to the only Comforter….the One….my Rock…my Teacher…and lay it down once again at His feet. This trusting and asking for His blessing on my head is a journey……I need to keep running back and finding Him….I DON’T want to forget to get my blessing……..

Confessions of a Confabulator

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I was just at the pool finishing up some summer reading…..Rising Strong by Brene Brown. I am not as bad of an  interpolator as I thought but much more a person who employs confabulation. I sat there reading about how we are story telling animals… much so that in the absence of story, we feel uncomfortable. We will make up a story in the absence of the facts or in spite of the facts, just so we will feel more comfortable.

Yes….that is exactly what I feel like I did.

I made up a story about how much he loved me…..about how unworthy of love I was. I made up a story about how if I had simply been more passionate…..more loving….more kind…..more able to be strong and independent so he wouldn’t have to take care of us and would be free to go write…..if I was more beautiful…..more wise….more everything…..then our lives would feel more “right”.

I knew something was off. I simply forgot to look at the facts……

I made up a story.

So my counselor had to lead me through the facts…..”Really….a loving husband ……….?” And he would point out the hard, cold facts of the betrayal time and time again.

These stark blinding lights that suddenly illuminated my world hurt. I had to face the fact that someone I thought highly of…..that I made up in my head was my best and most loving friend…..was in reality using me and hating me and treating me like his enemy…..not his beloved wife.

I had to finally look at the facts….the ones that hurt the most. These facts turned my world upside down and broke my heart. I had to stare at things that made my soul shudder and frightened me.

I am looking outside….the wind is whipping up and the storm that was just coming over the horizon has arrived. I could tell myself the story about how my day was sunny and beautiful and now is just a little cloudy. I could refuse to look out the window because looking out makes me feel afraid. I am afraid of wild storms unless someone strong is with me. I am afraid of hurricanes, tornadoes, wild winds and lightning. I hate the sound of cracking thunder and feeling that the world is out of control.

I hate it so much that I tend not to tell myself the true story. I am a confabulator. I will write a story to my liking……that is sometimes to my own detriment. I need to face truth squarely. I can tell myself a story in a positive tone….but it needs to be a true story.

So, how do I tell myself the truth?

He didn’t love me. He loved himself.  He chose to allow the story in his head to be one in which I became the enemy. When I wasn’t in the mood….it wasn’t because I didn’t feel good or might be anxious about something or in need of intimacy or a good conversation. He never allowed me to enter his story….I was not allowed to have needs and I was not allowed to know the real him. If I needed something….it became a story of my selfishness or my desire to squelch his dreams. In his confabulation…I wonder if he thought I hated him. Perhaps he thought I didn’t desire him.  Was his story one where I was always turning him away and not meeting his needs. Was the story the thing that enabled him to justify going somewhere else to feel fulfilled and desired…… didn’t matter if I was hurting or if I was in need of fidelity and intimacy and truth and comfort. I was not allowed to have needs.

So my story grew alongside his. We confabulated in an absence of truth….my story became more and more self-condemning. My story became a weight around my soul….a millstone dragging me to the bottom of a pit. His story became more and more alienating….more and more divisive and secret….a millstone dragging his soul into The Pit.

What would our story have been like had he opened up and confessed? What would our story have been like if I had opened my eyes and seen what was really going on and confronted him? What if I had demanded he see me? What if he had seen me and decided to turn away from himself and his story?

It hurts to even consider the truth. No one wants to see finally that their stories were untrue and untrue in a way that destroyed their lives.

So here I sit….trying to make up a true story….a new story….a story that will carry me into the future as a whole, healed, more complete person. I don’t have to hate him or even solve him. I simply accept that our stories didn’t work, and I can never believe his story again. I forgive him. I see his brokenness. I grieve his betrayal. I am asking him to forgive my confabulation and lack of boundaries. I didn’t make him choose to hurt me….but I certainly put up with it for way too long.

So my new story will be one in which I have a voice. I will have needs. I will allow myself to see clearly and be kind and truthful and loving. I will never return to being nice and turning away from truth in fear.

I am looking forward to many more days of truthful confabulation….not to feel comfortable…..but to be filled to the brim with life…..and life abundantly lived through Him who gives me life.

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

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