Still She Blooms

A littlegirladolescentwoman are constantly intermingling within this 46 year old gracefully mature home.

Not just any little girl,  but one who forgot how her heart is supposed to smile.

Not just any adolescent but one who is still yearning to love herself.

Certainly not just any woman, but one who is fully coming into her own.

A late bloomer.

So what?

…still she blooms.

 

A season of pure learning, that’s what this is.  I am grateful for growth, although it sucks sometimes.  I am thankful that I don’t usually put on a mask and when I do, I have people that call me on it quick.  I am redeemed, the end.  I am redeemed.

 

 

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Reflections

This morning, I was looking through old emails…trying to find answers to something within myself. I found this gem…written November 10, 2017…the night after I met someone who became very special to me. Unfortunately, the beginning was far better than the middle to the end. However, even this ugliness was a gift to me in that I learned countless lessons about myself and what I want/don’t want for my heart.  Looking back, I can see my own growth as well as some of the choices I made that were out of a very unhealthy place. Out of this little quote taken from one of the emails…

“I’m naturally inquisitive; about myself and others. I am trying to discern where all of this is coming from and why I’m feeling such a strong connection with you after this itty bitty amount of time. I am so much more cautious than this and I am just wanting to make sure I am not searching for validation outside of God and myself. Like….my biggest part of this divorce journey is to surrender to God and have a relationship with him that is stronger than ever and to love myself and not ‘need’ to get that love from someone else. I hope I am making some sense””

Instant strong connections can be a gift. They can also be something that fills an empty in us that is not meant to be filled by another person.  Know yourself.  Search yourself deeply and with nothing less than brutal honesty.  If I had done this then,  I might have saved myself some heartache. I also would’ve lost out on a beautiful opportunity to raise my thinking to a higher level, no regrets.  Still…lesson learned.

Reflecting on my own words; it would’ve been wise for me to give pause to my knowing.  “I am so much more cautious than this and I am just wanting to make sure I am not searching for validation outside of God and myself.”  I knew the question but I did not take time to consider my answer.  As a matter of fact, I was asking the other party (who I had just met) for an answer to something incredibly deep within myself.  My behavior in that moment was so opposite of my usual.  Granted, there is freedom in getting outside of our comfort zones but I had lost all rationality and begun operation on an emotionally charged high within a day.  In answer to the question…YES!, I was seeking validation outside of God and myself and seeking it instead in a man, in essence, a stranger,  who I shared mutual desire with.  Acting out of this place is an excellent way to shout, “I’M HERE!  I’M VULNERABLE!  TAKE ME, WANT ME, CRAVE ME, LOVE ME!” as well as a silent conveyance…”I’m hungry, I’m needy, I’m naive and I’m yours.  Lesson learned (or at least, notes taken.)  As a very wise man recently asked me; “isn’t it interesting what we seek when our hearts are bleeding?”

“My biggest part of this divorce journey is to surrender to God and have a relationship with him that is stronger than ever and to love myself and not “need” to get that love from someone else.”  Gut level honesty….God and I are working together on this. (or perhaps I am working on not playing the ‘come closer, now go away game with God).   I have endless questions and possibly some accusations for Him.  It’s okay, I truly believe God would rather have my vulnerability and truth than my sugar coated lies…it’s not like I can hide my heart from him anyway.

The hardest part…loving myself and not ‘needing’ someone to fill that need in me.  I actually think the not needing comes pretty natural. I tend to be more independent than not, I like my alone time and I have my children and school to focus on…I can strategically document all of the reasons I do not “need” that sort of love.  As I relearn who I am, and recreate my story,  it is evident that my self-love is increasing, and as it does…the things I seek in others are changing.  It’s also becoming clear that I can’t avoid being the relational person that I am and that my soul longs for a kind of love that is full acceptance, mutual cherishing, soothing and hot….all in one.  Someday.  As I wait… I learn, I experiment, I play, I grow and I honor myself, ‘as is’.  Such a time of self-discovery truly is a gift.

 Life is full of dichotomies.    My ex-husband (aka dear friend) and I spoke about the story of the Two Wolves.  It’s always  been a favorite.

Two Wolves

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

He was gracious enough to share with me his belief that he had chosen to feed the evil wolf for much of our marriage and he cautioned me that the relationship I had just left was the same in that manner.  Different circumstances…same wolf being fed.  We giggled at the funny, not funny similarities.  Both times…I was the wolf food.  Both times, I opted to ignore the things that hurt for an in the moment reward. Again, funny, not funny.

Surely joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith (all characteristics of pure love) are more powerful than anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.  I am going to do my damndest to see power only where power belongs.

Each lesson decreases the likelihood of my being appetizing wolf food, right?  That definitely makes sense.

 

A Slow Burn

After the divorce…

With eyes wide open and a heart unaware of it’s radiating hunger, I zoomed into into the first romantic relationship of my life other than the one with the man I’d been with for over 1/2 of my life.  The intoxication of desire on both sides filled an empty space inside of me that I hadn’t even known existed.  If there ever was a thought that sexuality was a youthful and fleeting event, those thoughts were eagerly recanted. It was simply a wonderland of awakening.

The original plan was to date around and stay out of a relationship status.   I was a one marriage woman; the only other ‘relationship’ experiences I had fit better into the category of making out while not sober, smart or studious.  That’s what is supposed to happen in later high school and college….then there was the one whom I thought was my forever.  That was it.  My appetite for flirting, fun, and amorous adventures was off the charts high.

Several dates later led to no major attraction or connection with anyone.  It seemed that men were either incredibly serious or just in need of a booty call, neither of which I wanted with them.  Nobody appeared to capture the attention of this woman (or vice versa) and discouragement was setting in.  During this time, longings for what wasn’t happening, heightened; while discernment and wisdom seemed to decrease…a dynamic with disastrous potential.

Soon enough, there was a spark (actually, an explosion) of chemistry…found in the world of online dating.  He was delightful and gave the impression of genuine interest in my interests.  I loved poetry, he found out my favorite poets and left me messages in a sexy voice so I could listen at bedtime.  He expressed great enthusiasm for my intelligence and asked me to read my papers to him. A couple of weeks went by before I agreed to meet him.  He was intelligent, funny and handsome in a boyish sort of way.  He had lost 100 pounds and he understood my struggles.  I had such a sense of, “we get each other”.

Our first date was at a little hole in the wall restaurant in a town 1/2 way inbetween our homes. It was also on the day I consider my new life birthday, the day of my “strokeaversary”…it was an opening to something new, indeed.

This introduction was amazing.  AMAZING!  He schooched in next to me in the tiny booth and kissed me within the first 10 minutes of meeting.  There was no fight from me, this felt delicious.  He was tall, nicely dressed, and smelled scrumptious (he was very proud of the particular cologne he wore.)  His voice was rich and seductive.  He had big hands like my daddy and there was no hesitation between us to talk about anything and everything.  He told me that he didn’t understand how I could be even more beautiful in person, I ate it up.

That same night, we were going to get ice cream after dinner and ended up going parking instead (my idea).  I hadn’t made out with a boy in a pick up truck since my senior year in highschool and steaming up the windows was pure exhilaration.  We got locked in a church parking lot and had to ask the pastor and his wife to open the chain link fence and let us out; we giggled like kids at the memories we had made.

That night, when he kissed me goodbye he let me know that, “Christian Grey had nothing on him.  Then he paused, looked into my eyes and said, “you are so vulnerable”. I thought about that comment repeatedly and still do. I think he knew then and there, the power dynamic that would likely play out.

The next day, he sent me a recording of the five things he really, really liked about me.  I was getting sucked in fast.  He knew how to charm the pants off of me….literally.  He asked for things no one had ever asked for and I happily obliged.  This felt like freedom and I wanted desperately to be wanted.  I look back and see that he tested how far and fast he could push my boundaries from the beginning.  There was a part deep in me that wanted my boundaries pushed, I wanted to drop the whole good girl me and just misbehave for a while. He constantly told me that we were magnetic and magical…he’d never felt so intensely drawn to anyone else.

One week later, we started in heavy.  We talked or texted all day long, every day. He lived two hours away but would come see me after work when I didn’t have the kids or for lunch.  We would make out, make out and make out some more.  It wasn’t that I hadn’t behaved like this in years, it was that I had never behaved like this and to this extent. His kisses were passionate, he drenched me in all of the right words. He even told me he kept a notebook of my likes and dislikes. I felt intensely safe and momentarily cherished with him.  He brought me kisses, flowers and even lipstick, precious, right? He sent me Blake Shelton songs that he originally had for his ex…now for me. (Should I have felt honored?)

I knew his story (or thought I did).  I knew how his ex-girlfriend, aka, ‘the devil’ had hurt him.  I knew how he had loved her girls and hurt that they were taken out of his life.  I knew his childhood wounds and he knew mine.  We went to church together and prayed at meals. I knew about his kiddos, he knew about mine.   We became sexually involved with each other quickly. I had never been with anyone with such an edge and I just craved more.  This was going right along with my desire to not behave….I could analyze that for a lifetime and still not justify the way I overlooked the red flags to keep my new form of nourishment. I know I tend to substitute my ideals for reality, even in the face of toxicity.

I was starving for love or for whatever would  stop the grief.  I was still reeling from the sting of the divorce, mourning the loss of my Daddy and trying to hold my head above water.  I was seeking something or someone to fill my gap.  This was an amazing formula for dangerous, undiscerning vulnerability.  We began to spend every weekend that we didn’t have kids with each other.  We rarely left the house except to go eat or go to church or maybe to his cousins house, but it was never, ever boring.  We were a world unto our own and my empty was now overflowing with the euphoria of the moments.    I couldn’t have imagined how rapidly this would change.

We started dating in November.  By early December, we had our first quarrel.  There was an icy cold evening that I had backed into someone.  We got out to get details and I loved that he went immediately into law enforcement mode.  I felt so protected, until…I was shivering.  He had two coats on, I didn’t bring a coat.  I asked for one and he told me “no, I should’ve planned.  Who doesn’t bring a coat in this weather?”  I remember trying not to cry.  This was my first honest glimpse of what was real.  My Daddy or even my ex would’ve given me the clothes of their backs to keep me warm.  Somehow, I felt remorseful.

Once the arguing began, the floodgates opened.  I will say that I was an active participant in these arguments and if I could do it over, I would’ve disengaged earlier and moved on.  I knew what I knew and now I know better.  The fighting increased with intensity and on my part the mistrust grew.  There was one argument where he grabbed my face and screamed so close to me that he spit in my face as he yelled.  He was sorry, but “I just made him so mad, so much madder than anyone had ever made him.” After that, I left him where we were and was inundated with hate texts and mail for the next several days.  He told me that I could burn in hell for all he cared.  He told me the lipstick he bought me that I loved was his ex’es favorite lipstick.  He sent me pictures of he and his ex in bed together. He sent me texts of recordings he had made of us without my knowledge or consent.  My stomach is sick when I consider the pictures and information his phone holds, and I’m certain it’s not just me, he has had a collection of women. In hindsight, he was the victim of all situations. I honestly don’t believe he realizes the consequences and burden of his actions.

Do you know what happened after a few weeks?  I went right back.  Why?  I knew he was wounded and hurting.  I missed the sex.  I missed him.  I missed the sweet, loving, teddy bear him and I hadn’t yet accepted that this isn’t who he really was.  It literally hurt to be apart from him, I was empty again.  Mostly, he missed me and I misinterpreted this as remorse.  I normalized and justified his actions and my own.  It did not matter that the wonderland had turned into a tornado, the sense of safety had become an active avoidance of the next fight and I was living opposite of all that I wanted.

The cycle of arguing, manipulation and hurt became more frequent and more intense after each reunification.  He posted pictures of himself with another woman, after I had disappointed him.  He mocked the battles I had shared with my weight and made callous remarks about my children’s struggles.  He would whisper things in my ear and then say he never said anything and make fun of my hearing. He constantly accused me of playing “reindeer games” and the minute I began to back away, he was sorry and reminding me how good we were together.

He balanced these things well with kind words right after the sting and with pleas of sympathy because he would never amount to anything but ‘beefcake and green eyes’.  He would insist that I was going somewhere while he was just nothing…a nobody. He’d tell me I should run and never look back and I believed part of him was attempting to honor my heart in those times. I ached for his pain.

He knew the places my heart was tender and he used those places to his advantage. Sometimes I think it was pure intentional manipulation. Other times, I saw him as a wounded boy who wanted to heal and didn’t know how. Quickly, he would become a bully and I would accept this after a bit. Bullies have been hurt too….we would grow past this…..I thought.

The last straw, which I won’t discuss here, was too hurtful and harmful for me to go back.  I made a promise to my kids that we were over because I know I will break this promise to myself and I will not break it to my children.  Lust is a powerful tool.  Self-respect is more powerful.

Recently, an old friend called to ask me if I knew of this man.  I debated.  I do not wish him a bad life.  As a matter of fact, I still believe he can change, with help and if he wants to change.  She told me that had been on dates and she saw my name on his Facebook page. I decided I owed it to my friend to honestly tell her of my own experience.  Not because I think he is evil, rather because I think she is deserving of truth and goodness.  Like everyone, she will find her own path but I hope she’s more confident in herself than I was.

I know this experience has been healing (in the craziest way) to me because I have learned a little more of my own value and what self-respect and dignity mean in my own personal life.

There are details I might share one day, but at this time I am still a little afraid of disapproval and judgement.  In truth, I am my own worst judge and jury and continue to work through guilt, shame and confusion.  I became a participant in an emotionally abusive relationship.  I, who spends her days working with all sorts of abuse between adults got wrapped up in my own unhealthy saga.  I am still trying to talk myself out of this being a reality and I am sharing because I want to raise awareness.  Getting into this type of chaos does not require impoverishment, lack of education or lack of resources.  We all have a hunger for something and getting that hunger filled is temporarily heavenly.  I am well educated, especially in this arena.  I struggle financially at times but am certainly not impoverished.  There is an abundance of loving support from family and friends in my world; as well as in my exterior environment.  All of this, and it happened to me.  I will be grateful to God every day that this was only a 6 month lesson that didn’t progress.

It was a slow burn but my heart is covered with the balm of healing and peace.  When someone shows you who they are, believe them.   Don’t lose sight of you in the chaos of someone else.

Hauntings that Heal

On Marriage
 Kahlil Gibran

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.

Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

A friend and I were recently discussing Kahlil Gibran’s book, “The Prophet“, which I remembered I had a copy of in the shed.  The above poem was I cherished by me and still is; it was a reading at my wedding so many moons ago. I never would’ve chosen it for a wedding reading for us if I’d known then what I know now.  The words spoke of a kept promise and a naive idealism;  written by one who had not experienced marriage.  I think it might be more appropriate for a second wedding, than a first (which most people probably aren’t hoping for).

In an instant,  I am transported to the day I looked into my then husband’s eyes.  My feelings of joy and elation took were mellowed by feelings of trepidation and fear.  I never was quite sure that I was wholly loved.  A portion of this was due to issues between he and I; a bigger part was caused by my own history and doubt.

This transportation is quickly followed by stomach churning waves of grief and anxiety, accompanied by a mind that wanders to the past arrive again, without invitation.  Her weary soul sounds the alarm bells.

“That’s unfortunate, it’s been a really great day”, she thinks to herself.  Rather than running from the feelings, she decides to utilize a tool that a dear friend and counselor taught her years ago.  Good music; ear buds to drown out the distractions; a pen and paper, this is all that is needed.  Oh…and set the alarm for 15 minutes.  She begins to write whatever comes, without pause and certainly without thought.  Unaware of  her tears until they splashed hot water stains onto the paper and the familiar salty taste ran across her lips. She continued to ferociously surrender to this process.   The alarm dings, it is time to stop.  Now take a breath and read when ready…then destroy for these are the most private thoughts.  They belong only to she and her soul.

In countless ways, she has always been an old soul.  In contradiction, lately, thereare ways that she is more akin to an 18 year old young lady than to the 45 year old woman she truly is.

She attempts to collect herself and ask her heart exactly what it’s feeling right now.  She comes up with a list.

Her 10 ponderings:

1)  She is incredibly self-aware, perhaps too much so at times.  Thus, she knows that she thrives on being needed.  As much as she resists it, her validation comes too often from this need to be needed.  Recently, there has been a switch in the status quo.  The lesson has been that simply because someone ‘needs’ her does not mean that she needs them.

2)  She has a long way to go as far as learning to surrender to what is.  She has often stated that her favorite game with God is to release her problems to Him, making it tangible by opening her palms and visualizing handing her burden to Him.  Just as quickly, she grabs that burden back and squeezes it tight in her fisted hand.  She is expert at this.  The illusion of control consistently comes back to wound her and she knows that she would benefit from relinquishing this terror.  She’s tried handing her problem to the universe, to others, to her journal…she always finds a way to get it back under her jurisdiction.

3)  No matter how hard one works, despite the entirety of heart, soul, prayer and effort put into a relationship, it does not always turn out as hoped for.  Also, no matter how big one’s faith may be, this is a hard one to field and might test every belief previously held.  Finally, it’s perfectly okay for these beliefs and faith to be tested, this is truth.

4)  Joy and pain can and do walk hand in hand.  This too, is okay.  It just is.

5)  Be the light, even when it’s dark.  When there is no energy left to be the light, seek the light…it’s there, even in the tiniest crack that you have to squint to see.  Squint and see darkness only? Reach your hand out, put one foot in front of the other and step.  Just keep seeking and for goodness sake, don’t freeze.

6)  I believe that nearly always, we do the best we can with what we’ve got. Concurrently, life’s all about choices.  Sometimes we make a sucky choice and sometimes others make a sucky choice.  Grace, love, forgiveness….and boundaries.  🙂

7)  Being gentle with herself doesn’t come easy.  She’s going to learn the art of doing so anyway.  This is wisdom.

8)  Rainy nights are healing for the soul, so are candles; bubble baths, snuggles (can be with people, a favorite blanket or comfort item or fur babies and I guess blow up dolls, but that’s not her preference).

9) Forgiveness is hugely, ginormously important.  Forgiveness does not mean a person belongs in your life.

10)  Real ghosts are the ones that leave echoing pain in a soul.  In this case, exorcisms (figuratively speaking) are worth serious consideration  If not willing to exorcise, contemplate excavating the heart.  However, if those hauntings are here to heal, let them.

She will leave you with this song that eloquently speaks to the hauntings in her heart…

“Ghosts That We Knew”

Listen here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXiq5ZO-rNE

You saw my pain washed out in the rain
Broken glass, saw the blood run from my veins
But you saw no fault, no cracks in my heart
And you knelt beside my hope torn apart

But the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
We’ll live a long life

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we’ll be alright

So lead me back, turn south from that place
And close my eyes to my recent disgrace
‘Cause you know my call
And we’ll share my all
And our children come and they will hear me roar

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we’ll be alright

But hold me still, bury my heart on the coals
But hold me still, bury my heart on the coals [Live and US versions say “And hold me still, bury my heart next to yours”]

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold on as long as you like [Live and US versions say “But I will hold on with all of my might”]
Just promise me we’ll be alright

[Live and US versions’ additional lines:
“But the ghosts that we knew made us black and all blue
But we’ll live a long life”]

And the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
And we’ll live a long life

Cheers.  Namaste.  Just be.

How to take baby steps when you must eat an elephant

I was trying to do a good thing this morning; I woke up at 4:30 a.m., without an alarm. I decided to use this unexpected wake time to read my Bible and write a bit, it’s been too long since I’ve allowed myself these self care luxuries. Even mentioning self care right now makes me cringe; it feels like just another thing that I can berate myself for not doing or not doing well enough.

Gut level honesty….My physical reflection results in more self loathing. Yes, I know that I “should” celebrate my health and the mere fact that I can walk. That ability, I will never take for granted again. I want to puke as I admonish myself for being overweight, walking ungraceful lso that I sound like a herd of elephants or dropping and hitting everything with “lefty”. I recoil when I consider how far I’ve gotten away from my God and our closeness. My thinking is stinking….PEE-YOU! Yes, I have complete and utter awareness of what I “should” be doing and thinking. My head and heart are dual forces fighting against each other. Pretty ironic since I chose serendipity and synchronicity as my words for the year.

I’m aware that this is a problem. My brain knows that if I don’t care for myself first the rest will suffer. My body and spirit support this theory by expressing their various random aches and emptiness. I think back to two days ago when I took a first baby step by going for a 20 minute walk. Although my legs and mind were in motion; my spirit was quiet and my tears were flowing. I cry often. I cry out of oppressed rage; underlying guilt; heavy shame and unexpressed fear. As of late, tears of uninhibited joy; belly laughter; overflowing gratitude; scary vulnerability; and loaded sadness are amiss. I have hidden those deep inside me as I stay in survival mode.

I sobbed uncontrollably in front of someone I care for deeply just a short time ago. I cried for yesterday’s gone and for memories remembered. I cried for unspoken hurts and persistent grief. I knew this person was terribly uncomfortable with my tumultuous emotions; yet the harder I tried to make myself stop crying, the harder I cried. The event ended in an ugly, heated argument between the two of us. I did stop crying but my unshed tears converted to a slow simmering of emotions inside that eventually boiled over and now here I am. There is an abundance of fierce intensity churning inside of me; I am at a loss at how to ‘deal’ with it. Baby steps.

There was a walk…now there’s writing. These are good beginnings, trying to climb out of my poop filled rut.

Returning to “trying to do a good thing”….I woke up this morning and knew it was time to do the writing I have been putting off for so long. This heart sharing is a part of my healing; it’s an integral portion of my self-care. The house is quiet except for the load of laundry that is working hard to get clean. There are two sweet, snoring puppies on the bed to keep me warm with soothing piano music playing in the background. My bedside lamp is the only light on. In preparation mode, I snuggle in my soft sheets, propped up on pillows with my laptop in tow. I read Ruth from the Bible and today’s devotional from Jesus Calling. I indulge in a few sips of crème brulee coffee with the perfect amount of creamer, it is just right. I am ready.

My coffee spills. My coffee spills all over the floor (knocked over by my non-jerky hand), it runs under my bed and into my school bag. (Breathe again, say goodbye to my beautiful cup of coffee, clean said coffee up with newly bleached white towel.) Crawl back under covers, resituate myself…ready. I don’t really know where I want to go with this post; I’m trying (“there is not try grasshopper, only do or do not.”) to trust God in this process and let it flow.

I have been in a relationship for the last few months; my first since the divorce. I am learning some incredibly great things about myself through this; and a few harsh realities. Here’s what I’ve got…

1) I don’t know how to play the games and when I try to play the games, I lose. I lose because I don’t like the games, nor do I care for rules that get made up as I go along; nor do I care for uncertainty. (I’ve always known that last one, just feeling it big as of late).

2) I know how to be a wife. I am not familiar with knowing how to be a girlfriend or even how to date.

3) My initial goal after the divorce of learning to love myself is still very much in play. Honestly, I just don’t know how to get there. I thought maybe I was still grieving my sweet daddy’s death and the divorce from my precious mate. Im realizing I’m only just allowing myself to grieve.

4) I need great therapist. So do you. We ALL need a great therapist. No one (self included) has the right to put you on a feelings timeline.

5) I am a danger to myself as I am still exceptionally able and willing to contort myself into any shape for someone else’s happiness. I forget easily that I am at great risk of drowning in someone else’s emotions.

6) Dating is not therapy. I am not a therapist. I am not my dating partner’s therapist nor am I their savior. Amen. The End!

7) Being desired as a woman feels like a luscious longing is being fulfilled. Desiring a man is grand. Reciprocity is extraordinarily wonderful. None of this fills a spiritual or inside void.

8) It is not okay for someone to berate you, control you, gaslight or mess with your head and heart, no matter how hurt they’ve been. Never, ever, never. Take note, sometimes it feels okay, even good. If their stinking words and actions match my stinking thinking this almost feels comfortable and affirming…I was right.

9) After 45 years of living and 23 years of living that life loving one partner; sometimes you think you are upset at the person you are dating and really you are upset at a memory, a loss of a dream, a projected fear, etc. There is wisdom in reflecting on where our emotions are coming from. (which is a much better option than shoving the emotions down or numbing them with oreos…ask me how I know).

10)Listen to your gut, follow your heart, don’t forget your brain. Working on these. Like my friend Jenny always says, it’s just practice.

I think that’s it for now. Breathing in lavender from my bedside diffuser and wishing I could go back to sleep for a couple of hours. Thanks for letting me do this writing thing. It’s good for my heart and my prayer is that someone reading this needs it too.

I’ll leave you with this simple profundity. How do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Baby bites if we must.

Namaste, peace, beauty and love to you,

S.

This Day is a Gift

I was in the laundry aisle of Target tonight when the loud screaming of a young child became audible. It was a pitiful sound that made my Momma heart ache; and I immediately began to search out where the noise was originating. It didn’t take but a moment to locate this maybe two year old because of the scene her own Mom was making in the store.

I’m going to attempt to paint the scene of what happened, in an earnest attempt to get across the deep helplessness I felt. This mom was repeatedly squeezing her child’s legs, hard. She would tower over the child (who was buckled into the cart) and yell, “You don’t EVER tell Mommy no, EVER, when I get home I am going to spank you again and again and again!” This child was literally shrinking back and down as far as she could into the cart as tears and snot ran down her face. Granted, I do realize we all parent different yet I am in the practice of respecting and accepting the cultures, belief systems and lifestyles of all people. However, this woman was bordering on abuse. My heart hurt for that little baby as she shrunk back. Everyone around this woman would look at her, then we’d look at each other. There were shrugs, head shakes, even conversations about what to do, but no one (myself included) knew the answer. It was the epitome of social discomfort.

I kept following the woman, at a safe distance. She continued to scream at her child as she walked up and down aisles, she took time every few minutes to text someone. It felt like she was trying to draw attention to herself. She was very well dressed, extremely loud and seemed to put nothing in her cart. The final straw was when I made a moment of eye contact with the little girl which was broken when her mom said, “You know better than to behave like this, you ought be ashamed!” That whole shame phrase cuts me deep. There was an older woman next to me and we made eye contact. She said, “what can you do, I don’t know what to do?” I replied that I didn’t know either.

I knew that I had to do something, I had no idea what. I felt a little afraid that whatever I did, it wouldn’t fare well for this baby girl. I didn’t want this woman to feel judged but I did want her to stop and think. I was praying super hard. I approached the woman and child from behind…”Mam, Mam” No response so I got a little braver and tapped her gently on the arm with a firm, “excuse me, mam” That got her attention.

Me: “I notice you seem a little bit stressed, I wondered if there is anything I can do to help.”

Her: “No, thank you. She (points at child) knows better than to act like this”.

Me: “Gosh, she sure is beautiful with those big brown eyes. How old is she?”

Her: “She just turned two and she knows better than to cry like this.”

Me: “Ah, two is such a tough age, she’s doing just what is developmentally appropriate, but it’s sure hard. What’s her name?”

Her: “Her name is Lilliana (not her real name).

Me: “I love her name!” (I’m talking to child trying to speak soothingly and hoping mom sees that this gets good results bc screaming has turned into hiccup cries} “Thanks so much for stopping and letting me talk, I can’t ever pass up the opportunity to talk to little ones, I miss that age so much.”

Her: Gets a call and waves at me as she exits the store and Lilliana resumes crying.

I wonder what happened as they left that store. I wonder why it didn’t occur to that Momma to pick up her distraught child and love on her. I wonder who didn’t teach her to do that. I am not judging, please know that. I have had (still have) endless hard days with my kiddos where I have reacted rather than responded and I have behaved ugly on more occasions than I care to mention. Something about this just bothered me, deep into my soul.

I don’t know if it’s because a precious family that I love lost their child to cancer today or if it’s because my own precious children are fighting huge battles of their own right now, this just hurt.

I hadn’t planned on leaving a little piece of my heart at Target, but leave a little piece of my heart I did. I’m praying for that baby girl and her Momma tonight that they can connect and that nurturing, peace and love will override all else. I wish I could share this little image of this day being a gift with them.

Out of shame and into Grace

A few weeks ago, I was blessed with a surprise that goes beyond anything my wildest dreams have dreamt.   I have wanted to share my gratitude and joy with the whole wide universe, yet I have stopped myself from doing this multiple times.  Tonight, as I sat folding laundry, I felt such a tug on my heart to stop arguing with myself immediately about what this blogpost would look like, and instead, just write.  Thus, this post is going to be unfiltered, possibly a wee bit scattered and certainly vulnerable.  It’s likely to seem a little raw, because raw is simply where I am these days.

In January, 2013, I began a brand new job as a Resource Coordinator for families who had  kiddos with special needs.  The day I was driving to get my drug test, a man just barely older than me took his own life by jumping off of a bridge.  He landed right on the windshield of the truck in front of me.(I think I wrote about this in an older blog).  Reflecting back, not only was this heartbreaking; it was seemingly a mirror to what my life would be like for the next few years.  My whole world would be turned upside down in ways I never could’ve fathomed.  In those years, there might have even been a time that I thought it would perhaps be easier to not be alive than to bear what was.  This was a fleeting thought, I don’t believe I was ever tempted to take my own life, and every time I was feeling destitute, I would think back to that man and how he must have been so desperately hopeless.  I didn’t realize in the midst of my pain, he actually further lit the fire in me to reach out to the hurting and to do all I could to ensure no aching soul would ever walk alone.  Lofty ideals…they are strong in me.

I’ve no desire to trudge up past pains, yet it’s beneficial to give a background for those who aren’t aware.  The rest of 2013 included the deepening of my Daddy’s war with Alzheimer’s; infidelity in what I thought were the happiest years of my 15 year marriage; a never-ending battle with contractors whose work had devastating consequences on our  home and finances; and a spiral into the depths of Hell as clinical depression took hold of my then spouse.  Simultaneously, my anxiety had me constantly spinning in the eye of my own tornado

2014- 2015 were in many ways years of restoration.  My ex and I found a beautiful souled, wise counselor.  We worked our asses off to get to a better place.  We had a plethora of healing take place between us, individually and in our family.  Daddy continued to decline and was moved into a memory care community.  Even so, Momma, myself, my siblings and extended family drew closer together.  I applied for grad school and did not get accepted.  I see now that this was the very best thing, for I didn’t know how hard life was going to get.  At the time, it was another rejection and I felt more defeated than ever.  I had quit my wonderful job and worked several little part-time jobs so that I could help with my Dad and work on healing my family.  Though I have no regrets, because I will never have that time of healing again, it was financially stressful.  I baked for extra cash, picked up every odds and ends job I could and tried to maintain my sanity at this time.  My ex and I rarely saw each other with our crazy schedules, kids activities and my Daddy.  If we were given a life stressors assessment at the time, we would’ve been able to check many of the major stressors, we were in constant survival mode.

2016-2017  sadly brought another separation, and finally, a divorce after nearly 18 years of marriage and 23 years of knowing.  It also brought the death of my precious Daddy; a move for my extraordinary Momma; school changes for the kids; returning to work full-time for me; and getting accepted into grad school (YES)!  A roller coaster ride full of high’s and lows, with minimal in between’s.

In 2013, when I first found out about the affair, I went searching for  a bible verse that I could hold on to.  I didn’t want anything too pretty sounding; for life wasn’t pretty and I often was certain that it would only get worse.  Besides, I was building up walls between God and I and I only wanted to be slightly comforted.

“So I will restore the years the locust has eaten.  You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied.  And praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.  And my people shall never be put to shame.”  -Joel 2:25 – 26

Truthfully, I have no recollection of how I landed on this verse, I only know that I have held it in my heart for always.  Every time I recite it to myself, I remind me that I will have to surrender my picture of what restoration looks like to God and trust him in the process.  If you know me at all, you know this is nearly impossible for me at times.  My favorite game is “Here God, here’s (what, who, struggle), I surrender it to you. ” (5 seconds pass)  “Actually God, I’ve got it, thanks for being willing to help.”  And so it goes…

Like the rest of the world, I have had struggles.  When that big blessing came to me a few weeks ago, it was quite public…I was on two news stations as a matter of fact.  I have received numerous accolades, encouragements and hugs; everyone is happy for me.  In that happiness, I keep hearing how much “I deserve this”.  I am truly humbled and honored that anyone would even believe I deserve such treasures; I have a hard time believing I ‘deserve’ anything.’  We all are deserving.  Even more, it is a challenge for me to ask for much less accept help.  I am getting LOTS of help here, help that was just bestowed on me without my asking.  Help because someone (s) see my heart and my struggles and they followed a prompting to nominate me.  I am touched deeply and no fancy words could ever express that.  I am just going to have to express it in hugs and cookies, we already agreed on that!

In short, my dear friend, Mike G. is the person who had me on his heart and started this ball rolling.  He connected with my precious friend, Trena T. and the ball started rolling. The kids and I were one of three families chosen to win a new heat and air unit from the fabulous Air Assurance.  (WHAT?  SO THANKFUL!)  Many more people were involved, including Mike’s lovely wife Melissa and a handful of professionals who are going to (are you ready?  Drum Roll!) make my dreams come true.  Our beloved home is receiving renovations and remedies.  These people who I don’t even know are going to contribute to the lives of my dear children and I simply because they are choosing to.  I am eternally grateful, humbled, giddy, shocked, amazed, and in disbelief.  I’ve posted the link to the news station interview above.

As people began to step forward and tell me what they would be doing for us, in our home, as a gift, my verse kept speaking to me.  HE WILL RESTORE THE YEARS THE LOCUSTS HAVE EATEN.  He has been restoring, he is restoring.  It does not look like I would’ve defined it, but God is a good, good Father and his restoration is nothing short of supernatural.

Tonight, I hear the part of my verse that says THERE IS NO SHAME IN HIS PEOPLE.  Maybe it is okay for me to accept the ‘deserving’.  I’m working on that.

My prayer for 2018…the year Sarah learns to step out of her shame and into His grace.

Merry Christmas 

I baked a plethora of Christmas cookies last night for sharing at today’s family gathering. I am pooped. 

I thought about how many times I have stood in this exact kitchen and baked Christmas cookies. It’s a relaxing activity for me and something that brings back fond memories Of my grandma. It makes me happy that people look forward to eating my cookies every year because it’s one of the few things I feel I can tangibly do and share to make people feel good.

After I finished the cookies, I began to gather the ingredients to bake a little pumpkin gingerbread for everyone. I realized I was almost out of the oil and that I would have to go to the store but at this point it was nearly midnight. I was making a plan for running to the store, making the batter and not baking until morning. The more I considered it, I realized this meant I would be baking all of tomorrow.

I made a very different decision than what I would usually make and decided that I would not be baking pumpkin gingerbread loaves this Christmas. More than anything, I want to rest, reflect on the gifts my Savior has given me and be present with the people that I love.

.In this season, it’s easy to run myself ragged and I don’t want to do that. I’m certain God will provide me with other opportunities to bless those around me….. and in case you are one of the people that usually find a treat for me on your doorstep, please know that I love you dearly… With or without the gingerbread.
Merry eve of Christmas Eve!🎄🚵🏽‍♀️

Certain uncertainty

“Sometimes I am the mess.  Sometimes I’m the broom.  On the hardest days, I have to be both.” -Ruby Francisco

“PEACE.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.” -unknown

It’s been a terribly ‘off’ day.  Nothing in my world feels centered and each time I try to choose peace, chaos charges in.  Since early morning,  I have been a colorful storm of emotions; tonight, I desperately seek the rainbow.

I woke myself up from a deep sleep by loudly sobbing into my pillow.  It took me a moment to wake up and piece my dream together.  I felt such a heaviness in my spirit; I was yearning for a quick fix to clear my head and heart.  I transcribed my dream with as many details as I could recall into my notes and headed out in the brisk morning air to walk.  The walk was short, I longed for peace and God connection.  I went to my favorite spot behind the shed and sat in the sun.  I was intentional in picking my prayer spot, I like to remind myself that I’m literally, ‘walking in the son’.  I spent a good amount of time there considering my dream and I actually read it out loud to God.

In reading my dream aloud, it was obvious that I had blended several issues that are bothering me during wakeful hours into one crazy, scary, heavy dream.  The subconscious can be it’s own monster I guess.  Details of my dream aren’t what bothered me most; the feelings I had upon waking threw me into a tizzy.  I’ve discussed them a million times, I’m open with my struggles.  I wish that made them go away.  I was feeling overwhelmingly unworthy, ashamed, resentful, mistrustful and sad.

We must travel through our feelings to get to a better place, right?  I really didn’t want to travel through…I’ve been here more times than I can count.  Nonetheless, here I was.  I am aware that my M.O. when I’m feeling these things is to grip the reigns tighter; get ‘control’ where I can in my life; withdraw or pick arguments and maybe throw in a few oreos for good measure.  It’s not like we plan to do these self destructive behaviors, but they are comfortably convenient and familiar, so why not?

I’ll tell you why not…because I am worthy of the best life for me.  My kiddos are going to get to see their momma continue to not just survive, but thrive.  How awesome in theory this sounds, yet living it is another story.  Here is where the first rainbow of the day came in.  My dearest friend called and processed through this with me.  I sought wisdom from my precious Momma.  I have a new very special friend who was extremely patient and kind with my verbal vomit; and is still my special friend this evening.  Best of all was my overwhelming guilt for reaching out to God only while I’m in a valley and forgetting him on the mountaintops (I believe this was ‘ironically’ part of the message at church last week.)

I had the opportunity after this mini journey through hell to settle in and work on a school project.  Instead, I made myself a brilliant to do list where the biggest task was to, “Save the World!”  This should be a big joke, yet I get so caught up in taking care of everyfreakingone that it’s really not.  I sat down to start typing and began to feel extremely nauseous.  It’s just a little antibiotic side effect, and although little, it was awfully distracting.  I decided to go do a load of laundry and take the sheets off my bed.  Oh yes…I needed to add a few things to my said to do list.  I have a washer to do laundry, a comfy cozy bed with warm blankets to sleep on, hands to write a to do list with….more rainbows!

My son’s girlfriend came over.  I was visiting with the two of them for a bit, before I resumed my project.  There was a knock at the door.  I was surprised to find that rather than a friend; it was a very angry man who believed my dog attacked his son.  Long story short, I was terrified as were the kids.  I called the police and it seemed like they took forever to arrive.  In the meantime, my brother in law and dear neighbors came.  I am still feeling horrible tonight for involving them, I didn’t know if this man was dangerous, I only knew he was out of control yelling, cursing and pounding on my doors and windows.  The situation was resolved, my kids were horrified as was I.  However, definite rainbows here.  First, my 16 year old son totally stepped up and directed his girlfriend and I to stay put in the bathroom so he could make sure the police were really here.  He is brave, he is a protector and he really does love me!  Sometimes 16 makes that hard to remember.  I am incredibly blessed to have friends and family that will rush to aid us and thank God for the police officers.  On a deeper level, this is the first time I have not felt safe since Nathan left our home and it has just left me feeling the teeniest bit emptier than I like.  My brother is here with us tonight….yet another rainbow for which I am grateful.

I stubbed my toe when running into the bathroom this afternoon and half of my entire toenail on my big toe came off a little bit ago.  There was blood…my blood.  I am not a fan of my blood and my sweet 12 year old daughter doctored me up.  She is sunshine, rainbow, goodness and love.

I am a bundle of uncertainty right now.  That’s okay.  I remind myself that I have to be certain of nothing but uncertainty.   I am blogging; I have accomplished not one iota of my project or my bills. (Our Christmas tree is now decorated and the nativity set is up….priorities!)   Tomorrow is a new day.  It’s on my to do list to find my sanity….I might be looking for a while.

Blessings all.

Now

I got home from school around 10:20 tonight. (BTW, I am loving school!) Anyway…I came home wound up as all get out so I used that energy to do a quick clean. Laundry is in, kitchen sink scrubbed, all floors vacuumed, and the smell of bleach is permeating the air while the whites wash. All of this makes me happy…and suddenly, my abundance of energy has vanished.

My heart is slightly heavy tonight as I process letting go. I talked to a very wise soul today…(you know who you are). I was tearfully sharing my fears that there will not be another side to my journey, as well as the other terrors that haunt me. I shared that after Pathways, I had the BEST two years of my marriage that I never could’ve imagined and then, whoosh!, it was gone. I let her know I have a wee bit of mistrust and anger with God for not making this better and lots of mistrust and disappointment in myself for losing my magic wand.

She asked me something I truthfully have never considered and am pondering carefully tonight. “What if God gave me those two years to give me a glimpse of what a future love could look like? She asked me some other things, and the permeating thought I have left over as my summary is the one that begs an answer to the question…”how I am going to spend my now? Am I waiting to arrive at the other side before I settle in?”

I likely am waiting in ways, I tend to freeze a little when I am afraid. I have had to say too many goodbyes lately, as I discussed in my previous post…no way around it, they suck.  There have been goodbyes through a death, goodbyes through divorce, goodbyes and a goodbye to a dear, dear friend by choice.  None of them is better than the other.

My heart is telling me there are other goodbyes to say…another bit of  letting go that is weighing me down.  It’s time to say goodbye to things that aren’t working in my life as I learn to replace them with what is better, healthier, wiser.  It’s time to say goodbye to control (or my illusion of it), yet again…which means, hello surrender my friend.

 

It’s time.  It’s time.  It is time.