CHOSEN

Sitting in my group psychotherapy class, in a group….it’s my turn to share.  We had each made a collage with images or words that symbolized our spiritual life, gender role, sexual orientation, masks we wear, an identity not mentioned that was important to us and a few other things.

We had been a little bit focused on the topic of death, namely, how our lives would change if we knew we only had 10 years left to live.  There were discussions of dropping out of grad school, deciding no children could be birthed if there were only 10 years with them, and support for having kids even though because the experience was so valuable.  It wasn’t my turn to speak yet, my mind was spinning with thoughts.  10 years!  10 years?  TEN YEARS!  What a gift!  I thought back to the stroke in 2009 and how terrified I was to die.  If someone promised me 10 more years from now, it would almost be a relief.  Then I could stop wondering how much more time I had with my people and in this life. Ten years seems awfully precious when I consider that no one actually knows if they even have the next moment.

The question was posed directly to me, “What was the hardest thing on your collage for you?”   I began sharing;  “You see, in 2009, I had a massive stroke, I had to learn to walk again.”  Having my own mortality in my face like that and realizing how precious it was to be able to walk contributes well to thinking that 10 more years is a gift.  Our professor remarked, “Gosh, you are almost 10 years out from that stroke.”  I am!  I hadn’t even thought of that, and somehow it seems like something that I should celebrate even more than I do every other year.

(SIDENOTE:  I know I drive others crazy with my selfie taking and insistence on picture taking during nearly anything.  My classmates were fussing about precisely this at lunch today, thus, I explained to them the why’s of my insistence.  

My Daddy lost his memories with his Alzheimer’s.  I recognized from that how very important pictures were in helping tell him stories, whether he recalled or not, we remembered precious moments.  Also, after the stroke, I lost a few big  chunks of memories that I treasure.  In looking at pictures or videos, it will often trigger a memory recollection that I had lost.  Lastly, I NEVER took a selfie until after my divorce.  I’m truly not vain.  However, I do cherish memories and know it is possible to lose them.  This is why I like to have so many pictures.  The selfies….they help me remember where I’ve been and how far (usually) I’ve come.)

I continued, “So, the hardest thing on this collage is the blank spot on the bottom left corner.  It is blank because I couldn’t find the word.”  “I was looking for the word chosen“.

This ties in with my ideas of spirituality.  I can trust the process.  I can trust that I am right where I am meant to be.  I can trust that I have a bright future ahead.  I can trust God.  “The reason that chosen ties in with this seems insignificant but I know it’s not.”  In my heart, I know that I have been chosen for many things that I am not deserving of.  I am healthy, whole and breathing, for a start.

I explained in detail, “When I look back and see how God has put the puzzle pieces together, I know He is trustworthy.  In hindsight, He is good.  However, for the future, I struggle with this whole trust thing hugely.  There are two driving factors to my thinking.

First, I am not really sure that the desires of my heart are worth His time, or the plan, or whatever.  Second, I still grapple with the lifetime thoughts that I am not worth it.  Period.  That said, I took a deep breath and shared what my deepest desire was.

I absolutely want to share my life with a mate.  This is terrifying to me.  I explained, “My ex-husband is my best friend, we were together for 23 years and I don’t want to lose that friendship.”  Hard questions followed and the tears that had started flowing the minute I spoke hadn’t stopped.  I decided that my vulnerability in this moment was a good thing, even if it totally sucked.  I know (believe) that when I give my heart to someone, the relationship between my ex and I will need to change.

We will always be important to one another, and we will always have a friendship and co-parent our precious children.  However, we still at times share the intimate nature of friendship that I feel belongs in a relationship.  No more romance but all of the deep connection.  It’s weird.  I just know deep down that will change; and although it could be very positive, it’s super scary.  For 23 years, we have been there for one another.  Who will ever know me so well?  I don’t know how to navigate any of this so even thinking about the possibilities makes me want to throw up in my mouth.

Despite these fears, I long for that intimate, soul sharing connection with the man who I hope exists not just in my heart and mind.  I pray my desires aren’t denied.  I don’t like saying any of this.  It’s quite uncomfortable.  I do not ‘need’ a man.  If it is true that I want my own fairy tale, I am resentful of even wanting that.  I recognize that my fears are holding me back and I am trying my damnedest to work my way out of them.

Back to the word, “chosen“…let me paint what this looks like to me.  I want to be the woman that is not second choice to another woman and is in competition with no one.  I want to choose and be chosen; to cherish and be cherished; to treasure and be treasured; to accept and be accepted; to trust and be trusted; and to passionately love and be passionately loved.  All with the wildness and naturalness we are capable of.

Whether my hair is long or short, my booty is flat or bubblicious, whether my emotions are a jumbled mess or I am steady as a surgeon’s hand…just see me (an my people) and love me (us) right there, just like that.  Just as I am (we are).

Is that a crazy notion? I want to give these things right back, in the manner they are needed.  I guess this is my version of a fairy tale.  I went to the restroom and cleaned of my mascara stained face, then returned to my desk.  I picked up my pen and began an unfiltered 3 page list of what had happened or changed in my life in the past 10 years.  Just look at this…

2009 – 2019

  • Celebratory 1 year ‘birthday’ party on the strokeaversary.  Celebrations on year 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 as well.  I will always celebrate November 9 as a second birthday because it was a second chance that forever changed me for the better.
  • Surgical repair of a paten foramen ovale (hole in my heart suspected to have caused stroke)
  • My babies are 9 years older.  They are 17 and 14.  Just wow.
  • Infidelity in my marriage
  • 3 years of intense marriage therapy and growth
  • Divorce 
  • Started grad school (which I will complete 1 month after my 10th year celebration!)
  • A special journey of self discovery…still in process.
  • Had my only two relationships other than my marriage after divorce. One great, one yuck.  Learning to date.
  • Grappled with God.  Alot.
  • Grappled with self.  Alot.
  • My Daddy battled with Alzheimer’s.  He passed away.  I miss him.
  • Went through and graduated Pathways.
  • Learned more effective ways of dealing with my anxieties and fears.
  • Lost weight. Gained weight. Lost weight.
  • Learning to love myself.
  • Almost lost home due to foreclosure.
  • New and old animals.
  • Worked at Jenks public schools, Sooner Start, Life, Autumn Leaves and I’m sure I’m missing something.
  • Learning the value of letting go, letting go and letting go.
  • Became stronger, wiser, taller, braver, more cognizant of reality and less apt to live in a fantasy land.
  • Continue learning every day.
  • Lost and made and regained and didn’t regain friendships.
  • Endless hugs and kisses, even more heart to heart moments.
  • Drove (all by myself) to Dallas, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri.
  • Finding my voice in a positive way.
  • Practicing gratitude more than ever.
  • Stepped out of my comfort zone a billion times.
  • Crossed items off bucket list, including getting fired from Whole Foods!
  • Learning who I am as a grown woman.
  • Treat myself with love and respect more than ever.
  • Gardened until my fingers and feet were mud stained.
  • Cooked a trillion meals.
  • Watched my Momma move out of our family home and into a new home.
  • Stopped sugar and processed foods.
  • Watched more precious nieces and nephews graduate, get married, have babies, enjoy first careers and more.  Added the role of friend in with aunt.
  • Learned that I am strong.  I am a survivor.  
  • Finding my path to joy and freedom (it’s a journey.)
  • Learned to love the word fuck.  As in fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck….because sometimes it’s the only appropriate word even for a princess.  (really a Sailor Sarah)
  • Experienced two fabulous years of marriage that placed hope in my heart for beautiful things.
  • Put dreams into action, see some coming to fruition.
  • Experienced countless storms, rainy days, splashed in puddles, danced, sang, laughed, cried, embraced, shared, found the deepest pain and the most radiant joy, focused on passions, wrote, cooked, held hands with dying people, held new born babies, manicures, pedicures, massages, listened to music, had my eyes opened to the beauty of diversity, loved hard….an endless list.  
  • I’m still breathing.

I’m breathing.  What a miracle I am.  What a miracle we all are.  This gift of life is one I can barely grasp.  What did I do to deserve the goodness of being here and of being me?  Chosen.  Yes.  Want to be chosen in other ways? Yes.

So ya…10 years.  An amazing gift.

 

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TRY

I wasn’t going to write tonight.  Each time I had started to do so, I came up with nothing but feisty, unkind, passive aggressive wording, yet, here I am.  Thanks to the love, prayers, positive energy and encouragement that surround me, I have decided to try to be brave and share my heart.  Let’s hope I don’t regret it in the morning.

This is not a pretty post.  Not at all.  It’s kind of ugly and I just pray that I keep it about my experience and not someone else’s story.  Whatever.

I am in the middle of learning some tough lessons.  About myself, relationships, the difference between love and lust…so much.  So fucking much.  Lessons that I expect I ‘should’ have down by down at the ripe age of 46.  I guess after being with one man for 23 years, I’m not joking when I say I am like a teenager at times and these growing pains are simply yuck.

My heart aches.  Deeply.  Every time I face rejection from a man, in any aspect, it’s like I bring into it a lifetime of rejection.  It rapidly becomes all about everything I am not rather than about what the situation really is.  Tonight, someone I am particularly fond and who has been precious (in my eyes) ‘defriended’ me on social media.  Really.  So familiar to what I hear my teenagers struggle with at times.  I don’t even know why.  It doesn’t matter.  It stung and started a flood of tears that I can’t seem to stop.

An onslaught of failures, lies and struggles suck me in.  Failed marriage. Poor choices. Less than. Never enough. Won’t happen. Negligent. Disorganized. Scattered. Settled for. Two faced. Fat. Broken. Messed up. Crazy. Damaged. Wounded. Stubborn. Less than, again. Optional. Disposable. Debris. Stupid. Boring. Too much. Not enough, again. Temporary. Unworthy. Plain. Short hair. Gross. Hurting. The list goes on.

Through it all, my mind keeps hearing the words of a dear friends prayer for me, along with a sermon that I have listened to numerous times lately.  It’s all about the story we tell ourselves.  We might tell ourselves something that is not necessarily a lie, but instead a twisted up version of the truth.  It really pinged my heart because I know that I tend to live in the truth of my story instead of the truth of who God really made me to be….especially in regard to my relationships with men.

I am happily confident in my job, work hard in school, and adore my internship.  I am a magnificent friend, the best Momma for my kids and try hard to fill my other roles with all the love, giving, compassion and care that I can give.  Bottom line, I feel ‘good enough’ in these roles for the most part and when I don’t, I make changes accordingly.  That’s one Sarah.  She knows who she is and what she wants.  She believes it is just as important to play hard as it is to work hard; she is not hesitant to go for what she wants.

Then…there is the Sarah who sees herself as disposable.  She is seeking a real and deep love, a true connection with a gentleman that holds truth and freedom in it.  She is looking for the hands that will hold her heart with love, gentleness and protection.  She knows she has much to give BUT….this woman sees herself as a young girl who is overweight, awkward, painfully shy and unwanted.  No matter how she ‘looks’ to others, and despite the way she works on positive changes…she mostly sees herself as someone broken, deeply lacking or undesirable.  This feeling sucks. I know it’s not truth, but it ‘feels’ truthful in the moment and operating from that truth leads to a plethora of poor choices.  Choices that disregard who I am at my core and what I hope for in this life.  Choices that are made out of a fear of being without companionship.  Choices that give a temporary band-aid to lonely feelings but absolutely do not result in long term fulfillment.  Choices that are made because there is gratitude that someone desires me vs. knowing it is a privilege to have time with me.

I’m not speaking to intentional choices I make as a grown woman to participate in relationships that are fun, fulfilling in their own way and not long term.  I am referring specifically to participating in relationships knowing full well that it won’t be what I want it to be, but choosing to believe I can change it to what I desire.  I can BS myself like no other, but don’t worry, I speak the truth to others.  So often that it gets me in trouble…not everyone wants that.

The story that I tell myself is that I will never find the love of my life, so I may as well enjoy whatever the moment offers. I will not ever be ‘the one’ to someone special, so I shall act accordingly.   I’ve already had that, kind of, so God wants me to live the rest of my life alone and serving others.  (I put those words to God, nothing I feel from him). I may as well go for the men who are not going to be long lasting, because in the end, they will leave.  So why choose the ones I will really give my heart to? They too, will leave.  Both will hurt but the latter will hurt far less.  Choose the lesser of two evils, right?  In the process, I am getting hurt and I am hurting others…unintentional as it may be.  All of my protective forces are accomplishing nothing worth mentioning.

Who knows what of this is true and what is not?  I know I am supposed to honor who I believe I am…a brave, worthy, happy, truly loved by God, whimsical, whole and surrendered woman.  That is who I believe I was made to be, yet when I am engaging with men I am willing to trade that in for whatever they need me to be.  That’s got to be better than what I really have to offer, right?  Better even, let me serve as therapist and best friend ever, maybe even as a nurturing mom role.  Ewwww.  But it comes so natural.

A precious friend recently told me that “God made me and his work is always beautiful”.  I love that friend and his heart.  I want to believe his words.  My heart agrees, it is beautiful…my brain taunts me by letting me know I’ll never measure up.  But to who?  How long am I going to let others opinion of me determine how I view myself.  It’s ridiculous.  Real stuff, but ridiculous.

I have a safety plan.  Another dear friend and I have a ‘twenty year plan’.  If neither of us are married at age 60, or in 20 years…we can marry each other.  This is our little funny!  In truth, I freak myself out.  What if I die before then without experiencing the gift of a deep and abiding love with the ‘right’ man.  I know…God’s timing…it’s just so hard for me to trust.

I am tired.  I cannot believe I am ‘here’.  There are new crinkles around my eyes and I see faint wrinkles on the delicate skin of my neck. I can’t seem to keep up with the fastness of passing time.

My precious children…lots of love and hugs from them tonight.  That should be more than sufficient.  Why do I long for anything more?  I just do.  Even in my deep gratitude, there is a constant yearning.

This is my story.  I’m trying to figure out how to live in the truth of who I am…in ALL of the circumstances and with ALL of the people.  I am trying to let go of the story I once helped me survive and embrace the story that is truth.

This is my honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

Dating sucks…or maybe it’s me

The first man…he prefers a woman with long hair.  Mine is on the shortish side and even when it’s long, it’s soft and baby fine.  He tells me he longs for a woman with a tight, thin body as I sit next to him thinking that no matter how hard I work out and how much weight I lose….my body will still have carried two babies and is marked with scars that mean life to me.  My breasts are small, my booty flat and my tummy round. I want to hide myself but there is nowhere to hide…so I distract him with humor or kissing or listening or whatever the situation calls for and I hope he cannot feel how much I have adored him and how sad I feel in this moment.

The second man doesn’t understand how an intelligent girl like me can believe in a pie in the sky mythical being.  How can someone who thinks for herself and is smart claim God and faith as her foundation.  He does not have a clue what I’ve been through and really has no interest in knowing. He might never grasp that all I wanted was to show him respect for his path and how deeply I hoped he could respect my own path.  He is not going to go deep into the topic.  The walls are palpable.  I can get up and leave or I can dive out of the discomfort and into his body.  I choose the latter.

Third guy…we have met in person, because we were at the same place at the same time.  We bumped into each other again on a dating site.  I had heard he thought I was flirting with him.  He was beautiful to look at yet I had been doing nothing but being my normal playful self.  He also knew he was hot…he just had that air about him.  We chatted a bit….teased about the flirting comment.  Before I know it, he is inviting me to be a friend with benefits.  If I just wanted eye candy, that may have served me well.  Friends with benefits I am not searching for, that’s been an easy come easy go disaster.  He still pops up with an out of the blue text now and then.  Just not gonna happen.

Last guy, he is a dear old friend going through a divorce.  He thinks it would be a great idea to ‘get together’ and he has been very explicit about what that might look like.  I know the depth of his loneliness and my heart aches for him.  I am not interested in being a distraction from his pain in that manner.  Gotta appreciate his asking though…I guess.

Just a teeny sampling of dating life as it is right now.  I’m feeling pretty down and out tonight.  I did something horribly stupid to someone I value greatly and I probably won’t be forgiven.  It is what it is. 

I am beginning to see that I have a habit of sabotaging something with great possibility before it has a chance to happen.  Just in case it doesn’t.  Guess what?  I am the one hurting and sitting in the shit I created.  Again.

I did this to someone dear that I dated a few months ago.  He cherished me.  Adored me.  Treated me like a gentleman treats a lady.  He is also the only person that I have been 100% myself with from the beginning.  He appreciated my intelligence.  He encouraged my feminine energies.  He laughed at my jokes and truly thought I was beautiful just the way I was.  He traced my scars (both the physical and emotional) and said they were lovely reminders of the preciousness of life.  He was kind.  I messed that up by doing something very hurtful and although I know we are not each other’s long time person, I am incredibly thankful for the experience and forever sorry for my actions.  He gave me a glimpse of what I deserve and that it is possible.

So…why, why, why do I feel more comfortable seeking out the men who I know are going to give me crumbs; see me as their back up, or just plain use me?  In saying this, please realize I am no victim of anything here.  With the exception of one toxic relationship, I have knowingly and willingly walked straight into, or even instigated, these types of relationships.

I seem to have a radar that tracks these men, specifically.  The ones who won’t last…and although I know this, I begin the process of wondering if it can work and how it will look.  EVEN THOUGH my head and heart both know better.

Lots of tears, guilt, shame and deep thoughts today.  I’m really trying to identify my own actions and behaviors that are a detriment to me.  I could blame others all day long but that’s useless…in the end, my unhealed stuff is what hurts me most.

A hot truth smacked me in the face this afternoon.  With the exception of the one dating relationship (that very healthy one where I was absolutely cherished), there is not one person with whom I have been purely me.

This only applies to dating relationships. I don’t do this in other areas. I think I so deeply want to be accepted and loved and I’m certain no one wants me for messy me.  This feels a little like desperation and the feeling makes me sick to my stomach and doesn’t at all line up with my desire to live authentically.  I’m still trying to figure out who I am as a single woman, not as wife and mom.

I have contorted myself all kinds of ways just to make sure I keep the attention or approval of some guy.  “Two-faced” would be painfully accurate here and getting this understanding feels like a punch in the gut.

Just in case there’s not ever a man who doesn’t think I am broken, I am striving to make sure I am going to be thin enough, pretty enough, sexual enough, fun enough, smart enough etc to please them. So far, save one precious soul, I have not been enough.

I mean…I’ve been enough to be a friend with benefits (again, my choice to walk into), but not enough to enter into something healthy with.  And those ugly tapes are loud.  If I were thinner, richer, louder, bigger boobed, not shy, blue eyed…whatever fits.  I type and I ask myself how in the world I could expect someone to cherish the real me when I have turned myself inside out to be someone else for them.

I feel so sad and ashamed. Desperate.  Icky.  A little unhopeful and maybe even a little scared.

Also, I feel that the way I’ve behaved at times, someone is going to not get my heart and instead view me as the crazy chick. Since I was raised by a mentally ill person, that terrifies me.

A wise person just asked me two hard questions.  “How would life look if I decided that I was not somebody who had to be settled for?” and “How would my dating life look if I decided you weren’t going to settle for anybody who didn’t want me exactly as I am?” .

I have often said I will not settle (I call bullshit on myself).  Never have I considered this perspective.  I absolutely believe if someone is dating me they must be settling for me.  That helps me rationalize that when someone better comes along, they will move on and that is to be expected.

Settle for someone who didn’t want me exactly as I am?  What else would I do?  I can be an expert chameleon as long as it means I am pleasing someone.  It is horribly yuck to admit that.

“Becoming all God sees you as begins with the courage to let go of all He doesn’t”…my list of the doesn’t(s) feels everlasting.  I’m so tired of putting myself in situations where I feel less than.  I do it.  I choose the opposite of what I desire because I know I will get that.  Ewww.

My heart hurts.  Learning to fully love myself is so super hard when I am trying to be someone else that ‘he’ might like better.

There’s got to be something better than this.

Life

It’s been a teeny bit of a struggle hearing about Luke Perry’s death. I mean, it’s sad when people die anyway. Then, it feels especially sad to me when they are young. He was for sure young.
We are told that Luke died of a stroke. Anytime I hear this, I feel this flurry of emotions. It’s a combination of deep gratitude for being alive and well nine years after the stroke I had, and of intense guilt for being here when others are not. It’s a feeling of being safe and held that is often interfered with by feelings of anxiety and fear.
I want to know all the details of his stroke. How, when, why, where? As if all of these answers bring me a magical always healthy solution. I have such an ability to let my worries spin right out of control until I lose myself in the middle of them. (I’m speaking to health anxiety…not to my whole way of being). The minute I get lost in that world, I disconnect from all that I love.
It’s been a gift to learn this about myself; to be aware of the things I do when I’m heading in that direction; and to do them.
Being still and trusting that God has my back has been huge for me and it’s rarely my first response. Reaching out to the handful of people that know my heart deeply is such a gift, and another thing I rarely do first.
My wise momma once asked me in the middle of one of my biggest times of worrying about losing my life…”We only have this life, are you going to spend it living or dying?” Absolutely I want to spend it living.
It’s a good day.

Celebrate

It’s National Heart Health month and Congenital Heart Defect awareness week. I’m thinking about Dr. Loughridge who performed the full correction of my tetrology of fallot 45 years ago, my Dr. Cooper…the cardiologist who ‘grew me up’ and the cardiologists and medical personnel who have helped and do help me stay healthy and strong.
I am thankful for the practice of medicine. I am deeply grateful for those who dedicate themselves to learning the science of healing in all aspects. I am thankful for the God who fills my lungs with air and my spirit with joy.
Whenever these celebratory awareness events occur, I celebrate. But I celebrate always because I have seen first hand that my life is a gift to be treasured. Our moments are precious indeed, and time is truly a gift.
I ask myself and God why in the world I am here and others are not. Scientifically, I did not fit neatly into the statistics. I will never have the answers. I will never think my life is more significant that another’s. I will be grateful, deeply grateful for each breath and I will strive to find the wonder, awe and joy in each living being as long as I am here.
Anyway…HAPPY HEART MONTH! Love a little more!

Trust the Process

I have no idea what I am writing about tonight, or what I am trying to say. Just going to go with pouring out my heart and see what happens; this seems to work well for me in writing.

I’ve been looking for this quote forever. I knew it was Aristotle and I knew I had written it in a journal years ago. I couldn’t find the exact quote, even on Google, lol! I also couldn’t find the journal…until tonight.

I have a friend going through the dying process with his Mom. It was only 2.5 years ago that I lost my Daddy and so many memories have come flooding back. Anyway…he was sharing tons of family pictures which in turn, inspired me to start looking through old photos. I was able to just get through a couple of albums before I felt like I was headed toward emotional overload….because each picture bring a special sentiment with it.

In the mix of the albums I dug out, I found a few old journals. The first page I opened to was the long lost quote. Validation. I didn’t make it up!

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.” -Aristotle (written in my journal, June 18, 2010)

I loved this quote years ago, it still fits. I feel it is my constant yearning in life to gain victory over myself..my ugly talk, my self-defeating behavior, the lies I believe about myself, the rules I create, the illusion of control, letting go…all in effort to live truly as who I am made to be. Not in anyone’s shadow, not in the history that is mine; rather by standing tall as who I am…inside out. It’s a journey for sure.

I also found a little piece of my history that I thought was gone forever. My Grandma used to write me letters when she was angry at me. (often). My sweet Momma once destroyed (we thought) all of those letters in order to save me from further hurt. I understood and at the same time was so sad that she did, I didn’t know why.

This post could be a little here, there and everywhere and that also fits. No matter how planned our lives are, there is always a bit of scattering. Personally, I find that beautiful. If I didn’t allow myself to be open to that which is not in my plan, I’d be missing so many opportunities. If you are not a lover of the unplanned, just stay with me anyway…it’s real.

In that little pile of journals, I found three of her letters to me. I don’t know how they survived, but tonight, I am deeply grateful that they did. In these letters, I saw a summary that confirmed that all I had remembered was as it occurred. She loved me so deeply, and she struggled with mental illness, and her behavior was often emotionally abusive.

Reading those letters I was reminded that her love was strangely possessive, as one might be with a jilted romantic partner. (Never did sexual abuse, nor physical occur in my history). It was an incredibly unhealthy enmeshment that began when I was a young child and that I still have to pull away from at times, although she passed away in 1995.

The craziest thing ever…I have written about the relationship I had after my divorce that was extremely unhealthy. I don’t know the diagnosis, but I do know that his words to me in our final communications were nearly identical to the words in the letters from my Grandma. As Pema Chodron says, “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know”. Let’s hope I’m receiving the lesson.

I can hear Grandma’s voice in my head as she scolded me via the letters. “Why are you doing this to me?”, “Why don’t you love me anymore?” “You better ask God for His forgiveness, He’s going to punish you.”, “Who do you think you are little girl (at 21)”, “When did you get so smart?”

With each little thing I read, I still have internal dialogue and have to talk to the little girl/adolescent/young woman inside of me. I do this to remind myself that she was sick and not in control of herself much of the time; that although she loved me it did not make her behavior okay, and that my God is loving beyond what I can fathom and He is not out to get me. When I do this, I approach my history, and my present, from a place of healing, compassion, grace and forgiveness. I know that I am and was immensely loved.

I also recognize how those words sunk into my spirit and they rear their ugly heads still. “When did I get so smart?” Great question! I have just in the last few years begun to enjoy the fact that I am intelligent, and that conversing with intelligent others and not playing dumb is the true me. No more shrinking. (I fight this one often). Shrinking down to make someone else feel better serves no one well.

“Who do I think I am little girl?” I’m figuring that one out still but I’m becoming joyfully aware that I’m not a little girl. I’m a bad ass grown woman with bad ass grown woman desires and thoughts. I’m also a woman who is filled with peace in reflecting on these letters. They mean I was not crazy. Everything happened as I remember.

“Why don’t you love me anymore?” I am still so afraid for anyone to not feel loved by me, whether they deserve that gift or not….see? Still healing.

There is also no blame for anyone else. Growing up with someone who has a mental illness, or substance abuse issue creates countless self-doubts, guilt and shame for all! It does not just affect the afflicted person, it’s a whole family illness. Behaviors that served me well as a young person trying to survive are no longer useful, as a matter of fact, they are damaging.

Here’s the takeaway…I am thankful that I am in a position of healing for myself and others. I am thankful for my history because I believe my compassion is greater for it. I am able to do beautiful things because of this.

I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to know God as my persecutor and punisher (which He never was) and as my Savior and Rescuer (which he very much is).

I am appreciative of a family I can share memories with; both easy and hard ones. I am pleased that I am living out of my comfort zone in a multitude of ways and I am intrinsically aware that though I have come so far, I have so far yet to go.

I also found something on my phone today. It was a video I had recorded of myself back in 2016, as my ex-husband was preparing to move out and my Daddy was dying. I looked like the walking dead. No glimmer in my eyes, no peace in my heart, puffy faced and teary eyed. I remember… I was a weary warrior and ready for a rest. But, I couldn’t rest, I had way too many responsibilities. Just keep swimming, right?

It pained me to watch the video. I was in someone else’s skin. I was talking to myself as a child in the video (maybe a counselor had given me that assignment). I told ‘me’ that I was going to be okay, that this was all a journey to learn to love myself. That could not have been more accurate. I was literally trembling as I spoke.

I love myself today more than I ever have in my adult life. I still hate myself sometimes. I am so flawed. I always will be. My journey is to love myself because I am. Just because I am. Only because I am.

I anticipate that even if I never fully ‘arrive’, I will stay on course. I think it’s supercool how all of our life experiences prepare and link us to what is now. I find that deeply comforting.

This is my understanding of the journey of trusting the process.

Abundance

My most favorite Christmas gift…this cup. The one who gave it knows the “why”, as does many of my nearest and dearest.

“It is well with my soul” ties in with my word for 2019. “Abundance”…plentifulness of the good things of life; prosperity.

There is an abundance of what matters in my life. Though I strive to be better, I have an overflowing amount of goodness in my life, even when my humanness sees scarcity.

I have God, Grace, mercy, family, friends, love, laughter, tears, life, health, joy, peace, and compassion. ALL that matters, I have.

Yet I get caught up in the what if’s, the limits, the distrust, the worries and the avoidance. It’s such an ugly pattern of thought.

.With the stressful mundane stuff, I have to work on meeting reality with an attitude of abundance.

I already have enough of what I need.

Abundance is already mine.❤️

Happy 2019 loves!

Growing up

I have this gut feeling that some intensely real part of me has been hibernating for years and like a baby bear coming out of a dark cave,  it’s beginning to awaken.  2019 will be my last year of grad school.  Working full time, momming, daughtering, schooling, working, interning….blah, blah, blah.  It’s going to be a whirlwind of a year!  I am amazed when I look back and see how far I’ve come (and I am overwhelmed when I see how far I have to go!)  

We humans are ever-evolving, exploring creatures.  I am in awe of our capacity for resilience and growth.  That capacity gives me hope for us all.  It especially gives me hope for myself because I dream of the day I am all grown up in the ways that matter.

Here’s what I am trying to grasp about being a grown up:

  1. Truly, other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.  I spend a great deal of energy trying to ensure that other people are happy and content.  Sometimes, I catch myself putting more energy into their well-being than they do.  Guess who pays the highest price?  
  2. Self-compassion and self-care isn’t all about bubble baths, long walks, journaling and time for me.  It also looks like the icky stuff; hard conversations that need to be had, sticking to a budget, asking for help, making the choices that don’t feel good in the moment but have a tremendous pay-off later.  That stuff counts for loving myself well too.
  3. Structure and routine are not dirty words.  I have to learn this somehow.  I hate being put in anyone’s box, including my own and find myself easily resisting what is best for me because of that.
  4. I am a grown up woman, I was made a sexual being, and that is okay.  Actually, it’s far better than okay, it is magnificently wonderful.  Labels, shame, guilt and not allowing myself to be who I was made to be is nonsense.  
  5. There are people who have wiped my tears away in the most gentle and intimate manner.  There are others who squirm away from emotion because it is uncomfortable for them.  On the lines of people….some will see my scars as beautiful as they kiss them lovingly and see the miracle of life.  Some will see those same scars as a marring of my physical body and they might say less than stellar things.  Some will see my stretch marks and mom tummy as unattractive and displeasing; some will see these things as real and soft and safe.  Some people might not see them at all.  Guess what?  Their thoughts ALWAYS have more to do with them and often nothing to do with me.  That’s a hard one to swallow when one is a master at ugly self talk, but this is truth. 
  6. My God loves me deeper, wider, bigger than I could ever imagine. I have atheist friends who think my God is a made up guy in the sky to serve no purpose but being a crutch.  I have friends who have what I consider to be rigid beliefs, as well as everyone in between.  I love them all and I hope they love me too.  We are all searching and searching is key.  Whether your answer is in logic or faith or anywhere else, it’s your journey.  This is my journey.  
  7. ALL of the stuff ALL of the stuff ALL of the stuff is made to take us to a higher level.  Someday I will learn to surrender to that, trust myself, trust my God and trust the process.  Until then, I’ll keep doing my best.  Mostly.  Sometimes I will screw up in the biggest of ways.
  8. Love Wins.  Every freaking time.  Unless we choose hate.  Ick.
  9. It’s the small things that are really biggest in life.  Some of my favorite small things…When my Momma is proud of me (I know, I’m 46, but still, she’s my Mom!), when my kids surprise me with an unexpected hug, sunsets and sunrises, feeling the breeze on my bare skin, sweet kisses, coffee, yummy smells (of course)….
  10. Gratitude brightens even the darkest, dreariest days.  Drop the mask, feel what you feel…but keep the gratitude going.
  11. Be kind, gracious, loving, tender, merciful and forgiving.  At the same time, remember that boundaries are a beautiful thing and that boundaries and walls are not the same, ever.
  12. I will be unapologetically, unequivocally  me, even when it makes me squirm.  Especially when it makes me squirm.  Simply because I am uniquely, beautifully made and there is only one of me.  I love that quote, “Be you, everyone else is already taken.”  That’s so right!

The magic is in the mercy.  The gift is in the grace.  Over and over and over I fail.  Over and over and over I receive these compassions.  I am surrounded with grace giving, magic mercy making,  lovers of my heart and I am intensely blessed.

Scattered Mercy

Oh mercy.  Mercy, mercy, mercy, freaking mercy….I give.  

Tonight has been unpretty.  My beautiful daughter and I had an ugly word explosion in the car and in this moment, we are in our separate rooms working through our own muck.  I hate it.  i hate the separateness from my precious child.  Speaking of ugly word explosions, they have become common between my beloved son and I.  We seem to be constantly jolted by one another, and not in a positive way.  Distance reigns.  I want desperately to regain our closeness.  

I don’t share any of this to “out” my children.  They are teenagers and going through their own stuff.  The abundance of pressures on them from their social networks, hormones, temptations and more are weighty on my 46 year old shoulders.  God bless it….teenagering is just as tough as parenting sometimes. It’s a difficult season for all of us. They have been through alot and truly are amazing young people.  I wonder how often I get caught up in their errors and forget what’s truly important.  Considering the ease I have in getting absorbed in my own guilt, shame and errors…I’m guessing I do it with them all too often.

I get stuck thinking that the kids Dad and I have failed them.  We divorced…not in the plan.  We kinda quit raising them in church…not in the plan.  I struggle financially….not in the plan.  They are faced with all of the things I can’t protect them from….kind of not in the plan and if it was I was going to have prepared them better.  I am sometimes so scattered and that can’t feel super safe to a kiddo who is searching for solidarity….not in the plan.  It’s easy to feel like one big oops.  

Are we suffering?  Not in comparison to many.  Are we operating out of hurt?…too often, yes.

And so it is….here we are with our growing pains.  I heard a sermon in which the preacher spoke about tomatoes and the yummy, delightful, ripe juiciness they provide us after growing all summer on a vine.  His point was that this little tomato made huge progress while it was only a tiny little seed in the dark.  It was in fertile soil and when that tiny little seed had so much pressure from growing it burst…but the bursting led to the root and vine growth and eventually to that delectable tomato.

Right now, I can’t see everything on the outside and the inside feels horribly painful, sometimes I want to throw my hands in the air and say F it all.  But…there is this tiny little part of me that knows better.  Trying to hang on and maintain control, keeping us afloat…I guess that’s a decent option.  Throwing my hands in the air and releasing this gob of goo that I’m holding onto so tightly would be best for us all. 

“Give it to God”, they say.  “Lean into it”, they say.  “You are enough”, they say. 

I’m trying to find my trust, It’s just super hard.  Endless unknowns.  Can I trust the outcome even though I’m walking in the dark?  I pray His mercies are as abundant as my scattered spirit.

My kiddos and I ….just tiny little seeds going through some growing pains.  We are gonna be alright.

Struggling

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke

Oh geez louise.  If there is a mistake to be made lately, I am making it.  The struggles are real.  I’m trying to comfort myself by reminding myself, ‘this too shall pass’, ‘in everything there is a lesson to be learned’, ‘find the value’ and ‘God’s got me’.  Truthfully…I wonder if these things are true.  What if this is as good as it gets and nothing is going to ‘pass’?  How come I keep getting the same lessons, what am I missing?  Am I figuring out who I have always been or am I living out the years I never got to live out (adolescence)?

I bet parenting me is much like parenting a wild 17 year old who is determined to find her own way without undertaking any advisement.  So be it, I guess.  It’s where I am and I am so entirely sick of fighting with myself that I’m trying to just be.  Be me.  The challenge…I’m not entirely sure who I am.  One day I’m full of maturity, light and goodness…the next day I am determined to be as naughty as can be, wanting nothing or no one to constrain my freedom.  But you see…I’m not even sure what freedom means to me.

Forgive my scatteredness, and be thankful I took time to write in my journal before this post in order to ‘sort’ my everrunning thoughts. 

I spent time with a fabulous new friend last night, who happens among other several things to be an atheist.   I am very much a lover of Jesus and a hater of rules, and I greatly enjoy discussions with those of different belief systems.  As long as we can agree to disagree, I find great value in hearing another’s perspective and in sharing mine.  I am open to both their story and to telling mine.   We are all connected, there is value in each of our stories.  This is why I have difficulty when someone is closed to these interactions.  Like…what’ so scary about hearing another person’s view?   There’s no need to have a change of heart or mind just because there is a different perspective and if a change results…whatever.

I also have a dear, dear friend who happens to be more devoted to his Catholicism than anyone Catholic person I’ve ever known.  We have strikingly different views and we’ve had some terrifically difficult conversations.  That said, I have the utmost respect for his beliefs and I feel valued when I share with him.  I am thankful for that give and take. 

On the same token, another one of my dearest friends is an atheist.  It’s the same kind of give and take in our relationship and we actually learn a lot from our open heartedness toward each other. We ask each other super tough questions and continue to challenge one another to grow through these fittings together of our puzzles.  I guess I can surmise from this that when a person is valued over the need to be right, a very different relationship emerges.

Furthermore, I have many friends who don’t fall into an extreme end of the spectrum but somewhere in the middle.  They might be sure of their faith, they may be doubting and searching or they might just be numb and oblivious.  There isn’t one of them that doesn’t offer value to my life with where they are and I hope I do the same for them.

So…back to last night with my new friend….  I was very curious about their reasons they hold so tight to their beliefs.  They shared  and so much of it made  complete logical sense to me.  During our conversation, I tried to share just the little bit that I could about my faith.  It was hard.  I am deeply searching and trying to understand the foundations of my beliefs.  The faith part is so much easier for me to share.  Just like my own life, I’m so much more assured of how to share my feelings than my thoughts, and as a Christian, my feelings are more cemented and easier to share than my logic.

I explained that it was exceptionally difficult for me to understand how I was alive.  I made it through an open heart surgery at 9 months of age that was supposed to be done in two parts.  As I understand it, they came out in the middle of my first surgery and told my parents that they had to do the rest then or I would ‘be a vegetable’.  My Momma tells me that this was the first time she really knew she had faith because she never doubted that I wouldn’t be just fine. 

To give a little picture of the weight of the circumstances, I was more tubes than baby, and was one of the youngest babies to ever have this complete correction at such a young age.  It was a significant deal.  The doctors told my family it was a 50/50 chance of success but not doing it would mean bad things.  They did it and I’m obviously here to tell about it.  So, why, oh why are there babies with a lesser degree of the same defect that die today still?  Why am I alive?  Why doesn’t everyone get their miracle?

Then…a pretty healthy life.  Fast forward to that big ole stroke when I was 37.  That one that ‘should’ve killed me’ and that one where I had to learn to walk again…like an infant.  Again…why am I here?  So many are not.

So…my new friend asks me what kind of God would let little bitty babies die and me live?  An extremely fair question and one I have often wrestled with.  Tonight, I wrestle extra hard because the best answer I have is that I’m not God and I have to trust that He has a panoramic view and I have a snapshot.  Sometimes I believe this a thousand times over, other times, I doubt everything.  

I sure don’t know why God has me here and I’m really wondering how my life is one he’d be proud of right now.  I mess up.  Alot and quite intentionally.  I can be obstinate and determined to create my own path, hurting others along the way of my learning.  I can be unfocused and lackadaisical.  I am a bundle of pure messiness.  It is what it is. I am so deeply grateful for every moment.

A bit weary and overwhelmed, I am searching too often in others and not often enough in my own heart. It’s all okay. I’ve finally found peace with trusting that God not only accepts my doubts, He welcomes them.  For when I doubt, I am searching for his majesty when I am so small.  I am searching for His peace amidst my chaos.  

I am struggling, 100% with the dawning of these new lights…and that’s perfectly okay.