My heart hurts this morning. I’m scared and I feel lonely. I could keep quiet and not share this, yet I feel nudged to do otherwise.
I know truth versus my feelings.
I’m not alone. I have a God who is already in my tomorrow and faith does reign over my fear.
I long for something relationally different, yet I am never alone. My God has never and will never forsake me.
Keeping my vulnerability under wraps is me believing the lies. It is me not honoring who I am to save another’s discomfort. It is me not being me.
I do live in gratitude and seek a path of surrender and trust.
Still, I am afraid of unknowns. Sometimes my most honest prayer is a “Lord, please help me with my unbelief.” I know you are there but I’m often not sure that our definitions of “okay” match. I need help trusting that your “okay” is far better.
I lived through a corrective heart surgery at 9 months of age that was a glorious medical miracle. My childhood was shaped by my Grandmas mental illness. There was a stroke that I “shouldn’t have survived”. A divorce that left me reeling. Daddy’s battle with Alzheimer’s. So much more.
I am here.
For whatever reason, I am here.
I am deeply compassionate toward those suffering with mental illness as a result of those childhood years.
The love of and for my family (immediate and extended) is abundant, genuine and solid.
My friends are a balm to my heart. They surround me with accountability, support, love, laughter and insight. They are my framily.
That stroke taught me lessons that nothing else could; it gave me a whole new lens to see with.
That divorce. It sucked. From those married years I have the best two children; glorious beyond anything I ever prayed for. Perfectly imperfect yet perfect for me. An ex-spouse who is my best friend and a growing up me.
Alzheimer’s. I learned to truly find joy in the journey. Daddy and I. Healing, laughter, tears and so much love. Precious memories made all while the memory thief was hard at work. Irony at its best.
Grief taught me…everyone’s path is experienced differently. For me, guttural crying and rolling around on the floor until your bones ache was part of the path. No need to be sorry. It’s my path to travel.
….although your heart physically aches and hope might seem beyond reach, the sun will rise again, one day. In the meantime, let it rain as long as you need rain.
…your experience is normal for You. If and when a plethora of people are feeling concerned, take heed, don’t be afraid to seek help. Medication, counseling, church….find your support and dive into it free from shame.
Always lessons learned. Gratitude sought. Love expressed. Faith over fear reached for.
Here I remain, human as human can be.
In this moment God, I am lonely. My heart hurts. I am afraid. Help me be a light and glorify your heart in the middle of my fear and solitude. Help me love you deeper. Help me strengthen my faith. And please hold me tight. I know there are gifts in this part of the journey too.
May we all seek and savor them.
Be blessed loves.
I’ve talked about this before, I think it’s significant enough to reiterate.
STOP using ‘buzzwords’ to label someone else’s mental health in order to suit your personal agenda. STOP doing this in order to paint someone else in a negative light so that others can see them the way you want them to. STOP believing that if you have googled and read a couple of articles, that you are a diagnostician armed with all the knowledge you need.
Perhaps you were married to a REAL narcissist. You know first hand that this is a very different picture of someone who has a few narcissistic tendencies (we all do). Perhaps you were raised by someone with BPD (I was). This is not the same as being raised by someone who is occasionally prone to being selfish. Perhaps your child has a substance abuse disorder. You know the pain firsthand. Still, be cautious of the natural human tendency to believe everyone else’s experience is the same as or even similar to your own.
If you have lived and loved someone who struggles with mental illness, you know the power of labels. If you are the person who has experienced a mental health struggle, you know how it feels to have a label define you. Stereotypes stink.
If you haven’t walked in either of those shoes, there but for the grace of God go you. Be cognizant and kind for Heaven’s sake. There are strong consequences attached to doing anything else.
Finally, if you are in the mental health profession, STOP using buzzwords to support all that you are projecting from your own experiences. DO NO HARM stands whether your opinion and education are strong or not. Your feelings are not necessarily fact. Being in the field does not designate you as an unblemished judge of character; and friends…we are ALL blemished. Also, if you are in the mental health field, hold yourself to a higher standard, please. You represent a field people are already cautious of yet are greatly needed. Be trustworthy. Character assassination based on opinion or for any other reason is usually pretty unethical.￼. Utilizing tools that your education and experience has offered you to ruin somebody was never part of the deal when you became a mental health professional; if it was, you might have some work to do￼
I watched a real narcissist in action recently and my stomach hurt. My stomach hurt for the narcissist because I believe there is a big ole unhealed wound inside of them that never healed and likely never will (not like a narcissist to come to the point that they believe they need help…it’s part of the disorder). My stomach hurt for that person’s children and for the person they were once married to. This was real and consequences on all sides are traumatic.
Use your brain before you decide to act and especially before you attack.
The cohort gathered to the side, waiting for their turn to receive their diploma and thrilled to be in this moment together. There was safety in this group, they each had grown leaps and bounds. Hearts were filled with adoration for each other, while tummies fluttered with anticipatory butterflies. There was an aura of disbelief that they had actually made it through grad school and to this point.
Her name was called. Feeling strong and proud, she went up the steps, handed her name card to one of the faculty and quietly pronounced her last name. The nod came and she moved across the stage; pausing to have her hood placed by a professor that she deeply admired. The next stop was the university’s President. Her beaming smile was ready for their photo as they shook hands and looked into the camera.
Among the graduation attendees were members of her precious family. The first face she saw walking out into the chairs was that of her beautiful mother. She located both of her treasured children, her big brother and one of her beloved nieces. She felt incredibly loved! Her heart was bursting with joy and gratitude that she was really here.
This was graduation. It would go down as one of the best days of her life. That evening, there was a celebratory dinner, tears, toasts, laughter and love. So much love. Friends and family surrounding her, filling her cup to the brim and overflowing. Her heart was bursting with gratitude and joy. She breathed it all in; still slightly in disbelief that this was real.
She knows herself intimately; yet she senses there is so much more to know. She is an onion, peeling back a layer at a time. This higher education is the first dream she has pursued and seen to the finish line; she stepped into this with full faith and trust that it was exactly where she was supposed to be and all the details would fall into place.
She thinks back to an intensive emotional camp that she and her ex-husband took their two teenagers this last summer, in hopes of bringing healing to the wounds they had caused each other. During that camp; there was an indoor ropes course. She was paired with her beautiful 14 year old daughter, a reflection of her soul. Here is what happened, as told by, ‘her’.
“I was terrified, not of the heights, but that I wouldn’t be able to balance.” (She had struggled some with balance issues since the stroke many years ago. In truth, she struggled with looking or feeling ‘broken’ more than she struggled with balance).
“I asked the person assisting us with the ropes course to please check that I was tightly fastened in, several times.” “They assured me of my safety, reminding me that the ladder could move anywhere and give me an out anytime I needed it.” “I heard ‘C’mon Mom, you’ve got this, you can do this.’ Stella had already crossed the four wide swinging logs and made it to the next platform. I looked at her sweet face and thought to myself, “I cannot disappoint her, again.”
“I held so tightly to the ropes that my fingertips could’ve become engrained in them.” ‘One…two…three…four steps and I made it.” Stella was right there telling me what a good job I did. I watched her cross onto the next platform by crawling through two swinging tunnels. It looked easy enough.
Pfft. Stella’s 14 year old lithe self is alot smaller than my 47 year old cushy self. ” In order to cross from one tunnel into the next, I had to squat inside the first one, step onto a square platform in a squat and drop into the next tunnel.” “This is when my anxiety really started; I could feel my throat clenching as I reminded myself to breathe. My arms ached from the death grip I had on the ropes.” “Still, always my cheerleader, Stella continued to cheer me on.” “I stood up on the next platform, legs and arms shaking. ” I saw the rows of skinny logs that were swinging and began to talk myself into a frenzy.” “Stella was on the other side and right after this was the zipline, which I desperately wanted to do.” “I wanted nothing more than to show my daughter that we were in this together, I trusted her, I would do this.”
“My fear gave way and on the next to the last swinging log, I began to sob. Loud.” “I asked Stella to get a worker to help me.” “She didn’t want to, she told me I was almost there, but I was hearing nothing louder than my fear and doubt.”
“The kind eyed, young girl came to help me. She assured me she could get the ladder but told me that I only had one step left and I would be safe on the steady platform.” “She held out her hand and I took it and stepped across.” “I made it! Disbelief in my success, again.”
“I apologized profusely to Stella. I felt ashamed of my emotional, loud fear and tears that everyone could see.” “I don’t know what Stella saw, she hugged me and I hope, even if she was embarrassed, she was proud of me.”
So…okay…”she” is “me”. This is my own story to own. Here’s the thing I learned from that ropes course. It was an exact mirror to my life. There are numerous things that have been important to me. I get right on the edge of success and I quit. I stop. I freeze. Why? Maybe because I don’t know what’s on the other side. The devil we know is better than the one we don’t know, right? All too often, I yield to my own fear rather than ask for a little help. I had no idea that a ropes course would offer me such deep insight to my life.
One week post graduation…
I’m going through all of the graduation cards and gifts I recieved last week and soaking in all of the gratitude.
It’s not about the sentiments and gifts, though I am deeply thankful for them. They are the cherry on top of the sundae. No way, in all of ever, would I have graduated without the constant love, prayers, support, encouragement, and appropriate ass kickings when I needed them.
For so many reasons, I never thought I’d be ‘here’. My brother knows me well. On my card, he wrote, “What’s next? No reason to stop now.” Because it’s what I’ve done so many times…I stop right before I succeed. (see ropes course example)
I realize that the last week I have been a little frozen, a lot sad and slightly discouraged. What is next? I DON’T KNOW! I like to know, you know?
Last night I had a dream. It pinged me so hard that I woke to write it in my journal so I wouldn’t forget it.
The sage and kind therapist my ex-husband and I saw for three years, Missy, was in my dream. I was in her office, telling her of all my woes. Before I left, she told me she had a gift for me.
She reached up on her tippy toes and pulled a small item out from the back of a cabinet. She held her hand out and in it was a key. She asked me what this key represented to me. Odd question, I thought…even for a dream. Yet, I knew. Missy gave me one of her famously warm, reassuring hugs that let me know life would be okay. Better than okay. I thanked her and left her office.
I took a black sharpie, and on the key, I wrote, “OWNERSHIP.” I can’t stop reflecting this morning as I feel joy and pride swelling up inside my heart. This is my life. I must live it and I must live it well.
This journey has just begun. I have the key to open the doors.
I HAVE THE KEY.
P.S. Stella and I rode together to my graduation.
During the drive, in Stella fashion; “I want to tell you something mom but you can’t get all cheezy.
Me: “Sure love, what’s up?”
Stella: “I am so, so proud of you.” (Immediately followed by a hand and, “That’s it! Don’t get cheezy.”
That is more than enough.
Those credit cards that are offered with no interest for a year…then if you don’t pay, the interest has accrued the entire time and CHA-CHING….everything is due. #life
All the emotions, desires, regrets, grief and stuff that I have managed to keep nicely boxed seems to be screaming….”BALANCE PAST DUE!”
In honor of this reconciliation; Spotify gifts me with ” my most loved songs of 2019″. Songs of life, love and love lost permeate the air.
I dream up all the things that life is not but ‘should be’ and try to fit those things nicely with the reality life is offering. My thoughts are intertwined with a hurting heart and I’m desperately fighting to simply ‘sit with “It”; “It” being the unpleasantness.
The wind is strong, the night is dark. I imagine the leaves dancing and fluttering their way to new locations; far from the safety of the now barren trees they once were attached to.
If the leaves could talk, I feel we would have much in common. I, too, am fluttering about; unsure of where I will land next.
I see that someone else is living in the life that was once mine. I want to latch onto the notion that this is not how things ‘should’ be. I want to take back what is ‘mine’. That thought makes me laugh. It also makes me cry. I own nothing and nothing is mine.
I am. That is sufficient.
The home I have known my entire 47 years is for sale. My heart is broken yet I know these broken pieces still make a whole and my home is truly where my heart is.
My oldest kiddo is driving. My youngest kiddo just got rid of her braces. I got a “new to me” car.
I have completed a Master’s program and am simultaneously thrilled and terrified. I followed through with a really hard task, and I struggle to not allow the worry of the unknowns steal the joy of now.
Three years later, it has dawned on me that it’s perfectly good and okay to move on from the marriage I once had. I just have to figure out how. I want my own version of a fairy tale. Before that, I have to surrender my all to the God I (kind of) trust.
Stretching. Trusting. (Trying hard).
A fluttering, sputtering leaf who desperately wants to safely land.
Please God, just let me land.
Reckoning. Reconciling. Learning to trust again.
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.
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.