Talitha koum…

 

 

God is good

 

I haven’t written in a long while.  And this is so not what I imaged my first post from hiatus to be. Not that I hadn’t wondered about this day.  What it would feel like, be like…  because I have. 

 

It isn’t anything like I thought it would be.  And yet a little familiar too.  Nothing could really prepare me for this.

 

How could it?  The kind of relationship I had with my father doesn’t beget neatly boxed or mentally prepared moments…

 

My life has always been a whirlwind of crazy and chaos.  That much has stayed consistent.  I’m quite good at waking up and rolling with what ever comes my way. 😉

My mind is fighting myself with each tap tap tap of the keyboard as nothing in me wants to continue this post.  It’s forcing me to be present.  I don’t want to be present right now.  As my sister of my heart is always reminding me ‘that which I fear is often that which I should write about most’…  Love her so much.  She makes me brave.  ❤ How blessed we are to have people in our lives that encourage us to be better and more courageous people??? ❤  ❤ Very…  (love you, Sum) ❤

I wake up early every morning declaring this day a battle against the forces that fight against me — and I push through every single voice in my head that has me defeated already (so many layers…) — before my feet have even hit the floor.  Because I have to keep living — somehow.  This is a blessing.  Yes.  A blessing.  Because it keeps me present.  It keeps me focused.  And I know He’ll get me through another day, like He always does — and I have faith — if I just keep moving and if I just keep walking, I know that little by little I will get there.  Life is a journey.  So I breathe.  So I pick up my mat.  I begin my practice, and I connect my body to my spirit.  And dammit, some days it’s so very heavy and it’s so freaking hard for those of you who do not know this pain.  We all have our “things”, right?  I remind myself of this and pray for all of us.  So many of us.  I know I’m not alone…  (I see you too…  hang in there, loves,  hang the hell on…) ❤  Some days are hard.  Some days are easier.  But every single day is a blessing.  And every single day we get to BE a blessing! ❤

These past few days have been somewhat of a blur of numb.  And I don’t WANT to be present or connected anymore.  This is a slippery slope for me… so.I.write.

After I got the bizarre phone call — because of the nature of the conversation — that went from one story to another as it changed, my sister said she ‘wasn’t going to do an homage of sorts, of course’ (and I was thinking, ‘why on earth would you???’ as my first visceral reaction of procession to all of the contents of the words of what just transpired) but then she put together an Instagram post.  One of which I didn’t even know about until a couple of friends reached out to me and asked if I was okay, and to let me know they were sorry.  So there was that.  Using the word father.  Crediting this person with life and addressing heaven.  It was all just too much for me in this instant of a moment.  Maybe one of her ways or  pieces of healing.  We all choose differently and uniquely.   It’s what makes us human, after all. ❤  And I wasn’t going to write a darn consonant or vowel.  Cause numb.  Yet here I am.  In this head space.  Writing.  Because it’s how I heal…

Huge life events bring out different things in all of us.  We’re human and so unique in that humanity, aren’t we?  In death some of us choose to remember better than it was, some of us choose to remember as it was, and some of us choose to not remember at all.  The mind is interesting like that.  In a way, it ‘takes care’ of us like that.  And equally interesting is the way in which those different ways of remembering can cause pain to those close to us.  It’s not intentional.  It just happens.  It’s all part of the circle of things, isn’t it?  It’s a process unique to all of us.  This is mine.

For me, authenticity is the only path through anything.  My brain is super annoying like that.  It’s super annoying to other people like that.  Really.  It’s a disorder of sorts.  It’s just pedantically how I tick.  I can’t escape it.  I’ve tried — for the sake of my husband and the “awkwardness” this sometimes entails sometimes for his family as well (and social situations 😉 ).  Apparently, there are no meds that really work for it.  😉  Yet — ultimately everyone has their choices in which to deal.  And we all have our lens, we all have our experiences, and we all have our way of dealing with the pain those experiences illicit.  And sometimes our brain tries to save us.  I get this.  I often wish mine would.  Sometimes I wish I never started therapy.  Just kept suppressing.  But then, I would have never started really living.  I would have never been free.

So now we get awkward… (it’s what I do best…)

See, the “creating” part of life isn’t all that difficult to me.  Sure, it’s a miracle — but a miracle that was created by God.  Not by us mere humans.  I’m not so hubristic as to think that we came up with and manufactured this whole process all on our own.  We’re fantastic yes, but not THAT amazing.  Shooting sperm into an egg takes a couple of seconds (give or take).  It’s the process thereafter that means more to me in terms of our significant fingerprint on the relevance of things.  The lifetime process thereafter of raising a child.  How we build up and strengthen our children, not systematically choose to destroy them or use them for our selfish purposes…

In that regard, I had a God that created me — friends, my husband, family, myself, teachers, several therapists (God bless them –really, amazing people, so thankful), amazing people (I do use that word often 🙂 ) and the Holy Spirit — that were involved in my creation.  And part of that creation?  It involved freaking YEARS of surviving and undoing what had been done to me, by my parent’s choice.  And I’m still working on all of this.  Respecting creation, I’ll thank God and everyone who truly had a part in that.  Not the person who didn’t think I was worth breathing and made a point to let me know that pretty much every single day he had the chance.  And if my father had a mental illness, it would have been amazing to know this as a child, young adult, and adult.  I was not made aware of this.  I was only ever aware that it there was something wrong with me.   It was something that I hoped in the exchange for the possibility of my inherent evil, but was not told.  I really thought the voice he was hearing was God’s.

I thank God for breath.  He had me in His plans before the creation of the world.  And how I came to be?  He had a plan for that too.  So I will credit God, who holds the plans he has for me — and always has and always will.  If He wanted me here, I would have come to be. 🙂  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29: 11

I understand peace and transcendence and wanting that for your self … yes, I SO do — but truth doesn’t need to be void from it.  They all coexist.  In fact, for my journey, true sustained peace requires it.  Years of walking THROUGH pain — not over, not under, not around — but THROUGH — has taught me that much.   Again, my journey.  Not everyone’s.  And part of this through? — reading through diaries I had kept since the age of 7 all throughout my college years until my babies were born — then I got too busy and started reaching out to all of you here.  Painful as hell.  Especially the first time.  Yes.  But necessary — especially in my family where things weren’t talked about and are forgotten.  It’s like I have to remind myself that it was bad.  That it wasn’t okay.  That it wasn’t normal — in the scope of your average, typical “family” fare.  That hey, it’s really more than okay that you freaking feel this way, Ang.  Because it  became my “normal”.  And really, until I got out of that “cult” of living and went to college?  I did not truly and fully know or grasp or even understand how messed up it was.  How messed up I was.  And how deeply and utterly self preserved I was — all in my neat little quiet package (because we do not speak or betray the family — my phone conversations were even listened to)  — all of the mechanisms I had used to self cope, to take care of me, to just make it on a daily existence — one foot in front of the other level, to rationalize the abuse — and it all went into self harm (because I needed to inflict more abuse to my body!!!! (ug), and to my brain, because I believed I was so vile) — and I took personal responsibility for absolutely everything (because I had been taught to and told to —  “you were always such an anxious child”). Barf.  All of it.  And I wasn’t really angry about it, on the outside.  That would draw attention.  I didn’t want any attention.  I so perfectly internalized it all. I was a good girl. A good kid. Despite everything being said about me.  So ironic looking back on all of that.

Loves, if you’re angry, rage a little.  Really.  If you’re sad, be sad.  Cry.  Feel it.  It’s okay to feel it.  And you might still feel it from time to time for quite some time.  That’s okay too.  You’re not a bad person for having feelings.  For having a voice.  Have a voice.  I found mine so very late.  I’m just so blessed by the people who helped me find it at all.  Really. For encouraging me to sustain it.   Thanks to all of them.  I still think quite often, is it okay if I talk? now sometimes…  because it’s still scary. But —  We are here to be who God created us to be.  We all have a unique purpose.  No rival.  No one gets to take that from us.  “Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.”  Esther 4:14.  “For such a time as this.”  Speak, sister.  He’s got you.  ❤

And it’s funny how this is SUCH a hard habit to break.  I actually had this epiphany just a few days ago during yoga.  I am critically hard on myself.  On my awareness of myself.  I expect nothing less than perfection and am acutely aware of my endless flaws.  So.many.flaws.  I’m REALLY good at being flaw-full (y’all get this from my other blog posts, I’m sure 😉 ). I’m a hot mess of mistakes.  I try SO hard to get away from this (hence the yoga — smile), but it is a prison and a bondage I wrestle with constantly.  I demand the absolute best from myself at all times.  And yet, the absolute best has yet to be given TO me by anyone but Jesus (and I realize he’s the only one who will 🙂 )…  I give so much breadth and width to others.  Why can’t I give it to myself???  When those who were supposed to give me love, provide and care for me have  failed  — and I am totally okay with them simply throwing their hands up in the air and saying “oh for heaven’s sake, I did the best I could.  I don’t remember.  I didn’t.  I forgot.  Everyone makes mistakes”  — and my all time favorite — “Just get over it…” and it’s all forgiven — and I, somehow, end up taking responsibility for it all.  I yet I continue to demand perfection from myself, take absolute responsibility for all things (those that aren’t even mine to take), yet don’t really seem to demand it from others…  Why?  Because I don’t ever want to be like them?  Because some one HAS to?  Because I never feel worthy?  Because I believe everyone gets five billion chances? Because Jesus said to turn the other cheek?  Because I always feel like one should have hope?  Or because I am the only piece of this cray fest I can control?

I truly do not know what the answer is to that question…  but I’m also truly done asking it.  We all have choices.  And mine is to get off of this infernal wheel…  I need to let go of feeling like I have to have it all together and be everything to everyone.  And so I write… ❤ It frees my brain, it frees my voice, it frees my soul…

I am at peace.  I have forgiven.  And the shortness and quickness of those words does nothing to show the incredible length and struggle of that process and journey. But forgiveness doesn’t mean I have to make it prettier.   God makes beauty from ashes.  That’s so amazing, isn’t it?  (this journey isn’t pretty, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold holy beauty. ❤ ) Or that I need to somehow imply that any of  it was okay or just a different way of ‘doing things’ — a mere ‘difference in philosophy’ or ‘lifestyle choices’.  It was pretty ugly.  There was some lovely in it too.  But it wasn’t all pretty.  I’m proud of the work,  I’m proud of the person I’ve become for it, and I’m proud of the voices that have been released because of it…

Forgiveness, for me,  is realizing that the deep pain that person caused really had absolutely NOTHING to do with you.  It had everything to do with them and the kind of person THEY were.  Those were their choices.  That was their walk.  And yes, you gotta pick up all the broken — but you will.  Every single freaking day of your life, you will.  You will make that choice.  For you, and for those you love.  Because that’s the kind of person YOU are.  And your life will be beyond amazing.  Because you are you and God is God.  And that — THAT person He created for good and for an incredible purpose — and that is a holy miracle.  And that is YOUR miracle.  Amen.

There is peace in knowing that someone that evil is no longer taking isn’t here on earth.  That presence is gone.  And that may sound horribly cruel to some of you.  I realize this.  It doesn’t mean that I am “happy”, it means part of my mind is relieved.  One of the weird effects of my PTSD is that I would see him — when he wasn’t there.  Standing on the corner as the kids and I drove to school, in my home, in my bedroom — actually SEE him.  And then I would have panic attacks.  I would sometimes vomit.  I am hopeful that knowing that he is no longer physically here helps with those episodes.  I also hope the nightmares that I would have here and there diminish (they become more frequent with stress).  That I don’t wake up in my own puke, or having sweat through all of my clothes and wet the bed in terror — because I’ve been raped.   Throughout childhood, one of the ways I was punished was having to stand naked for periods of time (as chosen by him) before my father.  If I struggled with taking my clothes off, I’d have “help”.  He’d look at his watch and the minutes would start.  If I tried to cover myself or cried, the minutes would start again.  This happened well into adolescents.  As did timed and watched showers.  Until high school.  This accounts for the rape dreams for me.  My therapist link it to other issues that don’t bear talking about here.  Some things need to be kept private.  And everything is so real in those moments.  Because even though I am 41 years old, I never feel like an adult.  Ever.  And sometimes I am afraid he is going to come and take everything I love away from me.  Because that’s what he did.  Over and over again.  Friends, who I was, my dignity, all the junk that was made up about me, and I was left to fight for myself. Even within my own family.   And yet I would.  And God never let me go.  We are all such miracles…

And because all of that was hardwired into my brain for so long,  I would also STILL have to remind myself this is MY house and MY family and I am a grown up — I am a grown up — and he can NOT hurt me anymore.  I would have to remind myself of these things — when I would get the psychotic birthday cards, the notes stuck in my doorway — just so Marty and I would know that he knew that even though we’d moved he now knew where we lived (each time we moved, from apartment to apartment from house to house) — the calls from various people asking if we had money to help with this that or the other thing, the calls from the ex-wife he was married to for a year because she was divorcing him — could I help? — if not for her, for her boys — the all of the crazy of it all. That was just in the past nine years or so.  That is my reality.  Not to mention after college.  What my husband and  I went through with our wedding.  And helping my mother through the divorce.  After not being so very blessed in the family’s graces for so long up to that point.  Crying three month old in hand (colic is fun 😉 ), Marty and I did that together.  Off to the court house.  Because I wanted to be good daughter.  I always wanted to be good.  So incredibly thankful for my husband.  Through all of our issues (and as much as I can complain about him 😉 ), he has been through and supported me through so much of life (and has seen so much).  I thank God for him.  Going through everything with his mother and all of this has been tough.  Marty is amazing.  There’s that word again.

And Chuck was graciously given opportunities for reconciliation.  I have my own children.  This was important to me.  The “how could a parent do this, allow this, to happen to their child???” hit me beyond hard after having my first.  It still hits me from time to time during big (and small) childhood moments with my own boys.  But what also hits me is the want and need for family.  So I tried.  I tried.  And I feel like I constantly try and give chances in this department.  And I am also so incredibly aware that God gives us family all around us.  That that word is a verb. Not just a noun.  It’s what we do.  Another gorgeous moment(s) in reading my diaries (took a few times) 🙂 — is seeing all of the people God placed in my life along the way.  Thank you, heavenly Father.  You have always taken care of me. ❤

And I do I believe in hell.  I know it’s not a popular theology as of late.  I’m a minority.  And I believe there is some sort of a place for people who choose to crush innocence and mitigate the existence of childhood.  I don’t morn the loss of it, my childhood that is.  I just know I really didn’t get to have one.  And I know it doesn’t really matter what I believe to any of you.  At all.  Not a single bit.  It shouldn’t.  And I am not pretending to be God.  I’m not Him.  I’m not the one who does the judging nor the condemning.  Regardless, I don’t believe in a God who doesn’t have a sense of justice — of right or of wrong.  And that for those of us who can’t scream or have a voice on this earth through epochs of our lives, who are invalidated, smeared, silenced — just maybe those who take our voices away get to do some screaming somewhere else…  And maybe it’s not hell, for those of you for whom that word is too harsh.  Maybe there’s a middle place.  Maybe there’s a place of omniscient understanding.  A place where everything comes together.  Where our pain connects to the place of the hearts of people who weren’t able to feel or understand that pain.  For what ever reason.  A connection room.  I can’t imagine we get to go around hurting people all of our lives and then not learn from that — ever.  That makes this existence the most futile and pointless reason for creation… for all of us.

I can’t honestly cry over the loss of a father.  Because I never had one of those.  That word is reserved for someone precious.  I can’t even cry over the loss of a relationship — because I truly never had one of those either.  It was rather one sided in the trying department.  You can’t really have a relationship with someone you fear.  Someone who tells you who you are, but doesn’t know who you are or even takes an interest in getting to know you — because all of the you is bad.  It was all (and is still, to some extent) absolute insanity.

 

Thanks to the friends that have been with me through this all of this and that stay up till midnight and beyond through my bad times and get me.  Who don’t shame me.  Hold my hand, my tremors, and my heart.  You are so very precious.  I get beaten up and broken from time to time.  We all do, don’t we?  Other times I know I won’t let you in for anything.  In those times, thanks for understanding that I need space.  For understanding that during these times I am not building walls, that I just need space.  And often much of it (smile).  Sometimes it’s too freaking scary in there.  I know you know me well enough to understand that I don’t do fake.  So I just need time.  And all of this?  It’s sometimes just too dark.  And sometimes that dark is even too dark and heavy for me and I don’t want to put that on you.  Or just walk around sad all the time. Because I know it will pass.  It always does.  It never lasts forever.  Nothing lasts forever.  Not even the darkest darkness.  ❤ ❤ ❤

But it’s never too dark or heavy for Jesus.  So I will give it all to him.  Every day.  And what a blessing that is?!?!?!?!?!  And how close we walk.  ❤ And in him there is no darkness.  And he’s been through it all (and then some).  How small are my tribulations! 🙂  I may often feel like a little girl trapped in an adult’s body (smile). Yet HE makes me strong.  He IS the reason I AM.  I KNOW this.  Down to my bones and my beating heart and the soul that is filled with his Holy Spirit.  This.much.I.know.   His.love.remains.  His love always remains.   Again, what holy miracles we are. ❤ ❤ ❤

To hear that the person that gave me the literal sense of  life and then subsequently did his best to destroy it passed away on Father’s Day — and how do I feel, and how am I doing?

I don’t know…

But I do know that the God he claimed to hear and speak to he has finally met.

And I will too. 

So humbling.

I will too.  That very same God.

So, as my tattoo in Aramaic daily reminds me —

“Talitha koum” Little girl, arise! (Mark 5:41).

Because we don’t get to choose the hand we are dealt, but we get to choose how we walk with it and carry it now — don’t we?

And I am certainly thankful for what I went through and daily struggle with in that it has taught me to see people and love them in ways I otherwise may not have.  I know this. It has taught me to be brave.  It has taught me to be humble.  And it has taught me to love and hold onto God in a way I know I would not.  Vulnerable?  Painfully, yes — from a space that is constantly pierced open.  Making lots of mistakes?  Yes.  But I’d like to think, always growing.

Slow is still a pace.

Namaste — the light in me, sees the light in you.

And it’s holy beautiful.

(After having a lengthy conversation with my beautiful sister, I want to reiterate and make it very clear that I did not have any intention of coming off as angry in this post… and I had no intention of hurting or disrespecting my family…  I love them very much. ❤ My father was constantly in my prayers.  And it may appear as if this girl is stuck in the past — but I don’t believe that is so — some memories come back up with big things like death, I believe — but I also believe that some things are ‘forever heals’ — till we meet the one who heals all things.  And that this is not a bad thing.  Not a bad thing at all.  In fact, it makes us strong and present and courageous.  Not only for ourselves — but for others.  It’s kind of like our super power.  It makes us more — not less.  We are not less.  We were never less.  So every day we take the chance to grow and use our healing for others.  To do what we can to lift those who aren’t yet ready to lift themselves.  To let them know that we were once there too.  And that they can.  Maybe not right at this moment.  But one day.  They will.  And that’s not living in the past.  That’s living in a miracle.  And that’s pretty freaking precious.  So yes, when I wrote this — in that space of just finding out all of the everythings of death and what that all brought rushing back for me — some things came up.  But they don’t last forever.  Nothing ever does.  Not even darkness.  It’s not eternal.  But love is.  But.love.is.  Let’s not forget that.  And be kind to each other.  Please.  Love is never wasted.  Ever.  Nor is forgiveness.  Blessings and hope.) ❤ ❤ ❤

You did not waste your love

 

 

 

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Who we are…

adult

I have lately found myself being something I am usually not.  Vague.  Hidden.  Keeping big things suppressed and to myself (I KNOW, what is THAT? 😉 ).  Obsessively talking about things that don’t matter to cover up the all the noise that is in my heart and head (‘oh so THAT’S why you won’t SHUT UP!!!’, says the husband… 😉 ).  Joking about packing up the boys, buying a yurt, and moving to Colorado.

So.dead.serious.  If the opportunity presented itself, I would do this.  In a heartbeat.  Opportunity, go ahead and knock.  I freaking dare you…

Because despite my best intentions of being a together and all feeling yet present and in touch and deeply connected and breathing in and out with my Lord sort of person, I’m kind of suffocating.  Not like ‘panic attack’, whoa is me, the end is near sort of suffocating — because that was SO last year 😉 …

But that ‘had enough’, ready to close the chapters — all of them — and move on to an entirely different book sort of suffocating.

My husband simply thinks it’s a nervous breakdown.  A midlife crisis of sorts.  I know myself better.  I’ve had lots of those 😉 .  Those are freaking nothing.  We INFJ’s have those for breakfast.  This is more.  This is awakening.  This is not wanting to sleep through my life anymore.  This is so far from being tired.  So far from being exhausted.  So far from being used up.  This is so far from being aware of the bullshit.  This is just being done.  Plate’s full and I’ve had so much more than enough, thank you.  Here it is — you can have it back — washed, sparkly clean, because this sister is moving on without taking anything else you have to dish out in this perimeter of my existence, life.

A few weeks ago, who’s counting?  Time has been one giant cluster of no sleep and that cry praying where you’re talking to God and listening and breathing him in so close that you feel held but yet he’s still just too damn far away.  Sometimes I long for home so much it viscerally hurts.  I went to look for a few books and papers and binders full of information I had saved concerning autism and other things from education and behavioral psychology classes at Simpson and some journaling I had done while working at Westminster House and teaching a few preschool kiddos at Methodist as this new preschool year began — to brush up on a few things.  All of this was in a gigantic tote of my personal stuff I didn’t quite know where to put or what to do with but felt I should keep.  So, I dug it out of the basement and opened it up.  Part of me wishes I hadn’t…

Also in it were all of my diaries and journals.  I started keeping one when I was a tiny seven — so close to Griffyn’s age (the connection gripped me and held me and the same grip squeezed when I hit ‘my age’ at Max’s age for the entire time I read).  I named my journals at the beginning — they were “friends.”  Feels sad just writing that.  About ten to fifteen bound books — all various pieces of me.  Also sheets and sheets of poetry–some typed some scribbled, and books I had written when I was little through high school (really quite terrible — not being humble — they are awful).  And magazines I had created with mock interviews with created people, fashion editorials, complete with ads.  I thought I was a designer too? Not really, I just loved to draw and write and pretend to be a journalist 🙂 . And letters.  So many letters.  And everything from graduation –both high school and college — and all the letters from teachers that wrote in to scholarship committees for me (I applied to at least 100 or more 😉 — paying for college yourself is tough, friends 🙂 , when you pay for the everything else of life for yourself too 🙂 ).  These letters from teachers were the first thing I read.  And it was all downhill from there, I guess you could say.  I just lost it.  I couldn’t take the beautiful words.  Why did they hurt so freaking bad?  And why didn’t I know this about myself or remember ANY of this?

“If I had had daughters instead of sons, I would be quite fortunate to have a daughter with all of the attributes that Angela possesses…”  what the hell?

The letters from previous bosses, friends from all.of.the.places from which we had moved, teachers I had kept in contact with (I had such an incredibly close relationship with my teachers), and the friends I still call my sisters today.  Dammit.  They were all such gorgeous words.  I was not this person they all said I was!!!  I was not this person… (Summer, Kari, love you…)

I looked at the stacks of journals looming in front of me.  Part of me felt like vomiting.  I had never actually sat down and went through them all–consciously, present, on purpose, for real.   Seven years old. That’s so little.  I was literally shaking.

I think, no, I’m lying with that ‘think’ word — I KNOW — that a huge part of me hopes  that everything in that “then” box I keep in my brain was actually better than I remember.  That my mother was right, that I cast a darker shadow on that past place than actually was — because that’s human nature, right?  And that’s what little kids and adolescents and people in their twenties do…  And who can trust therapists that ‘help’ you dig up your memories, right?  Hypnosis and REM (rapid eye movement) therapy is just weird and probably does strange stuff to your brain that isn’t right or trust worthy at all.  I mean, all of those highly trained professionals probably even “suggested” some stuff to you and then you just “remembered it that way, Ang”.  It really wasn’t THAT bad at all.  It’s just you.  It’s always been just you.  In fact, it’s just you period.

And it would make sense — because everyone else seems to be just fine.  I’m clearly the one that’s the most fucked up.  Still struggling.  Still quite awful and has so.many.issues (get over them already, would you?) and has to be told how it “really was” despite having lived it and been there–you know,  for all of my actual living of it.

And my mother would often tell me when I was so confused by the chemistry and connection of this mother and daughter relationship that is so difficult for me to grasp, but I will forever in relentless faith forge ahead — trying, always trying — to maintain, to carve in the love that I have learned and know how to give in my own way from an eternal Father– that when I was younger she and I had an “understanding”.  And I must have.  Because I don’t know how a person could let a monster do what a monster does and just stand there.  Just watch it.  Just be present and do so little to stop it — or at the very least, weaken its course.  But we were all doing the best we could, alright?  I swallow that — choke on it sometimes — but I swallow that and I let it burn all the way down until my insides consume it.  Because I want to believe it.  I want to believe it so badly.  But some of us were children, and some of us were grown ups…

And I open, page one of me — it’s my birthday, I am seven, and I just ‘got my ears pirced’ and bought this little lavender unicorn and rainbow diary with money I got from Grandma Sundsvold.  The rest my parents kept.  And I was in the basement with all of these memories for the rest of the day.  Losing my ever loving mind. I came up for tea.  Only for tea. And it sucked more than my worst nightmares.  Because not only was it just as bad as I remember, loves, it was freaking worse.  Dammit.  Dammit all to hell.

And it wasn’t just my family that bled in those pages, in those books.  It was Marty’s too.  His mom.  My marriage.  All.of.that.shit.too.  Because I walked from one inferno of crap, and was just finally finding the recourse to heal from through therapy — so.much.therapy –that I didn’t need to set myself on fire to save my family — but was still simmering — and just learning the everythings of all of that (I can’t even tell you what all of that is like — there aren’t words — your world isn’t even turned upside down, so much — it’s more like you just constantly wake up in a completely different version of hell and acclimate as best you can to who you thought you were and what you thought was real) — and I walked into a family where someone had a gallon of gasoline and yet another set of matches –ready to take full advantage of someone she saw was broken — yet she plays the savior AND the victim both at the same time.  And while I’ve forgiven her, I’m still wracked by the betrayal of the person who let it happen, who KNEW her — who was supposed to protect me — who was supposed to respect, love, honor, and cherish me.  Who I was supposed to be good enough for (God, would I ever be good enough for anybody?).  And I’m so freaking over blaming myself when I was the only voice for so long who would stand up to the truth of that situation–which incited a secret family meeting all about me (in which I wasn’t invited and Marty wasn’t privy to the agenda–and the agenda was full of bullshit).

And yet I still apologized for my part.  Conceded to the very few things that were actually true that were said.  She admitted to nothing.  She hoped I would lay down and die, I think, feel completely over powered by her and accept all of her crap as fact — be the target and move on.  But I still believed in God and what was right.  I always had.  She forgot that.  She didn’t really know me.  Just the version she wanted me to be.  The doormat.  And I wouldn’t take her saying things that weren’t true about me.  I wouldn’t agree to that.  I couldn’t believe that she was basically laying out everything that SHE was on to me.  It was so insane.  I had loved her so much.  I had called this woman Mom.  I had started to question some things and I had started to question her and had asked if she could stop being so negative (mentioned in several journal entries) about several family members (including her son).  And this is what happened.  This meeting.  All about me.  She even blindsided and was dishonest about what the meeting was about to my husband.  It was so surreal.  If I would have been a different person then, I would have walked away from her and all of the insanity then.  But in the grand scheme of how I had been treated my entire life, this was actually kind of “normal”…

Marty and I decided not to lay all of her garbage out for everyone (she talked about it all to him too — it wasn’t just to me), instead we simply asked her to stop lying.  We gave her a huge second chance.  I don’t know that she necessarily thought of it in that regard.  And we continued to go to family functions — but paired it down a bit.  This was an eye-opening experience of the very biggest kind.  Yet the bs continued.  Really crazy shit happened.  Things that made me go into the bathroom and vomit crazy shit happened  — then she would cry, and it would always be my fault and something I did and would need to apologize for because she was just trying to be a good mother and grandma.  And I fought on.  An army of one.  For so many years.  Till I got stronger.  And then I finally said enough.  I realized I was worth more than this, even if I wasn’t to my husband or to this family — I was to me and to what I was teaching my children what family was.  I was for two boys who were watching all of this.  And I had been through this all before.  And I deserved respect.  I deserved honesty.  And I could not live my life without those things ever again.  And asking for those things was never, ever asking for too much. Not because I was an amazing person — but because I was a child of God.  And so was she.  So she claimed to be.  So she was able to do those very things she claimed she was.  And I would hold her accountable.

And it was so incredibly important to me what my children were seeing and hearing in all of this.  We are love.  And love is action.  A person doesn’t get to abuse you because they are family.  They don’t get to lie about you and crap all over you because they are a certain word in your apparent circle of blood ties — it doesn’t give them a free pass to degrade you.  We stand up for one another.  We say, no, this isn’t okay — and we honor and we respect one another.  All of us.  So, even though I was solo once again, I wasn’t afraid.  It didn’t matter to me what anyone else thought or what anyone else said.  And I really wasn’t alone.  Because I was NEVER alone.  I had learned that much in my life. God would be my strength.  And he is bigger than any narcissist — however many tears they shed, however many lies they spread, and however altruistic and wonderful they appear to be to others.   No one really knows what we’re going through in this.  And there that all was.  Incident after freaking incident, letters, all that crap, staring back at me.  Journal after journal. That was, and is, so very real too.

And it all came crashing in.  This.

That I am so tired of surviving people.  I am so tired of surviving my life.

(I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or unthankful.  My life is FULL of beautiful and amazingly gorgeous relationships!  I am innately blessed.  I am.  Please understand this.  This was my initial overwhelming feeling after all.of.this.)

Usually when someone says they feel they have lived a full life, it is full of adventure, travel, incredible and fantastical things, yes?  The oddity and absurdity of me is that I feel that I have lived so.many.lives.  It has been so full.  I feel it has been TOO full.  It’s not so much all of the moving or all of the incredible amount of people I have met and places — nothing so extravagant as oceans away — but the complexity of survival that has completely worn me.  It’s the before and after of who you are.  The contrast of who that person was, yet all the people you carry with you (the you’s of you — and the people you have to say goodbye to, the real ones 🙂 ).  Because I loved all of those people so hard.  I did. All of them.

Reading through teacher cards and notes, I was struck by the fact that in so many respects I was kind of raised by my teachers.  I know this is why I wanted to be one so badly.  Their impact on my life was not missed.  I loved them so much and I truly felt their love for me.  Out of all of the things I have forgotten or suppressed in my life, I remember so many of their names.  This is telling to me. They were the ones who actually told me they were proud of me, they cared about me, and often — so very often — they were the ones that told me they loved me.  From kindergarten all the way up to graduating from Simpson.  And I may have forgotten it sometimes, but looking over all of this paper mess strewn everywhere — it was God’s way of telling me and reminding me through the people he created and graciously placed in my life journey that maybe I was okay, maybe I was something — when his voice was muffled by who my father told me was god.  How absolutely AWESOME is our God?!?!??!?!?!??!?!??!?!? None of that had to happen.  None.of.it.

And my teachers tried to help. They did.  I was reminded of this in a diary of the fifth grade me.  I was so scared because Mrs. Love — seriously her name was Mrs. Love ❤ — called my parents to let them know she was concerned about me.  It all came rushing back.  I remembered all of it (this.kept.happening — dear heaven, it was exhausting! the voices, the smells, the images!!!!). I was deeply anxious, seemed depressed and agitated and jumpy all the time.  I was a perfectionist child and although she appreciated my hard work and eagerness to please, she wanted me to be able to relax and enjoy life too.  She got me a little button (remember jean jackets and buttons? 😉 ) that said “take time to stop and smell the roses” — wrote my fifth grade self.  My parents were furious and completely offended.  My mother was exasperated and explained that I was “always just that kind of kid”.  I even got sores on the inside of my mouth and had stomach aches all the time just because of stress, for goodness sakes.  I was annoying, at best.  And my father told her that “‘maybe she gave out too much homework and should stick to teaching and leave them to the parenting.’ (Non believers.  They think they know everything.  She’s going to hell.)”

And then there was that…  Being told I was “just that kid” — the anxious kid, the kid that worried, the messed up kid, the kid that was sick all the time, the weird kid — and all the other traits and adjectives they would use when teachers wondered if I was okay.  And it would progress to other things when I got older as I was reminded later on in different additions of me.  My father and mother would tell family I had turned my back on God, was an ungrateful daughter (for all the things they had done for me — I was lucky to have such great parents!), I stole from them (my father was so convinced I had stolen the vacuum cleaner and taken it with me to college that he came banging on my door screaming for it and calling me all kinds of lovely names — great memories — thankfully I had an awesome RA right across the hall at Hamilton), was an alcoholic and a slut and other defaming words.  Nothing that was true.  Nothing that was remotely true.  Anything to shame me and make me out to be this awful and crazy person.  ‘Sometimes I wish I had the exciting life they said I led’ — that was actually a line in my journal… They never knew me.  They never tried to get to know me.  That would involve loving someone.  I was fully aware of that and just how awful of a me I must have been for that transaction not to take place…  They wanted to blot all of the me out of me.

So because of all of these pages that are me, I tend to see red when a kid consistently comes into our room with marks that he or she cannot explain.  Or a kid is completely withdrawn and sad and guarded most of the time — or on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, often angry and defiant.  And the parent(s) immediately have excuses or label the kids as this or that.  It’s all neatly wrapped up in a box and tied with a bow.  I may be over sensitive.  I will completely and totally give you that.  I will also give you that I get anxious in these scenarios.  Because I was that kid.  I.was.that.kid.  I’m not bitter because no one tried to help me or be my voice.  That’s not why at all.  I get frustrated because some parents are so very good at silencing the voices who try to help.  And we believe them.  Because maybe we want to.  Because maybe it’s just a little easier for us.

And the kids?  Dear God I love them! ❤ Because despite what we tell them — that this is a safe place — that this is a place where you can tell us anything?  What you can’t possibly know unless YOU HAVE BEEN THERE is that the wrath of home is a bazillion times worse than any “help” they’re going to get from us.  And that’s their normal.  Because it’s our normal.  It’s our crew.  It’s our family.  And it’s betrayal to even wonder if it’s anything but what Susie or George have going on in their home, alright?  It’s GOT to be what’s happening across the apartment hall.  And I deserve it.  I deserve all of it. Because if my own Mom and Dad don’t love me, who the hell does…  Because what YOU don’t get is that you can’t just say the words “trust me” and it magically happens.  You HAVE to grow it — you HAVE to SHOW me.  And that takes time.  That takes LOVE.  It really does.  It REALLY takes that LOVE word, okay?  And for some of these kids?  Well, they’re just not going to let you love them.  They are going to be the most unlovable kids in the history of ever.  And you’re just going to have to show them what love is — because what really, really sucks is when the people who are supposed to love you show you everything about what love ISN’T…  So, stay there anyway.  Please. Don’t give up on them. ❤

And that understanding my mother was talking about?

Over and over within all of those pages I questioned if my mother loved me.  From the age of seven all the way till — if I’m being so completely and achingly honest, even sometimes now (I innately know she is truly doing the best she can and my ‘lack of’ is not her doing — she is giving all she can from her best place of giving).  But I consistently wrote those words.  I always thought I got something then that I didn’t now.  Because I also knew and  remembered that I stuck up for her.  That’s all in there too.  I didn’t like how he talked to her and made her feel less.  And I wanted her to feel strong and smart and brave.  I wrote those things too.  So I couldn’t understand that when I wiped off the kitchen table and accidentally got crumbs on the floor and got the crap smacked out of me when I was just seven — for something I didn’t mean to do and wasn’t done with malicious ill intent — how getting a lecture on my sins and hell and physically “punished” was okay?  Because that aggressive physical punishment came with putting myself in his way for her too — all the way through my twenties.  And I kept doing it.  Because she was my mom.  At what point would it be enough that I was her daughter?

I was hoping to find that “understanding” that we had — that she had told me we had.  I didn’t.  I never did.  Every single journal, over and over again — through all of the hell that was my father, I asked and I wondered if my mom loved me.  And the interesting thing to me is that I never wondered if my father did.  I knew he didn’t.  He wasn’t capable.  He just wasn’t.  So why was I holding on to some shred of hope that my mother was?  Was that the understanding?

And I prayed.  And I did church.  And I saw all the fallacy.  Funny.  Kids are so good at seeing dishonesty and bullshit, aren’t they?  I think we are almost born knowing Jesus.  We look at creation as tinies and we know something bigger and mightier and far more magnificent than us had to create all of this.  THIS, this heaven and all the stars and all the butterflies and all things that make a tiny wonder don’t just happen.  I think you have to work really, really hard to disparage faith in a kid.  They know something, SOMETHING amazing is out there to whisper their hopes and dreams too — SOMETHING is holding the magic and miracles — there is SOMETHING MORE.  I knew this.  And I knew my father’s God and much of the church’s God wasn’t my God.  I knew this because my father was the good guy at church — he was the BEST Christian.  Because all that mattered was what you presented.  Not what you actually lived.  But the blessing that came from that, loves?  Dear Jesus, I vowed every single day of my life to never be one of those people — and to rage, to rage against the Pharisees — to flip some freaking tables — and to try my very best to be love to people.  Not fancy, ‘we’re better than everyone else’ love.  But the tough as nails love that held Jesus to the cross.  I would try.  I would FAIL, but I would try.  And that, all of THAT is very, very good…

And I lived in my bubble of books.  And I wrote on pages in journals and named them and called them my friends.  And I tried to take care of my sisters and I abandoned my Molly and Tim for college — at least that’s what I felt like.  And I was going to run away as far as I could from this place.  And yet I stayed.  So close. Everyone else ran away.

And here I am.  Wanting to run away again.  Is this what they call coming full circle?  For some reason, I don’t think this applies…

And in the midst of all this head stuff — the dark head stuff — life marches on.  And sickness came (I think this dark head stuff makes me sick…).  Who has time to heal physically, emotionally or spiritually these days?  Life marches on.  I’ve never been one to find comfort in that statement — it just seems to trample all over us.

And work is just hard this year.  But I know there is so much hard in education right now.  And I used to love a challenge.  It meant purpose to me — never something I couldn’t do or wasn’t up for.  But I find myself being more spent than purpose filled or purpose full.  And wondering if I’m even doing the right thing by being where I am.  I find myself full of questions.  And crying out to God.  And wanting things I shouldn’t and possibly couldn’t have — but knowing he is SO mighty so having the insanity and selfishness to ask for it anyway.  Because he can and he could, so why not — not making any bargains with him THIS time — just asking ‘if it is your will’…

Yet fully understanding that his will for me isn’t necessarily mine.  It may never be mine.  And getting in a really good place with that.  Because I have to.  I really have to.  Because I find myself getting really selfish lately in all of this tired.  I want an easy button.  Like that big red Staples button.  Yes, I.want.that.  Just once.  I want to push it and whisk my boys and I away to the life “I” design.  That’s pretty disgusting.  This thought makes me want to puke.  This is not how I think.  So I know what this means.  It’s time to read Jeremiah again.  All of it.

Because Jeremiah reminds me that it’s not my beliefs that make me a different person or a new creation in Christ (the devil is pretty freaking fantastic at theology too, y’all — just sayin’ 🙂 ) — it’s KNOWING my God — it’s my personal relationship with him.

“‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this:  that he understands and KNOWS me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.'” Jeremiah 9:23-24

Now, I’m not a boasting type of person — I’m too much of a mess and make WAY too many mistakes for that route (let’s just say, people would laugh — hard 😉 ) — but this verse is one I hold tight.  I get wrapped up in my personal quest with  “autonomous have it togetherness”.  I think I must have it — I think I have to push through and be tough and be strong and take care of everyone and everything and fix it all and save the entire planet from drowning in calamity!  Truly.  I do.  That’s how insanely I suck.  And then I plummet into this black hole of things like having my doctor find bad moles on my back out of absolutely nowhere that need to be hacked out, lingering bronchitis proceeded by the flu for my G and I — all in the matter of a month or so and I try to kick all of it — and I fail — and I don’t feel strong or mighty and I feel like I’ve failed the Philippians verse of ‘I can do all things’ and so I’ve failed God too and I’ve failed those I care about who need me to DO those “all things”– but, dammit Ang, it’s not all about me.  And here’s where I get so lost.  It’s never about me. None of it.

It’s not about my past.  It’s not even about my questions now.  It’s about my God.  It’s about understanding him.  Loving him.  It’s about how he loves me.  And, it’s about his will for me.  And what does that verse say above?  What’s that?  There’s a promise of sorts?  Yes — yes, there is.  God has SO MANY promises for us, doesn’t he?  In fact, we ARE a promise!  It says that he exercises kindness and justice and righteousness here.on.earth.  What does that mean?  It means a great many things.  But in short and sweet terms for this girl it means, he is good.  In all of life’s crap and agony, our God is good.  There is a constant.  There is one thing we can always understand and KNOW about our Father.  Our heavenly father is always good.  And the relationship, this understanding I have of him?  That RADICALLY changes ME…

God speaks so often to Jeremiah about knowing him.  Knowing him before he was formed in the womb.  Setting him apart.  Creating him for a purpose.  Now, Jeremiah’s purpose wasn’t roses and rainbows and sunshine.  It was pretty brutal.  It was tough.  And he wasn’t treated fairly or kindly and he went though some pretty heinous things.  He was one heroic prophet.  Did he sail through all of this smoothly without any human frailty?  Nope.  Of course not.  And that is also what is so endearing to me about this man.

Now, I’m a crier.  Tears seep out of me for absolutely everything.  They just build up and my heart often speaks in tears.  I can’t help it.  Sometimes they stream down my face and I’m unaware until I feel wet stuff.  It’s part of how I talk.  And I love Jeremiah for his vulnerability .  He cries.  He laments.  He even complains and wails from time to time.  But does he give up?  No.  He remains faithful and steady to a God who gave him a purpose that he may not necessarily love — but it was given to him by a God he so fervently does.  And he knows there will be building and planting after the uprooting and tearing down (Jeremiah 1:10).  Hey, it’s another promise!

Working my way through Jeremiah, I cry too.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

I’ll keep calling, God.  And even if I don’t have all the answers, I’ll keep walking with you.  Because I know that knowing you and trying to understand you better everyday is what I’m here for.  It’s what I’m breathing for.  The rest you’ll lead me to.  And you’ve gotten me through quite a bit so far.  You must be holding me for a reason…

And maybe this surviving business is to help others see that they can too.  That a rock and a hard place is somewhere you can hang for quite a while with faith.  That words like “comfort” and “happiness” are kind of silly things when you have words like “faith, hope, and love”.  You don’t need the other two.  That joy CAN be found void of circumstance.  Because you have a Father that created your soul — and it can sing and cry out to him.  And that’s reason enough for joy, isn’t it.  That answer is yes.  It is a confident yes. ❤ And maybe it is to be a stronger siren and voice for littles that get lost in the shuffle of voices that say “oh, they’re fine” or “kids are resilient” or “he’s just a weird or bratty kid”.  And maybe it’s to be the best mom I can be to two of the most amazing miracles a girl could ever dream a breath was possible to take for. Maybe it’s to help them understand the miracles and promises that THEY are in a world that desperately needs them to shine THEIR light, to help them struggle, to help them know and understand their God, to help them fail and succeed and be all the mess that God created them to be.  To help them understand that they are forever and ever loved and held by a God that they will see one day after walking and knowing him here, in a kingdom we will all praise him in forever, and that their “this little light of mine” will get to shine forever with a Jesus that bought them with his blood and knew just how much their momma would need them someday (and that’s why she still cries sometimes when she kisses them goodnight and tells them that they are her hallelujah). 

Maybe it is all of these things.  Maybe it is none of these.  Maybe it’s just living day by day in your grace, Lord, as the messiest mess that I am and giving you all of that glory.

Because as unworthy as I am to be called your daughter, you don’t mind that I’m crazy, that I am both too much of so many things and yet so very not enough of others.  God, you love me anyway.  And of all of the things I don’t understand — the trinity, sovereignty, salvation, and a giant host of others — this is one I don’t mind being lost in.  I don’t mind swimming in its vastness, being covered in its mercy, being cloaked in its warmth.  I’ll settle here forever, if you don’t mind.  Till I stop breathing, and even after. ❤

And thank you.  Thank you for teaching me about love.  And I’m so grateful I get to learn about it from you everyday.  And try to show the world what your love means.  I know I won’t do it right or maybe even well, but Father, dear Father — by heaven , I will try.  Thanks for letting me try.  Because I know me, and I know YOU know me — and so that’s kind of huge.

But you’re also so very you (and that’s even huger) ❤ …

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and out stretched arm.  NOTHING is too hard for you.”  Jeremiah 32:17

Nothing.  Even big messes like me.

Love you and thank you (even for nervous breakdowns, or what ever this is…),

This girl you created ❤

 

 

Searching for Canaan…

12919765_595032950653879_859845243886174606_nHere goes…

“We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.”  Madeleine L’Engle

(Authenticity in my walk is rough, but vitally necessary.  This is a big share for me.  This is me being very raw and vulnerable.  This is full of grammar issues, it’s imperfect, it’s a mess — just like me.  I’m leaving it this way.  I’m tired.  Tired isn’t even the word.  This is my precious open God space.  From ten pm till after 7 a.m. we walked this out.  This sun is now coming up.  I guess I was up all night.  I’m always the cracked clay pot.  He’s forever working on me.  As long as I have breath, he’s not finished and I have purpose.  Thank you, Lord.  Please keep me open to hear you.)

So, it’s been a rough couple of weeks, months — let’s just say the world has not been a place from which to gather encouragement as of late.  It’s been quite dark.  I want to hole up and avoid it completely.  Yet we are called to be the light.  For someone who is always preaching — SHINE — this little light of mine has been struggling to stay lit…  Holy Spirit, breathe anew in me…

And the church’s response has rather been lack luster in the shine department.   Worse, it’s been cruel — ranging from preachy doomsday wrath and judgement in matters involving homosexuality  to out right silence when it came to a woman, rape, and an erroneous slap on the hand of a conviction given to an arrogant, unapologetic young man.  And then there’s my family.  Some semblance of history seems to be repeating itself.  I guess minor versions of hell may  be worth reliving to some people, it seems.   And I’m standing on the outside of it all.  Hands clasped in prayer.  Praying, always praying — and for the very first time in my life — feeling lost.  Walking in circles in the desert.  Doubting…

Because I think it’s okay to talk about the things we know of God.  I mean, that’s theologically acceptable.  Even if we don’t agree concerning our truthiest truths.  But I’m not sure it’s okay to talk about our questions–our unknowns.  Because that’s just plain unfaithful.  And who does that?  Certainly not Christians — or GOOD Godly ones anyway…

And lately, I have too many — too many questions and unknowns — and I’m not comfortable with all of this anger.  I’m not comfortable with the fact that I can’t just glean over passages or complete books of the Bible like I used to as “oh those are just awfully uncomfortable words for me because, you know, I’ve ‘been through some stuff’“.  Or, “You’re not meant to understand everything, just to accept it.”   I’m really not comfortable with any of the generic answers I’ve been given.  I want real answers.  I want authentic explanations.  I’m not okay with just blind faith ‘because that’s what faith IS’ anymore.  And if I’m perfectly honest with myself, maybe I’m not completely okay with God…

Those are words I never thought I would see staring back at me.  And this is not the post I had meant to write.  These are not the pages and pages that are bled out into my notebooks.  No, THEY are full of the Stanford rape, my nightmares, the Orlando massacre, the book of Numbers, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Judges, Genesis — mixed in with rape statistics, Madeleine L’Engle quotes, porn and violence/abuse causation –nights and nights and nights of no sleep (what’s one more?).

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I was waiting for the church to address violence against women now — or ever.  To address this rape culture our patriarchal system within the church perpetuates, waiting for someone — anyone in the freaking Christian community to say a damn thing about this — and I almost passed out holding my breath — until the women preachers and pillars of the community spoke.  Those unholy, vile, ‘shouldn’t be preaching woman’ spoke.  Thank you.  This woman, this nation of hurting women, this humanity of people needed to hear you.  Thank you.   Thank you, Ann.  Thank you, Emme.  Thank you, Sarah. Thank you, Glennon.  And the female authors, those “f” word feminists that took the time to stand in solidarity against a culture that accepts that every 2 minutes another sister is raped, that one in every three of us will experience violence and abuse at the hands of a man at one point in our lives — an unholy epidemic in this culture — an epidemic that is SO vile and pervasive that we give empathy to the perpetrator and blame the victim. Because the little slut was drinking, she was dancing, she was possibly flirting — and she was even wearing a cardigan.  Thank you.  You are brave.  You are what courage looks like.  You are what the word church means to so many of us.  You were made for such a time as this…

And Orlando.  I just can’t.  All those mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and friends and lovers — grieving the sacred loss of their loved ones — grieving a precious journey, an entire entity, being, life — that is void and gone.  Grieving empty space that was once so very, very full.  All of those beautiful beings purposefully and hatefully eradicated — and the enormity and gravity of all that loss.  And that anyone anywhere in this creation felt the need to verbalize that as God’s will — I threw up — so many times.  I had been asking God for clarity on this issue personally for years in my own walk and life — and well — it all became quite lucid to me through all of this.  The evil is not coming from the LGBT community.  The evil is coming from the people who so magnanimously profess the name of God.  And in both of these instances, it took absolutely everything in me to pray for the church as a community.  Because in both cases, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it…  Because hate doesn’t drive out hate.  Only love does that.

And there was love expressed by people who claimed to be Christians in both instances.  Yes, yes there was–very real love.  But there was also such disgusting hatred and judgement spewed out against those very people.  Those people who were showing love were reminded that God was a vengeful God full of wrath and if “she hadn’t been drinking” and “Adam was made for Eve” and “how could they be THAT Christian” and “God would judge them just as he judged the unsaved sinner”.   I disconnected.  I had pretty much decided that the anti-Christ was going to be the most devout right-wing Christian you ever laid eyes on. So.much.ugly.  Never mind, all the while, that real people are suffering — while we’re arguing, blaming, making all these political statements — REAL live human beings are going through the.worst.pain.  Go get ’em.  And make sure you let ’em know they’re going to hell.  (and that she deserved it, if only she hadn’t been this, that, or the other thing…)  Vomit.  So much vomit…  All from those called to love…  Just keep loving.  Just keep shining…  Please Holy Spirit, breathe anew in me…

So I sought refuge in my Bible, as I always do…  it seemed to offer little respite.

Bible study isn’t always butterflies and rainbows.  It’s often work.  Hard work.  I’d been avoiding this.  I asked God to open my heart for wisdom.  I ended up bleeding all over the place…

I was taught a great many things I’ve tried to ‘unlearn’.  The Old Testament is a plethora of what those of us who have been through trauma call “triggers”.  It’s full of them.  There are certain books of the Bible I often avoid to keep my faith solid.  Judges, Number, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy being the most difficult to deal with for me.  Honestly, Moses really isn’t my favorite guy (dodged lighting bolt).  Sure, he was faithful, but his patriarchal system was atrociously disparaging to women.  And this stuff was all God breathed, people.  How do I, as a woman, see God as a loving Father — having survived my own abusive Father, having survived violence and abuse that was never and will never be accounted for — how do I see God as mind fully caring about women as a gender at all?

I mean, do we really believe this stuff?  Do we take these words to represent and thoughtfully illustrate what they say? Have we thought about them in terms of us, our friends as wives, our daughters?  Do we even care???

Let’s start with Numbers…  that big ole census…

I remember getting SO frustrated with the Israelites when I was a kid.  They wandered around in the freaking desert for forty years!!!  FORTY years because of their lack of faith!!!!!  And it wasn’t like they didn’t have some pretty MAJOR miracles smack them upside the head for the ENTIRE journey — um, parting of the red sea, burning bushes, manna from heaven, water from a rock, their clothes and sandals like NEVER wore out that WHOLE ENTIRE TIME (that always got me — like  NO ONE questions that???).  Miracle after miracle after miracle…  For real.  What the heck was their problem?  I mean, if I had just a PORTION of that stuff, I’d SO be on board the God train.  I’d be in Canaan like yesterday.

Now my forty-year old self totally gets them.  Fist bump, Israelites.  God has shown me time and time again in my life that he has not, will not, nor has he ever failed me.  And here I am, still questioning him.  Here I am — all “Israelitish”– not content with just walking in faith.  Angry as hell.  Bitter.  Discontent.  I want answers.  I want to know why.  Why did you so belligerently neglect your daughters?

I have a friend who went to seminary, studied Hebrew for five or six years, then decided that being a preacher wasn’t for him.  He’s an awesome Daddy.  He’s also the guy I talk to about this kind of stuff.  He doesn’t make me feel like I’m going straight to hell when I ask “Does Jesus love me?” instead of stating with complete conviction “Yes, Jesus loves me!”. 

And he just happens to know the history stuff.  And he lets me know, that actually, Mosaic law was much kinder and more compassionate concerning women then what was going on in the surrounding areas at that time.  It was a kinder code, a far gentler code.  The punishments (mostly stoning to death) were not as harsh and — for the first time — introduced complete forgiveness from a loving God.  We do not tend to see completely eye to eye on this.  This “not as bad as” scenario doesn’t give me much consolation.  Maybe turning the world completely upside down was too much for that time and space.  Maybe.  Maybe Moses and God were working it all in and out slowly, working within the confines of a world were women were nothing,  property, a means to procreate and satisfy men and nothing more — they were working within the milieu and order of a very fallen and sinful world.  Maybe.  But God is God.  The Great I Am.  (I know, I have the tattoo — In Hebrew — smile) And nothing is impossible for God.  He could have totally shaken it all up, right?

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Read about the test for the unfaithful wife in Numbers 5:11-31 if you aren’t familiar.  I always thought it was a magical potion of God’s when I was a little — sweepings from the dust of the tabernacle floor she’s made to drink and the priest curses it.  There’s a few more steps with barley and grain and offerings.  Basically, if it causes abdominal swelling and her thighs waste away, she cheated and she will become cursed among her people.  If not, she’s free from impurity.  No mention ever of any such potion test for a man’s infidelity.  Bummer.  It only matters if a woman is unfaithful.

And Leviticus…  I pretty much steer clear as I can hear my father’s voice in this book and not God’s…  PTSD sucks, to put it very, very nicely…

Chapter 12 — Purification after Childbirth — A women has a son — she is ceremoniously unclean for seven days.  A daughter?  Two weeks.  Those daughters were just extra dirty.  To keep this in all of it’s glorious context —  you also weren’t supposed to cut your hair, wear clothing of two different kinds of material, plant two kinds of seed in a field, clip off the edges of your beard, get tattoos (I have four–hell isn’t hot enough), and all kinds of other good stuff.  Those rules made sense for that time and place, in that historical context, for reasons very specific to that culture that worshipped God in a very specific way.

And what’s also important to remember is that those laws were done away with when Christ died for us.  Those rules were done away with when GRACE entered the picture.  They were temporary rules and regulations placed on a very ancient Israel.  But it’s still wrong to make a false image of God and worship it and to have idols, right?  So how do we understand what regulations still apply or no longer apply because of New Testament principles?  I am SO tired of hearing Christians say that we can’t ‘pick and chose’ the verses in the Bible that we want to follow — because it’s ALL true and ALL from God.  It IS all true and it IS all from God.  As part of linear history, culture and context.   But God also gave us a brain.  A brain that can closely and clearly look at those divisions of history and context and content.  Surely we can agree that slavery is NOT okay, that polygamy was not okay, that God was speaking to a cultural construct of that time — just as he was within the construct of patriarchy.  No man had any right to own another child of God — be it a slave or a woman.  No human created in the image of God should have been reduced to such a state of being.  Yet slavery is extensively written about in the Bible (as was selling your daughter) — and I’m sure that masters were instructed by God to treat their slaves better than what was “standard” for that time — but what this DOESN’T mean is that God thought is was JUST or RIGHT just because it was a man-made LAW.  The Bible may be un-evolving (meaning we don’t get to ADD to it — it is what it is).  But history is not.  We should learn from history — and in that respect — history does evolve.  Polygamy.  That was a huge thing.  Should we bring that back?  Dear God, I would hope and pray we learn from sin and our mistakes.  I would hope we would not continue to aimlessly wander in the desert for an infinite number of years.

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Chapter 27 — Redeeming what was the Lords — placing monetary value on males and females — from child to the adult — a male was worth more shekels than a female.  A male between the ages of five and twenty  was worth twenty shekels — a woman of the same age — ten.  Each age range is indicated with the price that could be paid.  Boys were of more value than girls.  Period. Pretty clear.

In Exodus, Moses speaks to the Hebrew law regarding a man selling his daughter.  If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not allowed to go free as menservant do.  The ten commandments themselves even become misogynistic as wives become clumped in with property (manservant and maidservant are male and female slaves — just to be clear) “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.  You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, or his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17  This is a listing of belongings — a listing of things…

Two of the toughest books for me?  Genesis and Judges.  I cry.  Often.  I get sick.  Often.  Ask yourself, ‘do I really believe this — or is this just a little collection of stories for me?’  These are events that happened.  Really happened.  These are views that were held of women pervasively throughout the Old Testament — throughout the Bible.  Jesus, the rebel and subversive that he was, began to challenge these views in the New Testament.  It’s our job to continue to challenge them now.  Women as playthings, as objects of lust for men?  It’s all around us.  You don’t have to look  very far…

Most of us grew up knowing the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot who was spared, along with his family, by two men who were actually angels.  They come as visitors to the town of Sodom — and Lot invites them to stay in his home.  “Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom — both young and old — surrounded the house.  They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight?  Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.’ Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, ‘No, my friends.  Don’t do this wicked thing.  Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man.  Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them.  But don’t do anything to these men, for they have protection under my roof.'” Genesis 19:5-6 The strangers he had just met had protection under his roof, but not his own daughters.  It was vile and disgusting to rape the men, in fact — it was down right wicked.  But his daughters?  Do with them ‘what you like’.  Women were expendable.  More than that?  His flesh and blood daughters were expendable.  Play things.  Sex things.  Things.  Digest that.  Really, really read that and digest that.  Don’t just glaze over it with a ,’ yeah yeah’ or ‘yes, thus speaketh the word of the Lord.’  The other thing to remember?  Lot was the decent guy.  He was spared.

There are so many, and I know I am treading on extra holy ground here, but chapter 16 — I lament for Hagar who bears Abram Ishmael.  Not that she has a choice.  She’s just an Egyptian maidservant to Sarai, Abram’s wife, who is unable to have any children.  So, Sarai tells Abram that since she can’t have any children, he should go and sleep with her maidservant.

How many times have you just read over that verse.  Breezed right on past it.  I don’t.  I can’t.  I think about it — every.single.time.  Because I know that Hagar didn’t have a choice.  She had NO voice in the matter.  Abram just walked right in that room — and,  guess what — he didn’t lovingly sleep with her.  Why?  Because they didn’t have a loving relationship.  Why?  Because she wasn’t IN a relationship with Abram!  She was Sarai’s maidservant — her SLAVE!

So Sarai gives her maidservant to Abram, take her as your wife — cause that makes this all holy in the eyes of God — no choices for Hagar because she is a slave (let’s not romanticize this) — and Abram “sleeps” with her — which is a really nice way of putting it.  Hagar gets pregnant and despises her mistress, Sarai — I don’t blame her.  I’d kind of despise her too.  Sarai mistreats Hagar after Abram tells her to “Do with her whatever you think best.” and Hagar runs away.  An angel of the Lord finds Hagar, tells her to go back and submit to Sarai and promises to increase her descendants “they will be too numerous to count.” Hagar doesn’t even get to name her baby.  Abram does.  He’s 86 years old when Ishmael is born.  (Abram’s name is changed to Abraham when he turns 99 and Sarai’s to Sarah.  There is no further mention of Hagar. Her duty was fulfilled).  The entire thing leaves me so empty.  If Hagar had a voice in the Bible, what would it have sounded like? I wonder that so often.  I wonder that of Bathsheba too.  She had zero choice.  She lost her husband and her baby.  How broken she must have been.

Judges 19 — A Levite and his concubine — She leaves (so she probably deserves all that is to happen to her according to the common law — little tramp —  right?).  She stays at her father’s home.  He goes after her.  They stay at her father’s a few days.  Then a few days more.  They head back home.  An old man takes them in on their way back to the hill country of Ephraim.  They stay at his house.  “While they are enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house.  Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, ‘Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.’ (sound familiar so far? — this must have been a thing back in the day–town gathering gang bangs to ‘welcome’ strangers…)

The owner of the house went outside and said to them, ‘No, friends, don’t be so vile.  Since this man is my guest, don’t do this disgraceful thing.  Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine.  I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish.  But to this man, don’t do such a disgraceful thing.’ But the men would not listen to him.  So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go.  At daybreak, the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.  When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold.  He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer.  Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.  When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all areas of Israel.” (22-29)  Ahhhh, what a sweetie! She was raped to death.  He cuts her to pieces.  Imagine that.   What a statement.  Because that was SO brave of him!  I mean, because standing up for her, or at least checking on her ONCE throughout the night would have at least been something.  But she wasn’t even worth that.  She was cattle.  Fuckable cattle sent out for slaughter.  Oh they get all mad and go to war — again.  Just go ahead and read over those verses one.more.time.  Think about your wife, your daughter, or your girl friends if you are male.  Then think about that, just for a second, what it would be like — if you were a female.

I don’t know if I have the strength for Deuteronomy.  There’s lots of amazing in here with all of the down right awful.

My heart has trouble reconciling women and children being completely destroyed and slaughtered in battle (Jesus SO LOVED the little children) — “At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed them–men, women and children.  We left no survivors.” Deut. 2:34 — (I mean, ya win, you got all the plunder and livestock — do you have to completely destroy everyone — even the people who can’t hurt you?) — and then “do not murder” is, literally, a chapter away.  But women and children — legitly justifiable–not so much. Full on admit — I don’t understand that kind of God.   I don’t understand that kind of people–or a kind of people who would praise that kind of  a God (but it was different times, Ang).  But God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  And I thought he was a loving God.  And murder was something reserved for absolute necessity.  Wiping out kids.  Wiping out their mommas.  I walk away from my head space because I can only cry so much…

And I get the feeling that God isn’t speaking directly to me so often throughout this book through Moses.  I feel like I’ve felt so often at certain churches when I’m reading this section of the Bible — like it’s a special club and ‘sorry, this really isn’t intended for you.  You can read it, but no goodies for you’. You can use any metaphor you want to stretch it and make it fit — nope — not your bag, honey.   He’s speaking to a very select and special group of people here… his chosen people “Has god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation by testings, by miraculous signs and wonders, by wars…”  “But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron–smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.” “The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.  The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.  But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers…”  maybe this is for a really special group of people.  I’m feeling marginalized.  I’m not feeling quite so included any more.  He didn’t swear anything to my forefathers.  I don’t even know who my forefathers were.  I just know they’re not these people.  And I’m just a girl…

Then there’s the poor women who are taken captive and not killed.  The ones who the Israelite men find attractive.  They get to be taken as wives.  “Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured.  After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife.  If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes.  You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.”  21:10-14  I’m told this is kind.  I’m told this is considerate.  Seriously.  I’m told these things.  After you have killed her mother and her father, her entire tribe, village, what have you, capture her and take her home with you.  Make her shave her head and cut her fingernails.  Completely shame her.  Make her take off anything left she has of her culture, her heritage, her customs in the clothing she has on.  Make her leave everything of home, of what she loves.  Let her cry for about a month.  That’s it.  That should be enough.  Then you can make her be your wife and rape her.  If you don’t like how that works out — once you’ve desecrated her — you can set her free into a world where she can’t support herself and has no one to support her (since you’ve killed them all off) and no one will have anything to do with her since you have defiled her.  So kind.  So considerate.  Wonder how many of those women either killed themselves or became prostitutes — which would end up in them being stoned.  Because it would be their fault if a man slept with them and was unfaithful to his wife.

Chapter 22 — Marriage Violations

I just can’t…

So the moral of the story here is — just don’t get raped INSIDE of town, okay?  You’ll be stoned to death because you didn’t scream loud enough for help.  It’s inside of town.  I mean, someone should see or hear you.  It will be your fault.  You’ll be stoned.  Hope you get raped OUTSIDE of town.  Then he’ll be stoned, NOT you — because “this case is like that of someone who attacks and murders his neighbor, for the man found the girl out in the country, and though the betrothed girl screamed, there was no one to rescue her.” Duh.  Doesn’t really matter anyway.  She’s totally ruined and trash.  ‘found her out in the country’  The language.  There she was — just sitting there for me to rape…

“If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver.  He must marry the girl, for he has violated her.”  Lucky little lady.  I mean, if he just ‘happens’ to meet her — and he just ‘happens’ to rape her — he’s gotta pay Daddeo and marry her.  That’s the start to a great marriage based on love, trust and respect now, isn’t it?  One where God is surely involved and playing a part.  One where any boys brought forth are going to be reared to respect women and wait, it THIS how Brock Turner’s parent’s met?  Poor girl is punished not once, but twice.  Raped AND has to marry her attacker…  How did ANY woman have ANY shred of dignity or self-respect?  How did they survive?  They were seriously amazing…  They endured.  All that they endured…

The divorce chapter is interesting too.  It’s pretty flippant.  A man can write a divorce certificate to a woman when she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her.  No mention of a woman EVER divorcing a man for the same thing.  Nope.  Apparently only women are indecent.  Or displeasing.  And I’m just going to stop there.  I’m tired.  I’m tired of hearing my father’s voice…  I’m tired of hearing my father’s church.  I’m tired of it feeling so close when I thought we were more than this by now.

It’s not hard to see that women were not treated equally — that’s not even the correct word — I would go so far as to say they were not even treated as seen or rightful or respected heirs to the kingdom of God.  There are little glimmers of light every now and then, but the Old Testament is not a time where women were able to be everything God intended them to be.  God had much more in store for them.  Purposes bigger then man could ever imagine.  The world (man), at that time, just wasn’t ready.  I believe that.

Why?

Because it becomes a very dangerous and slippery slope  when we begin to assign value to another human being as the all-knowing voice of God (when we restrict God to our cultural understanding of where people “fit into” this space)–

— not value in terms of stars shining in the universe, in terms of precious worth in his sight, in terms of our ordained breath and unique and glorious purpose and plans —

but in terms of our human and very limited sense of value as less than and greater than — in terms of inferior and superior.

Only God is greater than any of us.  Only God is greater than I.

And the absolutely amazing thing about understanding that you are a beautiful child of God –and ALL that truly entails — is realizing that everyone else is too.  It gives you incredible confidence while instilling tremendous humility as well.  No better than.  No less than.  It’s a we’re all in… 

So, what DO I believe?

With white knuckles I’m holding on because I do believe in SO much…

I believe that when Jesus died for me, so did this archaic belief that some sort of patriarchal hierarchy was necessary to exist for me to be worthy of worship at his feet.  In fact, Jesus was radially allowing women to worship at his feet even in HIS own time — and how very radical that WAS!  He was speaking directly to women in the very rooms where he preached — he was allowing them to participate in discussion!  He was not only doing that — he was also healing them, allowing them to touch him, he was preaching to and with them, he was allowing them to prophesy in his name, he was born from one named Mary, and he first appeared to women after he rose from the dead — women were the very first evangelists!  Would God abore women SO much that he would trust one with his very Son — with part of the deity, the very Trinity itself?  With the greatest rescue the world has or will ever know?  No, no — none of that makes any sense now, does it…

And he knew women were used to adversity, being the underdog, the outcast — that Mary could handle the jeering, the pointing the staring — the disbelief of people — “Sure, it’s GOD’S baby — right…” and the enormous gravity it would mean for her to be pregnant and unwed.  But Joseph, what a guy — married her anyway …  God knew women were tough.  Because they had it pretty rough.  Mary could do this.  She would do this.  And humbly she would give all the glory to him — because as a women?  Well, she really had none of her own now, did she… He could have come any other way.  Any.other.way.  He was God, after all.  But he was born of a woman.  That’s something.  That was a God choice.  Women, we were a God choice.  That’s no small thing.

I believe that “God does not judge by external appearance…” Galatians 2:6 and that we’re all equal in the sight of God.  No matter our gender.  That we are all his children.  And that patriarchy is a man-made, and one made in a very sinful world at that, institution — and that the Bible and it’s people — quite simply — were written and framed within the  culturally constructed context of this world.  Why wouldn’t they be? It’s a recording of history!  And this very imperfect world.  Which is limited by the human mind and brain.

And there are many battles left to fight.  Many inequalities we still must rage.  Our culture is so embedded with subtexts we must question. Just because it’s IN the Bible doesn’t mean it’s OF God, that God blesses it as his own — God doesn’t endorse slavery, God doesn’t endorse rape, God doesn’t endorse some things that were legit back then–that were socially acceptable constructs back then — slavery, many wives and concubines (so very, very many), so many rules involving dress and customs of the tabernacle, stoning laws, etc .  I would hope that none of you husbands or fathers would think it was acceptable to send your wives or daughters out for a group of men to “do with as they please”.

I believe “The entire law is summed up in one single command; ‘Love you neighbor as yourself’.  If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Galatians 5:14-15 And that neighbor?  It’s everyone.  And that each other?  It’s anyone. (pssst — even the people you don’t agree with or don’t get along with — smile — reminder to myself as well).  It’s easy to love the loveable.  Loving the unlovable.  God help me.  Please.

And it’s all grace.  Grace upon grace.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10  By grace.  A gift, not works.  Not ‘only if you have a penis.’  WE are God’s workmanship.  That’s ALL of us.  And God has amazing things in store for us–like ALREADY PREPARED AWESOME STUFF.  For WE — not HE — not ‘just the guys in the tabernacle that are clean’ — ALL of us.  Read it again if you need to.  Sometimes I need to.  No boasting.  We’re all equally blanketed by his amazing and powerful grace.  Can I get an HALLELUYAH?  Can I get an AMEN?  Grace is we. 

That curtain ripped in half.  It literally tore.  The ground might have even shook or something.  No more sacrificial lamb, draining blood, offering your best parts of your best grains every certain day to the high priests and setting some aside for the Levites.  Daughter, you’re good.  You can boldly walk through that temple.  You don’t even need to enter a temple, sweetheart!  Drop to your knees, wherever you are — right now — and just say, “Dear Father”…  even if your voice shakes… mine has been shaking…  sometimes I just cry…  He gets it either way.  I know this.  Without a doubt — I know this.

Because…

“But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.  And if some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” Philippians 3:13-15  Never perfect.  Always learning.  Moving forward.  Seeking guidance.  Humble.  This much I know.  That, YES, Jesus loves me.  Even when I don’t feel like it.  And YES, the Bible does tell me so.  Even us girls.  Maybe even especially us girls. Because he knows, our walk hasn’t been easy.  We’re not just casually leaning on him.  Dear Lord, we’re completely trusting and giving it all to him.  Our hearts our rendered.  Ripped out.  We get this giving thing.

And maybe it’s really okay if I don’t know.  I’m just kind of hoping he’ll make it clear someday, sometime — and I’m trusting that he will.  Knowing that he will.  Because he always has.  He.always.has.  I’m clinging to this.

And in the meantime?

Canaan, well, it’s not for me…

Nope, it was for the Israelites all along you see.  God’s got even bigger and better plans for this daughter of God whom he knit, whom he fearfully and wonderfully made, who’s hairs are counted, whos days are known — just as her thoughts and her heart are all his…

He holds my yesterdays, my todays, and if he so desires — my tomorrows — and that is more than enough for me…

And by all of this grace — and by the love of Jesus — and by a miracle so beyond anything Moses, the Israelites or any law could have ever imagined — we are all forgiven — and although we all have sinned and fall so terribly short of his glory — we are all enough.  Regardless of gender, race, creed, regardless of anything — and we are all neighbors.

Maybe we’re all just trying to find our own Canaan.

Meet you there.

Love you all.  ❤

 

“You hem me in — behind me and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

…even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Sections from Psalm 139

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When Your Goliath Is A Narcissicist…

wisdom.give me

Hey friends!  How y’all doing? This house has been a hustle and bustle of activity as we hit ‘back to school’ time and say goodbye to summer.  I always PLAN on getting the boys back on some sort of schedule by this point, but that has yet to come to fruition.  I’m still milking every day.  We’ll get on a schedule soon enough… (smile)

God often uses His word to speak directly to situations that are happening in my life.  As my family is going through a bit of a tough spot right now with a mess that we’ve been dealing with for years and years and years and… you get the idea… that has come to an ugly head once again, I found it absolutely uncanny how God’s written word so beautifully spoke to my hurting heart last night.  His word is so very much alive now, isn’t it?  It’s living and breathing.  Never stagnant!  AMEN! ❤

I’m currently going through the book of First Samuel.  And in the First book of Samuel is one of my favorite pieces of Biblical history ever — the story of David and Goliath.  I smile often when I read this passage because I think of my boys too — how they love this story!!! — how might doesn’t always make right in the eyes of God, and how our infallible creator looks at the heart, and not the outward appearance of a man.  The “typical” end to this story becomes one of utter amazement and elicits shouts of “no way!” when most little ones hear it for the very first time.  The miracle of the giant being defeated by a mere boy carrying a sling shot and five smooth stones–who saw THAT coming?!?!?!?

I think we all have Goliaths in our lives at one point or another.  People who seem all powerful and big and huge in comparison to our rather meager stature or state of being — in what ever relative terms that may be to us.  And this girl has been up against a few. And they both have had very similar characteristics — abusive, manipulative, deceptive, dishonest, malicious — and in their minds — all powerful and controlling.  And in my mind, at one point, as well…

The hubris and arrogance of Goliath is this; that he is all powerful, and David is nothing.  That he is calling the shots and David IS the shot.  Goliath curses David, he despises him for his smallness “he was only a boy” — Goliath mocks, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?”.  David is but a speck of dirt.  Goliath doesn’t see David for who he truly is.  Who God created him to be.  Goliath doesn’t see David’s heart, his soul, his spirit, his light.  He doesn’t SEE David at all.

And how courageous, how mighty, how fierce, how brave, how strong is this “only a boy” named David.  And not because of his size, not because of his stature, not because of any sword or shield or coat of armor he is wearing — in fact this mere boy is wearing nothing but a tunic and carrying only a sling shot — a boy’s toy — and five smooth stones.  Yet he is more than ready for battle — and he knows this — because he has the power of an all mighty God on his side!  “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:45.  David goes on to so boldly exclaim to Goliath, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:47. And David reaches into his bag, takes out one single stone, and the giant falls.  Turns out he was over prepared — he only needed one stone after all…

This story, this incredible MIRACLE found in 1 Samuel so prolifically speaks to me.  Right now.  This very second. My Goliaths have caused much pain in my life.  I humbly confess I have not been as brave as David.  I have, on more than one occasion, been anxious and afraid.  But these Goliaths have taught me so much about myself.  They have worked my faith muscles when they otherwise may have become weak and placid.  Going through this second Goliath experience, I found myself thanking God for my abusive father.  LITERALLY thanking the LORD for twenty some years of a life of tyranny, lies, abuse, manipulation, and darkness — because I was able to now better understand THIS person.  I was able to see her for who SHE was — and I was able to say, NO, I am NOT going through this again!  This is NEVER going to be my normal, my path, EVER again.  Because what is common to almost every single abuser — whether they are beating the crap out of you, lying and manipulating and maligning and deceiving and belittling you — the commonality is this — they will treat you like absolute crap and put you through such hell and pain and then turn around and expect YOU to be the one to apologize for it.  Somehow, every single time, their egregious behavior is your fault.  They will never accept any kind of accountability for their behavior.  Especially if this person is a narcissist.

And I think this is a very dark and often missed person in our society today — most often because their tactics are so deceptive and manipulative — so they become woven into the fabric of our lives as “normal” — as with any abuser.  Many people are held under the oppression of relationships such as these without even knowing it.  The person is often very dramatic and couches their deviant behaviors under the guise of “love, caring or concern.”  They will never take accountability for any of their wrong doings — ten times out of ten they will not even remember saying or doing what you bring up.  They will say they don’t remember, it never happened, you’re misinterpreting what they said, they meant something else entirely, or you’re just not remembering it right at all.  If they are confronted by two or more people who remember the same instance — they will most often say that they meant something else all together or have an elaborate story to what they really meant — or break down in a torrent of dramatic tears and say “aren’t I allowed to make just ONE mistake?”.

And yes.  We are.  We all are allowed to make mistakes.  We’re human.  This happens.  A lot.  But the path of the narcissist is not one of admitting that they ever made a mistake or that they are guilty to begin with OR to learn from that habitual mistake that they make time and time and time again.  Most people, when they know that they are hurting someone by a behavior that they are repeating over and over again, will stop that said behavior or modify it.  Not a narcissist.  They will not care about your feelings.  In fact, they will tell you that they are only caring about YOUR feelings by doing the behavior that hurts you.  It’s a very sick and twisted game.  And one that you will never resolve.  Because there really is no authentic concern or honesty on the part of the narcissist.  Because if there were, you would not be in this hamster wheel of events that replay themselves over and over again to begin with…

With a narcissist, you must look at past behaviors and patterns as opposed to the words that come out of their mouths–because, more often than not, the words are manipulative lies.  Words like, “I only do this because I care” or “I just try to be the best mother I can possibly be!” or “I guess I’m just the worst mother in the entire world” or “why don’t you love me or care about me?” when you bring up awful and abhorrent things that the person is doing and has repeatedly done.   If this person truly cared about how you felt, truly wondered if you loved them and was worried about any aspect of your relationship, or truly was worried that they were being an awful parent — their behavior would mirror those beliefs in some way.  But, if that person has a habitual history of continuing to do the behaviors that hurt (lying, deceiving, disrespecting, gossiping, slandering) and not altering those behaviors in any way — then the words and the behaviors do not mesh.  Our actions speak.

What you must remember is this — you do not have to participate in the crazy party.  You may be invited — on several occasions — but you do not have to participate!  Making up malicious stories — imaging them in their minds — and then running with them as absolute fact to friends and other family is also something that a narcissist does well.  I have often been asked to be sorry for stories that have been made up about me in this person’s mind — that never, ever happened.  They were so detailed that even intentions that I have had along with the things that I had done — completely made up — were shared with others.  And then she could not understand why I would not apologize for them — when they were not real!!!  A narcissist is often so deluded and so self absorbed that they begin to believe their own lies.

They will also do everything they can, as in the example above, to make you look like a terrible, awful person.  To gain sympathy for themselves, yes (they LOVE this!) — and to discredit anything you may say in the present or future about their behavior.  This is called gas lighting.  It’s often done is subtle ways.  And other times not so subtle.  The narcissist will also do it personally TO you.  In my case it was using my abusive family background against me — by saying things like “I really worry about you.  I worry that you are going to be just like your father some day.”  Or when I began to question all of the lies I was hearing about another member of the family it was, “I know this is all really hard for you to understand because you don’t know what a REAL family is like.”  And when I did actually confront this person on some issues she screamed at me, “No wonder none of your family talks to you!”.  She knew these were very tender, very deep wounds in my life.  And she used them against me.  Those remarks took years for me to recover from as I was just beginning to grasp all that had happened to me from infancy on up and that it just maybe was not my fault and I was not resigned to live a life of abuse.  She twisted it all up into a ball of ugly pain and threw it at me.  And then five minutes later, denied every single word. 

And the very scary thing about having a relationship with a narcissist is that all the lying (so much lying), and manipulation and deceit just becomes your normal.  It becomes the family’s normal.  You forgive and forgive and forgive as this person continues to tear lives apart and step back and remember nothing, cry, be hurt by your ‘malicious attacks at her kindness’ when you protest, and the disgusting circle of abuse — because that is what it is — continues.  And unless you do what she says, ‘this, this and this’ will be taken away.  You may not be included in this, you may not get tickets to this, and questions about the Will may even arise.  It’s all under the guise of concern.  It’s all under the guise of helping you.  But not one honest, authentic, loving conversation can be had because the narcissist can do no wrong.  The spreader of the evil lies will never admit to one single lie she has ever told.  And she will always and forever be the victim.  And she is more than happy to play that role.  Because if she wasn’t, if that role did not so aptly work for her, her family would not be so disjointed and ripped apart.  She would make the effort to make it whole.  She has to get something from it to be content with it being in a shambles of pain.  Because a narcissist truly doesn’t care for others.  They care only for themselves.

And this situation often feels so overwhelming.  And it has for so many years.  I believe in forgiveness.  I have forgiven a man for so many horrible things who has never even asked for my forgiveness.  It was a process.  A long and difficult where God often carried this girl.  I was able to walk away.  I was able to start my life over.  And then I walked into this.  I haven’t been able to feel like I could walk away from this Goliath.  It has caused such strain in my relationship with my husband.  Until now.  There is so much clarity for me in the events that have transpired over the past few weeks — the slander and stories that were yet again fabricated and created — and this time while my son was in her home — present and able to hear the lies this woman was spewing about his own mother. It is one kind of evil to involve adults in this manipulative web of slander and lies, but you do not involve my children.  And that is just the end of that.

Another ploy the narcissist may use is this ”everyone has a right to their feelings and to express their feelings.”  I believe in this one hundred percent.  But what a person does NOT have the right to do is spread lies and make up stories in their mind and spread them as truth and fact.  Those two things are COMPLETELY different.  To a narcissist, they are not.  Truth is what ever they make it up to be.  You can NOT have a conversation that goes anywhere with a narcissist for this very reason.  It is just crazy making.  Because you are dealing with sickness.  You have a choice.  You are not stuck in this relationship with this destructive person.  You can attempt to set boundaries.  Most often they will be ignored because a narcissist does not have respect.  Again, you are NOT stuck.  You always have choice.  You can walk away. 

I am so imminently thankful for the hard life God started this girl out with.  So very thankful.  Because it makes me SO much more appreciative of all of the days I have.  I don’t take a single one of them for granted — for the love I have, for the miracle that is friendship, for the VERB that is family.  Because family is NOT just a word, not something you are just born into — it is the way your TREAT people, respect and love people — and I fully understand that.  Family was the ‘most important’ thing to my father too.  It was something he would say to control our decisions and actions — “family is the most important”.  It was a way to trap a person.  But it’s not in the saying of that — it’s in the doing of that — it’s in the ‘how we treat each other’ of that — that we are family.  And continuously crapping all over people and then turning around and expecting an apology for your hideous behavior is not family.  And it never will be to this girl.  And that is something I want my children to never be confused by.  That causes an entire host of adult problems — that just because you are THIS word means you can do THIS to me and it’s acceptable.  Never, ever, and never again.  Let’s just make that CRYSTAL clear.  Family is NOT a license to treat people however we want to — a free pass for cruelty.   The word family isn’t a word we use to get people to do what we want them to do.  No, in fact — the word family is a precious word that means we treat one another like the daughters and sons of God that we are.  My boys are blessed with one incredibly big family who loves them for the divine lights they are and treat them — and their Mom and Dad — as such. The least of that requirement is blood or our family tree.  They say blood is thicker than water.  I say the Fruit Of The Spirit is thicker than both.

And the best reaction to all of this chaos is simply to walk away.  There is no resolution to crazy.  You must find peace for your family and yourself by refusing to participate in the insanity.  YOU know who you are.  You are not who the Goliath says you are.  YOU are God’s daughter, not a stick.  Not a worthless piece of nothing.  Goliaths and narcissists like to tell you and the rest of the world who you are and make it sound as awful and small as possible.  But you know and God knows.  It really doesn’t matter if they — or any other wagging tongues — understand.  You are the daughter of the one true king.  And He has such tremendous plans for you!  He has amazing purpose for you and your family!  He did not save you from one Goliath to deliver you into the hands of another.  Pick up your tunic, sister, and walk boldly for Jesus.  He’s got you.  He’s got ALL of this.  You need not fear.  Ever.

And that is the Goliaths, along with the narcissists, down fall.   When you are brave.  When you refuse to participate.  When you boldly declare, I’m not afraid and I’m not playing.  I’m not participating in your drama, your lies, your deceit, your convoluted words and games.  I’m giving you silence.  I’m giving you all the space in the world.  You can take away what ever it is you wish to take away that you think will punish this girl.  You can say what ever it is you want to say about me — because you already have for so many, many years.  I TRUST GOD.  COMPLETELY.  And there is absolutely NOTHING you can do or say that will separate me from his love or his favor.  Absolutely nothing. 

And this family?  We’re sticking together.  I’m not poisoning anyone’s mind — the narcissist loves to project their behavior onto you.  We are all responsible for our behavior and our choices.  The narcissist can blame whomever they want and cry and throw fits and threaten what ever they see fit.  But we are responsible, in the end of this journey, this path we walk before an Almighty God — for all of it.  And He sees and hears everything.  I have tremendous peace in that.  And I want real peace for my family. Truth brings peace.  And that’s what we have.  And that’s how we choose to live.  Every single blessed day of our lives. 

So I choose to separate myself from this narcissistic Goliath.  And I pray for her.  And I pray for this family that is just a mess of so many webs of lies.  I pray for healing and that someday relationships apart from this person can be beautiful again.  And it really doesn’t matter to me what anyone thinks of me, if anyone understands me or my decisions  — that used to be so vitally important to me as I wanted a sense of vindication from all of the trash that had spewed from this woman’s mouth — I wanted someone to see all of this evil mess for what it was!  I don’t even need that anymore.  God’s eyes are good enough for me.  Living in peace and light and love — that’s MORE than good enough for me.  Not repeating the hamster wheel of abuse I lived for twenty some long years of my life? — that is VITAL to me.

Peace apart from Goliath.  We have it.  It’s going to be a bumpy road.  We’re still in the figuring it out stages, but we can do this — because we serve a mighty God — a God who performs miracles every single day — a God who defeats giants — a God who champions the pure in heart — a God who loves us so very much — completely and unconditionally.  And we must love ourselves enough and trust in Him enough to know that, with His strength, we can defeat the Goliaths in our lives — we can boldly throw our stones — and be ‘all in’ in faith and take part in all the incredible that God has in store for our lives!

“Take heart!  When God is involved, anything can happen.  The One who directed the stone in-between Goliath’s eyes and divided the Red Sea and brought His Son back from the dead takes delight in the INCREDIBLE.”

(The Living Insights Study Bible)

Get ready to embrace your incredible, completely free of your Goliath! ❤

Much love and peace, and as always, Namaste light friends! ❤

you are capable

I know that I have included this in a previous blog, but I find it to be imperative information in dealing with a narcissist.  Here is some information that may be helpful.  Know you are enough just as you are, dear friend, and know that the person the Almighty God created you to be is beautiful and capable of all things amazing!

Characteristics of a Narcissist

She makes you look crazy. If you try to confront her about something she’s done, she’ll tell you that you have “a very vivid imagination” or that you “made it all up” (this is a phrase commonly used by abusers of all sorts to invalidate your experience of their abuse) that you don’t know what you’re talking about, or that she has no idea what you’re talking about. She will claim not to remember even very memorable events, flatly denying they ever happened, nor will she ever acknowledge any possibility that she might have forgotten. This is an extremely aggressive and exceptionally infuriating tactic called “gaslighting,” common to abusers of all kinds. Your perceptions of reality are continually undermined so that you end up without any confidence in your intuition, your memory or your powers of reasoning. This makes you a much better victim for the abuser.

Narcissists gaslight routinely. The narcissist will either insinuate or will tell you and others outright that you’re unstable, otherwise you wouldn’t believe such ridiculous things or be so uncooperative.

You’re oversensitive. You’re imagining things. You’re hysterical. You’re completely unreasonable. You’re over-reacting, like you always do. She’ll talk to you when you’ve calmed down and aren’t so irrational. She may even characterize you as being neurotic or psychotic.

Once she’s constructed these fantasies of your emotional pathologies, she’ll tell others about them, as always, presenting her smears as expressions of concern and declaring her own helpless victimhood.

She didn’t do anything. She has no idea why you’re so irrationally angry with her. You’ve hurt her terribly. She thinks you may need psychotherapy. She loves you very much and would do anything to make you happy, but she just doesn’t know what to do. You keep pushing her away when all she wants to do is help you.

She has simultaneously absolved herself of any responsibility for your obvious antipathy towards her, implied that it’s something fundamentally wrong with you that makes you angry with her, and undermined your credibility with her listeners. She plays the role of the doting mother so perfectly that no one will believe you.

She’s envious. They will criticize the appearance of their daughters and daughters-in-law. This envy extends to relationships. Narcissistic mothers infamously attempt to damage their children’s marriages and interfere in the upbringing of their grandchildren.

She’s a liar in too many ways to count. Any time she talks about something that has emotional significance for her, it’s a fair bet that she’s lying. Lying is one way that she creates conflict in the relationships and lives of those around her – she’ll lie to them about what other people have said, what they’ve done, or how they feel. She’ll lie about her relationship with them, about your behavior or about your situation in order to inflate herself and to undermine your credibility.

The narcissist is very careful about how she lies. To outsiders she’ll lie thoughtfully and deliberately, always in a way that can be covered up if she’s confronted with her lie. She spins what you said rather than makes something up wholesale. She puts dishonest interpretations on things you actually did. If she’s recently done something particularly egregious she may engage in preventative lying: she lies in advance to discount what you might say before you even say it. Then when you talk to anyone about what she did you’ll be cut off with “I already know all about it…your mother told me… (self-justifications and lies).” Because she is so careful about her deniability, it may be very hard to catch her in her lies and the more gullible of her friends may never realize how dishonest she is.

To you, she’ll lie blatantly. She will claim to be unable to remember bad things she has done, even if she did one of them recently and even if it was something very memorable. Of course, if you try to jog her memory by recounting the circumstances “You have a very vivid imagination” or “That was so long ago. Why do you have to dredge up your old grudges?” Your conversations with her are full of casual brush-offs and diversionary lies and she doesn’t respect you enough to bother making it sound good.   You are now in a game with only one rule: You can’t win.

On the rare occasions she is forced to acknowledge some bad behavior, she will couch the admission deniably. She “guesses” that “maybe” she “might have” done something wrong. The wrongdoing is always heavily spun and trimmed to make it sound better. The words “I guess,” “maybe,” and “might have” are in and of themselves lies because she knows exactly what she did – no guessing, no might haves, no maybes.

She has to be the center of attention all the time. A narcissistic mother may create odd occasions at which she can be the center of attention, such as memorials for someone close to her who died long ago, or major celebrations of small personal milestones. She may love to entertain so she can be the life of her own party. She will try to steal the spotlight or will try to spoil any occasion where someone else is the center of attention, particularly the child she has cast as the scapegoat. She often invites herself along where she isn’t welcome. If she visits you or you visit her, you are required to spend all your time with her. Entertaining herself is unthinkable. She has always pouted, manipulated or raged if you tried to do anything without her, didn’t want to entertain her, refused to wait on her, stymied her plans for a drama or otherwise deprived her of attention.

Older narcissistic mothers often use the natural limitations of aging to manipulate dramas. This gives them the opportunity to cash in on the investment they made when they trained you to wait on them as a child. Then they call you (or better still, get the neighbor or the nursing home administrator to call you) demanding your immediate attendance. You are to rush to her side, pat her hand, weep over her pain and listen sympathetically to her unending complaints about how hard and awful it is. “I may be dead next year!”  It’s almost never the case that you can actually do anything useful, and the causes of her disability may have been completely avoidable, but you’ve been put in an extremely difficult position. If you don’t provide the audience and attention she’s manipulating to get, you look extremely bad to everyone else and may even have legal culpability. (Narcissistic behaviors commonly accompany Alzheimer’s disease, so this behavior may also occur in perfectly normal mothers as they age.)

She’s infantile and petty. Narcissistic mothers are often simply childish. If you refuse to let her manipulate you into doing something, she will cry that you don’t love her because if you loved her you would do as she wanted. If you hurt her feelings she will aggressively whine to you that you’ll be sorry when she’s dead that you didn’t treat her better. These babyish complaints and responses may sound laughable, but the narcissist is dead serious about them. When you were a child, if you ask her to stop some bad behavior, she would justify it by pointing out something that you did that she feels is comparable, as though the childish behavior of a child is justification for the childish behavior of an adult. “Getting even” is a large part of her dealings with you. Anytime you fail to give her the deference, attention or service she feels she deserves, or you thwart her wishes, she has to show you.

She projects. This sounds a little like psycho-babble, but it is something that narcissists all do. Projection means that she will put her own bad behavior, character and traits on you so she can deny them in herself and punish you. This can be very difficult to see if you have traits that she can project on to.

She is never wrong about anything. No matter what she’s done, she won’t ever genuinely apologize for anything. Instead, any time she feels she is being made to apologize she will sulk and pout, issue an insulting apology or negate the apology she has just made with justifications, qualifications or self pity: “I’m sorry you felt that I humiliated you” “I’m sorry if I made you feel bad” “If I did that it was wrong” “I’m sorry, but I there’s nothing I can do about it” “I’m sorry I made you feel clumsy, stupid and disgusting” “I’m sorry but it was just a joke. You’re so over-sensitive” “I’m sorry that my own child feels she has to upset me and make me feel bad.” The last insulting apology is also an example of projection.

She seems to have no awareness that other people even have feelings. She’ll occasionally slip and say something jaw-droppingly callous because of this lack of empathy. It isn’t that she doesn’t care at all about other people’s feelings, though she doesn’t. It would simply never occur to her to think about their feelings.

An absence of empathy is the defining trait of a narcissist and underlies most of the other traits I have described. Unlike psychopaths, narcissists do understand right, wrong, and consequences, so they are not ordinarily criminal.

She blames. She’ll blame you for everything that isn’t right in her life or for what other people do or for whatever has happened.  Everything is ALWAYS someone else’s fault.
Narcissists are masters of multitasking as this example shows. Simultaneously your narcissistic mother is:

  1. Lying. She knows what she did was wrong and she knows your reaction is reasonable.
  2. Manipulating. She’s making you look like the bad guy for objecting to her cruelties.
  3. Being selfish. She doesn’t mind making you feel horrible as long as she gets her own way.
  4. Blaming. She did something wrong, but it’s all your fault.
  5. Projecting. Her petty, small and childish behavior has become yours.
  6. Putting on a self-pitying drama. She’s a martyr who believed the best of you, and you’ve let her down.
  7. Parentifying. You’re responsible for her feelings, she has no responsibility for yours.

She destroys your relationships. Narcissistic mothers are like tornadoes: wherever they touch down families are torn apart and wounds are inflicted. Unless the father has control over the narcissist and holds the family together, adult siblings in families with narcissistic mothers characteristically have painful relationships. Typically all communication between siblings is superficial and driven by duty, or they may never talk to each other at all. In part, these women foster dissension between their children because they enjoy the control it gives them. If those children don’t communicate except through the mother, she can decide what everyone hears. Narcissists also love the excitement and drama they create by interfering in their children’s lives. Watching people’s lives explode is better than soap operas, especially when you don’t have any empathy for their misery.

The narcissist nurtures anger, contempt and envy – the most corrosive emotions – to drive her children apart. The narcissist also uses favoritism and gossip to poison her childrens’ relationships. The scapegoat sees the mother as a creature of caprice and cruelty. As is typical of the privileged, the other children don’t see her unfairness and they excuse her abuses. Indeed, they are often recruited by the narcissist to adopt her contemptuous and entitled attitude towards the scapegoat and with her tacit or explicit permission, will inflict further abuse. The scapegoat predictably responds with fury and equal contempt. After her children move on with adult lives, the narcissist makes sure to keep each apprised of the doings of the others, passing on the most discreditable and juicy gossip (as always, disguised as “concern”) about the other children, again, in a way that engenders contempt rather than compassion.

The end result is a family in which almost all communication is triangular. The narcissist, the spider in the middle of the family web, sensitively monitors all the children for information she can use to retain her unchallenged control over the family. She then passes that on to the others, creating the resentments that prevent them from communicating directly and freely with each other. The result is that the only communication between the children is through the narcissist, exactly the way she wants it.

As a last resort she goes pathetic. When she’s confronted with unavoidable consequences for her own bad behavior, including your anger, she will melt into a soggy puddle of weepy helplessness. It’s all her fault. She can’t do anything right. She feels so bad.

What she doesn’t do: own the responsibility for her bad conduct and make it right. Instead, as always, it’s all about her, and her helpless self-pitying weepiness dumps the responsibility for her consequences AND for her unhappiness about it on you.

As so often with narcissists, it is also a manipulative behavior. If you fail to excuse her bad behavior and make her feel better, YOU are the bad person for being cold, heartless and unfeeling when your poor mother feels so awful.

Why do we go back to self-absorbed mothers?

October 10, 2009 by mypainfuljourney

From my personal experience, I believe we have this deep desire and hope that our mothers will change. Growing up isn’t easy, and we developed unhealthy behaviors and we want to change and hope that some day our parents will change, and “get it.”

We need to understand that narcissists don’t want to change, and like who they are.  They like who they are, and it is everyone else with the problem.

“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.”

– Oprah Winfrey

On triggers and matter seeds…

life shrinks or expands

So I’ve been procrastinating.  Doing every thing I possibly can to escape doing THIS — this writing thing.  Because I’m throwing a temper tantrum, a fit, I’m just kind of mad.  Because thoughts never come to me when it’s convenient.  They always come to me in the shower when I’m getting ready for work, and I jot down a few notes in my writing journal.  They come to me in the late, abysmally brutal hours of the evening — when most people’s minds have long since been asleep — and I jot a few notes in my writing journal.  They come to me when my house is loud, and I have a billion things to do — which is never conducive to anything — not even jotting a few notes down in my writing journal.  Never at acceptable hours of thought intervention.  Never, ever, never (insert foot stomping and moping about).  I mean, really.  What IS it like to be able to write when thoughts are lucid and they are just coming naturally and making sense.  Because, to this girl, that doesn’t come often.  Maybe I should just be thankful I have thoughts at all.  Ha!

So, I’m looking at these notes in my journal of REALLY important things that I just REALLY wanted to say — that were pressing on my heart, squeezing and squishing it to ouchiness and say-ing-ness — and it’s all Greek — it’s all pick any language you want.  Because the most awesome thing I always tell myself that I know isn’t true — but I just FEEL these things so strongly so MAYBE THIS TIME IT WILL BE is — I’ll remember that…

I think up some AMAZING blog posts.  They just never get written…  Do I get credit for that somewhere?  Heh, heh…

But for some of us, this writing thing isn’t a choice and we must–but for you, thank the Lord, the reading of it is…

 

So these past few weeks…

Wow…

Total brain craziness… (my husband is free to laugh and think all the things he may think here–I’ll even allow a few lines  of blank space in honor of all of those free-floating thoughts he must be having — just for him…)

 

 

So, it was career day at school.  And who ever would have thunk that this would have been a trigger for this chicka.  Not this girl.  But it was.  We had an all staff activity in which we were instructed to fill out a sheet of paper that would tell the kids where we graduated from college, what we wanted to be when we grew up when we were little, and then give a little inspirational saying of some kind directed toward their furtherment of education and aspiring dreams.  We could also include graduation pics of us from college and from when we were small-ish.  We then posted these outside our classrooms.  I am making myself continue.  This just stinks…

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Kindergarten
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Simpson College Graduation 1998 – The to be husband and I

 

I loved school.  All of it.  From preschool to college, and I did it all with my all of all — stressing over every minute detail of everything.  Because I loved it.  Because knowledge was something concrete to me.  It was something I could prove I had.  It was a way I could be good.  A way I could show I was good.  It was something I was really good at — and I was going to go big places.  I was getting out of all this awfulness — with brains in my head and the most incessant work ethic– it was happening.  Despite MEQ and Calculus, it was happening.  I took all the AP classes.  School was always more important than anything else to me.  I say that like I had anything else.  Because I had to get out.  I had to go somewhere.  I had everything to prove to everyone who wasn’t looking or paying attention.  To no one who cared.  Because no one really did.  But this was for me.  This was for my siblings.  This was for us.  Because, by God, I was going to save them too.  I was getting the biggest house and coming back for them.  All.of.them.  And if you would have told me that graduating from Simpson in the top ten percent of my class with honors would have landed me a preschool para position somewhere in my distant future, I probably would have laughed — and probably been really discouraged.  God had other plans for this girl that had her entire life so meticulously planned.  He knew where I belonged.  He had my dream job all worked out for me.  Because nothing worked out as I had planned.  Things, for all intents and purposes, all fell apart.  They all fell apart before they fit perfectly back together again.  I couldn’t fix my family.  I couldn’t fix me.  I couldn’t fix a damn thing.  I wouldn’t even realize I was a “fixer” until my thirties.  And none of it would matter.  And ALL of it would matter.  And yet, it would — miraculously — all work out.  And I would have laughed in your face if you would have told me that too.

I have one picture from graduating from college.  One.  My parents were very late.  I’m not sure they even took any pictures.  A professor friend took it of Marty and I.  After being frustrated at what she perceived to be my parent’s complete apathy towards my accomplishments, she told them they should be very proud.  They didn’t say those words to me that day.  It wasn’t enough.  None of it was ever enough.  They didn’t come to honors convocation.  When I called to invite them, I didn’t know what I was being honored for.  We weren’t told.  We were simply asked to come.  Since I couldn’t tell my father specifically what the honor was for, he didn’t believe me and didn’t think it was worth their time.  I was given two honors for my graduating class.  I was stunned.  Part of me also wondered if there was a mix up of some kind.  And they didn’t care to be there.  Twenty minutes away.  I called to let them know I had gotten honors in English and the Humanities for my class.  I was called a liar.  I was called a whore — I mean, someone as dumb as me MUST have slept with half of the professors to get honors in anything, right (despite the fact that the professors may have been women — so I must have been bisexual as well)?  All this crazy was so normal.  So, it was okay.  This was the pattern.  I changed out of my dress immediately following the ceremony and ran for two and half hours.  Because that’s what girls whose parents don’t come to honors convocation and get called liars and whores by their fathers do after they win awards.  They run their brains off.  And I would run my brain off until my body could physically run no more — who knew that would be at the age of 38.

Graduation was supposed to be a prove it to them time.  It obviously wasn’t.  I was still what they said I always had been — despite the four years I had managed and struggled to prove them wrong.  Because, as my father said, it was just an arbitrary measure of the intelligence of man anyway.  Still stupid.  Would always BE stupid.  You would think I would have learned at this point to just accept myself for who I really was and move on (it seems so simple to people on the outside of things) — but I had many more “maybe this time” moments with my parents.  It took me such a long time to realize that I just had to walk the hell away.  It took me a long time to realize that all of this crazy was abuse.  It took me a long time to realize that all the things, all the big things and all the little things — all of the all of the things — that had happened to me from birth to forever — were NOT my fault, were NOT because I was stupid, were NOT because of anything I had done at all or anything that I was lacking…  It’s taken a very long time for all of the things…  There will always be things.   We’re all still working on things.  And that’s okay…

One piece of golden rod paper.  One all staff assignment.  Tremendous trigger.  One awful night.  Just sitting there.  Looking at that graduation picture.  Realizing what that one photo was to me.  IS to me.  Because sometimes, even to this very day — what was still seems so very unreal.

But the flipping fantastic hallelujah glory of it all is this.  It’s not all gloom and doom and sadness.  I think the amazing thing about love and faith and life is this — more often than not, you do not find your dreams, but your dreams find you.  And life just kind of works out just as it should — imperfectly perfect — beautiful in its time.  And that’s the insane miracle of it all.  Breathe, let go, and know someone bigger than you has got this, sister.  And all that crap you went through?  It’ll be used for something.  Something beautiful, and something good.  And you don’t have to have that all figured out or know that either.  He’ll make that known — and he’ll make that THE MOST beautiful — in its time.  I promise.

All the crushing — it’s not to break you — it’s to make you the most incredible and precious and shiny person.  And you’re going to shine for him, and for so many others.  And after walking through all that fire — you’re really not going to care — maybe at first — maybe A LOT at first — but as you grow and as you push through all that concrete — you’re not going to give a damn what any shine snuffer is going to think.  You’re going to shine regardless.  Because there is something SO freaking amazing about knowing exactly who you are and who made you and what your purpose is.  There is something so innately strong in that.  You will be brave.  You won’t always FEEL brave — but you will be brave regardless.  Know this.

I found an old picture of this little blond girl from kindergarten.  I still feel like that scared little have to be perfect and living in fear girl some days.  She’s deep down inside there from time to time.  That really yucky feeling comes with triggers like golden rod employee wide assignments.  I looked at that picture and was sad for her.  I was so sad for the carefree little girl she was never able to be.  But I was also able to smile.  Because the little girl in that picture had NO IDEA what AMAZING and HUGE things God had in store for her.  Tears dried and assignment over.  Please do NOT ask me to do it again.  At least for another year.

Speaking of AMAZING and HUGE…

Anyone who knows this crazy girl knows how much I love my G.  Not my six-year-old G who I love with all my everything, my OTHER G (smile).  Glennon Doyle Melton.  And I got to hear her speak (oh my goodness she is THE MOST INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and meet her and like HUG HER FOR REAL this past week.  Yes, my everything is still reeling!  Still trying to process how this all actually happened.  I mean, I KNOW how it did, I just can’t even really believe it did…

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Shaking. Like, I might not be able to breathe, but can you sign my book of yours that I’ve read only like eleven times?

 

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I told her I loved her. Actually I said, “would it be weird to tell you that I love you.” cause I am the biggest DORK like that — oh goodness!!!

 

And I have to thank my friend, Kerry.  Who is THE MOST amazing.  Seriously.  Incredible warrior momma.  Love you.  This momma turned the pain of losing her baby girl into the miracle of saving babies all over the nation by starting the organization “Count The Kicks” with other grieving mommies.  They are all the.most.amazing.  It was a day that changed my life.  I was in a room of struggle, encouragement, love, laughter, and light that was blown all the more open with fabulous hope.  Holy hell, I did not want to leave!  I wanted to live in that room forever!

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She is so beautiful. She is so brave. She is so everything.

 

And I was able to share this day with a forever friend.  I don’t have many of those.  As much as I have been moved around this little cosmos of a world, I don’t have a plethora of life long sisters.  And this sister, well, she means the world to me.  So, it was just a freaking day full of special.  I didn’t want it to end.  Ever.  So I keep reliving it in my heart.  HUGE treasure.  Still a bit surreal.  Bucket completely overflowing.  So.much.joy.

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Kari, Glennon, and I. Heart overflowing.

 

And before this amazing G day, friend day, revel in imperfection and how we can serve and love each other day– I spent a great deal of time meditating (cause I was going to meet G — dear God, I was going to meet G!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).  I meditate to lose the heaviness of my bones.  To lose the heaviness of what it feels like to be me.  It’s like praying, but you’re not asking God for anything.  You’re just super, duper affirming that he’s there.  It’s like being face to face with him — no skin, no bones.  Just that you that is really you.  Your soul — saying, hey God, it’s me, Ang.  And I’m taking this moment, this day — for what ever it has to offer, what ever it has to teach me — the good, the bad, the ALL that it is for EXACTLY what it is — and I PRAISE you for it — I truly THANK YOU for ALL of it — and I accept it JUST AS IT IS — and I accept me just as I am — and I will find the good of both — just as they are — for all that they are.  And I breathe.  Through my soul.  Because bones and skin are such heavy things.  They are such heavy things because they have to be — they are holding back souls that know they do not belong caged.  Meditation lets me out.  It allows me to be closer to God.  It’s one big long prayer where you’re not sitting next to the receiver–you’re holding hands.  And I meditate also on those I love, for those I love, and on all that I am thankful.  And that is one precious way to start the day, my friends, one precious way… ❤

The thing about life is, no matter what we try to tell our children–  you really do not have to have it all figured out.  As my Glennon says, just do the next right thing.  One step at a time, we do the next right thing — and then we’ll get there.  Where ever that there is — we’ll get there — to that perfectly thought out place that God has destined for us.  The trick is to do our best enjoying that bumpy journey.  For taking it for what it is.  For taking US for who WE are.  And not to be scared to try because we’ve had a rough beginning — because our entry to this life hasn’t been so perfect.  Here’s my take.  Sometimes we know HOW to do things because we have been so aggressively shown the best way NOT to.  Read me?  Find the good, sister.  Find the good.  You always can.  Even if it’s a hard lesson.  You always can.

And hey — you’ve got this.  Even when you don’t.  In fact, it’s all working out better when it’s falling apart.  Because then you don’t have expectations.  And you’re not relying solely on yourself and your own strength.  You’re just hoping to make it to tomorrow.  And hope is a mighty thing, isn’t it?  And we should all just be really thankful and blessed by our tomorrows.  Really.  For that sun that comes up.  For the smiles of the freaking amazing people who love our guts no.matter.what — or hell, even because of what.

You can do it.  Expect good things.  Even when bad things come.  Because they will.  They most certainly will.  But you can handle it all.  Always.  Even when you can’t.  Because you are you.  And you know who you are.  And you know who he created you to be.  And even if you don’t know the ALL of that yet (because who does — we are such infinite creatures) — you’re good with that mystery.  Mystery is good too.  In fact, mystery is pretty fabulous.  It is its own miracle.

And the coolest thing ever is that we have this seed, a seed of the divine, ever-growing and living inside of us.  And nothing can snuff that out.  That power is real.  And too often we are afraid of that power.  Don’t be afraid of your light.  Shine on.  Please be brave and shine on.  You’ve got so much magic.  It’s real.  Smile.  The fact that your heart is beating, that you are breathing — purpose, friend.  What are you going to do with that? You matter.  Every circumstance and situation that you go through in this life — it all matters.  It all waters that seed.

they didn't know we were seeds

Those triggers.  Even those triggers can water that seed and be used for good.  Pain.  Sunshine.  It all waters the seed.

Love you all to pieces. ❤

For all your pieces.

Shine on.

Just keep shining.

One day at a time.

Namaste.

breaking your heart

Unbreakable…

 

fresh and alive

 

There are times I wish words would write themselves.  This is one of them.  I mean, can we get an app for that? There will be some swearing.  What can I say?  Life is jacked up sometimes…

so grab your eyemuffs if you are easily offended — or just don’t proceed

you have choice — you always have a choice

It’s funny the things that send my mind to grey.  I mean, it IS my favorite color, but it is so NOT my favorite feeling.  It’s so clingy, and yucky, and dreary, and pervasive.  As completely unprofound as this may sound, I always think of Cher in “Clueless” — it’s “an overwhelming sense of ickiness”.  Pretty much sums it up.

I’m not a TV watcher.  Part of it is I don’t have the time.  Another part of it is that I’d rather spend the few minutes of “free time” I DO have doing other things.  Any other thing.  Honestly, I haven’t found a show I have genuinely fallen for since “Friends”.  And I just can’t get into deep and dark things like my husband’s genres of choice like “Breaking Bad” and “Just Call Saul” and some serial killer guy detective thingy because my mind is full of ENOUGH dark things on its own.  I don’t need to feed it. I need to lighten its load.  I need something that will lighten my heart and make me feel good.  But I’m so ridiculously picky about humor.  It takes a lot to make me laugh (except if your name is Summer — she is my very own stand up comic and amazing friend all wrapped up in one soul spirit of awesomeness).  I don’t contend well with stupid “Dumb and Dumber” comedy — or the kind that defiles my gender.  It seems to be the more pervasive kind these days, so I’ve kind of given up on TV altogether.  Occasionally a reality show like “American Pickers” or the occasional cooking show will pique my interest for five-minutes until the boys say, “Mom!” (smile).  It takes a lot to make me sit (the caveat to this is when I’m sick — then, for some horrendous reason, all the “Real Housewives” — any state — seem like quality entertainment — this does require a fever — I know, I may have said way too much — the cursing will be the least of this blog’s worries after this statement… wink).

So, a few friends sent me texts around the same time telling me about this new show on Netflix that I just had to watch that reminded both of them so much of me.  “It’s made for you, Ang!” This is all at once very interesting and frightening to me.  And of course, I just have to see what this Angie reminding show is!  I think?

The series was, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”.  And this girl?  Well, my sisters know me well.  I stayed up till 2 a.m. watching every single episode.  I fell in love.  Kimmy is my new theme song.  Yes, she’s a song.  She’s too big and awesome and vibrant to be anything else.

The next day I had a Kimmy hangover.  Thank the Lord it’s spring break.  I had laughed and cried and laughed for hours.  And slept little.  The sleep thing is nothing new (smile).  But throughout the day, the lovely little show — and lovely little Kimmy herself — became a host of triggers for me.  And I had a Kimmy crash.  Hard.  The premise of the show is this…  She’s kidnapped with three other girls, held hostage in an underground bunker for years by a man who teaches her false doctrine in this crazy apocalyptic cult (and tells them all they are stupid, useless, etc.), and then finally rescued and set free into a world she doesn’t understand — and the show is about her grabbling with the all of that.  Sounds heavy, but it’s handled in such a crazy, heartwarming, and funny way — really, you just have to watch it.  Cause looking at what I just wrote it sounds totally insane.

And I found myself relating to this girl in ways that some (I hope most) people probably wouldn’t.  And that kind of sucked.  And it brought back a flood of yuck.  Because although that premise might sound so unfathomable to some people, it wasn’t too big of a stretch for this girl.  Cut off from society, brainwashed and manipulated by a psychopath, crappy family, and a lost childhood.  She choses to embrace the positive.  She choses to smile and go for her dreams.  She choses to live and not be stuck.  She choses to love the crap out of everyone she meets.  She choses to be a light and a helper.  Pretty inspiring stuff.  But God, it just spiraled me… and I fully realize how completely silly this all sounds.  Like, ALL of it…

So, I cried every time the opening theme song came on for each episode and shouted “HELL yes!”  Because it’s damn hard making that transition.  And you’re not going to get a lot of help.  Because some people aren’t going to know how.  Because some people are going to horribly take advantage of you.  Because you’re not going to know how to ask for it.  Because you’re so used to being your everything.  And because you’re not going to know just how broken you are.  Not completely.  No, sister, not completely — you’re still you.  Just good and banged up.

And after years and years (and so on and so forth) of therapy, when you finally realize (because being TOLD is one thing, and actually having it click is quite another) that it WASN’T ALL YOUR FAULT — well that’s the freaking hardest part.  One might think it’s liberating.  Freeing.  You know, a pivotal healing point.  And it is.  But at first, it is fucking hell…

Because the person that you once were, at this new point of  realization in your life, is gone.  And the people in your life that know and have manipulated that person are still around.  And they’ll still have lots to say.  Like all of a sudden you think you’re better than they are because you have an opinion.  And when you use your new found voice to express your opinion — you don’t know what you’re talking about because the life you had was so awful and base (and they’ve made sure to tell all of their friends about it as well). So you don’t understand “real” things or “real” feelings or “real” life or even “real” families at all.  In fact, you don’t really even know your own feelings at this point, do you? And the mind games continue (even after you have finally broken free and left your abuser).  I had left one world of abuse and stepped right into another.  And it’s not that I thought I was better than anyone else.  Hell no — it’s just that I was beginning — for one brief shining second — to entertain the notion that I might not be less than.  That really pisses some people off.

And sometimes it’s just “easier” when the focus of all damnation is you.  Solely you.  When you believe you are a piece of shit and deserve all things shitty — when you alone completely take responsibility for all the sin that seeps into the world and into everyone else’s life because you are a rotten piece of garbage.  Life just pieces together a little more soundly that way.  Crappy people treating you like crap — you deserve that — you’re garbage.  Awful people being awful — honey, you deserve any and all of it — and you just sit and take it like you always have because you are … you get it.  It all just runs smoother that way.  And all kinds of manipulative and dishonest people are attracted to that and take advantage of that.  I kept asking God why these people kept coming into my life only thinking that the correct answer was that I deserved it.  I need to get this tattooed somewhere on my body — something so vital I learned in therapy — what we allow is what will continue.  I didn’t have choice when I was young.  I wasn’t used to choice.  No one told me I could demand respect or, the very least, civility.  We have choice.  We have voice.  Let’s use it.  Everywhere. 

But the really difficult reality for me to grasp was that some people are assholes.  Straight up and period.  Just because they are or can be.  And nine times out of ten, it has nothing to do with me.  They have their own agendas, their own journeys — and Lord help me — it wasn’t always because I was a pile of shit.  My “unworthiness” and “garbage” like state was not causing the demise of the entire world.  Some people attempted to create that, wanted me to carry that for them, to blame me for their family’s problem or issues — I mean, just look at me — look what a mess I came from, look what a broken piece I was — and look at how willingly I would take it all on — head bowed, back bent to take the malicious lies that felt just like beatings…

But then I stopped.  Either therapy finally clicked, God got through to this girl, or I just got tired of carrying the entire weight of the sin of the world on my shoulders.  Most likely all three.  I was ready for a life.  I was ready for a voice.  I was tired of a reality being shoved on me.  I was ready to be free.  I was ready to live authentically.

And that’s hard when your life has been one that has been lived for you.  Where auto pilot — or more accurately — survival mode — is all you know.  When people tell you what you are, what you think, and what you should be.  And the hardest part?  That people are people regardless of your peopleness.  That not every action they commit is your fault.  And that not every evil they commit has a consequence.  They will do bad things.  Very bad things.  And they will get away with it.  Over and over again.

See, when you are the punching bag — when you ARE the evil — when you are the absorber of all sin — life just makes more sense.  When you learn and fully realize that you are not — you are SO MUCH MORE THAN –when you learn you have equal footing — it gets all crazy wonky and scary and big and loud and ‘who the hell am I’? And who has to pay for all of this fucked up mess if it isn’t you? Apparently no one. All these mean people get to run around doing bad things, and that’s how the world works, Ang.  Therapy was a scream fest of suck for many, many years.  Don’t open my eyes to “I’m okay,” and “It’s not your fault” when there is NO accountability to be had anywhere in this mess of a world of crazy chaos.  I learned to breathe.  I know God just held me.  He reassured me that Jesus loved the crazy mad girl too.  His eyes saw, and they see, everything.  Live your peace.  You can.  Be the good.  You can.  Be the light.  Be the change.  You can.

But true peace took forever — agonizingly forever.  One breath at a time, forever.  Actually, it’s a daily process I work really hard at.  For myself and for my family. I remained in survival mode for many years because I couldn’t deal with all of the fake — the unauthenticness of the world.  It was an explosion of truth and lies all and once — a whole new kind of pain.  I struggle to stay present, to be mindful.  It’s exhausting.  It’s too easy for me to zone when I get uncomfortable outside.  But, I had lost so many years of my life, decades — to abuse — and walked into another kind — narcissistic bullshit.  I can’t do it anymore.  What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right?  They say God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.  I don’t think that’s true.  He doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle together.  He fights for us.  He madly fights and intercedes for us.

I will still occasionally slip into this — taking ownership of messes that are not mine — old habits are hard to break.  But I recognize it now and have the tools to protect myself.  I pray for protection for my family as well.  I am learning this beautiful thing called boundaries.  Being free from narcissistic and manipulative people who cause drama and harm — that is peace.  As victims of abuse, we so often forget we have choice.  You are not powerless.  You are so very powerful!  Do not ever be afraid of that, loves!

And this — people who love us and want the best for us — THEY CHAMPION our journey.  They encourage us.  They don’t throw our past in our faces and say, “Look where you’ve been!”  They don’t drag us down and shove us back into the mud!  No, with incredible JOY and uncontainable PRIDE and immeasurable LOVE they take our hands and our hearts and say, “LOOK HOW FAR YOU HAVE COME!!!”.  Surround yourselves with THOSE kinds of people!  I promise you, loves, THEY ARE NOT HARD TO FIND!!!

And in the words of the opening theme song to my new favorite show, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schimdt”,

“Unbreakable, they alive, dammit,

but females are strong as hell,

unbreakable, they alive, dammit,

it’s a miracle!”

 just watch it — please — so I don’t sound like a complete lunatic (smile) …

We’re survivors.  Kept alive, kept strong, kept quiet, but we have FOUND our voices and we have them for a reason.  Even if, as yet, we are unsure of what that reason is.  So, let’s make something of this and SHINE the crap out of our broken.  It’s freaking beautiful. 

Much love, peace, and Namaste…

We CAN do this (10 seconds at a time… ❤ )

Love,

Ang

do not shrink

For those of you who are interested, I am including some information regarding narcissistic characteristics that I found very helpful.  There are many more blogs and sites available concerning this topic.  If you feel you are in a narcissist relationship, know that this is abuse and please guard your heart and get help — what ever that looks like for you.  It is often not worth your time or energy to try to “work things out” or have conversations with these people.  Set up boundaries.  Walk away.  And if this person is a part of your extended family and you feel you are not getting the support you need, I ask you to be brave.  You are so much more than, and you have choice.  You are worth that choice of loving yourself and your family.  As always, much love. 

Characteristics of a Narcissist

  1. She makes you look crazy. If you try to confront her about something she’s done, she’ll tell you that you have “a very vivid imagination” or that you “made it all up” (this is a phrase commonly used by abusers of all sorts to invalidate your experience of their abuse) that you don’t know what you’re talking about, or that she has no idea what you’re talking about. She will claim not to remember even very memorable events, flatly denying they ever happened, nor will she ever acknowledge any possibility that she might have forgotten. This is an extremely aggressive and exceptionally infuriating tactic called “gaslighting,” common to abusers of all kinds. Your perceptions of reality are continually undermined so that you end up without any confidence in your intuition, your memory or your powers of reasoning. This makes you a much better victim for the abuser.

Narcissists gaslight routinely. The narcissist will either insinuate or will tell you and others outright that you’re unstable, otherwise you wouldn’t believe such ridiculous things or be so uncooperative.

You’re oversensitive. You’re imagining things. You’re hysterical. You’re completely unreasonable. You’re over-reacting, like you always do. She’ll talk to you when you’ve calmed down and aren’t so irrational. She may even characterize you as being neurotic or psychotic.

Once she’s constructed these fantasies of your emotional pathologies, she’ll tell others about them, as always, presenting her smears as expressions of concern and declaring her own helpless victimhood.

She didn’t do anything. She has no idea why you’re so irrationally angry with her. You’ve hurt her terribly. She thinks you may need psychotherapy. She loves you very much and would do anything to make you happy, but she just doesn’t know what to do. You keep pushing her away when all she wants to do is help you.

She has simultaneously absolved herself of any responsibility for your obvious antipathy towards her, implied that it’s something fundamentally wrong with you that makes you angry with her, and undermined your credibility with her listeners. She plays the role of the doting mother so perfectly that no one will believe you.

  1. She’s envious. They will criticize the appearance of their daughters and daughters-in-law. This envy extends to relationships. Narcissistic mothers infamously attempt to damage their children’s marriages and interfere in the upbringing of their grandchildren.
  1. She’s a liar in too many ways to count. Any time she talks about something that has emotional significance for her, it’s a fair bet that she’s lying. Lying is one way that she creates conflict in the relationships and lives of those around her she’ll lie to them about what other people have said, what they’ve done, or how they feel. She’ll lie about her relationship with them, about your behavior or about your situation in order to inflate herself and to undermine your credibility.

The narcissist is very careful about how she lies. To outsiders she’ll lie thoughtfully and deliberately, always in a way that can be covered up if she’s confronted with her lie. She spins what you said rather than makes something up wholesale. She puts dishonest interpretations on things you actually did. If she’s recently done something particularly egregious she may engage in preventative lying: she lies in advance to discount what you might say before you even say it. Then when you talk to anyone about what she did you’ll be cut off with “I already know all about it…your mother told me… (self-justifications and lies).” Because she is so careful about her deniability, it may be very hard to catch her in her lies and the more gullible of her friends may never realize how dishonest she is.

To you, she’ll lie blatantly. She will claim to be unable to remember bad things she has done, even if she did one of them recently and even if it was something very memorable. Of course, if you try to jog her memory by recounting the circumstances “You have a very vivid imagination” or “That was so long ago. Why do you have to dredge up your old grudges?” Your conversations with her are full of casual brush-offs and diversionary lies and she doesn’t respect you enough to bother making it sound good.  You are now in a game with only one rule: You can’t win.

On the rare occasions she is forced to acknowledge some bad behavior, she will couch the admission deniably. She “guesses” that “maybe” she “might have” done something wrong. The wrongdoing is always heavily spun and trimmed to make it sound better. The words “I guess,” “maybe,” and “might have” are in and of themselves lies because she knows exactly what she did – no guessing, no might haves, no maybes.

  1. She has to be the center of attention all the time. A narcissistic mother may create odd occasions at which she can be the center of attention, such as memorials for someone close to her who died long ago, or major celebrations of small personal milestones. She may love to entertain so she can be the life of her own party. She will try to steal the spotlight or will try to spoil any occasion where someone else is the center of attention, particularly the child she has cast as the scapegoat. She often invites herself along where she isn’t welcome. She has always pouted, manipulated or raged if you tried to do anything without her, didn’t want to entertain her, stymied her plans for a drama, or otherwise deprived her of attention.

Older narcissistic mothers often use the natural limitations of aging to manipulate dramas, often by neglecting their health or by doing things they know will make them ill. This gives them the opportunity to cash in on the investment they made when they trained you to wait on them as a child. Then they call you (or better still, get the neighbor or the nursing home administrator to call you) demanding your immediate attendance. You are to rush to her side, pat her hand, weep over her pain and listen sympathetically to her unending complaints about how hard and awful it is. (“Never get old!”) It’s almost never the case that you can actually do anything useful, and the causes of her disability may have been completely avoidable, but you’ve been put in an extremely difficult position. If you don’t provide the audience and attention she’s manipulating to get, you look extremely bad to everyone else and may even have legal culpability. (Narcissistic behaviors commonly accompany Alzheimer’s disease, so this behavior may also occur in perfectly normal mothers as they age.)

  1. She’s infantile and petty. Narcissistic mothers are often simply childish. If you refuse to let her manipulate you into doing something, she will cry that you don’t love her because if you loved her you would do as she wanted. If you hurt her feelings she will aggressively whine to you that you’ll be sorry when she’s dead that you didn’t treat her better. These babyish complaints and responses may sound laughable, but the narcissist is dead serious about them. When you were a child, if you ask her to stop some bad behavior, she would justify it by pointing out something that you did that she feels is comparable, as though the childish behavior of a child is justification for the childish behavior of an adult. “Getting even” is a large part of her dealings with you. Anytime you fail to give her the deference, attention or service she feels she deserves, or you thwart her wishes, she has to show you.
  2. She projects. This sounds a little like psycho-babble, but it is something that narcissists all do. Projection means that she will put her own bad behavior, character and traits on you so she can deny them in herself and punish you. This can be very difficult to see if you have traits that she can project on to.
  3. She is never wrong about anything. No matter what she’s done, she won’t ever genuinely apologize for anything. Instead, any time she feels she is being made to apologize she will sulk and pout, issue an insulting apology or negate the apology she has just made with justifications, qualifications or self pity: “I’m sorry you felt that I humiliated you” “I’m sorry if I made you feel bad” “If I did that it was wrong” “I’m sorry, but I there’s nothing I can do about it” “I’m sorry I made you feel clumsy, stupid and disgusting” “I’m sorry but it was just a joke. You’re so over-sensitive” “I’m sorry that my own child feels she has to upset me and make me feel bad.” The last insulting apology is also an example of projection.
  4. She seems to have no awareness that other people even have feelings. She’ll occasionally slip and say something jaw-droppingly callous because of this lack of empathy. It isn’t that she doesn’t care at all about other people’s feelings, though she doesn’t. It would simply never occur to her to think about their feelings.

An absence of empathy is the defining trait of a narcissist and underlies most of the other traits I have described. Unlike psychopaths, narcissists do understand right, wrong, and consequences, so they are not ordinarily criminal.

  1. She blames. She’ll blame you for everything that isn’t right in her life or for what other people do or for whatever has happened.

Narcissists are masters of multitasking as this example shows. Simultaneously your narcissistic mother is:

  1. Lying. She knows what she did was wrong and she knows your reaction is reasonable.
  2. Manipulating. She’s making you look like the bad guy for objecting to her cruelties.
  3. Being selfish. She doesn’t mind making you feel horrible as long as she gets her own way.
  4. Blaming. She did something wrong, but it’s all your fault.
  5. Projecting. Her petty, small and childish behavior has become yours.
  6. Putting on a self-pitying drama. She’s a martyr who believed the best of you, and you’ve let her down.
  7. Parentifying. You’re responsible for her feelings, she has no responsibility for yours.
  1. She destroys your relationships. Narcissistic mothers are like tornadoes: wherever they touch down families are torn apart and wounds are inflicted. Unless the father has control over the narcissist and holds the family together, adult siblings in families with narcissistic mothers characteristically have painful relationships. Typically all communication between siblings is superficial and driven by duty, or they may never talk to each other at all. In part, these women foster dissension between their children because they enjoy the control it gives them. If those children don’t communicate except through the mother, she can decide what everyone hears. Narcissists also love the excitement and drama they create by interfering in their children’s lives. Watching people’s lives explode is better than soap operas, especially when you don’t have any empathy for their misery.

The narcissist nurtures anger, contempt and envy – the most corrosive emotions – to drive her children apart. The narcissist also uses favoritism and gossip to poison her childrens’ relationships. The scapegoat sees the mother as a creature of caprice and cruelty. As is typical of the privileged, the other children don’t see her unfairness and they excuse her abuses. Indeed, they are often recruited by the narcissist to adopt her contemptuous and entitled attitude towards the scapegoat and with her tacit or explicit permission, will inflict further abuse. The scapegoat predictably responds with fury and equal contempt. After her children move on with adult lives, the narcissist makes sure to keep each apprised of the doings of the others, passing on the most discreditable and juicy gossip (as always, disguised as “concern”) about the other children, again, in a way that engenders contempt rather than compassion.

The end result is a family in which almost all communication is triangular. The narcissist, the spider in the middle of the family web, sensitively monitors all the children for information she can use to retain her unchallenged control over the family. She then passes that on to the others, creating the resentments that prevent them from communicating directly and freely with each other. The result is that the only communication between the children is through the narcissist, exactly the way she wants it.

  1. As a last resort she goes pathetic. When she’s confronted with unavoidable consequences for her own bad behavior, including your anger, she will melt into a soggy puddle of weepy helplessness. It’s all her fault. She can’t do anything right. She feels so bad. What she doesn’t do: own the responsibility for her bad conduct and make it right. Instead, as always, it’s all about her, and her helpless self-pitying weepiness dumps the responsibility for her consequences AND for her unhappiness about it on you.

As so often with narcissists, it is also a manipulative behavior. If you fail to excuse her bad behavior and make her feel better, YOU are the bad person for being cold, heartless and unfeeling when your poor mother feels so awful.

October 10, 2009 by mypainfuljourney

From my personal experience, I believe we have this deep desire and hope that our mothers will change. Growing up isn’t easy, and we developed unhealthy behaviors and we want to change and hope that some day our parents will change, and “get it.”

We need to understand that narcissists don’t want to change, and like who they are.  They like who they are, and it is everyone else with the problem. Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged change, experience, hope, not, personal, self-absorbed | 1 Comment »

“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.”

– Oprah Winfrey

Dear G…

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Dear Glennon,

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this for a very long time.  You know, forever.  And I chicken out each time because the moment is never perfect — because my boys are always too loud, my schedule always too insane, my mind never clear enough, and you are just so amazing (I’m so nervous!!!) — and I know I’ll never — ever — be able to say it just right — just how much you mean to me and just how much I love you — without sounding super crazy.  I’m pretty sure I just accomplished THAT!  I also just pleaded with my boys to do their best to teeter on the verge of quiet — and they just told me they are going to have their own version of the super bowl in their room, so, yeah…  total peace.  This should go well… (if we don’t have to make an ER trip in this blizzard that has just taken over, life will be good).  Max says they’ll move some of the furniture to make it safer.  I’m comforted…

As I listen to my twelve year old’s bedroom being rearranged into a football stadium, I realize there will never be an absolutely perfect time, and I’m pretty certain my mind will never be clear, so we just show up anyway.  Someone pretty freaking amazing taught me that, so with that– here I jump…

I think it’s really important to tell people how incredible they are, those people who have made extraordinary impacts in your life, who fill you up, lift you up, and point your face to heaven — those people who not only restore your faith but remind you what it is to have faith in the first place.  Because, all too often, we don’t get to hear the good stuff.  Nope.  For some reason time isn’t taken for that.  So, I think that’s really important–giving that good stuff a voice — that we take the time to point out what’s shining.  And damn, G, you shine so bright.

I found you years ago, through this blog called Momastery.  I’m sure you’re familiar, heh, heh.  I poured over every single word — crying, connecting, laughing, and all at once, I felt like I KNEW you.  And even more incredibly, I felt like you knew ME.  All of my pieces.  If you only knew what an absolute miracle that feeling was.  And this, this was a place where this crazy, broken, tired, spent and used up girl belonged.  And not only belonged–but was okay.  Maybe even MORE than okay.  So, I bought a Monkee sweatshirt, and “we can do hard things” became one of my every other breaths and daily yogic mantras.  So my very first appreciation of thanks is this — thanks for being my space maker.  Sometimes we all just need to know that we have our own space and we’re not taking up anyone else’s who could make better use of it.  This is ours, and it’s really okay for us to be present in it — just as we are.  Thank you for that.  You helped me take a breath, realize that, and those words on those pages pulled me up to try another day.  That was just the beginning…

I’d also like to thank you for living your Jesus.  See, he’s my Jesus too, but I don’t think others see him or we reflect him until we live him — until we are his hands and feet.  Going to church on Sundays shows people we worship him, yes, but living our lives FOR him?  Well, that’s an entirely different story.  I was raised in the church, but I was never saved by the church.  And churches are a great place to connect with believers, praise and get filled up again, I so believe this — but living Jesus, showing Jesus, giving Jesus — this is an everyday, every minute thing — in how we treat people, love people, help people, inspire people (you get it).  It’s a verb, a doing thing — and our lives should move people to want to know our Jesus.  You not only make me want to know him more, you inspire me to shine the God in me so bright — because this love thing IS a really big deal.  It’s not just some sentimental Hallmark garbage.  It really is everything.  Jesus went so far as to say they will know us by our love — and that love word — man, that’s the BIGGEST verb in the whole entire world.  Thanks for screaming from the mountain tops — let’s get to doing it, people!!!  Thanks for living and shining Jesus and inviting us all to do the same.  We can make such a difference.  We can be miracles for each other.  In all the darkness that is, we can be a light.

And thank you for showing me that this light can shine through broken.  And, that broken is beautiful — and that all of us may really be a little broken — not just this crazy girl — and maybe, quite possibly, the craziest thing we can do is to hide that, not admit that — and the most sane thing we can do is embrace all that is authentic and shine the hell out of our broken.  You inspired me to commit to this one word — authentic.  I want to live an authentic self and I strive for this every day.  Most of my life I had spent trying to be what I thought everyone else had wanted me to be so that they would be happy and accept me.  The funny thing about that is, those people are never truly happy with you.  You will never be enough for them — and that tight rope of things you must be and the checklist of all the things you must do to appease them just gets higher and longer.  It’s exhausting.  And that’s not love.  And that’s not life.  And that’s one hell of a prison — an incredibly suffocating prison.  Authenticity breaks through this prison, even through fear — and yes, at first I thought I might stop breathing all together.  But I didn’t.  I found out that God still loved me.  And I wasn’t anyone’s puppet.  Relationships became real.  It was hard.  It was brutal.  It was amazing.  Authenticity.  Always.  I wrote little pieces of my story in this blog.  Somehow, I became lighter.  Somehow, I became free.  Thanks for giving me the courage to do that.  It wasn’t all amazing.  There was a little bit of backlash from people who cherish the façade of perfect, but I had the Bible and this fabulous book called, “Carry On, Warrior.”  And carry on we can.

And I had to carry on with people I wanted to run away from.  Harmful people, even the ones that are supposed to love you — even the ones that say they love you and ‘only want what’s best for you’– that are toxic to you — ouch.  When you stop doing everything they say, when you start wanting real, it can get so very ugly.  But I was, in a way, ready for this.  When I began going through therapy many, many years ago for a lifetime of abuse and abuse I was still wading through (I was still learning what was okay and not okay to accept from other people), I was diagnosed with depression and I was also struggling with an eating disorder.  I didn’t really understand the words or the flood of everything that was hitting me.  It was a torrent of — there really are no words — to wade and rage through.  I won’t get into all the details of my childhood and life with you right here, G, we’ll just say it was really crappy — and there are so many survivors of really crappy out there.  We moved around a lot and were secluded often when we stayed in one place — outside of the church.   My father thrived in the church.  In fact, my father’s “style” of parenting was championed as a zealous love for God.  This was holy.  This was my cross to bear for being the sinner that I was from birth to what ever age I survived to be.  I didn’t know any different.  So, the proverbial shit really hit the fan when I went to college and I began to see, to understand — that other families — moreover, that no other families — worked like mine.  It was a deep pit, crashing down, dizzy, numbing, painful, stuff.  Not that the living in it was butterflies and rainbows.  That was hell.  I wanted to die.  But I was afraid of the real hell (you know, the eternal one), and I was raised to believe that every good Christian knows that if you commit suicide you go to hell, right?  There were some days that I toyed with the notion of which hell could be worse, and I really don’t care who judges me for that.  You didn’t walk it.

There is something so substantially damaging about abuse — and I guess that should go without saying — but sometimes I feel the need to reiterate it as I don’t think we guard our precious ones enough in this world where it has become so fucking common place.  It becomes a regular part of your life — your day-to-day — your pattern — even how you see yourself.  It changes your infrastructure — your makeup inside.  And this abuse is most often coupled with psychological abuse — and the most damaging realization that follows you throughout your entire life — that your parents didn’t love you — the people who were meant to give you the unconditional kind of love resented the fact that you were even breathing.  I mean, there has GOT to be something intrinsically wrong with you, right?  It’s a horrific mind worm that one battles — rages against — constantly — and you pulled this little girl out of that so many times.  Let’s just say your book has been read seven times and counting (highlighted, written on, and folded pages — sticky notes of quotes are all over my home)…  You might get a chuckle out of this — even our Pete the Elf was involved in bringing back some of your quotes to my boys from the North Pole with their cookies and treasures.  The kid in me and my children are also inspired by you.  This momma needs them to know what she feels in her heart and cannot always say.  Thanks for giving me those words.  (My oldest has read “A Mountain I’m Willing To Die On” — still go back to that piece SO many times…).

I digress, I do this — a lot —

So, when you decide to go for real, for authenticity always — you need to surround yourself with light.  You are one of my constant lights.  Because you will hear a lot of crap.  When I first went on medication eons ago, just to put one foot in front of the other style — one comment my now husband heard during a Christmas gathering was, “Angie’s on Buspar?  You know I heard that’s what they give cocaine addicts in rehab.”  And after I had to make a clean break from my family to heal and, quite honestly, be SAFE, and I began to stand up for myself in other areas of my life that I hadn’t before — I was dealt comments like this one, “Look at all of the problems your family has.  None of your family talks to you.  Kind of makes me wonder.  Hmmmmm.”  And those comments?  I’d like to say I was super strong and flew right over them with grace and wisdom.  But I didn’t.  They set me back.  I doubted myself.  The negative voices that had literally been pounded into my head since infancy surfaced — you are just wrong.  Everything about you is WRONG.  You don’t have a right to your heart or to your voice.  Just shut up!  Then G, you know what you did?  You gave me my voice back.

And some of these people are still in my life.  Because they have to be.  But you have also taught me how to deal with that.  Because every part of me wants to just not have to.  Because I feel like I’ve had to deal with more than my share of mean and ignorant and narcissistic manipulation.  So I repeat this to myself, over and over again.  “I am confident because I am a child of God.  I am humble because I believe that everyone else is too.”  In fact, I made it into a magnet on my fridge.  I can appreciate these people in small doses, because there really is beauty in everyone.  There is.  I can find it.  And if I struggle, God can help me.  Some people have really pretty eyelashes — smile.  Everyone has their own journey.  Everyone is accountable for their walk.  Just as I am for mine.  God sees it all.  No one “gets away” with anything.  So I can appreciate and find beauty in everyone, I can view this beauty where and when I feel safe, but I don’t have to invite everyone to my dance party — because there WILL be dancing, G!  Thanks for getting this girl’s feet dancing again (currently Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” is our favorite groove)!

Trust the journey.  Three little words.  SO easy, and yet SO hard.  I have to trust MY journey.  Like going outside my front door journey.  Putting myself out there, only to get my heart broken again, get made fun of, shamed — but it’s okay.  Not because I’m strong, but because the light in me is.  And what ever happens, I’ll be okay.  Because, holy hell, I HAVE been.  I have survived.  And more than that, I have THRIVED.  And this life — it’s a freaking miracle.  Every single breathing day.  And the miracles we have in each other?  We’re all walking light houses of God’s love, baby.  Incredible, isn’t it? And so what if it isn’t pretty right now — at this very minute.   He makes all things beautiful in his time.  It’s been a verse I’ve always clung to.  But what do we do in the mean time?  And this “meantime” place is also where you’ve helped me hang, lovely one.  Yes, he makes all things beautiful in his time — and in this mean time, we are SO beautiful — SO beautifully and so wonderfully made — JUST AS WE ARE — so easy, and yet, so hard to grasp and understand for some of us.  And we have to just trust this journey.  And while we’re trusting, it’s really okay to enjoy it too.  Thanks for that.

And while I may always be a mess on this journey that I’m trusting, my mess doesn’t define me — I am so much more than all of this crazy — and I can use my crazy mess for good.  It’s kind of like my hidden super power — and on some days it’s not so hidden — ha!  It drives me inward, but it also drives me to care and that caring drives me to do.  So it’s all good.  In his time.  It’s all good.

And as my youngest’s name is Griffyn, so his nickname is G, and as I talk about you both so frequently (my Facebook posts are all about my Jesus, my family, my Glennon, and yoga), I’m sure this will be confusing to my very little family of readers at first.  And I laugh sometimes because you both are so much alike — it really is okay that I am comparing you to my six-year-old, isn’t it?  His heart is just so full of empathy and love for others and he is always sharing that — always — at school, home, the grocery store — where EVER we go.  The two phrases he says most often are that he wishes he could hug the WHOLE world, and that love is the answer for everything (which he frequently brings up while doing math homework as well).  He’s spreading his sunshine.  So really, ‘it ain’t nothing but a G thang…’

I know that you don’t know me and I really don’t know you, yet you have been such an incredible part of my life for so many years — and you continue to be.  You are one of the pieces to my puzzle — the people pieces that God puts in our lives to help us see the bigger picture more clearly.  And I love you and I pray for you — for strength, for courage, for peace — for all the big things, that really aren’t things — the soul things — that you have given me.  And I know you’re not perfect, and you’re not on a pedestal — those things are too tall and fragile and induce falling.  Nope, you’re in my heart — which is kind of a crazy place to be — but hey, there’s glitter, dancing, and sunshine in all of it too (and lots of coffee).  Love you, and thanks — for, well, everything. ❤

“When it’s dark, be the one who turns on the light.”

Joseph, Brooklyn, N.Y., age 9

365 Days Of Wonder

Mr. Browne’s Book Of Precepts

R.J. Palacio

PS — Just to let you know, the Seahawks won the pretend Superbowl game going on upstairs, which I only had to stop and referee twice — and I also unplugged one toilet whilst writing this letter.  Life with boys.  Reff-ing and unplugging things while outpouring my heart in thanks.  If that’s not a metaphor for life…

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