And the truth will set you free…

make truth scream

I am approaching this subject so tenderly, with so much thought and with such careful prayer and meditation.  It has been weighing so heavily on my soul for over a decade.  God sometimes gives us heavy things, doesn’t He?  It is something that has deeply cut my family, our extended family, and even poured devastatingly into my marriage.  I have prayed, I have cried, I have carried this.  I have remained silent.  I have tried to ignore it and move on and around it in our lives — and yet it keeps returning.  These past few months I even confronted it.  And this weekend, after so much pain, and after so much hard — I am finally able to truly let it go.  I am now able to fully understand why this monster has been such a force of destruction and abuse in our lives.

I haven’t been able to sleep lately.  Being a light sleeper, this equates to no sleep as opposed to a few good hours of sleep.  And the terrible nightmares of my father have returned again.  I haven’t had those in years.  I’ve been frustrated, sad, and feeling so completely frazzled with just about everything.  The state of my heart has been a mess.  This most certainly means that things in my life are just plain out of whack.

When God lays things upon your heart and mind and doesn’t let them go, it is usually for a reason.  When something is gnawing on your soul and wearing you down, year after year after year, He isn’t whispering anymore.  He’s shaking you.  You know it.  I knew it.  This all just was not working.  It wasn’t right.  It was never right.  And I wasn’t able to ignore it anymore and let it pass for “personality”.  The concern of “Will other people understand?”, “How will I be judged?” or “I just wish they knew what was really going on!” was completely gone.  Right is certainly not often easy.  But the Lord will not let you rest in wrong.

do what is right

Lies.  Dishonesty.  Gossip.  These things are abhorrently disdainful to God.  They rip lives apart.  They rip families apart.  And the world is a place that is full of lies.  In fact, honesty, truth, authenticity are SO very rare.  So rare, in fact, that we often make excuses for lies every.single.day.  And we make excuses for them in our behavior and other people’s behavior as well.  We say things like, “That’s just the way she is.”  Or, “I’m just so used to her telling lies and saying crazy, off the wall things that I just let it roll off of me and I don’t think about it.”  Little white lies.  Big lies.  And everything in between.  It’s become acceptable behavior.  And it is destructive.

Now, we all are going to slip up in this area occasionally.  It happens.  We’re human and we sin.  No one is perfect.  Owning up to your mistakes, admitting to your sins and errors, that’s one thing.  But not taking accountability for the heinous untruths that have come out of your mouth is quite another.  Lies on top of lies.  Lies begetting more lies.  It never, ever ends.  And the fact of the matter is, if a person really believed the horrific things she was saying about the people she was talking about — really and truly felt there was truth to these fabricated stories or disgusting stretches and slants of fact (which are still lies) — she would talk to THAT person him or herself — instead of taking the hours it takes to call her friends or that person’s other family members to talk about it to them instead.  If there is true care, true concern about the gravity of the things that are being lied about — she would have conversations with the person the salacious stories are being postured about.  That is not done — at first — or at all.  Because the effect desired is not one of resolution or empathy for that person, but drama and attention seeking for herself.

I had thought about letting this go just one more time.  What’s one more time, right? — In the long laundry list of times this woman’s mouth has spread deceit.  But what weighs so incredibly heavy on my heart time and time again is what am I teaching my children?  This behavior is not okay.  By any stretch of the imagination.  No one else would EVER be permitted to treat us or any of our friends or family in this manner.  It does not matter what label of ‘family’ is attached to this person’s name.  Just because you are “so and so” does not make it acceptable for you to act in this matter towards me, or towards anyone in this family.  It would be one thing if you could talk to this person and make some kind of headway, some kind of reasonable place from which to move forward — but the lies only continue.  She will deny anything you say she has said or done.  Vehemently.  And then call everyone else she knows and lie some more — about the very conversation you just had — in which you told her the very thing you needed from her to have any kind of relationship what so ever was honesty.

Lying — what’s the big deal anyway?

choose your words

I spent yesterday in the Word, praying, and meditating to come to some sense of what I was supposed to do with this situation that keeps coming up for my family.  What I really want to do is take my children and get as far away from all of this as I possibly can.  No one seems to stand up to this woman.  I feel very alone in this.  She is not held accountable.  She can not be reasoned with because she takes no accountability (or she will make a general, sweeping apology but when pressed for WHY she is apologizing and what it is exactly that she is sorry for — can only say that she was asked to apologize by so and so because that person thought it would make things better — but can not come up with any concrete reasons as to why she is sorry), when pressed with specific circumstances denies everything or changes her story, and just cries, or yells, or sarcastically laughs (which she will deny and call ‘audible noises’), blames it on everyone else, and then plays the tortured victim.  Breath is wasted on a narcissist.  I am not wasting any more stress or valuable minutes of my life on this ridiculous hamster wheel.  I refuse to play or be a part of this game.  I am done.

All the while, I have so ardently prayed for her and prayed for God to show me what to do as I feel so trapped and isolated in this.  But as a mother, as a Christian, as a feeling human being — I take none of this lightly.  I can forgive over and over again — even if someone is continuing the behavior and never admits to or asks to be forgiven — but it does NOT mean I have to invite the evil or the crazy into my front door or walk through hers.  Forgiveness does not mean you have to be a participant in the insanity.

Even though I was completely exhausted and just spent today, I felt this urgency to get my family to church.  We all had to go, regardless.  It was the strongest pull I have ever felt.  No “I’m too tired” excuses or “We have too much to do today.”  We.could.not.miss.

It was all God.  In fact, it was the biggest God thing.

I finally gained complete understanding as to why I felt such conviction in this.  The words of the sermon were salve, they were my plenty, they filled my soul that had felt so beaten up and depleted for so many years by this woman.  In my eyes, she was always getting away with so much — over and over and over again — and I just wished that people could see and hear her for who she really was.  And then here she was painting others out to be so terrible, when it was her heart and her tongue that were false and full of darkness.  And then, a few years ago, by the grace of God I was over all of that.  Over being misunderstood.  Over the justice here on earth part.  I didn’t care anymore.  I held on to the fact that God knew me, he saw absolutely everything and she really wasn’t getting away with any of it.

But still, this dealing with it all here on earth part was hard.   It was so hard.  And I felt trapped in this.  Like I didn’t have a leg to stand on because she was this person to our family.  I had made boundaries, but it still just felt so wrong inside.  I truly felt like I was wrestling a demon.  Like God was saying, — ‘This isn’t enough.  Your children are getting really mixed messages about right and wrong, about their faith, about what it means to be a father, a husband, a mother, a wife, a grandmother, about love, about who I am.’  Until today.  It became so very clear.

The sermon today was all about, are you ready for this??? — truth and honesty.  And God said, “Angie, here’s your answer.”

One verse.  One little verse.  James 5:12 says, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else.  Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No’ be no, or you will be condemned.”  Such a powerful verse!  Turns out, God does not take honestly lightly!  In fact, WHAT WE SAY MATTERS.  It matters intensely.  It matters SO much that we will have to give an account for the words that we utter here on this earth.  God is a God of truth.  Satan is the father of lies.  Apostle John, when speaking of the children of the devil in chapter 8 verse 44 says, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for his is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me!”.  Our honesty, our truth, marks our very walk with God.  It is a testament to our Christianity.  God’s words are truth, and as followers of God, we need to be the same with our word.  I want my boys to see and to know this — to fully understand this with all of their being.  I don’t want them to be confused by this when they constantly hear, “Well, that’s just how she is — that’s just how I grew up and what I’m used to from her.”  Not acceptable.  On absolutely any level.

The words we utter also reflect the state of our hearts.  One of the main reasons I practice yoga and meditate and fervently read the word of God and pray incessantly is because I want to fill my heart up with love, with light, with the fruits of the spirit and the wisdom of the One who created me.  If my heart is filled with those things, when I am stressed, angry, or bitter — my mind, my tongue, my first thoughts will have what I have stored up in that space to fall back on.  I must constantly fill up my supply.  It’s been a life long journey for me to come to this understanding, to cultivate this, to find peace despite circumstance, and to realize that I MUST be vigilant about this.  Our hearts and souls need this food just as much as our bodies do — like our lungs need air.  And it is absolutely amazing how much we think and feel comes from our lips.  Devoting your life to authenticity and to the Lord completely changes your insides.  Transversely, if what comes from your lips is mostly lies, you might want to take a look at your heart — and furthermore — your walk with God as a believer.  It is a relationship.  And like all relationships, one that takes cultivation and time — talking and listening.  Luke 6:45, one of my favorite verses in the Bible, says “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” 

from her heart

Truth and honesty are of upmost importance to God.  In fact, James says, “Above all.”  As in, ‘if you should forget all the other things I have told you, this is the one thing you should remember.”  Above.all.  James states in Chapter One, verse 26, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”  His.religion.is.worthless.  Wow.  This is huge.  This is heavy.  This is everything.  Our words, our honesty, what comes out of our mouths — it so very matters.  My religion is not worthless to me.  My God is not worthless to me.  I do not want that message of worthlessness to be conveyed to my children — that maybe it’s okay to repeatedly lie and hurt people if you are this person.  ‘Because that’s just what she does.  And she’ll never change.  And we can’t really talk to her about it because she doesn’t remember any of it, she doesn’t hold herself accountable, so we all just have to live with it.  She’s a gossip.  She always has been.  She stretches the truth.  She makes up crazy stories.  That’s just her.  It’s been her for as long as I can remember.’  Or worse yet, to completely ignore it and not even recognize the problem.  I do not want them to get that message from me.  If other people want to make that choice for themselves and their families, that is theirs to make.  This is mine.  And God is holding me accountable.  Not man.  It is in front of Him I will stand in final judgment.  So the choice is clear for this girl.

the way we talk

And with that, I could finally breathe.  The tears just came, and this time they were because I finally felt peace in my heart when it came to this mess of evil that has plagued our family for so long.  That what ever came my way in the form of obstacles or hardship when it came to this situation, I knew what I had to do.  And I praised God, and I’m praising him still.  Thank you, Jesus!  Like I tell my boys during our nightly devotionals, God may not burn bushes, part seas, pour mannah from heaven, or raise people from the dead anymore — but he still talks to us.  In all of our every days, he still talks to us.  And I thanked Pastor Chad after his sermon for this truly ‘God thing’ for our family.  It was one of the most necessary pieces to starting to work on my marriage and for true peace for this family.

God has us.  He so has us.  And it doesn’t matter if no one else understands, if they say the most awful things in the world about you to anyone and everyone who will listen — he knows us and has us.  And he holds us.  And he will protect us and keep us from evil.  Even if that evil comes with a smile and looks like the sweetest sunshine to the rest of the world.

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” 2 Samuel 22:31-33

He is your shield.  Keep listening.  Keep leaning in.  Keep walking with your Rock.  He will arm you with strength, and he will keep working on your heart and growing your peace.  He will give you discernment in all the webs of dishonesty that may try to tangle you.  He will be your light.  Keep your mind and heart on the things above, and hold fast.  Hold fast.  In his name and in his love — which is the widest and biggest and foreverest… ❤

life with God

 

 

 

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What Makes You Brave… (raising the anxious child)

fear is a liar
“You, my brothers, were called to be free.” Galatians 5:13

 

It’s Halloween here in the United State Of America.  Happy ‘Boo Day’ to you!  We don’t do much to celebrate it here in our house.  I’m just lamenting the take down of all of these fall decorations.  And dusting.  And reorganizing.  Maybe tomorrow when I come out of my sugar coma…

Begger’s Night was last night.  That’s how we do it in the Midwest.  It was SO MUCH more fun as my sisters Molly and Erin and Molly’s boyfriend, Tucker, got to join us (dressed as giant M&M’s).  They have never been home for this festive occasion.  It rocked our night.  Made it.  I’m from Minnesota where we did things a little differently, but here in Iowa they call it Begger’s Night and do this candy thing the night before Halloween.  So Begger’s Night is where we go and beg for candy, tell jokes, and dress up as cute things, scary things, and everything in between.  I have been eating G’s candy, doing laundry, and drinking coffee all day.  It’s quite disgusting.  I really need to stop.  I’m blaming Karey.  4Gotten Treasures wasn’t open today (smile). We never buy candy in this house.  My kids aren’t used to having it around or eating it.  So here I am.  Doing it for them.  I mean, we all have to make sacrifices for our children, right? (smile)

My youngest LOVES Halloween.  He always has.  The first few years of his life he would cry — literally cry — when I took down the Halloween decorations (more like fallish décor with a few cute spiders and ghosts from Hallmark) — so we would put pumpkins on our Christmas tree — just to make the transition easier for him.  We have kept this tradition to this day — G puts his “puntins” on our tree.  It’s his thing.  I hope it’s always his thing.  I adore it.  His favorite movies are all Tim Burton cartoons — his first being “Coraline” when he was all of two.  It scared the crap out of my oldest.  And he’s watched “The Nightmare Before Christmas” like “a fousand” times.  He has a Jack blanket — all black and skeletonny — with his name embroidered on it — from the Disney store — that he snuggles with.  He loves Jack.  And “The Book Of Life” that just came out not that long ago.  He found it fantastical.  The entire story is about death and All Saints Day.  He will tell everyone I cried at the end.  I thought it was fantastical too.  Maybe you think I should be worried about this little nugget of mine.  I’m not.  Here’s why…

G loves all of this stuff because it is straight up magical to him.  And he will tell you so.  It’s not scary.  It’s pure authentic uniqueness.  Halloween is a time to be other things.  To express sides of yourself that you may have been too scared to try on before.  And some of them might just be a little dark (this is the most loving and cuddliest and most empathetic kid you will ever meet in your lifetime — besides his older brother — smile). And we all have those sides to us too.  And Tim Burton’s films champion the creative underdog who isn’t just like everyone else.  He or she is the black sheep, the ridiculed misfit — who always comes to the conclusion that being themselves is the best way of doing things — despite what anyone else thinks or says.  And G loves all of this.  That, and his favorite color is orange.  The candy he’s not into so much.  I mean, his mom eats it all for goodness sakes.  I love my kid for this.  For all of it.  So yes, we have pumpkins on our Christmas tree.  And it’s pretty amazing.

My oldest is more of a Christmas kind of kid.  Both of my kids were scared to death of Santa Clause until they were too old for it to be cool to get pictures with the big guy.  I mean really, what is scarier — jack o lanterns or a giant guy with a long white beard in a red suite with ginormous black boots that says “HO HO HO” in a booming deep voice?!?!?!?!?  Smile.  Max loves that the world was saved on this day.  All of us.  A tiny, unassuming little baby — in the most unholy places — came to rescue us.  The Great I Am started as a small baby boy, in a manger, in a stable — and that the most awesome stories can have the most humble beginnings.  We talk about that so often in this house.  God’s great purpose for us all.  No matter how small we may feel or others may try to tell us we are, his divine purpose reigns.  And this great rescue, this freedom, this incredible and specific to us purpose all started with one baby boy — who was both man and God.  It’s rather mind and heart and soul blowing.  So yes, we crank up “A Baby Changes Everything” at least ten times a day during the Christmas season — not just for Max.  It’s one of my favorites too.

It’s pretty clear I love these two boys.  And that they have pretty big hearts.  It may appear they are very much alike, yet these two children of mine could not be any more different in their natures — which makes for some fun times in our house — some go to separate corners of the house times in our house — to Mommy has no more patience time in our house.  I have often joked that they are my yin and my yang.  They literally couldn’t be any more different.  Perhaps they are mirrors of their Mom and Dad.  Perhaps they are just who God made them to be…

However different they may be, they share a few similarities…  Along with big, beautiful hearts, they share anxiety.  I openly struggle with this myself.  I don’t think there is any reason for us to hide who we are.  I am who I am.  And I’m not ashamed of it.  Hiding and denying and covering things ups is what is ailing this world and making it even sicker.  I want my boys to understand that who I am, who everyone is, is exactly who they are meant to be.  There is good to be had, there are struggles to work through, and there is a mighty, mighty purpose for all of us.  We don’t have to stay stuck or sick — we are empowered in faith to be courageous and always move forward.  But broken is really okay.  As Leanard Cohen writes in his song, Anthem, “There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in”.  And we are all a work in process.  The key is doing the work and admitting to the broken and owning who you are.  That all takes brave.  That all takes honesty.  That all takes giant, deep breaths and so much encouragement that we gain from each other and the Holy Sprit.  We are all meant for great things.  We are all amazing master pieces.  And this includes ALL of our pieces laid in the hands of the master.

own who you are

Of course, I lamented that their anxiety issues were all.my.fault and manifested all.because.of.me.  I hadn’t done a good enough job of letting them see that life goes on, being chill and relaxed, I had hovered too much, I had made them feel like they had to be perfect, I hadn’t prayed with them enough, read the Bible enough, let them know Jesus loved them enough, I hadn’t done ‘all the things enough’ to make them feel whole enough.  Because if I had, then they wouldn’t feel this monster.  It was all because of me.  That was my anxiety talking .  That was my fear, and fear is the biggest liar.

And I didn’t understand it.  My anxiety, OCD, PTSD and all of the other labels that I had ever had, stemmed from horrific things.  My boys did not have these occurrences in their little lives.  I had made damn sure that they were not ever exposed to any of that ugliness.  Maybe I had made sure too much? Maybe I loved them to smothering-ly? And my brain got back on the anxiety wheel again — obsessing over every thing I may have done wrong as a mother.  How in God’s name do hamsters find those freaking wheels fun?

But this wasn’t about me, it was about them.  It was about now.  And what do we do?  Because this world is going to be FULL of crap that isn’t right or good or just — that is going to freak your brain out and put you on that obsessive seizure wheel time and time again.  And my boys are sensitive enough to pick up on all of it.  ALL.OF.IT.  And while behavior disorders like oppositional defiance and other very real and hard things are easier for some people to understand and maybe even deal with rationally — anxiety is often met with a glib “just get over it” and “toughen up and just deal with it” attitude — without ever realizing the very real physical conditions and emotional roller coasters it is putting your child through.  Things like abdominal migraines and panic attacks are super fun.  Breathing issues, not wanting to go to school, being painfully shy, being afraid of germs, obsessing about certain things (that change from one thing to the next at any given moment), etc.  It’s exhausting for everyone.  But please, just.get.over.it.  If only.  Yet we can tolerate and give ginormous breath and width to so many other things — so much room.  But anxiety and sensitivity in boys?  Not so much.  Being loud and aggressive is more easily understood.  I’m so very thankful to the amazing teachers who have given my boys the time and heart it takes to get to know and understand them.  You are absolutely incredible and we truly love you.  They grow and learn so much because of you.  You are all PHENOMENAL!  I am also so very thankful to my boys for teaching me so much as I see this in so many of my four year olds.  It takes time to deal with anxiety.  It takes such a great deal of time.  It takes all of two seconds to be dismissive and label someone as weird or ‘a baby’.  We don’t all work the same way.  And it’s absolutely outrageous to me that this is still having to be explained to grown ups.

you are enough

We talk a great deal in this house — about everything — because communication is power.  The more we know, the more we understand — about each other and the world around us.  And we NEVER, EVER stop learning.  It’s important for my boys to know that their dad and I don’t know everything (I’m pretty sure they get this by now — smile).  And, more over, adults don’t know everything and aren’t always right.  That they can trust themselves and their feelings and what they know too.  They are capable.  They are smart.  They can trust themselves and God — they are mighty.  They are not insignificant just because they are children.  And I firmly believe when YOU feel significant, you treat others in the same manner.  It’s all about respect.  We can discuss ANYTHING they feel may be wrong or they have strange or unsure feelings about.  We don’t hide things.  We are honest and truthful about all of it.  I don’t know that I would be like this if it weren’t for my anxiety or things I’ve been through.  Sufficed to say, my kids are quite verbal.  So I often call this anxiety of ours our super power.  Because for all of it’s frustrations, it gives us many positive attributes too.  There is always something we can be thankful for in everything — even anxiety (smile)…

For one thing, we are more empathetic towards others.  The boys are the best at making cards, sticking up for people, putting themselves bravely in the way of bullies, loving and being kind — and may I just say one of my boys is thirteen (smile).  We don’t ever want anyone else to feel the way we do inside when that anxiety monster is attacking.  We want others to feel comfortable, loved, cared for, and just plain good.  It grows your heart.  You want to give.  In my boy’s case, all the time.  They are the.most.thoughtful.  They are so concerned for all of those around them.  Our prayers at night are so lengthy because they pray for everyone.  When we say “I’ll pray for you,” — sister, brother — we are praying for you! That anxiety, which may manifest itself in worry at times — then translates over to a closeness with God in prayer.  And THAT is all good.  We take it to the Lord.  Lay it at his feet.  And we try our very best to leave it there.

It makes us brave.  This sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?  But anxiety helps us to be brave every single day — because, quite frankly, everything scares you.  So, we have to push through discomfort and muster brave and courage every waking morning to do the next right thing (thanks, Glennon– love you).  This may require more energy than the next person who doesn’t even have to think about being brave when they get out of bed every day and just thinks about how tired they are — but it puts us right in the moment, it connects us to the present, and it makes us focus.  Be brave.  Be courageous.  Because that’s what it takes.  Every.single.day.  Just to be.  And some people may look on that as a negative.  But wow, that can be one positive brain punch too.

love defines you

Because it’s all on how you look at it.  And we chose to look at it as God made us pretty amazingly.  He made us to shine like stars in the universe.  And we’ll just go ahead and praise him for it.  And it really doesn’t matter if no one else understands us or gets us.  Because he does.  And we’ll keep talking about it at home.  And this momma bear will keep fighting for her kids and your kids.  Because I believe we are all pretty awesome.  And it’s different perceptions and ways of seeing (and yes, even feeling) things that make this world the freaking amazing wonderland that it is.  And it’s when we lose those eyes of wonder that the magic is lost — the essence of who we are becomes convoluted.  We are all beautiful.  Because we are made in his image.  That’s not lost on this girl.  Ever.  I see him in my boys.  I see him every single day in their hearts.  Even in the anxious times.  Even in the times people roll their eyes, whisper, say rude things, are mean, bitter, and nasty because they don’t understand.  Oh, I see him.  And I smile and I know that what he created is so divine and good and we will continue to shine and love each other and everyone else around us.  And how very, very blessed we are.  And that makes this girl so crazy brave.

Love and peace and light.

And so much courage. ❤

Go rock your brave.

 

shine shine shine

 

 

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

What makes a family…

all else is madness

These past few months have been rather rough ones for me.  And not just because my husband and the kids and I have been sick and this respiratory junk has been hanging on to us forever, but also because this time of year tends to amplify lingering issues and problems.  We bask in the joy of so many blessings and miracles, yes, but one constant comes to the forefront as well… (this will be choppy, and not at all eloquent — I am being very selfish today and writing just for me — to save my brain and soul from exploding — enter at your own risk…)

This one is always just hanging, and it’s annoyance and pain comes and goes — kind of like arthritis with the weather — sometimes I can bare it and sometimes I can not.  I can be very Zen and peaceful concerning my approach to the matter and then there are some days I am just thoroughly done with the entire thing and want to pack up, walk away, and say good bye.  Because the problem with ongoing issues is, they are never really over.  You constantly have to deal.  And I don’t like that.  Not one single bit.  I don’t like that people don’t have to have consequences or be morally responsible, don’t have to live in reality, don’t have to be honest, don’t have to be kind or authentic, don’t have to be civil, and I don’t like that it can’t really be talked out because you can’t really have open and real communication with crazy or someone that isn’t willing to be honest and authentic–or isn’t able to be.  You just can’t.  And some days, it all just really gets to me.  And I think that I shouldn’t have to put up with or deal with this bullshit for one second more.  Really.  It’s been long enough.  And I have far better things to do with my time and my thoughts and I don’t even get to spend the time I want to with the people who FILL my soul, why would I chose to spend my hours with someone who depletes it.  And I just get down.

So, I’ve been talking to one of my sisters.  Her name is Summer, and she has this knack for getting my soul back on track.  I often call her my soul whisperer.  She keeps me going.  Literally.  She keeps me on course.  She reminds me of who I am when other situations try to derail.  She reminds me of my goals and she reminds me that those goals and that person are worth fighting for.  God created that person with a purpose.  A valuable one at that.  No less valuable than any one else’s.  And I’ve been talking to my birth sisters, one of them who is going through a very similar situation, and we remind each other that we have been through much worse, much darker times, and we have survived.  And in that same vein, we are quite tired of just surviving life–and would much rather spend our time living it.  Petty bullshit behind.  So over this kind of stuff.  We are forging ahead with our walk.  Other people’s choices do not have to be OUR choices or the choices we subject our families too.  We have choice.  We always have a choice.  When you’ve been pushed around and manipulated for so much of your life, it’s easy to fall into old patterns, and it’s easy to forget that we have choice and that we have voice.  I’m so thankful that I have so many sisters that help remind me of this.  “Your life is your story, go write it.” Clare, age 11, State College, Pennsylvania Don’t let someone else hold the pen for you.

And as I was sitting at my Mom and Homer’s last night, having our little family Christmas, and talking to my sisters and brother on the phone moments before and missing them — as they are all on the east coast and Tim in Dubuque and couldn’t be with us — I was just struck by how incredibly blessed I am and how far we’ve come and how miraculous and powerful God is and how this frustrating situation is so not going to follow me into this new year.  It has to change for me and for my family.  I’m not going to be so affected by it anymore.  God will protect me and my boys.  He has proven that time and time again.  So amazingly.  He has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams, sitting here, just being present and loved and so authentically connected in this space with my mom, Homer, my husband, my boys, in this room, altogether in peace.  I just felt this wave rush over me.  No more.  I’m just done with the mess and washing my hands of it, breaking free…

Because here’s the thing…

People use that word so carelessly, and so often manipulatively… “family”.  But that word to me, and to my children, is so huge, so important, and it means so incredibly much — and the least of what it means — the very least — in fact — if at ALL — is genetics.  Nope.  That’s not the tie that binds and that’s not what makes us family for this girl.  It is ever, so much ever MORE than that…

Family is a verb — a doing thing in our house.  It’s an action, much like love.  My boys are blessed to have lots of family — many of whom are not related to them at all.  We have sisters, Gracie and Elise.  My boys couldn’t love them any more.  They have an Auntie Summer and a host of other friends who are family to our little fam of four — all over these United States of ours.  Because “family” isn’t something you just get to be.  No, family is an honor — a privilege you earn.  It’s not a “right” you get just by falling somewhere in a tree (I mean, that’s super awesome when that all works out too!).  You don’t get to lie, dishonor, treat people like crap, disrespect, and continue to do this year after year after year — and then say, “Well, we’re family, and family is the most important thing, so we must adhere to this and this and this.” Nope, family is an action word, it’s a love word, it’s a ‘how you treat other people’ word.  And it can be so beautiful.  And my boys, and this momma, are so blessed with such beautiful examples of family.

Family knows you.  Really KNOWS you.  They know you because they care enough to get to know you and understand the heart of you.  They ask you questions about yourself.  How you’re doing, about silly things like your job, your school day, your hobbies–big things, like your dreams, your goals, your hopes for the future…  I find it so interesting that you can sit in a room for an entire day and have a person not ask you one single question about yourself.  Not one.  They just talk about themselves the entire time or gossip about this neighbor or that neighbor.  The same for my children.  Never attempting to get to know them as real people.  Just telling them who they should be or what they should do.  When we care about each other we try to get to know each other because we are interested in one another as human beings.  We love and want to know these things about each other.  And then we build each other up.  Encouraging one another. Not tearing each other down and ripping each other apart or pitting person against person with lies and deceit. Building and encouraging.  Not manipulating, not twisting. I have been so blessed to see that I have such incredible true family and this is what I want to surround myself with and my boys with.  I pray for God’s protection from the latter.  He is able.  Incredibly able.  I’ve spent long enough having to deal with what family is not to see what I don’t want.  No thank you, been there and done that.  I know what family is — and the best part?  I’ve experienced that grace and beauty to the fullest.  We’re doing that!

And that’s the other thing I don’t understand.  There are people, my family being one of those, that have been through REAL hard things.  Abuse being one avenue of hardship, but there are many, many others–but I don’t understand why you would create hardships that don’t need to be — who needs attention that badly (or opt for the positive kind of attention?). Speaking ill of people hurts and causes so much pain. Especially when those things are untrue things.  Over and over again.  And when you have been given chance after chance to stop and start again?  I can not even wrap my mind around this.  To have turmoil that does not need to exist or be.  And to have no recognition or regard for it.  It’s time for this momma to chose peace.

And, I really don’t care what anyone else thinks or if they understand.  That’s their walk and their journey.  This is mine.  I’m done trying to understand theirs, quite frankly.  It’s been a sad and very hurtful one.  When something bullies and is that intrusively painful to your soul, you need to listen.  I’m listening to mine.  God knows this momma’s heart.  We’ve been chatting quite awhile.  He knows his daughter.  I trust Him.

Forgiveness is so vital.  Yes.  Forgiveness sets us free.  We have to forgive.  I fully understand and believe this.  But when someone is continuing down a path and with a destructive behavior, we also have to protect our hearts, our souls, and our families.  I can forgive you, but I also see that you are not acknowledging your behavior or what you are doing, so I am removing myself from harm.  And people can say I didn’t mean this or that or forget or cry at the drop of a hat and find all kinds of ways to get out of things, deny, or manipulate their way out of situations.  But the fact of the matter is, our words and our deeds are our monuments.  They really are.  It’s really all we have.  Your deeds are your monuments.  We don’t get to meet our maker and say, “Well, I really meant this or Susie totally took that out of context when I was spreading that lie.”  “Your actions are all you can own.” Flynn, age 10, Bowdoinham, Maine

Life is pretty simple.  It really is.  And that’s why I guess I get so frustrated.  Be kind.  Tell the truth.  Treat others as you would want to be treated.  Be humble.  And family, family–just like love–is a doing word.  It’s not a right, it’s a privilege.  You show me that you know what that means before you throw that word around.  I know how important it is.  I trust myself on this one.  We are united, this family.  And God is a part of this family.  The most important part of this family.  He’s bigger than all of the mess.  And He is not manipulated.

Nothing gives me greater joy than watching my sisters and my brother and their husbands and wives with my children.  The relationships they have are so amazing.  And even though everyone is so far away, the conversations they keep on the phone move me to tears, the cards sent for every occasion, the face time, and when we do get together — the constant hugs and soul time.  The connection is undeniable.  And my kids miss them and love them to pieces.  That took time on my sisters and brother and their significant other’s parts.  That took lots of love and caring.  That’s nothing forced or manipulated or contrived.  That’s caring for each other.  Through every big thing my boys have been through (big in their eyes –sickness, birthdays, every single holiday, first day of school surgeries, games, etc.), my siblings have been there for my children.  And they’ve been there for Marty and I too.  Those big and little things that say — we’re thinking of you and we love you and no matter what — we’re here for you.  That’s family.

And not, only if you act like we want you to act — or only if you do what we want you to do.  Or you won’t be invited to do this — or you won’t be welcome to do this, or we won’t send you this… Nope.  We accept you just for who you are.  Because we love you.  The all of you.  In fact, BECAUSE you’re you, we love you.  “We love the things we love for what they are. ” Robert Frost But you’d have to actually KNOW the person to be able to say that.  That’s family.  Loving the all of people.  No matter what.  Family is a soft place to fall.  A safe place.  Family is home.

And there’s no fear.  We’re all equals here.  There’s no power struggle.  You can breathe, relax and just be.  I want my boys to know that too.  And so, they have lots of places that feel like home and family to them.  The very least of that prerequisite being genetics.  They’ve got big huge hearts and a big huge family.  So incredibly blessed is this momma and this family.  And by so many of you.  Thanks for being such a treasured part of our family.

And no, family isn’t perfect.  That’s part of the beauty of it! You can mess up and be you and be loved.  But you can have honest, open and authentic conversations about it.  And yes, that’s sometimes hard.  Really hard.  But, family is real.  And family is often saying I’m sorry.  Family is owning up to mistakes and moving on.  If my sisters and brother and mom can do this, I believe any one can.  It takes so much time and healing and heaps and heaps of genuine love and effort and time for these real things, these very real things that caused pain and hurt. It takes ownership.  It takes commitment.  It takes humility.  LOTS of humility.  And we’re so much the stronger for it.  That’s family.  All kinds of different people loving, making mistakes, learning, saying “I’m sorry”, and being strong together.

Namaste and peace as we walk these sometimes murky, rough waters.  God will protect us.  His ways are peace.  I keep reminding myself of that too.  As we work out the tough stuff, protection and peace.  And I have faith that, in the end, truth and love will prevail.  They will have the final say.  This momma isn’t willing to walk in madness anymore…

Much love. ❤