Moving from mountains…

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Dropped Max off at football practice this morning.  (beware — gushing Mom ahead…)

Can’t begin to tell you how proud of am of this kid.  He’s set his alarm every morning this summer.  I’m tired from just running him around his busy schedule!  Holding on to these next four years with both hands.  God, I love him.  And these past 14 years have flown, just FLOWN by.  I can’t imagine how absurdly insane these next four will speed past… I also can’t imagine not seeing his precious face every single day.  He shrugs it off, “Mom, it’s not like I can’t Skype you in college…”  same.thing.

And I don’t want to get lost in all this busy, his busy, our busy, just plain life busy.  But it kind of just happens, doesn’t it? Despite our best intentions to be present.  It’s like this inevitable suck of our attention — time’s busy nothings and everythings…  Just staring at him across from me in the car and wondering “how the hell did we get to here?” Till I’m jolted by his deeper than deep voice — “Mom, you’re doing it again…”  Right, there’s no crying on the way to football practice…

And I think of a family that is laying their boy to rest today in our little town.  Holding them so close in prayer.  As I can’t imagine their pain, and when I do — it swallows me whole.  Completely guts me.  NO momma should ever, just ever… and I can’t.  I can’t breathe, so I just pray some more.  And I count these moments cherished, blessed.  Because we always think we have this thing called time, don’t we?  And we lament the moments we have not yet had that will go by too fast like we already have them saved up in some future arbitrary bank…  so maybe the key is to enjoy the seconds.  And not assume we have the luxury of stored time at all — a future of “then” moments…  Prayers for this family for whom death cut time all too short.  Our hearts break for you.  ❤

And in all these thoughts and tears I grab my coffee and my Bible and find some solace in the quiet resting place of the morning.  Just the din of the neighborhood kids playing outside.  It’s been a summer.  And as someone who tries desperately to see the good or some sort of lesson or opportunity for growth in everything, we’ll just say for this family and so many of our beloved friends — we’ve all done lots of stretching…

So opening my Bible and sighing I just prayed upon everything, so selfishly, that God could PLEASE speak to my heart.  I didn’t want to be that “Encourage me!  Encourage me!!!!” needy daughter to my Lord — again — but there I was —  Dear Jesus, I need salve for this soul — and like NOW would be ever so nice.  And I was prepared to sit there and read all morning if that’s what it took…

And there it was, in a rather unlikely place — as I’m going through the Old Testament again — Deuteronomy … the second law…

“The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain.”  Deuteronomy 1:6

Yep, that’s it guys.  I broke.  Cried.  It all came out.

And of course, there is context with the Israelites walking through the desert and so on and so forth.  But this verse spoke to me about transition.  Or the need for it.  And perhaps, sometimes, our fear of that necessary change.  So we become stagnate.  We become stuck in familiar patterns,  whether they be thought ones or physical ones or both.  We get stuck on mountains.  High ones.  And sometimes it’s scary to come down from such high places.

You have stayed long enough on this mountain.  You’ve done your time. You’ve learned what you’ve needed to learn.  You’ve struggled, you’ve had it out, you’ve wrestled all.the.things.  Now move.  It’s time to take hold of my promises.  It’s time to TRUST that they are true.  It’s time to KNOW and BELIEVE that good things are waiting for you.  Go get them.  Go to the good things!  “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 1:21c)

And not only do we ‘need not be afraid’, but we don’t have to have it all figured out.  The older I get, the more I realize this.  God is a God of order, not disorder — but he’s not expecting us to organize it all and make it all right.  People are complicated.  Life is a giant mess.  And so often times, we take that mess on when it doesn’t need to be ours and it’s not meant for us to carry — we more than likely have to deal with it, yes, but we can pray on it, make boundaries, and give it to God and he will fight for us (faith, yes?).  Walk down that mountain and throw a few things out of that backpack you’re carrying — heck, throw the backpack off the mountain altogether. He will fight for you.  And he’s got good things in store for us!

“Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them.  The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert.”  Deuteronomy 1:29,30

Throw the heaviness off the mountain as you go.  You are no longer tethered to it.  And that is really the gorgeousness of God’s grace, isn’t it? He lifts our burdens while he carries us. 

I can’t solve all of life’s problems.  I’d really, really LIKE too (being the problem solver, type A that I am 😉 ) — but I can’t.  Not mine, not my family’s, and not my friends.  I can’t make people understand me who don’t really want to — because they would rather tell me who I am, what I’m really thinking, and what I’m really feeling — instead of just listening.  And I don’t have to try to figure out people for whom reality isn’t consistent — the truth of events and time ebbs and flows for what works for them and feels right for a given situation.  It’s relative to their perception.  What is sometimes is and then sometimes they can decide that it isn’t.  It’s maddening.  And I can be hurt and frustrated and sit in that, or I can realize none of this has anything to do with me.  I can see the long history of the none of this having to do with me.  The insanity and crazy that has caused.  The constant forgiving and giving on my part.  The longing to be understood, to be validated.  And realizing that my worth has nothing to do with that mess.  With their mess.  And I can choose to not be a part of it.  That is their journey.  That is their walk. And I can forgive and love some more. Because so much has been given to me.  And I can chose to see love for exactly what it is, and to embrace what I am meant for.  And all the holiness, grace, and utter humility that comes from that existence and purpose — so much humility 🙂 .  And it certainly doesn’t entail constantly fighting for the definition or validity of mine. ❤

I can rest.  I can move freely.  I don’t have to be afraid of falling.  “You have stayed long enough at this mountain…”  It’s time for a different view.  With easier air to breathe.  It’s time to move on.  I don’t have to be afraid of shining his light…

Love you guys.

Praying for all of us.

Much peace as we hold onto promise.

Ang

“To let go is to lose your foothold temporarily.  Not to let go is to lose your foothold forever.”  Soren Kierkegaard

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

It takes guts…

gentle and kind

So, I have a confession to make…

I don’t get these rules of adulthood.  I don’t understand social situations.  Like, at all.  Aside from my close friends — I avoid them like I do gluten.  How does one maneuver appropriately through conversation, make the right faces when someone says something cruel and apprehensive like it’s as benign as ‘how was your day?’, get through the judginess, the gossip, the weight of all of the everythings?  I suffocate.  I have panic attacks.  I say things that piss my husband off.

I believe in honesty — at all times.  I think authenticity is how we should run our hearts, our souls, our minds, our voices — everything that makes us who we are — and not being true to our everythings feels 100 and then some % wrong to me — it gives me anxiety, it makes me want to throw up, it makes me want to hide and run and just not be present.  I’m not saying this with piety.  I realize this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (I really love tea too) and that this is one of my many “things” that I have wrong with me.  It’s a straight up issue.  It’s a control thing.  I can’t temper it.  My emotions come out all over the place.  It annoys the living crap out of me.  It’s not fun.  I really, really hate it.  Because the anecdote to this lovely little issue is often just shutting the door and holing up — because I don’t have a fake face.  I’m no actress.  I really suck at it.  Immensely.  Just ask my high school drama teacher.  She’s a truthful woman as well.  Yoga helps.  Breathing, meds, meditation, praying, and the good Lord Jesus.  God is so amazing.  He created this pretty mess, after all (and I praise him for it).  Because for all of its not so great amenities, it is who I am — and he made me this way for a purpose.

So, I pretty much don’t get the whole entire social scene past elementary school–where, it seems, manipulation and games often start.  I never really learned how to play all of those games — well, proficiently, or even averagely.  And none of it makes me comfortable.  Ever.  So, in turn, I tend to make other people uncomfortable.  Because I say what I’m thinking.  All of the time.  And if I’m confused about something that seems to be said in meanness or is a lie, I’ll call it.   And that’s exhausting.  For everyone.  Because I seem to get confused a lot.

But I’m slowly learning (I’m also one of those slow social learner types — or maybe just a completely different type of leaner altogether) to be okay with the all of this.  And that — egads — there actually are other people out there that are similar to me — because no one is exactly alike.  There are tribes of us — tribes of us wonderfully strange and different people.  It’s just being brave enough to fight through the bullshit of all the real crazy out there — the normal crazy is the real crazy, friends (smile) — to find the lovely.  There’s just so much sensory over load for this little lady  — there’s a lot of noise — it gets so very loud.

I wear my heart.  I speak my heart.  I teach my children to be their very best brave.  This means we say I love you–when ever we feel it.  And we fall in love fast and we fall in love hard.  Love is everything.  There is nothing embarrassing about it to me.  What’s embarrassing is that we repress it so damn much.  This also means we aren’t afraid to help others and give to others.  Even if it may hurt us–even if it may cost us something. We’re not afraid of hurting or generosity.  We’re not here to be collectors of things or leave this world without scratches or bruises.  Hearts and souls were made to share and grow and be torn and tugged at.  They grow and learn and see and feel all the more this way.  This means the underdog is our friend.  This means different is embraced and even championed.  We all see the world differently.  Each and every one of us.  Let’s celebrate that.  Let’s maybe even attempt to see that every once in awhile.  This also means the bully is stood up to — and then we turn around and ask the bully if he or she needs a friend.  This means it’s okay to be sad, mad, angry, frustrated, imperfect, and all the other not so wonderful — but it is NEVER okay to be unkind.  This means we do love — because love is a doing thing.  This means we forgive.  This means we show grace.  But this also means that we know who we are.  We are divine.  This also means we know who everyone else is.  They are divine.  This means that we understand that the world can be so very ugly — we don’t hide the ugly — we have to see the ugly and acknowledge it to be able to do any kind of good — but we also see the amazing.  We see the incredible.  We see and praise the miracles.  Because we are all of those things too.  And from everyone and everything we can always learn something.  Always.  The good things, the awful things — they are all learning things — because they are real things that make up who we are.  So, keep it real, keep shining light, keep it humble and keep it kind and keep it love.  And we may just be okay, even when we aren’t.

“What makes night within us may leave stars.” Victor Hugo

And I’ll tell you what this doesn’t mean.  It doesn’t mean that as a momma I have to “toughen” my boys up — who display qualities like sensitivity and empathy and compassion — because of their gender.  That my role as a parent is to make them harsher because they have a penis.  What this world needs more of is love, not apathy.  And it could stand to use a little more of it from the male realm.  And my role as a mother and as a parent is to guide and nurture in my children the seeds of who they ARE — not to squelch that for what some societal standard says they should be.  I’ll pass.  I see a strength that far surpasses any “toughness” this world could ever give or assign to them.  They have the courage to stand up for their friends when no one else will — to give, to praise, to say “are you okay, are you sad, I am here for you no matter what, you are worth something, you are awesome” — when others their age can not even form those thoughts or those words.  They are considerate, smart, honest, hard working, thoughtful, caring, and want to make this world a better place for others.  Toughen up.  Really?  To be the kind of people they are takes more courage of heart and mind and spirit than raising rocks or fists or hurling back insults EVER will.  Normal is so scary to this momma — so very, very scary.  Shake the world, boys — dare to gently shake the world…

“There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness.” Han Suyin

to be yourself

And imperfection?  That’s awesome too.  We need to totally be okay with that.  And our kids need to see it in us and know it’s okay too.  I yell, I lose my temper, I don’t handle things perfectly — and my kids know this.  Trust me, they’re fully aware.  Smile.  I say I’m sorry.  I say I need a break, that I’m a little overwhelmed.  We talk about when they feel those things too.  We talk about what we can do when we feel that way — better choices, better responses.  They get frustrated with friends, with each other, with us — we breathe, we say we’re sorry — we talk and we admit we didn’t handle it the best and talk about what we will do better next time.  Because there WILL be a next time.  It may look different next time, but mistakes will happen again.  But that’s not, necessarily, horrendous…

We admit that we make mistakes and that life doesn’t stop, but we can learn from every mistake we make (and that’s the key — acknowledging it and learning) — and we can live better, do better, be better because of what we learned.  We grow.  We move on.

We’re here to love each other, catch each other, help each other, mess up and be the best we can be in the midst of all of that.  And in the midst of all of that, our kids are going to get different messages from the world.  They are going to hear that they’re not good enough, that they need to be this or they need to be that or they aren’t enough this or they aren’t enough that — when all they need to be is who they are.  And if we, as the grown ups  — can just own who WE are — well now, won’t that make things just a tad easier.  If we can all just authentically be — then that — well that seems like it would be an amazing mirror for our children.  They see us and hear us.  All the time.

My kids aren’t perfect.  But they are pretty darn incredible.  I think all kids are.  I think we need them more than they need us most of the time.  Really and truly.  We can teach them fundamental things like reading and math and science and critical thinking and all those basic building blocks for education that should supplement the time they spend in school — but they continually remind us about those intrinsic heart and soul things.   They revive wonder, they can restore our faith in humanity.  It’s not our position to ‘toughen’ that out of them — perhaps it’s our chance to look at life with a new lens — it just takes a little humility (which is the second greatest missing asset after love) and a little time (which is the third).

G had some playtime with one of his very best school friends today.  They are the best of friends because they are “twins”, he tells me (he thinks they look identical).  They have the same two favorite colors, they love to read, they have asthma and headaches, they love to play with their imagination, and they love to be kind.  They are going to go to college and live together when they grow up.  They have this all figured out at the age of seven.  Smile.  It’s simple.  They love eachother for who they are.  They are silly.  They are sweet.  They like marshmallows.  Life is good.  It really doesn’t have to get so twisted up and complicated.

Life is hard.  I get this.  Bad things happen.  In fact, very, very bad things can happen.  Some of us have lived through our own version of various hells for a good portion of our lives.  But to me, this is all the MORE reason to be our very best selves — our most loving and authentic selves — and to leave the bs for all the perfect people who have all of their shit togher.  Which isn’t anybody.

So, there’s just all of us.  In this holy mess together.  Trusting we’re doing our best, saying I’m sorry when we screw up, trying again, and loving and believing in one another.  Over simplified, maybe.  But that’s one way to live.  And this girl likes simple.  Because then we can get to the real stuff.  Of REALLY getting to know and hold on to each other.  All of our wonderful guts and glory.  Because when you deal with manipulation and gossip and pettiness, you don’t have to get into any of that holiness now, do you?  Because that’s the scary, tough and hard stuff now, isn’t it?  You get to gloss over all of that in superfluous drama when you’re not being authentic.  I’d rather relish in the intricate delight of the genuine soul.  Because humanity is really quite amazing.

And when we channel the real, we can move mountains.  We can help instead of hinder.  We can feed souls and change lives — and with that, we can change the world — or at least our little corner of it.  And that’s what this girl is breathing for.  Not for the next bit of “and then what did she say?”.  And my boys?  They want every bit of this light shining business too.  And this light shining business ? — it takes GUTS, sisters and brothers.  Kindess, love, light — it’s all brave.  All of it.  To stand there and be you — all raw and just you — saying hey, you feel free to be you too — and that’s beautiful.  And I love you.  No barriers.  No walls.

Freaking guts.

And these guts, along with the guts of my boys, my sisters, invite you to do the same.  Our tribe doesn’t have any initiation fees or require tattoos.  However, we freaking love tattoos.  Smile.

We’re all rare.  Feel free to discover and realize your rareness.  You just might amaze yourself.  You should do that.  Amaze yourself.  Just getting out of bed some days does it for me. Smile.

Namaste, peace, and love.

You are so many incredible things.

What’s your favorite color?

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”  Desmond Tutu

(to Karin, Charles, and Clara — who are some of the most gorgeous people on the face of this planet — we love you — to pieces ❤ ❤ )

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

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. ❤

 

On monsters, the mat, and meditation…

namaste

I am a person who needs people.  My family, my close friends, I need them like I need air.  They are why I wake up every single morning.  They are why I do this life thing.  They are why any of this is worth, well, any of this.  And I need to be needed by people — to know that my presence is of value, that I make a difference, that these connections are meaningful.  I ever so much need my people.  Lots of love for my people.  Lots of love for humanity.  All of it.

And on the flip side of that,

I am also a person who needs space.  Lots of it.  Space to breathe, to be, to struggle, to think, to not think, for quiet, for peace, for so many things — because sometimes I get completely overwhelmed by humanity.  All of it.  And in those moments, I need lots and lots of space.  And this noisy world gives me so very little.  Writing gives me that space in my head — to compartmentalize things and thoughts — to break things down — and even if I can’t ever make sense of the mess inside — for some reason, thought transformed to written word gives the mess a  certain sense of clarity, a soundness in my universe that they were lacking just floating around aimlessly in my brain.

And yoga, well, yoga gives me this same space physically — as my body carries out the movements planted on the mat and the ones risked into the sky.  But it also gives space to my soul.  Tremendous space.  And without this carved holy space, the connection made between body and soul, yoga would be reduced to a bunch of stretches…

So these thoughts have been bouncing around my head for the past few weeks, and this cold, dreary, most uninspired day is probably not the most opportune time to elucidate them–but it’s what I have.  I so covet those writers who can actually write when their thoughts come.  I tell myself they have hired help and lack full-time jobs, just to make myself feel better.  That’s not yoga peace now, is it?

I was so struck by a blog concerning yoga and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since.  It was essentially speaking to taking the spirituality out of yoga to accommodate everyone–taking the holiness out of it.  And while I completely understand where the author was coming from (he cites his strict upbringing in Catholicism and the unpleasant memories that brought up for him, and if he had walked into a yoga studio with any religious implications, he would have walked right out), and I found myself more and more saddened by this as I thought about it as the days went on–on and off the mat.  Because, for me, when one strips yoga of its spiritual connections — you strip yoga of well — being yoga.  What you are left with is purely exercise.  And while exercise is perfectly wonderful and great for you, yoga is SO much more.

I should fess up right now and admit I’m one of those enthusiast that believes that yoga could, in fact, be the saving grace for us all.  I believe it should be taught in schools–starting with our preschool kids.  It could be a huge relief to our children struggling with ADHD, autism, depression, aggression, eating disorders, and a host of other behavioral disorders.  And while the religious aspect would have to be removed — that whole mixing of the church and state thing today is totally taboo (unless we could treat our children AND religion with respect, but that’s an entirely different blog post) — but the meditation thing could be so brought IN!  Think of the self-esteem that could be raised with self praising mantras of encouragement!  Think of the bully problems that would vanish when we learn and are taught to respect and regard and honor each other’s light in one another — each shining ember just as valuable as the next!  Namaste to you and Namaste to me!  Yes, yes, and yes.  Yes, I am that crazy girl.  And yes, I teach my own boys yoga.  They’ve embraced it from little guys and  just happen to love it.  They’ve also made up some of their own poses and renamed traditional ones.  One could also conclude it grows the imagination.

I’ve seen it change lives and I’ve experienced it change my own.  And not just because I’ve done some stretches or exercises — but because I’ve stretched and exercised something besides my body — something of even greater value — my soul.  And to take that experience OUT of yoga in the name of inclusivity just baffles me.  Sure it may be a little scary and some of us may be a little apprehensive to go there, but there just may be where we all need to go and what this world may be so sorely lacking…

free

And I so understand having an aversion to religion.  I get the writer on this one.  And it wasn’t just because I was raised from infancy in a strict religious household like he was–full of all the traditions and rituals.  He claims that no one could be anymore Catholic.  I get it, brother.  Although I was not raised Catholic, we lived and breathed the Bible.  We memorized the Word.  The letter of the Law.  There was no “magic” at our house.  Santa, the Easter Bunny, Halloween (even the blessed tooth fairy) — that was all pagan, heathen stuff the rest of the world was going to hell for.  We went to Christian schools till we came to Iowa (which I will tell you are just as big of a mess as the public ones — just smaller class sizes, my friends).  Church was life and the only social life we had.  And for me, it was where I saw the monsters come to pray.  All dressed up, all spotless, all big and perfect monsters — who could beat or rape their wife and children at home — but come to pray and praise God on Sundays and be revered by the church as disciples of God.  Monsters who had affairs within the church, but it was all hushed up because divorce was just NOT done.  Oh dear goodness no.  Monsters who spent a great deal of money to look the part of blessed, because poor people must have done something wrong in the eyes of God to be so undeserving.  Monsters who judged.  Monsters who pointed fingers.  Monsters who yelled and screamed about the fires of hell.  Monsters who spoke in tongues — a secret language only they knew because the Holy Spirit deemed them so Holy.  Monsters who came to pray then went home to create a hell for all of those around them and would twist and bend the Bible to make that hell seem holy.  Yes, I get you, brother.

But through all of that, through over twenty years of living that, somehow — deep down inside, I knew that was never my Jesus.  And I also came to understand through all of that growing up in my home and in the church that there was such a cataclysmic distinction between this thing people called religion and this relationship I call spirituality.  What I mean to say is, it’s one thing to know your Bible, and it’s quite another to know your God.  And my God, my Jesus?  Well, he was with me all the while.  The church didn’t ever save me, but my Jesus did. 

What I also so vividly learned was that the biggest testament and the biggest detriment to non believers about our Jesus is how we live our lives.  How WE LIVE them.  Not how we TELL OTHER PEOPLE to live them.  We’re never going to get people to open their hearts or their ears to us (let alone a Bible) if we don’t love them first.  We are walking our faith, friends.  Every single day of our lives.  “Don’t tell them Jesus loves them, till you’re ready to love them too.”  Steve Camp (oldie but a goodie). Not shove their face in a Bible, not shame or shun them, L-O-V-E, love them (one of Jesus’s favorite words).

And that’s what I’ve brought with me to the mat.  That spirituality.  I didn’t know it, but it followed me there.  That’s the awesome thing about yoga–it meets you where you are.  And it wasn’t with pure bliss and happiness that I took up my mat.  It was more of a “have to” stance.  I couldn’t run — my love of forever — because I literally couldn’t breathe anymore — and this, well, this was doctor’s orders…  and what evolved was really life changing.  Thanks, doc.

You connect to your body by movement, yes.  But if you think about it on a deeper level, way past exercise, past just you — yoga is a series of  movements that have existed and have been passed on for centuries.  That in itself is pretty, well, cool, right?  I am already a part of something so much bigger than myself.  And as you begin those movements, you are forced to listen to your heart, your breathing, and forced to connect to your inadequacies as well — “man, that looked SO easy” was something that went through my head repeatedly as I was falling over — and so you find the humor as well.  I learned to laugh at myself!  Humility.  It’s a keeper.

And with the humor, you find your strength.  Oh my love, you find your strength!  As you grow, you will be amazed at what your body CAN do!  And this courage, this strength follows you off the mat and into all areas of your life.  This is soul growing stuff.  Not just muscle growing stuff.  You will also gain new perspective.  Standing on your head makes you see the world in a totally different way, literally and figuratively.  Yoga challenges you to see life through a new set of lenses.  Through new eyes.  And couldn’t we all use that?  New perspective for body and soul.  It grows you in every way.

And I have my mantras, while I breathe, and I meditate — whether it be thankful meditations, prayerful ones, or sending out peaceful, loving, meditations out into my day, my sister calls them blessings to the universe (the Buddhist that she is).  I will concentrate on a verse, something that is challenging me, on a person that has been on my heart — oh these things matter!!!  I can not imagine yoga void of this!  I.can.not.  This is where your heart grows, your soul stretches.  I want my body to be in better shape–yes–but my heart and soul?  YES to that too!!!

We are so much more than physical beings. Yoga connected me even more completely to my spirituality.  I wasn’t just a body housing a soul.  The vessel and spirit were one.  It brought my physical and my holy self succinctly together.  I don’t feel that ever so more completely than I do on the matt.  And it taught me this about myself.  I believe I am okay, even if I am a holy mess — simply for the fact that I am just that — holy. 

Yoga brought me back to this, not through stretches, not through the simple act of movement — but through the combined efforts of motion and meditationss and breathing — the connection of body to soul — physical to something so much greater than myself — to the divine that is in me — and what incredible healing can come when that connection is made!  When we stop, when we breathe, when we pause to listen to the inside and put to silence the outside — yes, the incredible healing!  Yoga taught me how to fill my holes with holiness — and to make the connection to do so.  Sometimes when I’m in my bliss state I wonder if Jesus did some form of yoga with the disciples.  But that’s probably just silly now, isn’t it?

 

it is always possible

And I have learned much from my Buddhist friends.  I mean, how can you NOT get with the teachings of the Dalai Lama!  This is how he breaks down his religion, “My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”  Dalai Lama.  And I find their openness to speak on religion so refreshing.  They are peaceful in their conversations and inviting.  It’s not all fire and brimstone.  It’s not all about what you are not.  I want more of that for us in Christianity.  More peace, more welcome-ness, and more bringing to our brothers and sisters about what we are and what we can be than everything we are lacking.   Most of us have the general gist of this.  What I also find refreshing is this.  When a fellow Christian finds that I am also a Christian, the first question often is, “Oh, so what Church do you go to?”.  My Buddhist friends?  The first question they often ask me is what is the state of my heart.  “Are you at peace?  How is your heart?”  I find this lovely, and I wish as Christians that we did more of this.  How is your heart?  Are you at peace?  This is what I wish for you.  What are your favorite mediations and prayers?  I also love my Buddhist friends for their call to action.  Their religion is a ‘practice’ and not a bunch of words.  It’s a verb.  It’s a doing thing.  It’s a way of life.  We could learn much from them, while sharing with them our Jesus (read “The Heart Of Buddha’s Teaching” by Thich Nhat Hanh, if interested — not an easy read — but a very in-depth one).

We’re not a club based strictly on a bunch of rules (unless you’re still down with the vibe of the Pharisees).  It doesn’t matter to me where you hang out on Sunday.  It’s what you do with every single minute of your life, really.  And I want to share something with you that will give you such amazing peace and fill your heart up with so much love, hope, and joy that you’ll want to twirl and sing from the hills like you’re Julie Andrews in the “Sound Of Music”.  Life will still be life, but you’ll have something inside of you — a piece of God — that will allow you to defeat it — because He already has.  Really.  I know, it’s pretty awesome.  And when you can’t fight, sit and be still, friend.  He’ll do the fighting for you.  And together we can pray and be there for each other in ways that are unparalleled to what our eyes can see.  And you, my friend, are a miracle.  You are a priceless gem.  You are divine.  You are loved more than you could EVER imagine — no matter WHAT you have ever done.  You want to sing and twirl now, don’t you?  Or roll out a mat and do yoga, we can do that too…

My practicing Buddhist friends will also tell me that their Buddha is a lot like my Jesus.  He was big on sacrifice and suffering too.  I mean, he talks about it a lot.  Except for this one thing.  He didn’t sacrifice his life for all of their sins.  Nailed to a cross, my Jesus died for me.  Wiped away everything I have ever done or will ever do, so I can live forever with him.  I can’t think of a bigger love.  He also can do anything.  I mean, the biggest of miracles!  Talk about your meditation mantras!  Can’t go wrong with miracle mantras.  I bring that all to the mat.  The struggles of the day meet those meditations and they are never, ever a match for them.

But yoga without spirituality?  Nah.  It just doesn’t make sense to this yogi girl.  I want to be a better person.  A better whole person.  Holiness and all.  But if you’re looking for exercise and stretches, yoga is good for that too.  But it’s my hope that you’ll find a little bit more.  A little sparkle in your soul.  Something a little deeper.  Something to stretch your spirit too.  Because you are so much more than your yoga pants.  You are incredibly divine.  So imperfect, but none the less, divine!

Peace, love, and Namaste.

(and much love to y’all who fight your monsters on the mat and meditate the darkness away — know this,

“What makes night within us may leave stars.” Victor Hugo — shine on! ❤ )