Who we are…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it all came crashing in.  This.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that understanding my mother was talking about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working my way through Jeremiah, I cry too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing.  Even big messes like me.

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

This girl you created ❤



When Your Goliath Is A Narcissicist…

wisdom.give me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(The Living Insights Study Bible)

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

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

you are capable

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

Characteristics of a Narcissist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do we go back to self-absorbed mothers?

October 10, 2009 by mypainfuljourney

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

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

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

– Oprah Winfrey

Dear G…

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Dear Glennon,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I digress, I do this — a lot —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph, Brooklyn, N.Y., age 9

365 Days Of Wonder

Mr. Browne’s Book Of Precepts

R.J. Palacio

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

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What we leave behind…

better things ahead

Please be gentle… this is my soul…

I may never be ready to write this, as the fixer in me may never be ready to right this–but there is this essential piece of me that needs to do so– to breathe, to let go, to exhale, to give away, to “unleash it to the universe”, as my sister, E, would say…

I was blessed to spend an incredible few days with my amazing family.  Amazing–that’s my sister Jen’s word–she uses it so often that I think of her every single time I use it–which makes me use it even more.  Time with my family is a whirlwind of no sleep and intense activity as it is so rare that we are all together.  I know we are all exhausted as we are back to our “normal” routines in our respective places in the nation.  And maybe it’s all of us being together that brought this all about.  Maybe it’s my little talk with my sister, Jen, yesterday afternoon.  Or maybe it’s a few discussions I’ve been seeing floating about Facebook praising the holy grail of this thing we call the “nuclear family” and blaming the demise of our nation on the demise of it.  Good grief.  It’s probably a lot of something’s and nothings.  That’s always the way it is with me.

I’m not a big into specifics sharer when it comes to my family.  My family is so very sacred to me.  And where would one begin?  Jen, we’ve discussed this.  We’ve been through hell together.  Yes, hell.  I am not using that word casually.  We’re survivors of our own Satan.  This much some of you know.  I love these people more than anything in this world.  Sacred — so sacred.  They are all incredible treasures.  The most beautiful on the planet.  Really.  You would all be very lucky to meet any one of them.  And I don’t want to hurt them.  I don’t want to hurt them anymore than we all have been hurt.  I don’t want anyone feeling less than anyone has been made to feel.  And I don’t want to get drug back to that place in my mind–on purpose–to go back there with intention–to go there willingly and with focus.  I fight it with everything in me so very often–so it’s a strange dichotomy.  And–more than anything– I don’t want to hurt my mom, as we’ve come to a very beautiful place of peace, a place where we are coming to understand and appreciate our space in each other’s lives–good, honest, solid ground–where before I was so angry and hurt and mistrusting–and an entirely altogether different insane level of that was reopened after the birth of my first child–when I held my newborn baby boy in my arms and realized that I would never, EVER let any person in the entire world hurt this precious little child.  I don’t want to hurt anyone, and I don’t want to hurt–yet here it sits inside–hurting, and eating at me–immobilizing and consuming my thoughts till I can do little else.  It just sits there–this big, ugly thing–screaming to be recognized.  And me?  I just, selfishly, want it gone…

But I also want to write it for them.  FOR my family, and also for those who have been through this, though not one story is identical, we have similar heart beats in the midst of all this–similar pain and agony.  Suffering, to some extent, is suffering.  When people say ‘everything happens for a reason’ when you’ve gone through and experienced something very bad, what we cling to is maybe that reason, that experience–maybe–just maybe–it may be useful in some way–maybe, just maybe–it may help someone else.  If nothing else, it speaks to the essence–you’re not alone… I remember that feeling of aloneness–because sometimes it still creeps in (siblings, please move closer!).  And then there are those days, of course, when that’s all I want to be…

And then I also tell myself to let go of my ego.  Who’s going to care, really? About me?  About any of this?  It’s a pathetic shout out to be understood.  Maybe, yes, maybe no.  And truthfully, I’m tired of overanalyzing absolutely everything in my life and what people’s reaction will be to me.  I will write for them, I will write for me.  It’s as simple as that.  No one is forcing anyone to read this.

Being with all of my siblings reminds me what a disconnect I have with reality at times.  Or, at least, to the past.  I am my everything.  Sounds very full of hubris, yes?  What I mean is, I have no connection to those words “mother” or “father” in the sense of what they mean or resonate to most people.  I am both of those things, and have always been both of those things, to myself.  In my mind, I was born and then took care of me.  I helped take care of my siblings, and more than that–I survived.  I just was.  That’s just the way I see it — it doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong — that’s just the way it is for me.  I have no sense of family in terms of grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.  I have absolutely no idea about the history of our past in terms of our family tree.  I have small flashes of memories when we were allowed to occasionally see these people, but no deep connections or relationships.  To pair  with that, these people were deemed “crazy” off and on all throughout my life–so those fluxes and scary stories of why they were “crazy” were also added to those on and off changes of what brief roles those people played in my life.  I was my everything, and I took care of me–and did my very, very best to make sure my sisters and my brother survived as well.  My mother and father never really knew me as a person.  They told me who I was–but they never knew me as I was.  They didn’t take the time to.  They had too much of their own insanity going on.  My mom was just doing the best she could to do her own version of surviving.  We were all doing the best we could.  I’m at a place of peace with this now.

The sad part, to me, is that I have no good memories of my past.  It’s blank–a vacuum of empty, white space.  I hear my sisters talk about little anecdotal stories–cute little memories of them playing this or that together–and I get jealous.  I have nothing.  What I do remember is from hearing these stories from them–so all I have is words–no visuals to go with those words.  Unfortunately, I have very strong, horrible visuals of awful memories.  I would love to have some pleasant ones.  But not at the stake of letting any more dark ones in.  The bank is full on those–no more deposits necessary.

I have therapy to thank for those deposits.  Lots and lots of therapy.  It began in college and continued after.  I have my, now husband, to thank for encouraging me to go.  College was one of those things I wish I had to do all over again as a “normal” person–or as a normal crazy person–as I don’t think anyone is really all that normal, right?  Everyone has their issues–even if you grew up in the Clever household.  But, I didn’t realize how truly broken I was until I got to Simpson.  I didn’t realize how completely broken our family was until I got away and started being able to actually spend time with other people’s families–and then it hit like a hot, mad, suffocating, beautiful, nauseous, awful, deafening, painful, all at once rush — your home life is really not okay.  In fact, it’s a twisted, fucked up mess — and all hell broke loose for me.  My sense of reality was ROCKED.  What my dad did was keep us closed off from the outside world as much as he possibly could.  We didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time with the ‘world’.  The outside was bad.  We were bad.  Essentially, everything was ‘bad’ and ‘crazy’.  The only thing that made sense and was good came from him, and the church–the church and god–and a few people here and there–but again, they were off and on again crazy as well.  Just when you got to like a person–you could never see them again–because they were crazy!  You get the idea.  If any person our age liked us or befriended us–they were either just “using” us or a “lesbian”.  It could only be one of those two things.  And once I got too close to a friend, I had to “break up” with this person as my father would fear that this girl had too much control over my life–and was either one of the two afore mentioned things.  So I would be very careful in engaging my emotions with people and be as controlled as possible.  If I cared too much, he would take them away.  And no one could ever possibly love or like us for us–just us–ever.  Crazy, using, or lesbian.  It was a mad, mad, world, baby.

So I struggled.  With a lot.  I always tried to be perfect.  My entire life I tried so damn hard to be perfect.  Wanting to be loved, wanting to be accepted.  Because there must be something really, really intrinsically wrong with you if your own parents, the people who are supposed to love you the most, without question, don’t even like you and think you are vile.

But I could never be perfect.  I memorized my Bible verses.  I prayed and prayed and prayed.  I loved Jesus with all my heart.  I memorized more Bible verses.  We went to church every Sunday.  Wednesdays too.  Private Christian schools until we moved to Norwalk–and then our crazy ideas were blamed on public education.  I got straight A’s and always listened to my teachers and was so respectful.  I tried to be kind to everyone.  And I loved everyone.  I really, really did.  I super, super did.  But here’s the thing.  I didn’t know myself. I didn’t even know I didn’t know myself. I hadn’t even thought about that.  I didn’t even know my own thoughts.  But, not to worry, my father did.  Because god spoke to him.  Directly to him.  God told him things about me.  He told my dad all the evil and awful things that were stirring and whirling around in my brain, things that I didn’t even know I was thinking or was going to think–and for those things–for those very evil and awful things–I needed to be punished–and would be punished–for the rest of my life.  Such a mind fuck.  And there is no arguing with god.  He is always right.  You can’t be–not when you’re 3, not when you’re 7, not when you’re 13, 18, 23, never.  You will NEVER, EVER be right next to god.  There is no use trying.  You might as well learn this thing called helplessness.  Get good and comfortable with it.  Just settle in and give up.

And I never knew when it was going to happen–this all authorative voice from god.  The only sure thing was that it would.  One of my most vivid memories is my dad sitting in his burnt orange, fuzzy chair that nestled in the corner of our apartment in Mankato and me walking out of my bedroom that I shared with my sisters, down that little hallway into the living room where he would sternly sit reading the Bible– and him telling me to go back into the bedroom to pull down my pants because I was going to get a spanking.  Now there were some days that I would argue and some days that I would not.  It depended on how emotionally spent I was and on what level of pain I was willing to tolerate that day.  I ventured to ask why, but I always knew the answer.  Because god had told him what I was thinking, and I was thinking bad thoughts about him.  I was thinking that he was a bad dad and I didn’t love him enough, I needed to love him more, so I needed to be spanked.  The thoughts varied, but it was always the voice of god telling him my thoughts–and I was a child–and he was my dad– so I believed him.  I knew I hadn’t been thinking any such thing, I was just playing with my sisters–but somewhere, at some point–deep down in my brainthat thought MUST have processed–so I deserved to be punished.  I was such an awful person that I didn’t even have control or KNOW when I was thinking bad things.  This continued throughout my entire life with this person I called my father.  And this all seemed so completely normal to me.  Until therapy–until I started saying these things out loud, in a quiet room, with just my voice–and someone who would listen to it.

And I wasn’t able to say these things out loud for awhile.  It was so scary.  And I wasn’t able to get help for awhile.  That too was scary.  Because I had carried so much on my own for so long.  I was my own comfort, my own provider, my own protector for so long–that damn wall was built pretty tall and pretty thick.  Who could I possibly trust with all of this mess?  I was already such a pathetic, disgusting excuse for a human being.  Did I really need to mar the image further?

We worked so hard as kids.  I worked so hard all my little life.  Every summer we had to have a full time job.  That was of the upmost importance at our house and I remember stressing so much over it.  I completely dreaded summers.  In fifth grade I paid for all of my own clothes, any toiletries, anything I needed–because that’s what being a family was all about.  I did this by babysitting for two little boys full time–every day but Saturday and Sunday–cooking and cleaning and taking care of Chris and Alex from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.–I remember this only from my diary.  That $600 and some dollars I saved up from all my babysitting jobs was then sometimes ‘borrowed’ from my dad.  My sister, Jen, and I also worked in a bindery–not the most suitable place for kids.  Glad I still have my fingers.  Ha.  We have some great stories from that place.  I thought that would be the scariest boss I ever had in my life.  We mostly babysat, stuffed envelopes, tried our hand at telemarketing, retail, grocery store stuff–from little tikes to high school.  It’s good to work hard.  Yes.  But it’s good to be able to be kids too.  On top of outside jobs, we also cleaned the house, we cooked, we cared for each other.  It completely blows my mind what we did at such young ages–what we were responsible for.  Maybe because we had to be.  This did not translate over to my father.  After work he would sit.  Sit at the computer.  Sit and read.  Sit and judge.  Sit and watch TV.  Sit and judge some more.  And he would bounce from job to job to job.  We moved all the time.  It was never explained to us.  We were just suddenly — “moving”.  Living in one house to the next — some having gaping holes in the floors, rotting windows, bugs, questionable structure — but we used our imaginations — made fantastic adventures out of it– and we survived.  There was one beautiful home (a real house!)–the L’Abri house — Swiss for, ‘the shelter’–I believe–in Rochester, Minnesota–three schools in one year for me — sixth grade — but we had to leave that place — all those Christian Swiss Schaffer people were crazy too.  We finally settled in Norwalk, which is where I lived the longest part of my life.  We did manage to move three times while living in Norwalk, however.  One move was while I was nannying for a family over the summer on the east coast.  Life was always chaos.

From constant spankings for bad thoughts and taking up too much air and space in a world meant for holier and better people, to being thrown into and barred against walls, to being thrown onto couches and chairs and sat on for what ever period of time my father deemed appropriate –not being able to move, to breathe– he moved on to another form of complete humiliation.  Women were less then.  The Bible pointed this out countless times, to my father.  He treated my mother this way.  ‘Submission’, ‘submit’–these were never words used in love or reverence–they were used to instill fear and to remind someone that they were made to serve and do all things for men–however demeaning.  Women were afterthoughts of God created to serve.   I hated seeing my mother being treated like this.

My entire life was lived in fear.  Just waiting to see what my father would take from me next.  He had my thoughts, my confidence, my freedom–next came any dignity I had left.

As desperately as I continued to try to be perfect, I still constantly had bad thoughts and was so very stupid, despite incredible grades and all the books I devoured and the religious dogma I would vomit to attempt to appease my father.  If I agreed with everything he said, he’d be happy, right?  When it came down to it,  I still really wanted him to love me.  However, very occasionally, I began to have these really annoying things called my own opinions–especially when it came to how he treated my mother.  I worried for her.  I prayed for her.  And ever so often, if I got brave enough, I stood up for her.  Sixth grade.  I only remember how old I was because of the house we lived in–standing on the hard wood floors, trying to cover my body with my hands–cold and crying–completely naked.  He would make me strip down to absolutely nothing and scream at me–just stand there screaming at me and staring at me–and when I would try to cover myself, he would make me put my hands to my side.  Despite this newest form of punishment, I would still stand up for her.  I wanted her to be happy and find her voice.  If I couldn’t have one, I really wanted her to have one of her own.  She deserved that.  God would probably tell him that bad thought too.  He also timed my showers–and by this I mean, he would stand in the bathroom and watch me take a shower to make sure I wasn’t using too much water–because I was also heinously awful at doing this (I couldn’t even take a shower the “right” way).  Wasting anything was just gluttony.  This began my freshman year of high school.  I would take every opportunity to shower when he wasn’t home.  And, oddly enough, this all seemed so very normal to me.  Completely humiliating, but just another average day at our house.  And I could go on and on and on about what that all does to a young girl and her body image and sexuality and so on and so forth, but really,  I just can’t go there…

These things I remember, these things and other things that there is absolutely no reason to go into.   Many times I wish my mind was still blank.  I understand the repression business for survival–the pushing back to move on–and my therapists all feeling the need to bring things to light to move forward–I just wish some good things had come out of all the dark things–because those dark memories are so vivid–I can smell the air, feel the carpet, and often wake up vomiting or drenched in sweat.  One happy memory would be lovely.  My sisters are welcome to share.  I love listening to them and their giggles.  I want to giggle with memories.

The word “perception” was used quite often in our house by my father.  When ever we would dare to question anything, he would tell us that that was only our “perception” of reality.  What we “perceived” to be happening wasn’t really happening, that was just what we were feeling and our feelings could not be trusted.  With one fancy word–our feelings were completely invalidated.  I hate that word.  Hate it.  Yes, you have your perceptions–but verbs, actions done TO you ARE what they ARE and continue to BE what they ARE regardless of how you feel–or anyone else feels–about them.  It was a world of constant manipulation.  I was forever fighting for my sanity–and some days, I still feel this way.

Because even though I am not living “in” it anymore, I am still living “with” it–and sometimes that line can get a little blurry…  Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am an adult, that this is my house, and that he can’t hurt me anymore.  For REAL.  I have to REMIND myself–say it out loud–and remind myself that it’s over.

And I question many of the decisions I’ve made in my life, as everyone does, I suppose.  I’ve made lots of mistakes and wished I could do so many things over again.  Wished I had been a stronger person, a different person.  I don’t feel like I ever had the chance to truly be a child–yet I always feel like one in a grown up body (and that infuriates me so often)–I’m a big mix of all these extremes that don’t make any sense–but make perfect sense to me.  Some days, I just want someone to “get” me.  Some days that really, really matters.

And while it’s so very scary to share your soul tattoos and vulnerability, there’s also a part of me that has no shame in it as well.  I’m extremely proud of all of us.  ALL of us.  Because we clung to this thing inside us that rang out “you are divine” despite that madness that tried to beat it out of us.  We clung like hell. And so I get a little defensive when the world tries to tell me or any of us that we are less than. Because we are all SO much more than–so much MORE.  I have amazing siblings and one incredible momma that have fought through a war and come out the other side with such incredible grace.  You don’t mess with us.  You just DON’T.  I may look all fragile, honey, but I will not back down if you touch any one of them.

And in the mix of all this is my husband.  And I often wonder, when I’m in that mood, if I would have gotten married if I had been in a different place.  I love my husband, and I loved my husband then–but it wasn’t from a place of romantic love, and I’m not even sure I know what that is or that I have ever experienced that.  And while fear and trying to escape isn’t a very romantic or even an incredibly laudable reason to get married, it sure is a convenient, and for some of us, seemingly necessary one.  I also had this absolutely insane notion that if I told my father that I was engaged it would make everything okay in my family — that my getting married was the magical antidote that this crazy mess needed to normalize itself.  I had the entire scenario playing in my head–peace would enfold–and all would be right with the world–when I proved to my father–when I had actual physical PROOF to show my father in the form of a ring–a real ring on my finger–that someone LOVED me, someone WANTED me, someone was WILLING to spend the REST of their LIFE with me–SEE, I WAS WORTH something!!!  This made me worth something, right? Someone LOVES me, DAD!!!  I’m a valid human being!!!  So, this makes it okay that I am breathing and existing, so it’s okay for everyone else to breathe and exist too!!!  The universe can carry on!!!!!!  That was my plan.  THEY plan, in fact, to make all things new.  It seriously back fired into a kind of crazy that even I didn’t see coming (and I had seen a lot of crazy)…

They weren’t happy for me.  I’m not sure about my mom. She wasn’t entitled to her own feelings.  But, happiness was never truly happiness at our house.  A person was never really happy, even when one thought they were happy.  So, what was happiness, really?  My dad said he wanted no part of the wedding–then proceeded to call me a whore and a bunch of other things while standing in front of the door as I tried to leave the house–as I was wondering why I had ever decided to even TRY to share this moment with these people–why I had ever thought something precious or beautiful wouldn’t be trampled on and broken to pieces–and proceeded to try to push me down to my knees and tell me that I needed to beg for his forgiveness for not coming to him and asking for his permission and then telling my fiancé and I that we needed to spend the next six months living with them under his instruction in the word of god.  Marty said, ‘no thanks’ and told my dad he’d call the police if he didn’t move away from the door and let us leave.  NO ONE had ever stood up for me like that to my dad.  NO ONE.  NO ONE had EVER put up with my family’s crap and total insanity like this man I was about to marry–NO ONE.  Marty didn’t flinch, didn’t show fear, didn’t waver–he just said–move, or else…  and that was that.  I needed thatI needed out of crazy and I needed that–so desperately.  The rest of our wedding was just hard–to put it mildly.  Some day we will do that day over.  And my sisters and my brother and my mom will all be a beautiful part of it and it will be amazing, Jen (that is such a fun word).  Yes, someday, we will have a re-do, for me and for my mom (love you so much, Mom).

And no one put up with my crazy like Marty did.  Oh my Lord I was insecure–and I think I always may be to some extent–and I’ve come to accept that about myself–kind of as part of my me-ness–although it is something I am always trying to improve on–one of the oh so many things.  I am a constant work in progress.  My mind was never my own, my body was never my own, and from the moment I could understand words, I was told I was not okay.  That equation does not add up to strong confidence muscles for most people.  I lived in fear my entire life–of this large man–that heard the voice of god–and never knowing what that voice was going to say or how that voice would effect me or my family–where we were going to live–if I should make attachments to friends that would more than likely be taken away–and I just so desperately wanted everyone to be okay.  This constant fear made me a pretty sickly little thing.  My body internalized everything–because I most certainly couldn’t talk to anyone about it–those bad, bad people that made up the outside and couldn’t be trusted.  The stress made me sick.  My body was just wearing itself out.  I’m still dealing with this after math.

I can’t say I dealt with everything perfectly in my life.  I made bad choices.  I’m pretty lucky to be here.  It could have been a lot worse, I suppose.  I think most of us can say that too, sigh.  I messed around with not eating and eating too much–and then running and running and running.  I just wanted the hurt to stop–and running until I was completely and physically spent seemed to do the trick.  I don’t want to get into the other.  It’s too much right now.  I was too controlled to become an alcoholic or abuse drugs.  I won’t say that I didn’t try.  It just didn’t work.  But anorexia, bulimia, and becoming an exercise fanatic suited me just fine.  For once in my freaking life, I had some fucking control over something–and it felt really, really good.  Of course, I developed heart issues and this weird thing called neurally mediated syncope.  God held me.  He always held me.  He never let go.  I came to understand that voice in my father’s ear was never His.  It was never, EVER His.

Then these weird black out moments started happening to me my senior year of college.  Short periods of time would lapse that I couldn’t remember.  It would typically be later in the evening, thankfully, when I was very tired–after some time of duress–finals, some kind of intense stress–and Marty started telling me these strange stories that I didn’t ever quite believe (he was kind of a jokester, so I thought he was just being funny and pulling my leg–where in the world does that weird expression come from?).  So he started tape recording them (remember those things?–man, I feel old).  As he played the cassette tapes back to me, I would get chills.  That voice wasn’t mine, but it was mine.  He would ask me questions, and I would answer–as a child–talking to him like I didn’t know him.  It was creepy and utterly freaked me out.  I told myself–screamed at myself–it was a fluke.  It would go away.  I was just stressed and tired (as a psychology minor, then major, then minor again, I was horrified–I was THAT person).  Then I’d wake up the next morning and he’d tell me, “you were seven again”.  I needed help.  Dear God, I was certifiably insane…

And that’s when all the years of therapy began.  Neutrally colored offices and couches–safe places.  Is that why I like to decorate in neutrals so much?  Hmmmmm… I had really never had anyone listen to all of my crazy.  I had never really been able to share without fear.  Occasionally I had tried to reach out–but there was always someone listening–always–whether it be on the other end of the phone, on the top of the stairs, going through my diaries–and I could never shake that fear of that presence being there.  And so it took a long time for me to talk.  To KNOW I was SAFE.  This was a safe place.  He wasn’t going to get me here.  I could breathe, exhale, I could speak–and I would not die.  Marty even came with me a few times.  A pretty incredible guy.

And once I got comfortable, the words would not come so easily.  So much had been pushed back so very far–in order for me to function, to put one foot in front of the other, to breathe, to get up each day, to exist, for it to be OKAY to exist–so all kinds of different therapy began, medications, exercises–and it was such hard work, friends, many, many years of hard, uncomfortable work–and often times I felt very alone–because this wasn’t just my journey–but I was the only one sitting on these couches sharing it.  But I knew I had to–if I wanted any kind of life for myself–I knew I had to.

And I couldn’t go back there for awhile–to that place that I called home.  I had to heal.  And that process was muddled and messy and involved and all I wanted to do was reach out and save my sisters and a very little sister and brother and I just wanted to buy a big, big house and take them all with me–and I couldn’t do that–so I would just cry and pray and cling to some day, and cry and cling and pray some more to God that someday it would all be better–God, please help us all make it to “some day”.  And, as most of you know, He did.  Let’s pause for a moment.  That’s pretty freaking fabulous and incredible, isn’t it?

But my father would still try his best to intimidate — by leaving his business card in the door of my apartment or home when we moved–just to let me know that he knew where I lived, sending strange birthday cards with awful letters letting me know that he forgave me and would continue to forgive me for being such a terrible person and daughter — and his own mother even got on board with this one for a few years — he would also show up to my place of work — which I didn’t know until later — I just thought my boss was being super sweet when he spontaneously took me out to lunch or for ice cream (he was a super sweet boss-what an incredible family I had at Meredith).  Then there was the call I received from my father’s ex-wife’s lawyer about a year after we moved into our new home in Carlisle (my mother divorced my father when my oldest son was three months old)–they had been married all of a year–and she wanted me to help her with her divorce.  Really???  I fell to a ball on the floor and just started trembling in fear and rocking back and forth with tears streaming down my face.  How did you get this number?  Does he have this number?  Leave me alone!  When will this shit ever end?  I felt for this woman, a little, but honestly not a whole lot, I got myself together and kindly told her lawyer to please lose my number and never, ever call me again.  You were married to this man for a year.  Your children, whom I’m sure are quite lovely, had him as a step father for a year.  I have carried this for a life time and am dealing with my own pain.  I am done.  It may sound incredibly selfish, but I don’t care.  I don’t owe you anything.  I was a child and barely able to help myself — as an adult, I think you will be just fine.  And that was the day my oldest son found out that my African American step father was not his real grandpa or my real dad.  So, there is a smile in that little story and memory.  He never saw grandpa Homer’s skin.  He just saw him as my real dad and never, ever questioned it.  He’s simply grandpa and Mommy’s dad to my boys.  And that’s just perfect to me.  God, I love my boys!

Speaking of my boys, they are playing Wii, very loudly, downstairs.  I’ve tried to bribe their decibel level down with ice cream.  It’s so hard to think and type all this emotion out.  This has taken me all day.   It’s also so very hard to be quiet when you’re playing  a competitive Wii tournament against your brother. I open my eyes and look around me and am blown away by my blessings–and there it is again–that disconnect between what was and what is.  It just seems so unreal.  I praise Jesus every day–every single night and day–and many hours in-between…

I can’t imagine my life without these two treasures and miracles that call me Mom.  Yet, I never thought I wanted kids.  I felt I had raised kids already and I was SO AFRAID (there’s that fear again) that I would be the most HORRIFIC parent.  SO afraid.  Let me hone that in a bit–I was so afraid I would be my parents.  We learn in all these psychology classes that abuse is cyclical.  It’s presented to us as almost inescapable.  I didn’t want that for me.  I didn’t want that for any human being that came from me.  That’s lazy garbage.  We are capable of MORE.  We are capable of BETTER.  We can rise above how we were treated.  We are not slaves to what was put upon us, dealt us–we can want more for ourselves and for our future.  It makes me angry that this crap is even put in our heads.  It’s an excuse to easily slide in– to easily continue–an easy cop out (‘well, my Dad did it to me’–and trust me, I heard that–we were often told what terrible parents my father had–unless he wanted money from them– and were often told how fortunate we were to have such great ones).  It’s saying–well, that’s all they know, so that’s what they do.  Hell no, you know BETTER–because you know that it felt like absolute hell and you know that you want no human being to EVER feel that way–so you do everything–yes EVERYTHING in your power to do your best to make your little corner of the world a safe, nurturing and loving place for your kids to grow.  That’s how it works.  Know better, do better, and rise above.  Why on earth would you want to perpetuate the pain?

There are many things I will remember my husband’s mom saying to me while we were dating–but this one often sticks out–and it relates to the above.  When I began to question a few family things that arose, as all families have family things that arise, she told Marty that I didn’t understand how real families work because mine was so dysfunctional.  I don’t fault her for that.  I understood where she was coming from.  She thought that I didn’t get what being a family was all about because mine was so bad–so I didn’t understand real family dynamics, essentially.  And I’m sure many people believe that people like me don’t get what it means to be family, what it means to have a family — but here’s the thing — we “get it” even better…

Because here’s the thing about truth–when you’ve been in the darkness for so long, submerged, struggling just to see a glimmer of hope, to catch just a glimpse of sunshine–once you see that light–holy holiness!!!!!!!!–that light shines SO BRIGHT–and you hold on tight!  And by being forced to live everything we don’t want for ourselves for so long, by not being allowed to have choices or voices for so long, oh my goodness–we are MORE than able to hone in on what we DO want for ourselves and for our families–and we are willing to work so hard for it–to fight for it– and we are far less likely to put up with any inauthenticity, dishonesty, or bullshit, for lack of a better word.  Because we’ve been there–and we don’t want our kids going through that–and frankly–we’ve done OUR time–and we don’t need to go through any of that again.  Oh, we so GET IT, honey.  And we are bringing the truth with us!  This little light of mine?  I’m gonna let it shine! 

I find it so easy for people to judge and to have all the answers–standing up on high places–where those deep waters of life’s knock out, drag out circumstances, those test your faith and your tomorrows circumstances, haven’t had to rush over you.  Where you’re neck deep on a good day.  I’m not saying you have to go through diresville to be kind and compassionate.  No.  That’s what empathy is for.  I’m just trying to pull some positive out of the mire for those of us that have lived it and maybe gotten a few too many of it’s fumes stuck in our lungs and nostrils.  We’re less likely to judge you and more likely to hold your hand.  You are my sister.  You are my brother.  And I know, by grace and by God’s mercy, we are all just really, trying to do the best we can.  And if we can just let go of pretenses, our egos, our if only’s, our what ifs, and all of our made up structures of what it means to be “good” people–and just LOVE the living crap out of each other, and help each other be brave when we are scared, I really think this world has the makings to be a decent place.  Because it’s how we live, how we love, and how we take care of each other that makes us who we are.  And that’s it.

Things from the outside can look so perfect.  So Bible-icious even–  and be the darkest, crumbliest, evilest mess you ever saw.  That’s how my family was.  Some of the worst and most disgusting people I have ever known went to church every single Sunday and devoutly read their Bibles.  They did a stupendous job of telling everyone else how rotten they were and how to live their lives by the letter of the law.

But love, that amazing (love you, Jen) “l” word–that word is a verb–a DOING word–so we have to live it.  We have to live it because people need us to.  People like me.  That’s how we show Jesus.  We love them.  And I truly believe that THAT–yes THAT–is what heals everything.  One moment and many, many moments that make up years at a time–as we walk this little journey — this little life of ours–that is but a little blip on God’s radar of eternity.  We just keep loving.

And every night I pray for all of you that have survived abuse.  I pray for those of you that are in it.  I pray that you may find safety.  I pray that you may find peace.  I pray that you may find hope.  I pray that you can breathe and be and know your preciousness, your value, your worth, you beautiful divinity.  Our journey is never over–soul tattoos are forever–but when you surround yourself with the love of people who nourish your spirit and soul and honor your divine and take one day, sometimes one breath at a time–you can be.  And sometimes just being–well, it’s enough.  Much love to all of you.  Know you are so much more than.  Oh dear God, you are so much more than any of your pain…  and in one of my favorite quotes from Joe from the movie “Super 8” — “I know bad things happen, but you can still live…” 


I want to dedicate this to my sister, Erin, who is an awesome nanny to one of the cutest little flowers, Rose, and an incredibly talented artist of the canvas–who sees things that I could never see–and translates them into beautiful colors and images for the entire world to see.  She is brave, she is thoughtful, she is kind, she is sassy, she is gorgeous.  She is an incredible listener.  She has awesome tattoos.   She is everything I want to be when I grow up.  She is married to an incredible man named Harold.  She is one rocking aunt.

My sister, Jennifer, who is amazing, and loves to use the word amazing–who has one of the most expansive hearts that spreads so wide and so far it may just eat the whole world up.  She is an actress, a deep thinker, a listener of body language, a teacher, a helper of humanity.  She is gentle, reverent, beautiful, brave, kind, and thoughtful.  She has an easy spirit and makes you feel like you are home anywhere you are.  She is also everything I want to be when I grow up.  She is also one rocking aunt.

My sister, Molly, who is saving all of God’s living creatures–be it animal or vegetation.  She will cuddle and risk her life for both.  She is lovely in spirit and visage, so gentle and caring, and has a grace about her that one can feel as well as see.  She doesn’t talk much, but when she does, you better listen.  It will be funny or relevant or both.  She is very wise. She has a four legged son named Kai who is all Husky.  She is also everything I want to be when I grow up.  She is also one rocking aunt.

My brother, Tim, who’s sarcastic, quick wit should really be making him big bucks–but he’s far too humble.  He is a talented musician, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and more than likely the master of many more instruments I am not aware of.    His knowledge of brews and beers is enviable.  It’s really a shame I loathe beer.  He is intelligent, he is kind, he is thoughtful, he is handsome, he is talented, and generally one of the most amazing men I know.  He is married to a beautiful woman named Jenna.  He is one rocking uncle.  He is also everything I want to be when I grow up.

And my mother, Marlou,  is so many things.  A gifted musician, singer, writer, teacher, gardener, nutritionist, reader, and “knower of yots of fings”, as Griffyn says.  I’d like to add, as the years have gone by, an incredible friend, who has taken care of me and shown me so innately what that feels like.  It feels really, really good.  She is so very thoughtful, kind, generous, beautiful, caring, and one amazing grandma to my boys.  I am really enjoying getting to know this woman.  I am finding pieces of myself in her.  She is also everything I want to be when I grow up.

And all of these amazing people, truly, truly amazing people, I am blessed to call my family–are so much MORE THAN–ever so much more than–I could ever put into words or expression.  I love them with all my heart and am so incredibly blessed by their light and presence on this earth.  They are my story, my journey–little pieces of all of them carried inside of this person that makes up me–and the gift of who they are, the gift of getting to know those people, these miracles of people, that is the most amazing and precious miracle of all…

Peace, dear ones…