The new year is beginning. So long and good riddance to 2013. Good things came of it, but it was a hard year. A very hard year. Exhausting. But not debilitating. A disaster in some ways. And while I’d not want to do it over, I’m thankful for who I am on this side of it. For who I’m becoming.
I painted this verse above the doors in my living room. Where the sun shines in almost all day. Because I need to remember. It’s all that puts one foot in front of the other at some moments. Because without His fresh mercies, I have no leg to stand on. No reason to be. No wherewithal for life. Without Him, you do not want me in your world. Without Him, I don’t want you in my world. Every good thing about me is because His mercies are new. There are surviving mercies. And recovering mercies. And rebuilding mercies. There are mercies for not being terrified to move forward. And mercies for all the stuff I messed up that’s hurting you. And all the stuff you messed up that’s hurting me. There’s mercies for putting it all back together afterwards.
His mercies are going to keep being new every morning in 2014. They have to be. Or there’s no hope for me. Or you. They have to be because He said they are. And He cannot lie to me. He cannot lie to you.
I hate what this broken world has made me. I despise the way I react and respond to everyday situations. Every day I plead with God to change me. I wish He would do it instantaneously. I am grieved by the walls in my heart and mind. I am tired of distrusting. I am weary of suspecting ulterior motives. I am sad. And I’m tired of being sad. I am exhausted from second, third, and fourth guessing myself at every turn. I have good days. I have great days. I have days that are rocky, but doable. I have days of utter despair and heartache. Lonely, lonely heartache. I feel like a treasure. I feel like a burden. I am never enough. I am always too much. I’m very, very tired.
It was easier not to try. It was safer not to unearth everything that was wrong. It was less painful to not sort it all out. I’m getting better, but it is an uphill climb and the people around me are tired, too. Instead of mustered smiles and toughened exterior, I am raw nerves and bare emotions. It is good. It is better. But it is a mess. It is a step, a phase, a season in the process. I can’t stop. Or turn back. I have to go forward. I have to believe there is peace on the other side of this. That there is rest. And a reprieve from the feelings. There are too many of them. The spectrum of emotions is devastatingly broad and overwhelming.
I’m adrift at sea. On an ocean that is taking me somewhere good, but the gale force of the storm that is propelling me along has been threatening to capsize me.
Be my anchor. Like Peter cried to You, “Save me! I’m sinking!”
I hang on by white-knuckled fingers. You will not let me fall.
It’s really not. That’s been happening for a while now. There’s not hate. Or desire for revenge. There is some anger. Tears. A lot of confusion and questions, especially now that I have and love children of my own.
But it’s not really about forgiveness.
It’s about rewiring the circuitry.
I get that it’s broken. I’ve moved on from that. I’ve moved on from blaming. I’ve moved on to seeking out healing.
Well-meaning people keep saying things like “forgive, so they don’t have the power to hurt you anymore”. I know you mean well. Please just hug me instead, or don’t judge my unfinishedness. That’s the lovingest thing you can do.
I’m not holding on to hurt. If that was all, I’d have let go a LOOOOOOONG time ago. When broken people have hordes of offspring with no thought to their own wholeness, they crush their kids. They wire them wrong. They tell them f’ed up things that make them unsure of their worth, both to mankind and to the God Who created them.
I cried today. Because it’s September 11th. But not because of the tragedy that hit our nation that day over a decade ago. Before you gasp at my cold heart, hear me out. I got home from school that day to something that never should have been said to me. That never should have been said to my siblings. Or to any child, ever.
“You’re just like those terrorists.”
I remember it every year. And then I stuff it back down in the box where I keep everything connected to my childhood, lock it up, and go on.
This year I took it to therapy with me. Until this point, I have always remembered it as something said to me, neutrally, with very little in the way of positive or negative emotion attached to it. Very carefully.
It was wrong.
I honestly didn’t know that. I’ve thought for the better part of 27 years that the emotional, verbal, mental, physical, and spiritual abuse was merely their idea of doing the right thing, and who was I to say that they were wrong in any of it? After all, don’t we all make mistakes in the name of doing what we believe is right? There is a difference between making a mistake and abusing your children. Having a difficult day is not the same as discarding human decency in the name of parenting.
I am terrified that I am a horrible parent. That my love compass is broken. That I am irreparably destroying the single most amazing thing that has ever been in my life. The more I heal, however, and learn that the way I was raised was not an acceptable childhood, the more confidence I have in being a mom. The less fearful I am of myself. I am not her. I am not broken beyond repair. I can love. I am loved. I am as normal as I need to be. I may be re-raising myself along with my 3 children, but I am ok. Do I mourn the childhood I should have had? Yes. But I have forgiven. That is not my burden to carry. It’s such a mess that only God can sort it out. I am left with pieces, and empty spaces, but He restores my youth like the eagles.
So, no. It’s not about forgiveness anymore. That was awhile ago. Forgiveness doesn’t make me magically unhurt. There is no magic reset button. It doesn’t undo 16 years of trauma. It just puts things in the right place so I can start to untangle my own mess and realize just how precious I actually am.
I do not have a choice. There is no other option besides well. The pattern of abuse ends with me. The cycle of dysfunction is in my court and I will not pass the ball. No games. I refuse to mess around with the health of my mind and my heart. I am telling myself again for the millionth time that I choose wholeness.
After so much improvement and finally seeing the sun through a break in the cloud bank, a new storm system moved in. The vortex returned with its original vigor. Some days it’s like crawling up an escalator going down. I cannot let it carry me to the bottom, yet the energy to maintain status quo, at the very minimum, is beyond me. The demons return with their shrieking. The voice of gloom in its 1611 King James reminds me I am nothing. There is no end to the darkness that I had once climbed out of and seen as but a thing I had once experienced.
I was better. I was loving my life. The past was living where it belonged: not in smack dab in front of me. So much victory over things I don’t even know how to put into words, yet had lived with for years, being consumed by them. I was beginning to experience things that had been a part of my life, yet that most people take for granted. Simple things that were not simple for me since the parts of me that should know how to live were crushed by abuse. A paralyzing fear that I was unable to love. A certainty that I would forever long to know God, but never reach Him. A question of when, not if, the relationships in my life would be over when the respective recipients realized my damaged self was too hard to love.
You can quote me the verses and sayings all day long. Tell me it’ll be ok. Say the right things. The Jesus things.
My healing is on His timeline, not mine. Or yours. Which means 2 things: 1) It will happen. 2) It is for real.
It means that the progress I made is not for naught. That I am not back at Square 1, even though it feels more like Ground Zero. That even though it seems my genetics demand disaster, that is not reality. That if you turn out to not be as ok as I thought you were, I can still be ok.
I went back to therapy. It’s exhausting starting again. To open up the closet doors and let the skeletons fall out in front of someone new. But I need perspective outside of me. Visibility is at an all-time low. Just past the tempest, is my life. And it’s still there. Even when the people whose wellness I was subconsciously measuring myself by are dropping like flies.
I can be ok. I must be ok. I have no choice. I will not pass on the inheritance passed on to me. I will not give you the curse that was gifted to me. The children God has entrusted to me are worth more than I was ever made to believe I was. My marriage is worth too much to leave him at the mercy of my pain.
I choose to believe the devastatingly enormous love He has for me.
The fact that I walked away from the relationship doesn’t mean I don’t forgive. It doesn’t mean that a part of me won’t always grieve for what should have been. It doesn’t mean that I don’t rejoice in the knowledge that with heaven comes wholeness, and that they and we will have healthy minds and hearts capable of knowing and being known.
It means I am well-er. That I have prioritized my own health so that I can seek and know Him, the knowledge of Whom was nearly decimated by the 2 from whom I walked away. That I know God has placed me in a family, and I do not take that lightly. That I am responsible for my own health and decisions. Regardless of the havoc wreaked on me by my residence on planet earth. That no matter/because of the pain my heart feels over the manipulation and rejection, it is my responsibility as a person, a child of God, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, to be progressively more whole.
The enemy of our souls would love nothing better than for the broken to wallow in the fragments. Embracing the shattered nature of our hearts cuts us further, cuts the people who come in contact with us. Our God commands us to be and do that which only He can make us well enough to do and be. So that we end the cycles of breaking and broken. So that He is made glorious to ourselves and to those to whom we had previously played the porcupine.
I went to see my new niece.
Today, she is 6 days old. She is beautiful. Her family is beautiful. Her daddy, my brother, is broken, devastated by the childhood we shared. And he keeps going back for more. My heart breaks for him, but I cannot change him any more than I can change the people who birthed us into their insanity. His heart is too soft and generous to long withstand the level of pain he continues to inflict upon himself and inevitably, eventually, his family.
I can only say that it has been a supernatural work of God’s love that has enabled me to make the choices I have made in response to the disaster that my heart has been. I carry a question mark in my heart. But “what if’s are stupid”. I have to live in the “what is”. And take responsibility for the status of my own person as the grown-ass adult that I am.
I see it like this: In the airport they tell you not to accept baggage from unknown people. Suppose someone leaves baggage at your feet and walks away. Quickly inform the important clipboard-wielding airport people and deal with your baggage, yo. And don’t go back for more. It’s your responsibility once it’s at your feet and blaming the terrorist who gave it to you won’t make it go away. Nor will tracking down the terrorist and inviting them to join your flight.
“So, it’s like you made peace?”
That’s what my brother asked me. I’d have to say “yes”. If peace is the absence of turmoil, and not associating with emotional terrorists removes the turmoil they bring to your life, then, yes. I have brought peace to my family and myself by dealing with the baggage. I’ve come to terms with the fact that they are ill. The only relationship they wish to have with me is based on the version of reality that they, in their illness, have created. They want contact with me as long as it entraps me in the game. If I lend them control, they will seize it. I do not play the game so they do not reach out to me, and therefore have proved to me that the game is what they were after. Not me. They want control. Not love. Because to them, love is control and instability and dependence are affection.
There is no fear in love. They do not have love to offer me. So I jealously guard the peace that I have learned to embrace. And I eagerly await the healing of eternal life, both now and in heaven.
Around 5am this morning, I was awakened by one of my children in need of a change of garments and sleeping venue. To prevent embarrassment, the child in question will remain nameless due to the nature of the early morning rendezvous. As the loving mother that I am, I dutifully showered and changed said offspring, threw the offended bedding into the washing machine, and tucked the small one into a hastily assembled ‘hollywood’. (A ‘hollywood’ is a pallet on the floor. Refer to my little brother, Dylan, for explanation.)
The floor in my room, to the chagrin of my husband, is rarely as tidy as it should be. Due to this prolonged lapse in housekeeping, I usually turn on my bedside lamp before putting out the rest of the lights when going to bed so as not to injure myself at the end of each day. In a rare, and as it turns out, unfortunate occurrence, the path to bed was clear, causing me to forego the typical illumination progression. I turned out the lights before heading back to sleep, congratulating myself on the uncharacteristic cleanliness of my environs, knowing I would stumble over nothing on my way.
I made it without incident to the bed where a sharp crack, blinding pain, and stars in my vision elicited an involuntary scream. To which Jim responded by sitting up quite violently and yelling, having been rudely torn from a deep sleep. Cue the silent weeping. The kind where tears stream uncontrollably down your face…
Had I turned on my lamp before canning the bathroom and hallway lights, and dragging myself back to my bed, I would have seen that my husband was sleeping on his back with his feet flat on the bed, with his knees in the air. And I could have avoided finding his left knee with my face. Directly in the nose. At 5am in the morning. After doing a load of laundry and showering a young child. At 5am in the morning.
Possessing the appendage which inflicted my acute agony, Jim ferreted out an ice pack for my throbbing schnoz. I fell asleep holding it to my nose.
I have 2 black eyes.
And my nose is deepening its lovely purple hue by the hour.
This is my only salvation.
The moral of the story is that cleaning your room is bad for your health.
Yup. That’s what I’m going with.
My room was clean and now I look like I got punched in the face.
I cry a lot. About other people. And when I’m happy. Come to think of it, I may weep every other day, but it’s less and less because my heart is too mangled to speak. It hurts being tender and feeling other people’s pain, but it beats being brittle. I’m in awe of the healing that’s taken place in my life and my heart. My mind is clear and my emotions are capable of reaching out beyond my own disasters. I have been able to weep with those who weep and laugh with their laughter.
I also feel I have lost time to make up for. I see myself as being the emotional age of a much younger person who grew up in a stable, nurturing environment. But that’s ludicrous. Because the cracks in my being have been filled in with something much more beautiful, and I am His masterpiece being fashioned from the fragments.
Every day is a fresh start since I am yet again faced with the newness of the work He is doing. Oh, that I would be the poem of love that He reads to me and to the world around me!
I wax sappy and ridiculous.
A side effect I am not entirely ok with experiencing. Happy emotions are more difficult for me to process, perhaps since I spent the majority of my life treading water in a mud bog.
I have experienced varying degrees of loss and uncertainty in the last several months. Not all of it in my immediate sphere of influence, but close enough that my newly mended heart feels the searing pain of it. I know I have abandonment issues. That’s what happens when your birth mother sits across the table from you and signs you away. Having embraced the spectacularly wonderful family God transitioned me into, I failed to realize I carry scars. Scars are fine. If you know you have them and recognize their effect on your mended life. I retreated a bit from my social circle to shield myself from the reminders of this world’s finiteness and the devastation of those left behind. The empathy was too much. I too clearly could put myself in the shoes of the loved ones. “It means you’re well,” a wise friend told me. A friend who’s known me since before the overhaul. “It means that you’re healed enough to reach out beyond yourself.”
I was afraid of going back into the shell I once inhabited. I can’t go back there. It’s cold. And dark. And very small.
But He tells us to weep with the brokenhearted. And be joyful with those weeping for joy. So all the crying is ok.
I’m crying over my own loss. I’m crying with the loss of friends. I’m crying because I can’t handle how happy being well is making me. I’m crying because people I love are being blessed.
Maybe I have overactive tear ducts. I should have that checked out.
But the prodigal son is home and the big brother is asking for his party too. And the Father is embracing both sides of me and healing me with His Love.