Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christmas Wishes for Existential Things

I want my skin to be thick enough for nothing to hurt. 

If only my heart was full enough that it no longer ached when I think of what was, what could have been, what is ending. I wish that my armor could shield me from the pain, the twisting arrow, the thoughts that I can't stop thinking.

I wish that I did not care, that his ghost did not have the power to make me feel so broken.
I want to forget the bad and forget the good.
I want to stop loving someone who doesn't deserve my love.
I want to go back and change my fate, my decisions, my trusting heart that told me to lay it all out for a person that would take it all and then walk away.

I want to be as carefree and happy as he seems, instead of worrying that people will discount me for my story.
I want to believe that all is well and all shall be well.
I want to be stronger than the mess.

But here is the truth:

There is no strength that could keep this from penetrating my defenses.

My heart is bound to beat with sadness and anticipation. It is bound to be weary and it will take time to heal. Though I scarcely believe it, I know that my heart is strong because even though it sits raw and vulnerable, it continues to defy the brokenness that overwhelms it.

No, this Christmas season is not full of joy for me. It is the anticipation of an ending that I did not want and that I still wish I could wake from. It is for me a season of sadness and frustration, anxiety and pain.

Because I still don't want this.
After everything that has happened, I still wish that it was different.

And though I know (and so often preach) about the silver linings and positive twists and blessings, sometimes I just want to be ok in not being ok. I want to sit with the frustration that God allowed this to happen at all, to be mad that I wasn't protected from this, that there wasn't some sign in the sky that told me what was coming and to back away.

I want to sit and not have to talk about the silver lining or the blessings. And maybe I want to throw something. Although it will probably be soft and I can't actually throw very well so it won't have much impact. But I will throw something nevertheless.

Because overcoming is about the mountain, but also about the rocks and hills along the trek. It is overcoming the hours and overcoming the months. It is feeling all the feels and being pissed that you can't just shove them down and ignore them. Overcoming involves a lot of being pissed I think. And snacks. Overcoming is worthless if there aren't any snacks.

So as much as I hate the stupid process of healing and time, there is no escaping it. I know, reluctantly and with an attitude, that eventually I will summit the mountain, feel the fresh air whipping over my face, and realize that I am stronger than I believed and happier than I ever thought I could be again.

But until then, I will have to make do with some pringles.

Maybe I'll even throw a few. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

What Six Months Looks Like

Overcoming is a weird thing. You simultaneously want to move along, to forget the bad thing that happened, to be free of the person that hurt you. . . and yet to fully move on and let go brings on an anxiety that is undeniable. 

Love is a weird thing. Someone can do the worst to you, beyond what you ever imagined, so much so that you hate every single piece of them. You want to scrub your skin raw, rip up every picture and trace of them, destroy every piece of life that they ever touched. And at the same time, almost against your will, you still love them, still wish they were there for the important moments, still wish things had turned out differently. 

Growing up is a weird thing. 
It never turns out quite like we imagined it would. 

Six months ago my life turned on its head when my husband decided he no longer loved me. Five months ago he left me to be with the woman he had chosen instead and filed for divorce without a single shred of remorse. Our marriage, what had been to me a sacred vow and a lifelong commitment, was to him a failed experiment to be tossed aside when it no longer suited him. He blamed my inadequacies and left me a shell of the confident woman I had once been. 

Six months ago everything I had known and hoped for was thrown into the air and set on fire. 


"I think people get bored of grief," said Natasha. "Its like you are allowed some unspoken allotted time- six months maybe- and then they get faintly irritated that you're not 'better,' like you're being self-indulgent hanging on to your unhappiness." 

-Jojo Moyes, After You

The flames that fell sought to destroy me, but like a phoenix I rose from the ashes, refusing for this to be the end of my story. I worked hard on healing, on understanding what had happened, on discovering the best of me again. I fell and I tripped but I moved forward. I grew stronger. And yet, it did not fix everything. Six months did not leave me a person unburnt by the things that had happened. 

My grieving looks different than it did six months ago, but the veil of him still covers my life. It colors everything, though only lightly and like a quiet afterthought. I am removed from him and much of my life has moved on, and yet I will tell you that the ghost of him still follows me. The anger, the sadness- it is not deep any longer, but it still brushes against my heart with quiet frequency. I am better than I was but I am still a work in progress. 

For those that have asked the questions that seem so simple to others:

I am ok but I am not.

I am doing better but I am not untouched. 

I am happy and I am sad. 

I am pleased for my future yet frustrated by my past. 

I am a walking contradiction who cannot answer the simplest questions. 

And that is ok. It is ok for me to still be processing, to still get quiet or lash out. It is ok that healing takes a long time and it is ok that however heartbreaking and hard this is, it is a part of who I am. 

I cannot separate from my story, but I will not let it be my shame either. I have not been defeated. I can stand on the far side of the valley and say with absolute confidence that there is still good. There is still hope. There is still joy

And that is what it looks like for me to rise from the ashes and spread my wings.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Journey through the Darkness

The first time I walked in to meet my counselor a few months ago I felt fragile and uncertain. It was like I had aged a million years and the softest wind would blow me to dust. I was more concerned for his soul than what had been done to me because caring about him was easier than coming to terms with the truth of how he had wronged me. I was desperately clutching at whatever I could to make sense of it all. 

I was stronger than two months before, but there was still a desperation in my eyes that quietly feared what had been and what was to come. For a long time I didn't believe a day would ever come when sadness did not consume me. 

But I learned tools to move through the darkness. I learned how to breathe, to ground myself, to relax. I learned to come to terms with my grief, my anger, my questioning. I cried, broken over a sense of guilt that I could have done better. I leaned into every emotion and I let myself feel them all.

And then gradually I began to feel lighter, full, happier. A light started to break through the clouds. My shattered bones began to grow back, stronger and deeper. Six months since the nightmare began I started to have days where the sadness no longer consumed me, though the crimson thread of sorrow would always be a piece of me. 

Four months ago I came home from Arizona broken. I didn’t know who I was anymore or who I was supposed to be. I was a shell of myself. I was empty and at the same time filled with tears and regret. 

But slowly, I have begun to thaw. Spring has come back into my soul. Slowly, I have found myself again. It turned out she was still there, deep down.

Each day I have to consciously work through my thoughts to win the mental game. I will have to deal with repercussions of this for some time. But I am the best version of myself right now, I believe. 

I am stronger than ever- physically, mentally- and I am fighting my way to healing. I am doing a good work and God is doing an even better work at keeping me safe while I become who He made me to be again. My steps are more steady for God has strengthened my weak knees and feeble arms. 

He has reminded me that there is a future beyond this. And I am starting to believe that what has happened is not the end of me. 

It is only the beginning. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Finding Joy In Sorrow

I remember the first time I felt joy in my sorrow. 

It had been months without it, though I hadn’t quite realized it had been so absent until the moment it blossomed just ever so slightly from my soul again. 

I was sitting at my favorite Thai restaurant in Pasadena with a friend I had not seen in years. We had almost miraculously reconnected while I was in town and we sat for hours reminiscing on the good, the tough, and the great moments from our grad school years. We talked about what was going on in our lives now and I shared my story, still raw and full of emotion and pain, shedding tears, encouragement, and honesty. 

Before we knew it hours had passed and I realized that something special had happened but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. As I tried to explain to my friend what a gift they had given me that evening, all of a sudden it dawned on me- it was the first time I had been truly happy in months. 

It had been the first time that I laughed without abandon, that I smiled hard, that I felt good about myself and encouraged in who I was. It was the first time in my sorrow that I had actually enjoyed time out with a friend and not let the sorrow overwhelm me. I laughed and cried all at the same time as I thanked my friend for giving me just a few hours of absolute joy in the midst of the worst season of my life. 

Those few hours of joy were such a gift in the midst of my sorrow because they reminded me of something- they reminded me that one day I would feel joy like that again, and for more than just a dinner.They were a glimpse of what could be, and would be, and that moment of joy gave me strength to keep getting out of bed, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and keep reaching toward the light that would eventually shine through. That moment of joy also made me realize that I could still feel joy, that all wasn’t lost. 

It didn’t fix things, but for a moment there was a lightness of being, a joy to living, and loud laughter that could disturb an entire restaurant. It was a beautiful, God-ordained moment that I will treasure for the rest of my life. 

Joy in sorrow is an interesting thing. It almost feels wrong, like it negates your sadness. You feel guilty at first because you assume that your feelings of sadness must not be that deep if you find yourself smiling for a minute. It is like when something bad happens it is supposed to consume everything, and for a while it really does. But I don't think there should be guilt in this. I think that joy and sorrow must go together, as odd as that might sound. I think that joy in sorrow is the most beautiful representation of Christ. 

I have been in the pit and it is nearly impossible to take joy in being betrayed and stepped all over. But I believe we must embrace the beautiful breaths of reprieve that give us a glimpse of what will one day be restored.

These days I have more moments of joy, more moments when I forget about the on-the-floor-terrible moments and embrace the levity of the right then. It is a gradual shift, and healing and joy does not come easily. 

I work, daily, at my healing and as I heal I slip into joy more easily. I still find it a little foreign when I realize I am laughing out loud at something. It was a really long time that I didn’t laugh anymore, that I had lost my joy. When my laugh bursts forth it takes me a second to realize that sound is me and that sound means joy. It is precious to me now. 

Joy in sorrow is such a gift. 
It is being happy not because of what happened to me, but in spite of it. 
It is a breath of air when you are seconds away from giving in to drowning. 
It is a beautiful reminder that there truly will be good things ahead. 

Embrace the joy today my friends, no matter what season of life you are in. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

When Stuff Gets Worse. . .

You know that saying about rock bottom? Yea. That doesn't apply to my life.

"The only place you can go is up!"

That silver lining seriously is not cutting it for me at this point. More like, "Surprise! You thought it was rock bottom but shit just gets worse!" Again, and again, and again.

It has officially been five months of really hard stuff. Its been a rough four years but man, these five months have taken the cake. I have been betrayed so many times and it seems that right when I get my footing again I get kicked back down into the dirt.

I do not say it lightly when I tell you that the devil has been out to kill me. I don't know what you believe about good and evil but I believe that we are in a battle- a serious spiritual battle, not a figurative one. I think that the forces of good and evil are battling it out for the world, and though I believe that God (the ultimate good) will win in the end (and has already claimed that victory through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ), the middle is a whole lot of war.

One of the tough things about my "situation" is trying to figure out God's role in it all. I have seen His goodness in mighty ways throughout the last five months, but a big part of me has questioned why God did not stop this in the first place. I prayed and prayed over my future husband for years, so why did God not warn me to steer clear of the one who would ultimately try to destroy me?

I have wrestled over this uncertainty for a while. I know God is a good God, that He loves me perfectly . .  . so how do I reconcile the serious amount of pain and disappointment I have experienced?

Well yesterday it clicked.

When I was in Arizona, satan did his best to defeat me. he did all he could to destroy me and I now believe that his ultimate weapon was to use the thing I longed for most. I put my trust and faith in someone that was incapable of returning the same, and in the long run, it would have destroyed me.

So where was God? 

I will tell you where: God was there fighting for me in my darkest moments. God was there giving me glimpses of good in the midst of the bad. God was there to pull me out of a really terrible situation and bring me to the other side of the country, away from the battle and away from someone who was not loving me well or at all. 

Did He bring me out to a prosperous and easy situation? Not yet, but that doesn't mean He isn't working things together for a beautiful future. Trust me, I am not all roses and patience. I have been so frustrated, angry, and sad. But I know that ultimately God provides. . . just in time and just enough.

Yea, things could be easier right now. Things could also be a whole lot worse. I believe that God rescued me. I believe that God is working miracles together for my future, but that will take time. I also know that a lot of times I have trouble believing all of this, but thank goodness I have friends who remind me of the truth.

Grief is messy, my friends. It is trudging through the mud, growing weary, and putting one foot in front of the other. Grief is a process of learning the tools- how to breathe, how to live again, how to expel lies with truth- and therefore being able to stand a little bit stronger as the waves continue to hit. 

I am weary, yes.
I am sad.
But I am strong.
And I am worthy of the fight.
Because you know what?

I get hit again and again and again but I am still standing. I have not been defeated. I still praise my God and His goodness from the depths of the darkness.

I am a fighter.

And that shows that our God is our protector. He pulls me through the mud. He sends people to lift me up when I fall down. He has been caring for me the whole time and one day,

one day. . .

all will be well again. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

I Am Worthy

Quite a while back my community group in Arizona was sharing our stories of faith. I opened up and shared, through teary eyes, about the voice I had been hearing in my head that was telling me it would be better off if I died. I’ve written a little bit about that before and how scary it was to hear such a convincing voice. 

The next day our community group leader, Brian, came by the office where I was working. 
“I’ve been thinking about what you shared with us last night,” he said. “Now, I am not a prophet or anything, but I just feel like God wants me to tell you that that voice you heard was not for you.” 

At the time, I was skeptical. The voice had been convincing and I knew I was struggling through depression, but I continued to listen. 

“I think you heard that voice so that you will understand,” he continued. “I think God wants you to understand what your kids [on the reservation] go through, what people who are in that kind of pain hear and feel. But I feel so strongly that that voice was not for you.” 

At the time I didn’t really think he was right. I was pretty sure that the devil was trying to kill me, but I held onto Brian’s word and I did not forget it. 

This week I was talking to my lovely therapist and telling her about Brian’s word for me. I explained that now, months later, I am realizing that his word was true. I feel so strongly that a lot of my struggles have been so that I understand, and I rejoice in that. You cannot understand people who die by suicide, or consider it, if you have not heard that horrible and convincing voice that tells you everyone would be better off if you ended things. You can’t understand that kind of pain and desperation unless you have been there, and I have been there. Its weird to say I am grateful for my darkest moments, but I am. I am glad to understand. 

As I relayed that story, my lovely therapist (hereon out L.T.) nodded and listened. She listens in a true and sincere way and in a way that seems to strengthen me as I speak. As I rambled on eventually we got to talking about the task she had given me the week before. I had been told to wake up every morning and list off three reasons why I am worthy. I was amazed when I went to do this exercise because for every reason I had, I could debate it to you as not true. This truly surprised me. 

I used to be a seriously confident person. I have always been an advocate for people thinking well of themselves, not in a prideful way but in a way that makes them happy to be who they are. I think that we should all wake up in the mornings and list three reasons why we are worthy and then be proud of that. We should be able to say we are beautiful, kind, lovely, people. I’ve always thought so. 

But suddenly, I could not come up with more than two reasons why I was worthy.Well, I am kind” I would think. “Yea, but you weren’t always kind and being too kind means you get taken advantage of so that’s probably not a good quality” my mind would rebuttal. “Well, I am funny kind of,” I would continue. “Yea, but you aren’t really that funny. No one else thinks you are funny” my mind would counter. And on and on and on it goes. 

I told my L.T. this and she looked at me and said, “That voice is not for you.” 

I gave her a puzzled look. 

She continued. 

“That voice that tells you why you aren’t worthy? That is not the voice of truth. That voice is not for you. The voice of truth tells you you are worthy, and you don’t need to listen to the other one.” 

I quietly began to soak those words in. 

“You were worthy of the work you did to get your education. You are worthy now of the work you are doing here with me as we pursue healing from what has happened. You were worthy of the work you did on the reservation, and one day you will be worthy of the work you do to help others again." 

She concluded with a kicker: "You are stronger than you think you are.” 

I let that sink in. 

I am worthy.

I am strong. 

Yes, terrible things have happened in my life recently. Someone I trusted with my whole self betrayed me and left me. Someone I trusted with my profession promised me a job and then let me go without just cause. My circumstances have not been great. 

But the voice that tells me that this is my fault? That tells me I am not worth anything because of it? That is a lie. And that voice is not for me. 

It will be a process to regain the confidence that has been stripped from me. Healing is a process and I have to be ok with the baby steps. But let me leave you with something else the L.T. told me:

I am not destroyed because I am still standing. 

I am not a half a person. I am whole, just wounded. 

And I and you my dear friends and readers. . . 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Glimpse of a Moment

My heart song is poetry I think. Its lame, I know. But when I am truly deep within an emotion, I pick up my phone or my pen to express it and it always comes out in poetry. So I roll with it.

Grief and loss, betrayal- it all requires a lot of different emotions as we process. Things felt in one moment may be the opposite of things felt in the next. It is all important and always valid. So here is a little poetry from the other night when I could not sleep and I could not see the beauty in the pain. Here is a glimpse into what my heart sometimes feels when I breathe in the solitude and I hate every part of this stupid rebuilding (my life, my trust, my self) process.

**If poetry makes you cringe and think of high school english class, don't be intimidated or skip over this one. Poetry is just a paragraph with weird spacing and capital letters. I believe in you.**

Bordering on the line between
I'm ok
and I can't do this today.
My skin is but a thin layer
just barely protecting the inner
I am not on solid ground
I play pretend
that I am strong and worthy
fine and getting better
But the truth is
my pieces are not put back

There is a mighty work happening
within me
but it takes time.
Like a masterpiece in marble,
it takes time.
I am fragile with my inner
scaffolding made seemingly of
toothpicks and tape
to collapse with
the slightest shake.
Be patient with me
my eyes whisper
I am a masterpiece
but I am a work