Saturday, January 30, 2016

Wounded and Bleeding

Some days are so painful that I have to retreat, and not say anything online.

I never can figure out exactly what makes those days so terrible.  I'm sure there's a trigger in there somewhere, but it's not always very visible.

Winter time is often hard. It is gray, and cold, and especially here in New England there is not a lot of social activity to be involved least not that I have found to do.

I am also recognizing that many of my painful memories happened in the winter.
My grandfather died in December.
My grandmother died in October.
My baby brother who died was born in January.
I lost my first baby in November.
We have made two long, hard moves in November and December, setting us up for a LONG winter of no friends in a new area.

A new friend mentioned a term to me this week that really made a lot of sense of what I have been dealing with this past year..."PCS blues".  She said that this move, to this base, has been the worst one for her, that the blues have been worse here than anywhere else she has gone.

I agree...this move HAS been worse for me.  I left behind a child, a house that we had bought, two churches full of amazing friends, a community that we had been part of for 7 years, to move to a place I really didn't want to be, in December, arriving just in time to have no money for Christmas, no time to put up decor, and no friends to invite us to do anything.

In the past year, it HAS gotten better, but it is still hard.  I miss my friends.  I miss my son.  I miss having a purpose, a job, or at least the potential to find one.

So, some days, the hard, the suck, catches up to me, and I have to retreat for a while, and lick my wounds.  I can see that those wounds are healing some, not bleeding quite so much, but I'm trying to give myself room and time to heal.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

John Joseph

January, 1975

Our family went from a family of four, to a family of five.

We had just started attending a new church.  We knew very few people, and were still adjusting to the lifestyle changes expected.

I was five years old...I would be turning six in February.  My brother David was four.

I don't remember John's birth.
I don't remember him coming home from the hospital, or where David and I stayed while Mama and Daddy were at the hospital.

There were no ultrasounds.
There was no indication that there was any looked like a perfectly healthy, normal pregnancy and birth.
There was just this one little thing, noted after-the-fact to have some significance.

Mama and Daddy brought John home.
Everything seemed to be going well.
Except, then they weren't going so well.
Our sweet, smiling little brother wasn't growing like he was supposed to be growing.

Again, I don't remember the doctor's appointments.
I don't remember statistics.
I just remember the stress, the tension, the tears.

I was six by the time they were taking him to Charleston, for what was hoped to be a life-saving surgery.

May, 1975

How do parents send their 4-month-old baby away with the surgeons, knowing he may not live through this surgery?  Hoping and praying that he does?

David and I stayed with the pastor's family, and I went to school.  David was still too young for school.

And then, suddenly Mama and Daddy were back.
"Where's John?"
How this had to have been a knife in the heart of the newly grief-stricken parents!!
He died on the operating table.
His little heart couldn't handle what had to be done.

I don't remember the adult-type details.
I know we didn't bury his little body...they donated it for research on the defect with which he was born.
I know the memorial service seemed to last forever.
I still remember the scrapbook the church gave our family.  The sticks of gum are still on some of the pages, more than 40 years later.

John Joseph would be 41 years old this year.  I look forward to seeing him again.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Diamonds in-the-making

For a lot of my life, I have felt the weight of all of the evil that brushed my life.  I thought it was all my fault.  I was a bad person.  I was never good enough.  I needed to be better, do better, get closer to God, confess more, be more obedient, be a better daughter, a better, do, do.

Sackcloth and ashes were mine, just waiting for me.

I believed what I was told.

Even after I accepted that God loved me, and wanted to be the biggest influence in my life, still I believed the lies.  Frankly, it was all I knew, and was the easiest thing to fall back into.

Still, more than 30 years after what should have been a life-altering encounter with God, I struggle with seeing myself as worthy only of sackcloth and ashes.

So, today I heard a song, new to me, and its words spoke to me.

Listen with me....

Grateful that He's making diamonds out of me (us)!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

When Giants Shrink

I have a lot of traumas to work through.
Childhood emotional and physical abuse.
Religious abuse.
Losses that were never grieved.
More than 20 moves in 23 years of marriage.

Today, I was working with my therapist on one particular area that has been troubling me this week.  I was remembering some people that frightened me, and who I was still seeing through the eyes of a scared, abused, neglected, bullied, and intimidated child.  My last interaction with this person was in a formal confrontation as a teenager, and has loomed in my periphery as a picture of them as someone to be frightened of ever coming in contact with again.

As I gazed into the review mirror of my mind, I began to recognize that this person was doing what was expected from the position held, and in the manner expected.  As I stand off to the side, observing, I see myself...nervous, determined, nauseous, intimidated.  I also see the others in the room...some I know and care about, and one that scares me.  It is that one that has grown in my mind to appear to be a giant...but as I look closer, the air of the years is released, and the child I was is now an adult, older than my puffed-up giant was then.  In my mind's eye, as I grew, this other person shrank.  As they shrank, I was able to see the situation through a more adult lens...recognizing expectations on both sides, and the inability of the adults in the situation to recognize the needs and hurts of the child (me).

As I walked my way through this painful memory, I started recognizing others who have become giants in my memory.  They have grown to take up space in my head that is not theirs, through the traumas they have visited on me over the years.

I'm thinking it is time for some giant-slaying to happen....

Sunday, January 17, 2016


SC Canal Breach, October, 2015
Dams are a good thing.  They hold back water from destroying or inundating low-lying areas.  The whole country of the Netherlands is defined by and survives by its dams, which keep out the sea.

When dams break, through natural or unnatural events, there is damage and destruction that happens in the area below the dam.  The force of the water released by a breach of the dam is incredible to watch and dangerous.  There are many stories in the very recent past of dams in South Carolina breaking under the force of thousands of gallons of water raining down in early October, 2015, resulting in 18 dams being breached, and countless homes and businesses being destroyed.  An earlier example happened in Toccoa Falls, GA, in 1977, and resulted in destruction and loss of lives, and is memorialized in the book Dam Break in Georgia.

Often, people who live in the aftermath of trauma feel dammed-up.

Don't get me wrong.  In the beginning, when things first happen or first come to light, it is expected that they will talk about their traumas, maybe shed some tears...and people are, for the most part, supportive.

However, after a while, the support wanes.  The attitude changes.  People start saying things like, "why aren't you over that yet?" and "time heals all wounds" and "you need to forgive and forget".

What is meant by those statements is something totally different than what is actually said.  What is REALLY meant is more along the lines of "we are tired of hearing about your pain, so quit talking about it already" and "if you MUST talk about it, go see someone professional so I don't have to listen to it any more."  This is more about the listeners' discomfort than it is about the victim's pain.

After a while of hearing these statements, ad nauseum, the traumatized person becomes wary of speaking of their pain.  Instead of being able to continue the healing process, the pain and tears become dammed-up, because no one is willing to be the receiver of the pain.  Sure, there ARE professionals (I am one of them!), but for one reason or another, these caring individuals may not be accessible to the person who is hurting, or it may not be enough to talk to someone who is PAID to listen and act in a caring manner.

So, this is where I find myself.  Dammed-up.  There are tears and memories and painful connections that need to be explored and shared and talked-through, and precious-few people who are willing or available to talk.  I see a counselor.  She is helpful, but she is, by design, not my friend.  She is a professional.  And some days, I need a friend to talk to, to dump on, the cry with.

*Picture from GA Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering article

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A beautiful blanket of snow

Feb 2015 snow storm
If you have ever lived in an area where there was much snow, you know how beautiful it is when the snow starts to fall and stick, and the whole world looks clean and bright and beautiful.    That illusion lasts about as long as it takes for the snow to stop falling, and then the kids are out in it, and maybe it starts to melt, and there are water puddles on your floor from where everyone forgot to kick the snow off their boots and shoes when they came inside, and tracked it all over the house.  Or is that just my house?  And then the next morning you look outside, and it is sad because there are all of these footprints through the new-fallen snow, and mud around the back door, and it is not pretty any more, and you can't deny the ugliness of winter any longer.

Some days that's how I feel about my life.  I start the hard work of healing.  I am making progress.  Grace starts covering up the ugliness in my life.  But life goes on...memories are brought up through interactions with the people who started it all, or maybe just something that feels the same comes up, and suddenly there are muddy footprints showing up through the grace, and I can't deny the ugliness that comes from the abuse, trauma, and PTSD.

The wonderful thing about grace is that it is watering the roots, so that growth can happen.  The snow storms that come in the cold of winter make us think that spring will never come...but we know that the moisture from the snow is feeding the beauty that will happen when God brings spring our way again.

Today, I am thankful for the snow...and for God's grace...and healing, and growth.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I missed a day, or two....

Last night I felt like I was run over by a truck.
A very large truck.
And that it came back and tried again.

Tonight, I am FREEZING.
I am almost always freezing in my house, so this is nothing new.

I was taxi driver for my kids for about four hours straight this afternoon.
One kid is still's Semi-formal night at her high school.

I heard from my furthest-away child this week.

We had snow.  Again.

My husband and three children will be home tomorrow.
I still have to get up early to get the other two off to school for the day.

Clearly my brain is not back to 100%.

I have done approximately 9-million loads of laundry this week.
I have seen more than 9-million posts on Facebook about the Powerball.
I am disgusted at how people's (Christians') perspectives on gambling have changed.
FYI, greediness is NOT a sign of godliness, no matter if you tithe on the money or not.

Also, another friend has won his battle with cancer, and is now permanently pain-free and cancer-free.  His funeral was on Monday.  Prayers appreciated for his family who are left to deal with the aftermath.

Awareness of mental health issues does not make the ignorant less jerk-like.
Presidential candidates who make donkey's behinds of themselves do not deserve the attention they are getting.
Why are people so besotted of fools who open their mouths and prove their foolishness?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Processing Grief

Like so many things in life, one cannot separate grief from the rest of life, and just "get over it."  The thought that you can or do is a very limited perspective, and it is damaging when people try to say this to someone who is in the middle of grieving.

Because I have lost 7 people relatively close to me in the past three months, grieving has been a part of my life for the last while, and will probably continue to affect me for a while to come.

Today, I spent some time with my counselor, working my way through some of the things that have become attached to my current grief.

I realized that I am not only sad about lives ended far too early...
...I am also dealing with regrets about time not spent with them...
...and anger that the Navy moved us so far away that we were unable to visit or attend memorial services...
...and frustration about income levels that prevent visits...
...and frustration about being unable to find a job...
...and feelings of my own mortality...
...and anxiety around my parents' relative health/inhealth/unhealth (making up words again!).

One of the things I have seen over the past few months is that grief is like a web.  There is a connection between the person or event I am grieving, and almost every other piece of my life.  The web connects them, and triggers emotional responses from seemingly unrelated events.

Another realization is how exhausting it is to grieve.  So many memories are retrieved, and so many responses happen, and I come out at the end of a day feeling as if I have run a marathon.

I know that grief is going to happen.
We move.
Friends move.
People we care about die.
Events happen that affect us in negative ways.
Grief happens.
I don't want to rush through this.
I also don't want to get stuck.

So, I am taking a word for myself for this year.
I am showing myself grace.
Allowing myself the time I need to heal and process and grieve.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Much of my life has revolved around fear.

Fear of my parents...abuse will do that to you.
Fear of church leaders...when parents are abusive and manipulative, other leaders are often cast in a negative light, and used to manipulate.
Fear of government...they're watching us, they're out to get us....
Fear of minorities...because, stereotypes.
Fear of the's unknown, and the government that is out to get us is likely to collapse and where will we be then?!?
Fear of being found out...see the abuse above...if this is found out, then who knows what will happen?  (see also, fear of the unknown)
Fear of.....EVERYTHING.

This was just my childhood.  I cannot remember a day that was free of fear.  Then I graduated high school and went away to college, and learned that others lived lives that were NOT centered around fear.  There were amazing other love, and happiness, and entertainment.

And I tentatively started trying out some of these new and unknown feelings.

I enjoyed entertainment in college...I actually watched movies.  Not many, but a few.
I played was fun to compete with other schools!
I played ping pong...always a good feeling to compete with the guys between classes, and actually win!
I learned about loving others...I learned to love my friends, and my roommates, and even had a boyfriend or two (but no PDA!!!).

Still, there were signs that the fear was alive and very active.
I was still at the beck and call of my parents.  Every time they reeled me back in, there was an intense fear of losing everything...all of the hard-fought freedoms, the verboten clothing and makeup and music.  I always felt like I was suffocating.
Then there was Jason.
We were dating, and making plans.
My parents were warned about him.  They threatened me.
And then we were engaged.  And they threatened some more.
And we were doing wedding planning, and every time I called, I got off the phone crying.
They *hated* Jason.  And Jason told them to not bother coming to the wedding...two weeks beforehand.
Still, I wanted my parents at my wedding, so we worked out some sort of compromise, and they came.  And we were married.

And then is when I really started realizing how broken I was and how much fear governed everything I did.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Broken Childhood

For most of my adult life I have felt broken.  Let me back up a bit.

As a child, I knew our family life was different from the other families around us.  I just thought it was because we were basically non-Mennonites, attending a Mennonite church and school.  That right there made us stand out.

Both parents had college educations.  I knew of three other people in the whole Mennonite church community with any college experience at all.

My mom hated to cook.  She and Daddy told us stories of how Daddy taught her to cook.  All of my friends' moms made these amazing dishes, and we had like 3 or 4 go-to meals.  Of course, looking back, we ate WELL.  There was ALWAYS steak in the freezer, because we butchered our own cattle, and venison, and fish, and chicken.  None of it from the store.  And we put up fresh vegetables every year.  The big chest freezer in the basement always had fresh-from-the-garden green beans, peas, corn, strawberries, and freezer pickles.  But, my mom didn't make things like my friends' moms made...casseroles, and meat loaf, and from-scratch desserts did not happen in our house.

Sewing.  All of my friends were learning to sew at an early age.  Not just cross-stitch.  They started by making dresses for their Barbies, and moved on to making curtains, and table cloths, and pillows.  When we were in our early teens, I BEGGED to learn to sew with another friend, so I ended up at her house, making a dress.  The whole thing.  Cutting the materials, and sewing it up on the machine, and hand-sewing the hems.  A Mennonite caped-dress.  I got to the point where I could alter patterns to make my own, and to fit ideas I had in my head about how they should look.  They didn't always turn out the way I envisioned them, but most were presentable...after all, I'd better not waste 4 yards of perfectly good material!!

So, our family was different from those around us.  Not just in those ways.  Relationally, there was a huge difference, but it was not something I could really put a name to until many years later.  My mom was controlling.  Basically, I had no life.  I spent every moment at home.  I was not allowed to get a job, or go hang out with friends.  Every moment had to be accounted-for.  Additionally, as I became a teen, I was responsible for much of the cooking and cleaning, as well as keeping up with chores...feeding and watering the animals, taking out the garbage, priming the well pump, bringing in water to flush the toilet.  Oh....our well was going dry, so we used rain water to flush the commode.

But really, I didn't make a lot of these connections until my brother and I left to go to college.  While we were away at school, I started to see that other kids had *very* different lives than we had.  Many were able to connect to their parents, enjoyed dating, and recreational activities, and vacations...I remember ONE vacation in all of our years growing up, and that was a trip to Texas to visit my grandparents while they still lived out there.  Other kids enjoyed a variety of music, and movies, and TV shows.  I was allowed to listen to ONE radio station.  We didn't watch movies or own a TV.  Instead, I read.  A LOT.  Some that was pretty inappropriate for me to have read.  But, the books were on the shelves, so I read them.

There are so many ways I thought myself broken...and I haven't even started on why....

Friday, January 8, 2016

Life is like a Box of Chocolates

You never know what you're going to get, do you?

One day everything is all drama-filled and angsty (I'm making up words now...), and the next you settle into something resembling a routine, and everyone is happy.

This is my life.  There are currently THREE teenagers that call this house home, as well as one pre-teen and one "young adult."  FOUR of those are girls.  Ahem.  It's all crazy up in here.  Thank goodness the dog is male.

Today was a good day.  No one cried (that I know of).  No one threatened to run away.  No one said that they hated me, or Jason.  Aspersions WERE thrown around about living in Massachusetts, but the things *I* say aren't what is being discussed right now.  One child worked tonight.  Two children went shopping and out to dinner.  Movie night was had.  Everyone got home safely and took themselves off to their rooms without fussing about bedtime.

Ahhhh....these are the days we dreamed of when they were little and protested loudly every time we discussed sleep or bed.  They clean their own rooms.  They put away their own laundry.  No one needs help bathing, or pooping, or getting dressed...well, the girls DO consult with each other about clothes regularly...and there are regular fusses over who is wearing what...but *I* don't have to dress anyone but myself, or bathe anyone else, or attend to any other bodily functions other than my own.

The thing is...sometimes I miss being needed like that.  Because with that level of need, there was also a level of affection that happened.  There were always snuggles and kisses and hugs.  Now, I am lucky if I get a hug before they leave for school or before they head to bed.  I miss them fitting in my lap.  Sometimes they still try to sit with me, but there are awkward legs and arms hanging out's just not the same.

I miss the baby smell, and sweet baby breath.  I miss the cute tiny clothes and the socks that would never stay on their little feet.  I miss being able to wrap them in soft little blankets that completely engulfed their little bodies.

Those things I miss are some of what I hold onto on the days when things are hard...pulling out those cream-filled chocolates to help get the hard stuff down.  It helped that one of them brought home bonbons tonight, too...Yum.  Perks of hanging out in the mall, and children that used to work at the chocolate store...

Thursday, January 7, 2016


There were a lot of years where I couldn't cry.  I wanted to cry.  I NEEDED to cry.  But there was usually some kind of barrier to the tears coming out.

That barrier was in place because for far too long I was not allowed to express emotion of any kind.  I was "too sensitive."  I was a "crybaby".  I was too loud.  Whatever it was I was expressing was always too much.

There were periods of time when I was able to cry.  I cried when my husband was deployed for a year.  I cried a LOT that year.  But, as soon as I didn't have a socially acceptable reason to cry any more, the tears quickly dried up.

The big problem is that the things that had the potential to make me cry did not stop.  Far from it.  In 23 years of marriage, we have had ONE year where there was not something major that happened...a move, a job change, a graduation, an illness or injury...all traumas that have added to the built-up pressure inside me.

Then, in 2014, there were some big changes.  I graduated from grad school.  Jason deployed for six months and then came home.  We were moving.  We were selling our house.  Our son moved out.  There were court hearings to go through.  I couldn't find a job. A LOT of trauma that year.  And then we were moved, and far away from family for the holidays, and I had no safety net and still couldn't find a job.  No friends.  No meeting people for coffee.  Nothing familiar.

I found a new counselor, and got back to work on dealing with my traumas...and realized after a while that this counselor was not a good fit, and found another one.  The second counselor has been the one that has helped break the dam.  Of course, the traumas have not stopped.  In the last 3 months, I have experienced the deaths of SEVEN people...friends, family, family of close friends.  All of that is HARD.

This week I have started recognizing that I am feeling SO MUCH, and it is too much for me right now.  The tears keep falling.  The pain is both mental and physical.  I want to do the things that make the pain not be so very "front and center", but I don't do them because I don't want to be dependent.

Several things I have realized through this process:
1. The callouses from years of hardening myself are going away.
2. It is okay to cry.
3. I am feeling all of the built-up emotions from years of storing them away without dealing with them.
4. I need to extend the same grace to myself that I extend to others who are dealing with a lot.  Because I am, and I need to allow myself to grieve.

I do feel depleted. My strength has for too long been expended to keep the feelings and the tears at bay, and I just can't any more.  But that's okay.  God gave us tears for a reason, so I am going cry until the tears are depleted, and the built-up pressure is gone.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Sixteen years ago, I was 43 weeks and 4 days pregnant, and preparing to go to work when I went into labor.

We were living in South Carolina, in the house we had built, and struggling to stay afloat.

Jason was working for an office interiors company, and I was working for an industrial construction company.

This was my 5th pregnancy.
The first had ended with a miscarriage at 13 weeks.
The second yielded a beautiful little girl, via a C-section, because she refused to come out in the right direction.  At this point, she was 6 years old, and in first grade.
The third pregnancy gave us our first son, who was at this point almost 4 years old.
The fourth provided another daughter, who had just turned 2 years old.
This pregnancy gave us a second son.

As I was getting ready for work, my water broke, and I knew I had to call off work, and head to the hospital.  First, we packed up all three of the other kids, and took them to Jason's parents' place, and then headed over to check in on the Maternity Floor.

We checked in, and labor progressed normally.  I had to have antibiotics via IV because I had tested positive for Group B strep, but otherwise few interventions were necessary.  When our "little" man finally arrived in the early afternoon, he weighed in at a whopping 10 pounds 3 ounces, and 19 inches long.

Today, on Epiphany, we celebrate our second son, Justin.  And he's just as awesome now as he was then!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

On the Days When it is ALL Hard

When drama infuses my life to the point where I can't focus to write
When the children demand my attention
When the husband needs me
When the house is falling apart
When the dog decides I need him in my lap
When I still can't find a job
When the finances are spotty
When things fall apart
When I can't control anything

Those are the days when I want to cry, and can't.
Those are the days when even the sunshine seems gray.
Those are the days when it seems like my prayers bounce off the ceiling.
Those are the days when I just can't read.
Those are the days when the well-meaning people's platitudes and advice seem empty and ridiculous.
Those are the days when I want to scream and yell and beat on things.
Those are the days when my bed beckons.
Those are the days when I think of finding my way to the bottoms of bottles.
Those are the days when I wish I could lose myself in mindless TV shows.

On those days, I know I need to know real love, and eternal security, and everlasting hope.  Those are the days when I am comforted by the fact that even when my PTSD bites, and my depression threatens to drown, I know my God is with me, holding me, protecting me from myself and my memories and my fears.

On those days are when the Scriptures memorized as a child come back to show light for this dark and sometimes-dangerous path I walk.  When I remember that He will NEVER leave me or forsake me, my fear of abandonment is abated.  When I remember that He comforts those who mourn, my tears are lessened.  When I remember that He suffered every thing that I have suffered, and understands my frame, and knows where I came from, and knew me and loved me before I was born....that is when I am comforted, and the fog begins to lift.  When I recognize that His perfect Love is the antidote to my fear, I can lean into Him, and allow myself to feel loved.

Today, I am grateful for one thing from my childhood that continues to be positive, despite all of the other negative things that happened to me.  A knowledge of God's Word will always be with me, no matter what else I lose.

Today, while all of my circumstances are hard, I am comforted by the knowledge that my God is GOOD, and that He loves me, and is with me, even in the hard stuff.

Monday, January 4, 2016

My Heart Hurts

Yesterday's pain keeps adding on to today's, and the cumulative nature of it is weighing me down.

Today, it is gray and snowy outside.  Not big fluffy flakes, but the little ones that don't add up to pretty whiteness, but will be gone in the morning.  The gray feels appropriate, matching my mood.  The tears keep falling periodically throughout the day, in tune with the sporadic nature of the snowfall.  Somehow my dog knows, and insists on lying with my or sitting in the chair right beside me.

I have barely accomplished anything today.  Everything feels too heavy.  Even eating seems to take too much effort.  So, I am hungry, and tired, and grumpy, and hurt, which never ends well.

This part of January is always hard.  Vacations are ending.  Life comes back to bite us in the butt.  Bills still have to be paid.  I still don't have a job.  My two oldest children insist on growing up and leaving, and barely speak to me.  All that we have to look forward to is 8 more weeks of nasty winter weather.

Frankly, I feel deceived.  Let down.  Mislead, at the very least.

Those cute little kids...the sweet-smelling little bundles we brought home from the hospital....they were supposed to grow up to be loving older children who brought home spouses that we loved, and raise children that we can't get enough of.  They weren't supposed to cause heartache and pain and fear for us, their parents.  That is not how any of this was supposed to work.

And yet...they are individuals.  They have their own hurts that they have to work through in their own time, and their own ways.  They have to learn their own lessons.  I can't force them to learn.  I can't send them to their rooms any more.  They have to do this themselves, and I am just along for the ride.
So, I do what I can...I wash their laundry, and I fix the meals, and I drive them places, and I pray.  Oh, boy do I ever pray.  All the time.  God, PLEASE give me wisdom.  God, PLEASE help them make wise choices.  God, PLEASE let them choose You.  God, above all else, PLEASE make it count.  Make the teaching, and the loving, and the laundry, and the discipline, and the poopy diapers, and the long nights.....please make them all count.  Because I love these kids that I am finding I don't really like that much, and I want Your will for them to be worked out...but know that my heart hurts, and I don't know how much more of this I can handle.

Real Life Intervenes

Just when I thought things were coming together, my children throw something new into the mix, creating drama and upheaval and more pain for me.

Somehow, at some point in the past, I bought into the myth that the hardest part of parenting involved changing poopy diapers, 2 a.m. vomiting children, and nit-combing lice-ridden hair.  Boy was I misled.

My husband and I have six children.  Three of them are now "adult", though their behavior more often screams "threenager"!  They make stupid decisions, based on immaturity and what their friends think, without any thought of or seeming care about implications for their futures.  Somehow, we are supposed to keep funding these flights of fancy, but never ever dare ask for any repayment or help in return.  Because two of these "adult" children are currently at home and working, we discussed charging rent, which was apparently a HUGE problem.  Additionally, it was wrong to think that they might contribute anything toward buying food, but fun shopping trips with their siblings and friends happen with regularity.

Today, when asking the oldest about her work schedule for the week, she dropped the bombshell that she will be flying back to South Carolina on Friday, and her last day at work is on Tuesday.  Meanwhile, we are left with a $6000 amount to reimburse one school, and $1200 for another one, as well as a car parked in the garage that we bought and insured for her.

The next child is in Virginia and barely speaks to us.  He graduated in June, and started college, but dropped out because he couldn't get the financing to pay for his semester.  Meanwhile, he couch-surfs, and works two or three jobs trying to pay for his car, insurance, and phone.

I miss having children that are sweet, and thoughtful, and respectful, and considerate.  I miss being able to send them to their rooms.  I miss the children they used to be, before life changed them into people I don't recognize, and don't particularly like.  I keep hoping that the others learn from the actions and mistakes of their siblings.  I keep hoping that these horribly painful months will just be a bump in the road, and we can go back to having loving and communicative relationships with our children again.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


I read a blog post yesterday that really resonated with me.  It talked of people who are professional "untanglers".  These amazing people are PAID to take tangled balls and bunches and skeins of yarn and untangle them.  This is something that many of these professionals thoroughly enjoy doing.  The blog author was linking these untanglers with people who have suffered abuse, and whose lives are completely tangled up.

My life has long felt like a tangled mess.  I grew up in a home with an abusive narcissistic mother and a father who is an enabler.  I attended church and school in a setting where women were voiceless.  I was bullied because I was different.

And yet, when I left home and went to college, I thought I had a healthy home life.  After all, there was no drug abuse, no alcohol abuse, no divorce, no physical diseases, and no involvement with the law.  Thus, we were an exemplary family.

It took me another 20 years to see the rotten underside for what it really was.

In the mean-time, I couldn't figure out what was wrong with ME.  Why couldn't I make friends?  Why was I so different from everyone else?  Why was I depressed?  Anxious? Deathly afraid of abandonment?  Why did I have so much difficulty controlling my temper?  Why was my self-esteem so terrible?  Why did I have so much difficulty making decisions?

In college, I met so many amazing people.  People with goals and plans and loving families and friends.  I actually had friends.  I enjoyed time with people who were not sheltered and isolated and abused and told they were worthless...and I started to have hope.

This year, 24 years after I graduated from college, and 2 years after finishing graduate school, I made a discovery.  This discovery probably would have taken a counselor very little time to put together, but because it is an intimate part of ME, it has taken me all of these years to recognize.

There is a term in psychology for when a parent (or any person, really) sees another person as an extension of themselves, and, forcibly or not, embeds themselves so deeply into that person's life that neither really knows where one person ends and the other begins.  That term is enmeshment.

I recognized in November of 2015 that there is a reason I have long felt like a tangled mess.  My life was so deeply tangled up with my mother that I was not allowed to individuate....another psychological term that means I was not allowed to be a separate person from my mother.

Over the years, we have gone for periods of time of not speaking with my parents, in an effort for me to be able to learn who I am, and to learn to be able to say "NO" when the need arises.  The first few times it was excruciatingly painful...I felt ripped apart, with tendrils hanging raw in the wind.  Each time we have made this effort, I have grown and healed some more.

Now, I have words for what has happened.
The enmeshment, the lack of individuation...the physical and emotional abuse, the control.
Now I can recognize how God has brought me, step by step, out of the pain, and how He has been with me, doing the healing the whole time.

Friday, January 1, 2016

20 Minutes of My Day

Today I write.
Tomorrow I write.
Every day I write.
It is in my DNA.

I started outlining my life story years ago, and tonight I worked on piecing some of it together.  It is scary to think of putting my life experiences on paper for someone else to read.


I do this every day.
I write on Facebook.
I write in my various blogs.
I write in personal journals.

But I know that I edit myself.  I know that there are pieces of me that I don't allow out for public consumption.  Those pieces are painful and scary and I am ashamed of them or I know that they will make people feel sorry for me, or pity me, or be mad at me for sharing "family secrets".


Family secrets NEED to see the light of day.
They have been hidden in the dark for FAR TOO LONG.
As soon as they are revealed they no longer hold the power that they have when they are still hidden.
So, I WILL share the family secrets.
I will dust off the skeletons, and bring them out, and let the public judge them as they will.

Because I know that I NEED them to be revealed.
I need the freedom that comes from not having to carry the burden of keeping them hidden any longer.
I need to be free to say "this is what made me who I am."
I need to be allowed to be me without having to come up with half-way plausible explanations that don't reveal the secrets.

And yet it IS scary to write about these skeletons.
What if people deem them "not worthy"?
What if they are thought to be "normal"?
Will that invalidate my pain?
Will it make me less of a person?  Less unique? More broken?

For me, writing is healing.
Writing is cathartic.
By writing, I pull back the scabs, and allow the putrid, rotting pieces of me to be cleaned out, and start the healing process.
So writing is always messy.
There is nastiness that is revealed, and it has to be treated, taken care of, in some way.
There are unexpected complications that mean the healing takes longer than originally thought.
And yet, it IS healing, a little at a time.

So, for now I write for ME.
I write to dislodge the scabs.
I write to allow clean air into the dark places.
I write to allow those skeletons to escape.

Someday I will write that book that is inside, begging to be released.
I will write of my experiences as an abuse survivor.
I will write of my life as a child on a farm.
I will write of my coming-of-age at a Bible college.
I will write of the struggles as a young wife and mother.
I will write of my growth in the shadow of my military spouse.
I will write of my finding my voice in grad school.

When I finally have gotten all of the pieces of ME on paper, then the other books that are there will be able to be released.  The ones meant to help others are still percolating, marinating, becoming, while they are helping me.

The catharsis is beginning.
And so, I write.