“A Fall Apart Just Waiting to Happen”…

fall apart puzzelYep, that’s me!  You’ve probably heard people describe someone as, “an accident waiting to happen.”  Well, “a fall apart waiting to happen” is kind of the same thing.  I’ve found myself feeling this way on occasion lately.  You know, those days that all of us feel at some point, no matter how positive we try to be.  Not one of us walking on this planet is totally immune to negative thoughts and feelings that attack our mind and emotions. 

If you’ve read my blog, you may already know of the ongoing struggle that I’ve had with running injuries.   I talkedfall apart poster about the last MRI report in a post called, “Coping with Injury, a Photo Journal”.  I did have a little fun with that post!  It’s been about three months since then and I’m just starting to get back into a few easy workouts each week.  My body sure doesn’t want to cooperate, though.   Add the ongoing spine and sciatic nerve issues into that hip and hamstring mix, and right there you have what sounds like an old lady just complaining about all her ailments.  I sooooo, never wanted it to be this way!     

Gumby stretchesI’ve had some other minor health things creep in on top of those I’ve mentioned.  It’s so frustrating when you go to your Primary Care Physician and they have to send you off to other specialists.  I’ve got six different doctors I am seeing and a seventh I’m avoiding.  Well, maybe I’m avoiding the sixth one, too.   Regardless, I feel like I’ve been pieced and parted out in so many directions.  The healthcare system must think I’m like a Gumby figure and each doctor is stretching a different body part in their direction.  Gumby meltsFrankly, even with all the stretching, I’m just not that flexible!  And then you have all the specialist’s higher copays!  I’ll stop right there with that discussion.  The state of our healthcare system is not the hot topic than I wanted to get into today.  Let’s not make Gumby have a melt down!

The point is, I’ve had a few days when I wake up feeling like all of these little irritations and inconveniences have been combined together into this huge glob.  The ugly glob is present, just waiting to greet me when I open my eyes.  It sits on my chest, its weight causing pressure, its toxic gases filling my lungs, its fog clouding my vision and infiltrating my thoughts.  For whatever reason, this day, it’s difficult to shake off.   I feel consumed by it.  I stumble through the dark to the kitchen to make coffee.  The shadow follows.  Maybe the caffeine will help.  I turn on the Fear.1computer.  Maybe there will be something positive and uplifting in my inbox or on Facebook.  But before I can even have my first sip or sign in to anything, an all too familiar fear creeps in.  It’s been awhile, but I’ve felt this before.  Its fear of some impending doom, some catastrophe that’s just waiting to knock on my door.  My cell phone rings with an unknown number.  This is it that call I knew would come… 

Tell me I’m not the only one!  You’ve been there, too, haven’t you!  It doesn’t happen as often anymore, but there was a long season in my life, when this was the way I felt most days.  I would eventually be able to shake it off, but only to have the glob visit again the next day. 

One of my son’s has become very interested in cycling.  He joined a racing team and had his first race this past weekend.  I was photo (34)excited for him as we made the hour drive to the race location.  The course was about a mile loop that participants had to circle many times.  A good part of the course was out of our view, and the multicolored kit clad riders were going by so fast.  I had a hard time seeing my son each time he made his way past our vantage point.  Twice during the race, the announcer shouted over a speaker, “There’s been a crash on the course!”  Can you guess where I’m going with this story?  There it was that feeling of impending dome.  Thankfully, my son was not involved in either of the crashes and there were no serious injuries, but those minutes spent waiting to see him go by were pretty intense for a mom.

Blob.1I’m no psychologist able to say what causes a person to feel this way, but I can speak from my own experience.  That fear of impending dome, the feelings of some foreboding evil hovering nearby, just waiting to swoop down and pounce on my head, that kind of fear was learned over time.   The situations in life that were real, such as living with an abusive alcoholic and addict that did cause physical harm, actually being the victim at the end of a knife or sawed off shot gun, receiving those dreaded phone calls with bad news, living through an emergency medical situation with my body being the one transported in an ambulance or having to many visits to emergency rooms with people you love…  When it happens enough, you learn fear.  When you combine those real situations with the ones that you begin to imagine and then come to expect, well, there you’ve just created the ultimate Halloween cocktail!  And let me tell you, it’s a fear filled, seductively strong drink!

Fear isn’t something to be messed with.  Fear is destructive, even devastating.  It will hold you down, even suffocating your very last breath.  Fear keeps us in a dead, dry place.  It keeps us from really living.  It keeps us out of healthy relationships.  We won’t take the risk to care and love.  It holds us back in our careers; it keeps us from reaching our goals and even keeps us from daring to have any dreams to chase after.  It keeps us small, keeps us invisible and unnoticed.  Fear is an evil prison guard that keeps us locked in a very cold, damp and dark place.

Courage poster.1

So how do you get out of it, break free?  Like I said, I’m no physiologist, so what works for me, might not be the same as what worksBravery.1 for you.  First of all, you have to be able to recognize whether the fear you feel is the healthy kind that keeps you safe or if it’s a fear that’s debilitating to you.  If it’s hurting you, it needs to go!  Recognizing that it’s an issue is a huge victory in itself.  You have to recognize something is broken before you will attempt to fix it.  Even taking a risk to consider it might be an issue takes courage.  Be brave.

I have to break in for important practical advice right here.  If you are in an unsafe place, like an abusive situation, get out now.  I know it takes great courage to take this step.  It may require knowledge of resources available to help.  Know there is help and there are safe places to go.  There are agencies that can help online.  Find them where you are.  You have to protect your physical body from harm before you can work on your emotional wellbeing.  Please, be brave!

Once you recognize that fear is something that is hurting you, it’s not like you can just tell it to go away.  You can only do that when it first makes an ugly appearance.  Once you’ve allowed fear to move in and stay with you, you’ve fed it and allowed it to grow, it’s Cat couragenot so easy.  The truth is we all need help with things like this.  We were not meant to do this life alone.  Other people were put on this earth so we wouldn’t have to be alone.  I don’t care how independent you are.  It might be fear that made you feel a need to be such an independent person and if that’s the case, fear has just succeeded l in keeping you in prison.  I’m saying this, not to cause anyone to feel under attack, but as one who allowed the ugly life situations cause me to put on, “Miss Independent”, as a banner across my chest for a good number of years.  I remember one occasion just before entering into my third marriage.  I can still see myself standing outside on a dark driveway, screaming into the face of my soon to be spouse, “You’re not going to make me your slave, you’re not going to tell me what to do…!”  It’s amazing that he still married me after that little explosion.   My point is, don’t try to break free on your own.  Positive, encouraging friends with wise advice, churches or professional counselors, they are all there for you to get help.   Take the risk to join the human race again and connect with other people to help you.  This too, takes courage.  Be brave!

Since I wasn’t intending to write a book today, I’ll wrap this up.  My almost last piece of advice would be this.  When you first see Courage.1that glob trying to make another appearance, whether it be a little thought, feeling or a little action to pass it a tasty morsel and feed it again, immediately stop yourself.  You have to stop it dead in its tracks.  Don’t entertain it, not even for a second.  If you need help to do this, then make that call or send that text.  Fill yourself with all the positive encouragement and support you can get your mind, eyes, ears and hands on.  Your life is on the line here.  All of your relationships, goals, and dreams have one thing in common.  They need you to be healthy in order to have them to the full extent that they were meant to be had.  It’s worth the effort and you are totally worth it!  If you blew it yesterday, today is a new day.  Be brave!

Lastly, I’m no longer going to think of myself as “a fall apart waiting to happen”.  Yes, the health issues seem to continue, but I’m Strong and Courageous.1choosing to focus on the good.  I have supportive friends and family.   I know that I’m in the good hands of doctors who will do the best they can within our healthcare system; to do what’s right for me.  Best of all and what brings me the biggest strength, I believe I’m in the good hands of a loving God who is big enough to take care of me in this broken world.  Bad things do happen, but he works it for good on my behalf.  It takes courage to let go of control and trust an unseen entity with the details of my life, but my experience tells me, God is really good at what he does.  He’s always come through for me, every time!   I can be strong and courageous because I’m not doing this alone.  Yes, I will be brave!

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Let the Future Begin!!!

Red_Desert_ButtesYou’ve heard, “kids say the darndest things”, and indeed they do!  Having raised four children of my own, I can vouch for that.  I have to tell you about a particular little 7 yr. old boy that I met last week.  I’ll call him Jaxson.  I’ve been thinking about him ever since.  He was super sweet, yet kind of shy, and he had the roundest chubby cheeks framing his huge, playful grin.  As I talked, I asked him questions to get to know him a bit, but he would just quickly bob his head to respond.  He didn’t say much but, he did say one thing to me that I’ve thought about ever since.

He was telling me that he enjoyed reading.  His Grandma had given him a Bible for Christmas.  A Bible isn’t your average 2nd grade reading material, you know.  While his was a version designed for kids, it still has a hefty volume of text for a 2nd grader to wade through.  Jaxson said he had been reading his Bible, but he was having a problem.  He said, “Every time I start to read, I have to start over again because I don’t have a book mark”.  I had an urge to laugh, but just smiled as I explained that he could just use a piece of scrap paper for a book mark.  I wonder how many times he’s reread the story of creation.   “In the beginning…”  He couldn’t get past the beginning.

Jaxson’s little confession also caused a tear to well up in the corner of my eye, from a different place than where the laugh came from.  I baby hand with fatherwasn’t quite sure why.  Maybe I was just touched by the sweet innocence that was expressed by this child, but something about my experience with Jaxson had touched something deep in me.  His statement taunted me this week as it played over and over in my mind.  Now I know why it resonated with me.   Jaxson was stuck at the beginning and so was I.

Perhaps you’ve read some of my earlier posts where I have talked about being raped at knife point as a teenager and being physically abused in a previous marriage.  If you have personally experienced rape or abuse, you understand that the after affects can be extremely damaging and far reaching.  While I have previously gone through counseling and participated in recovery groups to find healing over the years, I am currently involved in yet another round of group therapy sessions.  I’m doing this as part of a training program to be able to facilitate support groups for women who have been abused, as I have.  By going through the sessions as a participant, I not only gain experience with group dynamics, but I’m forced to take an even deeper look at myself.  It seems that each time I go through this, still another elusive wounding is unearthed from the rubble of my past and I become more whole.  That’s a good thing!  It makes me a little easier to live with, so my husband should appreciate that.

Monument ValleyIn our recovery group, we have homework assignments to complete between sessions.  As a part of the homework this week, we were instructed to draw or find images that would serve as a visual prompt, a reminder of our healing, like a monument, a stone of remembrance.  I love stones!  I know that sounds strange, but there is just something about them that draws my gaze.  When we hike, I always take a stone from the trail home with me.  I live in the rocky state of Arizona.  The rock formations that may be drab to some are fascinating, even beautiful to me!  I was excited about this assignment, or so I thought.

Images of things that would serve as my “stone of remembrance” came to mind very quickly, but all the thoughts surrounding my stone lighthouse in wavemonuments were emotionally exhausting.  Today, my tangled mess of thoughts seemed to jell together to form a realization that sparked excitement.  It was an excitement that I once had, but had forgotten.  I had some moments of enlightenment that I won’t go into detail on in this post, but I can give you the bottom line.  Tough seasons of life over the years have dulled my expectations for my future.  Goals and dreams that I had imagined for my future hadn’t totally disappeared, but it was like I had placed the goals and dreams up on a very hard to reach shelf, in a perpetual place of waiting.  I truly believed in my heart they would happen someday, but not now and not anytime soon.  I would have to wait and wait and wait…  I had forgotten some of the lessons of the past.  I didn’t have those stone monuments in place to help me remember and I realized that I’ve been stuck.

I’ve been living my life like Jaxson has been reading his little Bible.  Each day, instead of moving forward to my future, I begin in the very bookmarkssame place, waiting…  I’ve spent years looking up at that shelf, longing for the day when I could take hold of those things.   Here I am at my age, still in the creation story and there is so much more ahead that I’ve been missing out on.  It’s like, I didn’t have a bookmark!

Going through another recovery group, yet again, will be my ladder.  I’m choosing to hoist this ladder through the darkness, through the dust and the cobwebs, as I ascend to that very hard to reach place.  I intend to take hold of that box, those goals and dreams.  This blog post will serve as as one of my stone monuments, my bookmark.  It’s not over yet, not even at this age.  I say, let the future begin!

When “Mr. Right”, Screws Up…

rainy dayFor those of you who look for my running posts, this isn’t one of them.  This post is on betrayal.  The only way I could tie running into this one, is if I were writing about my body betraying me.  It does do that!  I take good care of it and yet, it fails me from time to time.  That’s not the direction we’re going now, though.  Today we’re going on a journey into something darker, something that often leaves as much damage as a failed organ.  The resulting damage isn’t readily seen, but the pain can certainly be just as intense.

Who hasn’t experienced betrayal in some form?  We’ve all been lied to and blindsided by those we trust.  We’ve all been stabbed in the back by friends we thought “had our backs”.  We’ve all been more than a little disheartened when darkness that’s been hidden in someone we respected is exposed.  And I would be surprised if there is anyone out there that hasn’t had their trust totally crushed in a relationship with someone who they considered to be their soul mate, their “Mr. or Mrs. Right”.  It happens to people every day.  The person that we think is “the one” for us, the person that was supposed to love us “with all of their heart”, can get totally stupid and screw up.

It was my 25th wedding anniversary a few weeks ago.  If you’ve read any of my past posts, you probably already know that I’ve been married before, twice actually.   I have indeed, experienced betrayal.

It’s hard to forget.  It’s harder still, to forgive.  I can vouch for the fact that, so far, I’ve never forgotten.  Memories fade over time, but each new betrayal triggers all the painful emotion.  It’s surprising how an incident can make memories fresh all over again.

I remember the lies, the cover ups, and the clues that raised my suspicions.  I remember wanting to be in denial, not wanting to allow Things that can not be hiddenmy imagination to even explore the possibilities of what I was sensing.  I remember the moment that the evidence presented itself in a way that I could no longer deny.  The slow realization of what I was sensing was indeed a reality.  My betrayer was caught.  It happened more than once, actually.  More than twice.  It happened often with my first marriage.  Needless to say, that one didn’t last very long.

There was physical abuse within the marriage.  Physical abuse is a betrayal.  The hand that’s supposed to love you, gently caress your skin, instead inflicts bruising and pain.  That hurts emotionally and physically.

And then there was the time I was blindsided, totally and utterly blindsided.  I had no clue.  I wasn’t suspicious.  I had absolutely no reason to even go there in my imagination.  I was adored by him.  I was loved and loved well.  He was my soul mate, my Mr. Right.  How could he do this to me?

In all of these experiences, not one person ever came forward and confessed.  They had to be caught.

It hurts to be betrayed.  It hurts like hell!  Betrayal can turn a normal, calm and self-controlled individual into a crazy person.  Tumultuous, tormenting thoughts consume your mind.  Of course they would.  You’ve just experienced a loss, a huge loss.  It’s not a whole lot different than experiencing a death, only with betrayal, there may be no closure for a long time.

The normally confident person becomes insecure and fearful.  Self-esteem is brought into question.  “What did I do wrong?”  You begin to make unhealthy comparisons.  “How was I not good enough?” “How was the other person better?”  And the anger!  Internal rage!  What’s the quote?  “Hell hath no fury like a woman’s anger!”  Yes, the anger is very real.  You’re angry at everyone.  Angry with the offender, angry with the other party, angry with yourself, and even angry with God.

Sad-love-quotes-Trust-it-takes-yearsI remember a three month period of anger as my second marriage was coming to an end.  I worked retail and had a 30 mile commute home from work each night.  I was the one in that really slow car driving down the freeway late at night, after closing the store.  That was my alone time, away from people, away from my two children.  It was my time to think, my time to vent.  Of course there were tears, lots of tears.  I had conversations with myself.   Sometimes I would literally scream.   It was a safe place in my car on an empty freeway at night, so I could let it all out.  I was so angry.  Of course, I was angry with my betrayer, but more so at myself.  I was angry with myself for letting it all happen again, for allowing myself to be in such a vulnerable place, allowing myself to love and trust again.  I was angry at God for allowing my heart to be broken again.

There was the unfairness of it all.  It was so not fair that this was happening to me again.  Wasn’t it enough before?  Why me?

I hated that it made me feel so exposed, naked.  I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin anymore.  I didn’t want to be touched anymore.  It was like I was married to a stranger.  Who was this man that I had given my life to?

You feel betrayal physically.  It’s like your chest has been ripped open and your heart has been yanked out and crushed by the hand that said it loved you.   You’re left to bleed…  alone, helpless, vulnerable and bleeding to death…  It’s just so wrong.

As I’ve said already, betrayal takes many forms.  While the betrayal in your case may not have involved an actual physical affair, rosesomething far more valuable may have been taken from you.  Your spouse or partner turned the eyes that were supposed to be focused on you, in the direction of another.  The place where thoughts of you were supposed to dwell, allowed another to move in.  That person occupied your space.  The heart that belonged to you was offered to another.  When they held out their hand to the other person, they held out your heart and were allowing it to be crushed.  Those parts of the one you love are much more valuable than sex organs will ever be.

What do you do from here?  How do you process all of this as the person who has been betrayed?  For me, I write.  Writing helps me gather my thoughts, express my feelings, vent my emotion.  It’s much more effective and much safer than a slow, late night car ride.  I used to journal regularly.  I haven’t done that so much over the past several years, but recently started to do that again.  If you’ve never tried it before, give it a shot.  You have nothing to lose, but you have your sanity to gain.  It’s very therapeutic.

What do I write?  Start with a letter to the one who betrayed you.  Even if they never get to read it, you will be able to write what you really want to say.  It may be mixed in with things you don’t really mean, but you will get the benefit of it.  It will give voice to what you need to express and may help you be able to express it in a less crazy way than you would have.

revengeMaybe it would help to write a letter to the “other” woman or man as it may be in your case.  They are also an injured party in the scandalous, mess.  I know the natural inclination is to call names, lots of names and maybe even seek revenge.  If you don’t seek revenge, you can’t tell me that at least thoughts of something bad happening to them haven’t gone through your mind.  Fess up now.  Remember, I’ve been there.

Healing is ultimately what we need.  It’s a process.  It takes time, lots of time.  If you’ve just been betrayed, you aren’t going to like what I suggest as a next step.  It’s not something you will feel like doing at all.  It’s something you may think you will never be able to do.  But it’s the first step toward a healed heart, and I know you want that.  I’m not saying you have to do it right away either, but the sooner you can take this step, the faster you will walk toward wholeness.

Healing starts with a choice.  You have to choose to forgive.  You do it for you.  No, the other person doesn’t deserve it, but you do.  When you don’t forgive, you become a prisoner to your own bitter thoughts and feelings and the one who is truly punished, is you.

When we’ve been hurt, we become inclined to wall out the world to protect our own heart.  We aren’t willing to risk being hurt again.  By doing this, we actually hurt ourselves even more, though.  With a wall around our heart to keep the bad away from us, we also keep the good away.  Our heart never gets what it truly needs, because no one can see it or reach in and touch it.

When you make the conscious choice to forgive, in time, your feelings will catch up.  I promise!  Yes, situations will arise where words are said and opportunities for re-wounding will be present.  You’ll feel like you’re back to square one.  When you reach that spot, remember your choice to forgive and you stick to it or do it again.  Do it over and over again if you have to.  Eventually, you will find yourself in a place where you are surprised to realize, you really do forgive.  You can feel it.  You’re a bigger and better person because of it.

You have to come to a place where you choose to not allow your mind to be consumed with the whole situation.  Stop replaying the scenarios over and over in your mind.  Stop allowing yourself to be tormented with a need to get to the bottom of a story.  You may or may not have all of the details, but does it really matter?  The damage has already been done.  You have to come to a place where you choose to let go.  Finding yourself in a situation involving betrayal is emotionally exhausting.  I’ve come to the place where the internal struggle was so intense, I had no choice but to let go.  My mind and my body couldn’t handle the stress of it anymore.  If I didn’t lay it down, it would do me in.

When it comes to healing, I can’t help but to talk about God’s role in all of this for me.  I told you that I had a time when I was angry with God over what I had experienced.  God wasn’t the one who betrayed me.  He didn’t create us to be robots that he sits up in the sky and controls.  He made us human and gave us the freedom to choose our actions.  It was a human who betrayed you.  We are all human and humans aren’t perfect.  We all make mistakes.  I’ve hurt others and others have hurt me.  Maybe they hurt me more, but that doesn’t matter.  I may not be able to trust humans to the degree that I would like to, but I know I can trust God to take care of me and heal my heart.  He’s come through every time.Don't lose hope

When you let go, you find yourself in a calm place.  When you’ve forgiven and let go, you find yourself in a calm and peaceful place.  When you trust God to heal your heart, you find yourself in a calm, peaceful and loving place.  That’s the place I would hope for you, my friend.  Will you join me here?

“The Hip Bones Connected to the…”

chain link fenceI never wanted to be one to grow older and complain about all my aches and pains, so I swear, I’m not complaining here!  There is a moral to this story, I promise!

You probably have someone in your life that seems to thrive on relating their latest illness to the world.  I remember a neighbor years ago who lived on the other side of a chain link fence from me.  I loved spending time outside, either soaking up the sun or working in my garden.  Because of this one neighbor, I felt I had to operate in stealth mode to enjoy my backyard.  Venturing out the back door involved preplanning.   I avoided times that my neighbor was sure to be outside.  I’d peer out the windows for any sign of movement around her house and if the coast was clear, I would venture out.  I cautiously remained on the alert for any sound from across the fence, watching from the corner of my eye with one foot pointed in the direction of my door.  I was ready to make a mad dash for the house if needed.  If my neighbor managed to catch me off guard, I’d be stuck listening to all her health issues until I could think of an excuse to break away.  It was the same dreary conversation, over and over again.  You know what I’m talking about, right!

I’m not going to be that neighbor!  This blog is about being real, right where I’m at today.  So for those who care and have read any of my previous posts on this aging body, here goes.

First, I’ll give a little update on the abdominal issues.  If you need to know the back story on this one, you can catch up here with: “I’m Not Average”Apparently, I’m not average at all.  I’m an overachiever!  In this case, it’s not a good thing.

I got to spend a day in the ER last week because of my midsection.   The issue is that I build up large amounts of scar tissue from to many surgeries and being septic twice now.  The scar tissue causes obstructions.   The doctor said that the average person with my scar tissue issues, has to have surgery every two years.  I’m two months away from the one year mark of the last surgery and I’ve experienced symptoms of a partial obstruction twice now since the beginning of this year.  In previous events related to this, that’s been the pattern prior to the hospitalizations.  I’m updating you on this one, not because I’m looking for sympathy.  But, if you’re the praying type, maybe you could swing some prayers this way.  Another surgery would not be a good thing for me!  As a matter of fact, one doctor said it would be a mess.  OK, enough on that!

Here is what I want to focus on today.  It’s my “pain in the neck”!  It was in December when I found out what the problem was.  I have three bulging disks in my neck and two more disks with bone protruding into the nerve.   Thankfully, there is not so much pain in the neck anymore.  Most of the pain runs down my arm and my hand feels like it’s been asleep much of the time.

I’ve been in physical therapy now for a couple months and I put myself in traction at home every day.  Things are improving!  Initially, I had to give up running, but I’m happy to say that I’ve slowly been able to work my way into “minutes” of running on my schedule.  I finally have a couple days this week where my coach was able to assign “miles”, instead of “minutes”!  If you’re a runner, you can understand how this makes me want to do a happy dance!

Being in physical therapy for different parts of my body since I took up this running hobby has increased my awareness of how kinetic changeamazing our bodies were created to be.  You might remember the song we sang as kids, “The hip bones, connected to the leg bone.  The leg bones connected to the knee bone.  The knee bones connected to the …” and on it goes.  It’s all part of the Kinetic Chain.  Each joint is connected by bone, muscle and tissue to the next joint and the next and the next.  When the movement of one part of our body is hindered or a part is injured it affects the other parts in the chain.  You might not even have symptoms of a problem right away.  Injuries can build up over time and all of a sudden, your body is screaming at you.  The pain you feel might not even be where the root of your problem is.  The problem can originate somewhere up or down the chain.

I love the analogy of the different parts of the body being like us, who we were created to be with the gifts and talents we each possess.  One person may be like the mouth.  They are just naturally a very vocal person with a gift of eloquent speech.  They are able to be a voice on behalf of those who have no voice.

shoulder for cryingOne person may be like a shoulder.  They are built to be strong.  They’re the burden bearer or a shoulder to cry on.  They’re not only able to carry their own heavy loads, but also the loads of others.

Even the unseen, seemingly insignificant parts of our bodies; all have a specific function that is necessary to our existence.   Each part is connected in the Kinetic Chain.   If one part is hurt and neglected, the other parts of the body will be affected.  What good is a mouth if it’s wired shut?  A mouth without the tongue to taste, teeth to chew and a throat to swallow is useless.   A mouth without a head and a face to hold it in place would just look weird.  It needs the other parts to fulfill the purpose it was created for.

This is really what’s on my mind today.  Sorry it took me so long to get here.  It boils down to the simple fact that we need each other!  Why do we isolate ourselves from others?  How can we be so proud and arrogant to judge another person to be of lesser value than ourselves?  Why is it that so many try to operate on their own, without the help of others?  Remember Herby, the dentist from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, as he declared, “I’m independent”?  Even Herby found out he needed others, but almost at the cost of his life.

I’m guilty of all of the above at one point or another, so I’m not just talking to you.  That neighbor across the fence needed me.  I listened and tried to be kind, but I really didn’t care that much.  I avoided her in every way I could.  I really couldn’t help her with her medical needs, but I could have offered encouraging words or maybe a smile to brighten her day.  Maybe even I could have enjoyed the outside I loved, by helping in her yard.

It’s true, when one part hurts, the others will hurt.  Turning a blind eye to the needs of others will eventually affect you.  Devaluing those who work under you in the workplace will eventually affect you.  Neglecting the people that are a pain in the neck, butt or whatever, will eventually affect you.

No, we can’t be all things to all people.  We weren’t meant to be.  But we can be the best at being who we were created to be and using the gifts and talents we were given for the betterment of humanity.  When we refuse to function and fulfill our purpose, when we become intolerant, unfairly judge, criticize or belittle another human, we hurt a part of ourselves that is valuable and necessary to our existence.

So here’s the moral of our little story today.  We, as a member of the human race need to start focusing on our overall health and well being.  We need to start thinking long term, for the sake of our existence.  Let’s begin to take better care of ourselves, which means taking care of each other.  I need you and whether you like it or not, you need me. You’ve heard it said, “It takes a village…”  All of humanity is a part of our village, our Kinetic Chain.   So let’s, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.   Just do it!

change

My Open Letter to a Friend…

tearDear Jane,    (Name has been changed.)

I really don’t know where to begin.   You’ve been on my mind a lot lately, as I do indeed understand that your circumstances are overwhelming.   In just a short span of years, you’ve lost your parents, your husband and pets that were like your children to you.  If dealing with these losses weren’t enough, you have a daily struggle with the disease that has been the cause of way too many paramedic visits to your address.  Add to that, the loss of balance that has resulted in several falls, causing multiple breaks and surgeries to repair your broken bones.  I know what follows surgeries; long recoveries, physical therapy, many follow up appointments and bills.  If all those things aren’t overwhelming enough, add the fact that you do all of this alone now.

You’ve felt abandoned by the little bit of family that remain.  Your days and nights are spent alone in your recliner.  Your wheel chair stays at your side for the short trips to the kitchen and bathroom because you’re still recovering from a broken bone.  Yes, you have your one remaining pet, but for the most part, your little house is quiet.  Voices that once filled your walls are now gone.  One voice remains though, that won’t stay silent.  It’s a taunting voice that brings torment.  It plays like a tape on constant rewind.  It tells you over and over again, “I can’t do this anymore” or “I don’t want to do this anymore” or “I have no reason to keep on living”.  What’s scary to me is that you’ve listened and started to believe that voice.

I remember the days when you were very different.  Your life was full of activity, full of family and friends.  You had many people surrounding you with love and you loved them back with your kindness, encouraging words and generous gifts.  You loved giving gifts to people around you, but your greatest gift was your compassion and your laugh.  I loved hearing you laugh.  Yes, you still had to deal with that childhood disease, but that didn’t stop you from opportunities to enjoy time with family and friends, opportunities to live.

But yes, you are different now.  Circumstances have caused rooms that were once filled with light to become dim and even dark.  I stillgrief hear the laugh at times, but it’s not the same.  The laugh begins to emerge for a moment, but it ends abruptly as if it’s stopped by an invisible wall.  Each time the laughter ends, the invisible wall is quickly revealed.  It’s a memory, memories of what’s been lost.  So much has been lost…

In place of joy, there is sadness, anger and bitterness.  You’ve built yourself a little refuge, surrounded yourself with this invisible wall, each brick being a memory of someone or something that has hurt you.  Somehow you feel safe in there, alone.  So you keep building, but the reality is that you’re cutting yourself off more and more from family and friends.  The wall isn’t invisible anymore, either.  You’re isolating yourself, one brick at a time.  Your wall may keep others from seeing you, Jane, but I can see.  I still see you in there.

You used to like pretty colors, but these bricks don’t make for a pretty room.  Unfairness, injustice, sadness, anger, death, disease, backstabbing, lies, betrayal; yes these are the bricks that life and circumstances have given you.  These are the bricks you were given, so you used them to build your refuge.   I’m no interior decorator, but this is not the room that I would picture you happy in.

No one would dispute the fact that life has been unfair to you.  Anyone would readily affirm that you have good reason to be depressed and angry with your circumstances.  You have indeed been repeatedly dealt some knockdown, drag out blows.  Not just once or twice have you been hit, but over and over again.  Of course, you would seek refuge from the onslaught.  Who wouldn’t?  Anyone would seek a safe place.   So bruised, bleeding and eyes swollen shut, you did what you could and stacked your bricks, one on top of another.

bob wire wallYour refuge is not as it appears to you, though.  The reality is you’ve built yourself a prison with these bricks.  You’ve let me and a few others peek over those walls, but I’m afraid for you, Jane.  I’m afraid that if you keep using these bricks and build your wall any higher, I won’t be able to reach you anymore.  No one else will be able to either.  Your prison will grow totally dark, completely quiet, and you will be intolerably alone.

Yes, life handed you these bricks.  They were the closest ones to you, the easy ones to grasp.  The thing is, just beyond those bricks were some other bricks, bricks that were much prettier colors.  I know they seemed too hard to reach, but they were there for you to choose.  Yes, they took more effort to get to; I mean a lot more effort.  You would have to use what little strength you had left to crawl over the ugly ones to reach them.  They do have rough edges and sharp corners that could and probably would hurt you more.  It’s hard to see with eyes that are almost swollen shut, but just over those bricks are the pretty ones…

Life is full of choices, opportunities.  We may not get to choose our circumstances, but we get to choose how we respond to them.  I’m not just saying this lightly.  I know it’s really difficult to choose sometimes.  The constant battle of the voices in our ears is truly like we’re in the middle of the argument between the images of good and evil on our shoulders.  And then there is the battle of the will and emotions, fierce warriors they are!

I’ve seen you in your warrior mode before, though.  Living with disease all of these years has given you a strength that many lack.  That in itself has made you a strong warrior.  But I’ve seen you made stronger by other things, too.  You’ve used your determination and strong will to win, many times over.  You may not think you have what you need to make it through all of this, but I know you do.

I miss my old friend.  I miss the warmth and joy that was once there.  I miss her smile, her humor, her laugh, her love of people.  I’m asking for her to break free from her prison.  Jane, come out from behind that wall, please…

I know it’s not going to be easy, but I know even more that you can do it, Jane.  The first steps are going to be the hardest of all and only you can take them, because right now, we can’t reach you.

First of all, stop building with those ugly bricks.  Stop rehearsing all the negative memories over and over in your mind.  You may not choose what thoughts come to your mind, but you do choose the thoughts that get to stay.  When the memories of betrayal, lies, and all those ugly bricks come, kick them away.  They have no place around you.  Lift up your head and look at the light.  Instead of using your inner strength to build a false fortress, use it to crawl over that prison wall.

That’s what we have to do when we’re down.  We have to get up, even if we can barely crawl, we have to choose and make ourselves doLet go on hand it.  The farther you crawl, the closer you get to the beauty that once surrounded you.  Keep your eyes focused on all the colors just ahead.  As you crawl forward, the bruising will fade, the bleeding will stop, the swelling will go down and your eyes will see clearly again.  You will come to a place where you will be able to reach out your hand for help and allow others to touch you once again.  Yes, there is risk involved with that.  You could and probably will experience some hurt along the way.  But it’s better to hurt with friends who can help you heal, then to slowly bleed to death inside a lonely prison.  With each effort, no matter how strained, weakness will be replaced by strength.  Darkness will become light.  Hope will take the place of despair.  Bitterness will be replaced by forgiveness, anger replaced by peace and sadness replaced by joy.  Love will once again rule your heart and fill your life.

woodsYour life isn’t over, Jane.  There is a chance for a new beginning, starting today.   There is hope for your future!   Say yes, Jane.  I miss you.  Many of us miss you.  Choose life.  Please, choose life.

You know I love you!  Your friend, Bobbi

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If  you find yourself in a place of despair, hopelessness and helplessness or have thoughts of suicide, please use the courage you have to seek help and wise counsel.  Here are some numbers to call:

Crisislink – 1 703-527-4077 / 1-800-237-8255

National Suicide Prevention Line – 1-800-784-2433 / 1-800-SUICIDE

http://www.crisislink.org

What About the Parents???

I hope you aren’t expecting a light hearted, carefree, easy going or humorous post today, because that’s not what I’m feeling.  I am not even sure of the direction that this will take, but I’ve had some thoughts stirring that needed to come out on paper, so here we go.

I am a parent.  It’s one of the roles that many often dream about even when they are very young.  I was one of those dreamers.  I remember at a very young age pretending to be a mommy to my baby dolls.  I couldn’t wait to go to Kmart to spend my allowance on things for my fake babies.  I was so good at parenting as a five year old.  It was so easy!  I just knew that I would grow up to be the best mommy in the whole wide world.  Three kids, two boys and a girl to be specific, a husband, house and a van, that was my big dream!  What I ended up with was four kids, three boys and a girl to be specific, three husbands (not all at the same time), a few houses over the years and several cars, which included the van.  But what happened to the most important part of the dream, being the best mommy in the whole wide world?  Well, it just wasn’t as easy as I imagined it would be.

My big thought today is, “What about the parents?”   Many very disturbing events have made the news recently.  I don’t think that you can find a corner anywhere in the world, that news of the shootings in Tucson, Colorado and Wisconsin hasn’t touched.  Of course, we think about the victims first, then the actual shooters themselves and then the parents.  I can’t help but try to imagine myself in the parent’s shoes on these occasions.  How devastating it would be for a parent!  To find out that one of your own children, that once innocent baby that you held in your arms, had committed such a horrendous, senseless act.   It’s simply unimaginable!  My heart is broken, not only for the parents of the victims, but the parents of the shooters, as well.

I’m thinking of the mom who posted on Facebook this morning.  Today is her daughter’s birthday and it was a year ago today that she hugged her daughter for the last time before she went to prison on drug charges.  How my heart hurts for her and her daughter.

I’m thinking of the single mom who lost her child to a drug overdose and my heart hurts.  I’m thinking of the parents who lost their bipolar child to suicide.  Many had passed judgment on these parents for their children’s behavior during the short years of their lives.

I’m thinking of the struggles between children and parents that I’ve witnessed in an office complex where I once worked.  The children were often very loud and aggressive and those working in the complex were put off by the behavior and registered complaints with the complex management.  Insensitive signs were even hung in the common restrooms by someone who thought the kid situation needed to be addressed.  Did the person who hung the signs not know that these children were visiting the complex for therapy because they were autistic?  Yes, my heart hurts for these parents too, and their children.  So many scenarios we could talk about, all heartbreaking.

Many are quick to jump on the parents and point fingers.  Certainly the parents have done something wrong in their parenting that caused their child’s behavior, or addiction or suicide.  Is that fair?  Why are we so quick to place ourselves in the role of judge and jury and pass sentence on parents?  It happens all of the time.  Who hasn’t been in a grocery store or a restaurant and seen someone’s child act in a ridiculous, unbecoming way and we’ve thought or maybe even said, “They need to do something with their child”, or “If I were those parents, I would (fill in the blank)”.

Granted, parents do make mistakes and I am not saying that all parents are innocent and haven’t had a role in how a child turned out.  I’m not talking about parents who are abusive or are alcoholics, addicts, criminals or horrible examples here.   I’m talking about parents who do all they can to raise their children in the best way they know how.  None of us have our parenting skills 100% perfected.  We all have flaws of some kind.  Go ahead and admit it mom and dad.  You’ll feel better.  That perfect super parent cape is a heavy weight that will keep you from flying anywhere, so take it off!  Easier said than done, right!  Expectations are high for parents and as a result, we often carry a huge amount of guilt.

It’s easy for those who have not had children or who have had perfect children to make flippant comments about or even to other parents.  Yes, I am speaking from experience here.  Before I had my perfect kids, I knew exactly how to be a perfect parent and I’m sure I passed judgment on someone along the way.  But now I know the flip side.   I can still remember comments regarding my parenting that were made to me over the years that were so insensitive and hurtful.  You see, I didn’t have the perfect kids that you did.  How would you judge me if I told you that I had raised an addict, an alcoholic, a criminal, a child with mental illness or all of the above?  Certainly, you would wonder about my child’s upbringing.  You might even want to dissect my parenting ability or debate about parenting styles.  You might even consider unfriending me on Facebook.  Was my child’s behavior my fault???

Of course, I know that I’m exposing my own feelings of guilt here.  Every parent who hasn’t had perfect kids feels guilt, sometimes massive amounts of guilt.  I’ve worked on resolving my own guilt issues and I’m not here to debate what was or wasn’t my fault.  I’m addressing two groups of people here.

To group number one, the group that still has not had children or that never will, and the parents of perfection; to you I say, give us imperfect parents a break!  Ease up a little.  Have some sensitivity and compassion.  If you haven’t walked in another parent’s shoes, please don’t be so quick to throw stones.  There is no “Super Parent” cape, so if you think you’ve been wearing one, you’ve just been running around naked or sporting some really ugly spandex.

To the group of parents who have known the heartbreak of your children not growing up and following the beautiful dreams that you’ve envisioned for them; to you I say you’re not alone.  It’s not all your fault.  It’s time to let go of the guilt and if you can’t do that, then get help.  You deserve that for yourself.  And for any mistakes you did make, there is forgiveness here.  You deserve to be free to fly!

This world can be a cold, dark and lonely place.  Parents need lots of support during the hard times.  When you see a parent friend having a really difficult time, don’t pull away because the situation looks to overwhelming.  When the going gets tough, instead of pointing fingers, extend a hand.   Get involved in being a part of the solution and consider it an investment in your own future, because it is.  Even if you don’t have the answers, you can still be available to stand with and for your friend.  You’ve heard it said and I do
believe that it truly does take a village to raise a child.

Holes in the Clouds

One week ago today, our family lost someone that we loved very much.  It was my father in law.  My husband and his brothers lost their dad.  My mother in law lost her husband.  Our children, nieces and nephews lost their grandpa.  His siblings lost their brother and on it goes.  This past week has been a whirlwind of activity, but the one thing that stands out to me is that family stands together through all of it.

My run this morning was at about the same time as last Wednesday when my mother in law and I were huddled close together in the hospital, having just been told that the one we loved didn’t make it.  It was cool, breezy and overcast this morning, much like it was that morning.  The clouds were pretty thick at the start of this day and blocked out the normal beautiful sunrise.  I couldn’t help but notice that there were holes in the clouds as in a slice of swiss cheese.  The rays of early sunlight were shooting through the cloud holes in every direction and it was absolutely beautiful.

Clouds are often associated with sad, dreary times, and we have good reason to feel sad and dreary right now.  But nature this morning sent us a message.  It was a reminder that no matter how dark and thick the clouds may be, the sun is always shining.  It’s light will find a path through the thickest, darkest cloud to light our path and allow us to feel it’s warmth.

Each beam of light I saw this morning reminded me of something to be thankful for.  I started thinking about all the many things I’ve experienced in just this last week that I am so grateful for, most of all, the abundant love of friends and family.  By the end of my run, my heart was overwhelmed with thankfulness and tears spilled onto my cheeks.  They were the good kind of tears, both cleansing and healing, all brought on by light shining through a hole in the clouds.

We all love you dad…