phoenix rising.

as most of my posts have been this summer…wait, is it still summer? i guess, in theory, it is…i don’t know where this will begin or where it will end, but i will write until we get there. 

i am stunned by robin williams’ death. stone cold. speechless and stunned. and i am sad. just sad about it. but ann-without-an-e and glennon were not speechless and they both found words in what seemed like minutes that wrapped around our tragedy and i will point to them because i have no better words, no other offering than what they have already said on behalf of us all who have suffered, or have loved deeply someone who struggled to their death. 

and don’t you be naive or allow yourself to be fooled. please do not choose that road. the road of lalala i can’t hear you and if i close my eyes then you can’t see me.

i call it “our” tragedy because it is.

because he belongs to us, robin does. he was my dad and your brother and our sister, and he is everyone we have ever known whom we have loved dear and held so close and fought their darkness in the light. and for those who have fought on our -my- behalf…

i think that’s why no one has the right words and so we placate with christianese and weird, wrong thoughtlessness but we mean well. and some of us criticize now those who use “platitudes” is the word i keep hearing. and i get why that makes us all mad. it makes me mad, too. because god isn’t a band-aid, nor is he a bully or a big boss in the sky and i believe with all of my heart – my whole heart – that he loves and he knows and suffers alongside and my god whom i know and the one who loves me raw is a god who knows intimately the gravity of that depression from a son who asked for his cup to be passed, the weight of oh my god the weight is just too much.

but the thing is, they mean well. i think that they do. i hope that in their heart, they really do mean well.

when my dad died, it took about 17 seconds for me to realize that people who haven’t been through this – through anything even remotely close to it, even – they access whatever thing they can draw from because it’s what we do and then they just say the first wrong thing that comes to their mind, and they don’t know it’s wrong -at all- because they haven’t cried our battle-cry. not yet, but they will. my dad had never died before, and then he did and now i know that the only thing that comforts are no words at all but just showing up and being present and not needing anything from those who don’t know what they need at a time like this and the best words of all are, “i’m sorry, this sucks”, and to really, really mean it when you say it. because, no matter what you believe or where your faith lies, for those of us here, it just does and that’s all there is to it. and it’s a comfort – i guess…no, it is, it has to be… – that i’ll get to see him again, or you will, but i want to see him now.

and so i think of zelda. daughter too young for a dad gone too soon.

and, really, for any of us it could be us. we are his daughter, or we could be him. at any point. and you may not know the monster, as glennon calls it, but plenty of us do. and i’m glad for those of you who don’t, but i’m sorry for you if you don’t because it cracks your heart wide and makes your blood cold when we lose one of our own, like g said.

and we are all one of our own. 

you’re not exempt. none of us are. you will have some kind of turn at this, in some kind of way. and it will suck and gut you and you will get through it, in whatever way. 

and i’m so sorry that you will. because it will suck and gut you, but i promise you will get through it, in whatever way.

and that is your own journey, but you will find there are fellow sojourners familiar with the path you are on.

and so for those who don’t know, just know that there are those of us who do and you will know it when you get there and we will be waiting for you and i can’t even be upset with you because i really do get it. you’ll know, and my heart will be ready to break for you all over again, too. and it won’t matter that you haven’t gotten it before, because you will get it then and you will die inside but from death comes life if you wait long enough for it, even if the waiting gets ugly or you get impatient because sometimes both are true, and life still comes. 

the world is just not perfect. it just isn’t. please, christians, don’t be those christians that punish those who hurt. that’s not god’s way. we are all afraid, and i understand that’s why you think everyone needs jesus and suicide is sin but, really, that is your own fear in a pocket-size god. and, again, i’m not mad at you for this, i’m just speaking truth some of the rest of us have had the gut-wrenching, heartbreakingly beautiful privilege of knowing in our bones, deep and wide.
Jesus never had to announce himself or use his name, he just showed as an offering. he became hope because he is hope and that’s all the hope we have to give, too. unfancy, unannounced.

we are all suffering from something. we are ALL suffering from something.

and we are all healing from something. recovering, healing, getting better from or about or related to some part of life’s journey, if we afford ourselves the chance. and we must do this. we must afford ourselves the chance to hurt because it’s the only way we can get better..

we are ALL on a journey. the best we have is to notice each other. you’re not on a different road than i am. i’m not an island, and i promise i will share with you my water if -together- we can promise not be afraid, or do it anyway, even if we are.

because the world, this world, is ugly and wrong and bad things happen, and jesus is still present and he doesn’t hate – in fact, he deeply and passionately and isn’t mad at, i really don’t believe that he is – those who just can’t take it anymore. our god – my god – loves. he just does. he only loves. 

and, yes, our god is a god of mercy and justice and judgment, if that’s what you want to call it, but we get it wrong, i think. we use those as a means of punishment, when jesus uses them to set us free. i just think we get it wrong when all jesus does is love, even if it hurts. in fact, especially when it hurts, he isn’t hurting us to be mean or to punish us or to spiritually abuse us. sometimes we perceive it as such and so we justify treating others as such. let’s not do that, either. we’re brothers and sisters. let’s love like that, with the kind of love that’s meant for us to love. let’s love not til we hurt each other, but until we hurt for each other. let’s stop being so mean to each other in the name of jesus. he’s not mean. fear is what makes me mean. (usually. unless i’m just tired and/or plain cranky.) is that what makes you ornery, too?

i’m listening to “jesus, you’re beautiful” by john thurlow because it’s what filtered through…over and over again, “jesus, you’re beautiful…your eyes are flames of fire…” and it’s true. his eyes burn and they burn and they burn with fire and love and passion. he is not threatened by our unbelief or our lack of faith when all it takes is a mustard seed. he is not keeping score and tallying up all the times we trusted and all the times we haven’t, just that we want to and we’re trying, and our hearts really are good because he made them and he lives there, in ALL of us. 

and so is what is happening to the families in the middle east. the tragedy there, i mean. oh, god, how that belongs to us, too. they do, i mean. they belong to us. 

ferguson. oh, ferguson. you belong to me, too. you belong to us all. why is there so much hate among us?

it’s thursday now and gungor’s “you have me” is now playing on spotify as i wait for rosters to print for the faculty i serve. i love this song. i go to his dad’s church, my new church. i love my church. do you know what the name of our church is? sanctuary. that’s all. just “sanctuary”. and that’s just what it is, to us all. and nothing has been said there publicly about whatever nonsense folks are blasting michael about these days, and all would be welcome there. so, stop that. we are all on a journey. listen. we are ALL on a journey. and we are all worthy because of jesus. not because of us, or our own theology. but because jesus who asked for his to cup to pass drank his cup, anyway, and that’s the cup from which all now drink. do you know what i’ve learned since starting seminary? that i still have a lot to learn and we are all here trying to understand god better. but if i’m too busy trying to figure out god, then i get distracted from my job, which is to love people and appreciate their journey. so i leave it to my teachers to teach, and i listen and learn and i wrestle but then it all still boils down to love. that is the thing.

and now the brilliance, which is michael’s brother’s band, is singing, “shepherd strong”. we have a strong shepherd and michael is singing about it. we need to get over ourselves, y’all.

this. these. all of everyone. they are ours, too. and if you feel upset and mad and angry and you want to scream and cry and like you don’t know what to do because what can you do and even prayer doesn’t seem like enough but it’s freaking all we have, then just be that. we all have a right to be pissed right now. at disease and destruction and injustice. get mad at the right things, though, and love each other. 

be uncomfortable and pray whatever you can because we all need saving, and we all need healing, even those who have had some amount of both, because we all have had that, too. 

but do not take it away from those who suffer with bless your hearts and god save his soul when all we really have -all any of us have- is, “help us, god.” 

please allow your heart to break, to ache. please FEEL this. don’t go numb or check out or turn off your tv or your computer and pretend like it will just go away because it’s not going away. 

and please don’t preach. let’s not do that to each other. just love. that’s all. just love. 

we must hurt over this, ALL of this and these and OURS, in order to know we are fully alive. in order to experience some amount of beauty in all of this tragedy – because surely there is some amount of beauty in all of this tragedy – we must hurt, achingly so, over this. jesus does.

there is beauty in the brokenness and there is always, usually, a breakdown before there is a break-through if we just keep breaking through or give others permission to break through us or until we just break, and that’s okay, too.

we must mourn those who die, wail over those who take their own lives and those who are taking lives, those who are committing a slow suicide and you are wearing yourself out trying to keep it from happening.

i know what that’s like.

on both ends, i know what it’s like. 

to be the one who desperately needs saving and the one who rescues because she knows she needs a rescue.

or tries.

and what i know is that only jesus…

actually, that’s it.

that’s all i know.

only jesus. 

i have no other words than this.

i didn’t mean to have any words about this, but i guess maybe i did. go read glennon’s and ann’s words, too. you’ll be glad you did. or sad. or mad. feel all of it, though, all the feelings you feel. and know that you are safe, and you are loved, and we will make it through this thing together. xo

big red.

i need to process tonight. chew the meat, spit out the bones. no part of it might make sense to you, but it all fits together for me, anyway. i find that i’m writing more for me, like a journal, than for anyone else these days. i’m glad to offer what i have to you, but mostly i’m giving what i can to myself these days. feeding my own soul with my own hands.

seriously, only, like 7 people are reading my blog right now. i’m not on facebook, save for the five minutes i got on last week to sell something (actually, the big red furniture mentioned later) and thought, “no, no, no, this feels bad and i don’t want to be here and it’s wasting me, no, no, no”. i’m not doing anything to drive any traffic here. when i keep things right-sized, save for the 7 people who keep reading my words (thank you, by the way), i realize i can afford to just write without edit for me right now. forever, for now. hopefully.

i came home tonight and made an egg salad sandwich. i’m trying to be all paleo, no grains and all, but i just wanted an egg salad like my mom used to make so that’s what i did and i will make one for tomorrow’s lunch. the last thing my fat extra-curvy but still-beautiful body needs right now is bread, even the gluten-free kind, but it’s what i wanted so it’s what i did.

i went to two meetings today, my regular morning one and what is becoming a semi-regular afternoon one.

i’m listening to prairie home companion from my kitchen, aired a few weeks ago, but originally broadcast in 1985 from the ryman. nashville is still my favorite place, or at least the next place i want to live.

“only buy what you need today, only get what you can afford,” i kept hearing myself say in my own voice in my own head at my whole foods, but not my normal whole foods. it was an encouraging voice, a kind one, one that spoke in fullness and not poverty. it felt good to hear myself say it to myself, to not spend money that i don’t have because i’m afraid of not having enough. i bought just what i need, and have plenty of raw to last the next few days because that’s only as long as raw really lasts.

tonight i sent a message to a new friend and said, “just want you to know you haven’t do anything wrong.” and then went on to say, as nicely as i could, that i needed him to leave me alone. basically. that’s not what i said, actually. but that’s how it feels now. he was understanding. in fact, he kinda acted like it was his idea. that’s fine. let it be. for me, i just needed to be honest and true to myself. the silent treatment isn’t very grown-up. for me, it’s fear. i can speak up for myself, and state what i need, ask for what i want. my therapist says i’m not responsible for someone else’s (lack of) boundaries, but i am very responsible for mine. it’s my duty to draw and maintain my boundaries. i am learning. my thought process in sending it to him was that i didn’t want to have to make an amends to him later for ignoring him, when all i really needed to do was be honest. i appreciate his kindness and understanding, and he really is a nice guy.

in light of this…

when my plane was descending into houston the other night, without meaning to, i suddenly started thinking about my next fourth step…and then my fifth and sixth and seventh steps. i dropped out of my program when i was right around steps 6 and 7, which means i’ve basically been living into my defects for the last few (or 5) years. i think i kind of did step 3 on my own last week, but i respect my sponsor and the program and myself enough not to jump ahead of her, and will wait until we meet this weekend to talk about step three, which is the step of surrender.

so, when i was about 18 minutes from hitting the ground, i started for no real good reason loosely examining my past relationships since the last time i did my fourth and fifth steps. for the first time, i became very, very honest with myself about my own part, which is what the fourth step is: with all the courage one can find, he or she takes a searching and fearless moral inventory of his or her self. this step kind of sucks, actually, but it’s a gift. the thing is, what i hope you can get, is that this isn’t god’s way of punishing or picking on us. if you do the steps in proper order, each one is another step toward freedom. and i want all the freedom that i can have. the first time i did my fourth and fifth steps (5 is to tell someone and god everything you wrote down on step 4, which is exactly as scary and exhilarating as it sounds), i covered every shameful, wrong or bad thing i had ever done, to the best of my memory, to that point. i think i talked about this here years ago. that was the first and last time i did a fourth and fifth step. i’ve had other relationships and hurt different friends since getting sober. there are two or three other categories you make in your fourth step, but honestly i can’t even remember what either of them are other than the sex/relationship one.

and this is the one i was thinking about when my plane was landing.

just because one stops drinking doesn’t stop one from acting badly. but that’s the gift of the sixth and seventh steps, which are the lists that come as a result of the fourth and fifth steps. because, the thing is, the behavior is just stupid shit that all alcoholics – all humans, really – do. the reason why we do these things is because of our character defects, and that’s the thing we want to address in doing all of this. we want to be free from our past and our secrets, but we ultimately want freedom from the things – in my case, lots and lots of fear, mostly – that makes us do the stupid things that we do or have done.

read up on all of that if you want to, what happened to me in seat 1A is that i suddenly was struck by my own victimization, codependency and just plain wrong thinking. i didn’t let myself get stuck on all of this, though, because a.) i wasn’t physically set-up to deal with it in the moment; b.) i’m not on these steps yet, and trust my sponsor to help determine my best course of action, as laid out by the steps that are already in the right order for good reasons; and, c.) i was about to see the cutest nephew and niece in all the land, and just didn’t want anything in the world to take away from me seeing and spending time with them, and it didn’t. once i landed, other than not being able to exit properly from bush international, i was not distracted by one single thing while there. i was fully present the whole time i was there, and loved every moment.

it didn’t suck to look at myself. it was good to finally get that honest. i’m pretty self-aware, and only become moreso. it’s not like i was surprised, but it was always easier to point the finger than to stand in front of the mirror and take a good, long, hard look at myself. at any given point, i have known these things were true of myself without actually owning my part -that is, my actions- as a result of these things -that is, my defects- being true of myself. does that make sense? so i wasn’t thinking all these thoughts for the first time, just took the glasses off so i could see them all more clearly. i was finally taking ownership for my own part in each of these very similar exact same relationships. this isn’t to say that i was the only one to blame or at fault, but i wasn’t considering at all their part, just my own -only my own- this time, for the first time. it was right and good, and will be a good set-up for these steps to take place as they’re supposed to over the next few weeks or months. takes as long as it takes. i’ll be ready and prepared for taking whatever action my sponsor suggests, with god’s help. and i know that i will experience a new freedom and a new happiness as a result.

it feels really good to be back in a recovery program, y’all. i wish everyone could have one, but that would mean you’d have to have a reason to find one, and i wouldn’t wish that part on anyone.

there was one relationship i’ve been talking about it in therapy this summer as i’ve finally thawed out from that thing that happened and then unhappened. in fact, i don’t mind telling you…but kind of i do mind, and this might be another one of those posts that i post and then hide because i’m not ready to share it yet…i’m doing a therapy intensive tomorrow called EMDR. have you heard of it? i can’t even tell you what it is, to be honest with you. i’m just doing what i’m told and going with it.

i just let out a big sigh.

that’s why all of this. i knew it at the beginning of this post, but needed to get it all out in order to get here. to actually know, or to see if anything else came up as i peel away the layers of my anxiety onion. the egg salad sandwich, and the nerves today, and the two meetings, and the other store, not mine…as angsty as i am, i guess it’s also a signal that this is a really good thing i’m going to do for myself. i don’t really even know what EMDR is, but i’ve had enough inner healing intensives to trust my therapist that this will be, hopefully, a final step toward freedom from the trauma of that thing that happened and then unhappened, but for the grace of god. it’s why i was on edge today, because i know tomorrow will be great and hard. i know god will use it to make me more free, but i will have to go back to that place and i am terrified now to relive it. i know i will be safe tomorrow when all of this goes down, and it’s probably a good thing for me to recognize that this is all what i’m feeling right now, but i will likely be on edge until i get there tomorrow afternoon.

and i sense the spirit saying, “beloved, it’s okay. i love you. you are safe. i was with you then, i am with you now, and i will carry you through this tomorrow.”

last wednesday morning, i dropped my mom off at the airport and then went about my regular wednesday, which has been my longest day this summer. i see my wellness coach right after work, who then teaches the yoga class i asked him to start, and then head to therapy. had i not taken my mom to the airport, i would have started my day with my morning meeting. (my meetings were my mom’s favorite part of her visit, by the way.) there really wasn’t much to unpack with my therapist from my mom’s visit. we really had a special time, which i know is in large part due to the gifts of recovery and only by the grace of god, which is only to say i can’t do anything at all on my own without his help or surrendering to my need of him and i’m tired of trying to do it all on my own.

so i didn’t have much to share with her, not really. but because i’m only as sick as my secrets and in the interest of full disclosure, i told her how when it came close to my mom coming, i went out and bought living room furniture on credit because at the time i didn’t have two nickels to rub together. since i moved into my very cute apartment last summer, i had been babysitting some friends’ couches, and the arrangement was that they would get their couches back when they got married, which was earlier this summer. i was fine to live without living room furniture for a while, but wanted my mom to, you know, have a place to sit while i was laid up in the bed after my procedure, which i was for not much time at all.

so i bought couches.

on credit.

ugh.

anyway.

they are huge, too huge, and 100% leather and very nice and comfortable and red. when i saw them at first, i loved them but left the store thinking i had no business being in there and move on, sister.

later i thought to myself, “next time, just pretend like the building is on fire and just RUN”.

so i did, i moved on.

and then i went back.

and i got a deal that really wasn’t a deal for me, though i’m sure it would have been a deal for someone. the best deal i could have made would have been to JUST SAY NO.

in fact, at the time, i wasn’t sure if it was nerves or god who said, “don’t do it”. i heard it, but i chalked it up to nerves and did it, anyway.

this happened ten days or so before my mom came. it is reasonable that i would need and it is fine that i would have furniture, i just didn’t have any business buying any at the time.

because when my mom came and we went antiquing the day after my procedure, we both immediately flipped out over an english antique love-seat that was just meant to be mine, and at an affordable price.

we went back about 3 other times after that to look at it, but because i had this ginormous, beautiful, new set in my living room, we couldn’t justify buying it.

finally, the last time we went to look at it, before we got there, i said out loud to god and my mom, “lord, i’m sorry. i repent. i messed up. i know you’re not mad at me, but i know i heard you tell me not to buy that ginormous furniture, and i did it anyway and i’m sorry, lord. pleeeeaaaase have mercyyyyy on meeeee.” and i heard the father’s laughter in my heart, saying, “beloved, i’m not mad at you, and i’m going to sell that furniture for you. it just complicated things that you didn’t wait, but i’m going to take care of it for you. i knew that this was the piece i wanted you to have all along. if you had waited just two weeks, we wouldn’t be in this situation. but, don’t worry. i’ve got it covered.” and i know that he does. in fact, when we went back in there, we made a layaway arrangement because i know i’ll sell this ginormous red furniture at some point.

and you know what else? we became friends, of course, with the owner of the shop and in one split second when i turned my head, i thought, “i wonder if she needs help in here…” and as soon as i turned around, she said, “would you want to come help me in here?”

but here’s the gift of the situation, and what my therapist made sure i knew when i was telling it to her. because i’m keeping myself right-sized these days, and living from a place of worthiness, i didn’t beat myself up over the couch-thing, and haven’t. it’s a mistake that a lot of people make, and it’s not a big deal that i made it, too. i know god is going to help me take care of it, both in selling these gigantic couches and paying for them until i do. i know he’s not mad at me. he’s not thinking, “ugh! you doofus!” he’s delighting in me, even in this.

my therapist seemed to think this was a really big deal that these are my thoughts on the whole matter.

in fact, it is.

i know that it is.

i didn’t shame myself, or even guilt myself. it’s not something i have to keep secret. it’s just something that happened, and it’s just not a big deal. of course there are consequences because there always are, but it’s not because god is punishing me. it’s just because that’s the way that it is.

and that thing that happened and then unhappened?

it’s also something that just happened, and it’s not a big deal. yes, i’m still walking toward freedom from it, and pursuing further healing, and i do have to continue to be patient with myself. the goal, though, is that i would no longer continue repeating the same relationship mistakes again and again because GOOD GOD. but not because of them anymore, but because of me. i’m the common denominator in each of those relationships. the other goal? that i can forgive myself, accept all of my human-ness, let myself off the hook, take care of my business, and then move on.

in looking at who i was in each of those relationships, and in victimizing myself, i painted an unfair picture of each of them in my heart and mind. (by the way, in the 7 years and 8 months and some weeks and some days that i’ve been sober, i’ve had only a handful of relationships. i am speaking specifically of these in this post. these steps, however, also cover friendships or even acquaintances in which i allowed my disease, which is dominated entirely by fear, get in the way of how well i treated people.) it especially breaks my heart that i would paint them unfairly publicly because i was unwilling to fully admit my own wrongs. some, yes. a little bit, maybe. but not all, not fully. (because it has been said of me over and over and over again that i over-apologize for myself way too much, i again want to reiterate that i do not mean to suggest that they didn’t have a part, it’s just not my job to point it out and i’m sorry i did that. i’m sorry, too, that in pointing out their part i absolved myself from fully examining my own.) these guys were – are – just human beings, too. there was nothing wrong with them, or even me. we both, for the time i dated each of them, were just trying to figure it out together and do right by each other and it just didn’t work out because sometimes it just doesn’t work out. and that’s what happens and it’s not a big deal. not every boyfriend is meant to be the one, and everyone until the one is going to become an ex sooner or later. for the first time, i have more compassion on them and on me and i’m sorry i wasn’t working my program in a healthier way or that i didn’t hold them up better in the light of god, as his children. i made them look bad by presenting my pain while i was pretending to no longer be bitter. i know better than to build resentments or create a case for myself. while i’m fully owning my part in my notebook and in my crooked little perfect heart, i wouldn’t be protecting myself to share any of that here. but when the time comes, when my sponsor and i get to those steps, i will be ready and i will so happily and willingly reach out to make whatever amends are mine to make.

egg salad, big red couches, therapy…all of it goes together somehow.

gotta run. i’m chairing my meeting in the morning and need to go to bed.

xo

bona.

So here’s a funny thing:

I came to my coffee shop tonight -one of them, anyway- to finish an assignment. I am weeks behind in my one class -just one- I am taking this summer, online, and I also have a big research paper to pull together for this class by semester’s end, in just a few short weeks now. Somehow – I don’t know how, but for the grace of God – but somehow, I will manage to finish. Strong? Eh. I just want to finish and not get in my own way of doing so.

My Mom was here for a week, and on the day she left my sister and I found a ticket for me to come down there, the only state lower than mine, to visit for the weekend and I leave tomorrow night.

Weeks behind. I’ve been weeks behind since the class started. Always, I am behind. Because I am a perfectionist. I am learning, though, and letting go and learning to let go. I am becoming kinder, gentler, nicer to myself and the best I can do is the best I can do and I do pretty good work in my own opinion with no reason to doubt they think so, too. “They”, being my those with letters already after the name, letters they hard-earned, too.

Tonight over Chinese food, which we of course made certain would be gluten and soy free and I treated because of the one-armed man, she said, “You know what my perfectionism got me? A B.” And it’s true. That is exactly, laughably, what my perfectionism yields, too.

I am not lazy; I believe in doing hard work for good grades and earning the grade, whatever it is, I deserve. Please do not hand over an “A”, I will squirm. And I want to prove my aptitude by committing to all the reading, so much reading, every bit the reading, OH MY GOSH ALL THE READING…and I love all the work and the reading. It makes me feel and come alive, even as it teases and taunts and daunts me that it must be done, I’m the only one who can do my own work…but God just says in my knower – that is, my heart now, because that’s the only knower I know – “I love you. Do your best. Thank you for your faithfulness. Also, don’t miss the rest of all of this life I have for you. And you can do it, you really can, because I gave you the brains and all you need to do this thing I’ve asked you to do, even though you don’t believe me that it’s true.” I procrastinate because I want perfection, even though I really do know better. Y’all, I promise I know better. Really, I know better.

And so then I end up in my coffee shop -one of them, anyway- on the night before I leave for a long weekend to head down to the only state south-er than mine here in the middle of the country (that is, the U.S., I am not so ethnocentric) – to finish a three-week old assignment…I work full-time, at the place where I am in also in school part-time, and I am older now and have a bedtime…There is so much grace, always there is grace and I do not abuse or take it for granted, but I sure am grateful to receive it…They all get it and they know…

And being the good procrastinator that I am, I check 5mf to keep from finishing and I get sad and grateful at her words there and I lift up silent praise outside at my coffee shop where this week I must also finish, not my own era but wrap up in my own words an era of Church History which, for the sake of my five minutes, I will not search for which one now.

Simply, I must finish.

Because, yes, I have to.

Also, I get to.

5-minute-friday-1

Lisa-Jo, You are amazing and 5mf was and is a gift and it’s a legacy you berthed from bare bones. You gave life to all of us for all of these Fridays and whether I participated or not, I am grateful for the community you grew there. Thanks for introducing all of your friends to each other and inviting us to your block party each week. We here are, I am, grateful. xo

 

 

steeplechase.

I’m a little bit anxious today. I’ve been a little bit anxious for a few days, actually, in anticipation of this day. My Mom is coming to see me today. Just my Mom, just me. She’ll be here for a week. The last time I had her all to myself was when she rode out to the middle of the country with me and dropped me off about 19 months ago. Both my sisters have kids, everyone is somewhere on the east coast. It’s just easier for me to go home than for anyone to come out here. So, that my Mom is coming out here for a week just to be with me is…everything. In this moment it’s a whole lot of overwhelming tears, actually. If my Student Worker were to turn around right now, we would have an awkward moment, to be sure.

My Mom has been tracking with me in my Summer of Self-Care. She’s who said, “Come on, let’s go,” because something needed to be done and so she took me to her quacky-doctor. I love homeopathic-y, naturopathic-y people. They are -we are- so weird and wonderful. We are all these mystical, created by God beings. As such, our dirt and spit-made bodies know what they need and these wise healers know the language they speak. Growing up, I saw a homeopathic chiropractor for my allergies and, well, for everything. It was normal and nothing at all questionable, except to my friends who didn’t go to one and then it just sounded like cooky witchcraft. I suppose this might be true in the case of some alternative healers, but this hasn’t been the case in my own experience. In fact, my own version of spirituality has always been respected and incorporated in my natural healing practices because integrated healing and self-care really is a Total Body Experience. So I am thankful to my Mom for taking me to her new guy (since we don’t live in our hometown anymore), and I’m thankful to God for using that guy to tell me my body was a “crap-bag” at the time, how it got that way and what to do about it now.

The reason my Mom is coming out here is because I’m having a little procedure done on Friday. Not a big deal, an out-patient thing. It is like the unhealthy version of me, the one who sometimes lives in scarcity and unworthiness, to make an even lesser deal over this so I wouldn’t be any trouble for anyone. But, truth? I need my Mom to be here.

Awkward moment of tears again…please no one walk past my window right now…

I want my Mom to be here. When I told her I had set it up, I didn’t ask her to come. It turns out I didn’t have to. She’s had a very  full summer with my sisters and their kids, and July is a packed month for summertime in the South. Plus, tickets are freaking expensive, and I would have understood if it just couldn’t have worked out. I wouldn’t have asked.

Facilities guys just walked in. Crap.

They pretended like they didn’t notice I was wiping my nose with a Kleenex when they came to replace our coffee station. Or maybe I just overcompensated. Close call.

Who am I kidding. I cry, y’all. Not tons, but my tears aren’t really that locked up. It’s just that sometimes I cry over real things, and then sometimes I cry over…real-er…things. I live and work and breathe and have my being in an environment where if the Spirit moves, then I can’t not cry and it’s okay and even encouraged, even though I have to remain, you know…semi-professional. Actually, though, my tears are not unique to my environment, I just cry sometimes is all. My tears know no geographical bounds.

So I didn’t ask but I was secretly pleading with my Mom to come out here. I didn’t ask her not because I didn’t think she would come but, like I said, just because I didn’t want to trouble her. And I didn’t want to set myself up to be rejected, so I just didn’t ask. My Mom. Who never seems to be troubled by me at all. In fact, seems less and less troubled by anything or anyone, and only becomes more and more engaged in my life without really even trying because that’s the way of a good Southern Mama. She is just precious and awesome.

Isn’t that strange? I know it’s not right-thinking, and I know for some people to spend time with their parents really is a devastating or abusive thing and I do not mean to compare nor diminish either of our experiences. If that has been your experience, please know my heart breaks for your broken heart. I am so sorry and I am holding space now for you in mine. I really am. For the little girl who grew up in my bedroom on the back side of the big red barn-house, the one who felt like she was too much and not enough, the one who grew up to be an ego-maniac with a self-esteem problem and is becoming right-sized in both her head and her heart all over again, this is the way she sometimes still thinks. She – I – started thinking this way all over again when that thing that happened happened and then un-happened, but for the Grace of God.

Do you know what my Mom did for me then? Nothing. That is, she listened and allowed and supported without encouraging the situation. She and one of my six aunts even found a vintage dress for me when they weren’t looking. If she worried, she did not show it. I think mostly she just trusted because she knew it was she all could do. She knew she had to wait it out, and allow into being what was never meant to be, so that I would know there was space for me when it all came undone. And there was. She stood still in her own Spirit, not willing to lose her sweet and wild and stubborn-as-hell daughter again but not willing to fight except in the Spirit for her, and then to trust the Great Spirit with her.

It seems all our best fighting -mine, anyway, and that of this woman- is done standing still in strength and in peace and in freedom, holding onto Love. She is probably my greatest teacher of this even now.

This is what she did when I was drinking, too. On the way to my bottom, after my last very rowdy birthday party…well, we had a moment, she and I. A very quiet moment shared in the dark that was light that I will always remember and will ever be a step on my way down so I could come back up. Gosh, she is so brave and so strong and present. She has always been a great Mom and an incredible woman. But as we have all gotten older and each set off on our own pathway to freedom from our family disease, she became even more of the Mom she always wanted to be. That’s the Mom I have now. And she’s awesome.

And that’s who is coming to see me today. I didn’t ask and I didn’t have to, though in a place of worthiness and okay-ness I told her it would mean a lot to me if she could but I would understand if she couldn’t. But she and my stepdad just sort of got on it because I guess that’s what parents do for their children if they can. I don’t know why it’s surprised me, though. Perhaps because I’ve always lived within driving distance of my family until I got out here. They’ve done it for my sisters, why would I worry or doubt they would do it for me? So weird, but that’s the false belief of a girl who is just understanding she is worthy. And so now I get her all to myself for a whole week. Because I’m a daughter -a very classic Middle Child of Three Girls, actually- who is worthy of a Mom who loves her daughter who loves her mother, and she does and I do very much. I am very much my 36-almost-37 year old self in this moment. And I am also very much my 6-almost-7 and 16-almost-17 year old self, too. Isn’t that always how it is between daughters and mothers?

We’ll keep it simple, no extravagant plans. I have some loose ideas. She is spontaneous and fun and we love to do a lot of the same things. But usually the best plans I make with my Mom are the ones we don’t make at all. I look forward to showing her my world out here in the middle of the country, introducing her to my new people here, and her to them. I want them to know each other, so they can know who gave and gives me life and she can know who is my oxygen out here. Mostly, though, I’m just looking forward to being with her sans interruption or competition.

In my Summer of Self-Care, I am learning all over again that it’s okay for me to state what I need and say what I want just because I can. In fact, I must. It’s a gift, this. And then to stand still in my own Spirit and receive from my Father those very things, because I am worthy just because I am His Daughter. Also a gift. I am also learning that people aren’t my Promise. God is both the Promise and the Promise-Keeper. He alone makes them, and He alone keeps them. He is my Hope, and He is my Assurance of all things. However, somehow this “Hope and Assurance” used to look an awful lot like believing I was meant to settle for leftovers. “Poor in Spirit” was just plain poverty of soul. Scarcity. Every man for himself. Live or die trying. And this is just not God’s way. Love’s way.

These are all Truths I once knew. Shared them here, to be sure, because even if I may not have believed any of this to be true for me, I really did know it was all true for you. Oh, the vanity. But here I am now learning all that’s True -or a lot, anyway- anew, all over again. And this time I’m learning that what’s True of you is all True for me, too. There is plenty of Plenty to go around for all, and no one has to go without. But first, to trust Love.

Since laying down my armor and freeing up my arms, I have been in greater position to receive Love’s gifts.

And today, this day, is one of Love’s gifts.

xo

 

 

 

recovery tears.

i wrote a post on saturday about what i had just experienced that morning in a.a.

and i expressed that i was conflicted over talking about a.a. anymore for the sake of the group, but after talking this morning with some of my friends after our meeting, i realize what i’m conflicted over right now is telling you about MY a.a. in real time, right now.

and then i hid the post this morning.

when i first started telling you about my road of recovery, i was 5 years sober. i noticed this morning that someone had clicked on the first post i wrote in regards to this journey, which was actually an email i had sent to my friends when i first got sober five years earlier. at the time i posted, however, i wasn’t actually working my program. (this wasn’t a secret then.) i was sober, but not involved with a recovery group.

and now i am.

and that’s what i’m uncomfortable talking about with everyone now. i feel okay sharing with you what i learn, i realize i haven’t violated any laws or rules or suggestions for the sake of the group. that was my initial concern, that i was breaking a rule in sharing my story with you. i wasn’t. i’m not.

but my friends today reminded me that this is such a personal journey, and i’m learning some things brand new and some things i’m learning are brand new all over again. and i remember how i got there and what the rooms did for me, and it’s just so personal and such a private journey and this is what makes me uncomfortable about sharing anything here for now. because it’s all too fresh and too raw and i don’t have any business exposing myself as i lay bleeding and dying right now.

that sounds so dramatic.

allow me to stay right-sized.

today my heart cracked open in my meeting and i felt all of humanity the way i did when i first got there. a dam broke open and i remembered. everything, i remembered. i don’t mean i remembered anything, specifically. i just…remembered…everything. life. people. humans. feeling things. feeling all the things.

and it felt like day 16 all over again when i just cried for the sake of crying, for the sake of feeling all of my feelings. it felt like my first sober cry all over again.

and i will probably over-share here again and wish that i hadn’t and then go back and make posts private as soon as i publish them, or after i think about it for a day or two, wondering what it is that made me decide to say it all in the first place. everything i said was true, nothing offensive. it was all just…too much, too soon. and i don’t need to do that for myself. you all know i’m an open book, i’m glad to share with people one-on-one what i’m experiencing if it seems like it might help them on the road of their own experience.

for today, though, i need to hold my sobriety sacred again. i need to remember and feel everything and for my heart to keep breaking open for humanity and for the guy sitting next to me all over again. i didn’t know that had forgotten what that feels like. i haven’t felt empathy or compassion or even grace in that way in a really long time, in spite of myself. i remember having those feelings when i first came into the rooms, and i’m having them all over again. it was in the rooms i exhaled and then learned how to inhale. it was in the rooms i learned how to actually feel; rather, that it was okay to have all my feelings. because, the truth is, i have a lot of feelings. i have always been tender-hearted, and sensitive. but at some point i received the message that it wasn’t okay, that i couldn’t talk about my feelings, that they were too big or not enough or too much and it just wasn’t okay and so i would run upstairs and hide in my room to protect everyone else from all my feelings, and myself from their rejection as a result.

and i know i don’t have to do that anymore.

but it’s been a long time since i’ve felt real feelings, and so today was a gift to me.

so i came here to tell you that i need to keep walking down my recovery road and i’m going to be less chatty about it here until i get more time under my belt. to reiterate for the curious or concerned, i have not had one single drop of alcohol in my system since november 5, 2006, much to my chagrin on some days and all evidence to the contrary. but i’m not on a crusade to save all the drunks, or all the christians, or all the anyone. right now, i’m just saving myself. rather, god is saving me from myself all over again.

we all know that i will still include things i’m learning here, but i need to be clear with myself about my own boundaries and protect the gift that god has given me to just learn how to be me all over again, at this stage in my life, as a grown-up kid who wants to do right things and feel all her feelings and cry real tears about real things and remember how to be loving and compassionate and kind all over again, one day at a time.

i just wrote a post about not writing posts about all of this.

i don’t have any more words.

just an eye roll at myself.

i love you, self. a lot.

xo

hey, henry.

belong.

i hear this word and i think of something i heard recently:

we all want to know we belong, even if we don’t fit in.

i think first of family, how different but same we all are, each of us bringing our own same but different personalities. i have never not been a “tyson girl”, even now that each of us are pushing 40. but when you know each of us, really know each of us, we each are gifted so different. each of us loves so uniquely, and we all laugh loudly.

and then i think of the girls who i spent every night of my college career with on stage, we called ourselves the favorites because we were and we weren’t. we were good, clean fun and we were trouble, too. and some days we were just troubled. and he loved and yelled at us because he believed and we belonged to him and to each other. we wouldn’t have chosen each other had we not chosen to show up for each other on that stage.

i think of friends at home, those with whom i have history long. people who, on a moment’s notice, i can call and talk to and neither time nor distance matter, because we belong to each other. and we all bring our special qualities to the table, and we celebrate one another for them. my best friend who now i never see or talk to for no real good reason at all, but we show up for each other. she is the reason i ever became funny, if ever i am funny.

when my dad died, and we were all three staying with another childhood friend, and we were getting coffee on our cute main street in our little big town and a friend from high school was heading back to his own dad’s flower shop. he stopped, and held my hand and looked me in the eye without filter, and said, “we’re going to take care of you today.” i had never til then not had a dad.

and now it makes me cry. you made me cry, boy i had a crush on 20 years ago.

and this was now almost five years ago, it was halloween day, exactly three years from the day i knew that this day would soon come if changes weren’t soon made and they weren’t and it did. none of us lived in our hometown anymore, but we all want to again. at some point, we might. everyone i know who is from there, it is our very favorite place, especially that piano man who didn’t know a stranger and had not one enemy other than himself and the devil. that man i love, the only one who has ever loved me the very best he could, all things considered.

and the next year in our new town when we moved from our hometown, still together because we belong to each other, we bumped into a man we would learn worked for the funeral home and we spoke of how kind and wonderful and gracious the owner was to us, mr. turnage who first buried my grandma and then my granddad the same year, and then my dad several years after that.

and we asked this stranger-friend there in the starbucks at the barnes & noble, my niece was already learning how to knit in his wife’s lap. she was 3 at the time, maybe 4 by then…we asked him about ghost stories or funny requests.

and not knowing us or the story, just that we had a dad and grandparents he helped us lower to the earth to become the earth but not yet our names, he said, “well, there was this one time not too long ago a family wanted to ride their dad down franklin street one last time, and it was halloween and there was a basketball game, too…”

yessir, we know that family, and thank you for that and for telling us our story because it’s now it belongs to you, too.

the world is kind and gracious and it is good and as times get harder, people are getting softer and more loving and kinder and better. and god is getting bigger and the world is getting smaller.

and we may not fit in, but we really do belong to each other.

xo

5-minute-friday-1it’s been a while since I’ve done a 5mf.

glad i did.

click that link there or the button beside, and you can belong there, too. xo

beating waves.

i feel a stirring in my spirit, new words are on their way as i process what god is doing in my heart through all of my current life teachers…getting over and working through and becoming more…

for now, for today…sometimes i write emails to my niece for her to read when she’s older. i have another niece and nephew and one day i will write letters to them, too. today, i offer my most recent one for her to you because i think parts of it might apply.

child,

i came home to be with you and the cousins back in may, and i was really depressed. my body had shut down after a really hard year, entirely. (it has been really hard for me to be away from you, my love.) i tried not to show this to you, but by the time you read this it will be okay for you to know it. you give and gave me so much life, just by you being you. i hope i had enough sense about me than to put pressure on you for more than this, or for anything at all.

one day toward the end of my trip, you invited me to play in the ocean with you. i wanted to be everything you needed me to be in that moment, but my soul was too tired and i couldn’t say “yes”. so i sat on the safe beach instead, watching you play all by yourself in the wild ocean. forgive me for not being there with you, but know that i was, little girl. i’m really sorry i missed that moment with you, but you didn’t seem to mind. you just laughed and played. i was -and have always been- in awe of how fearless you are. wave after wave, you kept getting back up. you would not be taken down. it was comical and awesome. it was comical because it was awesome. i couldn’t take my eyes off of you, mostly because i was afraid of you being out there by yourself, but you did it. you beat those waves, girl. one by one, you won over each of them just by getting back up. (y’all, please don’t judge me for leaving my child out in the ocean. i had my eye on her THE ENTIRE TIME.)

you are ferocious and brave and tenacious and courageous. but know you don’t always have to be. rather, brave doesn’t always have to look like a stiff-lip or being sassy or cute or tough. sometimes brave is being vulnerable, honest, open, even if -especially if- it’s hard. sometimes being brave is just speaking your truth; sometimes boldly, other times softly. being brave, really…is just trusting god. i think that’s all it really means, actually.

one thing i am learning now, a little bit late, is that i am worthy of a life that is good. i believed most of my life that i was never enough – not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough, cute enough, that i didn’t love god enough and that he couldn’t love me enough. in fact, i believed i was unlovable.

i do not see this in you, not at all. you have a confidence in you, child, that i wish had been offered to me when i was a little girl. i think it might have been offered, actually, but i did not know how to receive it or maybe it was taken away or i gave it away without knowing i ever had any.

i hope you are never assigned any responsibility other than just being a child while you are still a child. you just get to be a kid for many more years. don’t rush it. we all want this for you. i hope you will forgive us all if we ever ask more from you than this, which we might do without realizing it. but it’s each of our earnest desire that you just get to be a kid, and ENJOY being a little girl. we celebrate this in you, all of your little girl-ness.

forgive easily, child. know that we all want the best for you, and will do and are doing everything for you to have this, and to give you this. we will mess up. you will understand and appreciate later that we are all just grown-up kids, learning to get along and how to use the tools we’ve been given. some of our tools are broken, sometimes we don’t know how to use them.

in any case, should you ever receive this message in any way from anyone, i want you to know a few things: often people get jealous of things about us that other people love. things in us that god made, ways that we are wired, that are entirely awesome. sometimes people don’t know what to do with creative, big personalities like yours and mine. it’s okay. we can let them off the hook. we can love them, but we don’t have to believe them when they try to make us feel bad for just being who we are. in fact, i’ve learned to have compassion on them and, when i have the capacity, to invite them out to play. if they can’t come, sometimes we have to go in to find them. they just need a little help. other times, though, for our own health and sanity and well-being, we have to let them stay inside. remember they are still children of god, and we are not better. do not let these people keep you from enjoying your great and awesome life.

and you are, my girl. you are AWESOME.

something else, in case i forget to tell you: you aren’t responsible for saving the whole world, and a lot of people in the world need saving. a lot of people in the world who need saving just choose not to be saved. just love. that’s all god wants us to do. but love yourself first. that’s what i’m learning now, at almost 37. i’m finally learning this, that god really, really loves me and i am worth taking care of myself.

it is not your business what other people think of you. you are responsible for being YOU, perfectly. be exactly who god has created YOU to be, beautiful girl. be kind, compassionate, loving, gentle, thoughtful and fun – all the things you already are. i’m so excited for you to discover even moreso who you are, and see where all of your gifts and talents take you. i hope you will pursue life with gusto, just as you are doing now. don’t hide. don’t give yourself away too freely, either. but do be free. life will teach you what this means.

but what i really want to say, beautiful girl, in case you ever come to the place that you believe otherwise, and my prayer is that you don’t, that you will know that you are WORTHY of a life that is GOOD. as a child of god, as a human being, GOD LOVES YOU. just as you are. you don’t have to work at being you. you don’t have to strive to prove yourself worthy of approval. psalm 23 says, “the lord is my shepherd, i shall not want. he leads me beside still waters…” read the whole thing, beloved. that’s the life we’re meant for, one of rest and without worry. he will give you EVERYTHING you need. you don’t have to fight for a seat at the table, nor do you have to settle for scraps underneath. there is a seat for you already there that no one else can fill, and there is plenty of life for you to have at this table. the good kind of life. god  loves you, you are his child and he is your father. i prayed for you this morning that you would know jesus deeply at a young age, even now. mama loved and knew jesus in a really deep way when she was your age.

don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, or state what you want. you are worth this.

you are DEEPLY and FULLY and COMPLETELY loved, and you are fully and wholeheartedly loveable. one of my life teacher’s, karen, calls it “living from your spirit”. do this, sweet girl. you don’t have to seek outside attention or approval of any person. live from the inside out. the world needs you. you are so, so beautiful. you make valuable contributions to the world around you.

in any case, you are all of these, and you are worth all of this.

i love you and those other little people more than anything.

kk

 

why the why.

Y’all, I’m going to ask for your forgiveness in advance. I have been shooting out responses to emails, and writing my group of Warriors…I’m not reading back over my blog-posts before posting another one to see if I’m repeating myself, which probably I should because probably I am. I’m just trying to write without thinking too hard, but I feel like I keep saying a lot of the same things. In fact, I think I already apologized once for sounding redundant. In the coming days, I’m going to talk more specifically about things I’m learning about health and God and Life. I’m going to introduce this at the end of this post; for now, thanks for following the journey.

When I got sober in 2006, I asked the Lord to use all of it. All of my story, for His Glory. (Think there’s an IHOP song out now with these lyrics…) I promised Him He could do that, asking Him that not one shred of any poor choice I’ve made – or good choices, for that matter – be in vain. Every mistake I have made and right thing I’ve done, every time I have thought or acted like an alcoholic even when I wasn’t drinking, every lesson I have learned, even when –especially when- it’s one I’ve learned over and over and over again. (DEAR GOD, PLEASE DON’T LET THOSE HAVE BEEN FOR NAUGHT.) Every time I’ve gone around my elbow to get to my thumb, let there be no evidence of a life lived dishonestly or without integrity of a broken girl who just loves Jesus.

Everything God has done in my life, shown me or taught me or I’ve sensed Him speaking, I want ALL OF IT to point to Jesus. On days I have doubted or struggled or just didn’t believe, on days I feel like a crazy person or have sat still in my depression, I don’t want any part of it to be wasted. For every time I have laughed too hard or talked too loud or cried real tears, for all the moments that have been shared in sacred spaces in real time that just cannot be re-captured but hearts know, I am just. so. thankful. I paid the price to understand and receive His Grace for my life, and I will not count the cost.* I can’t. All I can do is offer myself up in return as a minister of Grace and Love, that my story would be heard within the context of others’ own life experiences.

*I know there is not one thing I did to earn or receive it and the only reason there is Grace at all is because the Cross of Christ. Nothing at all to do with me or you, EVERYTHING to do with Him.

This is why I share. This is why I tell my stories. It’s not for me. One day at a time, it’s for me. I’m learning not to over-share, that it’s a codependent mechanism. I’m a scapegoat in some circles because it’s easy to point to the girl who makes everyone uncomfortable because she’s so comfortable talking about things that some others would rather keep secret. In AA, we say, “You’re only as sick as your secrets”, and I don’t want to be sick. Mind you, I have a lot more discretion and I have a list of guidelines to which I try to adhere before I tell a story, especially when it comes to including other characters in the romedy that is my life. But sometimes when I’m asking myself, “Am I saying too much?” I usually err on the side of saying it all, anyway. However inappropriate or just too much it is, I have to think it might be the very thing that God uses to point someone to Jesus. Or for those who don’t believe, that they would experience humanity on a level that communicates, “You’re normal and not alone.” I don’t believe in lying bleeding and dying for all to see with all my guts hanging out. If I’m not emotionally attached to an experience, and I try not to share here until I get to that point, then use it, God.

Therapy and AA teach me to speak in “I” language, not “you” language. I can only tell my story, not yours. It makes me uncomfortable sometimes because I feel like I’m just exposing myself, even though I know I’m not the only one going through some of the things I’ve experienced. Also, I feel like it sounds like I’m super into myself, and I’m just not. I promise. Rather, maybe I have been especially over the last year or two, but only because I lived from this place of complete and utter striving, trying to keep my head above water and not from a place of trust. While certainly I was living on the side of pride, it was from a place of fear and scarcity, not ego and arrogance. It was the kind of pride that others would ask me, “Are you okay?” and I would cry and then they would hug and hold and pray for me, instead of judging my bad attitude. I’m sure –I know- there were some of those, too, and I hate that my hurt places might have caused hurt places in someone else. On the other hand, to keep it right-sized, I’m really not that powerful and it’s not my business what other people think of me and everyone has a bad day. But the ones who know and love me knew before I did that I just haven’t been myself in the last few years (not on a regular basis, anyway) those are the ones who have checked on me without my asking. I’m learning to breathe again, and to be fully present. Being me isn’t hard work when I’m living from the inside out, from my spirit, instead of working so hard to please and perfect and prove myself to the world.

The Dean of my seminary who is also my Boss’ Boss and therefore my Boss, too, sat down in my office one day a few months ago. Like a good and kind father, he just wanted to check in with me, full of so much compassion and encouragement. He didn’t say so, but I knew he could tell. I saw him just a moment ago, actually, and was able to tell him about my health-stuff, and how God is using it. Gosh, I love that man.

Depression and scarcity were –are- a trap. I would listen to people out of Christian duty and because it’s part of my job -not to mention, it’s a lot who I am- but because there was such a deficit of my soul, I just wasn’t a very good listener. I didn’t mean to be selfish, but I realize on this side I was so concerned with what I needed to do next or later or just, you know, simply breathing, that I was a little bit distracted from the Love of My Life, who are People. Well, Jesus first. Then people. Actually, Jesus first, then me now, and then people.

When I sat down in my first AA meeting of the summer and opened up my Big Book, I saw a note I had written to myself when I first got sober: Self-care is not selfish. Well. There you go. Intellectually I knew this. I remember learning it when I went to family rehab when my dad went to Hazelden. But there are a couple of things that are dropping deep these days, and this is one of them. The others I will share in coming days.

My Summer of Self-Care is making me more self-aware and less self-absorbed. I reach out more now. I call people. I answer phone calls. I ask how my friends are doing because I genuinely want to know how my friends are doing. I want to see people again because I have more space to hold for them. I’m doing a lot of things, but they’re all good-for-me things. I don’t actually feel busy or tired and nothing feels like work right now. I’m making an investment, and as a result my time is maximized better. I really feel like I have more free time, even though I’m not sure I actually do.

My schedule isn’t going to change in the fall. It will be busier because the students will return, but the changes I am making now I know will determine my longevity. I want to be around for a long time, so I want to make healthy, positive choices now. I’m making lifestyle changes that I don’t plan to abandon. They feel good and are good for me.

I didn’t mean to start anything with my Summer of Self-Care. And, actually maybe I didn’t. Maybe it’s more God on the move than me falling apart, and isn’t that usually the case? I ran into my friends the Pogue’s yesterday and told them about all of this. They said they know a lot of people whom the Lord has called into a season like this, so apparently it’s a thing. Several of my friends (and by “several”, I mean, like, “two”) have said they are now inspired to start their own season of self-care, which means I AM NOT ALONE HALLELUJAH. It also means that we get to share with each other what we are learning. It appears as though I got started a few days in advance, so I’ve been answering some questions the way my Butterknife has been answering mine. I’m mainly just reading a lot and learning all of it as I go. I am fully committed, completely invested into learning all I can. Not in a religious or addictive way, but because it matters. Because I matter. And you matter.

One thing that has been really huge for me has been to accept that I am worth the investment. I am worthy of taking care of myself. I’m worthy because I’m a child of God and, in plain terms, I’m worthy because I’m a human being. (I really apologize, y’all, I don’t remember if I said that in an email or here somewhere. I trust someone new might need to hear it, or hear it again.) This is EVERYTHING, this shift of perspective. It completely motivates and drives this ship of how I view myself and what I’m doing to tend to the temple. I’ll share more on this later, because there are some funny stories attached to it. But I can’t forget to say it here, now. Hear me when I say this: HAVING A SENSE OF WORTHINESS IS EVERYTHING. If you are trying to take care of yourself because you think you suck as a person and deserve punishment and so you deprive or push yourself too hard, you will only wear yourself out. This happened to me. I AM WORTHY AND YOU ARE WORTHY OF A LIFE THAT’S GOOD. THERE’S NO OTHER WAY. IT’S THE ONLY WAY OF GOD.

So I thought I would offer you a short list of the steps I have taken. All of them are a priority for me. I have done any combination, if not all, of these things every day now for the last month. In the coming days, I will expound on each of them. What that looks like, I don’t know because they are all integrated. What I learn with my Wellness Coach tremendously impacts what God does through my counseling. What I put in my body determines immediately how my brain is going to function for the next few hours. Waking up and going to AA every morning before work sets the tone for the rest of my entire day. In no particular order, just things I’m doing differently:

Therapy (weekly for now)

Wellness Coaching (also weekly)

Yoga (class once a week at school, then a video twice a week)

Running (2-4, sometimes 6, miles at least 3 days a week)

Gluten & Soy-Free (entirely – WOAH. Can’t wait to share what this has done for me. I still don’t even know completely.)

Working with a Naturopath (just met with her for the first time last week, on behalf of my thyroid/adrenal/body shutting down situation; had bloodwork done this week for anemia and thyroid; she’s starting me on supplements, which will hopefully be waiting for me when I get home)

Saying “Yes” to FUN (this is HUGE.)

Saying “Yes” to Quiet Time (also HUGE.)

Saying, “I’m sorry, this won’t work for me” (or simply, “No”)

Completely RAW diet, or as raw as I can possibly make it

Detox/Cleanse (I have actually been doing a cleansing/detox diet for the last month. This is not a quick or easy or one-step process)

AA (every morning. Reminds me of my first home group in my hometown, and I don’t mean Bible Study. I seriously wish people would go become drunks just so they could go to AA. Everyone needs it. I don’t really wish that. Just kind of I do. More later. So much more later.)

KEEP EVERYTHING SIMPLE. STAY IN THE DAY. LIVE AND LET LIVE. (And every other AA-adage because THEY ALL WORK.) STAY IN GRACE. SPEAK KINDNESS. RELAX.

I’m also listening to my body a lot more. It’s one thing to be tired for not getting enough sleep. In those times, I still work out. But I am actually fatigued A LOT due to my body shutting down, and slowly rebuilding my immune system again. So, I rest when my body says it needs to rest. It didn’t happen overnight that my body fell apart. It can take up to two years to recover from severe adrenal fatigue. TWO YEARS. I’m in this for the long haul, and I’m not looking for a quick fix or a speedy recovery.

I don’t punish myself anymore. People who know they are worthy of wellness don’t have to. There is always enough time, and I always have the resources I need. Believe me, this is all very new to me. Again, I’ve know it all in my brain and I know it is true for other people, but it is all finally becoming real for me, too. The Big Deal about all of this is that I’m more engaged, more fully aware of the people in my life. That’s what I’m created for, moments with my people. I’m available to life as an active participant, partnering with God again, and allowing the day to happen with an open invitation to all who enter.

Unless it’s someone who “I’m sorry, this doesn’t work for me” and then I can kindly and gently draw a boundary, perhaps without even using words except when necessary.

All of this becomes a different ball of wax during week three of a woman’s month, too. A time when perhaps some extra, extra self-care care is necessary. (THANK YOU, Stasi Eldredge for explaining this so well in Becoming Myself.) EVIDENTLY I’M IN WEEK THREE because I’ve already had to take a walk outside this morning. SEE HOW WELL I’M TAKING CARE OF MYSELF?

Also, y’all…seriously. Who has the time anymore? I’ll be 37 on my next birthday. I’m not 22 anymore, or 28, or even 30. 40 is my next milestone. Just trying to keep everything as simple as I can, without entertaining anyone else’s crazy or becoming involved in their drama. People have had to draw boundaries with me at different points in my crazy. I have permission to do the same. I can be loving and kind, listen for a few minutes, help if I am able. But I do not have to – God has not asked and it is really a sin to – martyr myself anymore. My new counselor told me she used to tell rehab clients, “I will not work harder than you.” My job is to take care of my temple. The enemy’s ultimate goal is to take us out. If I’m not taking care of myself, and evidently I wasn’t, then this will happen. I’m not going to let him win, which means I’m going to stop fighting now.

I’ll go into greater detail about what each of these things is teaching me in an (unofficial, nothing fancy or too planned) series. I sent a friend of mine back home (one of the two who is taking this journey now, too) a couple of tips I’ve already learned. This is what I told her:

Remember to be VERY KIND to yourself. Take naps when you need to, or a mental break. I’m realizing, tho, even when I am (enjoying) taking the time to cook right or go to the gym, it’s work but it relaxes and/or energizes me to do other things. But I can love myself enough to stop or take a walk or a break when I need to, even if I don’t “deserve” it. This isn’t about discipline (and, therefore, punishment), but about loving myself better.

Also, one (or two or three, whatever you can handle) thing at a time is fine. Don’t push yourself to make ALL of these changes ALL at once. We are making lifestyle changes, not jumping on a trend. Take the time it takes to read up on and research what you’re doing, or the change you need or want to make next.

One more thing: there are A LOT of things that would be “good for us”, but may still not be right for us or our lifestyle or even necessary changes for us to make. (For example, I can’t drink alcohol, but not everyone is allergic to it. I am gluten intolerant, bordering celiac, but plenty of people can eat a sandwich and not go into a brain fog for days or break out for a whole year  or stay puffy and perpetually bloated.)

Just things I’m learning. You’re doing great! We’re in this together!

xoxoxo

feast or famine.

I think I might be growing up some more.

Some things are starting to come together for the first time again.

By the way, I apologize if my posts are starting to sound redundant. I learn a little bit more each day and what I learned yesterday makes more sense in light of something I learned today. It’s all just real talk, in real time. Hope you don’t mind.

I’ve been making my way through Daring Greatly by Brene Brown over the last few months. I don’t read much for pleasure anymore – that is, I hadn’t been reading much for pleasure since I became a student again because ALL THE READING, for one thing. But the real truth is it seems I have basically hated myself and tried to kill off Every Creative Thing that God has created me to be that didn’t seem to be sufficient for the culture in which I find myself. To tell you the truth, I don’t even know how I learned to live this way out here, but at some point I internalized the notion that I couldn’t do anything other than work and school and being a good Christian and I have been beating myself up, along with anything and everyone who seemed a threat to what I just now pictured as the jail cell I have created for myself.

I don’t have her book in front of me right now, so I’m cheating a little bit to share these quotes with you because I pulled some of these from a website interview. She says,

“The root of the scarcity issue is fear. The questions we are living by—what are we supposed to fear, and who is to blame?—are exhausting for us spiritually, emotionally. Fear consumes an enormous amount of energy in our lives, and to me that’s probably the greatest casualty of the scarcity culture. We are spending so much time and energy being afraid that we are not fully walking into our power and our gifts.”

“Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress. It happens when we’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability) we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.” {This one actually is a quote from the book.}

This has been me for the last couple of years.

By the end of my therapy session last week, it occurred to me that I stopped asking for what I want and stating what I need. I did this because I went back to an old familiar place of shame and feeling unworthy. I have identified that this started happening a few years ago when the experience of a traumatic relationship silenced me. I started believing the harsh words spoken over me, and have lived in a place of fear since then, really. I couldn’t identify this then, or even a few months ago – not this part of it, the fear part – but I’m realizing it now. (Going back to therapy helps, obviously.)

On a certain level, I knew what was being said of/about/to me just wasn’t true. But the enemy used that polarizing situation to pick apart all of my former insecurities through abusive words that were spoken over me again and again and again and again and again.

Times a thousand.

Every day.

Times a thousand.

To be fair, it wasn’t entirely his fault. Not that I deserved the abuse, but I have compassion more than blame for him now. And if I’m being really honest, the signs we were headed for disaster were all there from the beginning, I just chose to ignore them, believing it might change or be different. It’s taken me all this time, just as Karen promised, to reach this place in my forgiveness and healing.

As a result, though, I have been living apologetically the way I used to, knowing surely that everything I ever feared most about myself – that I was unlovable and unworthy of love, that I was only tolerated and a burden, completely worthless to God and man – was true. Those are all way old and familiar messages that prior to that experience, I had worked out and worked through and no longer believed and knew were not Truth. So that they would come back up again obviously meant that I was wrong, that they actually must be true. I came out confused and hurt, angry and afraid, but mostly I was quiet and numb.

And while I have been in the process of thawing out since then, I now realize the result is that I have been living from a place of scarcity. I went back under the table, settling for scraps again, if only I could come to the table at all. I have acted afraid and been mad when I couldn’t have it my way, all because somewhere inside I believed that I could never have it my way either because I’m not good enough or worthy enough. “When’s it going to be my turn, God?” shaking my fist, instead of, “Thank you, God, for just this. This beautiful moment.”

I went back to an old familiar place of servitude instead of servanthood, the difference being a poverty and slave-like mentality instead of living from the inside out. Serving because I can, not because I have to prove myself or I’m otherwise unworthy. Knowing that I’m loved and cared for and provided for instead of being afraid of not having just basic human needs met.

To be honest with you, this is how I describe my experience, but I only just now found the scarcity quote above…I was using the word “scarcity” before I realized that’s what all of this was…it’s all making sense to me now, but am only just now realizing her language for it, even though I’ve been chewing on her words for the last few months. That is to say, I didn’t realize until just this minute that what I’m describing is what she defines as scarcity and that my thing is actually a real thing. (Takes longer for some of us than for others…)

Man, I would be a wonderful case-study for her.

The thing is, if you used to hang out here? Before I went on the LAM? You know I used to live this way. “Live from your spirit, Mary Kathryn,” Karen has reminded me so many times. It’s what Brene Brown calls “Wholeheartedness”. Of this, she says, “There are many tenets of Wholeheartedness, but at its very core is vulnerability and worthiness; facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough.” {Daring Greatly}

I am enough.

That is the last thing Karen said to me at the end of my very first appointment with her, now ten years ago. It’s the heart of my own ministry, along with the message of Grace and Love, One Day at a Time. It’s all coming together now, the how and the when and the why, and I have gained the necessary momentum to move past this place.

“During your 12 years of research, you found people who do feel adequate; you coined the term “wholehearted” for this feeling, a feeling of being enough. How did they arrive at that emotional place? There are two things they shared in common. The first is a sense of worthiness—they engage in the world, with the world, from a place of worthiness. Second, they make choices every day in their life, choices that almost feel subversive in our culture. They are mindful about things like rest and play. They cultivate creativity, they practice self-compassion. They have an understanding of the importance of vulnerability and the perception of vulnerability as courage. They show up in their lives in a very open way that I think scares most of us.” {from the website interview}

This. This is the thing I used to know.

I am knowing it again now, but for the Grace of God. Brown and Karen and Life are my Teachers, and Time is a Healer. God is in no hurry, takes as long as it takes, and Grace will use whatever means necessary to prove His Wild Love.

I’ve been fighting God and everyone all over again for my place at the table, when really I’m just coming back to the place that’s always been mine. It was here the whole time. I just got up from the table, this Table of Abundance where everything I need is right here in front of me. And this time I’m sinking deeper into my seat. That is, I’m sinking even deeper into my own heart, and God is there. I am worthy because I am His Child. Or, in laymen’s terms, I’m worthy just because I’m a Human Being.

When I live in scarcity, I can’t love others because I don’t know how. When I live from my spirit, from a place of wholeheartedness, I can relax into my seat at The Table and enjoy everyone else who is sitting there with me. Not being envious of their seats, just appreciating the person sitting in his or her own seat. I can ask questions and listen and forget about myself, but only because I’m caring for myself better and asking for what I need and trusting The Greater to meet those needs because of the fullness of His supply. In this, I am able to love Real Love in fullness and freedom.

I am self-aware but not self-absorbed. I can say “Yes, please” to all that is Good for Me and “No, thank you” to the bread (because I’m allergic) and the wine (also allergic) because I am feasting on the Bread and the Wine itself. And then I can pass the dish on to the next pilgrim, my Brother or Sister, at this family-style buffet of Kindness and I See You and Fun.

Perhaps you have also gotten up from the table? Just a reminder that we’re saving your seat. No one else has filled it because no one else can.

You are worthy. And you are enough.

xo

 

born again.

i was born to laugh

i learned to laugh through my tears

and i was born to love

i’m gonna learn to love without fear

{born, over the rhine}

: : : : :

after laughing with my friend elle back home, i hung up the phone and went for a run on riverside last night. the night had cooled, it wasn’t almost dark yet but it was almost almost dark. i hate running now a lot less than i did when i started a few months ago. it’s less drudgerous, more enjoyable. less work, now it’s just something i do when i have time to do it. because it’s good for me, i make time for it at least a few times a week. i also still can’t believe i’m actually a runner, so i think that’s part of the reason i do it, too. to laugh at myself and also to prove to myself one more time that i am, in fact, a runner who runs. i run until i can’t run anymore, until i absolutely must stop, and so i give myself permission to walk for a few minutes. and then i give myself permission to run again, and i do it without thinking. my body knows what it needs, and so i don’t need to punish it by making it work harder. i push myself as it is, and of course want to build endurance. i am not lazy. but i don’t need to be mean to me. running is something i do but, again, it’s only part of and not all of who i am.

in my summer of self-care, i don’t try to time my day or plan my schedule outside of work, and i’m finding everything still gets done. in fact, more gets done because i’m not making anything more complicated than it needs to be. i am a responsible and capable adult, and i know what needs to get done and i am able to do those things without becoming a big baby about it. i don’t wear myself out dreading my homework. before, if i knew i had homework to do, i wouldn’t permit myself to do anything fun. i may or may not complete or even work on my assignment, but i definitely didn’t have permission to do anything i might actually enjoy. it turns out, in order for me to be responsible, i have to be more flexible and less rigid about, you know…life.

in general, i’m just trying to do a lot less thinking so i can be more thoughtful. gosh, i think a lot.

laughing with elle wasn’t the first time i laughed yesterday. i laughed with my friend here in tulsa when she recounted a horrific boyfriend-experience to another friend of ours. i had heard the story before, but this time i realized how scary the situation must have been at the time. she has so much freedom from it now. i realized a little while later that, eventually, i was no longer laughing about her situation, but about the one i found myself in a few years ago. lord, bless that time. the situation, the circumstances…i would never knowingly put myself through that again, but i can laugh about it now not for shame but for freedom. finally. i finally could laugh about it not because “what the bleep were you thinking?” but because it was funny. rather, it is funny now. funnier, anyway. haven’t we all been in questionable relationships, if we’ve lived long enough to make certain poor choices that we thought were good ones at the time? i really thought at the time it would be a good story and that god was in it. i chose the wrong thing for right reasons. there’s nothing inherently flawed with me that i chose it at the time or that i didn’t un-choose it sooner. i didn’t know a lot going into rushing into the situation that i came out smelling a little bit like smoke for in the end. i have a lot more compassion now, for him and for me and the situation itself. i thank god for that time with a little more ease now, and there’s nothing more about it i need to figure out or lesson that needs to be learned from it now. it was just something that happened. another story to tell. one day. maybe. i am finally letting myself off the hook for that one, though, and it’s about time. (by the way, the details i am talking about are not the ones you might be thinking about. i still don’t know if or when or how much of it to share, if i share it at all. i’m not trying to be vague, just cautious.)

in general, i’m becoming more patient with myself. with my recent health-stuff, i’m becoming nicer to me. at the end of my meeting this morning, the “mother” of my home-group hugged each of us, saying, “you’re so worth it”. and we are. i am. you are. we are worth kindness.

did you read jesus calling this morning? well, jesus called. he said to laugh more and stop taking ourselves so darn seriously. i needed to hear it, don’t you? good grief, i wear myself out – i literally wore myself out – thinking so much or trying to save everyone or striving so hard or thinking i’m so important. and it’s not that i’m not – it’s not that you’re not – but my one real job is just to show up each day. dukes down, palms up, arms open. not trying to figure anything out, but trusting there’s a plan and i won’t be left out of it. in fact, i might have more than a bit part to play if i just accept life on life’s terms. someone said that in a meeting yesterday, and i swear it was as if i was hearing it for the first time. i can’t believe i had forgotten this, one of the only true truths i really do know. life on life’s terms. just for today. so good. remember that today. xo

p.s. i recently read bittersweet by shauna niequist, so i just started following her blog because now i feel like we’re bff’s. in any case, it sounds like she’s in a similar place in her heart and soul, and i think you might like to read her story. xo

: : : : : : : : : :

Christians are no different from the rest in their nationality, language or customs. …They live in their own countries, but as sojourners. They fulfill all their duties as citizens, but they suffer as foreigners. They find their homeland wherever they are, but their homeland is not in any one place. …They are in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh. They live on earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey all laws, but they live at a level higher than that required by law. They love all, but all persecute them.

{Address to Diognetus, as printed in The History of the Church, vol. 1 by Justo L. Gonzalez}

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