Monday, February 10, 2014

Damaged

My mother was beautiful. Fragile, strong, and delicate all at once. She was generous and giving. She was impatient and unkind. She was abusive and took much of her illness out on me.

She was damaged by a lineage of mental illness, and by abuse at the hands of her own mother.

Damaged. Ruined. Beyond repair.

By the time she died, her body showed signs of a life lived on the edge of death. Lungs riddled with cancer, body broken by a life of neglect. Rotten teeth, a face that looked 60 at 46.

She damaged herself on the outside to try to match the inside. She riddled herself with cancer, filled her body with poison, and invited any and all abuse she could find into her life.

And I loved her. Because daughters love their mother. I still love her. I hate what she did to me, and I hate her for leaving me. But I love her.

She damaged me. I am damaged. I am the damaged child of a damaged dead woman.

I own this. I own my past. I own the legacy of abuse. I hold the memory of things nobody should. I carry it every single blessed day of my life.

I carry it, here, in this damaged mind.

But damaged does not mean broken.

I am not broken.

I will never be broken.

Because my life has been filled, from beginning to end, with God's enduring grace.

Every footstep I have ever taken has been dogged by a God that loves me. And every single action that has been taken against me- every wound, every burn, every word, has been redeemed. Every time I was left, abandoned, and betrayed, I may have felt alone, but I was NEVER ALONE.

Damage is ugly. It hurts. In inflicts pain. And long past the point the damage is healed, it can still be felt.

But damage is also beautiful. Because in the silence of being left behind by all of those who were supposed to love me, I reached for His voice. I reached beyond my circumstance. I reached through tears, past wounds, and beyond myself. I pushed past all I have ever known and pressed on until I found grace.

That can never be taken away from me. Ever.

I am damaged. But my damage is a thing of beauty. It is beautiful and holy and sacred. It is pain and it is crushing. It is what happened to me, BUT IT IS NOT ME.

Because what I am is a child of God. Saved. Lifted from circumstance of birth into a life I could never have imagined.

Lifted into motherhood. Given into a role I was terrified of.

I'm scared every single day. Scared of not getting this right. Of passing on the damamge. Of showing the damamge.

I'm scared. But I refuse to be pulled down. I refuse to sink into what I was shown, and instead I walk a path lit by the One who has always guided my steps.

I don't know how to be a mother. I was never mothered. But I know how to love God. And I know how to love my children. And I know how to give them what I wasn't.

Scars are proof you have lived. Damage is proof of life.

It's how you utilize that damamge. To create beauty or to inflict pain. The choice is ultimately up to me.

I choose to love. I choose to use the pain to teach me how to love.

I may not always get it right. And I may struggle with memory and trauma. But I will always choose to love. Nobody can take that from me.

Isiah 61:3

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

This Will Be the Place

Dear Lily and Sam,

It's almost Thanksgiving, a time when many people begin to reflect on the things in life they are most grateful for. As always, you two are at the top of my list. You continue to grow and flourish, to become your own people in ways I never could have predicted. You amaze me with your boundless capacity to love, to forgive, and to be in every single moment.

I've had my alot on my mind about what I am teaching you everyday. How I teach you about love and about kindess. How I reflect Christ to you. I fail alot of the time. I grow impatient and angry at your slow steps, at your distracted attention. At the same time I am impatient, I also envy you. You both SEE the world- really see it. You see all of the bugs crawling across the driveway. You notice the leaves turning colors.

In truth I want to be more like you way more than I want you to be like me.

I can't promise you that I will never lose patience with you again. I will. I will yell. I will watch with sadness as my words make you cry. I will correct you when you are wrong, no matter how my heart breaks. I will love you enough to not let you enter this world without knowing who you are and who you belong to.

But I can promise you this:

One day your heart will be broken. You will be pushed. You will be made fun of. A boy or a girl may hurt your feelings.

And this will be the place you will come home to. Here. My heart. My shoulder will be where you cry. My heart will break with yours, and I may cry too. But I promise you that I will stop crying, get up and make things right for you.

This will be the place you come to when the world is too much for you. You will come to this home, enter these doors, and you will be safe. I will always make you safe.

This will be the place you run when the expectations of the world are overwhelming. When your schoolwork is too hard. When your friendships fracture and fall apart. When the pressures of being yourself hurt and press in to hard. You will come to me. I will help you, always.

This will be the place you come when you are in need. And as long as I have breath, I will help you be strong again. Or I will stand in front of you and be strong for you.

This world breaks people, my loves. It breaks and it hurts. It pushes people beyong their limits. People get lost every single day trying to be what the world wants them to be.

I've gotten lost a few times myself.

But as long as I am here, you will always have a cheerleader. You will always have somebody in your corner, on your side. You will have me, forver.

You will have a home wherever I am. You will have love as long as I live. And you will have somebody who will push you to become who God intended you to be.

You two are my greatest life's work. You are why I was born, and why I lived. You are why I breathe and get up every single day. You are why I chose the life I live. You are why I love God and why I pursue Him relentlessly.

You are my why. My reason. My breath.

This will be the place you come when you are at the very bottom of yourself. You will come now, when you are 3, to have your boo boos kissed. You will come when you are 6 to sit with me and tell me about your world and make sense of it.

And you will return all of your life here, to this space of love and acceptance. To this place where everything you are is okay. Where you can be who you want to be and be loved for every quirk and every flaw.

And as I am YOUR place, you are also mine. Everytime you smile or you laugh you heal me. With every year that passes and you grow into good strong, faithful people you will be saving me.

You are the place I come to when the memories are too much. When the past catches up and I feel the lack of all I know and all I will ever be.

You are my place. You are my medicine. You are my healers and my teachers.

Never forget that you are loved beyond reason, and treasured beyond imagining.

Happy Thanksgiving, my loves.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tucked

I've spent alot of my life hating myself.

Too fat. Too ugly. Too unlovable. Not enough. Broken. Passed over. Thrown away.

Discarded.

Hating yourself can manifest in alot of ways. Drinking, drugs. Promiscuity.

Food was my drug of choice. It comforted me when I was alone. It was always there.

It numbed me. And I liked that.

Then when I had my babies, I had a huge revelation. I was teaching them how to eat. I was teaching them about their relationship with food. I could decide, more or less, the way they saw food. The way they utilized it.

I have a daughter, who will learn at my hands how to nourish herself. How to see herself. And how to love herself. I was in the absolute throes of self hatred. I had no buisness teaching anyone how to care for themselves.

I needed to get healthy. And I tried conventional means- there isn't a diet I didn't try. I exercised into exhaustion. But I had broken my body beyond it's ability to heal itself and be healthy.

So I had surgery to help my body fix itself.

Nearly 2 years and a hundred pounds lost later, I am confident enough to tell you that I love myself. I love my body for what it can do- how far it has carried me. I love it for housing my babies. And I love it now for the fact that it is easier to move and easier to live in.

I am at a healthy stable weight. I can teach my daughter confidently about nutrition, because I have been educated on what the body needs and wants. She knows that some foods are fo fuel, some for pleasure. She doesn't want to overeat or numb herself with food. This is a victory in many ways.

My body is lighter and it is fueled by quality food.

However, I still struggle.

I carried the majority of my weight in my abdomen, and after losing so much, I am left with an abundance of loose skin. Unlike fat, it doesn't have alot of weight, so it sits low and pulls hard at my back.


There is no high impact cardio I can do without pain. My back aches at the end of the day.

I grappled very hard with the only solution to this problem- abdominoplasty.

In the end, I could do without the surgery to remove the skin. But as I age, it will only get worse. The pain won't go away if I cannot be rid of the source and then build the muscle back up stronger.

So on November 1st, I am scheduled for a tummy tuck.

I'm terrified of the process...because recovery is lengthy and difficult. There is pain involved. Drains, bandages, scarring.

But you know what terrifies me the most? Explaining this to my daughter.

She is 6. She is well aware of everything that goes on with me, and given her caretaker personality, there is no way she will not notice I am in pain.

And also, she has my same body type. Her build, it is just like mine. A little rounder, a little fuller. She is strong and muscular and will never be lithe.

One day she will ask me why I changed my body to not look like hers.

This is what keeps me up at night. That question. What am I teaching her?

How will I teach her to love herself if I am actively changing my body through surgery? Modifying it to be different than what it is?

I don't have the answers.

I do know this- in the end, I am choosing this to better myself. To be more active and to continue to be healthier. I have to pray that she sees this and that in her mind having a healthy momma outweighs the fact that I have undergone 2 surgeries that drastically changed the way I look.

I am hopeful that she will go running with me one day and I will be able to explain to her that all of this was worth it. I hope to be a good example to her of a woman who reaches far past her comfort zone to achieve health.
























Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ocho

Yesterday was my 8th wedding anniversary.

8 years, 2 kids, countless sleepless nights, loads of laundry, bills, traumatic events, surgeries, fights, and deep conversations together.

I used to think romance was flowers, staring into each others eyes, and talking for hours.

Boy do I know different now.

Romance is wonderful. But it's definition is flawed.

Romance is a man who hangs a fresh towel for me when mine is stinky- because he knows I will just keep using it to save time.

It's a man who will get up and make lunches, kiss little heads good morning, and keep little voices quiet so I can sleep for 30 more minutes.

It's the way he listens to me, no matter how small or big my issue is.

It's the memory of him cradling our babies, changing their diapers, and helping me to sit up and latch them on when I was exhausted from birth.

It's the way I feel when I am wounded, and he is the only one I want.

It's bear hugs and kisses when I am pouty and difficult.

It's the way he makes me laugh when I take him with me to scary doctors appointments.

Romance is laughing until we cry over the stupidest inside jokes.

It's calling him moose and him calling me goober.

It's watching him through the window as I make dinner, and he plays with the kids outside.

Romance is the way my girlfriends all love him and know they can depend on him.

It's waking up to his face after surgery.

It's his hand in mine as we walked the halls and waited for our babies to come.

Romance is a man who holds you as you are ripped apart with contractions and birth. Who looks into your eyes and lies that the pain is almost over, almost over.

It's a man who buries your small miscarried son while you sob.

Romance is someone who loves your soul. Not just the body that houses it.

Mark and I have fought hard for our relationship. It's not always been easy. It's not always been fun. We've both grown and changed. Through babies and job changes and death and grief and sickness we have held firm onto one thing- we will always and forver love each other. Our love will always be the shelter we both run to when the world hurts or confuses us. I know I can always stand behind my husband and he will forever protect me. He knows I will always support and uphold him.

Through the rest of our lives he will infuriate me. I will be stubborn and yell. He will be quiet and laugh at me when I get angry. We will walk through every change together. Every milestone, every moment will be ours to share.

So give me mornings of coffee and the news while our kids run around us. Give me fleeting conversations as we dress in the morning. Give me shared glances across the dinner table. Phone calls from different cities. Give me he tears and the frustration and the coming back together. Give me nights spent apart missing him. And nights together as his hand searches for mine in the dark, even in sleep. Give me laughing until we cry. Tea and television. Foot rubs and back scratches.

Give me him. Forever and for always.








Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fierce

There is so much I want to say, and no way to say it. No way to form my mind around what I am feeling.

I'm trying to push through. But these feelings wont leave me alone.

I'm angry. And I'm disgusted with myself.

I thought I was loving in a healthy and productive way, but I have betrayed myself into thinking I was more important than I am.

What the hell is wrong with me? Why can't I get past these issues? Is this going to haunt me for the rest of my life?

Mommy issues. Abandonment issues. Daddy issues.

Jesus.

I've loved how I wanted to be loved, instead of loving others as they NEEDED TO BE LOVED.

I have been overprotective and fucking smothering. I have been fierce when what was called for was gentleness.

Because that's what I always craved- to be protected. To be stood up for. For somebody to stand in front of me and say- no further.

I've imposed myself and my issues into others lives with no regard for their own needs. Just pushed and called it love.

It's so messed up and tangled and wrong I can't even grasp it.

I want to love others. I want to give. I want to be generous.

I want to fix everything and everybody. I want to take the misery away.

But that's not my place.

I can't fix anyone and I can't fix anything but myself.

I've done a poor job of that so far.

And the deluded thing? That I thought I was doing so good, and so well.

I've been pushy and overbearing. Depsite my intentions to just be...loving.

Oh hell.

How do you even fix something like this? How do you fit a round peg into a square hole? How do you love people as they need when you can't see past all that YOU need?

I don't know how else to be.

I've asked for refinement. Begged in my heart for God to change me. Change this heart- make it less fierce. Make it softer. Make it less...myself.

And nothing changes. I still wake every single morning wanting to love the hell out of and fix the hell out of everyone and every situation.

And nobody needs that. And it's not a good quality.

People, in the end, don't want to be saved. They just want to be loved.

But it is...me. For better or for worse. It's me.

It's me.

And you know what else? I'm tired of being strong all the time. I've held so many others up- helped as much as I can. Even if I went overboard.

Sometimes the strongest break the hardest.

I am surely broken.

And I'm weary.

This hurts. It hurts to love and be loyal and not get it in return. It hurts.

Even those that seem strong need to be held. Even the fiercest need comfort.

Even those that can and do defend themselves need protection.

People who love the hardest need to be loved hard too.

But there are seasons in this life. Of loneliness. Of feeling lost. Of feeling as if you will never be whole or right again.

All of these valleys surely lead to peaks. The darkness becomes light.

I'm waiting for the light.



Friday, October 4, 2013

Words

I thought the broken days were behind me.

The days of tears and wounds and the deep deep drowning.

The days of losing time and space and feeling this endless void of nothingness.

Sometimes depression is an oncoming storm,stirring the ocean, riding slowly over the waves towards you.

And sometimes it is a tsnumai, knocking you bodily from your moorings.


I have been rolled through the waves these past few days. Unfurled underwater, staring up through the debris into the twisted image of the sun.

I have felt the sand bneath my hands, the water in my lungs.

I have been pulled into the depths.

And I only have myself to blame.

I've had a catch in my spirit many times these past months, a niggling feeling of unease and of being not right with God.

I've felt it when I opened my mouth with less than kind words.

And when I've kept my mouth shut when I could have spoken.

I've walked, step by step, into being the woman I swore I would not be.

Natural consequences are often fierce and unrelenting.

I have gone back to the prayer I have always dreaded.

"God, if there is anything in me that is not pleasing to you, show me and I will change it."

Being refined is painful. Sorting through, piece by piece, my every mistake, my missed footing, my unconcious part in the wounding of others. Looking at the pain I have caused, with or without intention.

It all hurts. And it's all necessary.

Allowing the surfacing of things I have relentlessly pushed down for months. Bringing them to the light and seeing what I have known but not acknowleged.

I love well, but am overbearing.

I am loyal, but too fierce.

I allow myself to speak of others in their absence as I would not do in their presence.

I harbor resentments and anger.

I panic at the idea of being abandoned.

And on and on.

I don't like the woman I am right now.

What I have heard as I have closed my eyes and quieted my mind these past few days is just two words.

"Cultivate quiet."

I need to sit and look at my life and my actions. I need to look at what kind of friend I am. And what kind of friend I want to be.

I need to look at how I need to be loved. And if I can continue to love the way that I have been, and deal with the inevitable hurt that comes with it.

And above all else, I need to be quiet to learn that my mouth can and should be reigned. That there are words that should not be said. Things that should not be discussed.

Words that should be left only between God and I.


James 3

1Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.
4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind,
8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.
10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?
12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.














Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sam

Dear Mrs Porter,

This is Sam.

You may have seen him around school. You may have heard his name a few times. I'm afraid he may be "that kid" to a few people.

And the truth of the matter is, he earned that title.

See, Sam has been through a lot. I knew he was different when he was 9 months old and instead of crying when frustrated, he would bang his head. Hard. On the wood floors.



I was a nanny for 16 years, but I wasn't prepared for this level of frustration. He would literally hurt himself when trying to communicate. And instead of expressing himself verbally, he would express himself physically. With chaotic, crazy movements. With running, falling, then running again. Flipping himself off the couch. Taking off at full speed for the street.

Hitting. Biting. Pushing.

For a long 2 years, Sam was a runaway train. And we were the screaming passengers trapped aboard- his father, myself, and his sister.

I knew something was wrong. He wasn't talking. At all. 3-4 words where children of his age were speaking sentences.

He was hurting and sad and so frustrated.



I was his mama. And I couldn't fix it.

So we saw his pediatrician. And at 2 years old, Sam began speech therapy.

They said he was too young to be diagnosed. But they felt he had Apraxia. A neurological planing disorder that prevents words from getting from the brain to the mouth.

They said he may never be a big talker.

We were, as a family, rocked to the core. This is my baby. My beloved son. And I couldn't help him. His daddy couldn't fix him. His sister couldn't talk with him.

He was alone and lonely in his silence. And his frustration at not being able to talk grew and grew.

I stayed up at night, kneeling next to his bed. I prayed for God to heal him. But if He couldn't heal him, then to help me help Sammy make his way.


I became his voice- speaking for him. Translating for him.

I vowed that as long as I had breath I would be his voice. I would advocate for him. I would help him to be heard.

He has been in speech for a long time now- almost 2 years. And I can tell you his last year at school was very very hard. He had alot of beahvior issues we were trying really hard to conquer.

Everytime I dropped him off , my stomach would be in knots. I just wanted him to be understood. To be loved. And not to be lonely.

And then, he turned 3, and something magical happened.

Sam blossomed.



There was a dramatic shift in him that can only be explained by God. His found his voice. He found his words.

And we found Sam.


He has opinions on everything from what to have for lunch to what color monster truck we should buy. He chatters constantly about everything under the sun. His words literally never ever stop- from sunup to sundown.

He gives us a headache. He makes us laugh. He makes us cry when he folds his hands and says his prayers.

I can't say he is where he should be. And I can't say you will understand everything he says.

And I also can't promise you you won't ever have to discipline him.


I know he will drive you crazy. He will talk your ear off. He will grab your hand, drag you to what he wants to show you, and spend 30 minutes telling you all about it.

I look at him and wish he would give me one blessed minute of silence at least 10 times a day. You will too, I'm sure.

And then I remember. That lost, sad little boy he was just a year ago. The one trapped in his own mind and his own body. The one bursting with things to say...and no way to say it. No one to say it to that would understand. Not even me.

I remember this day. We were on our first day of vacation. I followed him, trailing his steps as I always did, just trying to keep him from harm. He tried to tell me something I didn't understand. Then he gave up and walked to the water, alone. He just stood there, looking.

I took this picture between sobs.

I remember this day everytime I want to tell him to hush.


Every single word he says is precious to us. Every syllable has been fought for and prayed for and earned.

I don't ask that you take extra time with him. I'm not asking for him to be your favorite, or for him to be treated special.

All I want is for him to be understood. And to be loved past his slowly diminishing limitations. For a patient heart willing to see this little boy that has fought so hard to be heard.




This is Sam. My beautiful, kind, mischevious, loving and chatty son. I hope you love him just as much I do.