Saturday, June 06, 2015

Monkey in the Middle

I don't remember a time that I've been fond of being in the middle. I'm torn between two places, two ages, two ways of being. To quote One Republic's Counting Stars - "I'm old, but I'm not that old. I'm young, but I'm not that bold."
I'm between this earthly ground and the heavenly realm...not really knowing or resting in either place. Call it liminal, between, or threshold space. I'm not sure what this is.

I had an interesting conversation on Twitter with a gal I haven't met in person, but who I've had other conversations with. She's a baseball fan, like me, and we've shared some interesting topics. But, the other night she posted how she wanted to be a mom, but was sure that any kid she had would hate her. I tried to reassure her that any child hates their parents - mine do on a regular basis. But, they're doing ok. - mediocre - in the middle.

She went on to talk about the really difficult life she had growing up, and how her younger sister is..."troubled." In my definition, what I know of this girl is that she, herself, has been troubled as well. Especially in her tweets about detox, jail, probation, and drinking. She's had some opportunities. But, her difficult past, and the following therapy has defined her life.
I mentioned that those experiences, good or bad, have shaped who she is. She took it as she should have learned from what happened. That's not what I said.

I realize how different my life has been than hers - how fortunate I was to have had such a relatively innoculous childhood and close relationship with my mom. That my dad was part of our lives until I was a teenager - and then although absent emotionally to us, he was still in the household until we three kids left the house. I was a good student, didn't get into any legal trouble, kept my nose clean. Although emotionally bouncing from one friendship, relationship, community, to the next.

I then married my high school sweetheart, had two beautiful children, established a career that I love, and worked very hard to be "the good girl" and live "a good life."

For all that I have worked for, I'm not any further along; still in between places. Not quite there, but not able to live grounded here. In transition, on the cusp of a breakdown or a breakthrough. Once again bouncing between friendships, relationships, and communities. Midlife crisis, or monkey in the middle?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

in Courage

I'm a twitter-er. That is, I love to be "on" Twitter, and watch my timeline fill with baseball news and the lives of fellow fans. I love to see how others fit in this world, and how the human condition responds to a variety of stimulus.

So, as I do many mornings, get up and check Twitter - I find this bit of grace for the day that speaks volumes to my soul.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sorting It Out - by

In the middle of this season of Lent, I'm finding it encouraging to read and walk through different devotionals and ways to Sort it Out.
"Rather than viewing Lent as a season of drab and dreary self-examination and sacrifice that waters down its spiritual potency, we might see it as a time offered to us each year simply to sort things out. It can be an intentional period of 40 days that can be used to realign the disorder in our life that keep us out of balance with our own soul and with the God who loves us boundlessly, unconditionally, and eternally. Using Lent to take an honest look at the disarray inside ourselves with an eye to discarding the debris leaves us renewed, with eagerness, enthusiasm, gratitude, and a readiness to offer ourselves to God and to the world. "
 I've taken this time to be intentional about my food intake, and for the past 22 days I've given up partaking in things containing sugar, white processed flour, white rice, and pototoes. It includes all sweet things like honey and agave. It's been a difficult journey for me, but one that I am glad I have taken on in hopes to slow down, pay attention, and listen to God in a deeper and intentional way.
May these tools for your Lenten journey bring you intentional relationship with the creator of your soul, as they have done for me. - Sorting It Out

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Choosing light in dark places

Photo pinned from
It has been two months since my mom passed away. Her death was so unexpected and sudden, I think I was in shock for a long time after her hospital stay and into the funeral planning. I have actually been able to see again. Something feels different. I'm trying to find out what it is so I can explain it better, and comprehend it and hang onto it...but I don't know what that is.

I have been able to laugh with my kids and make a couple of jokes. I am able to see (a little) of how others are doing. There is much pain and grief in my community of friends, and I have been able to stop, listen, and pray for them. I want so much to be myself again. I want to be happy, and have physical energy to make dinner or do dishes. I'm not rushing into anything. My house is still a mess, and I'm not being a good parent. I am giving into lots of things, and discipline is falling by the wayside with stuff, just "stuff."

But, something that has become a discipline, is something that came upon me rather suddenly and unexpectedly. I had a major emotional crash on Valentine's Day. The next week was my birthday. If there were strong pieces of my year when I missed my would expect these would certainly be the days. And, because I can only make it one day at a time and forward thinking was pretty well put on the back burner for a while...I had totally forgot that Lent was approaching.

We attend a nondenominational Christian church that doesn't follow any traditional liturgical calendar. But, I believe significant seasons are important in the church. I mean, thank goodness it's Lent and not Advent. I'm glad people are putting on ashes on Ash Wednesday and sacrificing and entering into suffering with one another. It's becoming much more congruent with where my spirit is these days. I feel as if the whole Christian world is feeling my pain as well. Perhaps that's what I needed to be reminded of to snap out of my darkness.

Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday completely crept up on me almost unnoticed. But, I went to bed that Tuesday with a new mission. I gave up sugar 10 days ago. No white processed flour, no white rice, no potatoes, and no sugar! No honey, no agave, nothing. No fruit juice, either. Just fresh fruit, veggies, proteins and whole grains. It's one of the craziest things I've ever done, but maybe that was part of the kick-start I needed. I'm able to stop and read labels and think more seriously about food before it goes into my body. I'm not doing it for weight loss, although that's going to be an automatic benefit. I gave it up for Lent, a sacrifice to remind me of the desert place that Jesus was in before his crucifixion. I can journey through that desert place myself, and be grateful for His death and resurrection. That congruence of spirit has reminded me once again that I am loved deeply and dearly, and that I don't have to be afraid or fear that I am unlovable, because each of us were uniquely created by an amazing Father who loves us and knows us, and understands us. There is discipline in this fasting that God is teaching me more tangibly than I could have thought possible.

I wonder if the hormonal changes I've been dealing with have also been a factor in my moods. (But, I'm not discounting the grief. That's real.)

Someone I know was talking about a new part of his spiritual journey, and how the past couple of years after his mom's death he wished he would have done his grief differently. I understood so much of what he was saying...that others have no idea what you're going through, and what you feel, and how you change. But, loving someone in grief has got to one of the hardest things for any human to do. He changed a lot when his mom died. He felt anxiety. An extrovert who loved large groups of people suddenly was unable to be in a crowd without getting upset and feeling trapped. He said it was hard to feel sad and bring others down when everyone else was happy. He couldn't understand in his spirit how it was possible that others could be so happy, when he was so miserable. He said he is now ready to take a new leap, a new part of his journey to cut off the old misery and take a step of faith to follow Christ in a new way. He's getting married this summer to a wonderful young woman. I have really enjoyed getting to know them both, and this season for both of them has been a season that has shaped them and helped them grow.

One thing he said to me was that he wished he would have talked about memories of his mom more. Talking helps. He wished he would have asked for more help along the way, if even to say he didn't know what to ask for. So I've started to talk about my mom more and more. To mention the things she gave us, or things we used to do together, and how we used to be together. The memories are good, and we are so blessed by the amazing relationship that we had. I just miss her so much. It's like a part of me has died along with her.

I'm now trying to see a place where a part of her continues to live in me.

Some days are really dark

I've been exhausted lately. It's not for staying up late and writing, as you can tell. I actually get to bed at a relatively early time, just after (or before) my kids hit the sack. My body has been feeling the real effects of the emotional stress of my mother's death. My periods stopped the day she went to the hospital by ambulance. I have had issues with this in the past couple of years, and my doctor said everything is normal, but my over 40 age may have something to do with the changes. I have been dealing with debilitating headaches, and panic attacks. I have basically just felt horrible. But, I make it through most days just feeling sad and very run down.

I have been self-centered...and it's been too difficult to care what is going on with Facebook, or with friends who set me off for one thing or another. I have missed my upbeat and happy self. And, how do I put this...I feel that if I don't ever feel better or do the things I used to do...will my friends and family still love me? What is it about me that they love? What is that piece of me that is lovable? Am I lovable? Why would anyone want to love me?

I think I've been generally a bright and cheerful kind of person. I have hope and joy in life, from God, and my faith in Him has never been stronger. But, a recent birthday message from some people from church got me thinking about what they see in me, and I wasn't sure that was the real me. They said sweet loving things, and I just couldn't see myself that way. I see my self as a victim, something terrible has happened to me, and everyone around me should see that! What? Crazy? Of course I am! So crazy I'm unlovable, I'm sure!!! Only a couple of people love me even if I'm crazy, mean, hurtful and demanding. I am just not feeling that lovable.

Scary things set me off. I try to go about a normal day, and anything can trigger a huge emotional response of anger, sadness, despair, fear, and an outright feeling of being out of control. I've been angry that no one cares, no one thinks about me or reaches out to do something amazing for me. I have been caught off guard when someone asks how I'm doing...because all that I can say is that my mom passed away...and they just don't understand! Anything they try to offer is not helpful, because I don't want to hear about their experience with death and grief. I don't want to hear how they handled things. I can barely walk this road alone! And it's all about me, don't they know that?! If someone says something I think is stupid, I tell them straight out, and not in a nice way. It's childish, and foolish, and could be hurting some relationships. But, I want people to look deeper and see the pain and know that I'm hurting. I want others to know that I can't handle all of this pain. I need help, but can't muster enough of anything to ask for help, or even know what kind of help to ask for. I'm desperate, and have no words to say it nicely, so please just love me and hold me, even if you, too, are in pain or stress.

My dear friend mentioned something to me the other day that really struck me. A couple of years ago, when she was in the months immediately after a miscarriage, she was feeling the depths of despair and the grief was so dark. She cried all the time, and felt bad for not being able to snap out of it. She felt bad for counting the days until her due date, and every marker in the year after. She argued and disagreed with her counselor who told her to forget about the dates on the calendar. But, she told me that she remembered something very clearly that I had said to her. And...I barely remember saying it. She said, "I remember very clearly you were weeding the garden on the outside of the fence, and I was sitting next to you in a lawn chair and my daughter was in her stroller eating a snack." "Do you remember what you told me?" she asked. I said no. She said, "You told me to give myself permission to grieve."

I guess that's really how I've been feeling. I'm so much in pain, missing my mom, who was a HUGE part of my every day life. Every daily routine from waking up waiting for a phone call from her, to middle of the day when she would pick up the mail and call me to ask me to stop over to look at something she just got and didn't understand, to going out for coffee or breakfast or lunch with her. Those every day happenings are still shadows in my current life...and for a while it landed so hard on my heart and soul that I thought I'd never get out of the darkness. I struggled to see clearer, and move beyond the pain, but absolutely had no energy whatsoever to do that. I could barely make dinner for the kids, or get up to go to work. My days and nights are still like this. The dark is so dark, that I can't see anything!

Perhaps the time since her death has been so full of personally emotional markers already. Her birthday, my son's birthday, Valentine's Day, my birthday...etc. Yes, the dark is dark. But, there is more to the story, and there is light in the darkness...somewhere.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When Great Trees Fall

Many dear friends show kindness in my grief. A few weeks ago a friend shared this poem as something that gave her comfort in the past year after she lost her mother to cancer. I share this here as I remember my mom, and so I will remember to read it again.

When Great Trees Fall
Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with a
hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored,
never to be the same,
whisper to us.
They existed. 
They existed.
We can be. 
Be and be better. 
For they existed.