Category Archives: hurting

Sharing Space

Irritation mounts as I survey the kitchen. I was the one who asked that a milkshake be made after school. But this? Really?

It looks as if ice cream and milk were slopped into the blender and then the blender was haphazardly turned on with the top off. Yes, that must be what happened. There is a glob of melted ice cream on the floor and a puddle of it on the counter. It is hardening into a solid, sticky mess.

Clearly, someone is in the wrong, and it is not me. I am fuming inside, every ounce of irritation seeping through my pores. It feels as if my skin is on inside out. I am trying to find a way to express frustration appropriately which only has me feeling more inappropriate.

A sibling stands nearby, emptying the trash. A blanket statement is made about a family rule. The undertone is why are you surprised by this? It’s how it is. This incites me more. Really? Who made said rule and why? That is not the case! This mess is not okay.

It is hard to share space with so many other people. Even though I am one of the adults, co-partner, co-creator, co-supporter of our family structure, I can easily slip into feeling like just another one of the kids. These people who live with me, who have come from my body, who I am responsible for, are growing up and getting bigger and taking more ownership of their worlds.

This is a good thing. I am grateful for their growing independence. There are so many good things about them being able to fix their own food and pack their own lunches. Still, when I open the refrigerator to get the milk, and a misplaced jar of strawberry jam falls to the ground, and containers of leftover food totter, packed and stuffed into the wrong places, I feel smothered.

Smothered and alone. The space closes in on me physically, and I can’t find a means of escape. I can’t hide the fury. It won’t stuff back down to its usual place. Escape. Hide. Stuff. These survival strategies are familiar.

I pace to the TV room, just off of the kitchen, trying to sort out all that is stirring inside, trying to justify my anger. The deep breaths I take begin to calm me. I do not need to offload on my children. They do not need to pay for or contain my strong feelings. We can sort through what I am experiencing without me assigning blame.

It takes courage to re-enter and re-engage the sticky scene in a different way, to name and own my strong feelings. It is unfamiliar and feels clumsy. I risk stepping into our shared space and naming how it feels. I choose to let my child really see me own my uncertainty. Grace and hope pour down on the room. Spirits lift. Hope returns, and the moment is redeemed.

Seven Years Since

I do this thing with birthdays. On a particular child’s birthday I stop, subtract their age from mine and their siblings, and reflect on the numbers. It helps me process more fully a life that has been so full.

I did this recently when my third turned 22. I was reminded that at her birth I was 24, the same age as my firstborn right now, and that her siblings were 2 and 1. It put more of my story into perspective and gave me a tangible space in time to inhabit while processing it.

Today is different.

This Saturday marks seven years since I heard the news that Brian Carderelli was killed. Not only is there a number but also the feeling of the actual day.

That Saturday morning had been a difficult one. Seven years ago I was 39. It was the season of peak dependence of dependents in our family, as the children were 17, 16, 15, 11, 7, 5, 4, and 2.

My firstborn was out of the country. The others were home at ages where they could be left alone for brief periods of time together. This had happened ~ Steve and I left them alone to go out briefly ~ and we returned to them acting like siblings who had been left alone together, some of them in charge, some of them little.

It was a mess of feelings and emotions from everyone that triggered deep feelings and emotions in me.  I had often been left alone in charge of younger siblings. I had not yet begun to deal with younger me and all of the turbulence I felt inside.

Intense emotion spilled over and out and into my journal as I disappeared into my room to process a pile of pain that had nowhere else to go. After venting, I fell asleep.

I woke, and Steve had me read an email that Brian Carderelli had been in an ambush and was presumed dead. I remember sitting at the computer desk and going numb. It just couldn’t be true. Brian was a friend and neighbor whose presence in our life came at a time when a huge gift of grace was needed.

He often gave the teenagers rides to youth group. He would wave and smile at me from his car when he stopped at the sign on our street corner. I was usually outside supervising littles riding tricycles or drawing with sidewalk chalk. He was supposed to be coming home from his travels soon. How could he just be dead?

It was confirmed.

I cried a lot.

My kids are sad. I hurt. I hate killing and death . . . I am afraid. overwhelmed. hurt. So tense and overwhelmed which manifests in anger and panic. I don’t want to live in a hate-filled world.

These were some of the words written in my journal immediately after the news. Before any real processing began.

I took food to friends, because that is what I knew to do at the time. Bring food and sit with.

Seven years later, the day feels similar, yet different. I am 46. My children are 24, 23, 22, 18, 14, 12, 11, 9. Half have reached legal adult status. For those left behind, life marches on.

Still we remember. Still we grieve loss. Seven years since.

Brian, you are missed.

Tissues and Tears

I am away with my love this weekend. We are relaxing at Lake Anna in the midst of a season of difficult challenges. Maybe it should be seasons. The seasons have rolled into years.

The years have been hard.

It is difficult for me to be in the early morning quiet. I recognize this, as anxiety begins to mount at the prospect of an unstructured day ahead. I do not have words to give the man sitting at the opposite end of the sofa as I stare out the window at the sun rising over the water.

Pulling a creamy-soft throw from the back of the sofa and tucking it around me, I curl into a fetal position, resting my head on a square pillow. A tear falls. I feel it slip out of the corner of my eye, roll down my cheek and drip off of my face. More threaten to fall, betraying that all is not well.

I am not fine, and I have thirty-six hours to figure it out, before I have to go back. That is how it has always felt.

This is your chance. You had better not waste it or squander it or use it unwisely, because another one won’t be coming around any time soon! Redeem that time, Sister. You have been given much, and of you much is required.

Mustering every ounce of courage to make any sound come out of my mouth, I use my voice to share what is inside. It feels terrifying. There is a battle raging in my head. I want to stay behind the wall.

I don’t know how to be me by myself, and I sure don’t know how to be me and you by ourselves, and I am going to just ruin all of this!

Tears explode and fall in full-force sobs. I am sobbing on our first of two mornings together without parental and adult responsibilities before we have to go back. I feel self-contempt mounting and fight it fiercely.

Why can’t I just be carefree and fun?

Love pulls my feet into his lap and offers me comfort. He lets me ugly-cry and sob and leans over to rub my scalp and hug me. I feel so much resistance and try to stay present. I try to receive care without gauging what it will cost me.

Care comes at a cost, you know. Will this be worth it?

I fight against resistance to share with and be real with this life-partner who sits with me on the other side of the wall. Coming out from behind it is so scary and so hard and so risky for me.

I am met with safety and kindness. There is no judgment or expectation.

Love shares his feelings about sitting on the same side of the wall with me. I try not to twist them into something they are not.

They are only love and gratitude. I can choose to receive, which I do.

Grateful for the kindness offered to me to just be and process, I pull out a journal and begin to write. Thoughts come. Curiosities. More tears. I reach for tissues that begin to pile up. I consider taking a picture of them. That just seems wrong. I resist the urge.

Love gives me the space that I need. Little do I know I am being watched from above.

Always.

Summer Rising

It’s not even technically summer, yet, but we will call it summer.

School is out, finally and completely finished for everyone. The first morning of us all home together wrung me in the worst of ways. In the span of hours there were tears and heartache and disappointments and relief, and that was just from me.

Each child had his or her own voice to add to the chorus. Fifteen minutes of weeding the side yard and watering the rogue vines growing in the dirt pile out back offered a bit of relief for my soul.

I woke from a nightmare that was morbid and gruesome and disturbing. It’s meaning makes complete sense to me. My brain is full and dumping data on overtime’s schedule. Vivid dreams are one way I deal with overload.

After traveling at breakneck speed for the last weeks, it feels as if my internal emergency brake handle was pulled, leaving emotions to fly forward as I simultaneously jerk them back. The collateral damage felt through my eyes and heart reminds me of the messiness of even the good parts of life.

Day One. Send off adult kids to their own homes on the heels of a big graduation weekend. Process hard places and disappointments and Plan B with newest adult and send him off, as well. Hear the rest of the voices left under the roof, clamoring for attention. Drop one at a friend’s, take the others to the library, make semi-annual contribution to the library’s operating fund in the form of overdue book fees, talk to a sister or two on the phone, read for a little while. Try to write. Feel feelings that are stirring and allow self to cry. Go to quiet corner only to find it claimed by the queen of the house. Sit on bed instead.

Zephyr

I am trying to accept the arrival of summer with open hands. I see the kindness in the chaos and the goodness in the grief. It is only day one. There is time for space to open and for dust to settle and for change to offer perspective, as I feel summer rising.

Restless Exhaustion

Sometimes sleep comes hard. The transition from awake to asleep isn’t easily bridged, and I have to trust that if I breathe deeply and close my eyes, I will cross over.

Sometimes nightmares come immediately. Fear engulfs me. Terror swoops down to grab me.

Sometimes I drift off to happy places. The best kind, really, that I don’t want to leave. Then I wake. I am still here.

Usually it’s the crossing over into sleep that is hard. Once there, I stay put, and even a bad dream or fear doesn’t keep me awake. I push through to the blissful other side. If I do wake, I can roll over and drift back.

It’s been a long time since I have spent the night in restless exhaustion, but last night happened. It reminded me that the insomnia struggle is real for many and has been for me in the past.

Lying awake listening to my husband’s gentle snoring reminded me of the many times I labored great with child during the night, not wanting to wake him. Knowing that when things got real, he would need his energy, I didn’t want to rouse him too soon. When all was said and done, he would need to carry on with work and life while I got to rest.

He is in a season of intensity at work, and I am in a place where I can be home during the day. We both don’t need to lie awake. The sound of his sleeping was music to my ears and background to my tears.

This time is so big. So much is happening. June brings with it heavy ambivalence, and my body feels it intensely this season. Add to that my past history, my current status, and the events coming up this month, and it’s a recipe for a perfect insomnia storm.

There was a similar season over 17 years ago when I struggled with sleep. I know this, because I vividly remember lying in my bed in the little house on Green Street and envisioning filling large black trash bags with my worries, concerns, and fears and hauling them to Jesus to cast at the foot of the cross.

I know he is always there and always faithful. Here I am 17 years later as proof of that! I hate having to continually learn and practice trusting that presence and faithfulness. There is a lot of underlying fear. Does God really know best?

I woke this morning later than I had hoped. Groggy from lack of refreshing sleep, I shared my restless exhaustion with Steve. I mean, I know I slept, but it just doesn’t FEEL like it.

Checking email for the morning’s Bible reading, I saw that an anonymous donation had been made to the GoFundMe account. I also saw the newest Red Tent post was up, and it grabbed my heart. Dissolving into tears, I collapsed to the floor and into Steve’s arms where he was sitting and reading. He held me while I cried.

To all who have contributed on or offline to my endeavors, both financially AND with words of affirmation or prayers, THANK YOU. The timing of Anonymous was truly a God-send and reminder that I am seen, as was the theme of Becky’s post on Red Tent Living today.

Friends, I covet your prayers during this very difficult season of transition and journeying into the unknown while carrying the known with me. If you are in my circle and have needs that I am aware of, you were being lifted up in prayer in the wee hours of the morning. I can’t say exactly when, because I refused to look at a clock, but you were there with me in spirit.

Hugs and Love to All!

Friendship Friday ~ Adult Daughter

Hi mama I miss you <3

The text comes through at 8:33pm, shortly after returning home from a failed shopping trip with one of her younger sisters. I am in tears, parenting solo this night, trying to get everyone what they need and where they need to be. I am up to my eyeballs in the thankless hard work of it all.

My partner on the journey is off on a well-deserved break, nurturing his creative outlet. Connecting with the adult daughters is a bonus he looks forward to. I encourage him in this endeavor, realizing he doesn’t get enough of it. Time for himself, that is.

The long day had morphed into a daunting evening. It is in the clothing store while experiencing deja-vu that I consider clarifying my life mission to Ruining the lives of young girls, one daughter at a time.

Pulling out my lifeline phone, I begin composing a text to an adult daughter who has already walked this same road with me as a tween/teen. Then I delete it, chiding myself for feeling a need to involve her in my struggle, having already survived the torture that was my mothering.

Tween daughter and I leave the store empty-handed, invectives and accusations searing my ears over the lack of clothing choices and my failure to mother well, every weakness noted and footnoted and trigger pushed. Tears sting my eyelids. Heart pounds in my chest. I cling to composure and arrive home to tuck the younger sister into bed and bid adieu to my shopping partner, whom I clearly fail by the minute.

Settling into my room, allowing tears sobs to flow freely, the text arrives.

Hi mama I miss you . . .

I respond with how I am feeling, and she reminds me that it is a phase. She shares her adult daughter perspective with me. She demonstrates love for the younger sister with her words and reminders to me about how it feels to be young with big feelings. She speaks words of kindness and truth about my writing and her thoughts on where it is headed and encourages me to keep on in the bigness and hard of it all.

She reminds me it is okay to rest, and when I text, Thanks. That’s what I need to do. Just. Go. To. Bed, she replies with Or a bath and bed. 🙂

That’s my girl. I feel so blessed.

Often, Steve and I comment to each other that it would be nice to say, Oh well, too bad we screwed up those four kids. At least we tried, and then go on with our life NOT having to keep up with parenting four more. It is hard to stay engaged and energized.

Then there are moments when a text comes through from an adult daughter turned friend that reminds you that this, too, shall pass. You are not alone.

Start

It’s God’s glory to conceal things,
then we get to figure them out.
This can cause one to wonder
Just what is this life all about?

As dross is removed from the silver
Before a vessel is made,
So trials may press on a heart,
Before glory can be displayed.

But often these trials and pressings
Bring with them wounding and pain.
It’s tempting to want to give answers
To think the complex can be plain.

The way to approach is in silence.
In holding a sacred space
For the one who is hurting and broken
And feeling confused in this place.

Then a wise word may be spoken,
To carefully water the heart.
For those confused, who don’t know what to do,
This is a good place to start.

~for those who wonder from Proverbs 25~