I’m sitting in the car in the rain as husband runs into Food Lion for the last of the groceries after our Saturday Costco trip. On my heart is recovery of teenage self. Literally. My chest keeps tightening and breath catching. That young woman is so lost inside of me.
This week I take one of her stories to certificate 2 training. It’s from the last year she was a teenager, 1990, where she believed her fate was sealed and all hope for choice was gone. It’s where she finally departed herself, shedding any remnants of who she was or might have been for who she was required to be.
I have punished her for that. For years she has borne the brunt of blame for trying to survive. For doing the best she could. For existing.
I’m in a weird space of feeling all of the feelings connected to that part of me as I sort them into their categories. Everything feels way too intense and current. Things that should not be a big deal seem huge. And things that really do loom large, well those feel unbearable.
Today’s 7 stares back from the calendar app on my phone, reminding me that in one month I will be another number away from nineteen. Twenty-eight numbers away, to be exact.
What is this crazy feeling of being so close, yet so far from myself? I hope to find out more this week as I regroup with others as we walk through our stories together.
I am grateful to my family for, once again, holding down the fort and to my friends for cheering me on, as I bravely go where I haven’t before, into another scene from my past.
The countdown is on!
Mom, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I got the hanging basket for my girlfriend.
My son’s words rang through my ears along with the thought, I just blogged about them! Mortification followed close behind with shame bringing up the rear.
Laughter erupted from one who jumped from the table and dashed to the computer furiously typing in the search engine bar.
Mom just blogged about those flowers!
No, Please! Don’t look it up. I just need to delete the post. I knew I shouldn’t have written about them! Don’t read what I wrote. Please. I’m serious. I am so embarrassed!!!!!! Don’t look it up!
Sometimes I can laugh at myself, but this wasn’t one of those times. I was in a panic. The nineteen-year-old inside of me felt exposed and out-of-control, two things not tolerated in her. I ran to the kitchen set and began to sob. That wasn’t the best place, so I regrouped and returned to the scene of the crime, the dining room. That wasn’t good, either. Tears erupted as I dashed to my bedroom and grabbed my journal and markers.
It all made perfect sense. A missing piece, hunch, whatever you want to call it clicked into place.
The playful color of the pot and flowers. I knew that orange was girlfriend’s favorite color. Of course they were for her! I am not the only one in this house. I had even wondered, What if this really isn’t for me? What if I am just assuming it is because it is on my step?
So that thought had entered my mind before I dismissed it and blogged about how much I loved the flowers, etc., etc. . . Because I really did.
The tears would not stop. Something had set them off, and it was not even about the flowers. That’s the thing. It was about the girl inside who looks like a 46 year old woman but still has insecure wounds that flare up at unexpected, inopportune times.
And now the internet witnessed one of them. At least all 14 people who read my post. I quickly switched it to private while processing my feelings. It was a huge step to not delete.
My son came to talk with me. I explained that it was not about the flowers and all about my 19 year old self processing a wounded place inside, exposed by the flowers and laughter. He listened and gave me a hug. I allowed more tears to fall.
Engaging the topic more, we came to a place of understanding, and I rested in a mystery solved.
I found the other family member to clarify that I was not upset with the laughter, and the tears were not about or because of them. It was me. Sometimes I can even laugh myself. I am moving closer to being able to laugh about this situation now that the intensity of feeling has waned, and I have had space to sort out what was happening inside. The person I freaked out at was kind and understanding.
I sat in a place of grief with myself for other times when similar flare-ups occurred when my adult offspring lived at home. I am sure there were many irrational mom freak out moments that caught them off guard and hijacked moments of laughter with buckets of sobs and tears, turning them into all about mom moments. I was not aware enough to recognize and name what was happening inside like I am getting better at doing now.
I still have a long way to go.
I am learning and growing and circling back to the nineteen-year-old inside. She is still there needing care and attention, and it is time to show up and tend to her.
And in the end, I reinstated my post as public, making only minor changes in wording. I am keeping the basket on the porch until the lovely girlfriend is able to pick it up and take it to her house where it will bring playful beauty and joy as intended.
I am grateful for the gift of its presence and story to help heal another space in my heart.
May 1st. May Day. That very last thing I feel like doing is writing a post which is the very reason I am writing. The sound of resignation was named in me today, and if for no other reason, I am proving to myself and to others that I have not resigned. Not yet. I will write.
We all know that means Help me! Right? We know that? It’s the first thought that ran through my mind this morning when I woke and realized it was May first. Not, Look at the beautiful sunshine and a chance to live another day, but rather,
Help came in a delicious breakfast prepared by my daughter, in a timely text from a friend, in a painfully honest conversation full of hard truth with another, in buckets and gallons of gut-wrenching, soul-wringing tears and heart-pounding sobs. It came in music from the neighbor’s house as I weeded the strawberry patch.
It is with me now as I write.
Mayday is from the French, M’aidez. (Help me) I did not know this until I looked up the history. It makes sense. I am glad for those years of French to help me understand. At least I was learning pronunciation when I was not being sent out of class for disruption.
It is risky to ask for help. To receive help from others. To be reached out to and reach back. To feel safe in needing help. It is risky to need.
As I prepare for the final certificate 2 session next week and sit in my story, I am acutely aware of my need for, yet resistance to, help. I can see where resistance was formed and solidified. Where need was weakness and weakness was not tolerated.
I was needy.
Help waits for me at the end of the day in a living room with friends offering to engage hard struggles. I do not have to be alone in what feels too big and scary.
Because inside of me is a 19 year old who is trying to keep it together, and everything feels too big and scary.
This season of being at home feels like a luxury item, one that I am trying to steward well. I am not actively bringing in funds from a job, though I am working hard to help manage those brought home by my hard-working partner.
He reminds me we are a team, and I believe that.
Dumping some of the dimes from the two-liter Coke bottle onto the floor, I began grouping them by tens to roll in bundles of fifty. Each roll held five dollars worth, and by the end I had fourteen rolls. That gave me $70 to deposit in the account. Every little bit helps.
More than the $70 was the tangible reminder that 700 times I felt seen. Each dime appeared in a random place when I most needed the encouragement of provision.
My banker friends might appreciate and eye-roll over the drive-through blunder I made at the window the afternoon I took them to the bank. As the drawer slid out, I placed a gallon Ziploc bag with fourteen rolls of dimes in it. Is it okay if I deposit these here in the drive-thru?
The teller graciously nodded as she pulled the drawer shut. I scanned the window while waiting, and my eyes landed on a red sign lettered in white No baggies or rolled coins in the drive-thru. Little Mae’s landed on the jar of dog treats.
Can we bring Dewey next time?!!!!
Waving frantically to get the teller’s attention I pointed at the sign and mouthed, I’m so sorry!
She responded that it was okay, and I asked if she had told me to come inside. She hadn’t. Then she asked if I needed a balance for the account. I didn’t. Sending two blue lollipops out to me and Mae, she sent us on our way.
I will be sure to go in the lobby next time! I am already on the lookout for more dimes to roll.
One month from today I begin Training Certificate Level 2, a continuation of work begun in September, 2016. It sounds sudden, yet it is not, since I applied and was accepted in the fall. I just have not talked about it on the blog and have only mentioned it a few other places.
There is a different aura surrounding my pursuit of this training then there was with Level 1. I feel more ambivalence and remind myself that only I can take steps and make choices to move forward in my life. No one else can do it for me.
I continue to step into the unknown.
In December I was caught off guard by a friend one night at Community Worship Practice. She asked how things were going with part 2. Confident that I had not announced my pursuit of Level 2 I stood, confused. She reminded me that I had shared a link on Facebook.
I immediately knew she was talking about this which was a memory of where I was the year before (preparing for my second session), compared to this which was current. So consider this my official announcement of the next step.
I have been reading and writing in preparation as well as making travel and lodging arrangements. The location is closer, so I am planning a road trip for the first training. I look forward to seeing familiar faces and to meeting new ones.
What will I do with it? At present, I will continue to love and care for those closest to me in this very full season of tweens, teens, and adults in my home and life. Each stage requires a different engagement, and I am learning helpful skills to use in repairing rupture, restoring relationship, and recovering self. I am learning to navigate the waters of martial and family conflict with more courage and kindness.
That alone is success!
I know there is more on the horizon. I am gaining clarity as the fog lifts and clears and images come into focus. I am being met with possibilities in surprising ways. I am learning to imagine what could be in the midst of what is.
Thank you for being present and interested, Dear Readers! Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement as I level up. I am grateful and blessed.
I entered the final session of the final day, closing out my season of pursuing the Lay Counseling Certificate at the Allender Center. Group had ended in a profound way for me. Deep insights and keen observations by fellow members left me feeling settled and seen and incredibly grateful for the experience. There had been much goodness leading up to the arrival of these fast-approaching, fleeting, final moments.
Transition from the small group room to the large group area a floor below was quick. I needed to be present and on time for the final gathering around tables. Amidst chatting and ducking into the restroom, I instinctively grabbed my phone for a glance at the screen shots I had taken when I woke up that Sunday morning.
Facebook reminded me of where I was six years ago on that day. Did I want to share what was stirring with the others around the table?
Six years earlier, I had stepped out of my comfort zone and agreed to a trip to China with my sisters and three other women. Together we shared and experienced and grew. I brought back meaningful memories along with the souvenirs displayed around my home. They became part of my eclectic decor.
I had walked on the Great Wall at the end of a challenging trip where I faced many fears and insecurities and learned more about myself and my limits. Led by a local guide, I was instructed on how to pose and jump for this picture.
Following his instructions, trusting what felt counterintuitive, the shot became one of my favorites from the trip. Touristy? Of course. Fun? Absolutely. It popped up as a Facebook memory, as well.
I decided to risk sharing what was in my heart with those who had shared so much with me. The goodness that was spilling over was hard to contain. Passing my phone around I began,
This is where I was six years ago today. I was walking on the Great Wall of China with a Chinese man guiding me just as I have had a Chinese man leading me in group this year. In fact, their names are the same. Just as I had to trust what I didn’t understand about taking this picture, and the whole cultural experience in China, so I had to trust what I didn’t understand about the group process and the whole experience this year. I am amazed that God knew six years ago that this is where I would be on this day six years later. He knew I would be sitting in this space around this table with all of you. And he also knew that in my group would be two other Asian men that would become like brothers. I am so grateful for this kindness. My souvenirs and decor from that trip to China hold so much more meaning now.
That Sunday morning I felt seen by God in so many ways on so many levels. While my head knows that God always sees and knows me, my heart does not always feel it. In that moment I felt seen by the God of the Great Wall, the One who knows where I will be six years from now even when I cannot see. I can trust in the God of Miracles who met me in that space and is still with me now. I can trust and remember the goodness.
Last week I broke my blog.
Intentional action I took late Tuesday night, half-heartedly, after not interacting much with the blog at all, caused a white screen. I saw there were plug-ins to update, chose not to take time to create a backup, and clicked away.
Using my phone, no less.
Broken. Nothing. No matter how many times I attempted to load the blog, it was not happening and the screen was white. It was late. I had made a choice that caused the problem, and there was nothing I could do but go to bed. It was hard to let that go.
Wednesday morning dawned earlier than usual for me. I seized the opportunity to call tech support to ask for help. I had never called the number before and was nervous. Asking for help is hard for me. I felt embarrassed that I had broken something and inadequate to even be allowed to use technology.
Self-contempt was running thick and deep as I dialed the number and waited.
Navigating the prompts to get to the support I needed felt daunting in itself, but finally Michael’s voice came on the line, extremely chipper for 5:30 in the morning, and willing to run tests to see what he could do to help me.
It took 20 minutes. He kept checking back to update me on progress, while searching for the problem. It was finally located with the news that I could pay their tech support to fix it for me, or he could send me some information to fix it myself.
Time was passing, and every fiber in me wanted the unrest over and the blank space filled again. I hated knowing that there was something I had broken and did not know how to fix, but the cost felt steep, and I chose to let it be. I would look at it later and try to fix it myself.
Cue the laughter and knowing nods and maybe eyebrow raising from my techie friends and relations. Famous last words ~ how hard can it be.
It was really hard for me.
I was obsessing about it as the time to put broken technology away and get ready for my day rapidly approached. Just one more thing. What about this? What is that password? Now I need to change it, because I can’t remember. I can’t go on! I can’t stop! I am so stupid! No, I am not. I made a mistake.
Steve walked into the room and noticed my stress level. Acknowledging his desire to help but lack of skill set, he asked what he could do.
Just recognize that this is really hard for me, and I am struggling to stay out of self-contempt.
Later, he confessed that after hearing those words from me, he realized that me fighting self-contempt could turn into others-contempt. He was in the shower bracing himself for the blowback.
Fast-forward to after school, my son at the table on his laptop working on taxes. I pulled out mine and decided to try calling customer support again to see if they could direct me to the place where I needed to make the fix. I knew it was a plugin, so if I could deactivate it, that should work.
This time Andi answered, her voice equally eager to help. It quickly became perplexed as I fumbled my way through my question. Now there not a white screen but a database error. The server and platform were not connected. In changing that password, I had broken the bridge (image courtesy of me) that connected them. I had fallen deeper into the web of the wide world.
I felt like a middle-aged woman on the loose in a sea of technology, crashing and banging into cyber things, snapping connections left and right. Because I was!
Now I don’t see your site. You need to go in and fix the password. Here, write this down and you can Google how to do it.
It sounded so easy over the phone. I wasn’t ready to pay someone else to do it for me. I needed to figure it out. I planned to persist!
Each time, I understood a little more of what to do, but I couldn’t quite find where to go to do it. Each time I would get close and then have someone need something or run out of time. The unresolved feeling of it all was dragging me further down.
Throughout the process, I began to realize that it was not really about the broken blog. It was about things broken inside of me. It was about me not speaking up for what I needed (time to work on it). It was about being okay with not already knowing something and having to follow careful directions to figure it out. It was trusting that something would work, even when I did not fully understand or could not fully see.
Finally, Friday afternoon I sat on the floor of my room ready to figure this out. Step by step I unlocked and opened and searched for. I watched tutorials and looked up terms I did not understand. I figured out where the code for the broken password was and changed it to match the one I had created.
A white screen appeared! I had re-established database connection. With renewed confidence, I found the location of the plugins and changed the file name of the one that I suspected as the culprit.
The blog reappeared! I had fixed it! With shouts of joy I called to my son who rejoiced with me.
So if you have noticed it quiet in these parts, that is why! I have much to process and hope to do so here, but first things first, working technology!
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.
This month has me in a different place with posting on my goals.
It also has me on the last day of being a double number. Time is ticking away.
A precious friend responded to April’s goals update with a compelling reminder to be kind to myself. As she read through my awesome and amazing goals (her words), there were just so many that she became overwhelmed. She reminded me that I have a lot on my plate right now, and felt that even saying that was an understatement.
Her short, sweet email was full of kindness and concern, written from a place of seeing eyes and a tender heart, and I received it in exactly that way. In fact, I appreciated her perspective and ability to see me through caring eyes. She closed by affirming all that I do so well and reminded me of truth that I needed to hear.
With this in mind, I want to clarify that my posting of and updating these goals is not to overwhelm, compare, be compared to, or create stress. It is to chronicle much of what I already do in a more organized fashion. Recording them helps me to focus and stay on track.
- Spiritual ~ Maintain daily quiet time and prayer, following current Bible reading plan. Journal responses and thoughts that result from that time. Spend time in stillness. Read one faith-based book/month.
Moving right along to I Kings, end of Psalms, Mid-Proverbs, and Acts. Jotted in my journal. Read When God Weeps.
- Family ~ Connect with Steve intentionally each week on a heart-level. Risk sharing something scary or overwhelming inside of me with him during that time. Connect with at least one child intentionally each week. Keep track. Make the most of one~on~one impromptu moments that arise with the children. Keep track.
Steve and I have still not finished our 2 week e-course, but we are moving along. It will get done. I spent some time processing my feelings with him about my friend’s email, and he was able to speak truth into my reality. Kieran is graduating in a week, so we have spent much time communicating party plans and such. It was also prom month for him which meant fun picture taking time for me!
Kirk and I attended Kieran’s final percussion concert together followed by dessert at DQ with Kieran. Chloe and I celebrated the last day of piano lessons with a visit to McDonalds and trip to Gift and Thrift before her lesson. She found a typewriter for $5! Roo and I hit up Starbucks with Toothless, once again. Little Mae and I finished school together and have been spending our days at home before the others finish up and join us.
- Social ~ Connect with at least one friend for coffee or conversation time each week. Say yes to fun. Make an effort to have people over to the house again starting with once/month. Adult kids and their guests are a bonus and not part of this number!
Some of my connections were over the phone this month. Fun was wine tasting with Steve at a the new tasting room at White Oak Lavender Farm and attending a fund-raising dinner at Cross Keys Equine Therapy. I was able to connect and re-connect with friends there and win a few great hand-crafted items at the silent auction! I am also counting adult kids and their guests as my people to have over, because that is the way things seem to be rolling! That is kindness in this season. In fact, counting my kids’ friends as guests counts, too. The house has not been quiet!
- Physical ~ Do 20 minutes of yoga at least five times a week. Longer or more times is a bonus. Improve flexibility in my down dog. Practice presence on the mat. Consider walking Dewey as an opportunity to get exercise and fresh air and not an annoying burden built into my already full day!
I am consistently doing yoga and walking the dog. Physical activity is a necessary part of self-care, and I am owning that.
- Teaching ~ Organize my teaching materials and office space. Write an encouraging note to one student/week recognizing individuality and strengths.
I finished the school year! All notes got written, and the year ended well. I still have some putting away to do, but overall, I am in a good spot with my teaching stuff.
- Personal Development ~ Pursue the Allender Center’s Lay Counseling Certificate. Read one book per month related to personal growth.
This month’s personal growth book was Facing Codependency by Pia Mellody. It came in the mail as a surprise for me from Amazon, sent by my book buddy. I love my book buddy. Thank you.
- Ministry ~ Attend Stephen Ministry meetings regularly. Participate actively. Return to worship team rotation at least once per cycle.
I attended the final Stephen Ministry meeting which was a yummy dinner provided by leadership along with a hearty discussion about the future, leaving me with much to pray and ponder over this summer. I am grateful for the summer season. I was able to be on worship team as a pleasant surprise. My scheduled date interfered with my son’s graduation weekend, and I didn’t think I would be able to switch with someone, but it worked out! That was a sweet thing. Thank you, Kendra!
- Financial ~ Take intentional time with Steve to go over the family finances and budget and grow in understanding of our financial goals together.
The pile of receipts in my wallet screams Fail! at me. Each month begins anew. Steve and I are onboard in the understanding that this will get done, and all will be well.
- Writing ~ Schedule intentional time each week to write and work on the blog. Submit one Red Tent post for consideration each month.
This month I wrote 9 posts on the blog and submitted to Red Tent for June on the topic Always.
If you made it this far, thank you! I will close with some of the words that I sent in response to my friend which may offer insight into my reality. I realize that I don’t have to explain myself. I am choosing to.
Thank you so much, Friend.
I feel loved and cared for after reading your words.
I hear you. I really do. Sometimes I need to be reminded of a healthy human perspective. I don’t have “normal” limits and natural boundaries, so it takes a lot of work for me to see that I am doing a lot. Seriously, this doesn’t seem like a lot, and I don’t say that to minimize. It is just my reality. I was always expected to achieve beyond my limits. Then that became the new baseline.
I can see where my lists would be overwhelming. Honestly they are more of a chronicle of what I already do with more intentionality built in. IF that even makes sense. Notice that they are ambiguous and not things like wake at a specific time or do this many loads of laundry every day. I really am ok with them.
The biggest and most overwhelming is the counseling certificate pursuit. But it is time. I need it for the personal growth and work aspect if nothing else.
Parenting is completely overwhelming, and it is difficult for me to find peace in the chaos of my life choices. I think that is another reason why I need the Seattle work this year. I need more words for my story. More peace with my path. . .
Don’t we all?
Be blessed, Dear Readers. You bless me much.
I sit tonight in the aftermath of a difficult parenting situation with a pileup of years of difficulty bearing down on me. Hearing hard words from children is always difficult ~ especially when they are tinged with truth.
Of course, there is perspective. We are the grownups; they are the kids. Does that invalidate their experience of their reality? How do I hear their words? Usually it’s with great difficulty due to the cacophony of voices shouting unhelpful responses in my head.
Parenting a wide range of ages and stages presents a unique challenge. Every family unit has its own unique challenges for which there are no easy answers or quick fixes.
But I want them SO badly.
Conversing with adult children is different than with those being actively parented. There is a maturity that comes with growing up and beginning to understand some of the parental perspective. There are questions and clarifications and hard things that they endured at our hands.
As we parent those still at home, there is a struggle to stay grounded in the midst of current conflict. There are always conflicts.
It is exhausting.
One of the many reasons I am pursuing this counseling certificate now, during this season, is for personal growth. It is not theoretical work but hands on dig into your story work.That is why it can’t be done solely online and involves showing up in person.
My hope is that rather than easy answers I will find words for hard realities. Instead of quick fixes, I long for lasting restoration. These are what I seek to find as I head into the 2016-17 school year.
It will be hard. An email that came today with additional information now that I am officially enrolled reminded me of this. In addition to all of the physical logistics are the logistics of the heart. It’s about to get even more real.
Thank you for joining me on this journey in whatever capacity your interest lands. Whether curiosity or encouragement or prayer support or financial support, it all matters. Thank you for being with me in the challenging and difficult places where things are neither quick nor easy.