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Authenticity, the journey

I feel alive

When did my authenticity journey begin and why is it so important?  Those are 2 questions that over the course of time will be answered in probably more detail than I realize at this current moment.

Here’s what I know right now:  I feel alive.  I’m sitting here with my work laptop starting this blog and I actually feel like I’m living.  I haven’t felt this way in a very long time.  I don’t know what it is about expressing myself through words that brings life and rejuvenation to me, but it does.  So for the first time, again in a very long time, I’m going to go with it.  I think I’ll even run with it!

I do have much to learn about blogs and how they’re set up, so my hope is any readers will be patient as my journey in blogging unfolds.  It’s already filled with excitement, some anxiety in learning how it all works, definitely some humor among many other adjectives and adverbs that describe life.  Yes, this blog will definitely contain humor.  One of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself is the gift of laughing at myself, especially when I try to hard and well, you can only imagine what happens when anyone tries too hard…..

The Art of Restoration

Beautifully written. He takes all our brokenness and makes something more beautiful, uniquely ours. He is good, all the time.

Brazen Joy

Below is a screenshot of a quick Google search I just did. I couldn’t remember the name of the technique but I knew the Japanese had made an art of repairing broken things with gold.

Kintsugi recognizes the history of the object without disguising the ways and places it’s been broken.

Just stop and think about that a second.

The connection to our lives probably needs no explanation, but because I’m a woman with a lot of words, I’m going to do it, anyway.

A few years ago I was in a very broken place. As I sat in prayer I was apologizing to God for being such a screw up. I felt like everything was sliding through my fingers and I was a big mess.

Instantly, a picture formed in my mind. There was a work bench in a dimly lit room, and a kind-faced man was bent over…

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I believe I’ll believe

…the curveballs of my life.

Sometimes life throws a most unexpected curveball.  What’s absolutely fascinating about the curveball is, they look like they’re going to hit and hurt, but they rarely do.

As I rock along in life, things can get monotonous and tedious.  I think everything’s going to stay this way forever.  So I get up, work, shower, eat, blah blah blah.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Again.  It’s amazing how fast I slide into this “status quo”.

What I fail to remember, unless I make my brain focus, are the curveballs of my life.  I haven’t always stood in the batters box when these things come sailing in about to hit me and hurt:  I’ve jumped out plenty of times.

When I’ve managed to stay in that box, stare that curveball all the way in and believe in spite of it, genuine miracles have occurred.  One that immediately comes to mind is when my sons dad lost his job (yes this has been a while ago).  I saw the curveball coming and stood firm;  I believed that something better was coming and that everything would work out better than expected.  He had a small severance, and a couple of weeks of vacation.  Within 6 weeks he was offered another job, with about the same responsibilities and a higher salary.  The entire 6 weeks, it was work to wake up everyday and believe.   It would have been much easier to wring my hands and worry, and fret over it.  But I didn’t.  I fought every day to believe.

I moved 3 states away from my sons about 11 years ago.  I had no intention of returning.  I found out later that my youngest son did not accept that and chose to believe I was coming back.  In case you haven’t read anything previous, I did come back 2 years later.

A couple of years ago, someone I love dearly, left for another state more than 1000 miles away.  They explained that they would not return.  I was heart broken, but I knew it was their decision.  I was in an emotional fog for the first 48-72 hours.  I couldn’t think, all I could do was cry.  While walking the 3rd day they were gone, crying and pouring my heart out in prayer and meditation, a profound calmness descended on me and “they were coming back” was what I chose to believe.  Everyday was a struggle to stand back up because that curveball seemed like it was going to hit HARD!  6 weeks and 2 days later,  the someone who had left, stopped by about lunch time and said hey.

Now, in light another curveball with someone I deeply love, I believe I’ll believe.

I believe Dancing While Believing is the truth for my life, my soul, my heart.

What’s truly important

…who loves her sons…

Some thoughts.

From the first woman who ever loved you, but not the last.

From the first woman who loves you forever, but not the last.

From the first woman who kissed your precious little face, but not the last.

From the first woman who’s trying for as long as she lives to give you true unconditional love, but my deepest hope is I’m not the last: because at the end of the day, who you love and who loves you is what matters most.  May you fully know unconditional love.

From the woman who’s learned the hard way, the first person for me to love unconditionally is me, and the first person for you is you. Forgive yourself every last thing, big or small matters not.  Forgive you and love you.

 

From the woman who said, “Get to know yourself well enough to work with who you are” decades ago and had no idea the depth of truth to that statement.

May you know the truth, because it does indeed set you free.

 

Pain. You’ve already endured more than you ever should have.

It’s a part of life, it hurts, it’s no fun and sometimes it feels like you’ll be crushed under the weight of it and that there’s no way to even take a breath.

And why, why does it seem to hurt the worst at night? Being tired magnifies every bad emotion 10x’s and more.

Pain is the one emotion people run from and anesthetize more than any other. After I tried food, staying up way too late, binge watching t.v., running, tequila, men, shopping (if I buy that I’ll feel better), anger in raging at anyone who crossed my path, I could go on and am sure you could add some but you get the point.

I’ve discovered another way.

When the crushing blow is dealt, walk right into it, breathe it in, feel it completely and let it engulf you like an ocean wave and succumb to it. Then ride it for as long as it takes to finally break on the shore.  When it breaks, and it will, slowly stand up, gain your footing and walk one step at a time as the healing begins to flow.  One day at a time.

Not an easy task, but a worthwhile endeavor. As the healing flows, so do wisdom and truth.

Unconditional love (you first), forgiveness (you first), seeking truth, navigating pain and above all is…

Rest.

Sometimes you have to fight for your rest, other people, situations, and even yourself. A good night’s sleep is the cure for much more than we realize.  Rest.

 

So why did I do this? Because I realize I say many words, but don’t say much.  I want to make sure I get said what’s really important.

With love,

A mom who loves her sons with every ounce of her being

My 2 year vacation, part 7

…or perseverance or courage…

They say when you can tell your story without crying that you’ve healed.  I wonder about that.  When I think about how I broke my two sons hearts, I honestly don’t know how I’ll ever share that with anyone without tears flowing.  You know, the kind that you can feel from the pit of your stomach.  So I have to wonder if that means healing will never happen (?).

~~~

As I stumbled through the next year of life, zombie like, I had no epiphanies, no ideas, no insight, no living.  I did what was expected and didn’t cause waves.  That is until the day I told my “husband” I was moving back to my sons.  Ahh the stories I could tell, but I suppose since it involves him, I could get my seat in a sling so I’ll let this one word suffice “Drama”.  Drama for another year while we tried a long distance relationship which was never going to work.  Why we both took turns “clinging” to something that was already gone makes no sense.  (Well, that is unless you understand about codependency.  If you do, umm, I’m sorry(?) and the good news is no one has to stay that way.  Insert wink emoji!)

~~~

By the way, did anyone notice already gone?  If you did, do you know why that’s a big deal?  If I had any idea how, I’d have a contest and see who knows the reason.  Insert fun emoji here.  hahaha

~~~

“Drama”.  There you have it, one word, but it says volumes.  Truth be told, I didn’t really love him, he didn’t really love me.  He was a place to go when the rest of the world turned their back on me.  I was a additional source of income for the never ending bike “ride”.  Since I’m writing this and it’s my story, I’ll take the burden of guilt on me.  Then lay it at the foot of Jesus cross where He took every last rotten thing I’ve ever done or will do and died for me.  Grace.  Amazing Grace.

 

As this 2 year vacation winds down, it’s fairly important to point some things out or maybe set them straight.

First, moving back to a place where I was the subject of tabloid fodder and gossip was not easy.  I wish I could say I stood tall and walked straight.  Not really.  I had to see people regularly who knew me, knew my history and had on many occasions added wonderful speculative details to the story.  That’s always fun right?  I stood up enough to get a place to live and enough furniture so my sons could live with me if they chose to and be relatively comfortable.

Second, while religion was NOT a part of my life, I did believe in God, His Son, and the Spirit.  So I tried going to church intermittently at several different churches.  The denomination didn’t matter to me then, and it still doesn’t now.  In doing this, it built something, I don’t know if it was character, or perseverance or courage to walk into places where there were always people who knew me, I knew them and to see the “looks”… in church.  Gives you one heck of a warm fuzzy eh?  After a couple of years of this, I settled on house church.  Meaning, I got up Sunday mornings and worshipped with Lakewood Church via the internet to help me remember God did love me, and He wasn’t waiting to pounce on me with a lightening bolt.

Third, my moving back after 2 years did not mean everything was all peachy and perfect with my sons.  Not by any stretch.  My youngest moved in with me within a month of my return, and my oldest came over and ate with me once per week.  The journey with them since has not been a straight line of everyone sharing, healing, and now all is better.

No.  Not at all.

The healing with my sons continues: at their pace.

Current day, as in today:  my oldest spent the weekend here and this a.m. before he went out the door to work, he stopped, let me hug him, hugged me back and we both said I love you.  My youngest stopped by a couple of hours ago, and we visited about various topics for about 30 – 45 minutes.  Before he went out the door, he stopped, let me hug him, hugged me back and we both said I love you.  For those hugs and the words I love you shared with my sons, I praise my Heavenly Father and to Him be the glory!!  Hallelujah!!

~~~

I’ve been back home now for 10 1/2 years.  I wondered as I came to the close of this 2 year vacation which direction in this twisting turning journey of becoming authentic I would go next.  It turns out, I had quite a spiritual awakening in that directly affects authenticity just last week.  As a matter of fact, it may be one of the most significant in my life to date.

So I believe I’ll believe.  I’ll believe God can do anything and His timing, is always perfect.

My 2 year vacation, part 6

…my rapid descent…

The only person you can’t lie to is yourself.  It’s way too easy to lie to everyone else.

~~~

I found myself living in my home town “happily” married to a man whose primary purpose in life was to plan the next “ride”.  That’s it.  That’s all.  Every week, along about Wednesday, he would start talking about the ride this weekend and where did I want to go.  At first this was fun, and gave me a much needed vacation.

(Side note right here:  moms need a vacation by themselves period.  They’ll say, oh no, I’m fine, blah blah blah.  Bullshit.  They need time to remember who they are.  Not a wife, a mom, a PTA president, etc., but who they are at their core. I could go on and on here, but I’ll let those who can hear me embrace this knowledge.)

I say at first this was fun, because 6 weeks later, reality started setting in and the weight of missing my sons hit.  I missed them every day but this night, after a phone call with them, I crumpled to the floor.  I was literally on the floor sobbing, with the weight of the grief crushing me.  My husbands response….crickets.  Yup, you read it right, he sat on the couch watching television.  He wasn’t mean.  He was apathetic: as if nothing was wrong.

My youngest came for Thanksgiving, and to say I was happy is a huge understatement.  I was so grateful to see him and have time with him.  My oldest was used to Thanksgiving at his paternal grandmothers but he did come with their dad for the exchange (we both drove a few hours both ways) so I at least got to hug him and see his face.   It wrenched my heart.

A couple of weeks later, on a Monday, I went to pick up my husband from work (he lived for the ride, it was winter and I had a vehicle).  On the way home, I was telling him about the day and that it was my youngest sons 5th grade Christmas program and how important that was.  As I was telling him, the tears began to flow, as my heart continued breaking, and the words stopped.  (Enduring pain like this does not lend itself to speaking, it’s pain that only the unseen realm understands.)  He drove us to our Monday night restaurant, a favorite so we had something to look forward to on Mondays.

At the restaurant, I started with a Tequila Sunrise, and 3 liters of Margaritas later, drank mostly by me, I stumbled out the door with him helping me walk.  I went to bed and the next a.m., the pain was not gone, and I didn’t feel good but off to work I went.  I felt stuck.  I had made this choice, and now here I am away from my sons and there’s nothing I could do about it.  So began my rapid descent into a bottle of tequila.

In the Spring, my youngest came for his break and we had a great time!  We enjoyed a couple of days out of town to go skiing and snowboarding.  I loved spending time with him…. his loyalty in the face of his own heart break is beyond words.  My oldest was busy with baseball practice and couldn’t come for his break.  His heart was broken, and seeing me only intensified his pain, his survival meant all but shutting me out.  He did make the exchange trip and I was so very grateful to see his precious face and hug him.

My God, when I think about how many times we did the exchange and how I would just sob on the way back, I wonder what the hell I was thinking.

Oh yeah, I was stuck.

~~~

Summer, I’ve been away 8 months and it’s a family birthday party.  It was a great party, and my friend tequila was there, and this night it was tequila shots.  1, 2, (felt nothing), 3, 4… nothing, a double for 5 & 6, another double for 7 & 8, still nothing.  I’m going to stop right here and tell you that scared the hell out of me!  8 shots of tequila, and I did not have the slightest buzz.  Others were drunk off their butts: me, nothing.  My husband was really drunk and on hard liquor he was different.  He stuck to beer most of the time, but that night the tequila was flowing.

At about 3 a.m. the party was over, the people were gone, he got upset at me for something.  So I got out of bed and went outside with my mom who was still up.  He followed me yelling and cussing at me, and came at me like he was going to hit me.  He was also yelling and cussing at my mom.  I called the police, who came and tried to calm him and told him to go to bed.  He finally agreed and went in the house.  They told me to call them back if I needed to.  Right after they left, he was back out yelling and cussing and coming at me again.  I had my phone and out of his sight, called them but didn’t say anything.  Within minutes they were there and hauled him off to sleep it off in the drunk tank.

While he never hit me, it sent me reeling back to my childhood.  I had vowed I would never be in a marriage like my parents and I had not seen this coming, at all.  He had never come across as someone who would hit anyone.  I got to experience first hand what it feels like when someone takes anger at themselves out on someone else.  I had not done or said anything.  (I think you know by now if I had, I’d tell you.)

That was the day my 2nd marriage ended.  The divorce wouldn’t happen for another 17 months, I was stuck remember?

While I knew the marriage was over, I was an academy award winning actress, so he didn’t know a thing.  I was stuck and I didn’t know what to do but act ok and “happy”.  After all hadn’t I got plenty of practice at that from birth to 18?

Of all this experience, the most bizarre was the mornings.  Often, I would wake up and not know where I was for the first few seconds.  It was surreal.

The pain in my wrenched heart was increasing daily, to the point of a crescendo.  (Or, is it rock bottom?)  On a weekend in August, sitting on the back of his bike on this weekends ride, I began to pray.  I prayed one line over and over and over (did I say over and over?) and over again:  “God, thank you that I live in the same town with my 2 sons.”

I had written God off a few years prior mainly because I figured He wrote me off.  You know, I was divorced among a myriad of other “bad” things.

I was in the depth of the pit of hell and had lost everything.  My life was utterly and completely worthless, I was desperate and had nothing to lose.  So in spite of my writing God off, I clung to my one line prayer like a drowning person would cling to a life preserver.  It was the only thing I had left and I held on for dear life.

~~~

I realized later that God had not once left me, and He only waited for me to turn to Him.  God is good, and He is good all the time.

 

Truth

 

Let it burn

…endure the flames…

Once again I find myself rising from the ashes of being burned to the ground.  This time there were many days when I wondered if there would be any ash left because the fire has burned hot, and for a long time.

But as is always true for a phoenix, the day comes when the fire subsides, the embers glow, and peace slowly returns.

There will be times when I get it all wrong, and the only way is to burn down, and start again.

In the past, I’ve always hoped that these firestorms would mean that I would finally arrive in life:  that all lessons have been learned and it’s time to enjoy.  However, what I’ve come to realize this time, it’s part of my life.  I can fight against it the entire time, or I can surrender and actually enjoy the process.

This time, I embraced it.  Instead of looking at this as a battle, I see now it’s pure victory.  There are very few willing to endure the flames for a more beautiful and deeper understanding of life and journey into the future.  I’ve been given a gift that’s taken me over 5 decades to understand. Now it’s time to share and show the way for the new phoenix, the ones that still find the fire so painful and all but give up.

I’m here to say, breathe.  Breathe in the flames, let them engulf you and purify your very being.  When they subside and they always do, you’ll stand more beautiful than you ever thought possible, and you’ll have more clarity than you know what to do with… at first.

One day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time, your path will be shown you.  Patience beautiful young phoenix, embrace the process, embrace yourself.  You are loved.

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My 2 year vacation, part 5

So right here is where my brilliant decision making powers took over as you’ll soon see.  Oops, did the sarcasm drip off the page?

~~~

I don’t remember sleeping at all that night I was kicked out of my moms house.  I went to the house of the only one who seemed to understand, my childhood friend.  We sat and talked for hours trying to piece together what had happened.  We talked through the day several times, and the facts stood:  my mom knew I would not be home at any certain time.   (She laughed and smiled while she was standing there watering the edges of the lawn.  It’s etched in my mind…on my soul.)  No one had said a word about the plan to meet at the grave site in the early afternoon, I had no idea.  Through all the yelling, screaming, cussing and name calling I pieced it together and tried to tell someone, anyone I didn’t know anything about it.  I got called a liar.  Again, when mob mentality takes over chaos ensues.  No one listens.

If this same scenario took place today, I’d stand in the middle of my mothers living room and hold my ground calmly and peacefully.  BUT I WOULD NOT LEAVE, PERIOD.  The chaos and entire situation was ridiculous and absurd on so many levels.  It took me a while to understand, but, I cooperated with the madness like I had done so many times before.  A dysfunctional abusive childhood has that effect.  Just sayin.

~~~

I’m divorced a bit more than a year, exiled from my “friends” and entire social network, my dad recently passed away, my mother has kicked me out of her house, and my entire family is angry at me for abandoning them…..

~~~

Well, except for my youngest son, even at 10 he could see the nonsense for what it was.  I’ll never be able to express to him the depth of gratitude I have for him.

All the decisions I made following this debacle hurt him (and my oldest son) deeply, I’d imagine to their very souls.

(God help me for the pain I inflicted on my precious innocent sons.  I’m trying to heal from it, but wounds of hurting someone you love so deeply take years if they in fact ever heal.  I know the blood of Christ washes me clean, but it’s difficult to accept.)

~~~

Also, let’s throw this in: one of the many contributing factors to my being divorced is single parenting for the last 5 years we were married.  My then husband made a career change from writer/ad exec to teacher and football coach, and basketball coach and track coach and worked at a school a couple of small towns away.  In a small city or town, coaches are expected to coach a sport for every season.  Yes they’re paid to teach and to coach, however when you divide the hours by their pay, it’s such a pittance it makes your stomach hurt.  It did mine.  So before you bitch and moan about your children’s teachers and coaches, they’re doing their job more from a ministry/heart/love standpoint than you realize.  Appreciate them and support and encourage them.

Bottom line, the last 5 years we were married, I was a single parent and everything for our 2 sons fell to me.  By the time my dad got sick and passed away, I was weary and exhausted mentally and physically.

When I think about my mental state at that point I understand why I made the decisions I made, but it doesn’t make any of them ok.  I felt completely alone, abandoned, and this one childhood friend seemed to completely understand.

So here’s what I did:

I stayed the rest of the summer with childhood friend because at least someone understood.  Plus, me being gone meant my now ex-husband had to step up to the plate and finally be a dad, right?!

I went back home late August, and a day or two later was bombarded with the news that I had been the subject of conversation at a church picnic.  (A large church of about 2,000) Evidently, I was staying with a childhood friend and “shacking up with him”.  This was shared by a coach, who just happened to work with my ex-husband.  Coincidence?

I was horrified, and I was humiliated.  First, it wasn’t true, or was it?  The first few nights I slept with my clothes on.  He was so understanding and listened so intently, how could I not fall in love with him and say yes to marrying him?  I mean it just makes sense, right?!  (I know the sarcasm’s dripping again huh?)  But the fact was, we hadn’t got married yet, and now my sons would have the mom with The Scarlet Letter pinned to her chest.  When you live in a small town / city, the latest juicy gossip travels fast.

I travelled back to my childhood town, and promptly got married.  I felt my sons would be better off without Their Scarlet Letter mom.  Plus like I said, this would force their dad to step up to the plate and be a dad!!  I travelled back home, packed my belongings and left.

~~~

My oldest son all but shut me out emotionally.  He still talked to me on occasion and visited once.  The one time he visited, the song “Stand by Me” came on, and he sang it to me.  It’s one of my fondest memories.  We’ve come a long way, and by the grace of God we’ve made much progress.

My youngest son tells me that he always believed I’d be back.  That he always told himself she’ll be back.  I know his belief in me was the one navigational tool that worked.  Whatever he does, wherever he goes, I am forever grateful to and for my youngest son and his unwavering belief in me.

~~~

Right now today, my youngest son pushes me away as well.  I think the full force of my leaving finally hit and it’s not easy to navigate, and that’s putting it mildly.

My deepest truth is every moment, every season they live with me, every trip to the beach, every moment watching Netflix, every second I have with either of my sons for the last 10 years is a serendipitous gift from God. I’ve watched Him heal things that had no way of healing and I’ve prayed and prayed for some things for which I’m still waiting.  God is good and He is good all the time.

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When you go through hell in life, you learn that Jesus never walks away.

He was relentless in the pursuit of my heart and His light showed me the way out of the pit of hell.

~~~

There’s more, but this is enough for now.

It gets worse before it gets better.  Isn’t that encouraging?