Now We See In Part

As I process though good and bad emotions, I’m wanting to lean more into the good. They both come from the very same place, but their end destination is very different. So here goes…I know most people love spring- whether it’s the color of the blossoms kissing the brown branches or the warm air breathing on the skin, sending waves of excitement through every nerve as anticipation of warmer weather is almost over- people love spring. And summer. But I dislike both. The smell, the air, the excitement or the anxiety makes me panic. It’s too much. And it’s like, my brain is already on overload.

Spring 2013 is when I overdosed, and the last time I tried to commit suicide. I had 50 or so pills, a cocktail of sorts, swimming through my system as I failed once again to process grief. It felt like nails scraping the chalkboard of my mind or claws ripping the skin from my bones. It was endless nights, closing my eyes counting the sheep, counting my breaths and then ripping the sheets back, flicking on a light, grabbing my laptop and planning my suicide, night after night for year. It was my brain shutting off in the middle of class and then turning back on mid flashback, my own breath choking me awake violently as visions of unwanted skin to skin, my tear soaked face, unending nausea, panic and hours of questioning, swabbing, and photo taking commenced.

I am not good at unveiling my fears, ending the cycle of disassociation, asking for help and giving people chances. When I overdosed I believed it was my only option. It wasn’t, but it was the only one I recognized and needed at that point. Something inside of me flipped its shit and couldn’t take it anymore. I was aching. Every step and every breath became unbearable. I was miserable with memories that i couldn’t and still can’t really share. I was more than ready and willing to let go of every breath I had left.

Five years out.

It’s been five years. And if you told me that I would be where I am now, let alone alive i would have probably politely nodded and laughed to myself at your stupidity. Some days I still wish I wasn’t here, part of me craving to be reconciled to the God who breathed life inside of me. But then part of me wonders what will I miss out on? What beauty is there left to uncover. There’s a verse that I cling to on my worst days, remembering the promise that’s yet to be fulfilled:

“In the same way, we can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at his reflection in a poor mirror; but someday we are going to see him in his completeness, face-to-face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now.” 1 Corinthians 13:11-13

Since 2013, I’ve realized how much of the big picture I have failed to see. In attempting to end my life I wanted to throw it all away. There was nothing worth waiting for. But now I realize I was wrong. And there have been things added to my story that could never bring me the full joy that Jesus brings, but they certainly reflect the joy that he brings. Now we see in part. I long for the day where he makes all things new. I ache for that. But everyday of my still living, breathing, radiant life, I come closer and closer to the reality that God and heaven aren’t as far away as they seem. The process, though, sometimes painful, has become one that I now think may be worth sticking around longer to see how it all turns out because, as of right now, it feels like my story is only beginning.

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Now We See In Part

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel.

I wish I could express to you clearly…

I wish I had the words. My life is brighter because of you. My heart is fuller because of you. My hope is greater because of you. My confidence has grown because of you. The way you smile Daniel lights up a whole room. The way you are so animated is like watching a show that I just can’t turn off. Your eyes light up and get crinkles around the corners when you’re really happy. You’re hands may be rough but I feel so so safe inside of them.

The way you kiss my cheek, my forehead is the same way you kiss my lips, like I am the most precious, valuable, beautiful girl, something i have never felt in my life. The way you cup my face when we are snuggling, makes me close my eyes, and I genuinely feel like nothing can get better than that moment.

You have opened your heart to me, let me in to see all the corridors of your heart. You let me brush off the cobwebs that hang on the ceiling rafters, even though sometimes it hurts, because you’ve understood the value of connection and intimacy, over the value of hiding in shame.

You gently ease your way into my heart, goofy laugh and bright eyes, weakening my defenses and every lie I’ve believed to push people away. You stay. You don’t quit. You don’t leave. You are resilience in its purest form that I have ever seen. You are happiness even when you’re a grouchy grandpa. You’ve grown in humility and taken a dagger to your pride and selfish ambition, to love both yourself and I better. You make me want to know the depths of God in a way that I’ve been struggling to see my entire life.

You make life so happy. You are the surprise that I never saw coming. You are the song that I didn’t know the words to until it began. You are the whisper on the wind that entices me into the quiet autumn days that i love so much. You are the heat of the sun that causes my skin to glow. You are the heartbeat, pounding in my ears, you are the you are colors that I refuse to wear but can’t stop staring at, taken by their beauty.

You are what I never thought would happen. You are everything and more. You are my love. And I am honoured to have everyday, today, tomorrow and forever by your side. I no longer wait for a moment to arrive. My everyday life is that moment that I never thought would come. You are my best friend. And you are the greatest gift that has ever been given to me. I love you.

Dear Daniel

Peonies

peonies… a strong yet delicate flower, where if the roots take just right, it can grow on and on for 100 years. ———————————————————

the last few weeks (months) I haven’t been sleeping. And it has been wearing me out. I’ve been having nightmares day after day and the last week and half they’ve only gotten worse. I’ve gone from no panic and PTSD symptoms to a painful and familiar trip down PTSD lane. with the good (my amazing, charming, loving guy), has come the bad (years of unresolved, swept under the rug, trauma that I thought I had moved on from). Having a boyfriend is great, but it doesn’t make the problems go away… they just all bubble to the surface. ————————————————————-

I’m exhausted. I’m emotionally worn out. I’m mentally fatigued. I’m also a little more than pissed off. As most trauma survivors will tell you, a few years after trauma you’ll experience some level of PTSD. But the Doctors say it’ll eventually fade out. But here I am, as if everything happened only yesterday. —————————————

I didn’t get a half sleeve because I was a bad ass. I got it because I was in significant amounts of pain the day I got it, and the only thing I could think to do is get a tattoo where it wouldn’t be considered self harming. I decided that day to get the tattoo I’d been thinking about: Peonies. I wanted flowers, to represent growth and life coming from pain, and grief. It was an outward symbol of a hopeful, prophetic growth that I longed to see come from my life. And for years the garden of my heart and soul has been taking root, learning and blossoming. And the little seedling has finally decided to pop its head through the dirt and the rubble. And it’s painful. And it’s difficult. And honestly most days I go between feeling nothing at all, and a sort of pain that can’t be described. I feel an immense amount of love and care and simultaneously a heavy weight of loneliness that I’ve never felt in my life. The process of growth is painful. There’s nothing beautiful or poetic about it. It rages, rips and shreds through everything that’s fighting it, especially if the call on that plant is to grow abundantly.

Peonies

Finding My Voice

The last few weeks I’ve been on edge, sitting on a cliff and holding my breath. Hyper conscious of every inhale and and shake, every nerve in my body. I’ve felt more happy than I thought possible and more sadness than I have before. It’s trying, feeling two polar opposite emotions at the same time.

I’ve started going to therapy. Which is great and awful simultaneously. Great because I’ve been able to untangle a lot of fine pieces of yarn in my thinking, but awful because I’m a whirlwind of emotions as I piece together my life and remember more and more things I’d like to forget.

Psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified the way humans process grief in five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Now I did study Psychology in High School and College, but never truly caught on to the whole five stages. Mostly because, as I am now realizing, I opted to go straight for depression, not purposely. But I was trapped within events, and social pressures, and personal pressure, and people pleasing. I didn’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill. I didn’t want to be a burden, which left me alone to carry all of my burdens.

Therapy has encouraged and pushed me to find my way back to those very first stages of grief, and I’ve realized in my efforts to protect other people from what I was feeling, it only encouraged mindsets of isolation, fear and anxiety. My life had becoming a breeding ground for every negative, unresolved emotion and I didn’t even realize it.

I’ve tried in these last few weeks to begin taking steps to properly heal. And in the process I’ve encountered more disdain from loved ones. I’m not one for speaking up for myself, but for the first time in my life I tried, and I was immediately shut down. I’ve shame spiraling through loneliness, anger and confusion. It was as if as soon as I made a step to free myself from grief, I was met by a massive do not enter sign. This has taken a toll on me emotionally, and if you ask my boyfriend he’d tell you that I’m a glass bottle, ready to burst and shatter at annnyyyy moment. He says it’s a good thing, I’m not so sure.

Despite what has happened, I’ve decided to go ahead with being brave anyway. For years I have compromised my joy for the sake of protecting those that I love, in an effort to keep the peace and not “rock the boat”. And that’s great and all but it actually isn’t. For people who have experienced abuse and trauma, the most important thing to hold on to in that process is their voice. And I’ve allowed my voice to be the voice of reason for everyone but my self. I made concessions to others’ fears and experiences as if I had none of my own. That’s has suffocated me, and additionally suffocated my relationships with people.

The hardest thing to do, when you’re facing great loss or grief, is to find your voice. And I’ve seen the quotes about not letting anyone steal my voice and yadda yadda And I thought I had done that. But instead I was screaming behind a wall that formed as a 2,000 foot enclosure. Inside the wall are spiders and bugs and hungry lions and bears, eager to eat me alive. While outside there’s banners and streamers and balloons everywhere. Funnel cakes and cotton candy and all the things that welcome people to stop and stare and take and be merry. Unbeknownst to the visitors, there’s a side door for anyone and everyone to enter in, if only they’d look past the candy and music and decorations. The music and laughter is so loud that no one would have a clue that’s there’s a screaming girl just behind that giant wall, limbs being mauled by everything that wishes to destroy her.

Therapy is giving me a voice. It is taking the wall down, brick by brick. And with each brick that is removed, the guttural screams are finally reaching the outside of that wall, and like an earthquake, the cries are shaking down the streamers, causing the ground to rumble and shake, and brick by brick the wall does fall.

We all have a voice. Some a whisper, some a roar.

If you can roar, roar for others.

If you can only whisper, keep trying.

Every roar started small.

M.L. Shanahan

Finding My Voice

Home

I’ve always dreamt of home as a place

Where I can kick back, and take a deep, long breath and just be.

I’d curl up on a deep, cozy, couch, wrapping myself in a blanket, knit with time and love by hands that have wrinkles that tell the most mesmerizing stories.

I’d have a cup of coffee and a puzzle before me, 1000 pieces, because there’s no such thing as too many pieces

A little bit of rain, or even a little bit of snow, reminding me it’s good and well to slow down.

Some music in the background to fill my ears with melodies that sing my heart and harmonies that sing peace for the days when i forget.

A fireplace to keep me warm, blue, orange, and yellow flames flickering while their shadows dance along the hard brick fireplace to the beat of the music, a slow, steady, dance.

I’ve always dreamt of home as being a person.

The person with deep, dreamy eyes that stare right into my being.

A stare that makes me want the hide and strip bare simultaneously…

With hands that know every imperfection and crevasse of my body, and a minds eye that sees beneath the surface down into the garden of my heart, where lavender bushes and peonies and honey suckle reside.

They’d brush away the cobwebs of years past and inhale deeply upon the scent of my potential, just as mindful of the delicate nature of my garden as I am.

They’d leave goosebumps on my skin and morning dew on the flowers of my inner most being.

I’ve learned that home is a constant state.

I carry with me the scent of coffee and firewood, ever reminded that peace is always a choice that I get to make.

The puzzles I love represent every opportunity to see things differently and to sit with my fragmented parts long enough to recognize that each part has a place of belonging.

The dancing flames remain burning, reminding me that even when it hurts, I should never give up.

That blanket, oh I carry it daily, wrapped within the generations of love that fought for my existence so for the days that I grow tired I remind myself not to quit this beautiful, complicated, worthwhile life.

And those eyes. Those eyes that know me, whether they belong to a lover or the eyes of God Himself, I know full well that my heart can call those beautiful eyes home.

Behind those bright shiny pupils, I find consistency and kindness, I find patience and hope. I find the belonging my soul has always longed for, the belonging I was made for.

And I’m reminded everyday that this home is a place where I can sit back, take a deep breath and remember that all I need to do is just be.

Home

Breathe In, Breathe Out…

Sunday Evening, I spent it with my sweet guy.

Our dates have turned into spontaneous events, rather than being planned.  Since neither of us have normal schedules, with Daniel working nights and me nannying, it’s nice to have “meet in the middle” times.

On Sunday evening, our date started out with listening to music, talking deeply, and then out of the blue, it happened. What started off as a beautiful sweet evening,  turned into a nightmare as I was consumed with panic.

It was my first flash back/ panic attack in four years.  Four Freaking Years. I could feel it coming before it even happened, and I realized I had about 5 seconds to…too late. Before I realized it, my brain had self destructed, with memories I thought I had laid to rest. To my furious surprise, the memories were awoken, like a starving bear, shaken awake mid-hibernation.

I looked at Daniel and fell apart. Crying and pushing him away, then pulling him close, then pushing him away. Between gasping for air and floods of hot tears streaming down my face, I could see his worry but I couldn’t help him. All I wanted to do was save him from me, and I couldn’t. 

I curled up in my bed, and tried to hold in the tears, failing miserably and wishing I was dead. Every emotion from the day of my flashback was now very much alive and present. I felt like the little 18 year old me again. Vulnerable, open, exposed.

It was as if my mind was a record player with cinematic abilities. I was forced to hear and feel everything that I didn’t want to ever hear or feel again. Daniel had faded into the background and honestly, I pretty much forgot he was in the room with me. I covered my eyes and cried.

Survival.

A few weeks prior, my friend suggested I see a counselor, soon after her husband suggested the same. Then my doctor suggested a psychologist. Maybe it’s fear, but as soon as I start looking for a therapist on my computer, my body shut down and tenses up. I’ve spent the last almost 7 years learning how to survive, how to not need ANY help from anybody. I am afraid to let anyone fully see me, heart fully exposed, resting on a table for all the world to see.

Breathe.

Through the darkness I heard Daniel whisper, “how can I help?”  I bit down on my lip hard, realizing that I didn’t know what I needed at all. I didn’t know what could help, I didn’t know what to say. So I cried. And when I was done crying, I began to breathe.

breathe in, breathe out. breathe in, breathe out.

Breathe. I know that’s what they tell you to do in “those” movies. You know the ones where someone is having a epic meltdown and everyone says “just breeeatthheee” and the panicking person looks like they want to stab everyone who keeps saying “just breaaatttheee.” But, it worked.

So, I sat and breathed with the ache and the pain that once more decided to rear it’s ugly head. I sat and breathed with in pain that chilled my bones and caused every bone, muscle, ligament and tendon to ache. Each breath went through me, leaving me feeling hollow, like the summer winds that sing through caves. Breathing ached. Breathing hurt. And in that moment, I felt more alone than I had in such a long time. But, I didn’t run.

I sat there, with the pain that knew me so well. I sat with the tears that I had desperately wanted to cry for years. And I sat with myself, who I’ve always hated more than any other being. All of the good, all of the bad. I breathed it all in, then I let it all go. 

Breathe In, Breathe Out…

Pretty Injuries

Here’s a whole fluster cuck of feelings but it’s honest.

I don’t have pretty injuries.

This might sound coarse and unkind but I genuinely don’t mean for it to be. But I don’t. I don’t have injuries that come in pretty packages and bows, like “my boyfriend of two weeks broke up with me” sort of injury. Or the “I broke my leg and gunna need a cast for 12 weeks” sort of injury. I don’t have any pretty injuries. The ones you can talk about without feeling too vulnerable and exposed. But I wish that I did.

Yesterday I had a flashback. And this specific one hasn’t happened for years. You can guess how surprised I was when I went from being happy and calm to one of my most epic meltdowns in a year. I’ll spare you the details of what I saw but not of what I felt. I felt it coming and I had about 5 seconds to recognize what was happening before everything went down hill. Thankfully my guy is kind and patient and understands but honestly it was like my brain reverted to 18 year old me and I didn’t even recognize myself. I wanted to throw up and I wanted to run.

I think the hardest part about trauma is the endless silence that comes with it. It’s not something you bring up over coffee, and it’s heart wrenching to want to just tell someone how you’re feeling when it’s a morbid topic of conversation. It also feels pretty awful when you finally thought you were ok, only to realize that you actually aren’t. Yesterday, for the first time in three years it happened again. And I don’t feel like myself, and I don’t recognize myself. I feel a little on edge and more than a little depressed.

These are the parts of me I’d love to be able to explain away. I’d love to not have anything to do with them and to be honest I’d be stoked if having my memory wiped was an option. But it’s not. It’s not a pretty injury. It’s not table conversation. It doesn’t have the advocacy the sexual harassment. It makes most people uncomfortable and it’s a lonely, invisible injury. And I don’t understand it and today I hate it and I have wished for more than one moment that I was anyone but me, anywhere but here, feeling anything but this.

Pretty Injuries