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

To My Younger Self

To my younger self, and for the young ones yet to come. There’s a lot of weight in being able to love yourself properly. There’s life changing, breathtaking, endless possibilities in allowing yourself to be wherever you’re at, 100% of the time. Even if that somewhere is in the floppy untied shoes of a pimple faced teenager, that feels so uncool next to all of the “actual cool kids”

We are young, and we are naive, and we are so desperate for independence. We are desperate to leap from the nest, with outstretched wings, ready to tell Mom and Dad off, believing we are ready to be on our own. But, I’d say to you, wait a little longer. Hold off just a little bit longer. Let your Mom kiss your head and hug you tightly. Let your Dad tease you about your silly teenage ways a little longer. And if your parent is a single parent, well, wait even longer. Ask your parents for help. They love you, and want the best for you, even if it’s not what you think is best. Because in no time at all, you will look back, and that time will be nothing but a vapor, a memory that you can’t even remember properly.

I look back at me as a kid, from what I can remember. And honestly, it kills me. I wish I knew that I was loved. I wish I knew that I didn’t think I had to sell myself short with the hope that someone would notice me. I wish I didn’t waste all of that time, lying to my parents faces, hiding behind fake smiles and a fake personality. I wish I wasn’t so hard on myself. I wish that I had learned that I was good enough so that I would value the friendships I had instead internally battling with anyone I thought was better than me.

I wish that I had known that it’s okay to speak up when someone hurts you. I wish that I had known that I had the ability to change the course of my life just by speaking up, becoming brave, simply by asking for help. I wish that I had known that if a man touches me “there or there” that I could tell an adult and I didn’t have to be scared and that I wouldn’t have to perpetuate a cycle of abuse for years, even into my adulthood.

I wish that I didn’t need more than two hands to count the number of friends who have died, living to fast, too eager to grow up that they forgot to slow down. I want to bring them into the future with me, but all I have are memories. Fragmented memories.

To the younger ones who are reading this: Slow down. The world will not go on without you. There is no one on this earth that is worth forsaking your happiness, dreams, hopes, and peace of mind for. There is no one that can love you better than your parents. And if you don’t have any, then think of someone who loves you most, even if that’s yourself. Life is so short. It’s a vapor. You, believe it or not, are not invincible. You can be broken. You can die. One day you will look back, and you will wish, just like me, that you had slowed down just a little more.

Enjoy each moment to the fullest. Hug your family members, whether they be blood or by choice, a little longer. A little tighter. More often. Forgive when you can, and always move forward. Don’t lose yourself trying to be someone else. You, are one of a kind. Infinitely valuable. Ridiculously talented. Exceptionally needed. Eternally wanted. You are bright, beautiful, and full of life.

To My Younger Self

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

Apologies

I’d like to apologize

I’ve got a problem getting to know people. I wouldn’t say that’s always been the case. But it is now and I’m not sure when that happened. A lot of people want to get to know me- coffee dates, dinner, movies- koala tea timeeee. And it’s funny cause that’s my number one love language. And it’s an honour that people want to spend their time getting to know me. But I just can’t do it.

There’s something that scares me about sharing space with people that I’m not close with. I’m not ready to be close to anyone, I’m not ready to take leaps and bounds and feel the feelings and highs and lows of new friendships. Even my closest friends I’ve been keeping at an arms length. I don’t wanna open up right now. I feel as if I’ve spent the last 7 years, heart wide open. Everyone and anyone was invited in. Everyone got a front row seat to see the train wreck that is my broken heart and broken life. I am currently the most tender, most vulnerable I’ve ever been in my entire life. And when I’m with other people I feel all the things they’re feeling. I’m over aware, more than I can handle. I’ve needed time to breathe, and I still do.

So I apologize for constantly canceling. For making plans and never following through. For saying yes and then not showing up. I hope you can understand. But I don’t want to give you part of me. I want to be able to give all of me.

Apologies

When I Tell The Truth, I Find The Truth

Over the weekend, I told my mom that I hope I die before she and my dad do, because I’m not sure I can handle anything else going to hell in my life. I said it calmly and nonchalantly, and she didn’t say much but nodded and knew I wasn’t going to do anything stupid. But doing something stupid and thinking something stupid are two, very different things. 

Before I digress…

I second guess everything I write because I’m all like, eeek no, don’t want my Christian friends to think differently of me, because honestly, that’s what a lot of Christians do. I would say people in general, but non Christians are seemingly a million times more empathetic than Christians, and the only thing that they seem to lack is the tangible hope at the end of grief. But I don’t careeeee. Because I’m a writer and words are my thing, so I’m not going to mince words for comfort sake. If you don’t like to be mildly uncomfortable, I completely understand and strongly suggest you click back on to Amazon or Facebook and exit out of  this, because here goes. 

I digress…

For the last few months, if not this whole year, I haven woken up and started my day wondering if that day would be the day that I will finally die. Honestly hoping and crossing my fingers. I told my mom this too. See, I’ve never been a dreamer, and I’m scared of failure- so by the time I turned 18 I was hoping I’d be dead by 22-23. But, here I am, at 25. See, generally I’m pretty clear headed, but in 2012 I found myself on a suicidal rampage, have straight up demonic hallucinations, seeing my death in front of me as if it was actually happening, and doing many things including but not limited to: cutting up and down, not sideways, eating a ton then purging hard, taking steak knives and pressing them as far into my stomach as I could handle, and taking handfuls of my depression and anxiety meds at a time, hoping I would die. But here I am, at 25. A lot of this spiraled from getting raped, something people didn’t talk about then. I was feeling too violated to tell anyone, so I kept it pretty quiet. This led me down a winding road of PTSD. Another not so awesome thing that people don’t really talk about. 

Fast forward, it’s 2017. And PTSD is that SOB that came back with a vengeance following some pretty jacked up events from last year. But I didn’t know it. Again, I was hiding grief and shoving it down in to a well so deep that even an echo couldn’t reach it. Except an echo did reach it. Somewhere between January when I created my vision board of hope for the year, and March, PTSD snuck back in for the first time in about 3 years. And it was a quiet but powerful storm. It started with anxiety, which I always had, but it came in pretty violently- in the car, in social situations, pretty much nonstop. I was becoming super sensitive, more than usual because I was grieving but didn’t want to tell anyone because of shame. Then came agitation, isolation, and finally insomnia that’s been paired with crying myself to sleep often. I’ve brushed it off the past few months, thinking that maybe living in community was just overwhelming me. I didn’t want to talk about it- so I just kept going. 

And then, in the beginning of September of this year, I started getting sick. Throwing up day after day, not with cold symptoms, just throwing up. Then came vertigo, migraines, and nightmares. These episodes happen maybe 3 or so times a week and would crush me. So I got a gym membership. Like cool, let’s get healthy because you’re gross. Now, a few months before this, I had a girl run up to me in church and poke me in my arm. No big deal, right? Except I was in excruciating pain. It hurt more than I was expecting and honestly I think I mugged the hell out of the girl because I didn’t understand why she poked me so hard. That became my norm. My skin hurt so much. So the gym just added more pain to what was already hurting. Then, a few weeks ago, the sweet Mom who lives upstairs was coming down the stairs and I didn’t hear her and I freaked out so hard and screamed at her, my heart was racing and I almost cried from fear.  Just ask her, it was honestly funny and embarrassing, an hour or so later. That fear, the jumpiness, hasn’t happened to me  in years. Then finally insomnia, and my intense fear of being attacked at night, which brings me to writing this post at 4am because even my sleep aids don’t work anymore. 

I don’t want to say what happened last year. And when I have bad days and someone asks me how I am, I usually say there’s something going on with my family or I have to work, anything to get me out of talking. But something did happen and I’ve been stuck in this wind tunnel of shame and regret and grief. To scared to speak, regretting everything, and grieving the pain that I felt on a much more visceral level than I have in my entire life. I’m in pain and I’ve hidden it pretty well. But it’s creeping into my everyday life, and that’s harder to hide. But I’m not suicidal. I mean I think about it often, but I don’t have any plans. But I do wish either: A) Jesus comes back soon, like today, or B) I die peacefully…or painfully- either way is fine as long as it happens. Because I’m exhausted. I think about it often and it’s not that I’ve lost hope, but I’m tired. I’m anxiously awaiting for the day when faith is turned to sight, every tear will be wiped from our eyes, and all that is wrong will be made right. Ugh. And I guess maybe I’m too young to be this tired, but I grew up too fast and I’m a 25 year old with the life experiences of a 50 year old and I’m already done with it all. I’m ready. And I sit in this tension of being surrounded by Christians who say now but not yet, and I haven’t seen the now or the not yet and I question if either exist. And on the other side I hear Christians who condemn me in my brokenness yet worship church leaders who are just as broken but look better in their brokenness because they have a platform. 

And understand, this isn’t a shaking my fist at God in pissiness because He’s not doing things “my way.” Not at all- because in the midst of the mental, emotional, and physical trauma, I’ve found myself in a basement apartment with a beautiful family that feels more and more like home everyday. And sometimes I’m too scared to say my grief for fear of sounding ungrateful, because I am grateful beyond words. But I’m also broken. And if this grief requires repentance then God, lead me to it. And if this grief is part of the journey, then God bring me through it. But my small human brain is painfully aware of how much I, and many other grieving Christians, don’t understand. I’m handed ideas by many, many people, who think they have answers, but the evidence of that answer would be fruit. And it’s ok for people not to know, there is no expectation on my end that anyone would know. Now we see in part, then we will fully know. But that doesn’t remove the ache that comes with the experiences that have unresolved grief.  

So here’s the ugly truth, though there’s so much more I could say, but I’m just not ready to go there yet. I’m not quitting, I’m not tapping out. I’m not running back to the sin and self destruction of years past just because I’m hurting. But I’m broken and aware of it, maybe more than I ever have been in my short, but long life. And at the end of the day, despite my feelings and questions, I will wait for Him whom my soul loves, even though I don’t understand. I will sing truth until I believe it, I will read truth until I see it, and I will breath in truth until I become it and it inhabits every crack and crevasse of this broken heart. 

When I Tell The Truth, I Find The Truth