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.


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


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.


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

Psalm 34:18

Christmas time is the time of year where everyone goes about, so busy with their shopping and their things and their events. So busy with being busy. Everyone has a dab of happiness that has motivated that ‘pep in their step’. Everyone is looking forward to spending time with their families and then ringing in the new year. But really, not everyone feels that way. And everyone would include me.

This year has been the most challenging for me. Moving out, switching jobs often, trying to find some consistency. I’ve been sick since September, loosing my voice twice and fracturing my foot. This has been the hardest year since I got out of the hospital. Thoughts that I haven’t had in such a long time coming back to me for years. There’s such a brokenness and depravity that I have felt. A hopelessness that I am unable to put words to. Running to and fro looking for ways to sate my hungry, broken heart. The pull of the need of people around me. Lack in finances in every way possible. Disappointment.

I have hated this year with every fiber of my being. So when the time of ‘merry and bright’ comes around I honestly feel dark and gloomy. Because it’s been a dark and gloomy year. I don’t know how to let people in on my darkness. I don’t know how to ask for help, let alone receive it. I know it sounds like I’m complaining but it’s been a year of silence, of pain unspoken. Asking the Lord for a reprieve because I am physically incapable of moving forward, of setting any dreams or goals. The future is hazy and blurry and I cannot see. I’m more aware of my mistakes and my flaws and my shortcoming than anything else. Maybe I’ve taken on more than I can realistically handle. Maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew or maybe I just went the wrong way. As a result i timidly await the Lords punishment for all of my mistakes and all of my flaws, even though I know that’s not His heart but that’s my experience.

This is the time of year where people just want to be held. Where they want to be affirmed and loved. They want to be around people who love them and encourage and appreciate them. As I sit in an empty, I attempt to call my spirit a little bit higher, out of the slimy dark pit I’ve been in, out of the places of brokenness and bareness that I have been living in. Not because it’s Christmas, but because I’m desperate to breathe again, to see and sing again. To smell the air, and allow the breeze to kiss my skin. Because 2016 has been so long and so relentless that I don’t think I can go any lower.

Psalm 34:18  ADONAI is near those with broken hearts; he saves those whose spirit is crushed.


Psalm 34:18

Then There’s a Song..

For the past few months I’ve been feeling like I’ve been drowning. This year has come so hard and so unclear for me, and the past few months I’ve been battling self harm and depression.

And then I opened my mouth and sang. Singing always transforms something in me. It makes my night into day, depression into hope, emptiness to overflowing. That’s what happens when I open my mouth. I get to move past all the things that scare me and feel like they’re killing me and actually see the light at the the end of the tunnel.

Last night while sitting on the couch I tried to keep my mouth shut, for many reasons, feeling guilty about my action these past few months, and the fact that I haven’t tried to sing at all. But I couldn’t help myself and I opened my mouth and words began falling out. And suddenly I felt a pair of strong hands grasp my waist and lift me up and I was taken into a vision. I knew Jesus had picked me up from the ground and I could see above all of my situations and problems. He lifted me higher and even though I thought I had set up camp at the bottom of the mountain, having given up and quit,  he showed me that I hadn’t and that even through the painful process I had continued to climb up the mountain. He showed me the places that I had already conquered. Then he gave me this verse..

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, And sets me upon my high places. Psalm 18:33



Then There’s a Song..

Miss Independent…Or Not?

This week I am exhausted. Not physically but mentally. I’ve been moving the chess pieces around in my life, hoping everything will turn out for the best when it’s not even something I can control. I like for everything to be planned out, consistent and not last minute. My week has been the exact opposite. Finances have run out. Emotionally riding a roller coaster and trying to plan a wedding.

Then my Aunt swoops in, saving the day. And the pressure is off just for a little while.

I’m used to doing, or at least trying to do everything by myself. I’m independent because I’ve seen peoples’ unstable reactions to my life events. Usually they want to hear, but then they freak out when you tell them what has happened. They back off, or they flip out in anger, or they give you examples of all the things they would do, “if” then back away if you don’t go with their suggestions. It scary, because these situations are so delicate for you. It’s your real life, but to them they can come and go as they please, like a summer breeze.

Independence and my own personal strength, of how much pain and heartache I can take have been my victory flag. I love testing my emotional strength. But not right now. I just want to be scooped up, and understood, nutured, and cared for. I’m not sure how to let that happen without letting someone in to do so.

My Aunt told me today that I have to make the decision to let God come in and save the day, to rescue me. I know that- in a far out distant, hands off sort of way. But I’ve never been brave enough to let it actually happen. Because strong people don’t need and or want rescuing. But I’ve just about had enough with pretending to be strong.

Miss Independent…Or Not?