HEROES

I volunteer in a local Emergency Room.  I was scheduled for yesterday afternoon, 12 to 4, and no matter how hard I tried?  I could not muster the enthusiasm to take a shower, let alone go to work.  I picked up the phone several times to call off, but something made me put down that phone, and I am here to say, Praise God I did.

Used to working the morning shift, I had no idea what to expect.  As I approached the double doors a sense of purpose filled my veins, and what I was about to walk into was the most horrific day of my entire nursing career.  Every room full, I immediately went to Room 14, as I heard wails of agony and pain.  The man in the bed was in his nineties, and he was hysterical.  I introduced myself, but he couldn’t hear me, he was too far gone.  

I asked his son and wife what was going on.  His son shook his head, wiped away a tear and told me that this was NOT his father.  He was a good Christian man who was beloved in his community and family.  His dad was strong and stoic; I could tell the family was terrified.

“Oh Jesus, take me now.  I am so sorry.  I am dying.  My legs are on fire.  Please, take care of my wife and children….my grandchildren, OH MY GOD, WHY?  I AM DYING, PLEASE GOD, I DON’T NEED GOLD WALKWAYS, JUST TAKE ME NOW………”

This went on for another twenty minutes.  I spoke to him, loudly and clearly.  What have you seen?  Why are you so frightened?  You aren’t dying, your stats are perfect…..he was white as snow, tormented…..and then I knew.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what was wrong. 

“The Diablo.  He is making me curse Jesus, think terrible things about my Lord.  I deserve to die, TAKE ME OH TAKE ME JESUS,”

I closed the curtain.  The nurse administered a sedative.  I asked the family to shush.

“You have no authority here, Satan.  No authority.  Drink the blood of Jesus demon and be gone.  Jesus is here, God is holding you.  Drink the blood of Jesus……”

I was convinced the doctor and nurses would think me insane and fire me as soon as I walked from beyond the curtain.  I waited and continued to pray out loud.  Within moments he calmed down.  Enough to listen to me.

Who is the father of all lies?  Satan is toying with you, but once God has you no one can ever take you away.  Do you understand me?  God loves you, and so does your family.  Listen to me…….”

I retreated for another warm blanket.  As I walked passed the gawking nurses, (and I mean every single one of them had their jaws open) I didn’t make eye contact.  I couldn’t.  I walked back into the room.  He was given another sedative.

There are things that I cannot divulge, but may I say this?

Praise, Glory and Honor to the Most High, and thank you Jesus, for your love and strength.

I walked Bob out to his car with his oh so thankful family.  He was dapper and strong, laughing at our jokes, and he kissed me on the cheek…….

“I don’t know how to thank you,” his son and wife said.  It wasn’t me they owed any gratitude, it was our heavenly father and Yeshua.  But they knew that.

And as I walked into the ER, prepared to be told to leave, the doctor said this:

“You are worth your weight in gold.  You couldn’t pay someone to do what you just did.”

I kept walking, straight to the nearest empty room.  And I got down on my knees and wept.

 

Untouchable…..

I promised myself I would avoid this subject, but it is such a part of who I am and I can not help people if I don’t share my story.  I have become so resilient, so strong…yet at times?  I can only crawl into the fetal position and weep.  The crying jags don’t last as long, and I know I am well on my way to recovery.

But what about those who suffer from depression, anxiety and PTSD?  Suicidal ideation is crippling-and I have not forgotten from whence I came.  Just a few months ago I was dodging bullets in my back yard (a friend caught one of our neighbors drunkenly shooting at beer cans) in a place of hysteria so frightening that I bought a bottle of vodka and said, “To hell with this….I can’t go on one more day.”

December is a tough month for those who have lost family members-for reasons untimely or reasons of self-preservation.  I have come to the point of isolating myself from the people who have done me such grievous harm-or I should say I will allow their alienation but not at the cost of my own survival, my happiness, my faith.  I have banished these people to the island of doom-and I look forward to what is to come: peace, self-love and the realization that I do indeed deserve to be happy.

No one can destroy you without your permission.

Take hold lightly, let go lightly.  For that is the secret to felicity in love~ Ben Johnson

Nothing Here Has Changed…Just the Beat

It takes two to tango……..this song was running through my head this morning, as I slipped and slid through my morning hike.  The fallen leaves, combined with the morning rain, had made the bridges treacherous, and my golden retriever waited with great anticipation-if not impatience, as I crawled along at a snail’s pace.

Jesse sees something, immediately slows down, turns around to look at me.  So accustomed to being alone at this early hour, I never considered his eyes were on a human being.  Finding myself at the slipperiest slope, wet rocks crowding the trail, I look up:  there is indeed a man at the top of the hill.  I cannot see his hair, but I do see his metal detector.  I stop dead in my tracks.  Put down my back pack, and get out my mace.  I remember, instantly, that the man  who stalked me whilst half naked last Summer had one, and that the cops told me that this was against the law at MiddleCreek.  I thought, ‘OK, here’s where I faint, fall apart, run…….’  But the real shocker was this:  I had no fear.

I had just fallen, whilst trying to pee in the woods.  It surprised me how many leaves one can pull out of their naked ass cheeks, but they kept coming, my dog mildly alarmed, came over to aid in my getting it together, so I wasn’t operating at my full potential.  I decided to walk right up to him, hiding my mace in my pocket.  If he had red hair (as my stalker did) I would shoot him straight in the face….if not?  I would tell him that he was breaking the law.

Finally able to see the  man had dark brown locks, I stepped up to the plate.

“Excuse me sir, but watch yourself, those are illegal in this park,” I gently roared.

He reaches in his pocket.  I reach into mine.

“No Englais, por favor.”

With that he pulls out his treasure of the day.  One shell casing and two pennies.

I need to get a day job.

 

Let it Be……

Just back from a hike with the pooch, and my head is spinning in sixteen different directions.  As I approached the house, my step son stepped out of the woods.  At 31 he looks just like his father did, and the sour look on his face should have warned me off.  But I am Michele, Lord of the Idiots, and I laugh off rules of any kind; often at my own expense.

Brad is my one and only child.  When I was in my late twenties,  I embarked on a journey to ensure that I was making the right decision about not having children.  I admit that early on my choice seemed rather selfish, but it turned out that by the time I was thirty?  Cervical cancer and the operation that ensued, took any chance of child bearing away from me.  And rather than feel relief I felt a gnawing pain, an echo chamber in which my heart beat loudly and rather often:  I yearned for a child in the way the lonely yearn for a soul mate.  After meeting Dwain, my mind had changed-I wanted a little one, I cried out to the fertility gods……Please.  Please allow us a child.  

You see, the doctor had thought it more appropriate to tell my ex-husband that I could not conceive, let alone deliver.  Karl never told me about this, so the day that the EPT read positive?  I was frightened but ready to have my mini me.  Dwain, however, went through a bitter divorce and he lost custody rights when Brad was very young.  He didn’t want to go through that again, and I couldn’t blame him.

“Maybe he will change his mind when she comes….,” I told myself.  I was hoping for a girl and had already named her Jessica Louise, after my mother.  Early on in the pregnancy I began to bleed profusely, and the gynecologist stared blankly at me when he said, “Spontaneous Abortion.  Why did you get pregnant?”  Before I could answer the question, he said, and rather bluntly-“Dr. Lape did your surgery, and I see in your chart he told you not to get pregnant, that it would end in a miscarriage.”  I didn’t bother to say he did nothing of the sort, I just whimpered my way out of the office, drove home and called a dear friend.  Annie volunteered to take me to the clinic, I would have rather had a D&C, but as it turned out, I had no choice in the matter.

So, this morning, after asking my son how he did hunting, and getting a mumbled reply, I drove up the street and was shocked as I burst into tears, the kind that hurt your eyes and heart.  You see, although I know he loves me, we were never close.  I blame that not only on my drinking, which hurt him very badly, but the fact that I was jealous of my husband’s bond with him.  Looking back, it breaks my heart and pierces my soul that I could be that hardened, insecure, reckless…….

So now I am left with the shadows of darkness…….with each seemingly insurmountable loss of the children in my life-my nephew, nieces……and even Brad to a degree…moments of backlogged grief hit me at inappropriate and vulnerable times.  I have to allow for the fact that I have been forgiven, not only by my heavenly father, but by my son, my husband and my nearest and dearest.  I am a completely different entity at this juncture in my life, and like so many of us I regret so much of my past……..it comes in waves, it comes in downpours, my pain an open wound that salt enters in times of clarity.

On Thanksgiving day, we volunteer at our local church, for a community meal in which we feed the homeless, the hungry, the poor.  I was turned away last year, and you have to sign up extra early to get the coveted kitchen help position.  This year?  While Dwain found work carving turkeys, I was told that there wouldn’t be anything for me to do until much later.

“Craptastic,”  I muttered underneath my breath.

“What does that mean,” a little voice asked.  Startled, I turned to see a small boy, bored to tears as his parents worked in the kitchen.  Big brown eyes, and as it turned out, incredibly in tune with those much older than he; wise way beyond his years he took my hand.

You can be my mommy for a little while,” he said as he took my hand and led me to the Sunday School rooms.

And after two hours of table soccer, ping pong and story telling I was called into the foyer to do my part.  I leaned down and whispered in his ear,

“Thank you Tyler.  From the very bottom of my heart.”

 

Holy Laughter……..

 

We had one of those sermons this morning at Hosanna.  Tony Blair, one of our pastors, gave an uplifting and heart felt analysis of what people think of Christians.  He googled this very question, and came up with a disturbing amount of reasons why people just plain don’t like the “Godly” or “religious” people out there, full of hypocrisy, hate, duplicity and rigidity.  The song YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME played in my caffeine deprived head, and I hunkered down for the teachings of a subject I have been upset about for a long time.

When he addressed the phenomena of Christians judging other Christians, I went on red alert.  If you have read my writing (a big thank you if you have 🙂 you know that I abhor this behavior.  And the next characteristic he addressed?  How some “Christians” judge other Christians for reasons that have absolutely not one thing to do with our salvation.

How is it that you are preaching the GOOD NEWS if you are telling people that they are going to HELL if they break one of the rules.  I don’t think most people realize what the Good News is:  if you believe that Jesus walked this earth, died and rose again to pay for our sins, you are a member of the Kingdom of God.  No good deed will get you there.  Hypocrisy made Jesus angrier than any other form of human behavior.  He came for messy people, sinners just like you and me.  He did NOT come for the self righteous, you can trust me on that.  I stopped wearing makeup and read the bible with a head covering for six months.  Not bashing either habit, just saying I knew in my heart they weren’t necessary-but I was caught up in the judgement, the bashing-the terror that comes when you think you have somehow pushed God away, and that He will punish you severely on Judgement Day.

Turns out LOVE is pretty important too, and the people who are followers of Christ will exude love, patience, honesty and selflessness, they will love you even if you are their enemy.  They forgive and treat others with respect and compassion.  But the know they are flawed, they know they are no better or worse than their brothers and sisters.  We fail and sin each and every day, but we ask for forgiveness, and in receiving that forgiveness we must forgive others’ misdeeds.   True followers of Christ are persecuted for who they are, they have hurts and tragedies and bleed the same color; but they trust that God will never forsake or abandon them, for they are his children.  They realize the state this world is in, but they also believe in the redemption that comes by the blood of Jesus.  Frankly, I believe that there are many more good than bad people sitting in the pews, or not, each Sunday morning.  They possess a peace about them, a joy that is not easily diminished-and the real ones laugh-they laugh a lot.  To quote a song, ‘They Will Know We are Christians by our love,” one of my favorites for sure.

There’s a commercial that came out a few years after Facebook.  A woman was pinning pictures to her literal wall, thinking that was a “post.”  Her elderly friend, in an accent that killed me, said:

That’s not how this works.  That’s not how any of this works.”

Repent means refresh your way of thinking.

My sincere prayer for you is this:  may you be known in His kingdom and on this planet we call Earth, by your love for Christ, your hope in the risen Christ, and your belief in the Holy Spirit, who lives within you.~

Thanksgiving

It happens every year and we are stunned anew.  Why are we surprised that Thanksgiving brings out the 4 year old in us?  Shouldn’t be a shocker, as this is the holiday that begins the feats of Festivus…..if you aren’t bickering with your siblings, how about your in laws?  My husband just had a full blown melt down over who was going to cook the turkey, him or his brother.  Me?  I am at home, making pies and roasts, trying to mind my own business and stay out of everyone’s way.  My kitchen is so small that I had to put a game of trivial pursuit AND monopoly underneath my crockpot to plug it in.  The struggle is real, yet I somehow manage not to grow disheartened…it could be so much worse.

I pity my son.  For years and years we were pushed around like so many shopping carts:

What do you MEAN you aren’t coming here?  Relatives we didn’t know we had chimed in to read us the riot act and load on the guilt.  I didn’t enjoy a Thanksgiving meal until quite recently.  As a matter of fact I remember the year we had a meal with dad Wednesday evening, and rushed back home to eat with Dwain’s family.  We were told to be there by noon, and when we arrived at 12:01?  All of the food had been put away.  Good times, good times.

The last Thanksgiving celebrated at my father’s house remains my favorite.  We worked in the morning at a homeless shelter, then drove to King of Prussia to celebrate.  My sister answered the door in curlers and tights, a nervous wreck to say the least.

“What is your PROBLEM?”  I remember asking her.  She was too nervous, too high strung.  She went on to say she had a date, a friend of our sister in law.   Hours later, my brother his wife and Michael rang the doorbell.  I liked Mike instantly, and the more wine we drank, the more I liked him.  My gaydar went off approximately five minutes into his visit, and I was perplexed, to say the least.

During a lull in the conversation I took my husband aside:  “Is it POSSIBLE that she has no idea he is gay?” I asked, concerned.

“How in the HELL could she not know he is gay?”

The evening went on and we drank one bottle after the other of wine, red, white…….we were shnockered.

Michael left, and my sister, visibly upset, came into the living room.

“He didn’t kiss me or ask for another date,” she cried.

I looked at Craig who looked at Julie who looked at me.  Ok, I thought, SOMEBODY has to tell her.  And to this day I am grateful, oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph I am so grateful it wasn’t me.

The Silent Scream

I want to write about treating others as we would expect to be treated (if you love yourself enough)  In recovery, there is this long and arduous, yet somehow pure and raw discovery of who we really are and what our destiny entails.  If you are one of the lucky ones?  You will go through the darkest nights of repressed grief, shame, abandonment and despair.  I say this because in order to get sober, you have to do the work.  There will be slips and relapse, until you finally come face to face with your demons, make amends to people you may not even like (over and over again) have awkward discussions in the supermarket aisles because you run into the nurse you screwed over in regards to a shift you didn’t show up for because you were home, hungover and sick…..and not remembering that you had told her just last night you would work for her because her aunt died.  Those conversations.  Bad lighting, bad feelings and bad memories, oh my GOD those first years re hard.

If someone argues with you that getting sober is easy?  Call them a liar.  Call their bluff.  They may just break down and get real, emotions might be triggered….every sober person has a colorful, if not plethora of “stories” involving how hard it was not to take that drink/drug the night that something didn’t go your selfish way.

My husband just came home to find that I have yet another cold.  I have done everything under my control to protect myself this year (vitamins, homeopathic mixes, probiotics, vitamin C……) and remain healthy.  I do have a compromised immune system, and I can no longer apologize for things of this nature, as I do not relish in it, nor do I enjoy being sick and ineffective when I am painting the entire house, take care of 12 animals, have to clean, cook, do laundry, change sheets, go to the grocery store….. my volunteer work, clean the litterboxes…Come on.

“You’re always sick,” he laughs, bitterly.

His reaction let me down, and rather than retaliate?  I want to lovingly say that I have told him thousands of times that this is related to my Lyme, and my state of mind.  I used to pray for a cold to get a few days off around this time of year-you know, horizontal, you-can’t-clean-you-can’t-cook, you want to sleep until the cows come home, you know the drill.  As of late I loathe the idea of being less than 100 percent.  I wasted way too many days sleeping or sick, although I remain convinced that God wanted me alone, near and quiet.  I want to live this life I love, have new adventures and we aren’t promised tomorrow.  Carpe Diem is literally my new catchphrase.

There are things on my mind this time of year, but I push my feelings down.  Everyone and their mother knows that  many people suffer crippling depression/anxiety during the holidays, and not only are my parents gone, but I am only speaking to one third of my family, and the other third lives thousands of miles away in Las Angeles.

What I am trying to say is:  this has been a hard week.  I found out my estranged sister was diagnosed with melanoma in situ, and obviously I just cannot afford to break no contact.  Sometimes it’s all I can do not to drive down to Exton, and insist she cry on my shoulder, show some emotion, get it off her chest….no you are not perfect, who said you ever had to be?  Please, please seek counsel with a professional for your pain that you have pushed down for 51 years!  I don’t judge you, I am protecting my sanity and well being.

What I’m trying to say Dwain is this:  Why can’t you be happy about how far I have come?  Did you forget how much I dread the holidays…..how I have scratched and clawed my way out of bed, out of depression and addiction.  I have scars on the outside, but that is nothing to compare to what I have on the inside, that remains unspoken, so I don’t have to rock the boat.  But honey?  I’ve been apologizing for my own pain for way too long, just be the husband Jesus and I know you to be.  I love you Charlie.