Rewriting the Past……

I think you only understand the past when you can get far enough away from it to ponder.  This used to be my story:

I was raised in an abusive home-my mother emotionally and verbally abused me and my father was an alcoholic.  I had so many demons in the closets of scary monsters past.  They drove me to drink, use drugs, get raped, and have little if no self esteem.  I was bullied for being overweight, and I dropped out of college to help my mother who was dealing with  a husband, in a coma, and no job prospects……………..

Now?  Holy Moses I look back at my childhood, and I YEARN for those halcyon days.  The more I learn about child abuse, the more I know that my parents took incredible care of us.  We wanted for nothing, and memories keep flooding in: how Mary Lou hovered, cooked us our favorite foods, bought gifts and wrapped us up in warm blankets…….she excelled at caring for sick children and a husband who was sick on and off through their whole marriage. as was she, and to this very day I am amazed at her strength, stoicism and grit.  She raised three children and a golden retriever with such grace (yes, she was overwhelmed at times, yes-she was an Irish lass with a temper to beat the band, and yes-I have inherited that fire.  At times, there was no car.  At times we had no money for groceries, and at times she cried out in frustration when dad’s commission check was late.  She spent birthdays, Valentine’s days, and many a lonely evening listening to the torch songs of The Mamas and the Papas, and we often felt terribly sorry for her loneliness.   How I long for my mother on days I am under the weather, and need/want to be comforted-and yet I have gone 25 years without the woman who bore me. I called her each and every day for man advice, health concerns, but mostly to make sure that she was okay.  My brother likes to say we had one mom growing up, and a more compassionate and laid back mother as adults.

I miss my father in ways there are no words for.  I miss his laughter and empathy for others.  I miss his dry humor and capricious wit.  I miss him for a million reasons, and as I sit here today I know, to the bottom of my very core, that we were loved.

What caused all of the pain and torment in my life?  A mix between being a highly sensitive person and a narcissist family member who put me in the hole each and every time I tried to reach out.  I won’t go into that now, as it is, once again, my past.  The other day, while in church, the pastor asked for us to write down our deepest desire, our most fervent prayer.

I want my sister to know Jesus, and in knowing Him, may she be healed.

I pray for her every day, no matter the mood I am in.   In essence, my world has come full circle, and I am free once again.  It is my sincere hope that each and every one of you find peace in the knowledge that the past is gone, and we have nothing to fear, but fear itself.  Rewrite your story, and give the past to God.

Scooter’s Had Enough……

I had my share of boyfriends in high school; as a matter of fact, despite my self-hatred, I attracted the captain of Upper Merion’s Crew team, and by that I mean I hunt him down and used every flirty trick in the book to get him to notice me.  I have always been the aggressor in relationships.  Fact is?  The guys never, ever asked me out, until Villanova-my  freshman year-I was out to prove I wasn’t what I truly believed I was-nothing.

My history with boys was this:  I would pretend to be whatever they were looking for, and in doing so, I lost myself.  I was a follower, a tag-along, a gypsy with no real tribe…but I always had a man in my life because I thought I couldn’t do without one.  To this day, I have dreams that I am man-less, and they are nightmares.  I wake up shaken, lost, and feeling an emptiness that cannot be put in words.  After so many years in therapy, I never quite grasped the reason, and to this day?  I’m thinking it was my need to have a man, any man, interested in and devoted to me only-father stuff if you will.  However, this was not the case on a college campus in the eighties.  The wrong men wanted me and I wanted what I couldn’t have…..it all came to an ugly head one afternoon, when I entered the apartment of my current boyfriend-he just happened to live with my ex.

“Hey Scooter!!!!!,” my last flame (and by that I mean FLAME, I was head over heels in lust, and our flame burned brightly, if only for a few months)

“What did you just call me?,” I asked.  Butch was an instigator, a character, a comedian, and that was part of the draw for me.

“Uh, that’s kind of your nickname in this house,” he responded, a smile creeping up on the right side of his face, he could hardly contain his joy at the time.

Butch went on to tell me that the name ‘Scooter’ was picked because I “scooted from one man to another.”  I had never had a nickname in my life, with the exception of my father calling me ‘Shoof”- apparently that is the sound I made when I sat down as a toddler.  I would sit down after playing and make this, I-am-so-exhausted noise, and it tickled my dad….Anyhooser, I was appalled. 

“Excuse me, but let me make this perfectly clear-you have seven roommates, and I have dated only ONE of these men.  How dare you?  Aren’t you the one who left me because of your desire to date a real whore?  I mean, who the hell are you to judge ME?”

Butch took me to the Senior Dinner Dance, where we danced to ‘Double Dutch Bus” at least ten times, making the DJ run for cover when we appeared, falling down drunk, to make a request.  He made me laugh at myself, and I needed that at the time.  He ended up leaving me for the town floozy, but we “dated” on and off for years.  Usually, we would run into each other at a party or bar, and being the doormat I was at the time?  I would fall for his persuasions each and every time.

I remained smitten, and moving on was hard.  Really hard.  Until the evening, years after graduation (he graduated, I did not) my friends and I went down to South Street, Philadelphia for a night on the town.  Butch was managing the bar we were in, and I saw him through my peripheral vision approaching us.  I will never, ever forget his outfit.  It was a silk jumpsuit with chains, heavy gold chains around his neck.  I had never seen anything so ridiculous in my life.  And that, my friends, is how Scooter got her groove back~

 

 

 

 

 

How Far We’ll Go……

Each October, my church shows a movie each Sunday.  Some are serious, and some are lighthearted; as I expected this movie (this song made me hysterical, for reasons I will let you in on momentarily) to be of the latter persuasion.  My pastor and friend, Jo Anne, attached a sermon to this film, and spoke in between clips.  She asked that we look for the parallels between finding out whom you are in Jesus, attaining the power and dreams we know are deep within us, sometimes hidden, often not.  I cried throughout the entire display, and I went to her in tears at the service’s closing-not just to thank her for her amazing gift, but to give a soul sister a hug.  We are kindred spirits, her and I, and what we have in common makes her even more of a sister than blood could or ever would.

What we share is a childhood of bullying, feeling left out, psychic pain and unfathomable redemption in the blood of Jesus.  As I aged, I was full of a desire to please others-I needed affirmation through others’ perception of me-a deadly flaw if there was one.  I never outgrew the awkward, chubby child of my youth; physically, yes-emotionally, no. Well into my thirties, I could and would not run past teenagers at a bus stop, or merely a gaggle on the street corner, laughing it up.  I was convinced they would bully me, which never made since, as I had long since fallen into the rabbit hole of anorexia, and the idea that they could see me at all, at 73 pounds?  The heart wrenching fact is:  we believe the stories people tell us.  Just eleven years ago I was in so much pain that I drank to oblivion; snorted spoonfulls  of self esteem, and popped pills to quiet the voice that screamed, “You blew it, you suck, you don’t deserve to be happy, just look at the mess you have made of your life.”

I won’t tell you that this journey has been easy.  I would be remiss.  Heartache after heartache, projecting my pain onto others, especially my weary husband-well, I had no choice but to cling to God-and what transpired was a phoenix rising, further and further from the ashes as every single disappointment, every trial I thought I could not bear, and a loneliness that was felt deep down in my gut-even when surrounded by others-was transformed into joy by a God we cannot see.

I have a wonderful husband, (let’s just say he’s come so far, we fought like lions and tigers and bears-but God knew that we would survive the ride, and blessed beyond our wildest dreams-by one another.)  Something divine happened to me in New York, as I walked across a swinging, wooden bridge the length of a football field, a blanket of jutting rocks and rapids beneath; after spreading daddy’s ashes fifteen hard years late, and then standing up to my latest bully-(read Pistols at Dawn) my hunching has stopped.  I stand tall and confident.  I love writing, my gardens, my family, my life.  I truly enjoy my volunteer position in the local ER, a job I have dreamed of forever and a day.  Our financial worries have diminished, and I won my Social Security disability-something I did not pray about until the week before we received the good news.

“Father Abba, precious Jesus, I cannot ask for more after you have given us so very much.  How could I possibly ask for more?”

And in the quiet hours before the dawn He spoke to me: What you could do to help others with this income, give back as graciously as you have been given…….

But what you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do-blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity!  I tell you the truth, they will receive all the reward they will ever get.  But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand no what your right hand is doing.  Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

6 Matthew:2-4

Pistols At Dawn

No, this is not a docudrama on the perils of standing on stage props, poor Marilyn Manson.  I loathe everything that man stands for, but I have to admit-the poor CD sales, his broken ankle on the first night of his Heaven Upside Down tour; then the attempt to climb a stage prop of two guns pointed in different directions which resulted in the whole works crushing him-well, that’s a shame, as Jerry Seinfeld would say.  I must admit I did chuckle at first, not that I am gloating, but man o’ day-what do you expect when Satan is the god you serve? It is my prayer that as he recuperates, he has a change of heart-but that’s another story and I am sidetracked.

We were up in the jaw dropping beauty of the Adirondack mountains, on lake Algonquin.  Prior to the trip, I was an anxious and traumatized mess: fake news of the September 23 Armageddon, the flea situation, the hurricanes, the fear of flying high and actually enjoying life for a change-all of this led to a reoccurrence of my PTSD symptoms.  In 25 years my husband and I had not had a “real” vacation together, and as we hit the state of New York, my nerves began to mellow, I was beginning to exhale and I cannot praise God enough for His part in getting us there.

Prior to leaving, we had ripped out carpet, vacuumed every crevice, and at 5:30 in the morning I sprayed the last of the flea killer, and closed up shop.  My “best friend” of twenty-five years was taking care of my only indoor cat, Maya Angelou.  She was to feed her in the evening-I had no problems trusting a grown woman, RN and administrator of a local veteran’s hospital-I left food and instructions on the table.  My in laws were right across the street.  What could possibly go wrong?  As it turned out?  Plenty.

On our third evening there, I turned on my cell phone.  I had planned to stay away from my phone, social media, news venues and the like.  I needed to heal, and I wanted to spare my husband the constant freak outs about the world in which we live.  For whatever reason, I felt a nudge to check to see if all was well in the state of Pennsylvania.  I was relaxed, happy and hadn’t self-harmed in days.  My body was repairing itself, and I looked forward to the next leg of our journey.  We were to spread dad’s ashes on Lake Pleasant, hike Auger Falls, dine in a lovely five star restaurant, and I hadn’t seen Dwain so happy in ages.

The text read-‘Hi sweetheart.  Just wanted you to know that I was over to feed Maya this morning (what?  My father in law was assigned the mornings, why was she even there on a Sunday morning?) and I was wearing white pants.  I was covered in fleas.   Is there anything you would like me to do?’

Holy mother Mary, mother of Jesus, and Joseph!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  She went on to say that the only room she had been in was the kitchen.  I text her back immediately, telling her to please turn on the air conditioner, asking if she wouldn’t mind setting off a bomb or two DOWNSTAIRS, as Maya the cat stays in the bedroom.  The very reason we hadn’t set off anything upstairs.  I phoned her and left a message, telling her where the vacuum cleaner was, and also reassuring her that I would make this up to her.

In less than the five minutes it took me to do this, my blood pressure sky high, my mellow harshed-I became hysterical-worried about the cat, my friend, the house………it was like being shot from a cannon, and I immediately regressed and began tearing at my skin, bawling like a child, inconsolable.  My husband was livid.  Why?  Why would she text me this news?  How could she be so cruel?  Was she not capable of figuring this out on her own.  And then it hit me.  THERE WERE NO FLEAS IN THE KITCHEN.  I KNOW THIS BECAUSE IT WAS ONE OF THE ONLY ROOMS THAT THE DOG AND CAT WERE COMFORTABLE IN.   There was nary a flea in my abode when we left for New York. My husband took me in his arms, shush honey, it’s okay, I’ll call my father, we will get through this, shhhush baby…….he was in touch with his dad immediately, and Tom was to set off a bomb in the kitchen.  Relief warmed my muscles, the blood returned to my face.

I phoned my brother and told him I would call him when we returned.  I wanted him to know that I was turning said phone off and would not even look at it until our return.  When we were unpacking, the phone must have fallen out of my purse, and there it remained for three days.  I had bought my “friend” a lovely gift for tending to my feline.  I flicked on my phone to call her to see if she was home, but was immediately stopped dead in my tracks.  She had left three voicemails and a text.  She had called each night of our stay, and then left another text:

“If you EVER get around to checking your messages, there are still a number of fleas in the kitchen.  THANK YOU.”

Appalled, I thought back to the many times I had given her the benefit of the doubt when she belittled me.  Because of low self esteem I had clung to her advice, and many times I felt her to be intentionally cruel and callous.  One Summer I had given her a pair of earrings.  I took great care in picking them out, lovely avocado halves, expensive but worth it.  Days went by and I finally called her to ask if she liked the gift:

“Please give them to one of your nieces.  I will put them on the porch.”

Many, many times I had asked myself if it were possible that she was a narcissist.  That is not a term I use lightly, and I pushed the thoughts out of my head immediately.  I thought back to the day I called her, the day my sister sent me the email that would end our relationship.  I had told my sister my feelings, for the first time in, well, ever.  I was hysterical, crushed at the idea of losing my blood, my world upside down, I cried out to her.

“You fucked up Michele.  You fucked up.”  The harder I cried in protest, the louder and meaner her words.

Jesus has taken the scales off of my peepers.  I have learned that highly sensitive and empathetic, albeit broken people are subject to being surrounded by the Jezebel Spirit.  But I am stronger and wiser now.  She is a part of my past, and there will be no confrontation, because at the end of the day, that is exactly what she wants.

Crazy……

I remember, I remember when I lost my mind……..great lyrics, great song.  After years of fighting for Social Security Disability, (I put up with way too much for way too long, and suffered a break down-depression is not a sign of weakness-it is a sign of being strong despite ridiculously mind-boggling stress) I have now been notified that I won.  I am grateful, yes, but now I am legitimately handicapped, according to the state of Pennsylvania.

I didn’t think I would be overcome with the words of the Judge’s decision:

Advanced age.  Alcoholism.  Depression.  Drug use.  Disabled.  Anxious.  Isolator.  Potato Chip Sifter and my personal favorite-mentally ill.  Perhaps it is time that I own these descriptive, if not melancholy diagnoses.  Knowing that PTSD was the problem all along, well, that does help, as at least I know the beginnings of my madness.  But I am proud to be here, proud to toot my horn in support of mental health awareness and the way Jesus will take the broken and make them strong and resilient, eventually.

I am not the poster child for the criminally insane, and for now, well, that is enough.

Wells

As a child I used to announce to my mother that I was going to live on a farm when I grew up.  Twenty some years later, I found myself in Kleinfeltersville, where I was destined to meet my soul mate.  I met Dwain relatively quickly, and I have lived with him since, on a farmette in a lovely farm house.  While my home means the world to me, visiting the finger lakes of New York has been transforming.  My mother and father were from upstate NY, and mom was torn away from her family and all she ever knew, to move, with an infant and golden retriever puppy, to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.  Mary Lou suffered from depression.  There were times when, after her father and mother passed, that my mother was inconsolable, and struggling for a way to help her, she would cry–

“You have no idea, none whatsoever, of what I left behind to move here.  The people, small town living, my family……”

I may have struggled with our relationship, and I was the black sheep child, but my mother was one tough woman.  Dad travelled for a living, and at times she was left with three children and no vehicle.   Looking back, she was an amazing, if not deeply troubled, mother.  I know for sure I could never have accomplished what she did in her 59 years here on earth, and I phoned her each and every day until she passed.  But back then?  She was right-I did not understand.

Living in my neck of the woods, down in Pennsylvania, has been both wonderful and brutal.  For the first fifteen years, I was known as the harlot from Philly, who left her husband one week after her honeymoon, to live with Dwain, quite possibly the most popular man in Lebanon County.  Everyone knows him, and for the most part, he has been content to remain in the area he was born in, and he knows every damn person in that town, just try grocery shopping with him-there is no such thing as a stranger to my husband, and for that I am thankful.

The folks in our area, which is quickly becoming “the place to be,” are, to put this kindly; well, stoic would be a nice word.  We are surrounded by Amish (very kind, but shy) and Mennonite alike (not generalizing or judging, but they pretty much own the area.)  Each and every time a house goes up for estate sale, a rich Mennonite will buy not only that property, but the surrounding fifty acres to boot.  There is literally less than a 5% chance that a “worldly” person could ever afford to beat their price, and my husband’s street, which used to consist of his entire family, well, most of them are in nursing homes now.  Which brings me to my point: from the minute we stepped into the Norman Rockwellesque town of Wells, I have been absolutely smitten.  The area is beyond beautiful, but that isn’t the pull.  As I’ve said before, we are blessed to live on seven acres of picture perfect land which includes a pond, gardens and deer plots.  I am fortunate enough to live next to my best friend-but when they retire and move upstate, well-it will change things, to be sure.

I am in utter awe of the way Jesus leads us out of despair, tragic circumstances and disease-to a new place, a more secure and peaceful place.  We stopped into the Wells Methodist Church this morning. There were approximately twelve people in that building.  The pastor, band and congregation, tiny as it was-they surprised us with a joyful rendition of Happy Anniversary, after I had given praise for our strong marriage.  No children, no teenagers, no one under the age of 55.  It deeply saddened me to see this, to the point of tears, actually.  The town is full of quaint and lovely chapels; the kind you see in the movies in states like Vermont, or Cape Cod.  The homes along Lake Algonquin are charming, rustic, precious.  Today we hiked the “swinging bridge” trail, and I stood before this lovely, but swaying 300 foot, wooden, open bridge.  I am terrified of heights, and the notion of taking Jesse, my golden retriever, over that bridge, well, let me just say that I never thought, even for a millisecond, that I would cross that death trap.  My husband stood there:

“Come on honey, you can do it,” he called.  No pressure, I am certain he thought the hike was over, that we would turn around and head back to the cottage, but from absolutely nowhere, I surprised myself as well as him, and took my first steps. 

No fear.  None.  I knew in my heart that I was divinely protected.  I also knew that this was not a simple bridge crossing-but a declaration of independence from my anxiety, my deeply instilled hang ups, my depression.  At the other side of the bridge walked a woman named Beth.  We began a discussion and discovered that while we are 103 Park West, she and her family were 103 Park East, we made fast friends and exchanged information-and I don’t believe in coincidence……not any longer. 

The pastor’s sermon was about Exodus and the “spoiled brat Israelites,” who complained because they were slaves in Egypt (I get it) and then, after God and Moses brought them to the land of milk and honey?  Where they were fed and watched over, even shielded from harm.  And then they complained because there was no meat.  God provided quail, but yet they still grumbled.  I saw myself in that scripture, the way I became unhinged at the idea of leaving my comfort zone, what an ungrateful little princess I was.

Jesus has delivered me from anorexia, bulimia, depression, cancer, alcoholism, and drug addiction.  He has led me to the living waters, and there I find peace……day by day, moment by moment.  We are planning on moving here when we retire, and Beth’s mother said it best when I stopped by the house this afternoon.

“Where are you staying dear?,” she asked.

103 Park West, I replied.

“Get the hell out of here!!!!!” she tooted.  We began a conversation about the people from New York, versus the people back home.

“New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians don’t mix.  Their children don’t mix.  Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker.”

I hugged her on the spot.  And I thanked her profusely, for answering the question I have been asking for decades.  Why don’t I fit in?

I have come home, and if I had that faith of a mustard seed, I would have expected this joy, peace, love…….and guidance from my Lord and Savior, who has never, ever let me down.

 

Piseco…..

Our third day in New York, and I am healing by the minute.  The aroma of pine needles, combined with the melancholy sound of the migrating geese, and the captivating change in colors, as Summer turns to Fall on Lake Algonquin.  I breathe deeply, inhale the mimosa, and turn towards the setting sun.  The drastic change has been perpetuated by deep prayer, nature, my 25th wedding anniversary-add to that the lull of upstate New York?  I am in heaven.  And speaking of heaven?  Today is a breathtakingly beautiful day for what many people believed to be Armageddon.  The last day on this planet as we know it, and to say that this knowledge had a vice-like grip on my mental health is a vast understatement.

I have come incredibly far in my journey to rid myself of negativity.  I have unsubscribed from most of my YouTube channels, (the scary, paranormal, illuminati, Alex Jones videos, good grief!) I replaced them with home and garden, DIY, and Christian channels a month or so ago, what harm could possibly come from a man or woman who professes to be a follower of Christ?  A boat load.

Believing that I would be saying goodbye to my husband, dog, brother and friends-well it saddened me in a way I cannot put in words.  I called my brother the day before we left, and, thinking this would be the last time I spoke to him?  I choked back a sob as I poured out my sorrow.

“My heart is grieved.  My heart is grieved,”  I repeated over and over again.

Jesus was whispering, and then, suddenly, screaming in my ear.  Time for a bible dip, I knew.  I opened my NIV and came to 2 Timothy.

This is a trustworthy saying.

If we die with him,

we will also live with him.

If we endure hardship,

we will reign with him.

If we deny him,

he will deny us.

If we are unfaithful,

he remains faithful,

for he cannot deny who he is.

From this point on?  I listen to what Yahweh says, and no man can tell me that the persecution and hardship aren’t worth the blessings that are new to us each day.