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.

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.

 

What the World Needs Now

I had a good day in the ER today, Friday the 13th or not.  This day has always been a good day for me, despite the fear and loathing attached to it.  We were slow today, and that gave me more time to spend with the patients, which brings me to the reason for this blog.  I am seeing so much legalism, judgement and outright hatred coming from people who profess to be “Christians.”  As a matter of fact, it has become so harsh in social media land that I have had to unfriend a handful of people, and these are the very souls that profess to be lovers of all things Christ.

I am a sinner.  I have come a very long way, but I remain a sinner.  I have asked God to guard me against every snare, but I am a victim of my own mind, and when I catch myself judging others, well, I feel shame and 9 out of 10 times?  I have been guilty of the same behavior that irritates me in others.  Today we admitted a woman who had driven straight into a pole, and she was accompanied by the police and EMTs.  She was my age, actually, one year younger.  Her words were slurred and she gave the police officer a hard time about having her blood drawn.  The cop repeated the charges, the protocol, and the penalties attached-at least three times.  I stood there, waiting for her to lose it, as she was none to happy with, well, anyone in the ER.  The nurses whispered, we all came to the same conclusion:  Something is off, she is guilty as sin, how could she have driven with so much medication in her system?  Ambien and Seroquel (relatively strong sedatives) were taken “by mistake.”  She had taken her evening pills in the morning, rather than her vitamins.  Likely story…….

And later, long after the police and EMTs had gone, I stepped into her room.  She had sobered up and I sat at the side of her bed.  Knowing I had words to comfort, I told her the story of an accident many years ago-I had gone out after Thanksgiving dinner, to meet my incredibly irresponsible friend, Bonnie.  I had exactly three dollars in my purse, and we were to meet at 8 p.m. at Houlihan’s.  I was driving my mother’s brand new car, and some time around 11 p.m., I passed the Upper Merion Township building, at 100 mph.  A police chase ensued, and I hit a tree in the center of a field.  I was dazed, but emerged from the car injury free.  It wasn’t until I tripped and hit my head on the torn metal that I cracked my forehead open.  I was walking the street a bloody mess, until the police found me and took me to the Emergency Room.

My parents were called, and when they arrived they were FURIOUS.  It wasn’t until my bloodwork came back free of alcohol that they calmed down.  Drugs of the mickey variety were foundI thought back to the evening, and all I remembered was sitting with a man I had worked with years ago.  I remembered walking outside, I needed some air.  He was with me at that point.  To this day I have no recollection of the hours between nine and eleven.  And let’s just say I know I was drugged, and this time it wasn’t my fault.

The woman began to tear up, then all of the emotion and severity of the situation-the fact that her husband was due any moment, she had to call her insurance company, she was mortified-it all welled up and came out in bits and pieces of hysteria.  Tears dripped down her cheeks; I gave her the number of an attorney.

My point is this:  we are to love one another, (often not easy, often not the case) without judging.  If you are a follower of Christ you should be filled with joy, compassion and a peace that surpasses all understanding.  We are living in the NEW TESTAMENT.  You will know the real Christians by their unabashed love for others, their words, their actions.  I don’t believe that Jesus cares if I cover my head during worship, or if I listen to Hillsong Bethel Music (some say a cult) to worship-he cares about what is in my heart, my devotion to him as my Lord and Savior-and how I treat others, specifically every person I come into contact with.  I am not preaching to the choir, I am singing a song of love, compassion and hope.

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.

Lake Pleasant….

As we head out to hike this morning, I was struggling with a chest cold, and found I had little patience for, well, anything.  Determined to make the most out of the last two days of our vacation-I grew a pair, and dealt with it.  My husband and I have been trying to find a certain old growth forest, which is far away, and we have searched two of the five days we have been here.  One thing I won’t say about the state of New York is that their road markings and signs are the best-it’s almost like the town of Wells is trying to remain America’s best kept secret.  That is my only complaint.

After driving 50 miles and not finding Potholes, again, we turned around and found the only hiking trail we found marked.  And I mean marked by a gate.  We ended up on a lovely, rocky river bed and wandered around until my husband said I was walking in deadly snake areas.  I carried my father’s ashes, sacred in their own right, in my backpack, and announced:

“I am going to spread daddy’s ashes right here.”

My husband responded in a stern voice, “No, you are NOT!!!” This went on for a few minutes, the back and forth, until Dwain relented:

“I scheduled a boat, a pontoon.”

In his generosity of spirit, unrelenting love for me, kindness and compassion; he had talked to a mariner on Lake Pleasant.  The owner told my husband, who was willing to rent the boat for half of a day, that for this occasion? Why he could have the boat for an hour, free of cost.  After a few quick instructions and grateful hugs, we set out to the middle of the lake.  I told Dwain I was ready, and, gently but passionately, I wept.  Pulling myself together, I told my father how much I missed him.  I remembered part of the eulogy I wrote for his funeral, and quoted a few bible verses.

“Love never fails daddy, and I will love you until the end of forever.”

As I turned around my husband pointed, and there, in the middle of Lake Pleasant, was an ethereal monarch butterfly.  I caught my breath.  I hugged my man.  I wiped my stale and salty tears away.