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.

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

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.

 

Home….

cropped-15095550_1812089809073862_3374301090125037312_n.jpgWe are finally here.  Up in the Adirondack Mountains, near lake Pleasant, in the sleepy little town of Wells, New York.  If there are two people who need a vacation, it is my husband and myself.   We began the trip with an argument, which stemmed from my hysteria about leaving my home.  I like to take my time and make sure I have everything.  Dwain likes to leave in such a hurry, that I fear he may spontaneously combust.

Aside from the fact that we were pulled over for a speeding (my weed was right there, in the front seat, my pipe in my purse.  I don’t think I took a breath for ten minutes straight- and after reviewing my husband’s driver’s license, the state trooper asked us this question:

“Can you two tell me what that white powdery substance is in that bag?”

I kid you not.  We looked at one another, completely oblivious to what he possibly could have meant, and we both turned our gaze to the silverware, wrapped in a white napkin, that my husband mistakenly took from a restaurant and has planned on returning since.

After receiving a $250 fine, plus points, we were told to have a great vacation.  The trooper followed us for twenty miles, and it wasn’t until he took an exit ramp that we both screamed- OH MY GOD IN HEAVEN HOW SCARY WAS THAT?????????

I am not a pot head by any stretch of the imagination, I only use it for my CPTSD, but because my career in donating to the Columbian drug cartels only began a few years ago.  I am patiently awaiting availability, as it has been legal in the state for a year, but very little progress has been made.  Hey, it’s Pennsylvania…

So I am sitting here, underneath the amazing pines, on a deck in the forest.  I was born in New York, and I have had the distinct feeling that I am home again, for the first time in way too long.  I brought my father’s ashes, as I couldn’t spread them when my siblings did; fifteen years ago in nearby Lake George.  I knew if I had gone on that trip that my drinking would have led to a very tense, if not tragic melee.  I feel grounded and at peace, and today I saw my very first waterfall-I cried for twenty minutes, the beauty too much for me to contain in my heart.

I won’t be on social media.  I refuse to look at my phone.  No checking of emails.  God is speaking to me and this is what he wants: for me to start concentrating on the good, the pure, the lovely, the laughter-no more tears for now.  I feel as if I am at the precipice of hope, and I know more clearly than ever that Jesus takes such great care to give us these incomprehensible blessings~and I want you to know, He loves you more than you could ever dream, or imagine.

My husband told me this morning that our neighbors were gone for the day.  He has been cavorting whilst naked, fell off the deck (long story) and thrown caution to the wind.  He just approached me with the news that the women have, in fact, been home the entire day.  I have to go, I’m in hysterics……….chow.