All Apologies

Let’s just say that I began my day with a bang and I don’t mean fireworks or half sticks. Every Saturday, my husband takes me to a cozy little restaurant in a historical building, where we know every waitress and some are like family. I bake them cookies, tell them I love them and they, in turn, think I’m funny. One of my closest friends works here on the weekends, as she teaches full time weekdays. It warms my heart to see her precious face, and we laugh our fool heads off.

Just lovely.

What was not lovely was the way in which I entered the building this morning. Inching my way across the snow covered parking lot (I fall so much that I have begun to do the “drop and roll,” not unlike the stunt men and women you see on television) my husband pulling me in protest.

The struggle is real.

Of course and despite the bad weather, the restaurant is packed. As I stepped into the waiting room full of sleepy customers, I instinctively knew I was headed for the floor. I didn’t know why I was headed in that direction, but I remember saying these words to myself:

Tuck and roll, Michele.

And that is exactly what I did. As I hit the slate floor I felt my rib crack, but that pain was overcome by the humiliation I felt as every waitress, busboy and hostess ran in circles screaming OH MY GOD ARE YOU OKAY?

For some lame reason, the words that unwillingly came out of my orifice were-

It’s okay! I’m an EMT!

In my distress I had somehow remembered the words I blurt out when someone other than myself takes a fall. I had to L O L seeing the chaos ensue. Two hostesses actually clanked heads on their way to check on me! I’ve never seen safety cones pulled out so fast in my life.

“They think you’re going to sue them,” my husband helpfully interjects.

And so it was, as we paid our bill, that an entire restaurant of people watched as we walked out the door. That’s what people do these days. They watch the village idiots~

Down to the Jordan Stream

One of the very best tunes I have heard in some time-this music soothes my soul.  I love old things: antiques, vintage clothing, the elderly, and I am reminded of simpler ways, kinder times.

Oh, hold on a second!  My husband is lecturing me about my absolute drive to come to the truth about our world, our society, our government.  

“I don’t know why you do it to yourself.”

“By the way, Tom Hanks is a pedophile,” I retaliate.

“Tom Hanks is a pedophile?” (giggle, guffaw, belch)

I say this with a lightness in my heart that hasn’t been seen since the day I married my man.  I know we are winning the war, the insidious little somethings that gradually grow and eventually manifest into full out plagues.  Sex trafficking.  ANTIFA.  Pedophilia.  Corruption.  Hellyweird…it’s getting to the point that people are waking up, and it encourages me.

Waking up was a process for me that, had I known what lay ahead?  I would have run for the hills.

Ah, Lord, I know I’ve been changed; I said Ah Lord I know I’ve been changed.  The angels in Heaven done signed my name-lyrics I relate to, believe me.  Here’s a little secret that I have been holding on to, wondering in what manner to bring it up in my writing-the closer you come to Jesus, the more you love Him?  Well, the more transformed you become.  I knew something was drastically different when I found myself loving my irritating, self righteous neighbor.  I am convinced she sells information about us all around this block, if you can call two square miles of countryside a “block.”

Yes, out of the blue, right after I became sober, the Grinch’s heart began to soften.  It came as a huge surprise because when I got sober-I got good and pissed.  At everything, really-I was a whirling dervish of RAGE and despondence.  Grief had crept up from the grave, and I went back and forth between crippling sadness over everyone I have lost thus far-especially my father-and the urge to beat the living crap out of anyone who even looked my way.  It’s like someone took you blanky, for crying out loud.  EVERTHING bothers you, my husband’s chewing was so irritating to me that I came close to sending him packing.  You cannot, and I REPEAT, you can NOT grieve, well, anything or anyone if you are using.  And when us addicts have to face pain, what do we do?  We medicate as quickly as possible.  Here’s something many don’t understand: alcoholics and addicts are extremely compassionate, empathetic and sensitive.  I know this for a fact.  I also know that I had, out of self preservation, put up an unsightly wall-against others, including myself.

When I was baptized by water last Easter, I wasn’t expecting any change, as I had been baptized as a child.  When I was saved, my life began anew-so I recommitted myself on a Sunday, in ice cold water-in front of a full church.  I was utterly and completely alone-no husband, family nor friends attended.  The air conditioning was on high, and I embarrassed myself by running from the altar, after having my clothing thrown at me by our Worship minister.  Not a pretty site.  Did I mention I had a sinus infection at the time?

Ah, I have totally veered off of my original point.  You will absolutely believe, deep in your soul, that Jesus is in and with you-when your heart begins to soften.  You stop thinking that you are any better/worse than the next guy.  I repeat that often, I am no better nor worse than my brothers and sisters.  You begin to put others first, and might even find yourself wanting to help others every chance you get-and it feels good and right and perfect.  The rage diminishes.  The cravings vanish.  Jesus sought after you, and you allowed Him into your very being.

So, if you think you’re turning soft, or that the hormones are raging-just call out to Jesus-then you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will answer~

An Unkindness of Ravens

When I was frolicking in the New Age movement (please DON’T) I took notice that a cacophony of ravens followed me-from state to state in fact, and it took me some time to realize that this was not a good thing.  Between a well meaning Reiki Master (please DON’T) led me to Doreen Virtue’s angel cards, spirit guides, and the pineal gland.  

I came to my senses when I went to her immediately after being stalked by a naked, wild haired, crazy man-and she told me I created the scenario, you know, by thinking about it.  Kind of like The Secret, but backwards.  Most of you know I went through absolute hell getting out of such ridiculousness and evil.  The day of my plummet back into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I phoned my sister.

She never got back to me.

The same thing happened the day I was thrown down on my knees in utter sorrow, for the Holy Spirit had made it clear-I needed to apologize and repent.  I didn’t really have a choice in the matter-on my knees for what seemed like hours, repeating over and over:

I have grieved your heart.

I had never, nor do I hope to ever feel that sadness and despair again.

religious wall art inside building
When my anxieties multiply, your comforting calms me down. -Psalm 94:19

I had been praying recently, about trying to make things “right” with my sibling.  Abba answered that prayer rather quickly, as He reminded me that even though I have forgiven her, it doesn’t change who she is.  How could I possibly move forward without an apology, or even an attempt to  talk things out?

And what would become of my authentic self and the tough road walked to freedom from people who did not have my best interests at heart.  I cleaned the closet of close friendships, and wound up making new friendships.  And although I love my sister, and dearly miss my nieces and nephew?

I broke the chains that bound me.  I can never go back.

Never.

 

Slap Me With the Splintered Ruler

 

Good Saturday morning to y’all.  I need you to know that I only have a laptop on the weekends, as mine took a crapola last week.  Of course, my husband offered to take me to Best Buy this weekend, but I am not ready.  Very interesting…a week ago I felt like someone took my nubby-How Will I Ever Exist?  I won’t be able to write, go on Twatter, see the REAL news.  Yet God, in His infinite wisdom, had much greater plans.  Goosebumps….

Let’s just say that I had been way too preoccupied with the web, and with my addictive personality?  I had cut down on pc time, but still carried the computer with me, room to room.  True confession time:  I took it to the bathroom with me.  Don’t judge me, that room is the only room in the house with a door!  Sometimes a girl needs to breathe.  So, while my husband, friends and support network were extremely concerned (I have to say, my brother was probably ready to send for the men in white coats-haha!) Wouldn’t that be special?  My sister tried to have me committed to a facility the night I tried to take my own life-wise, you are saying to yourselves.  I just covered my ears until the social worker on duty promised me there would be no psychiatric institutions.  The very next morning they released me, gave me an Atarax (boy, if I could get my hands on some of those babies-but nah, just the drug addict in me) which allowed me to sleep my entire first day of sobriety away….giving my man time to drain the booze, and anything expensive was given to the neighbors. 

When I awoke that stormy October afternoon, back in 2007?  I went directly for the booze cupboard, searching for something-anything alcoholic-to my surprise I found a jug of white wine.  I sat that baby on the table and we had a talk, until Jesus intervened.

My precious child, when?  When will you say enough?  How much more of this life will you waste?

That did it.  I put the jug back where it belonged and waited it out.  This would be the beginning of years of cravings, big and small.  Relapses.  Drinking upstate without my husband’s knowledge-at the beautiful cabin we are gifted access to from time to time-I knew that was a big bowl of WRONG, yet I couldn’t, or wouldn’t give that once a year libation up-and one day, I thought of all of the miracles that Jesus had performed for me, personal triumphs, freedom from cancer, the very fact that I was alive and breathing spoke volumes to me.

What if I made a covenant with God?  What if in exchange for all He has done, I put away the thought of ever drinking alcohol again, and prayed for Him to give me the strength to do so.

That conversation took place a year ago.

Not.  One.   Craving.

 

 

I could not give up on the worldwide web, the loss was profound…and if I can tell you anything about myself, I can tell you that I am highly adaptable to almost any situation.  They say it takes two weeks to form a habit, and that is why I said “No thanks,” when Dwain offered to buy me a lap top.  I am perfectly content writing on the weekends, and once I am convinced my internet addiction is tamed?  Only then will I purchase new equipment.

It turns out?  I have a life to live.  I cannot fathom the chunks of time I wasted, sitting in my hidy hole, rehttps://youtu.be/aTgrASzzUXUading every bit of the Great Awakening news I could find… I went down Rabbit Holes no person in their right mind would want to travel.  And again, once I got the monkey off of my back?  I began getting things done.  Actually working on the farmhouse, baking, cooking, finding me again.

My husband drove out to New Hampshire for a business trip last week.  And so it was, on Monday evening, the house quiet, no music, no television-that I found a picture of me and my father.

“Wow.  I always hated this picture of myself.  Not so much anymore, huh dad?  Umm…it’s/been/hard…”  The words tumbled from my mouth, and before I knew it, I was crying-my body wracked with emotional pain, I sensed something huge was in the air.

Jesus spoke to me again.

Child, it is time to let go of your shame.

Was I hearing Abba correctly?  Why, I didn’t realize I still carried it with me, the deep seated self loathing.  It took some time, but everything came together, as if a giant piece of the puzzle had been found.  I turned the pain into gratitude, as I remembered why I had such shame to begin with.

As a child, I knew shame.  My mother would go for days without speaking to me, and for the life of me, I truly never knew what provoked her ire.  I stopped a moment to think about what deep shame could do to a child in her formative years.  Eventually, I would buy her a card or pick her flowers.  I came across one such card in my mother’s bible just a while back.

Mom, I just wanted you to know that I’m sorry, and I love you very much.

Your daughter,

Michele

In school I suffered total shame because of my weight.  The kids were cruel, and the taunting was so persistent?  It took me well into my thirties before I could jog or walk past a group of teens.  No matter that I had lost the weight, I still felt the shame.

In High School, considered a jock and oddball, (Varsity Crew Coxswain) I began to realize that this wasn’t going to resolve itself, but I had no idea where to begin.  At Villanova, my shame came from not having or being enough.  Surrounded by incredibly wealthy and beautiful people, I made up a story about being a Jontue model.  Unfortunately, people not only believed me, they spread the word.  I mean, who doesn’t want to be friends with a famous model, right?  In college I learned to reinvent myself, and the only person I was hurting was me.  Why wasn’t I enough?

After college, my drinking career became legend in some parts of King of Prussia.  I began seeking attention (love) through a series of promiscuous love affairs-and the reputation stuck.  I began doing cocaine as a way to lift my spirits and self esteem; what could possibly go wrong?

The day I found myself on the doorstep of my rented home, due to losing an eight ball of coke.  I had given my brother a birthday party, and while I had my back turned, one of my nearest and dearest friends (I had only invited people we were very close to) had lifted the bag I had hidden, way in the back of my closet, under a stack of love letters.  I had promised Ted, my landlord, that I would sell it all that night.  There are no words to express my horror at finding I had been robbed.  I had no money to give him, and that didn’t sit well, not at all.

Ted sold drugs for the Gambino crime family.

I went on the run.  My room mate and best friend, Mel, beside me-we drove away like bats out of hell, and didn’t look back, not once.

So, with my worsening alcoholism and drug addiction, there were reasons to be ashamed.  And as I sat in my bedroom, weeping between the litter boxes, I asked myself this question:

What is there to be ashamed of now?  Why do you feel unworthy?  Why do you punish yourself for simply existing?

Let me light my lamp, says the tiny star; and never debate whether it will dispel the darkness.

– Rabindranath Tagore

May you shed your shame like the cloak of darkness it has become.

You are special, unique and loved-let your freak flag fly, baby~

Adrift

In your darkest hours, in your finest grief-this is where Jesus does His absolute bestest ever work.  Of course, when you are adrift in a sea of confusion, rage and betrayal?  You don’t want to think about how strong or wise or ethereal His love-you are way too busy crying, railing or even vicariously throwing inanimate objects at the wall.  Your heart hurts so bad you swear it will break, the tears so salty dehydration sets in.

The lights are out.  There is nothing of comfort, you can’t see your way through the pain.  But here’s the rub:  the only way around the feels is through the feels.  In other words, to quote Richard Gannon, “you gots to feel the feels.”

As I hike the Spicebush trail, I wonder at the miracle that God still loves me, despite my Irish sighing and in spite of my ineptitude. I am an Israelite, awash in the desert of my own making-complaining about this or that.  I catch myself, and ask forgiveness of Him.  I have always had exactly what I needed at every turn of the page.  In recent times, God has blessed us beyond measure-my husband’s new job, my Social Security disability granted, and, more importantly?  We are in love and, for the most part, healthy.

I always turn to Jesus, eventually.  I have struggled with depression and anxiety my entire life.  I wish I had learned to practice this habit much earlier in life.  Perhaps it may have spared me the alcoholism, drug addiction and suicidal ideation.

I wanted to end my life because I thought myself a loser.  A miscreant.  A nobody.

I couldn’t keep a friend, let alone a job.  I knew I was different, that I didn’t fit in, and that for the most part I wouldn’t be missed.  The emotional abuse endured at the hands of the people I loved and trusted the most would prove to be a deal breaker.

I broke, into a millions little pieces not unlike the mess you leave when you break a Christmas ornament.

Shattered.

woman holding broken mirror
I lost my friendships, my family, my identity in Christ.

I thought I was coming out of the woods, and I convinced myself that nothing bad would ever happen to me again because I was a child of God and I figured He’s seen me through the worst of it.

I was dreadfully wrong,

With the help of a mighty God I made it through each and every hairpin turn, but just as I was getting my bearings-another tragedy, another slip into isolation and chaos.  I noticed this, yes, but I also paid mind to the fact that with each and every arrow flung in my direction (the persecution comes from Satan, but God has the control) the more courageous I became.

One evening I called out His name, I couldn’t take another self sabotaging thought-my depression had resurfaced.

Please, Psalm 91…the arrows that fly by night…all that sort of thing.  HELP ME JESUS!!!!

And just as if I were taking out the trash, my body arched-my head flew back.  I had momentarily thought of that lion, the one who roars at the enemy-

I.  Am.  The.  Storm!!!

I.   Am.   The.   Storm.

I roared quietly, then not so quietly.

Together, Jesus and I are building my life back up-brick by brick.  He sustains me by the Living Waters and wipes the tears from my furrowed brows.

And then…I rally my senses, join forces with my soul and pick of my cross.

For I am His and for that?  Oh for that I am well pleased.

Waves and Wind

Before I begin, I want to talk about the utter joy I feel when I watch this man lead thousands of people in worship.  People have taken great joy in watching the demise of this man, and understandably so-the arrogance, the Taylor Swift! Whom-in a bizarre turn of events not witnessed since Stanley Kubrick produced and directed the moon landing-is now a part of the Illuminati while Ye has turned to Jesus.

Those jaded will think me naive.

Those enlightened by the Holy Spirit will see what I do, if they listen to their hearts.  Which brings me to my next subject.

In loving memory of Barbara Elkins~

A few years ago, I stormed my physician’s office after three months of getting the run around.  I was wearing my white, tattered robe and fuzzy bunny slip ons.  My hair had been drenched in sweat from fever, and matted to my head.  Every inch of my body was in pain, and I meant business.

I’ve done my research, I have Lyme disease.  Please give me 30 Doxycycline and a shot of Toradol.

The doctor, aghast-apologized so many times that I had to intervene.

Please, you’re human.  It’s okay.

The now hysterical doctor was in tears.  Five minutes later it was I who was in tears, as they sent my Lyme riddled body for testing-all I wanted was my bed, but you can’t always get what you want.  They sent me for an ultrasound, because my lymph node was the size of a grapefruit.  That, in turn, led to a transvaginal biopsy (without the lidocaine ladies-she was a bitch)  By the time the tests were completed, my Lyme symptoms had long before vanished.

My sister and I could be physicians without going to med school.  We grew up with a very ill mother, and picked up-as if  by osmoses-a vast knowledge of anything that has anything to do with the medical field.  Our collective hypochondria added to that vocabulary-the worst book ever written?  That big, fat medical encyclopedia that explained any and all illnesses.  My siblings and I would spend hours upon hours reading the news of our impending demise, running from friend to grocery store cashier for advice on our latest and greatest ailment.

Did you ever swallow in a way that your sphincter muscle twitched and the backfire caused pain in your anus?

Oh, it didn’t matter how mortifying the question, we would not be reassured unless ten to twenty of our nearest and dearest had given us satisfaction.  Looking back it isn’t in the least bit humorous, as we wasted the best years of our lives like Woody Allen in Annie Hall.  It’s hard to enjoy life when you think people are poisoning your food, or worse, telling you about their recent harrowing brush with death.  I mean, how TERRIFYING!!!

All of this preface was necessary, and in the following prose you will understand why.

A few months ago, I found my grade school report cards in my father’s filing cabinet.  I opened them with great anticipation, as I assumed I had been a reasonably intelligent child.  What I found shook my very foundation:

Michele continues to resist any form of discipline.  She struggles with social structures and often retreats from the group.

Michele is having trouble with motor skills a child of her age should have mastered by now.  She isn’t able to skip and will not pass unless she can show improvement in this arena.

Michele continues to have difficulty with division.  I will send exercises home with her, please follow through and test her skills often.   I don’t want to hold her back a year.

One day, my eye caught this video about Asperger’s syndrome.  Odd, I thought.  My video subscriptions are either music, history or politics.  I wasn’t subscribed to this channel.  Apparently, God wanted to get my attention. He had it.

On the third visit to my family physician, he tested me.  To my utter shock, he confirmed my suspicions.  On one of the tests I took, where 34 was the cut off for Asperger’s-I scored a 41.  I wasn’t convinced.  Why hadn’t someone caught this sooner?  I loved my family pediatrician, Dr. Shultheis.   He was a capable and compassionate physician.  Wouldn’t he have picked up on it?

Here’s the rub:  my early years (beginning at age 3) were spent in and out of the hospital.  I had Pyelonephritis and required multiple surgery.  I spent months at a time trying to recover from the latest surgery, latest dilation.  It was painful and I came to the point where every time my mother made lasagna or meatballs?  I knew what was coming, another painful hospital stay.

In my early teens I developed anorexia.  That required a tremendous amount of money and work on my poor mother’s part.  By the time I married my husband at thirty one, my teeth and hair had been ravaged by malnutrition.

My point?  There was always something else going on, something that took any thoughts of curing my depression, anxiety and other issues out of our minds.

The need to isolate.

The hours and hours I spent in my bedroom, headphones on, rocking back and forth in my hanging wicker chair.

My trouble with angry outbursts, extreme sensitivity, a shyness that came off as arrogance to everyone around me.  My intense desire for routine and structure.  My heightened senses:  I can smell a dead mouse from a mile away, and I hear things my husband tells me I have no business hearing, as in–

How in the HELL did you hear that?

I attributed it to the Elkins nose, the hearing to a God given gift.

My name is Michele.  I have spent my entire journey searching for answers to my need to isolate, my fear of dirt and germs, my utter lack of common sense, and my passion for music.  Why couldn’t I manage my temper?  Why did I become so enraged?  Why did loud noises cause me such anxiety?  Why did I lack the common sense, the street smarts others seemed to own?

Why God, was I so incredibly different from everyone I had ever had the pleasure of meeting?  And how did I build this incredible wall around my heart after years of rejection and ignorance?

This is my journey, my cross to bear.

  My newest friend, a young Mennonite girl named Jolene, is a cashier at our local Good’s.  I was drawn to her love and compassion.  Last week I burst into tears while buying a can of paint.  Her precious heart was evident when she came around to embrace me.

“Would you like to have my youth group sing to you tomorrow?,” her angelic smile lit up her beautiful face.

And so it was, that ten of God’s angels sang The Old Rugged Cross in my tiny living room.  The Grinch’s heart let loose a sigh, and thanked the God she worshipped for blessings in disguise.

 

 

 

 

Uncontainable

I had a fabulous day today, one I had anticipated with dread.  Errand running takes me out of my comfort zone-there are days when a simple phone call takes too much energy. If you suffer from depression or CPTSD, the idea of doing anything that involves people can rob you of your joy; especially in today’s world.

God has a way of rewarding us for entrusting our days to Him.  Today, oh today I was blessed by a hike by the living waters, a beautiful day and the perfect Jonigold apples.  None of this would have been possible had I isolated.

Some days, all it takes is a really good laugh to get me going in the right direction.  Today was one of those days:  Jesse in the back of the windowless jeep, we pass a farm.  I am paying no attention to the scenery-believe me, I can only do one thing at a time, and I don’t combine driving with, well, anything.  With no warning whatsoever, came the siren call that can be heard when living out in the country-

Mooooo!!!  Moooo!!!  Mooo!!!

Good Lord it sounded as if the entire herd were in the vehicle with us.  Jesse jumped, I screamed.  Two seconds later I my sides were splitting, and the world was turned right side up once again.  I guess you had to be there, sigh.

After doing my chores, I took a hot shower and dressed.  The awkward feeling of melancholy was taking hold once again.  Have you ever been lonely, but known in your very gut that other people were not the answer?  Well, I knew, and I searched within to see where the gaping wound was festering.

Most of the people I have deeply loved are gone, passed away.  The very few I do allow into my life are treasured, don’t get me wrong.  It’s just that I have lost, for the most part, the people that loved me for who I was.  The soul ties are missing from my life, and as with any other burden, I turned to Jesus for comfort.

People in these parts either love me or loathe me.  The fact is?  If you are your own person, and especially if you have picked up your cross and given your heart, soul and mind to Christ?  You will be, and no specific order here-shunned, attacked, gossiped about and yes, loathed.  It’s up to you to decide how to handle this.  My approach is to try and fellowship with as many of my brothers and sisters as my PTSD will allow.  I have tremendous trust issues, and sadly, most of the monsters I have had the displeasure of knowing I met in church.  Fact.

After a tear or two, I went downstairs and dove into the Word-it did not disappoint.  I am coming to the beginning of Revelations, a book I have never been able to complete.  Reading about the false prophets John warns us about, the end times gurus, New Agers and Buddhists.  Sorry, not stepping on toes.  I believe the only way to God is through Jesus Christ, who was crucified on a cross on Calvary, and he alone is the way, the truth, and the life.  Umm, it says so in the Holy Bible.

I can tell you that I was really upset last week when BOOM, out of nowhere, my 3,000 followers on my twitter account was down to zero.  I had worked on some of these friendships for years, and to be frank I was enjoying a following of sorts.  John F. Kennedy, Jr. was a follower, and man, I had to be vetted my brother!  Dare I say it?

I was proud of my Twitter page.

Oh saints preserve us, how could that be?  I never wanted a big following, wasn’t in it for the numbers-it was my good reputation in the Truther community that meant the world to me.

Okay.  Two sins right there.  We are to show no pride in ourselves, but give the glory and honor to God.  At what precise point did my reputation as a journalist come before my love for Jesus? (No false Gods) I mean, I was addicted.  I do miss the friendships, but God knew what he was doing!  He knew I was done with that phase in my life, and that nothing good could really come of an addiction, especially in my case.  I have freed up hours of time to read the Word, to be with Him.

Plus, my newly conquered, or so I thought, codependency resurfaced via the little blue bell that told you people liked you!  They heard you!  They even, some of them, loved you!  Alas, social media is not the real world, it is a subversive fantasy island and why preach to the choir?  It’s not like I was getting my point across to the other side because your feed is full of who you follow.  It was toxicity itself.

Have you slowed down enough to see and hear what the Holy Spirit is whispering to your heart?  Are you giving yourself the TLC your beautiful body and soul require?  Caught up in the secular world and can’t get out?

At least for me, the answers came in the quiet.

And for that?  Oh for that it is well with my soul.