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.

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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.

 

Miss Maya and the Missing Link

One of my favorite felines, Maya Angelou, has come so incredibly far in her quest to find herself. I am a firm believer in the notion that animals have souls, and like Angelou she is a fearsome lioness, a freedom fighter-a survivor.

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Born 8 years ago, the last of my longhairs (I kept the entire litter, four cats in all)she was petrified of her own shadow. The runt of the litter, she was always last to get nursed, last to be bathed, pushed aside like so much dander. She immediately found a hidey hole, up in the rafters of our bedroom. Incredibly tiny, I often feared she would fade away. It was because of her frailty that I put off having her fixed- rather than take her to the Humane Society clinic for thirty five dollars, as I did with each and every other cat before-I had her spayed by our family vet, who charged me over four hundred. I know. I know. This made my husband cringe and carry on-one of the reasons Maya hides to begin with. Dwain has a strong and deep voice-he frightens all of our cats; yet Maya would run upstairs and jump to her happy place-not to be seen for days.

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We have cared for a myriad of cats over the years. Living out in the country, desperate people have done desperate things, like drop their cats and kittens off at a stranger’s home: but I look at it this way-they were meant to be with me. I have my favorites (current cat population:17)and thirteen of them live outside. They have a really groovy pad under the giant pine out back, and a covered cat home beneath our deck. We feed them, nurse and vaccinate each and every cat, thanks to the generosity and passion of Nobody’s Cat Foundation. They neutered/spayed fifteen cats, giving them vaccinations as well, at no cost to myself. I will be sending them something at Christmas, for as long as they are up and running.

She doesn’t hide any longer. She lives in our bedroom, proud and precious, content in the world she has created. She likes her pillows just so and her catnip must be placed to the right of her toy mouse. I feed her can food once a day, and as long as her needs are met? She purrs at warp volume, she kills me with kitty kisses and blinks her undying affection.12311171_932332183509072_157103928902352993_n

Fresh out of the shower, and feeling a bit more positive, I played with Miss Thang in her sun spot. She has put on weight, and her coat is like mink. And then it all came together in this supernatural way. I could see it in her cat eyes, the strength, courage and love-emanating from a cat who was at one time so depressed she pulled her hair out, in clumps.

WE HAVE BOTH WON OUR BATTLE OVER VICTIMHOOD. WE ARE SURVIVORS. WE ARE LOVED UNCONDITIONALLY BY A GOD WHO SENT HIS ONLY SON TO PAY FOR OUR SINS, SO THAT WE MAY SPEND ETERNITY WITH OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.

Me and Maya?

We got it licked.

Risky Business

I am about to write about a trauma in my life that almost killed me, and sometimes? Well, on the rare occasion, when I am in the fetal position, in gripping despair? I wish it had.

I have never written about this subject matter. No, I wasn’t ready, willing or prepared to throw my family under the bus. How have things changed? God has given me the courage to bare my soul-and I firmly believe that secrets make us sick.

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The picture above has never been touched-no photo shop, no tricks. It is a picture I took after the Holy Spirit nudged me to step outside and take a picture. All I could see was mist and rain. The camera lens saw more, much, much more. When I brought my Walmart special up to my eyes, I could see them, at least seven-beings of white light attached to white crosses. It hasn’t happened since, but that it occurred at all? This, my dear friends, was a miracle.

This may take some time, and I’ll be honest-it will be much longer than my usual blog, as this story is a part of who I am, who God has molded me to be, and what the faith of the tiniest mustard seed can do.

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Back in 2003, my father was laying in a local ICU, his kidneys failing-his leg, after several surgeries-amputated up to the knee. My husband and I had been taking care of him, since the Spring. Dad had many diabetes related health issues, and the stress of meeting his needs was a growing concern. After finding the Meals on Wheels woman on his front porch (he hadn’t picked up the phone, but used to his ways, I had been determined to get some cleaning done) then subsequently finding daddy in a diabetic coma, his peritoneal dialysis machine screaming in protest; he had blood running from the corner of his mouth, and his moaning was guttural, raw.

Don’t leave me daddy, don’t you leave like this.

The EMTs had arrived, and so had my husband and his best friend. I was out of my mind with worry and grief. I blamed myself. I went after the chubby Paramedic who moved so slowly, I thought my father would perish before she made it to the bedroom. My husband had to pull me off of her; I am not proud of my behavior, but like I said, I had become unhinged and knew that each moment that passed was not in his favor.

We stood outside in the lawn, as they worked on my father in the ambulance. He was revived and taken to the hospital. I got on the phone, called my siblings.

“No more. Please, I am begging you,” I cried to my sister. “Daddy needs to be in a nursing home.”

And so it was that we found my father a room in a skilled nursing facility. Most evenings I would get a call that the nurses couldn’t figure out my father’s equipment, even after I had given a demonstration, twice. I would run over to the home, in my pajamas more times than not, and restore the dialysis machinery. One day, while visiting, my father fell in the hallway. I jumped up from my seat in the dining room, flipped off my heels, and ran towards him as if his life depended on it-turns out the nurses were nowhere to be found, and that was the first “incident.” He was still much safer at StoneRidge, and I had spoken with the home’s director about keeping him there. My siblings went behind my back and spoke to the director as well. Only they insisted that my father was absolutely FINE and could go home whenever he was ready.

I blame them for his death, which happened two days, TWO DAYS, after his release from the nursing facility they claimed he did not need. But it got much worse. Although I was daddy’s POA, they hastily planned his cremation and funeral the next day-at my niece’s birthday party. I was beyond hurt; I was incredulous.

“That’s what dad wanted,” my brother stuttered. NO. In the almost year that I cared for him (in a house up the road, as we could not afford an addition-and dad couldn’t do our steep, farmhouse stairs) nothing was ever said about cremation.

A week after his passing, I received a phone call from my sister, explaining that she and my brother had planned an estate sale, that they would be selling our precious family heirlooms. I did not attend that circus, and my husband spent thirty-eight dollars on a painting I had done in first grade, just so I would have that memory. During that phone call, I was accused of “stealing” my father’s money: over a sixty eight dollar grocery bill.

At the end of the day they had robbed me of everything I held dear. My father, who had lost his home to the IRS after losing his paper company, had very little money-and I wanted no part of it. To this day I believe that the money was the issue that drove them to cremate my father.

The moral of this story?

Love. Love passionately and fully, never taking for granted your beloveds.

Time is too precious. Love too rare.

Cats in the Cradle and the Silver Spoon

 

My week has yet to truly improve, as I remain my very own worst enemy.

It happened like this:  I wanted to light a candle for my Uncle Bill’s funeral, and, not being used to internet funeral arrangements, I wrote my condolences as well.  The caveat was that only family members could see the posts.  Oh, thank God, I thought-no one will see this but Aunt Irene and my cousins.

I wrote about the time uncle Bill came down to help my father out, financially, spiritually and physically.  I also wrote about my regret that I had not met up with him and Irene,  when the ceremonial of spreading daddy’s ashes took place some fifteen years ago.  My siblings, along with my aunt and uncle, went out on a boat at Lake George, and Bill had asked my brother why I was MIA.  

It must have looked awful.  But I went on to say that I had some pretty intense anger issues because my siblings had him cremated, and I was the one who had taken care of daddy until the end.  It just didn’t feel right.  I poured my heart out, and asked that one of the Elkins family reach out to me, as I think family terribly important-and I have lost half of mine.  I should say, they lost me.

One day I will write a book, including my journal entries over the last thirty years.  It will be my autobiography, and the title? Twisted Sister. 🙂

When you coming home dad, I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then, son, we’re gonna have a good time then.

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I Really Don’t Know Love, at All….

 

I have to get back into the swing of my craft-behind on two nominations, and very tightly wound, I tell myself, Relax, just breathe.  Sometimes, life gives us the lemon-oh the betrayal and pain.  And sometimes, a person you adore (and during these times, you wonder why) comes along and purposely tries to steal your joy.  And, for purposes of disclosure, let’s say that person is, and has always been, my husband-for whom I hold out hope, but like I said, I don’t know why.

After all that I have been through, and suffered (often by my own hands) I have finally come to learn the key to peace, in all times.  I have so much to learn about CPTSD, yet who wants to spend an hour, or even a minute reading about a thing so painful?  I was emotionally abused by my mother, but it didn’t end there; she taught me people pleasing, and that no one will love you if you don’t agree with everything they think you should be, do, say, live.  My self esteem was literally broken, shut down, before I obtained sobriety.  And eleven years later, God continues his work on me-He wastes no pain.  Ever.

So, without going into too much detail, started off the weekend in a bad way.  Whenever I am sick, and this time it’s a sinus infection, the man of my dreams takes it personally.  He sulks, and absolutely loathes the idea of me resting-as a matter of fact, we go through something similar each and every time I fall ill.  I am made to feel less than, a monster, a lazy wife-it has become so bad that it takes an act of God to get me to rest during the day.  I have been pushing myself for weeks, not so much as taken an aspirin, and finally, finally yesterday afternoon, I lay down to nap.  Long day in the ER, my head throbbing, legs like jelly-I grabbed a blanket and lay on the couch.

Five minutes later, my husband is home.  I get up, go to the door, kiss him hello.  I tell him my plans and he reddens.  I go to the couch, as I can’t fight my weakness.  No lie, Dwain then proceeds to bring heavy lumber into the living room, and drop it all behind my head.  I was seriously irritated, yet smiled and said, I guess no nap today.

He then punished me by storming out of the house, speaking of me ruining our weekend.

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NO!  I will not allow you to rob me of my joy.  I will not succumb to the lullaby of peace for peace’s sake-I happen to work really hard on the house, garden, church and volunteering; my 15 cats (most outdoor, but all fixed, all beautiful) and beloved canine, my relationships.  I have new interests, and recently rekindled my love of finding old furniture and bringing it to it’s previous luster.  I hit the ground running at 6 a.m., and forget to eat most days, I am that harried.  So, can you think of one good reason this man is not being childish, and unreasonable.

I went to bed, leaving him a note of displeasure.  It wasn’t kind, I will be honest.  Do you have any experience in arguing with a lunatic when your head is pounding out of its skull, and your throat feels like you swallowed the bottle of hot sauce?  No, bed it was for me.  I didn’t eat, I just escaped by sleeping the sorrow away.

This morning, I couldn’t make myself get out of bed.  I kept getting up, turning around, and going right back to my pillow and throw, my golden retriever.  By 8:30 I was attempting to put my jeans on when my husband arrived at the doorway.  Crap.  No coffee, I’m sick….please don’t let him start another….

“Now, are you ready to apologize to me so we can have a good weekend?”

DID I JUST HEAR WHAT I THINK I HEARD?  SERIOUSLY?  IN 27 YEARS TOGETHER HE DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO AVOID POKING THE BEAR?  AM I IN THE FREAKING TWILIGHT ZONE, OR BIZARRO WORLD, OR COULD IT POSSIBLY BE THAT THIS IS MY FAULT AS WELL?

It got ugly.  Uglier than he thought it would, I am supposing.

The old me would have gone back to bed and wept about another lost weekend.  I would have slept through this entire day, once again punishing myself.  A key characteristic in Narcissistic Abuse is the fact that they want you on your knees if you upset them, pleading for forgiveness and ready to make amends.

He took off on our Harley, with no helmet, just to piss me off.

I slowly waked upstairs to obtain my hiking gear.  I fed the dog his eggs, and left the house with dishes in the sink.  We went to a bubbling creek, and ran into the nicest couple.

“We hiked the AT last year, but had to get off trail because I had Lyme disease,” the man said.

This is how God works-I have a routine and very rarely does it change.  If I hadn’t been so deeply hurt by Dwain, I would have stayed home, worked in the garden, or cleaned.  I steered off course for a reason, as Abba wastes not one ounce of our pain.

We spoke about Lyme for a bit.  I told him that Stevia works on keeping the Lyme at bay, and eventually eradicates the symptoms you suffer.  He was so appreciative, I could tell his wife was over the moon at the tip-and I smiled, blushing.  We continued our picturesque stroll, and then drove over to the local farmer’s market, where I purchased the most succulent strawberries I’ve had in years.  Once home, we worked in the garden (actually, Jesse ate his Frosty Paw and slept) every step a struggle, but I was determined not to waste this gorgeous weather, here in the Northeast.

I then showered, put on my favorite Summer night wear, perfume and lotions.  I am now sitting in my boudoir, sipping Kombucha and listening to Vivaldi, while finishing this blog and moving on to a nap.

Don’t let anyone steal your joy without permission!  This is not your fault.  The one and only thing that you and I are guilty of?  Planting our own gardens, watering our own flowers, ignoring the capacity for cruelty in others.

Treat yourself with respect, the rest will fall into place:  with or without your better half.

 

 

 

 

 

No Regrets….

I don’t really know where to begin, but this is a story of hope. I don’t feel sorry for myself, and I in no way am asking for your pity-I have a story to tell that is a testimony of God’s love and grace and perfect peace. Let’s just say God spared my life for a reason, and I was pretty much hell bent on killing myself. Why? Because the people I had placed my trust in abused it, and I was drowning, drowning in sorrow and unbelief. What had I done?

Looking back at the teenage years, when my mother perceived me as a threat because I was close to my father. She suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder, and I was the scapegoat. She would go for weeks without speaking to me, and the silent treatment was incredibly hard on the child I was. From early on I learned to apologize-flowers, cards, gifts-even though I knew not what I was apologizing for. She was the first to attempt murder on my soul, but she was not the last, not even close.

Into my twenties and life was good. I was now on my own, living with one friend or another, trying to get my head above water, when I made the decision to move from King of Prussia (I never intended on staying there, the town was on the Main Line, and I was not a material girl) to historic Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania-where I married my first husband, even after I had fallen in love with my current. The marriage lasted a week, he had tried to strangle me on the honeymoon, over a bottle of champagne-and I had broken his heart into trillions of pieces.

One of the reasons I left the Philadelphia area was to get over my addiction to cocaine. I actually lived with a dealer, who worked with a well known Mafia name, until he stopped paying the mortgage and threatened my life. Sadly, moving out here was not a cure for that, in essence Dwain and I partied constantly, and my drinking was getting out of control. Social anxiety led to depression, and depression to OCD, and OCD to CPTSD. And so on and so forth.

When I got good and sober in 2007, the “powers that be” were not impressed. No, now I was seen as a threat-“If she gets her life together, who will we blame? What will we do? Where will we go with our anger and disappointment?”

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I thought my sobriety would solve the problems in my family. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, I could be a very nasty drunk/addict and I was happy to give my husband this gift, but why was the family still a mess? Could it be that I wasn’t the problem? Could it possibly be that I was taking out all of the hatred and admonishment the world had given me and internalized the guilt, misplacing it upon myself?

When I fought with my husband, I would self harm.

When I fought with my sister, I would relapse.

When a boss or a friend treated me with disrespect, I would stop eating.

At the end of this vicious circle appeared angels. In my backyard. I promise to write a blog about this time in my life, a year or so ago-but for now I want to make my point.

One dreary, drizzly day a tiny little voice (Holy Spirit) whispered to me, “Pick up your camera, take pictures of the trees in the orchard.” I did this. And to my utter incredulity? Crosses, white crosses. The first few shots. The crosses turned into angels. Not once. Not twice. But three times in all.

The fact is? Jesus no longer deals with us in judgment but in mercy. If people got what they deserved, this old planet would have been ripped apart at the seams, centuries ago. Praise God that because of His great love we are not consumed, because His compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22

The Inheritance……..

This song had me in despair over the weekend.  After watching the movie The Accountant, I went into the laundry room to cry.  This song plays at the end, and it triggered in me a yearning-and a deep pit of despair.  This isn’t about feeling sorry for oneself, quite the contrary.  It is about the human need to give those you love an inheritance.  Your whole life you have collected pieces of your heart, cherished memories and beautiful trinkets.  I had always assumed that my nieces would inherit my clothing, my jewelry and my stories-it felt good and right that they would have a piece of Aunt Michele to pass on to their children.

Yet how do you give your life work to children who no longer seem to care?  I know in my heart that this is a result of narcissistic rage on the part of their mother.  Yet it does not lessen the pain.

And then it happened:  the aha moment!  I have a brother.  His daughter Esme is one of the loves of my life.  She is strong and gracious, lovely and wise, kind and silly…….a rose among so many weeds.  She gives me hope and inspiration.  I miss her dearly, but will remedy that by a trip out to LA…..get ready girl, you are about to be bombarded with love……and trinkets I have cherished, over the years of searching for myself.