RECOVERY

The Child Revisited

A poem about life after childhood trauma.

young brother and sister looking out glass door
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Today I got a glimpse of me.

The me that I swore could not return.

I saw the part of myself that I said was dead and buried,

Killed off by the destruction that was my life.

And when I saw me, I knew who I was.

I recognized the part of me that has always been my strength.

Like a fool, I closed my life to that part of myself for many wasted years.

I said to let that person exist was to be weak

Because that part of me hurts and is angry.

For so long, I have fought against any reminders of that me.

But somehow, today, when I wasn’t looking, I found me.

I looked in my eyes and saw the hurt.

I looked in my heart and felt the pain.

I looked in my head and regained the memories.

Suddenly, I was back to a place I had never really left.

And in that glimpse of me, I knew I was going to be okay.

So, I said so long to the child I never really was, and never will be.

I touched the face of my strength when I let the hurt wash over me.

And I said hello to the child who will always be a part of me, who always was.

Fairy tale dreams don’t come true.

They can’t. With real life comes real hurt.

We build walls and we tear them down.

We deny everything, we doubt everything, we are no longer innocent—

But SOMEWHERE inside of us still LIVES THE CHILD.

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RECOVERY

Slipping Off the Deep End

Social Isolationism can make you crazy.

man with ears and nose mask
Photo by michael schaffler on Unsplash

The world we live in is imperfect at best, and a cataclysmic train ride to hell at worst. Just when you think things are starting to go your way, something happens to bring your life crashing down around your feet in broken bits of whatever’s left when your expectation doesn’t match your outcome.

And if you want a fast track to crazy, just go into social isolation for a few months.

I’m not a social butterfly. I never have been, thank God. I love my own company and can go without other people for long periods of time. But not forever.

Humans aren’t designed to live their lives alone. We need connections.

When the normal is snatched away from you, the “new normal” takes its place. NOT the one everyone is predicting, but the real one. The crazy one.

At first everyone was content with taking care of things that needed to be taken care of. I did a little of that. Cleaned up some stuff, threw away some stuff, boxed up some stuff, gave away some stuff. I did home repairs. Cleaned out a shed. I burned a lot of things when we were able to (there was a burn ban in our state for a while).

I burned some things that didn’t need to be burned just because I like destroying things sometimes.

After a while, I ran out of things to do.

I ran out of things to write about to, or I couldn’t think of much. My mind seemed a bit blank.

A blank mind is a dangerous thing.

Granted, it could be said there’s a little insanity in each one of us. Some more than others. But when you take a person away from everything that is “normal” and into forced isolation, the potential for crazy dramatically increases.

Thoughts creep in. Suspicious, paranoid thoughts.

You have nothing else to do anyway, so may as well entertain those thoughts for a while. Maybe check into them, see if you can validate them in some way. Maybe by using social media, the devil’s playground.

Sleep is an odd thing as well. If you aren’t parented by your job on when to sleep and when to get up, there’s no reason for a regular schedule. You can even do your cyber stalking in the middle of the night if you want to.

You’d be surprised how fast the crazy sets in.

Psychology Today calls solitary confinement torture. It leads to all kinds of symptoms, including anxiety and paranoia. It may seem extreme to compare our bout of social isolationism to solitary confinement, but I don’t think it is. It would be especially daunting to someone who already has issues with trauma, loss, and anxiety.

You know, people like me.

Being socially isolated causes loneliness and depression also. We’re able to get out more now, and that’s a huge relief, but there are some people who are never able to get out much.

A large percentage of our population are shut ins. We have the elderly, and the mentally and physically disabled. People in hospitals, hospice, and nursing homes.

Maybe your mother, father, or grandparents.

People who are too poor to afford to go anywhere.

Going a little crazy for a bit has helped me see things from more than one perspective, and I’m grateful for it.

I see that I need to reach out to people more and stop doing without people for long periods of time, even when I’m not forced to.

I also reached out to my ex-husband and asked for his forgiveness. Not because I crashed and burned our relationship. That was him. It was more because I could see the other side of the fence, and how he had to live with me choosing to give my attention to all kinds of things, and not realizing he needed more from me.

I kind of see why his thoughts went all haywire. When you feel isolated, you’ll do stuff you wouldn’t ordinarily do.  

Good comes from everything if you know where to look.

Even slipping off the deep end.  

MOTIVATIONAL

This is Where the World Stops

Why we’re fading out of existence

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Mama said she was in the grocery store the other day when she felt it—the sensation that she was fading out. Out of the world, out of existence.

You don’t want to hear things like that from your parents.

It’s almost as if you think by not acknowledging death, you can keep it from coming.

But today, it happened to me.

All week, I’ve been at my house like a good citizen. I’ve worked at home in the daytime. Then at night, I sit on my bed, playing games on my phone—caught in a strange cycle of depression.

Even depression won’t allow me to starve my animals, and strangely, not even myself. Instead, I try to feed it like a hungry tiger, peanut butter mostly, something I never eat any other time of my life.

I had to get out of the house or go crazy. Dog food was a reason and an excuse.

Shopping was an odd experience. I’m not a fan on a good day, but this seemed surreal.

A sign at the entrance told me to push a cart no matter how much I was buying. Social distancing is vitally important during this health crisis, and apparently can only be achieved when there’s a physical object between two people. Space alone is insufficient.

Humans seem incapable of merely standing a significant distance apart.

Telling us to stay away is like drawing a moth to a flame.

Half the shoppers wore masks, some wore gloves, and all of us were awkward. We didn’t know how to pass each other on the aisles. The seventies music wasn’t even playing.

The empty shelves of the toilet paper and paper towel aisle had me shaking my head in frustration and relief. I have some at home. I’m okay for now. I can’t understand why toilet paper would sell out before beer. I don’t get this at all.

Standing back from the hamburger meat, I watched as two women tried to make decisions about what to buy.

I hoped they weren’t from the same family. Two adult members of the same household aren’t allowed in the store at the same time. Logic doesn’t lend itself to the rules.

No one understands this COVID 19 world. 

In the checkout line, I studied the new transparent barrier separating me from the cashier.  I had room to use my debit card and to grab my receipt. My air couldn’t accidentally become entangled with hers.

The girl bagging my groceries wasn’t quite as lucky. She wasn’t behind a glass. The germ barrier didn’t extend that far. Apparently, she was expendable.  

Walking out, the first thing I noticed was a royal blue truck cruising through the parking lot. It seemed to be the most beautiful and amazing color ever made. I realized what being locked up in the house can do to a person.

Isolation can make you appreciate freedom.

The world feels like you’re experiencing it for the first time when you finally break free.

It was in the rush of freedom that it started for me.

It’s like you just sink inside yourself while the world keeps going. You’re looking out of your eyes like looking out the window, and it’s a much clearer view.

The first thing I grasped is: Life is finite.

I’m not going to be here forever. At that moment, I could feel it happening. The fading.

The second thing that dawned on me is: Activity isn’t proof of life.

We think it is, but it never was. All the moving around in the world doesn’t mean we exist, or that we’ll keep existing. Even if we do, life is MORE than that.

But we don’t get it.

We’re too busy, with too many distractions. Even though we were forced to stop, we never learned what to do in the quiet, in the STILLNESS.

God laid it out for us a long time ago in Psalms 46:10.

He told us, “Be still, and KNOW that I AM GOD.”

photo credit a. bridges, author

Life would be pretty simple if we knew how to do that. Instead, we pile more and more on, to the point where it’s no longer in our power to be still and stay alive.

We spend all our time trying to do, trying to achieve, trying to become, and we spend zero time just being still and letting God be God.

We didn’t listen, and now there’s too much noise for us to hear.

But if you stop to watch the world for a moment, you’ll feel it too. We’re fading out.

This is where the world stops.

Or maybe, just MAYBE, this is where we start over.

Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash

That truck sure was an amazing blue.

grief, MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

Live Your Life or Plan Your Death

About depression and a pet cricket named Elvis

Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

When I was a kid, I had a pet cricket named Elvis.

Mama said you can’t really have a cricket for a pet. The truth is, I never saw him once, but Elvis sang to me every night, so I reckon he decided to keep me instead of the other way around.

On a normal summer, a cricket chirping in your bedroom would be downright annoying and might even make you want to jump off a bridge if you couldn’t figure out where he was, so you could step on his head. I’m sorry to say I’ve stomped on quite a few crickets in my life, plus a whole lot of other bugs I won’t name here, for fear of offending some bug-loving, revenge-taking, article-reading slight acquaintance of mine.

I tend to hang with a different kind of crowd, but I know you need to watch what you say and do sometimes.

The deep end is a whole lot closer for some people than it is for others, if you know what I mean.

The summer Elvis sang to me was a different kind of summer than most. Mama’d run that old ceiling fan, swearing the whole time that she hated it. It was how we kept cool though. Never bothered me. I liked the noise of it.

When the fan was on, the curtains in my room would billow inward and create a little tent on my bed. I liked to sit in it, and it was from there that I ran a library for the neighborhood kids. I had plenty of books, and I figured it might do some of them at least a little bit of good if they’d read one or two of them. It sure couldn’t do them any harm.

If I didn’t have my little library, I doubt I’d have talked to another kid all summer long. I rarely stepped out of my room.

Most of my waking moments were consumed with writing poems about killing myself and trying to build a new nose out of orthodontic wax. I hated my nose.

I was never sure where the jokes started, but they started in my own family.  My nose got made fun of a lot. Mama said I had “Daddy’s nose,” and the boys would all snicker because I guess Daddy’s nose was supposed to be obnoxiously big or something. It looked like a regular nose to me, but I fell in with the jokes because I knew I was supposed to. I compared my nose to one of my brother’s and we always argued about whose was the biggest.

It’s all I could see when I looked in the mirror.

A nose without a face, just sort of floating there. The one time I experimented with acid, I looked in the mirror and my green bulbous nose was pulsating and growing. I never touched the stuff again.

My nose isn’t the reason I was preoccupied with planning my own death though. I’m not sure why I was sad. I just was. I think I was born that way. It’s taken me a lifetime and unimaginable grief to find joy. Nothing in this world makes any sense. I don’t expect it’s supposed to.

After Samuel died, I was caught up in fantasies about dying again.

Samuel was my baby boy. He died when an intrauterine blood transfusion failed due to doctor error. The grief was unbearable. I stopped writing poetry after that. Occasionally, one comes to me, but not often. Some spaces can’t be filled with words.

I remember sitting on the tractor with Johnny while he baled hay and wondering what it would be like to fall under its wheels. Other times I’d be driving down the road and press the accelerator hard, ready to ram the car into something, but then I’d ease off and live instead.

Later, after I found Mikey dead, there didn’t seem to be a reason to stay on this earth. I was just done. He was only 16 years old. A mother should never have to bury her baby. Mikey made three for me. It was too much grief for my heart to process.

For months, hiding in a coat pocket in my closet was a bottle of pills, ready for me to take myself out of this world.

Mama knew the state of mind I was in, so she went tearing through my house, emptying bottles. She didn’t realize she got rid of my depression medicine. She never found the ones in the closet.

My other kids made it impossible for me to leave, but I carried those pills around with me for a long time before I got enough courage to pour them out.

When I finally got around to cutting myself, I don’t think I had intentions to die.

I think I just needed to hurt myself. I needed to be punished for not being perfect, for failing, for everything. It’s a twisted way of thinking, but everything I was doing at the time was a direct attack against my own life. Too much drink and too many bad choices led to a meltdown.

Recovery for me started on my knees.

I have a lot of things I wish I could say to the young girl back in that room letting Elvis sing to her–things about her nose and how precious life is. I’d tell her to enjoy every single moment and to dance and sing every day like it’s her last one on earth.

You never know when death will come around.

But I know she’s figured it all out for herself. I also know she’s alive and well, and finally made her way out of the darkness.

I don’t know exactly when it was that I started planning my life instead of my death. My nose is the same as it’s always been—just a nose, not too bad. It’s certainly not noteworthy.  I’m proud I have Daddy’s nose, but I hardly ever notice it. If a cricket were to come sing to me in my bedroom now, I’d smile as I remembered my little friend, Elvis, from days gone by. For a minute, I’m sure I’d enjoy the song. Then I’d search him out and stomp his little head, because you can’t really have a cricket for a pet.

They’re annoying and might make you want to jump off a bridge or something, and I’ve got a life to live.

HUMOR

The Rat Killin’

This is a true story.

Photo by Eternal Seconds on Unsplash

You can choose to believe it or not; that’s up to you. It was funny to me at the time, and God knows I needed some humor in my life. Things weren’t that great.

The first man I married—I have to number ‘em because there’s been so many—maybe wasn’t a great choice for me. I’m tryin’ to be nice here.

The rest of his family is pure gold. He just came out wrong. Wasn’t nothin’ you could do about it, and I didn’t know to try. I was as naïve as a girl could be back in those days. I’ve learned a lot since then, and not all of it’s good.

My education has come with a price I’d rather not have paid.

At first, I thought Bubba Jr. hung the moon. He could do no wrong in my eyes. It’s like God sent him to rescue me from a life of normalcy.

By the time we got a divorce, I realized he was the devil and could make you think anything he wanted you to. If anybody was a rescuer, it sure wasn’t him. He got me in more messes than I knew a person could get into.

That ain’t really part of my story though, at least not this one.

I can’t name too many good things that happened while I was married to Bubba Jr. Most of them were pretty dang bad. Of course, there ain’t no sense in bringin’ all of that up right now.

What I want to tell you about is the rat killin’.

That first husband of mine wasn’t very good at workin’. Well, that ain’t exactly true. He might’ve been good at workin’, but he sure wasn’t good at showin’ up to do it. I didn’t know that at first. I thought he was like all the other men I’d known in my life, strong and steady and a hard worker.

He wasn’t any of that. Lookin’ back on it now, I can’t see how I ever thought he could be. It was like I just fell off the turnip truck right into his arms. I didn’t know any better back then. I sure do now.

I was big and pregnant til the baby (I ain’t gonna say his name. He’s still my kid, even though he’s grown.) was born. I didn’t really know how to be a good wife, it being my first time and all.

I was determined to give it all I had.

That’s why I got up at four o’clock every morning to make Bubba Jr.’s lunch in those early days. I made his breakfast too. He just laid there, sleeping through my wifely duties.

Biscuits and gravy for breakfast; 2 big ole’ sandwiches for his lunch. Yes, I made my husband sandwiches. I know I oughta’ be ashamed. I haven’t done it since though, and I probably won’t ever. He ruined it for the other three.

I’m thinking now that the reason all my marriages went to hell may’ve had something to do with the way I got tricked in the beginnin’.

I had a hard time trustin’ anybody after him, and it wasn’t because of anything in this story. Well, maybe a little bit.

After I cooked, I’d go put his socks and pants on him while he was lyin’ there. He still wasn’t tryin’ to get up. Finally, with me naggin’ him ‘til I was blue in the face, he got out of bed and rolled on to work.

At least that’s what I thought he was doing. Why else would somebody get up that early in the mornin’ and let his wife cook and make sandwiches for him?

Well, two weeks later, I asked him where the paycheck was. We needed some more sandwich stuff, and I didn’t know how we were gonna get it.

That’s when I found out the truth.

I can’t remember if he told me or if the lightbulb finally came on in my brain. Either way, the gig was up.

Turns out he never went to work at all. I don’t know if he didn’t show up or if he just never had a job to start with. There wasn’t any paycheck coming in though. I figured that out pretty quick.  

We had to move out of his grandmother’s house.

When your own grandmother throws you out ‘cause you’re no ‘count, you do the only thing you can do.

You go live with your other grandmother ‘til she puts you out too. And that’s just what we did.

He didn’t even pretend to work after that. Oh, He might keep a job for a week or two to get the first paycheck, but then he’d quit. It was a hard life for me and the baby. I never knew how we were gonna eat. I didn’t, a lot of the time. I always managed to take care of my little boy though.

We ended up having to move every time the rent was due because we couldn’t pay it, being that Bubba Jr. chose his bed and a whole lot of other stuff over a job.

I don’t know how, but he could charm the skin off a rattlesnake. He was able to talk many unsuspecting people into letting us stay in places that needed work. He get a cheap deal by promising to fix everything good as new for ‘em, only he never made good on those promises.

He’d start out strong by tearing everything up pretty good. Hardly ever put it back together. I doubt if he even knew how.


That’s how the rat killin’ came to happen.

We were “renting” an old house in exchange for redoing it. The kitchen was the only room that showed any improvement when this all went down. It was painted a bright yellow color. It almost hurt my eyes walkin’ in the room, but I complimented Bubba Jr. just like a good wife should, even though by this time I was pretty much over bein’ his wife at all.

The old house was filled with rats.

They probably came through the holes in the floor, but I’m thinking they’d been there long enough that they thought we were intruding on their territory, and I wasn’t about to argue with ‘em.

These weren’t little mice, although those are scary enough. I ain’t ever seen anything move as fast as those, unless it’s me tryin’ to get away from one of ‘em!

These rats were huge, what we call wood rats.

We set out on a campaign to rid the place of the evil vermin, or at least he did. They were bigger than my sweet baby, who was about three months old at the time, if I remember right. I wanted no part of ‘em.

I kept telling that stubborn man there were rats living in our stove, but he didn’t believe me. Every time I cooked, I could hear somethin’ moving around in the space beside the oven. I was scared to death it was gonna jump out and get me!

That night, I was cookin’ with one arm and holding the baby in the other. I heard somethin’ movin’ again, so I called Bubba Jr. to come listen.

He said, “There ain’t no damn rats in the stove,” which started an argument, because I knew dang well somethin’ was in there makin’ noise. He always had to be right though, so he said it again.  “There ain’t no damn rats in the stove, see?” And he shook the stove to prove it to me.

Photo by Brendon Thompson on Unsplash

That was his first mistake.

He made countless others, but that right there was enough for divorce court.

The biggest rat I’d ever seen (and I still ain’t seen a bigger one to this day) was living in there after all, and that shakin’ stove made him MAD.

He decided to make a grand entrance into our obnoxious yellow kitchen, and not in a graceful way.

He came out of the back of the stove, ran up the curtain, and kind of hurled his body across the room. Straight at old Bubba Jr.’s stubborn ass head.

I ain’t ever heard a grown man sound so much like a girl, before or since!

He screamed, I screamed, and the baby screamed! I ain’t too sure the wood rat didn’t scream. Hell, he had a right too. We probably scared him just as bad as he scared us.

Well, I took off running with the baby and jumped up on the dining room table. My mentally deficient husband grabbed the broom and took off after that maniacal, jumpin’ rat.

He chased that stupid thing for an hour at a hard run. It might’ve even been longer than that. I was up there on the table, hollerin’, laughin’, and dodgin’ the slingin’ broom.

He was as determined to kill that rodent as it was to stay alive.

I ain’t ever laughed so hard and screamed so much in all my life.

Finally, Bubba Jr. caught a break. The rat ran up in a piece of rolled up carpet we had ready to use on the bedroom floor. Bubba Jr. was yellin’ like a Comanche. He hollered “I’ve got you now, you spineless devil!”

It was a foolproof plan.

I can’t say I found any fault with it. I sure thought it would work.

When the varmint ran into that rolled up piece of carpet, he stood it straight up on end, trappin’ what had to be a terrified and exhausted rat at the bottom.

Bubba Jr. motioned for me to grab the sledgehammer leanin’ against the wall by the door. I reluctantly got down, gave it to him, and dragged a chair over to him too. He stood on the chair and dropped the sledgehammer straight down toward the rat in the rolled-up carpet.

Like I said, it was a perfect plan. There wasn’t anywhere for the rat to go. No way he could miss.

Except he did.

Smilin’ like the demon he is, he laid the carpet down to look at the rat’s dead body.

That rat just screamed with glee and took off runnin’ again.

I darted back to the dinin’ room and leapt back up on the table. Bubba Jr. was madder than I’d ever seen him be. He grabbed the broom and started cussin’, runnin’, and swingin’.

About an hour more of solid runnin’, and the rat raised up on its back legs and fell over, dead as a doorknob.

I guess he was just worn out from tryin’ to save his own miserable hide.

I ain’t sure, but if I had to guess, I’d say that’s still the most honest work Bubba Jr. has ever done in his life.

grief, RECOVERY

Side Effects of Tremendous Loss

Grief sucks.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

I’m going to go over a little bit of what happens when you have to say goodbye forever to someone you love. First, a bit of context.

Shock.

I lost my kid.

Well, I didn’t exactly lose him.

Horror.

I know where he is. I hardly ever go there. There’s something disturbing about standing on a bit of cold ground while your flesh and blood decomposes beneath your feet.

Unrelenting Pain.

Even more devastating is the crushing sensation in my chest when I drive up to the cemetery. It doesn’t just happen in that moment though. It comes unbidden in unsuspecting scenarios for the rest of your life.

I mean, you know the holidays will be hard. That’s expected. And birthdays. Dates of departure are devastating, but you know those days are coming and can kind of half-ass prepare for them.

It’s those other days, days when things are good. You’re happy and laughing and….

Guilt.

How the hell could you possibly laugh when your child is dead? What kind of monster are you, anyway? Thoughts like these come to your mind and even though you know they’re irrational, you think them anyway and you can’t help it.

And it hurts so bad. Worse, you know it always will. The lump that you keep choking back in your throat is always going to be there. You’re never not going to cry when you hear the song that YOU chose for the funeral because it was a favorite.

Hopelessness.

You can’t fix this. The very idea of that is overwhelming. You feel helpless because you ARE helpless. Looking down the road at life you wonder if you even want to go on at all. Several times you decide that you don’t.

Sometimes you can count on one hand the reasons to stay. I’ve been there.

A few years ago, a young man in the town next to mine committed suicide. It wasn’t long after that his mom laid across his grave and did the same.

Heartache.

I spent an entire day grieving for her, even though I didn’t know her. Or maybe I was grieving for me. I knew what drove her to it. I live it every day.

Isolation.

When it’s your kid who dies, you separate yourself from other mothers. The ones who have never lost a child. They don’t know. You don’t want them to ever know.

You can pick out your worst enemy on earth, and you won’t wish this on them.

This grief is something you hold close.

But you DO want to talk about your loss. You want to talk about WHO you lost.

It doesn’t take you long to realize that people are tired of hearing it. They’re also AFRAID to hear it.

It’s as if the whole world thinks that talking about death means it will come to call.

Maybe it does.

Cold Loneliness.

I always hear the gravel fly from under my truck tires on that final stretch to the stone. I remember walking that road a hundred times. I also remember always ending at the cemetery and not being able to walk back. Someone always had to come get me.

Numbness.

How can everything be so intense when I’m so numb?

It’s like standing under a tree hearing a leaf fall without being able to move to try to catch it.

Photo by Keenan Constance on Unsplash

Reality can’t be real when you bury your baby.

Insanity.

Looking back, I realize I’m lucky. I walked through the woods so many times with a gun in my hand. Utterly crazy. Hunters would come down from their stands and lead me out. They didn’t seem to mind that I interrupted their hunting. I don’t know for sure. We never talked. I only talked to Mikey.

One day I stumbled upon a skunk. I was carrying a .22 rifle that day. No matter how crazy a person gets, you always know you don’t want to smell like a skunk.

I realized it was either him or me. He fell over like a cartoon character. I walked around him, probably giving him more space than he needed.

It felt good to kill something.

Then I found the couch. It wasn’t hidden very well. I would have done a better job of it myself. Something like that, you don’t leave to chance.

We called those woods the “forty.” It was forty acres of good hunting land. Full of deer, squirrels, and mosquitoes. Apparently, it had the occasional skunk as well.

The first thing I saw when I came through the pine sapling thicket into the clearing was that couch.

 It had been in my living room just a month before when I found my son on it, face down and stiff. Already starting the rigor process.

Anger.

I unloaded my gun on the couch. Killed it dead, the way it killed my son. My thought process wasn’t lining up with reality. After I shot it, I laid on it and cried myself to sleep. That’s how they found me later.

The couch was burned and buried after that. I never saw it again. It’s a good thing. I would have killed it again.

Disbelief.

You should never have to find your child’s body. It should never be cold and stiff. Your child should not die. It’s a travesty. It’s an injustice. It’s the worst thing that can ever happen to a Mama.

I feel all of this again as I pull up to the cemetery.


Tinnitus.

My ears have been ringing since the day the keening started. The doctors call it tinnitus. I know it’s the echo of my own voice screaming for the life of my child.

Another side effect of a morphine overdose I didn’t take.

Flashbacks.

Call it PTSD or call it whatever. I have flashbacks. Who wouldn’t? Not as many as before, but they still come. Usually when I’m driving, which is inconvenient at best and life-altering at worst. I don’t drive to the cemetery much.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

It triggers me.

Anxiety.

I doubt it will ever go away. Terror has a strong grip on me. I wake up at night with my heart pounding and all I can do is call out to Jesus. No one else can help.

I’m afraid when my kids are out of my sight and I’m afraid when they’re with me.

He died on my watch.

My watch is scarier now. I will never not check to see if my kids and grandkids are breathing. I always think about it.

All night long.

Insecurity.

As a Mom, you think there’s an instinctive way that you’ll know when your kids are in danger. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that instincts can fail you. I didn’t know. You don’t always know. I question my ability to be a parent and keep my children safe. I question my grandchildren’s safety when they’re with me.

Children can die. The headstone in front of me is proof of that.

Side Effects.

I’ve only gone over a few of them. I wish that life and death were an easier process, or maybe I don’t. What makes it so hard is also what makes it worth it.

Love comes with a potentially high price tag.

We don’t know how things are going to turn out. It would be less risky to never take a chance—refuse to love—but life wouldn’t be worth living.

It would be a simple choice to never have children or truly love another human being because of the chance you may have to bury them one day. To make that choice is to choose to live without the greatest gift of your life.

Even knowing what can happen, I will always choose to love. It’s hard to say it, and hard to know it, but it’s infinitely worth the pain.

RECOVERY

Hell In A Handbasket

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

That’s where the whole world is headed.

I was standing in my bathtub hanging curtains that didn’t quite match my newly painted walls when I realized I’m scared. Don’t try to reason that out. It is what it is.

I don’t know what’s wrong with people today, but I know for sure something is. It’s possible that we’ve all just gone crazy. Maybe we’ve always been crazy, or selfish. 

Whatever it is, it’s getting the best of humanity.

I’ve never seen so much bickering before over things that don’t matter at all. The things that do matter are just being ignored.

Meth is killing our country.

It’s for sure not the only drug that is, but from all that I’ve read, it’s doing a hell of a lot of damage right now and there’s very little chance that those addicted can even recover. Think about that for a minute.

Mothers are killing their babies all over America.

What the hell?

Everybody’s killing everybody. And no one cares.

Australia almost burned down recently. Earthquakes and volcanoes are happening across the globe. So are terrorists and missiles.

Our children are being stolen and sold into slavery.

In some places, parents are willingly pimping them out for drugs and money.

America is full of resources, but people are starving, both here and abroad.

Refuse litters our streets. Hatred abounds. Racism is back in full swing.

Hell has come calling.

It seems there’s barely a shred of humanity left on this earth.

You don’t even have to be a believer to know that a day of reckoning is near.

RECOVERY

How do you handle life when everything goes wrong?

Sometimes I wonder if it’s even worth getting out of bed.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Two flat tires.

That’s how my day started. I was driving to work on these fantastic Louisiana roads, and the best I can tell, I went in a pothole.

I’m not sure why it took out two of my tires on the sidewalls, but there were a couple of huge holes looking back at me. This is certainly not how I meant for my morning to go. I had higher hopes than that when I crawled out of bed.

It seems like bad luck comes in waves. First, I caught the hubs cheating. Okay, that’s awful—maybe not even comparable to a flat tire or two. In the end, that one will cost me a whole lot more.

This tire thing was just like icing on the cake.

For a few minutes, I thought about hurling myself into traffic and taking my chances with one of the eighteen wheelers barreling down the road. Luckily, I gathered my wits together and called a tire store instead. $421 dollars later, I was fixed up. They even gave me a ride to the office while they worked on my vehicle!

So, what DO you do when life gets crazy and overwhelming?

One answer (and not a very good one) is to isolate.

Isolating means to withdraw from other people and try to get through everything on your own.
It can also mean to withdraw from other people and AVOID dealing with anything.

Often when we isolate, we use distractions or substances to keep us from acknowledging our mountains and doing the work it takes to overcome. This causes more problems to pile up until our lives become completely unmanageable. That’s 12-step talk, for anyone who hasn’t been through it. Recovery is an amazing thing.

Isolation is NOT the preferred solution but it’s something I’ve tried and made bigger messes with before.

Another choice that you could make (and I’m guilty of this one as well) is VENT.

Everyone knows what venting is, but here’s an explanation anyway.

Venting is when you seek validation, approval, or sympathy by telling your side of a story (often with dramatic emphasis) on social media or to another person or group of people. This is my own definition, just like the definition for isolating, but it’s basically what venting boils down to.

Here are some ways that venting can be damaging:

  • Feelings often change, but once the spoken or written word is out there, it’s out there. You can apologize, but you can’t unsay it. Someone can forgive you, but they’re unlikely to forget.
  • You can hurt someone’s feelings. Maybe you mean to rage about someone and at the time, it doesn’t make you feel bad (even though it should). Collateral damage happens. That person may have children, parents, grandkids, or other individuals in their life that you just victimized unintentionally with your words. It hurts to hear bad things about people you love, whether it’s true or not. It isn’t fair to throw shade on everyone even if a certain person is shady and you want it known. Please think twice before venting!
  • Venting often damages the venter more than the ventee. I don’t think that’s proper terminology, but you get my meaning. It makes you look bad. JUST DON’T DO IT.

It’s okay to cry.

It may be hard to go through a bad time without crying. So, don’t. There’s a lot to be said for the cleansing and healing effects of a good, blubbering, crying session!

Get it out of your system.

Just don’t make it a long-term event. Cry, then stand up, wash your face, and move on with life!

Community.

Photo by Phil Coffman on Unsplash

I find it useful to plug into a community of like-minded people when going through the rough times of life. Ideally, you already have a group like that. If you don’t, seek one out. Look for people that you know or know about who believe like you do, worship like you do, and who will hold you accountable for getting your life back on track.

The truth is it’s YOUR LIFE!

How you live and whether you end well is ultimately up to you. You can hang your head in defeat and quit trying, or you can shake it off and get back behind the wheel.

For me, the most important thing I can do is lean on God.

He’s my constant whether things are going good or not so great. He’s my shelter in a storm and the rock I’m standing on. No wind will blow me away, and no waters will drown my soul if I cling tightly to His hand.

My faith isn’t what gets me through; it’s the One I’m faithful to.

This is why two flat tires and an impending divorce didn’t defeat me today.

There will always be potholes. And there will always be God.

RECOVERY

Cheating Often Leads to Drastic Decisions

At least I didn’t cut my bangs.

Photo by Cata on Unsplash

I also didn’t burn all his stuff in the front yard, although the thought did cross my mind.

Radical things happen when I’m upset, but so far, I’ve avoided any major destructive action.

I just got out the paint.

Breakups are hard. It doesn’t matter if they’re “what’s best in the long run” or not. They’re freaking hard.

So much to consider.

Who gets what? What to do about this and that. Hiring a lawyer when you just found out you’ll be broke for the rest of your life. Yep, they’re hard all right.

Especially when you get to the age where you think all that’s left is to ride out the status quo until you skate into glory.

I’ll even venture a little further out on this limb and go ahead and say breakups suck even when you have quite a few under your belt.

More than a couple decades of life ought to be enough to prepare you for the devastation divorce brings. Sadly, it isn’t—especially when it all kind of came out of the blue.

I’m not saying I’m not ready to move on. Truth is, I’ve already cut the ties, both in my mind and elsewhere.

One day I was married and losing my mind because I discovered he was cheating on me. I was mourning the loss of trust and love. 

The next day I woke up DONE.

It happened just like that.

I thought we would work it out. I was searching for answers, reading everything I could get my hands on about how to “get over” your spouse cheating on you. Angry and hurt, I felt helpless and lost, even asking myself what I did (or didn’t do) to make him cheat.

And I prayed. I prayed for myself mostly, but I also prayed for him and for us. I looked EVERYWHERE for answers and there weren’t any to find.

So, I quit.

Maybe because of the silent treatment he was attempting to use to manipulate me into doing what he wanted me to do.

It had always worked before.

I’d get enough of it and apologize to him for everything I could think of that I’d ever done wrong in my life. I’d be so relieved and grateful when he would suddenly act as if nothing was wrong.

This time, the silence was nothing but a welcome relief from all the lies. He tried using the same worn out technique to control me AFTER he CHEATED on me!

It’s possible that he genuinely didn’t realize that I had proof of his infidelity. The lies were the same. I just didn’t believe him anymore.

He thought it was “business as usual.” I wondered how he could still try to manipulate me after what he did.

How do you even dare?

For the first time, I could see his disrespect was intentional. Sounds moronic, I know. I was just so used to making excuses for him that I believed them myself.

It’s so obvious now.

What a delicious game he played with me for so long! But to what end? What did he hope to gain? Did he set out just to hurt me? What would be the point of rendering our entire marriage obsolete?

Instead of ending up with a devoted wife, he will likely end up alone. If not alone, he will surely settle for less than he had.

I loved him.

And I trusted him. I wanted the best for him.

Then, I caught him cheating and I LET HIM GO!

And painted my bathroom.

Photo by melissa mjoen on Unsplash

Looks good too.

RECOVERY

I Don’t Love Coffee

An Introduction of Sorts

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

I realize that I’m not in the majority here, but there it is.

Being different is not a character flaw, although I used to think it was. It’s hard when you don’t fit into the norm (or whatever they’re calling the norm these days).

I realized a long time ago that there was a possibility that I didn’t think like other people. My way of looking at things is not always the same. Even when it pertains to the physical aspects of things.

Take color for example.

Have you ever wondered about color? I mean, how could you not have wondered? Does the green that I see when I see green look the same as the green that you see when you see green?

That kind of thing.

I mean, HOW DO WE KNOW?

I can’t see out of your eyes, and you can’t see out of mine.

Photo by Liam Welch on Unsplash

I believe that a great deal of life centers around our own perceptions of it, and that we are limited by our own realities.

I also believe that to a point, we create our own realities or live in realities that we allow others to create for us.

When we’re children, we haven’t been talked out of all our abilities yet. There are things we can see and do that are unexplained but still true. The following illustration is an excerpt out of a kid’s book I’m writing, but also a true story from my childhood:

“I see things that other people don’t see sometimes. Like that time the tree fell down….

There was a whole bunch of us kids outside playing in the yard. I guess I should have told you that my name is Gypsy, so you don’t get me confused with anybody else while I’m tellin’ my story.

It ain’t my real name, it’s just what people call me ever since I wore my Halloween costume to school. I told everybody’s fortune and I guess I got some stuff right. Mama sure doesn’t call me that, especially when she’s mad at me or shocked by something I say. My whole name rings out through the neighborhood then, and I don’t know anybody’s future but my own, and it ain’t good, nor one you’d be wantin’ to share.

Our neighborhood is just plumb full of kids—at least 17 of us live right here all together. I don’t know what keeps us from drowning or getting hit by a car, because it seems like there’s so many of us that we could stand to lose a few, and the odds are stacked against us. I guess we’re pretty safe though, cause we ain’t died yet, even though some of the boys have broken a bone or two, and Sally almost choked me to death once when I walked to the store with Mindy.

Anyway, it was Mindy and me sittin’ on the lawn chair, one of those long fold-out kinds that leaves a crisscross pattern on your butt if you sit down too long, and Big Jack and Dale were just running around aggravating us.

Big Jack is what we call my big brother, because Mindy has a brother named Jack too, but he’s younger than most of us so we call him Little Jack. Everybody does—practically the whole town—and I don’t even know if they realize why they call him that. We just made it up one day so we would know which Jack we were talking about.

We were just lying on that lawn chair, being mad at the boys but laughing at them too, when I looked up and said, “Y’all, we gotta move because that tree is fixin’ to fall!”

I really don’t even know why they listened to me because they sure didn’t make a habit of it, but Mindy and I both jumped up and Dale and Big Jack grabbed the chair and we took off running. No sooner than we got out of the way, we heard a tearing sound, and that tree uprooted itself and came down with a swoosh and a thud right where we’d been sitting five seconds before!

If anybody would have seen us at that moment, they’d have sworn they were looking at a bunch of ghosts, because I know for sure three of the four of us turned the whitest I’ve ever seen a person look. Then we all started yelling and running in to tell Mama, who said, “God must have told you to tell everybody to move,” and I know it’s true, because I never would have thought of it in time myself. That was one time that being a frog would be less of an advantage than being a bird, because we all could’ve been squashed like one. Mindy and I still talk about it every chance we get, but the boys try to act like it never even happened. I guess that’s because God didn’t tell THEM to get everybody out of the way or if He did, they weren’t listening.

That ain’t the only time something like that has happened, but I’ve figured out that the older I get, the more I talk myself out of listening. At times like those, it’s only grace that saves me because it sure ain’t because I’m doing what I’ve been told to do. I don’t know if God punishes you for not listening, but I figure that He just stops talking to you if He sees you ain’t paying attention anyway.”


That’s just one example of seeing something that no one else can see. If it’s possible as a child, surely it’s possible once you’re an adult!

We all have gifts and abilities that we’re born with. Whether we keep them to adulthood largely depends on whether we have the opportunity and the guts to use them.

To me, it seems as if the world is put together in bits of color.

photo by A Bridges

If I could be a true artist, I’d grab those bits of color with my paint brush and put them to canvas. I do the best I can with the abilities that I have.

I wish everyone could see the way I see.

I’m also different than most in how I show my feelings.

I cry over sappy things and serious ones. I cry the hardest over happy endings because I know in my heart that those rarely happen.

For a long while, I let myself become hardened and wouldn’t show anyone who I really was. It shamed me to have real emotion. Catastrophe has turned my world upside down though. Instead of hiding my tears from others, I cry with them through their own pain. Not usually on purpose—it just happens.

People with heartbreak seem to gravitate to me. It’s like they know they’re safe to cry with me. I find that one of the biggest blessings of my life, and one of the hardest burdens to carry. Grief was never a ministry I wanted.

I’ve found that the most imperfect things on this planet are often the most beautiful. That goes for people too. What a man (or woman) is on the outside doesn’t always correspond with who they are on the inside. A pretty face doesn’t mean a pretty heart.

It’s okay to be you. I’m good with being me.

It’s taken me a lot of years to become who I am. I’m not saying that I’ve arrived at the place I need to be. It’s still a journey. I’m good with the path I’m on though.

And I have my own style—the way I talk and dress—those things are all me!

There’s nothing wrong with fashions and trends, I’m just not a crowd follower. I like what I like and I don’t like what I don’t like.

And I don’t like coffee.  Not even a little bit.