Rotations continue

I have one more week and then this rotation will be in the books. As these past several weeks have gone by I’ve found myself discouraged. I know that hospitals are necessary, I know that many medicines are necessary as well. I know people get sick and people die. But. But how can I help? What difference can I make? Any at all?? I wonder how these became so sick? What happened? Some of them seem like they just don’t care anymore. When did they give up? When did they lose hope?

And then… am I being overly critical? Am I really any better? Sure, I’m healthy, for now. Sure, I think I have my act together. But really? Three years ago? Four or Five? Did I have my act together then? Not really. I had some who would ask me why I put up with so much? Why did I stay for so long? Why didn’t I leave when things went bad? I’ve been asked why didn’t I change things back then? Why?? Why did I stay 25 years with a man who couldn’t love me?… these questions are kind of like asking someone why do you bother breathing? Why do you bother eating? There’s no real answer except it seemed the right thing to do at the time… (Please don’t stop breathing or eating, by the way.)

So, an outsider, someone who hadn’t lived in my shoes, who hadn’t any way to compare her life to mine, would probably wonder why I didn’t change for so long. I wish I had an answer. I wish I did. If I did then maybe I could help another lady find the answer too. I know, in part, some of the reasons. For one, I loved him despite everything. For two, I had hope for things to get better. (It wasn’t until I gave up hope that things started to change.) Three, I felt like it was wrong to leave… no… matter… what. The church is very vocal about leaving a marriage. (And because of that, many, many women are still in abusive marriages, with no hope for a way out, thinking that somehow they can pray their husbands to treat them well… But that’s another post.)

And so I think of the patients I have met these past two months… Did they decide to quit? Or give up? Is it too hard to dream of better things again? Does it hurt too much and they just want it all to end? I see the man or woman who is my own age and at the same time I see them as they may have been as a healthy child… or if not a healthy child, as a child with hopes and dreams, none the less.  I guess, the hardest thing, is seeing each individual as a person, a creation of God, who, for some reason or another finds himself or herself in a lonely hospital bed staring at the ceiling with wires and tubes attached everywhere wondering what on earth to do next. I wish I could show them a picture of themselves when life was good and full of possibilities and dreams, so that I could remind them that they don’t have to give up. I want to remind them that they are worth the effort of getting well. I want to be able to sit with them and listen to them and to give them hope again.

How? As a student I have no power, and I have no permission to just talk to them. So, with determination, I move on, and I continue to dream. Partly to dream of the day when I am no longer the pee-on that I am and am able to do exactly that. Until then, I offer them a smile, a soft touch, or a gentle ear when I can.

thank you for reading,

me

 

Mom?

Today marks 8 years since my mother died. Over the last four months I’ve loved her, missed her, hated her, loved her some more, and just wished I could talk with her. I’m glad she no longer suffers and I’m glad that she didn’t have to see me go through the things I’ve gone through the last couple of years. She would have been livid if she knew all the stuff her ex-son-in-law put her daughter through. I don’t think it’s possible to never need your mom again. I’ve wanted to ask her so many questions. I’ve written her a letter that she’ll never be able to see.

There are so many things I would talk to her about right now. With my eldest getting married in a few days, I’d start with apologizing for how I behaved when she was planning my wedding without my help. That would be where I start. But, if we had time to sit down over a cup of tea I think I’d go back to where things really went wrong. I’d ask her why she disappeared when I needed her the most. I’d ask her to explain what was going through her mind when her husband decided I shouldn’t keep my baby. I’d ask her how she could have possibly allowed me to let someone kill her first grandchild. I’d ask her where she went, after telling me that she’d help me anyway she could. I’d ask her why she wasn’t strong enough to stick up for me. I’d ask her why she put up with my dad. I’d ask her a lot of things.

I’ve forgiven her for most, if not all of it, but I still wonder why. I know my father was a difficult person to live with and one that you just never argued with. I don’t know what went on behind in private. I do know that I learned that I was to be subservient to my husband from him. And at the same time I never once doubted that both of my parents loved me.

It’s interesting, when I look back on it. My mother tried to tell me to love myself, but she was late on that. My father? He still lives and I’ve mostly forgiven him for many things yet I still want to know why. Why did he make me choose death? I’d like to understand what possessed him to think that it would be better. I know my mother knew, there’s no way that she couldn’t. I know she knew because she had already given birth to three babies. She knew what I was going to have to deal with. She insisted I get help, help I never got until this year.  My father, though? Did he not realize that forcing me to go through that would end up with me hating myself for the next 30 years? Did he realize that for all but the last three months that I truly believed that I was a murderer? How could a father choose to put his child through that?

Then, there’s the other side… If I talk to him will that open new wounds? Did he understand the implications and just think that he needed to make it happen anyways? Was he trying to protect me in his own way? There’s forgiveness there for him. Still part of me wants to know why. Why did you let your baby girl out of your sight? Where were you? Why didn’t you protect me? So many questions. No answers.

Questions I don’t really want answers to, not yet. Someday? Maybe. Maybe I’ll sit and talk with him on it one day. I haven’t yet, but I might. What would you do?

Thanks for reading,

me

 

What if I fail? Oh. But, my darling, what if you soar?

The messed up quote above by Erin Hanson “What if I fall? Oh. But my darling, what if you fly?” Is one with special meaning to me today. I have been flying in and out of my safety nest now for about three years. My therapist finally told me that I’ve out grown him, that I am quite capable on my own. But my fear comes quickly. My fear of failing. Even while having to return to him time and time again after feeling so much better and after working so hard for the life I have, lead me to believe that I was a failure.

I was beginning to believe I had ‘failed therapy’ and there was no use even trying anymore. But, instead, I have learned that life after abuse is a lot of back and forth. The forward motion is wonderful but sometimes we go back in time. Sometimes we wake up from a nightmare or sometimes something reminds us of something awful. All the feelings I had take over like it was yesterday, and all of the things I’d accomplished since then just vanish. All of my hope and dreams take a back seat and I find myself sitting on the steps sobbing again. Failed.

But no! It’s not failure. It’s realizing that I have finally left that life and how hugely opposite my current life is now. Those short treks back in time serve a purpose to remind me of the contrast my life is now. They remind me to stay the course and to steadily move forward despite the difficulty. Really? What could be more difficult that the actual leaving, anyhow? Leaving? With all of its secret preparations, the lies to stay safe, the hushed conversations, the quick plan making, the changing of subjects. Leaving? With the constant fear of being caught, or of not getting out in time? Leaving? The real threat that anything, I mean anything, could happen to make him angry. Leaving? I don’t think anything is quite as hard as that.

So I remind myself, that when I go back in time (which could happen for no apparent reason) I am merely reminding myself of how great my current life is. So, back to the point, failing therapy didn’t actually happen, even when I had to go back again and again. I’ve been flying in and out of his nest now for a long time. I know, deep in my being, that this time is the last. Somehow, it seems so very final. He promises, as always, that if I need to see him that he will always be there. Immediately I think, liar. How can he promise that? Then I realize he’s not lying. He truly believes if I need him again that he will be around for me to visit. I relax and accept his statement.

I ask him, instead, if he’s kicking me out of the nest so I can learn to fly on my own? His answer, was quite different than I expected. He tells me, instead, that I have been flying all along. Then I ask him, “but what if I fail?” He knows me well, he knows more than I ever expected him to… and he answers me, “Oh. But what if you soar?”

So now I ask myself? What if I soar? What happens then? My life has been challenging under anyone’s measure. Often I wonder how I got where I am, just like others wonder how I managed it all? Then I remind myself, I got where I am because I chose to go down this road. I made difficult decisions, I took the hard road, I pushed and I struggled, and sometimes I crawled and I screamed but all in all I learned how to fly. I learned how to fly on my own. Now, what if I can soar? I will attempt to soar. I will open my wings and allow the wind to hold me up. I will do what I must. And, I will likely go back in time again. It will be OK because my wings will become stronger over time. And one day, I will truly soar.

And what about my safety nest? What if I find I need to land for a bit of time? What then? Will that then mean that I have failed? No. It will mean only that my wings are tired and I need only to find my course again. I know that storms will come, I know that there will be many times in the future where I could forget how to fly. But I also know that I can heal and that I can gather myself a hug and renewed energy. Then what will I hear? I will hear his voice asking me, “have you taken care of yourself lately? What are you doing for you?” For these words will be what I need to hear, old habits die hard and I need the reminding.

So the question remains? “Oh. But, my darling, what if you soar?”

 

thank you for reading,

me

The Next 30 Days

It’s “crunch” time. It’s almost the end of the semester. Four plus exams, a case study, and two Practicals left in less than 20 days… only 8 days of actual classes. Four finals followed immediately by mediation with the ex, then starting rotations, then my daughter gets married… less than 30 days from today. My friend, Time, must feel the need to push me forward because this Time is coming so quickly now that I keep thinking I’m forgetting to do something. From one minute to the next I have no idea what I am doing. I’m OK for a bit if I just sit and ignore everything and concentrate on only one thing, but then I get sidetracked because of something I forgot.

I have choices still, I have to remind myself that I do still get to choose. I get to choose whether I will “freak out” and yell at my kids while they run around like wild animals in the house while I study. Or I could take a deep breath, send them outside, and refocus. I have the choice whether I let myself feel the overwhelm that is trying to set in or I can notice that it’s there and stop and plan a way to go forward. Everything I do is a choice.

Problem is is that some of these choices were made earlier when I felt like I had more time. Habits are hard to change. I fill my calendar from morning to night, from Sunday to Saturday and fail to schedule time for me in. This habit has got to change. Sure, I know I’ll be able to make it through the next 30 days. I know I will still be breathing when it’s done, aside from an act of God, these next 30 days will pass. At the end I will have passed my classes, successfully mediated with my ex, married off my daughter to a great guy and be in the midst of my rotations. This will all happen. I believe it. I have faith that these next days will pass and I will survive it. I might even be better for it.

In the meantime, though, how do I go through these days with grace. How do I keep a loving tone in my voice and a caring look on my face? How do I be the person I want to be while I travel through this stressful season? These are real questions. I am definitely open for suggestions.

I know I will force myself to sit and write so I don’t forget this part of my life, and so I can vent. I know I will put myself to bed with things left undone. I know I will continue to rise in the morning. What do I need to do to keep myself sane? More of what I already do but I have to be deliberate. I have to deliberately get up and drink a cup of tea and read before I start my day. I have to deliberately take myself outside and exercise in the fresh air. I have to deliberately make myself go out with friends despite my exams. I have to remember to live my life around and through the next 30 days.

There are three things I know that help me a lot. Writing, reading and eating on time. Sleep is also a huge factor on the way I feel. If I am sleep deprived I tend toward being depressed. If I am hungry, I tend toward overwhelm. Writing helps me do brain dumps and reading helps me think on different things.

Maybe I’ll learn not to schedule everything at once someday. That would be nice, free Time.

So here’s to the next 30 days!

thanks for reading,

me

Stressing

What is stress?  How can I beat it?  Or can I make it work for me?  No one in their right mind would argue with me on whether I live a stressful life or not.  My life is full of the top reasons for stress out there.  Recent divorce – check, recent death in the family – check, doctorate level classes – check, upcoming wedding (my daughter, not me) – check, financial issues – check, and numerous others.

So why am I still standing?  Still smiling?  Still out there trying to help others?  Sometimes I don’t know.  I know I get statements frequently such as “I could never do what you do.” Or “I don’t have the time to do that.”  Or “You are so much better at that than I am.”…

Too often I do make it look easy.  I keep my worries to myself.  I say “I’m fine.”  I offer to help them.  But when I do these things they don’t know my heart.  They don’t understand that given the choices, I refuse to go any way but forward.  Yes, I could have stayed with my ex.  Yes, I could have given up.  Yes, I could have quit.  Yes I could have decided to not change my life.

I did not do that though.  For me, I’ve had this extraordinary hunger to live.  I thank God every evening for all the things that I have: my kids, my health, my house… I thank Him that my roof doesn’t leak anymore.  I thank Him for giving me shelter from the cold, and from the storms.  I thank Him that I have shoes that fit and clothes that keep me warm.  I even thanked Him for giving my daughter lice… she laughed when I did that. She didn’t understand why.  Why be thankful for lice?  Several reasons, now I understand what it’s like to use the chemicals, to clean everything, to pick through every piece of hair on every child’s head.  I have an amazing understanding of something I only barely knew about before.  I told her how Corrrie Ten Boom, in “The Hiding Place”, thanked God for giving her lice while she was in the concentration camps.  Because of her lice and of those others in her sleeping area, they were no longer targeted for being raped and beaten.  The guards wanted nothing to do with them for fear of contracting it themselves.  In addition, as I am soon to be finishing my doctorate in pharmacy, I’ll be much better at helping others who need it.

I guess “my secret” to loving my life, regardless of the stress that is in it, is that I can ALWAYS find something to be thankful for.  But, make no mistake, it is NOT easy.  I may have made these last few years look easy but they were not.  I had two choices 1- go forward, or 2 – quit in some way.  Quitting did not give me power and so I always chose to move forward.  Sometimes, actually often, it meant walking through the fire to get to the other side… or remembering “the boulder is the path”.  Every moment of the day I have a choice.  I can choose to let things bring me down or I can choose to keep on smiling and keep on trucking.  Moving forward sometimes brings me to a place where I have to stop and feel my feelings.  I have to let myself sit and sob and rest.  These moments happen but they let me be authentic with myself.  Much of this time has been learning to be with me again, learning to love myself.

I hope that you are in a place where you can also be just you and love who you are,

thanks for reading,

me

Creating Purpose

I’m in a place where things are changing very rapidly.  As things change I wonder what it will look like in the future, and whether I can create a future that I love. I know that each day I live is a miniature of my future to come.  I have no control of the future and so if I want my future to be excellent then I need to strive for excellence each day.  Each morning is a new opportunity to live an amazing life.

What is an excellent day, then?  What does it look like?  Waking up energized, ready to face my day. is a good start.  Knowing what I want from the day, what I want to achieve by the end of the day, helps too.  A good day requires my basic needs to be met – food, shelter, clothing.  In the United States our bare minimum is actually greater than the daily lives of the majority of people in the world.  This means that those needs are likely met well.

What I have the most control of is myself, not my surroundings.  So I need to decide how I want to be.  How do I want to behave? Act? Live? Think?  What are my morals? Beliefs? It would be nice if those questions were easy to answer.  A lot of what I believed in the past was just plain wrong.  Creating new belief, though?  That’s an interesting proposition.  I can’t just take the opposite of the past, that isn’t actually how I want to be.  Morals?  I know these are a part of my beliefs but I feel that fundamentally these are still mostly unchanged.

What I do know is that I want to help others.  I want to show people that they can be, and are already, beautiful people.  I want others to see their own worthiness, their own greatness.  I want them to see the miracle that they are.

As I went through each step these last few years I had to search for support, and many times go it alone.  I would latch on to a single idea.  I would believe that the future had the possibility of being better only if things changed.  I didn’t go so far as to believe that it would be great but now I do.  Now I know that my life, and yours, is a matter of what we make of it.  We are amazing human beings and we have the ability to change our world.

I want to be able to shine a light on the darkness so that others can climb their way out of their own dungeons.  I want so much to lend a helping hand for those that need it.  I do this, by writing, by encouraging, by showing others that there is hope.

May each morning be a new beginning to a wonderful future for you.

thank you for reading,

me

 

I am enough 

I am enough.  I am more than enough. I’ve lived long enough,  I’m smart enough,  I’m capable enough.  I’m good enough.

It’s taken a while.  I’m still young enough to be able to enjoy the life I’m building.  And thankfully,  I’ve finally accepted that I am enough.

This is huge.  I’ve been chasing a shadow and always stopping myself because of the fear that I’m not enough.  The fear of ultimate failure, of the loss of my loved ones and the lost of respect for myself.

Declaring that I am indeed enough means that I can now quit beating myself up and I can now start to believe in myself and look for good, even great, things.

There is a renewed hope and faith that the future will come and that today is good. Yesterday has ruled me too long, it was there to teach me not to control me.

Today is where I live.  Today is what I need to be present to. The joy of realizing my completeness allows me to take the focus off of myself and place it on others. Now I can see clearly enough to help others find their worth.

I needed the time to focus on me.  I needed to learn to accept myself,  faults and all. And I needed to learn how to improve who I am and to learn how to live all over again. That is good.  The time spent crying and hating,  time spent focused on my past, was time well spent. I had to deal with things I’ve avoided for ever and I’ve had to heal. I could never give my all or be all I am if I hadn’t gone through my fires.

Don’t let yourself think you are being selfish when you are trying to figure it all out.  Don’t ever feel wrong for taking care of yourself. If more learned to do this very thing then fewer people would need help than do now.  It’s taken me all of these years to learn this. I’ve learned so much!  Trust myself? Believe myself? Honor myself?  How can someone love another if they’ve never learned to love themselves first?

Thanks for reading,

me