Thank you

I know some people won’t like what I have to say today-that’s often the case, ha ha. That’s ok some will.  But either way.  It matters not to me. I find I am no longer concerned with what others think of me so much and I thank God for that- I have thought about how much to disclose here- but the whole point of this page is the good, the bad and the ugly. It is all for God’s glory.

I thank God for making my heart free and releasing me from the irons that kept me chained to my past and all the hurt that lived there, the bonds that kept me from feeling His love in my heart. The yoke that choked me and kept me from speaking out in His name. The chains that deafened me and kept my mind so full of noise that I was unable to hear the words He spoke to me.

All the work I did, or thought I was doing on myself… all the years of counseling and suffering and fighting- constantly at war with myself and everyone around me- never trusting anyone, doubting every thought I had and fully believing, at times, that EVERYONE was out to get me. My own mind delighting in playing tricks on me. I spent sooooo many years wrestling with myself and against the God who would let these things happen to me, who would ALLOW these blows to land on me. Just a girl. Some of my earliest memories were of church, I had always been there for him. How could he let me be hurt? Over and over and over again?

Against my better instincts– against my natural inclinations- I turned away. I turned away because I thought he had forgotten about me, I thought he had no love for me. I knew he was there, but I was now, somehow, unseen. Invisible. He had more important things to worry about. People whose circumstances were worse than mine. I felt invisible to him and that the real me had also become invisible to others. I shrank. I shrank into myself, believing that I was damaged beyond repair. That the ME that was inside my body was now, in some way unworthy. My soul began to shrivel and I became a shell of a person. I stopped saying my prayers at night and I no longer talked to God throughout my day. I was alone, even when surrounded by people. My family, my kids, my husband. But I had never felt more alone. I knew how to smile and make small talk and to get through the day but my insides were hollow. The heart of me was gone. My soul, me, the girl I was, it was all gone.

There is no other that could have broken through. No other who could have reached the depths in which I found myself. Alone in the dark. Buried alive.  No other like the God who saved me.

Thank you, God for giving me a grandbaby, a girl- to remind me of the joy of a girl. In her there was laughter and wonder.

In her I began to see myself and was reminded of who I was. Of who I was meant to become and of the possibilities. That was the beginning for me. My new beginning. Thank you. I cannot even express in words what that did for me, but you know. You know.

Thank you, God, for giving me life long enough to ask your forgiveness.

For my selfishness, for harsh words spoken, that I cannot take back. For not always being there for the people who needed me. For sometimes, seeing that there was a need in someone and still turning my back, instead of pulling myself out of my own pain for a moment. For the times I’ve lied or been dishonest in some way, to myself, to others and most especially, to You. The one who knew anyway. For half truths and white lies. For all of them.

For the times I’ve hurt myself, hurt others and been complicit in others hurting themselves or someone else.

For the damage I did to my body- although I must pay for that forever. It is yours and I selfishly did whatever I wanted with it. I’m sorry. I will forever be sorry for all the wrongs I have done, and there is not enough memory on this computer for me to name them all. (Probably not on Google servers, either, lol)

For all the alcohol consumed, the drugs I’ve consumed, the lost time and moments that these things gave me that I, unfortunately, can never get back. For all the time wasted.

I thank you, God for that day you woke me up and took me away from the drugs.

My boyfriend at the time was in jail, for-surprise, surprise- selling drugs…  I had spent who knows how many days high and awake. I had snorted the last of the meth or coke or whatever it was that day-At that time I would take anything that would keep me awake and out of the dreams and nightmares and flashbacks that invaded sleep every time I closed my eyes-  out of the carpet after spilling it on the floor and called in an order of fried seafood for pick up, I was going to eat and come down. I got to the Mayflower restaurant on that Sunday afternoon-it was filled to the brim with the after-church crowd and I started to get dizzy. Then I broke out in a sweat. I don’t remember hitting the floor. I don’t know how much time passed. I DO remember hearing a voice-as if from a distance, deep and baritone, somebody was praying- ‘Dear God, bless this child’s soul’, a voice asking for mercy on me… Those are the only words I remember and I remember them over and over, although I’m sure he must have said something else…- Opening my eyes, my ears ringing, I could see a large, man in a suit- some preacher I always assumed- kneeling over me and praying for my soul. (When I think of this incident these days, I imagine him as T.D. Jakes, saving my soul, lol…  I remember thinking, “Why are you praying like I’m dead? I’m not dead.” Who knows, maybe I was… He helped me up- they had called an ambulance, I remember saying, “I’m ok, it’s just hot. I got dizzy…” I grabbed my food; I don’t even remember paying for it- I ran out of there in mortification and drove home with my eye on the rearview mirror the entire time. Waiting for the police or an ambulance or something lol. That man saved my life that day.

 It still took me 20 years after that to figure myself out after that though, lol.

 A few months later when that boyfriend was out of jail and he once again punched me in the face, and blackened my eye, I remember something coming into my head-I was staring straight into his eyes, it was like a shutter came down- it was something I could feel- and I remember this voice inside me- it wasn’t mine- it was just there, inside my head and it said, ”Never. Again.” Firmly. Strongly. “No more. Drugs. This is over.” The relationship lasted a few more months, but I never did any more drugs. Well, not those kinds, marijuana has its uses. I didn’t even have a craving. I had no desire. That’s how I know it was God inside me. God speaking. That preacher saved me. My life and just by his asking, my soul. I thank you, God, that he was there when I needed him. Whoever he was…

Thank you for being the Father you are to me and reminding me that all I needed to do was just ask. Thank you, God, for forgiving me.

Your forgiveness and the weight that was lifted off my heart by that one act have made it possible for me to begin forgiving others. I have forgiven others. And with your forgiveness of me and my forgiveness of those who hurt me, I am now made free. I cannot thank you enough for that.

I am now free to follow you, to praise you and to speak to others of your goodness. I am free to follow the path you set for me before I was born, whatever that may be, whatever direction it takes me, it will be better than any I could have carved out on my own.

Thank you to God who loves me, for teaching me how to love. Better. Purely. With trust. Softly. With actions instead of words.

Thank you to God who is patient with me and for teaching me patience. Thank you for constantly reminding me that my time is not like your time. Your time is an eternity, mine is a blip. I need to remind myself of this every time things don’t happen as quickly as I would like them to. Which is more often than I would like, lol.

Thank you to God who listens to me and who has taught me how to be quiet and still and listen for his voice. Thank you, God, for giving me the discernment to tell your voice from all the others in my head and around me. Thank you for always being there to let me talk things through. In the end you always give me the answer I need, even if it’s not always the answer I want. Thank you for the times I went with your answer, instead of pushing through with my own. Thank you, God, that when I did push through on my own, that you kept me safe and put me in the place you had intended anyway, in the long run.

Thank you, God, for giving me a husband strong enough to let me go when I needed to go, both times this last year. For letting me go to the children. They are the important ones, they are our future. Thank you, God for making me brave enough to really go through with it (both times), even when most people thought I had finally lost what was left of my mind. Maybe I halfway thought that. Ha,ha. But I didn’t let it stop me and I attribute that to You. Thank you, God for giving me the courage to follow your plans for me.

When I was frozen, with my body clenched in fear and confusion, you were everywhere I needed you, just when I needed you. I thank you for all the reminders that you were right there beside me. That you calmed me through the word of a stranger, a song on the radio or a verse on my phone. I thank you for making my soul open to feel your Spirit.

I thank you, God, for daring me to do some of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done in this last year and I thank you for giving me the faith to blindly follow. I will trust you have great things in mind for this coming year. I know now that all things work together for the good.

When we are young- when we are children- we are less afraid to be different. We are ourselves the only way we know how to be. That is why children belly laugh and smell all the flowers and love kittens and puppies and other animals ‘to death’ with big hugs and drooling kisses. It is why they touch everything just to see if it soft, hard, fluffy or prickly.

Then one day you notice that others don’t talk like you, dress like you, act like you and the desire to be different than we are made takes hold.

We change the way we talk, our accents, our words… We change our style to be more ‘professional’, casual, metro, punk, goth, whatever, just to be like others… We grow our hair out although we prefer it short or shave our beards after we longingly shape and care for them and spend months growing them out. We stop talking about dreams and beliefs that aren’t like others because we don’t want them to think we are ‘weird’.

The push to be like others tends to come from outside you- but it feels like a pressure crushing your insides. There is no daring in conforming- but there is danger.  Danger to our hearts, our minds and our souls… you can lose yourself trying to be what you are not called to be.

Speaking out for God can get you mocked, called names like ‘sheep’, ‘Jesus Freaks’, or worse- to me , anyway- the ‘ Christians’- with a sneer, people will say it like they are spitting something nasty out of their mouths. I am no longer afraid to be called any of those things. I’m sure some people could come up with worse. Am I the sheep or is it the guy who does things because ‘everyone else does it’? I would be happy to be called one of God’s sheep. Just sayin’… I gave up the idea of being popular quite a long time ago. In exchange for being true to myself. I’ve found it’s the only way to be that works for me.

I thank God that my soul is free and no longer shackled and submissive to the sub- standard conventionalities that have become the norm in society.  I thank God for making me brave enough and strong enough to buck these same conventionalities and set out on my own to discover what he has in mind for me.

I thank God that my heart and soul are now free from the shackles of my past and I wake in the morning with songs and praises in my mind and on my lips.

I thank you, God, for my 40 years wandering in the wilderness. It took from when I was 8 to 48 to trust in you again. That’s a long time but you never gave up on me. You are my everlasting Father. I thank you for the lessons and the perspectives of the down and battered that you have allowed me to gain. I thank you for the hurts and the recoveries. I am a sinner and I have been sinned against. I have been absolved and I have forgiven. I am available, use me as you see fit. I trust in you.

I thank you God, most of all, for bringing me home. Back to where my heart and soul are free to sing. To the place where a stranger prayed over a broken girl. Thank you God, for bringing me home. And for reminding me, that in the end, we are all God’s children, we are equal in your eyes.

Hey. Again.

I feel a little like I’m starting over here and I guess in a way, I am. I’ve been away from here for a long time . The fact is, the person who started this blog and poured her pain out for all to see does not live inside me anymore. I thought about taking those stories down, but I won’t. Those stories are my foundation. Those and many others like them. They are what built me and formed me, this magnificent creature I have now become- ha ha ha.

I stopped even thinking about writing publicly after I received some negative feedback. From a family member. Who was never mentioned or named. “Stop doing all that whining on Facebook,” she said to me at a family reunion barbecue late last summer. I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about since the only thing I had posted in the prior few months was something about how awesome green Kool-Aid was on a hot summers day. Later that night my husband mentioned this blog and that’s when it clicked. He remarked at that time that he had also been asked (by others) how he felt about me putting all my “personal shit” out there.

My response to this was was an angry, “F*&k them! This isn’t their story to tell! I’m gonna do what I need to do, that’s what I’m doing! If just one person gets something from this, then I’m good!” But I let those two comments stop me. For a long time, as it turned out. I felt judged. Afraid of embarrassing my family. I doubted myself all over again. Oh, I kept on writing. In notebooks, on scraps of paper, on my phone, on my laptop. I composed books on sheets that were only in my mind. I wrote in private and kept it hidden. Just like I had all along. Secrets. In the darkness.

I spent time with my granddaughter, then cried and moped for weeks when she moved away. I went on an extended cross country road trip and fully cleaned out the garage and basement. I did my best to keep myself busy. Binged a lot of tv. Early this summer my younger sister asked me why I hadn’t written anything in so long and the only response I could come up with was, “I’m thinking…” Thinking about what, I couldn’t say…

Im done thinking. Thinking about what is appropriate for public consumption, anyway. It all is. I was recently reminded of the effects of living in the darkness. The shame, the acting out. The inability to make correct choices for yourself because you are hiding another’s bad ones. The time wasted. Frozen. No.

If you don’t like what I have to say, stop reading. If you don’t relate in some way, these stories are not for you. I don’t really care if you like me or approve of me or my methods. When you, your child, your sister, brother, mother, father are forced to live and remain in the darkness- it’s damaging. It changes people and sometimes they can’t come back. They lose their voice and become unable to form the words that may save them. They lose themselves in drugs or jail or heap abuses on others. They suffer through bad relationships, just to feel loved. They punish themselves for another’s crimes. It takes an incredible amount of courage to stand up sometimes and not all are able to muster it. Someone must stand. So no.

I will no longer live in the darkness. I am God’s child. And God created the light. So we wouldn’t have to live in the dark.

The Escape

Religion is a dangerous thing if you have ever been near the psych ward. I guess it’s not ok or sane to believe in something you can’t physically see or hear. If we can’t believe in things we can’t see, how are any of us supposed to believe in our futures? Or that we have one? How are we supposed to believe we can get well? Or survive the ordeals we suffer? If you take away faith, you take away hope.

I have been diagnosed as suffering from Complex PTSD and Bipolar 1- rapid cycling, so yes, I have problems regulating my emotions. The word moody does not begin to describe it. There is no regulation a lot of the time. Most of the time, I don’t think I need to control anything. If I feel it, the feeling must have some basis in fact, right? They tell me this is not always the case but that doesn’t change my reactions.

Speaking of religion is a dangerous thing, if you have ever been near a psych ward.

I have never felt the need to standardize my conduct to conform with society. In fact, my maternal grandfather very much encouraged me not to, ’If you have something to say, say it! Don’t hold back!’, he would tell me. I have always felt that I am who I am and the way I am because God made me this way and that he makes everyone their own way for a reason. I have always believed that everything that happens is for a reason. We just need to pay attention and be aware and the opportunities you need to succeed will be put in front of you. I am NOT saying that my eyes have always been open or that I have always listened to the quiet voice in my head telling me what path I should take. Many times, I could see no path or I just didn’t follow the breadcrumbs but I have always believed that everyone has this voice inside them.

I have great certainty that the only reason I survived the first 30 years of my life is because a strong moral code was instilled in me during my early childhood in which I knew I was loved by everybody around me. I knew Jesus loved me and he would keep me safe when my parents weren’t around. I knew the difference between right and wrong and could become indignant about unfairness. As I grew older, I could argue any side of a debate that was put into play. Every day I heard from my mom and dad how I could be anything I wanted to be and if at first I didn’t succeed to try, try again. I believed that angels watched over me every night. I was taught to share and share alike. I was taught to say my evening prayers and grace before meals. I was taught to treat others the way I wanted them to treat me and to never utter the word “hate”. I was taught to respect my elders and that there were very defined boundaries between what you could and could not say in public. I learned to be polite and to smile and nod at the correct times. I was told that God helps those who helps themselves. These lessons and many more stayed with me throughout my life and I am fortunate that I had this foundation beneath me before evil and sickness walked into my life, many are not so lucky.  I’m not sure that any foundation could have prepared me for what was to come but inside me was a superhuman strength I was unaware of.

I tend to be on top the world one second and the in the next unable to understand how everything could be so wrong. There are rarely muted colors in my emotions, I can go from raging red or playful, spunky neon pink, skip the blues and sink into that black pit of despondence then bounce back to gleeful green in a matter of hours or a couple days. The color wheel containing the full spectrum of my moods somehow spun off the gyroscope and lays smashed beyond repair. I am left, not trying to reassemble, but trying to create some order.

I can push things out of my mind until I have forgotten them and I can easily disassociate from this world while I am on the couch watching the news or a tv show that brings up a subject that is uncomfortable to me. I can close my mind instantly if you make me uncomfortable. This is a coping mechanism that is only helpful in the moment. Life goes on while you are trying to forget it and eventually the memories will catch up with you and must be dealt with in some manner. I have tried many times to remain present and in the moment but it often feels like an exercise in futility. It is too much second nature to me now. I have no control over my own mind. I have had more flashbacks than I can remember and once punched my husband because the face I saw coming in for a kiss suddenly wasn’t his. I have awakened my family in the night screaming to get out of the house, that the house was on fire. I once spent a midnight in the pouring rain trying to shovel up the grass on the front lawn so I could plant flowers. Many hours, ten feet from the side of the road, in the middle of the night, in a downpour. I never did plant the flowers. I wasn’t sleeping much around that time…

I have always had vivid recurrent nightmares. Dreams of falling; off a cliff, off a bridge, being driven off the bridge by those who were supposed to love me. Terrifying hours spent in sleep, searching for my missing family in wastelands and abandoned buildings.  People long dead coming to me in my sleep; urging me to join them. Shadow people silently standing guard beside the bed or in the doorway…Nights spent soaked in sweat in twisted sheets…

God didn’t save me from any of it…

God didn’t save me from any of it. I didn’t see any angels swooping into the room behind my stepfather to stop him from getting into bed with me. No trumpets blared to stop me from getting into a car with a rapist. The sea did not part to make a way for me to get away from my exes. (Well maybe the last time…) There have been many plagues. Nevertheless, I never doubted that he was there. Watching, checking in on me and always gently reminding me of his presence. I won’t lie, there have been times when I ignored every nudge he gave me. I ignored him even when he tripped me to keep me from going the wrong way and would get up, brush the dust off and continue the way I was going just because it was what I wanted at the moment or because the path was more clear or it was what I thought was right.  I spent years fighting what amounted to myself.

I spent my first 30 years victimized. Molested, sent away from home with a sock full of dimes for protection, raped, sold off to my 1st husband basically, escaping him for a drug dealer that had no qualms about beating the shit out of me, (I was raised that boys don’t hit girls, to speak my mind and that if someone hit me I was to hit them back, so I would, although it did not help my situation…) losing my kids, fighting for sobriety…I stopped thanking God that I was alive and for the little things that previously had reminded me he was there. My kids…butterflies, ladybugs, rainbows, the small kindnesses of strangers…I stopped seeing the world in color and was immersed in a world colored by different shades of blacks, whites and grays. I lost the goodness of the world. I lived in a scary place where everyone was out to get you and nobody was your friend. I couldn’t trust anyone to do what they said they would or to mean what they said. I was alone. Then one day that boyfriend punched me in the eye and I heard a loud, determined voice in my head, that sounded a lot like my own, saying, “That is the last time you will blacken my eye.” I don’t know where it came, didn’t know I was thinking anything about it, but I do know that it was a strong voice. That day I stopped using, both cocaine and crystal meth, all by myself, and I never went back. I never had another craving. It was about a year later that I told that same boyfriend that I was taking his car and going to see my kids in Alabama and I would be back in two weeks. I knew I was never coming back to him. I would sooner leave his car on the side of the road, if I must, burned to a crisp. I knew his pride wouldn’t let him come after me, that he would act like it was his idea for me to leave. I once gave him a black eye, during one of our many altercations and he told his friends and family some ‘black’ guy did it. I was so secretly proud of that black eye, smiling to myself every time I heard him give this explanation. Why it had to be a ‘black’ guy that did it, I don’t know…Some people knew the truth but it was still always a secret. He was cheating on me anyway. Loser. My plan was to go to Alabama, a place I considered the armpit of America, and find a job and a place to live and share my kids with their father and make the best of things. Be a mature, responsible adult. A contributing member of society.

Jesus asked,” Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?” John 4:48

At that time my ex and I were still legally married. We were not married in my mind. I had closed my mind and heart and soul to him a long time ago. I intended to get divorced as soon as possible and was sure he knew that. He did not. He thought we were going to be together. We were not. I told him my plan and he informed me that it would never happen. He was never going to let them stay with me anywhere or go anywhere with me. I started to think I needed to get out of there after he called my mom whining and crying that I was not there begging for forgiveness. She informed him I wasn’t there for him but for the kids, it was not a message he wanted to receive. Right around this time, I dropped the kids off at school one morning and went for a ride, looking for help wanted signs and apartments for rent. I went back and picked up the kids from school in the afternoon and went home to make supper. That evening I was asked what I was doing in Jasper that afternoon, a town about 30 miles from Adamsville. It was with a devastatingly sickening realization that nothing had changed in the preceding 3 years, and I knew, once again, I had to plan an escape. He was following me. Spying on me. Trying to control what I did, who I talked to and where I went. I couldn’t keep doing this. Later that night, he called the police and tried to have me removed his house. I stood in the doorway, watching the flashing lights in the driveway, looking over at my children- sitting on the sofa bed that they would later sleep together on, in that one bedroom shack in the backyard of some other family’s house and I knew I was taking them out of there and that this was not going to be their life. They deserved better. I deserved better.  I heard the police telling him he couldn’t keep me out if we were married just like he couldn’t stop me putting the kids in the car and leaving with them. We were married. Share and share alike.

I spent the next week secretly putting outfits in my trunk, one at a time. Mine and theirs. I put toys in my car that wouldn’t be noticed missing, pants and long sleeve shirts that no one was looking for in late August in Alabama. I waited for the moment he said he was leaving. For a moment that I believed he was really leaving. There was no way to be absolutely sure. I had, regrettably, been wrong before. It was on a Saturday. He said he was going to work. He hadn’t been in a week, that I could tell, but he was going to pick up a check so I believed him. I told him I was taking the kids swimming at Oak Mountain before they closed for the season. I put the kids in the car, went to a gas station, filled up and pulled over to the side. I put air in my leaky back driver side tire, got back in the car and turned to the kids,” I think we are going to go on a vacation instead of to Oak Mountain, what do you think?” Heartbroken, I reassured my oldest that his daddy wouldn’t be mad. I told them that we could go see Nanny or go to see their aunt, my sister, in Maine.  We sat at that gas station at that junction outside of Birmingham, and I pondered whether to take 20 and go through North Carolina to my mom or 65 north through Tennessee. I have always entered and returned to Alabama via Hwy 20.

I prayed. I prayed that we would be ok wherever we ended up. I told God that I needed him and I begged for him to be with us. I told him I knew there was no way I could do this without him. I was terrified. I couldn’t do this anymore. I knew there was something better out there for us. A better life for us and please could he help us find it. I told him I needed help, that I didn’t know what to do.

That day I decided to take the scenic route via 65. I had never come north that way and I wouldn’t recognize anything or anyone along the way. A few weeks later, when my ex called me at the women’s shelter where we were hiding, he told me he was sitting on the side of Highway 20 that day, waiting for me, that he knew I was ‘up to something’. In that way, the sea parted for me.

Somewhere on the highway in Tennessee we lost that left rear tire and I put on the donut. The 50-mile limit, plastic tire auto manufacturers used to give you as a spare… We made it to near Bristol, Tennessee that first day. I wanted to keep driving but I couldn’t and I needed a tire. I knew he would think I was heading to my mother’s house in North Carolina for about a minute. Until he got there, anyway. I got the kids some fast food and a hotel room and set them free to jump on the beds and watch cartoons. I asked the desk guy where a Western Union was and called my mom to ask for money. Sundays in the south, in the 90’s, stores were not open. It was a day of rest…I got no tire the next morning but we headed out just the same. Praying mile by mile, repeating a mantra silently, “Please God, take me home, please take care of us…” Mile after long mile…We got here on that donut tire- 1000 miles…I call that a miracle…Funny thing is, that car gave me no problems all the way here but started acting up shortly after we got here, as if its purpose was fulfilled. I abandoned it when I found out he was in Maine, now following me around in a borrowed car, so we wouldn’t recognize him. We were here and, as far as I was concerned, an ocean had parted and made way for us. We got here and then I fell apart in a different way…

I don’t believe I would have made it here alone. I know I wouldn’t have. I had very little faith in my own ability to make it happen. I spent weeks before we left and years after we arrived, on edge. I spiraled slowly down and down, into the dregs of my mind. Old familiar places pounding me with memory after memory, reminding me daily about why I left here. I am not going to lie and say I have never had any religious delusions. I am not going to lie and say that I have never felt deserted by God. I am not going to say that I have gotten everything I have ever wanted. I am going to say that God put me on the right road, literally. I am going to say that if you are ready, if you are open, if you ask and are prepared for the answer to come in any form, that He will be there. I am confident of this and I am grateful every day that I wake up. No matter what mood I am in…

Boxes

Bi-Polar Disorder was never a diagnosis that I fully accepted. I am not going to try and deny that I can check off every box on the diagnosis checklist. I can. No doubt. The PTSD one too. That is true. I like to think that the fact that I see the world a bit differently than the average Joe is a good thing. My experiences are different. I bring each one of them with me. I have always considered myself moody. Why wouldn’t I be? I had plenty to be moody about. I have always had a mind prone to daydreams and fantasies. Doesn’t every little girl? A dear departed friend from high school who lovingly referred to me as “Wacky Jackie.” I loved it, I felt it set me apart from everyone, where I should be… Set off to the side like a broken chair. I already felt like I was apart from most of my peers- how many of them were hiding the secrets I held within me? I loved school really, I felt safe there. I could bury myself in homework and forget the turmoil inside. I could focus on what was within that building and forget about everything else. I heard it whispered many times that I was “stuck up”, sometimes even “snobby”. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. My aloof manner stemmed from trying to protect myself. If I placed myself on a higher field I could see and hear everything going on around me and no one attacks from below.

Even then I knew not to get too close to people. I had a few very good friends and that was all I ever needed. No one ever got to know everything. I kept myself at a distance knowing somehow instinctually that were I ever to utter a word or a blip or a wrong cross glance bad things would happen. My child’s mind did not know what exactly would transpire, just that everyone would be mad at me. What child wants that?

Once when I was around 13 or 14, a woman from church asked me to babysit for the evening. She picked me up and drove me to her house. Before she left to go out for the evening she pulled me to the side and came right out and asked,” How long has “HE” (referring to a family member) been touching you?” I was shocked and speechless and horrified. I never said a word to anyone. EVER. How does she know? Tears instantly welled up in my eyes. There were no words. I said indignantly, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and pulled away. She reached out and turned my face towards hers and said, “It happened to me, I can see it. You don’t have to talk to me or tell me anything right now, but I want you to know that you can.”

Those words should have comforted me. I was NOT ALONE! I believe that is the way she meant them. They did not comfort me in any way. Instead, they had the effect of magnifying what I already believed. That I was broken and my worst fear had come true. EVERYONE KNEW. EVERYONE COULD SEE IT! The shame I felt always, I wrapped around me like a cloak. I could hide under it. I learned how to look over and through everybody. Looking for signs they could tell or see… I learned how to smile and laugh on the outside without letting it touch me on the inside. I learned to watch every move and all the angles. I learned to put up walls. Walls between me and people, walls between the outer me and the inner. I had cities of walls around me and boxes and boxes in my mind. Boxes filled with one horror or another. Mental boxes, firmly latched. Everything in its place, always. I learned early and well how to watch out for danger. I slept lightly and covered with as many blankets as I thought it would take to keep the monsters out, everything tucked in around me.

This is around the time that I began to create angels and protectors. I began to believe that no matter what happened to me, I would be ok. I could go to anyplace in my mind whenever needed now. I didn’t know the term or what it meant, but disassociation was my best friend. I could leave at any time, go anywhere in my mind, if I felt the least bit uncomfortable. It was easy. It is still way too easy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. I began to imagine that there were people outside, maybe living people, maybe not. Out my window at the tree line. Just in the shadows. Sometimes I had a feeling who they were, other times not so much. God was watching me, I knew, but he can’t be EVERYWHERE, ALL the time, so he sent others. This is what I knew. They would keep me from going too far away…Make sure I would get back from wherever I had to go…. I knew these things as real, the way I survived-not as hallucinations of a psychotic mind… I still see them as real. Real protectors sent from God. Who went away when I didn’t need them anymore. That to me is not crazy. It sounds perfectly sane to me. What else would prepubescent girl think?

I’ve spent a good deal of my life fighting. Fighting to be free. In my mind. Fighting for myself, for my kids, against husbands and boyfriends. Fighting the police on occasion. Fighting anyone who thought they knew what was “best” for me. Fighting myself. Fighting for my right to be free to express myself, whether seen as appropriate or not. Fighting to be free of what “the establishment” thinks is right for my mind, what meds I will and will not take and once you get a diagnosis of ANY kind, mental or physical, it begins to define you. It defines how others see you and it can define how you see yourself, if you let it. I feel that diagnosis box around me. I feel the limits it sets on me, even if only in my own mind. Well, not JUST in MY mind, I can see it in the faces of others I interact with, if they know. Today I am taking that box off. I’m going to pick it up off my shoulders and I am going to gently set it on the floor beside me. I am cautiously exploring a newfound peace. In the future I will take the advice of those who love and care for me and ponder it before I make a decision but the decision will be mine. I will care what they think and accept their reasoning. Then I will make the best decision for me.

I heard that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. I’ve been listening a long time. Today I have something to say….

Who am I?

Thanks for joining me! My name is Jackie. I am the wife of a wonderful husband, mother of four boys and GiGi to one beautiful little girl. I am an intensely private person, so creating this blog was like being hung from the rack for me but I put on my headphones and powered through the wet cement in my mind to create what I believe will be the pathway to my healing. I have not really been out in public much or talked to anyone other than my immediate family and the custodian of my med management, a psychiatric nurse practitioner to whom I credit my current clarity of mind, since my last hospitalization in 2012. It wasn’t until I signed up for, what I thought, was a writing “class” and walked into a writing “workshop”, that I knew my life was changing in a big way. Until that moment, I was ignorant of the difference and I was under-prepared and overwhelmed. I am private for my own protection and it seems writers must become masters at self-promotion. I’m going to add that to my list of things I must do…NOT.

I am a person that is very good at placing things in boxes, both emotionally and physically,  to be dealt with later, only later never seems to come. I have packed away large sections of my life, mind and memory over the years and now it seems some of the boxes are tearing open and the contents of a life filled with trauma, abuse and mental illness are spilling out and must be dealt with.

I have written and journal-ed off and on since I was in grade school. I have been through years of behavioral therapy, individual counseling, group counseling, 2 hospitalizations and 2 day programs. I began studying for my Bachelors in Mental Health and Human Services with a concentration in Addiction Studies but bailed out of college after 3 years, just a few classes short of a degree. The subject matter just hit me too hard. I was trying to cure myself of all my afflictions as if knowing everything I could about a disease would make me immune to it. It didn’t.

I recently admitted to myself that writing was what I really wanted to be doing and that I should have been doing it all along and it was high time I got to doing something about it. So, here goes- I’m all in!! Well, I’m heading there..going in the right direction anyway… If only one person out there can relate and know they are not alone by reading my ramblings, I will feel my purpose is filled…While each of our battles are fought single-handed and in private; there is no need for any of us to feel we are alone and suffering in this big world…

 

 

 

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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