10 Things to remember for Tomorrow

I lay down tonight to rest with chills along my spine after a friend sent me a photo of the letter she was given by her work that allows her to leave her house and go to the nursing home where she works, explaining that she is essential to the care of her patients and must be allowed on there road. Another- in a different state informed me she had just gotten back from a walk and received the news that after 4:30 this afternoon she would not be permitted to leave her home for at least the next few weeks.

I feel as if I am living in a movie. It is too surreal. I I am sure it’s only a matter of time before these restrictions are in place in every state. When it hit me that ‘they’ could effectively lock us in and basically imprison us in our own homes, I felt a wave of panic wash over me.

It is with these thoughts and circumstances in mind that I will say to you tonight (and remind myself to practice tomorrow and in the days to come),

‘1. Be safe out there- and guard yourselves.

2. Love each other.

3. Remember that everyone is feeling the same fear and uncertainty that you are, so be compassionate.

4. If someone is on your mind, by all means, reach out. Yours may be the voice they need to hear on the other end of the line tonight.

5. ‘Do unto others, as you would have done unto you.’ Matthew 7:12

6. We are all in this together and that is how we will get through- together. It’s the only way.

7. Be patient. God’s timeline is not the same as ours.

8. Squeeze in some quiet moments and decompress with some deep breaths.

9. Remember God has your back and you can talk to him anytime you need.

10. It feels so different when I say to myself, ‘I’m isolating for health reasons.’, than when I say to myself, ‘They’re going to lock me in! ‘ I think I prefer to keep this voluntary… if at all possible. I may have to reframe that train of thought in my mind many times before this is over.

⁶Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4 6-7

Time out

Today- this new life we are all in now- together and ‘socially distanced’- It’s hard. Each of us is figuring out where we are on our own. We are not all in the same place or of the same mindset. I need to take a time out.

Today-I choose to quarantine myself and my household because of the love that I have for you.

Today- I am frustrated by the people out there that still do not believe that the Corona is a real thing. It’s ‘just a cold’, I have heard. It is ‘natural selection’ and ‘population control’. ‘Only old people die’… ‘It’s just something made up to panic the people.’ I have heard some ridiculous things.

Today- I am grateful for the ‘old people’. I love my old people. My mom and my dad. They’re my old people. My grandparents are gone now, and honestly, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about them through this. Do you have old people? Grandparents? Aunts, uncles? People with heart problems, diabetes, cancer? Immuno-suppressed?  Do you know anyone like that? I do.

 I am grateful to the ones who are wise. The ones who are smart enough to know to have toilet paper and canned goods in their cabinet. The ones who plant gardens and can teach us how to can food and use leftovers and who know how to get by with what we have on hand. The ones with the knowledge and wisdom to get us through whatever comes after this quarantine that half of America is not abiding by. I love old people. They have great stories. They have lived lives, raised children and grandchildren. They have been through recessions and depressions. They have fought the wars that allow us the freedom to not abide by quarantines. They fought the wars that allow us to disregard common sense and turn around and put their lives at risk.

 Thank you to the ‘old people.’ I was taught to respect my elders and to abide by them. It’s the way I was raised. Maybe that’s just me, I don’t know.

Today- I will respect my elders by staying away from them. And everyone else. In the hope that his thing will run its course as quickly as possible. And we can get to figuring out a new normal. And it will be a new normal. Things will not be the same.

Thank you, old people, for the life lessons. I, for one, was listening.

Today- I would appreciate if others respected my wishes and showed their love by NOT coming by. By not going in and out. Thank you for showing me your love in this way. For today. I’ll be happy to see you when the danger has passed.

I have been to the airport twice in the last 10 days, dropping off and picking up and getting everyone where they needed to be. I have been to stores and stocked up like the rest of America. I have potentially been in contact with many, many people from many regions. Because I love you, I ask you to stay away. Because I love your grandparents and don’t want to be the reason you lose them, I will stay in my house. You’re welcome.

Today- I know that I am not the only one who is anxious. I know I am not the only one who is frustrated, bored, hating the smell of Lysol and tired of the dryness left in my hands from all the handwashing.

Today I am trying to take a moment to talk to God when I get frustrated and afraid. Afraid of the future that I have no control over. We can’t be afraid of that. To remind myself of that I talk to God. I ask him to slow me down, I ask him to put His words in my mouth, because I tend to speak before I think sometimes. I ask him to not let me think crazy thoughts about now and the future. I’ve read my Bible. I guess maybe we should have been expecting this. We just didn’t know what it would look like.

Today I know this. He has us. If we talk to Him, listen for Him and obey Him- He will be here and we will find him. Then there is the God willing part- of course- I have to know that if God doesn’t want something that I want, I will not get it and I have to be okay with that. I have to not fight him and still try to get what I want and I have to stop more often and reassess my steps.

Today I know this. Battles are not won by armies of soldiers who think each of them knows best. God’s battles are won by armies of soldiers who are willing to obey and trust in Him. I am willing to do this. I will not argue.

That’s a good thing to do in this quarantine- slow down. It won’t hurt anyone. Spend time with the people in your house, get to know them better. Play games- if you’re lucky you can go out in your yard. Rake, look at flowers, get ready to plant something. Shovel snow- spread it out in the driveway so it melts faster, so you can see grass sooner- whatever- no one says you can’t do these things. Enjoy meals together- by now I’m sure there is enough food in the cabinet- play Playstation or X-Box, do some puzzles. Clean your house, throw things out, rearrange the furniture. Whatever. Do projects you have been putting off. I’m sure you have plenty you can do at home. Quit smoking- go on a diet- do some exercises. All the things you have been putting off until you have time. You have time now. Thank you, God. For this moment in time. I love you.

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 End of the Road-Pt.1

A couple of years ago, after the kids were grown and most of them moved out, I decided it would be fun to re-acquaint myself with the state of Maine, where I spent my first 17 years and later returned to raise my children. I wanted to drive to the end of every road and turn around and come back. Just ride around. Figure out where I am. Ponder my place in this big world. See what was around me outside of the-, say-80-mile radius where we usually lived our lives and took care of our business. With Maine being about 35,000 square miles I only wanted to cruise all the coastal roads of my childhood with wind blowing my hair and the radio loud, my only objective being to see the view. I didn’t need any extravagant arrangements, I only needed my atlas, my husband and my playlist. Maine has 3,478 miles of jagged coastline, third to only Florida and Louisiana so this may keep us out of trouble for a few summers. My husband’s interests gravitate to the west of us towards New Hampshire so we may have to alternate trips but that’s fine, I’m flexible.

I have long been fascinated by the small towns in this country. By their likenesses and their differences. By the cultures and sub-cultures that thrive within them. I grew up in a small town. I’ve lived in cities and towns from here across the country. From San Diego to Birmingham and small towns all around. I love this country. I’ve always wanted to drive it from end to end.

It took one day out driving last summer to discover that most roads in the southern part of the state now end in Private Property and No Trespassing signs. What isn’t closed to trespassers has been commercialized. This is Vacationland, after all. “Maine- the way life should be.” Thank you, God, they took those signs down, they annoyed the crap out of me. The way life should be, my ass. What does that even mean? What way should life be? And who decided this anyway?

There is York Beach that boasts York’s Wild Kingdom with its animal exhibits and paddleboats rides. You can even grab a ride on a camel. There is Old Orchard Beach with its amusement park rides and its boardwalk, where children can still find an arcade and you can grab a slice of Bill’s Pizza and stroll the shops on the pier, if that’s your thing. There is Popham beach and the nearby Fort Baldwin with its crumbling forts and towers to explore and of course the stunning Acadia National Park with its 158 miles of hiking trails, carriage roads and stone bridges. You would think with all that coastline we would have a lot of beaches but we don’t. Most of Maine’s beaches are made of stone and surrounded by bluffs and once it gets above 60 degrees in the spring, school gets out and the next thing you know everyone you ever met from out of state shows up for a summer visit and before long everysandy seat is taken.

After the snow melted last winter, we made the spur of the moment decision to get out of the house for a little spring head clearing. While we were hibernating over the long winter, I had done a little research and I chose Lubec as a destination only because it is the easternmost point of the contiguous United States. No other reason. Thought I might try to hit every point. North, South, East and West.

I went online and made a reservation at the first place that came up in my search, a fantastic sounding place named The Inn on the Wharf. The website looked promising and the idea of ‘adjust(ing) my watch to tide time, fall(ing) asleep to the sounds of the sea and wak(ing) up to the tranquility of a day beside the bay… while playful seals and whales swam nearby’, was alluring after a long winter spent shoveling snow and hauling firewood- trapped in the house for months with my family and our insane dogs. Beyond finding a place to stay, I did no other research. I didn’t plan a route or look up attractions in the Lubec area. The thought of doing these things never crossed my mind. I only wanted to go away. I didn’t really care if we stayed in the room all day, at least the view would be better. For a week, I ran over the images from the website in my mind. Screaming inside my mind and feeling trapped, I fantasized about one night away from my own house…

We were long past cabin fever and rushing towards cabin ‘psychosis’, trust me – it has to be a thing. By December the sun rises around 7 and sets about 4 and the nights get long. One year I even went so far as to try and get my family to make a movie about a family being killed and not found until the snow melted in the spring. I even made chalk outlines with masking tape on the floor. It was a project more involved than a puzzle and, needless to say, there were no takers on that winter project… I don’t know how people in Alaska survive for so long without daylight. By February every year I’m seeing shadow people everywhere. Sometimes, I think The Shining was partly based on fact, the unhinged part anyway, for sure.

 Last year, our first snowfall came on December 8th and in April it was still snowing. My husband is always spouting off that, “It’s almost February!”, like February is some magical point where winter ends and the sun comes out. While it’s true that February is halfway through winter and it’s the shortest month of the year. I, personally, feel that February is the longest month, still, if we can get through it we are over the hump. That year my February lasted until the last week of April. It was a long month. The temperature remained below normal and as of May 9th, no buds had arrived to dress the trees with their vivid new-green leaves, and most of my flowerbeds were still under snowbanks. We needed to get away.

By the end of the week, my husband decided he couldn’t wait any longer to head ‘DownEast’ -a term I never understood- so we headed out a day early. It was supposed to be a 4 ½ -hour trip, though we intended to stop at whatever scenic overlooks and attractions that appealed to us along the way and we expected it would take us a little longer. That 4 ½ hour trip north turned into an overnighter about the time we were halfway. We were happy wanderers let loose and before the weekend was over we learned the term ‘Downeast’ was a sailing term meaning that ships had to sail downwind up the coast to reach Hancock and Washington County, the 2 most northeastern counties in Maine.

 I don’t know what that means either. The best I can understand, it has something to do with turning the sails and the rudder until you are catching the wind at an angle. Don’t take my word for it, I may live in Maine but I’m no sailor. All my life I thought it was just what we Mainers called up north…

 There are a couple things you should know if you’re going to travel around here- One is, if the snow is melted, be prepared for delays and detours due to road construction. Usually it is only it is only pothole repair, a futile yet necessary exercise, if you want to keep the tires on your car, that is. Another is that your cell service is going to be spotty, if not non-existent most of the time you’re not near a town. Oh, don’t worry, it’s pretty. You’ll have plenty to pay attention to. And don’t forget the potholes!

Quarry near Rockland

We loaded the car and headed out early Friday afternoon in the direction of Rt. 1 North, intending to follow it to the end. Just get in the car and drive to the end of the road.  We detoured only once when we decided to venture off to Deer Isle where we entered a rabbit hole near someplace called Orland. It seemed it didn’t matter if we took a left turn or a right, we ended up at one of two stop signs. No isle of any sort in sight. We spent well over an hour, laughing hysterically as each familiar stop sign came into sight. We must have made 7 or 8 loops on what should have been a straight shot when we finally came upon an unfamiliar stop. We breathed a sigh of relief and followed the signs again directing us back to RT. 1. We laughed hysterically but I, for one, was happy to be out of that distorted reality. The goosebumps had started to spread and I was beginning to feel a little freaked.

 That detour cost us daylight and not knowing what type of lodging would be available farther north during the off- season we stayed in Ellsworth at a chain hotel and ate fast food in bed with the tv, our happiness at being out of the house overshadowing our disappointment.

We rose sometime after breakfast and headed straight for Lubec- no time to waste on unnecessary detours! Our weekends mission of discovering what was at the end of this road awaited us, now with a greater sense of urgency. It was about a 2-hour drive to Lubec along Maine’s Bold Coast Scenic Highway, (I don’t know why they call it that because not only did we see NO coast, we saw no BOLD coast while driving along that stretch of Rt. 1 but we were in more of a hurry. Maybe the Bold Coast was visible by boat but that was an adventure for another day….

After leaving Ellsworth we began to see more and more blueberry fields. I didn’t recognize them as blueberry bushes because the blueberries that grow in our yard are on bushes taller than my 5’ self. The fields were barren, bordered by low stone walls and broken by boulders of varying sizes. To my mind, they were eerily reminiscent of the photos I had seen of southern Civil War battlefields. Deserted and lonely.

Blueberry fields

About an hour out of Ellsworth, we began to notice abandoned houses sporting overgrown yards left choked with broken down cars and boats of all shapes and sizes, rusting lobster traps and other makings of a life by the sea. We passed many houses with For Sale signs in the yard. The main industry in this area was once sardine canning and the last cannery in Lubec closed in 2001. People learn to get by with what they have and make money where they can.  

Lubec is a small village in Washington County on the Canadian border boasting about 95 miles of shoreline and a population, at last count 1,359 souls. It takes about an hour in the car to traverse the entire town and you won’t see much from the car window. It is when you discover all the hidden trails and beaches that you realize your vacation time is well spent.

About 4.5 miles from Lubec you will find the West Quoddy Head Light on The Bay of Fundy. It is an active lighthouse that was built in 1808 under orders from President Thomas Jefferson. It is the only candy-striped lighthouse tower in the United States, making it more easily visible in the fog that blankets the area and during snowstorms. Accessible from there, are very nice, well-maintained trails along the coast that lead you to the bluffs. It is the easternmost point of the United States and at our first viewing, it was blanketed by a very thick fog. I walked the ½ mile trail up to the bluffs, not expecting to see much of a view, but just to feel the salty mist on my face and in the air. I wanted to breathe it in and I felt as though the fog was swaddling me, there was nothing to see and only the sound of the foghorn to remind me of civilization. I began to feel at peace with myself and my surroundings. It was perfect. The wind and the mist…The salt in my air and lungs, I felt as if I had come home.

View from the room

When we arrived at the Inn on the Wharf that afternoon we found the room was all the inn owners had advertised. We were slightly disappointed that the room was not actually on the wharf (lol) but the room was perfect and I’m not sure that the wharf was closer to the water than the room turned out to be.

The door was unlocked and the key was inside on the dresser. There was not one person in sight. The view from the room looked exactly as it had online only better because we were finally seeing it in person. The sun was finally out and as soon as we got out of the car and unpacked we went for a walk to explore.

We could see two wharfs from our balcony. One was the restaurant connected to the inn and it was still closed for the season so we headed toward the other and soon discovered that we could charter a boat to go whale watching or put our own boat in at one of the many public boat landings in the area and explore on our own, although I would probably want someone familiar with the waters of Lubec onboard.  

Mulholland Point Light

We could see a light house from our room and found that it was on Roosevelt’s Campobello Island, just across a bridge into Canada. We didn’t bring our passports so we’ll save the island for our next trip and there will be one soon!!

Bridge leading to Campobello Island

The tv in our room had only local channels, although others were programmed in- we were there ‘pre-season’ and things weren’t quite up and running yet. It was when the weather girl started speaking of rain amounts in millimeters, that we realized that it wasn’t going to be 6 degrees that night and that we were watching news from across the border in Canada. I didn’t try to do any conversions. I’m smart enough to know it was cold and that I had forgotten my pajamas.

The local IGA carried the customary Maine tee shirts but there were no pajamas in sight. Or sweatpants or leggings or anything that wouldn’t be worn by a fisherman. Which is fine- just don’t forget them. We were there at the beginning of May but I doubt July nights feel much warmer. If you are looking for organic or vegan foods, I would bring in what you’ll need or you may need to take a ride to Eastport, about a 45-minute ride or possibly further, if you’re picky.

 Frank’s Dockside is a little dockside (obviously, lol) restaurant that happened to open for the season the day before we got there. They offered food and live music Saturday night, tired from our ride time we opted for takeout to eat from our room where the view was quieter. Sunday, we were on our own. We discovered Shore Thing Take Out and Variety. They were open from 5a.m. to 8 p.m. and offered breakfast, lunch and dinner serving everything from burgers and pizzas to seafood platters. The prices were reasonable and the food was good. Decks of cards and cribbage boards were stacked in every window sill facing the road, as though many long winter days were spent staring out those windows searching for signs of life.

We heard of a cove named Baileys Mistake and a black sand beach from volcanic rock so we set out to find them. Thankfully it is almost impossible to get lost because all the roads eventually end up at the same place- RT. 1. We found Baileys Mistake and many Lubec beaches but no black sand beach. It was low tide when we arrived at Baileys Mistake and there wasn’t much water on the beach. I could see how you could run aground and there was only one house visible. It looked more like a shack and it was for sale. “If only”, we dreamed…

Lubec has 20 foot tides and 20 feet stretches a long way on level ground. I’m not sure how far but I know I wouldn’t want to be exploring the sandbar when the tide started coming in. You could check the tides online or ask someone in town. I would think most anyone would have that information.

We saw only one lone figure while we were exploring the outskirts of Lubec that early spring weekend. No– that’s not quite true- we did see another we’ll get to that encounter later, lol. I had forgotten- we’ll get to that…but for now, sitting on a rock, trying not to shiver, the wind blowing my hair sideways across my face we could see a person walking in shadows toward us carrying a five-gallon bucket in each hand.  As the figure neared a voice called out though the wind carried away the words and the third time he called out my husband discerned he was asking the time. He needed to cash in his catch on time. He told us he was ‘gathering winkles’ for extra money.  Periwinkles- I guess people eat them, they’re a delicacy in China. To each his own I guess. I wonder how many you eat at a meal. Gross. Anyway. Later that afternoon we saw him again at Shore Thing, cashing in his catch while we were picking up our dinner. Can’t get fresher than that. He was the only person we spoke to outside of getting gas and picking up food. Every moment felt like meditation.

My husband and I spent the weekend each wrapped as deep in our own thoughts as we were wrapped in the fog. Words were scarce as we drove along like old people on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Stopping for a picture or to turn around to check out a view. It was the best weekend of my life. I truly came to realize what inner peace felt like. We can say it and talk it but in Lubec I felt it in every pore of my body. I felt like I could feel God.

As we walked along what appeared to be a log that had been cut length-wise, then wrapped in chicken wire to prevent us slipping in the dampness, through a peat bog at Boot Head Preserve, the stillness was palpable. The only movements were birds just out of sight in the brush. We were enmeshed in the sound of the beach and surrounded by pine trees stripped of their needles from the sea spray and wind. Replacing the pine needles was a strange light green moss that hung from the trunks with stunted limbs and waved in the constant breeze… sunset was near and I didn’t want to be out on a creepy trail with a bum knee when the fog rolled back in so we headed for some exploring by car.

 Dang that bum knee! It’s fixed now- that’s where I’ve been for the last year- Sitting on the couch recuperating from knee surgery. Healing my knee. Gaining 20 pounds. Growing into the new me. Using muscles long unused. Stretching. Trying to relearn every movement that leg had long ago forgotten. All the while, unknown to me, with every burning quad and glute and cramp and cry, I was Healing my Soul. I was Taking Form.

Our second encounter of that weekend- and mind you- we didn’t even speak to this person- cemented everything in my mind. The roads were mostly flat around Lubec and we were driving- on our left was the mighty Atlantic and to our right were more low lying blueberry bushes. In silence, we drove and up ahead, about ½ mile in the distance ahead of us, topping a small crest, was a person riding a bike. I don’t think either of us thought about him for even a split -second, we just took in the scenery and dawdled along. Soon enough I wondered about the speed that bike was going and we talked about when we were kids and the feeling of freedom you would get. We each raised a hand in greeting as a sun wizened elderly man with a white beard and a big old grin, wearing overalls and a knit cap zoomed past us at a very good rate. We looked at eachother and burst out laughing. I’m still laughing. I’m sure my husband is too. It was awesome! Right then, I think I knew. You can’t care about what people think- well, within reason, obviously. You’ve got to live life like nobody is watching. And judging. And assessing. Who has time for that? Salt n Pepa have it right, “There’s only one true judge and that’s God, so chill and let my Father do his job…”

Seriously, that old man- doesn’t even know me but he changed me- well, him and Lubec. I found God there. I knew him when I was young and then the world interfered. We became re-acquainted. I was reminded that it’s never too late to let yourself feel the joy. I was reminded to look for the joy in the ordinary days. And maybe it’s not so much as wanting to feel like a kid again but more about being the you that you were before the world tried to ruin you. Maybe it’s just about starting over. Feeling clean and living right. There is no second childhood. There is LIFE- the way it should be. Nothing else. The you that you should be. There is no more “I would if I could”, it is now “I could if I would.” Don’t settle.

The soul must be like a muscle- I think now- if left unused it will wither up and you’ll be left with what?  A dead muscle. Every breath of the chill air and fog in Lubec fed oxygen into my soul. With every step on every trail I felt new. I mean, I knew I was in a new stage of life- I was already trying to figure out what I wanted in and out of my future. The kids all grown, just a GiGi now, knowing I’m not a victim- I am a Survivor– and I came out ok for a reason. Believing that everything happens for a reason, I now had to figure out how to use the lessons God had given me. I may not know why or even how. I don’t think that’s not for me to know. What I came home knowing was that God kept me alive for a reason and I need to do my best to honor that. I need to exercise my Soul Muscle.

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…