Life Goes On

It’s been almost 5 months since I last posted. Many things have happened. Complicated things, stressful things, great things, amazing things. Life continues to pass along and I sometimes feel overwhelmed with all that happens in a day, a week, a month or a year. But I’m also comforted in knowing that despite my stress and striving, each day is lived moment by moment, each moment flowing into the next and I don’t have to have control. In fact, I enjoy life much more when I remember that control is an illusion.

I have finally come to a place of equilibrium with my mental health. There are small adjustments happening but overall I’m in a much better place. I still have triggers and I still live in a state of hyper vigilance but I’m living my life for the first time in a long time instead of feeling like PTSD was living my life. It’s a place of serenity and hope for me. I wasn’t sure how it would feel, being in this place of acceptance and peace, at times it seems very unnatural, to somehow be ok with all that has happened in my life. But most of the time I feel gratitude for the perspective I gain with each day, for the way forgiveness washes over me.

Back in July I was visiting a friend in Calgary and had read through all the books I had brought with me so she loaned me a book called “Sober Mercies” by Heather Kopp. I was taken with the book and read through it in a day. Although I haven’t struggled with alcohol addiction, addiction runs quite rampant in my family so I know I’m not immune and feel the draw and enticement of self-medicating on a daily basis. Often times in PTSD, people end up self-medicating to cover the pain of past trauma. In the book Kopp says:

“She agreed with me that in many situations from childhood, I had no role or choice in what happened. But as I grew into an adult, I became responsible for how I responded to these events. Her point echoed what I had already heard at the meetings: When you’re a child you’re a victim. But a grown-up is a volunteer.”

When I first read it, I wasn’t sure I agreed with the statement. I reflected a lot on the point she was making, I even snapped a picture of this quote. Because something rang true and it continued to nag at me. I soon realized that I don’t need to live the life of a victim anymore. I have the capacity to love, to forgive, to trust, to provide boundaries and to change the narrative of my trauma. It’s in the past and by holding onto it, I give away my power. When I let go and accept (not in the sense that what happened was ok but just that it did happen and I had no control)  I don’t live in as much fear and I am empowered to know that I am ok.

While the initial move back to our hometown a year ago was met with increased symptoms in my PTSD and led to a very unstable 6-9months. God knew it was exactly what I needed most, it was time for me to begin to deal with my past, to work through tough things, to walk in my healing. I’m involved in a group that has been life changing and affirming for me. I have met a lot of others with the same diagnosis as me. I know there is hope, I see and feel it rising in me.

 

I Am

This is the song that I’m clinging to these days by David Crowder:

“I AM”

There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place where we can’t find peace
There’s no end to Amazing Grace
Take me in with your arms spread wide
Take me in like an orphan child
Never let go, never leave my side

I am
Holding onto you
I am
Holding onto you
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
I am!

Love like this, Oh my God to find!
I am overwhelmed what a joy divine!
Love like this sets our hearts on fire!

This is my Resurrection song
This is my Hallelujah come
This is why it’s to you I run
There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place where we can’t find peace
There’s no end to Amazing Grace

I am
Holding on to you
I am
Holding on to you
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
I am

Invitation

Even when you are far, your voice carries on the wind. Even though I don’t know where you are, you are always with me. Inside my soul, calling out; shouting, whispering, doing whatever you can to get my attention. The outside world beckons me away, I’m distracted, unfocused. I know I need to look inside to find you but the world is playing on my senses. I’m miserable, unchecked, wandering in a sea of forgetfulness. When did I lose my ability to retain, to remember, I’m doomed to repeat my mistakes over and over if I fail to remember. I drift amnesic, suspended in time.

Somewhere on the wind I hear you, in the whisper of the trees and the smell of rain. The memory calls back to me. You are calling, knocking. My door is open and yet I cant seem to find the words or the courage to greet you. I’m ashamed, embarrassed. Like Eve in the garden I am hiding from you, aware of my wickedness and evil. I cower in the shadows of the room, holding my breath, frozen with fear. I see you and you smile.

You are good. Loving and all knowing. You accept me for who I am and for in spite of all that I’ve done you reach to embrace me. Your eyes are tender as you see my form. You are unashamed, I’m your child. You long to heal me, to walk with me through this difficult time. You invite me into conversation, extending grace by your very presence with me. You welcome me to dine and to remember your sacrifice, to sit at your table and commune with you.

This is my body broken for you my love, eat for your healing. This is my blood shed for you my love, drink for your freedom. These symbols have lost their meaning in your everyday life. Remember each day as you eat and drink your daily meals, my sacrifice was given for each and every one of your days. Remember that each day is a gift, given to you. Be mindful, be present. Focus and trust on me. Be still and know that I am with you.

The Mirror

She stood before the mirror, wide-eyed with wonder as she gazed at herself for the first time. A shy wave, giggling as the reflection waved back. She would look into this mirror as a small child and watch herself fondly. Watching how her skirt would spin as she twirled around. Laughing while making silly faces as she brushed her teeth. As the years passed the mirror would show her how her body would change, growing taller and more beautiful. It would reflect what she wanted to see. How her eyes would shine when she smiled or how strong her body was becoming.

All too soon though, her perspective would change. The mirror always stayed the same, she however had changed. She would criticize the reflection now as she peered at. She would see too many layers of fat, the squishy midsection, the acne scars on her forehead. The skinny, knobby-knee legs she once thought of as strong, she now would curse. She would look and feel that she failed to measure up to her own desires. The mirror would enslave her mind, trapping her inside. She was stuck in a reflection warped by her own perspective.

Something will change again, a shift in her paradigm, an awakening. She will see herself again, her true beauty. She will catch herself giggling once more at her reflection, waving shyly as she recognizes the moment where pure beauty began and now meets again. In a moment, she will recognize the friend, herself, staring back wide-eyed with wonder. She will remember her eyes that shine, the strength in her body, how funny her face looks as she brushes her teeth for the millionth time. And finally, after all these years, she will be thankful and free.

Crying Out Loud!


How long O God, will I be in this toil? How long will my soul feel adrift?
I am weary of the things I face. I desire to be whole, free, light of heart.  
How do I take your yoke? My burdens weigh heavy but I cannot let go.
I’m drowning in the sea of my despair.
You are good, I know you are but I cannot see it, feel it or touch it.
You are far from me or I from you.
I believe your words, of the hope you promise and yet I am dry, hungry for peace.
Options overwhelm me, my voice drowns in the silence.
I desire you, I need you, I cry out.
Why does it seem that you are hidden? Is this some sick game?

I want to know you, I thought I knew you and yet here I am, back in this fog.
I hate my mind, it is not safe. You promise that joy comes in the morning and yet I’m stuck in the night.
Are you here too?
Is your light the in the stars? Is that the hope to be found.
Am I missing the sign in my longing for a sign?
I believe and yet I don’t.
Forgive my unbelief, my belligerence of questioning but I feel unsafe.
The expanse of my consciousness is riddled with fear.
I believe. Is that not enough? 
Will I learn? Are you coming soon, will rescue come?
I am weak and wandering from you.
How long O God, will I be in this toil? How long will my soul be adrift?

Psalm 55

For as long as I can remember, I have always identified with David as I read through this Psalm. I think it’s the authenticity and human-ness of his voice that resonates within my soul. “My heart is in anguish”, ‘my fear and trembling come upon me”, “horror overwhelms me”.  This is soul searching honesty; openly on display in the scripture for us all to bear witness to. It’s not hidden, it’s not glossed over, David’s pain and emotions are real; laid bare for us all to see and experience. But emotions often make us uncomfortable, they are messy and don’t fit into our tidy little boxes that we try to jam ourselves into. The Christian box of “no harm, no foul” or our sweep it under the rug tendencies that we have when things get hard, do not allow us the freedom to explore our emotions. We may want to run away from pain, to lie to ourselves about our experiences and pain but is that really what we are called to do?

We can’t lie to God. We can pretend that the emotions that we feel are somehow not there. But God? God knows us intimately. We were created with strong emotions, there is no shame in the ways or depths in which we experience emotions. I have always struggled to maintain distance from the darkness that can and does dwell inside me. From the pain of my hurt and trauma, the betrayal that I have felt by those who I should have felt most secure with, to the ways in which the past infects my life even today.

I have this trunk inside me, my box of trauma and pain. It laid hidden for many years, it grew dusty and at times I thought it was gone. Moving back to my hometown, being in the area of where my trauma occurred, interacting with past memory and present reality have caused me to confront the box. This doesn’t excite me, in fact it terrifies me. Today though, I confronted the box and made the first steps in order to deal with it. I called a professional because the kind of healing that needs to happen can’t be done alone. My heart is in anguish and I’m trembling. I freaked out on the phone, balled my eyes out and nearly hung up. Fear gripped me, hearing the voice on the other end of the phone caused me to look full on at my trunk of trauma and say out loud “no more will the past dictate who I am today”

I have hope, beyond my understanding. I’m trusting in God and that the promises that I have found in the bible will stand stronger than the burdens that I face today. I’m standing firm that God will sustain me!

Emotionally Healthy Woman

Wow! This book has been life-giving me to me. I wasn’t sure when I picked it up whether I’d even read it. I don’t often allow myself to read books like this. I read to escape life, not to focus on all my habits or how to change my life. Books like that often leave me feeling hopeless. But The Emotionally Healthy Woman is exactly what I needed “for such a time as this”.  As I read through the pages, written by a pastors wife, who found herself up to her eyeballs (my description) with feelings of depression, anger, loss and frustration, she decides to quit, I found a kindred spirit. She quit all the things in her life that had robbed her of the joy found in the knowledge and love of Jesus.  She quit in order to find herself safe in the arms of her Saviour.

I now find myself on that same pathway. So many people have walked this path, to true freedom in Christ. Not the fake Sunday smile or begrudging “doing it for Jesus” or “the belief that real Christians say yes” but the true presence of God in the good AND troubled times, in the times of an authentic yes and the painful no.  I’m finding God in the cavernous recesses of memory and pain, seeing where the lie I have believed for so long took root. The lie that I’m unworthy of the good things that come in my life, that I’m undeserving of love and affection, that only as I give up the things in myself that I cherish will I be good and pleasing to God. But the truth rang out of the pages and shattered into my soul.

“For a very long time I considered low self esteem to be some kind of virtue. I had been warned so often against pride and conceit that I came to consider it a good thing to deprecate myself. But now I realize that the real sin is to deny God’s first love for me, to ignore my original goodness. Because without claiming that first love and original goodness for myself, I lose touch with my true self and embark on the destructive search among the wrong people and in the wrong places for what can only be found in the house of my Father.”

Henri Nouwen

God made me unique for a reason. My fierce love and passion, my affinity for music, my stand for justice, my propensity for authentic gut-wrenchingly honest conversations; God made me like that for a purpose, to live my life out loud and on purpose. I don’t know what the purpose is, I haven’t figured that out yet but I have figured out that those are the reasons WHY I’m a good person, why I’m called to be a follower of Jesus, why I need to quit giving up on myself and allowing the voice of the past to destroy the hope of my present day and future.