What is healing?

(Something I wrote yesterday. I was thinking about that question – what is healing? And this is the short little ramblings that came out of me thinking that over, trying to figure it out.)

What is “healing,” really? When it comes to trauma and such, I mean? It can’t mean forgetting, because that’s never going to happen. Does it mean no longer feeling those strong emotions about it? …because I’m not sure that’s what I want, either. I like my emotions. I like feeling them. I even like the bad ones, because you can’t really appreciate the good ones without them. How do you know what “safe” feels like if you’ve never felt unsafe? And you know “safe” is one of my favorite feelings. Maybe healing means that even though I’ll never forget, and even though it’ll always hurt some, those experiences don’t control my life. Maybe it means accepting and honoring those experiences and feelings and effects as part of me, part of my life. Yes. This happened to me. Because this happened to me, sometimes things that remind me of it hurt. Sometimes I will cry. Sometimes I will still be angry. Sometimes I still have to grieve for what I have lost. This happened to me, and the feelings I have about it are valid, even if they might not make sense to anyone else. I need to honor those feelings. They are real, even if they don’t make logical sense. It’s true…stuffing those feelings inside, pretending they don’t exist…that’s how I got into this mess in the first place. I need to honor my feelings by expressing them…instead of denying them, keeping them stuffed way down inside me by cutting or eating or restricting or overworking or staying up all night or any of the other self-destructive coping mechanisms I use. I think…this is what healing is to me: being able to someday say, Look! This happened to me. But it does not define me. It still affects me sometimes. It always will. I accept that. I honor it. It’s part of what has made me who I am. But it is only a part. There is so much more to me than this. I am so wonderfully, beautifully complex…I might seem quiet and predictable, but if you stick around, chances are I’ll surprise you. There’s so much more here than what you see. 

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Mercy Ministries

It wasn’t that the month I spent there was so terrible and traumatizing. Not in a dramatic way. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that it was traumatizing at all.  I’m still coming to terms with it. I like to think it didn’t affect me much. I like to think that now, 5 years down the road, I’m over it. But I’m so far from over it. It affects me much more than I like to think it does. I block it from my mind. It comes up, sure. But I don’t let myself go there. Can’t let myself go there.

It wasn’t that the time I spent there was so terrible and traumatizing, not like people might think it was.

It was the way it messed with my head. It was the confusion. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was there from the start, from the day I arrived. It was the yo-yo-ing back and forth. From loving it there and being so hopeful and completely into it, to feeling like there was something wrong that I just couldn’t put my finger on, to feeling rebellious and wanting to leave. And then back again.

I felt like I was being brainwashed. It took me a while to admit that, because it seemed so overdramatic, but it’s honestly how I felt. How I still feel.

The confusion is still there. Sometimes I wonder if it’ll ever go away.

Sometimes I still wonder if it was all in my head. If it was just me. I know I’m not the only one who left. I know I’m not the only one who had problems with it. I know there are people who have spoken out about it. The homes in Australia even got shut down! But still…sometimes I wonder if they were right after all. If I was just being rebellious. If I just wasn’t committed to the program enough. Sometimes I still wonder if I should’ve stuck it out. If maybe the problem was with me and not with them.

A couple of years ago, I was eating brunch with a few friends and ended up telling my Mercy story, and towards the end, I started talking about this. How sometimes I still feel like I shouldn’t be saying these things about Mercy, like it was just me, all in my head, and I should stop talking about it, etc., etc. I was rambling on and on about it when one of my friends at the table interrupted me:

“NO!”

He told me that I should keep talking about it…basically, that I shouldn’t be afraid to tell the truth about Mercy. His reaction caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting anyone to react so strongly to what I was saying – and to be totally on my side.

Most people are though, when I talk about it. No one else has had quite that reaction, but there’s been plenty of outrage when I’ve told my story. That scares me sometimes, because what if I’m wrong? The confusion is still there. The doubts still creep in.

There’s so much more to say about this. So much more of my story to be told. So much to be said about how it still affects me now. But this is all I can handle right now, so I’m going to leave it at that.

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Caught between extremes again

Sometimes I just get so frustrated, so disgusted with myself.

I know better than this.

I know what I should be doing and I don’t do it. I know what I shouldn’t be doing and I do it anyway.

Sometimes I’m afraid that part of me is just trying to see how far I can push people. Trying to prove to everyone that I really am no good, selfish, lazy, irresponsible, everything certain people have said and implied and made me feel like I am. Pushing and pushing until everyone gives up on me.

I don’t want to do that.

I want to be good, I want to be a good girl, I want to be good enough.

And in my mind that means being obedient, compliant, going along with what people want me to do. Always being cooperative, always giving in, always doing what I’m supposed to do.

I can’t be stubborn or rebellious, I can’t fail, I can’t do anything halfway, I can’t let anyone have any hint that I might not be good enough…because what if they give up on me?

As always, it seems, I’m caught between two extremes.

There’s the terrified little girl who just wants to be good enough, just wants to be perfect, just wants to be loved…and then there’s the angry, rebellious one who doesn’t trust anyone, who’s out to prove that people only hurt and can’t be trusted and will only give up on her in the end.

The angry, rebellious one scares me. I’m afraid that part of me is going to ruin everything. I’m afraid she’ll end up being right. I’m afraid I’ll be so stubborn and so bad that everyone will just walk away and give up on me in the end. I’m afraid that people will only see that part of me and won’t see the other side, the scared little girl that just wants and needs so badly to be loved and believed in no matter what. I’m afraid that scared little girl will never get what she needs because the angry rebellious one will ruin it all and push everyone away…and I don’t want that to happen, but I don’t know how to stop it.

Somehow, I think…I need to learn to honor and accept the angry part of me as “me” too. But it’s so hard, because I don’t like that part of me…she scares me…

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palette of emotions

a scared child,
afraid to trust…
pain masked by a smile,
a laugh…
heart enclosed in walls so high,
so thick…

outside, He waits,
He knocks…

softly He speaks:
“come.”
gently He calls:
“my child.”

open your heart,
shine a light
in the dark places of your soul

gifted with a palette of emotions –
the bright and the dark.
don’t hold them inside,
they are meant to be shared –
paint a beautiful picture.

there is beauty in the joy –
but in the sorrow as well,
in the pain and the hurt,
the hopelessness and dark, desperate nights,

there is beauty in that brokenness,
vulnerability…
beauty in allowing others
into those most painful parts of you

admitting the weakness
behind the facade of strength,
allowing your family to bear your burdens,
to lift you up,
to catch you when you fall.

break down the walls,
open up, reach out and trust.

find the beauty in that openness,
glorifying God by sharing your heart,
your secret pain and scars…
beauty in that vulnerability,

beauty in the darkness and in the light.

Posted in Poetry, Recovery | Leave a comment

Whatever it takes.

God knows what He’s doing, even when I don’t.

It’s a good thing to remember.

And it’s a truth that I find myself clinging to when things get tough.

Sometime in the past couple of years, I started praying a difficult prayer: “God, whatever it takes.” Whatever it takes to draw me close to You, to bring me back when I run away, no matter how difficult it is, no matter how much it hurts, that’s what I want.

Admittedly, it’s not something I pray consistently. The last thing I want to do is make myself sound like some great Christian, because honestly, nothing could be further from the truth!

But every once in a while, God will remind me that He knows what He’s doing, that He has a plan, and I’ll remember, and I’ll say again, “Okay, God. I know. You’re right. Whatever it takes.”

He’s answering that prayer, I know He is.

It’s not an easy journey, but I know He is with me. A lot of times I forget that, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

He knows me. He knows what I need better than I do. He knows how ridiculously stubborn and independent I can be, and He knows that there are times that I need to be broken in order for Him to make me whole.

And I think that’s what’s happening right now.

This is probably about the worst I’ve ever been when it comes to isolating myself and staying silent. It’s probably about the worst my depression and anxiety has been in terms of my ability to function normally.

That’s not to say it’s the worst it’s ever been. In the past, it’s been much worse, in much scarier ways. So I don’t want to make a bigger deal out of this than it is. Because it’s not bad in a scary way – meaning, I’m not suicidal, and believe me, I am praising GOD for that! That’s a point I hope I never get to again.

It’s not bad in that way, in the way that I’m scared of myself and what I might do, and I am so thankful for that. Rather, it’s bad in a way that makes me feel weak and helpless and ashamed.

And while those feelings are familiar, feeling them to this extent is new. I think I literally left my bed two or three times all day yesterday. For about a minute each time. Today, I managed to get up and get dressed, but I couldn’t bring myself to go to class. Both days, afraid to leave my room, for no reason at all. It’s not usually like this. I can usually push past it, you know? The feelings are plenty familiar, the lack of motivation and energy, the irrational fear and anxiety – it’s the feeling like I’m unable to push past it that’s new.

And that’s what’s got me feeling so helpless and weak and ashamed. But I think I’m feeling this way for a reason. I think God has a purpose in this. I feel like He’s breaking me down to a point where I have to depend on Him and on others to help me through.

I’ll be honest, there’s a part of me that really really doesn’t like that.

There’s a part of me that would much rather be independent and be able to do it all on my own. That doesn’t want to need or trust anyone. Because, you know what happens when you need people? When you need people, then they’ve got something on you. They’ve got power over you. When you trust people, you give them just what they need to manipulate and take advantage and hurt you.

And when you’ve had even one person in your life who continually abuses your dependence and your trust, it makes depending or trusting anyone pretty damn scary.

That’s not to say that there aren’t people that I trust or depend on. As usual, WWC provides the perfect example. God taught me somemajor lessons about trust and dependence there, and I think I can honestly say that there was not a person at that school I did not trust. In fact, one person there earned my trust so consistently that even though we rarely talk these days, I still consider him one of the two people I trust more than anyone else in the world.

But, and if you’ve been reading my blog for even a little while, you probably knew this was coming…then Mercy Ministries happened. And after that, a year and a half at the farm happened, before I finally started at college again, here at NWC. I can’t write about it right now, even this much is upsetting me, but if you google something like “Mercy Ministries survivors” you’ll find some good info.

I hate how much I end up mentioning that place, that month. I hate how much of an effect it’s had on me. It seems ridiculous – but then, I guess no more ridiculous than 7th grade bullying still affecting me today. Ugh. Anyway.

That experience just…I have a hard time explaining what it did to me. The word “destroyed” often comes to mind, but I don’t like that because it implies that the progress I made before then was wiped out. But, in a way, it was. The pieces are still there. I still know what those pieces looked like whole…it’s putting them back together, building them back up in a practical sense that’s so difficult. So maybe “destroyed” does work. It feels like the right word.

A bit of a tangent maybe, but going along with that – the other word that always comes to mind when I remember that place is “silenced.” And I think that’s been one of the most difficult things for me, honestly.

Because WWC helped me find my voice.

And then Mercy stole it from me.

Nearly five years later, I still haven’t recovered. I still have such a hard time finding my voice. I find it so hard to speak, sometimes literally.

And really, that does go along with the rest of this. Because in order to trust people, in order to depend on people, in order to have friends, in order to truly be part of a community…I need to use my voice. The only way to stop pushing people away is to let them in. I don’t think I’ve posted my poem “palette of emotions” yet. That’s going up next, as soon as I post this. But first – I know I’ve posted this in its entirety somewhere here – I was reminded of a bit of another piece I wrote:

“you feel safe because it’s familiar.
comfortable.
but it’s not real safety –
not when you’re always looking over your shoulder
afraid someone will see.
let them see!
let them in, let them see.”

It’s not easy. But I’m trying.

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Hey look, a new blog post!

Decided to try doing this blog thing again. We’ll see how it goes, if I’ll be able to keep up with it. Don’t count on anything. =)

It’s been so long since I’ve written here, and to be honest, I’m nervous about starting it up again. I’m in one of those places emotionally where I have a hard time trusting or opening up to anyone. Having a hard time finding my voice, sometimes literally. Afraid to speak. Afraid I’ll say too much. It’s better, easier, safer to stay silent.

At the same time, silence is dangerous. I get stuck in my head, and I can’t get out, and that’s when things start to spiral out of control. Self-destructiveness. I haven’t actively done anything (and hopefully it won’t get to that point), but there is such a thing as passive self-destruction. It’s easy to neglect myself when I’m struggling with depression anyway. I’m trying to keep an eye on it, though. Especially making a point of trying to eat enough, because that tends to be the way I can do the most harm and it can so easily switch from passive to active.

Anyway. I was driving back from a friend’s place tonight when “He Will Carry Me” by Mark Schultz came up on my iPod. Been a while since I’ve listened to that song, but I’m glad I didn’t skip over it because it fits really well with how I’ve been feeling lately.

My relationship with God tends to be really up-and-down, especially since Mercy (which, I know, I still haven’t really talked about here. I’ll get to it eventually.). I suck at being a Christian. I don’t have daily devotions, I rarely read my Bible, and I don’t pray like I should. I haven’t gone to church for months. And I have a totally skewed view of God, and I know it.

That last part is really what triggers the rest of it. I have such a skewed view of God. All of these things that we’re “supposed to” do as Christians should flow naturally from our gratitude and love for God. And why are we grateful, why do we love Him? Because He loves us. It all comes down to His love for us, and that’s what I really get hung up on. While I know it’s true intellectually, I can’t ever seem to truly believe it for more than a short period of time.

I grew up going to church, I know so many of the “right answers” intellectually, but that doesn’t get me anywhere if I can’t truly believe them. All it does is leave me walking around pretending to be something I’m not, because I’m ashamed to let anyone know what a terrible Christian I am.

I remember hearing a sermon about a year ago where the pastor mentioned how difficult it is for people who have been abused to believe in the love of God. I wrote about it in my rant book afterwards:

thinking about what the new pastor was saying in church on sunday. the part about how abuse survivors can’t understand and believe and know God’s love without someone living it out and showing them it’s real. thinking about how true that is. how wwc first made me understand. how those people lived God’s love to me. and then how much time has passed since then. everything that’s happened. and i think, no wonder i have a hard time believing, knowing, trusting God’s love.

It’s not that people aren’t there. It’s that I can’t seem to let them in. I run away. I push people away. I hide. I can’t accept their love or care. I can’t talk. It takes so long for me to be comfortable with people, it takes so long for me to truly open up and trust. Sometimes it might not seem like it because I’ll start talking about difficult, personal things with people I barely know. But the thing is, I talk and then I clam up. I run away.

And at WWC, I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t run away, I couldn’t hide, because my WWC family was always there. There was no sitting alone at meals, there was no avoiding anyone, there was no skipping class or meals or anything without people noticing.

It’s not like that here. It’s not that people don’t care, it’s just that everyone has their own lives and their own friends, and they’re busy, and they just don’t notice. I remember my first year here, sitting alone at meals, and finding myself with tears in my eyes because at WWC, that never happened. From the beginning of the year, nobody sat alone. That’s the way it is when you’ve got a class of 30 students. But here, I often sit alone, though it’s gotten better over the past few years. No one notices if I skip meals or campus events or chapel. Depending on the class, sometimes people notice if I skip, but often not. It’s so easy to avoid people, to hide in my room, to be alone.

I want to make it clear again that I’m not blaming anyone, and I’m not saying that people don’t care or notice me. A lot of it is just the way things are in college, and the rest is my skewed perceptions. Nobody else is responsible for what I choose to do or choose not to do. If I skip classes or I sit by myself at meals, that’s nobody’s fault but my own. So I don’t want to put it on anyone else.

I could say stuff like, “I wish people wouldn’t let me run or push them away,” but that feels too much like blaming, and it’s not anyone’s fault, it’s my own messed-up head. So I don’t know how to put it, but I just wish that I could have that amazing support system I had at WWC back. If that makes sense. A group of people who wouldn’t let me run and hide, who wouldn’t give up on me, who wouldn’t let me push them away. Even more…because I know those people are out there, and I can even think of some of them in my life…I wish I could stop being so damn stubborn and let them in.

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Rambling: Crabbiness, Honesty, Therapy, Family…and best of all, WWC.

So, I’m at my parents’ house, and I just feel like writing tonight. Which means that this is probably going to turn into a long, rambling, repetitive, self-centered, depressing thing. What the hell, it’s what I do best, right?

(Ooookay…obviously not in the best of moods right now. I probably shouldn’t post this, but I may anyway. Just take everything you read with many grains of salt. More than anything, it probably just reflects on the fact that I’ve been working for 4 days and I’m staying at my parents’ house for the second night in a row. Mainly the latter.)

I hate summer, I hate summer, I hate summer!

I am SO over this shit.

I hate summer, and I just want to curl up and cry and sleep until it’s over.

I hate summer.

I hate summer.

I hate summer.

And what that really means is that I am so freaking lonely, and I’m afraid people are going to forget me over the summer, and when school starts again, they’ll act like they don’t even know I exist.

It means that I currently have a total of one friend that I feel like I can talk to freely, and there’s so much I have to say, but I can’t say it. I don’t want to bother people. Who really wants to hear about my life? All of my messed-up shit?

At least I’m back in therapy, finally. And I think that’s going to be good. It’s not ordinary talk therapy, it’s more creative sorta stuff, which I think is going to help a lot. I have a hard time with talking.

One thing that came up in my last session…looking at the results of something my therapist had me do, he said, “One thing I think, when I look at this…all of this is in front of you. Who’s got your back?” I thought about that for a bit.

“Well…no one, really.”

I keep coming back to that. And I know, as always…it’s not that people aren’t there. It’s never that people aren’t there. It’s that I hide from them. I don’t let them get near me. I don’t let anyone get close. For some reason, I’m reminded of this quote – unsure who it’s by – “We accept the love we think we deserve.” It’s so true. And I accept so little.

Another thing that came up in therapy this past week was the idea of loving versus owing. I’ve tried so hard to let go of the fact that my dad is so unwilling to help me financially with school even though he has the money and can more than afford it. I keep telling myself, it’s his money, he can do what he wants with it. He doesn’t owe me anything. Beating myself up for being so selfish as to even want it.

But my T gave me a new perspective that helped me understand better. It’s not about owing. I don’t think he owes it to me. I just want him to love me enough to help me. I just want him to love me. I want him to love me more than he loves his money, and he never has. He says he loves me, but his actions always show that he loves his money more. It’s not that I think he owes me – it’s that I want so so badly for him to love me.

Everything is always an inconvenience for him. His world revolves around what’s convenient for him, and if he agrees to do something that is inconvenient, he makes sure you know what a sacrifice he’s making. Helping me is a burden, not something that is done out of love.

Oh God, I just want my dad to love me!!!

I don’t want to be a burden and a problem and an inconvenience and a sacrifice and an expense….

But that’s how I feel.

Unloved.

Unlovable.

I’m so afraid of being an inconvenience to everyone I come across. Why do you think I always do my best to fade into the background? Stay quiet, out of sight? I don’t want to burden anyone. I don’t want to bother anyone. I’ve always been too much in my family…so outside of it, I try to disappear.

I don’t want to depend on anyone, for fear that I’ll go too far, be too much, ask for more than I should.

And of course, now I’m reminded of WWC. Ohhhhhhh, WWC…I miss it, I miss it so much, you don’t even know….

I learned a lot about depending on people that year. A lot about taking risks and being open and honest. A lot about what a family should be like.

Still, the one thing I always immediately think of is the duo ropes course at Honey Rock. That’s where the picture at the top of my blog is from. God had so much to teach me that day. I was all confident before I got up there on the course…but once I was up there standing on that wire, I was terrified. I thought I’d be all strong and show my friends what I could do and have a good time, you know? Hah. The first obstacle once we managed to get up the giant ladder was a balance beam. And I was all, “Oh, I was in dance for ten years, just look straight in front of you, that’ll help you keep your balance.” So Paul got all the way across, and then it was my turn. And I stepped onto the beam, and it started swinging, and I would not let go of the rope. Finally, Paul said, “Remember what you said? Just look straight in front of you. Look at me.” Once I got close enough, he held out his hand, and I grabbed on for dear life! I didn’t get through a single obstacle on that course without Paul holding my hand. I felt so weak for having to depend on him so much. I was afraid of having to depend on him so much…afraid I was depending on him too much, and I wasn’t pulling my own weight. Afraid I was going to drag him down with me. But it didn’t happen. He never let me fall. And yet, the ropes course was such that he couldn’t do it without me either. We had to work together, to depend on each other. The picture on the top of my blog is my favorite one from that day. I feel like it captures so perfectly the trust involved in that experience. My hand gripping Paul’s, terrified to let go. Working together to get across the final obstacle. Interdependence. And most of all, trust.

I wasn’t so afraid to be myself with the WWC’ers. If they saw me weak and scared, it was okay. Because I knew they weren’t going to use it against me, but instead support and encourage me. I could go on a walk down the road with a few of my friends late at night, and when one of them started trying to freak the rest of us out, I could say seriously, “Please stop, you’re really scaring me!” And he wouldn’t take advantage of that to freak me out even more…he would apologize, and stop.

At WWC, there was no having to prove myself in order to be good enough, in order to be accepted. I just was. Accepted – and valued! Just for…being. I still remember the moment that realization hit me. I was in the cafeteria stacking chairs, trying (as usual) to do more than anyone else, so no one would think I was lazy. And then one of the guys insisted on taking the chairs from me. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. When he looked at me and said, “Anna…please?” I grudgingly handed them over. And being the stubborn sort of person I am, went off to get more chairs. When he saw me, he didn’t even have to say anything. He just looked at me. I set the chairs down. And as I walked out of the cafeteria, that’s when it hit me: No one here thinks I’m lazy. I don’t need to prove anything to them…they like me just the way I am!

So much healing happened that year…where has it all gone to?

My first thought, of course: Mercy stole it.

And that is a lot of it right there. But I’m not completely innocent myself. I can’t sort it all out right now – if I tried, I know I’d end up blaming myself, and that’s not what I’m going for.

But the truth is, it’s not gone. It’s still there, all of those lessons I learned. The healing is still there. It hasn’t been erased. All of those new pathways in my brain? They’re just hidden. Overgrown. And I need to start walking them again. I need to start using them, and someday maybe they’ll be as natural as these old destructive ones.

I’m not quite sure where to start. How to begin. I’m still afraid of people. Afraid of depending on people. It’s not going to change overnight. And sometimes that’s so frustrating. I just want to be that person I was at the end of my WWC year again. And yet…that’s not exactly what I want, because I’ve learned so much since then too, grown and healed in other ways. I want…to be that confident and happy and relaxed and safe and comfortable in my own skin again. At the end of the year, everyone told me how much I’d changed. How I’d “blossomed” over the course of the year, how I was not the same shy, quiet, closed-off girl that I was when we all started there.

Oh, I miss them…my WWC family…so much. I’m terrible at keeping in touch, and I rarely talk to any of them anymore, and I hate that. But not a day goes by when they’re not on my mind, and they still mean so much to me. I still consider them family, I think I always will. They were the first healthy “family” I ever had. As hard as I try, I just can’t find the words to explain what they mean to me. But I’ll tell you one thing: during that year, and afterwards before we lost touch…I knew who had my back, because they always did.

Posted in My Story, Recovery | 2 Comments

Short rambling update. Sort of.

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. I don’t know if I’m going to get back into writing regularly yet, but I did want to put something up. I think it was my last post, or maybe the one before, where I was writing about how I hate summer. I hoped maybe since I’m in summer housing here at school this year, things would be different. And in a way, they are. It’s better than living with my parents, or anywhere in my hometown.

But somehow, I still managed to get stuck in “summer survival mode” once again. Where I isolate myself, rarely even reply to anything on facebook, more or less shut down emotionally, stop going to church, etc.

Yeah, it sucks.

I’m trying to work on it, but it’s not easy. When I build up that wall around my emotions, even I have a heck of a time trying to break through it.

It probably doesn’t help that my job is down by where my parents live. When I’m there, I have to have those emotional walls up. And since it’s so difficult to take them down, it’s easier (and safer) to just leave them up all the time. But it makes me miserable. It’d be nice if I could find a job up here, but even if I could – I like the job I have, especially now that I’m starting on entering the surveys and camper comment cards into the computer! (Nobody else wants to do it because it’s tedious work, but reading some of the comments some people leave makes it totally worth it! My favorite so far? “Ticks suck.” I immediately thought, yes, yes they do. Literally.)

Anyway, I like my job, despite some of the drama that comes with it. I have enough down time that I can get other stuff done and get paid for it, I enjoy chatting with the park guests, and the many antics of my coworkers keep me entertained. Hah! Sometimes I miss working down in the maintenance shop, the best stories often come from there. One of the “big bosses” up at a park north of us likes to think that he’s in charge of everything, and is always listening on the radios for any hint of something that he thinks he needs to get involved in.

(A few weeks ago, one of my bosses in the office called for a coworker to come up to the office “as soon as possible,” and a few seconds later, the phone rang: “This is [boss], what’s the crisis?” Me: “Um, what do you mean?” Him: “[my boss] just called for [coworker] to come up the office as soon as possible, what’s going on?” Me: “Nothing, [other boss] just wanted to talk to him.” He hangs up, I hang up, then the other boss’s phone rings. Guess who? *rolls eyes*)

Anyway, one of the bosses down in the maintenance shop likes to use the radio to bait this other guy, and it’s hilarious! My brothers work in maintenance, and they’ve got some pretty good stories.

I’m rambling again, but that’s okay, because that’s what I do. I probably shouldn’t write too much about work on here, but I’m trying to be careful and not put too many specifics, so hopefully it’ll be okay.

Actually, I may be writing a rant in the near future about a couple of situations I’ve run into over the past few weeks, because certain prejudiced statements by a particular coworker have made me really angry. Still, it’ll be more of a general rant on such statements and how it just makes me sick that people think it’s okay to behave like that. (Dang, now I want to rant right now! But I probably should save it.)

Anyway…I don’t even really feel like writing anymore right now. I know this is kind of a dumb and pathetic post, but oh well. Sometimes those just happen.

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Some of my story…

I wrote this yesterday, but then I took it down. I was kind of lost in memories and feelings, and I don’t have much of a filter when that happens. I just talk and write honestly, and sometimes I say too much and regret it later. I’m more levelheaded today, and I’ve decided to put it back up. I’m nervous about it, and I don’t know that I won’t still regret it…but I’m going to take that risk. Here goes.

Note: Please be kind. This is difficult for me to post, to put out there for people to see. But I think it’s important to tell my story, and it’s important to bring these “deep dark secrets” out into the light. It’s healing. So please, just…be gentle…

One day of finals left. Most people would be excited. Summer is almost here. No school!

I hate it.

I dread it.

Summer is not something to look forward to.

Ever since That summer.

I want to be cheerful and happy and excited right now, but I’m not. I’m just not, and I don’t want to pretend to be.

Some of what I’m going to write in this post might not make sense. I don’t feel like explaining it now, I just want to write. Need to write.

I rode the carousel at the zoo today, and it made me smile, for-real smile. Little me was happy. Little me was remembering. Feeling like she was flying.

I’ve had a very strong sense of being little today. Being small. Being young. And remembering.

Grieving for those memories.

Beautiful, innocent moments in time that I can never get back.

Times before That summer.

Times before I realized.

I had a happy childhood, I did, for the most part.

It’s only now that I look back and remember the not-so-good parts.

I never really forgot, but I put it away.

I just remembered the good parts.

Daddy carrying me down the driveway on summer nights, wrapped in a blanket. Showing me the fireflies twinkling down in the holler.

Listening to him play his harmonica. And sing. “Where have all the flowers gone…long time passing…where have all the flowers gone…long time ago…” Or “You take the high road, and I’ll take the low road, and I’ll be to Scotland befoooore ya!”

I miss it. I miss him.

He would give me BIG BEAR HUGS
and little bear hugs.
BIG BEAR KISSES
and little bear kisses.

That was something special, just between the two of us. I was his little girl.

Sometimes we’d wake up early in the morning, and we’d read from Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever, just the page about getting up and getting ready for the day. And then we’d make french toast together, just me and him. With cinnamon and nutmeg.

He made me a little wooden chair once, so I could sit with him in the tractor and the combine, after I was too big to sit on his lap anymore. I spent hours out there, riding in the combine with him.

And when he took me with him trucking, we would stop for the night at a rest area, go inside and brush our teeth, and then we would go back outside and race around the truck.

Why did he have to change?

I miss him, I miss my daddy.

I loved my daddy. I trusted my daddy. I felt safe with my daddy. I was his little girl, and he loved me…

I don’t know what happened. And sometimes I wonder if it was my fault. If I made him change. If I made him get mad at me because I wasn’t good enough and I didn’t listen to him or do what he told me to.

I look back now and remember that he wasn’t always nice.

He yelled back then too.

Him and mom would fight sometimes, and yell at each other, and one of them would leave, drive off in the car, and we wouldn’t know when they’d be back.

It was kind of scary.

Especially when he left and mom cried.

I felt like I did something wrong.

But I put those memories away. They weren’t a big deal. That was normal. Parents lose their temper sometimes. They fight. They yell at each other. They get mad and it can be kind of scary. But they don’t hurt each other, even though sometimes you think they might. One of them leaves. But they always come back. They still love each other. We’re just a normal family. Just a normal, happy family. Just like any other family.

The memories are pretty fuzzy. So don’t take it as fact. I don’t remember how often they fought, or how often one of them left, or how scary it actually got. I’m just writing what I feel, what little me feels, and I’ve always been sensitive. My feelings could well be an exaggeration of what actually happened.

But that stuff was never important until recently. It was just always there in the back of my head, put on a dusty shelf and forgotten about, because it was never a big deal. It was just normal, and I was sure all families were like that. I’m still not sure they’re not!

Anyway.

I had a good childhood. A happy childhood. Playing outside all the time. When you live on 90 acres of land and a good portion of it is woods, you come up with all sorts of things to do. I always had a great imagination, was always playing pretend. Dancing and singing and running around and climbing trees. There was so much good there, so much beautiful, wonderful stuff.

I don’t think it changed all at once. I think it was gradual, as I grew older.

I didn’t see it right away.

But it all came to a head That summer.

Summer after 8th grade.

Summer was still something to look forward to then, for the most part. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing my friends much, but it didn’t bother me then. I had my brothers to play with and woods to explore and stories to make up.

Plus, no school meant no science class, and no science class meant no boys to pick on me. One of the boys lived next door to the playground by my grandma’s house. I didn’t like to go to the playground in case I saw him, and I made that clear. I didn’t like him and I didn’t want to see him!

My family was convinced that I liked him.

I didn’t like him, I was scared of him. Scared he’d try to talk to me in front of my family. Tease me. I was embarrassed. Ashamed. Him, and the other boy, they made me feel…like I wanted to hide. Like I wanted to be invisible. I didn’t want anyone to see me. I was afraid to walk through the halls at school.

It started in 7th grade, and that changed things. Teachers mostly weren’t any help. I always ended up near one or both of them in the seating chart, even though we were nowhere near each other alphabetically. Only one teacher noticed what they were doing, and moved them to the other side of the room from me. 8th grade, we were in a lab group together. The only lab group in the class with three people. Just me and them. Once when the seating was rearranged again, and I was (again) sitting right next to one of them, one of the girls in the class stood up for me. She raised her hand and said, “I don’t think you should put [him] by [me].” The teacher didn’t care. Didn’t pay any attention.

I’m surprised at the effects that bullying still has on me today. I always felt like it shouldn’t have been that big of a deal. I should have gotten over it. But somehow, I still haven’t, not completely.

You know, guys with blond hair, especially bleached-blond, still scare me? Because one of them had bleached-blond hair.

I hate it that he can still have that kind of an effect on me years later.

Anyway. Summer, I didn’t have to worry about them anymore. But damage had been done.

That summer, we were working on moving from our house to the house my dad grew up in, about a mile away. A lot of work to do, remodeling, painting, etc. That was my summer. Working at the other house. Dad yelling and swearing. It’s honestly all a big blur to me now, with only a few specific events sticking out.

The biggest one was the Scary Day.

I tell the story sometimes, in a more lighthearted manner. How my brothers and I banded together against my dad when he locked us out of the house, how we made a plan and two of us snuck over to the old house on our bikes to make sandwiches and bring them back for lunch.

I don’t talk about how scared I was. Or just how mad dad was.

I don’t talk about how I ran in the house to hide from him, ran into the bathroom, and locked the door. How he managed to get in anyway. How I was just laying there, curled up on the floor, crying, terrified, and he just stood there over me yelling.

I don’t talk about how it was really my own fault, because I didn’t want to work in the garden that day. I disobeyed him. I was stubborn and willful and refused to do what he told me to do.

He didn’t come home that night.

He yelled at all of us, he yelled at my mom when she got there, I’ve never seen him so mad, I was honestly afraid he’d hurt us.

He didn’t come home that night, and I knew it was my fault, and I was scared. I was afraid he was going to do something bad. Or he wouldn’t come back. I couldn’t sleep.

Mom drove over to the other house and found him sleeping in the small bedroom downstairs. He wouldn’t talk to her.

He came back the next day.

Life went on as usual.

I don’t know what I did to make him so mad at me. I don’t know what I did that made him stop loving me. I don’t know what I did that made me not good enough anymore.

How did I go from being his little girl to a lazy, selfish, helpless, stubborn, rebellious brat?

And if I would have listened to him…if I would have done what he told me to…could I have made it different? If I wouldn’t have been so bad, would he have kept loving me like he used to? Would he have been proud of me?There must be something I could’ve done. There must be something I could have done to be better.

If I would’ve been good, I wouldn’t have made him get mad at me. I wouldn’t have made him get so mad that he almost hurt me. He warned me, he always warned me, that he was gonna get real mad real quick, and I knew that meant that if I didn’t listen he was going to lose control and hurt me and it would be my own fault because I was bad and I didn’t listen.

I’m reminded of a song by the Chenille Sisters, called “I Lie in the Dark.” I didn’t think much of it when I was younger, but now it’s scary how much this song describes my family. The only part that doesn’t apply is the dad drinking too much liquor.

I lie in the dark, and I hear them shout,
I don’t understand what they’re fighting about.
If I cover my ears, I won’t hear what they say.
If I close my eyes, it will all go away.

It makes me afraid when he gets so mad,
And sometimes I wish that he wasn’t my dad.
He drinks too much liquor, he yells and he swears.
Mommy says it’s ’cause he just doesn’t care.

He doesn’t care for me.
I wonder what’s wrong with me.
It’s got to be something that I did,
Because daddies should love their kids.

I try and I try to be so good,
To do what they say, always do what I should.
So why do they yell? Don’t they know how I cry?
It makes me feel like there’s nothing inside.

Nothing inside of me.
I wonder what’s wrong with me.
It’s got to be something that I did,
Because mommies should love their kids.

I lie in the dark and I hear them shout,
I don’t understand what they’re fighting about.
Forever and ever they battle and blame,
Night after night, it’s forever the same…
Night after night, it’s forever the same.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, at this point. I just needed to write, and this is what came out. And I probably shouldn’t post this publicly. But sometimes…I just really need to tell my story. The parts that I don’t tell normally. I need someone to know. And obviously I haven’t yet found the balance between telling no one and telling everyone. But sometimes I just need it to be out in the open, I need it to be not a secret anymore!

Please be kind with me. I’ve still got a long ways to go.

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Part of the journey.

I’ve kind of made a mess of this semester – no, this year. That’s not to say that good things haven’t happened, because they have. Really good things! But I think that has a lot more to do with God than me.

This has been my worst year yet when it comes to isolating myself and hiding in my room. God’s slowly-but-surely been turning that around since spring break.

It’s been my worst year yet when it comes to academics, showing up for class, and chapel.

Honestly, I think I’ve taken my “it’s not the end of the world” attitude about academics too far.

Before WWC, there were times I felt so ashamed of getting bad grades or not knowing things or not doing things right or on time that I wanted to kill myself. Now I seem to have swung to the other extreme. I’ve gone from putting too much pressure on myself to being afraid to put any pressure at all on myself.

It’s all about balance, that’s what I’ve been learning over these past years. I have a hard time with that. I do things, see things, in extremes, in black and white.

I’m either silent or I won’t stop talking.
I’m either feeling great about myself or hating myself.
I’m either compliant and submissive or stubborn and rebellious.
I’m either perfectionistic or don’t do anything.
I’m either taking care of myself or being self-destructive.
I’m either super responsible or super irresponsible. (That one’s taken right from the ACA laundry list!)
I either have no boundaries or I have boundaries that keep everyone out.

It goes on and on. So often when faced with a choice, I only see two options. I can’t see the middle ground until someone points it out to me. It doesn’t have to be all one thing or all the other.

I am learning balance, but it doesn’t come easily or quickly. And in the meantime, it seems like the only way to truly learn and understand that balance is to keep swinging between the extremes until I get it right.

It’s going to take a while, but I am making progress. For one thing, I can recognize it now! I’m a lot more self-aware than I was even a year ago. And with that self-awareness comes the ability to use that knowledge to adjust the way I live. Some of the extremes aren’t nearly as extreme as they have been in the past. I’m learning balance.

When I realize that I’ve gone to yet another extreme, it is frustrating and discouraging. I have for sure failed one of my classes this semester, most likely two. I haven’t learned nearly as much as I could have in the rest. I haven’t been taking advantage of the wonderful opportunities I have in these classes to to truly learn these things that will be vital to my future ministry. It is really discouraging, and I hate how it makes it look like I don’t care. Because I do care, so much! But my actions are often not an accurate reflection of my inner thoughts and feelings. I’m working to close the gap between those two, but it’s not easy.

In the past, I’ve compared recovery to a labyrinth. A labyrinth is not a maze. It has no dead ends. Only a path, winding and twisting and doubling back on itself, but eventually leading to the center.

As I was walking a labyrinth last summer, I began to see the parallels. It was just a path cut in the grass. It would have been easy to just step over the grass “walls” and go straight to the center. After walking for a little while, I really wanted to do that. I was getting bored, and impatient, and frustrated. But I followed the rules and continued to follow the path. There are no shortcuts. In the same way, I get impatient with recovery. I want to skip right to the end, where everything is good and I don’t have to deal with this stuff anymore. But there are no shortcuts in recovery either.

Sometimes, I noticed that the path led me farther away from the center. I had been moving toward the center, but now it was taking me back out to the edge of the circle! Again, frustrated and impatient, I saw a parallel to recovery: there will be relapses. Sometimes it will get worse before it gets better. Sometimes lessons will have to be learned over and over until they are truly learned. Sometimes it will feel like I have made no progress at all and have fallen right back to the beginning. Like all of my progress has been wiped out and I am starting over. But that’s not true. It’s all part of the journey. The lessons I’ve learned along the way, they’re still there. And each time I re-learn them, they become stronger, more a part of me.

New pathways are being formed in my brain, but the old pathways are like the ruts worn into a farm road after years and years of tractors, combines, and other machinery driving over it. Even when the grass has grown up around them, those ruts are still there. Can you imagine trying to make new ruts simply by driving the road, without falling into the old ones? It can be done, but it’ll take a while. The ground is packed hard and smooth in the ruts. It is easier terrain to drive. New pathways, new ways of believing and thinking, can’t be formed overnight. It’s going to be a long time before I’m no longer falling into those old ruts. And repetition – using those new pathways, learning them again and again – is the key.

Recovery is a long road. It can be frustrating, discouraging, and difficult. But it can also be beautiful and hopeful and rewarding.

It’s all part of the journey.

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