Fear? Not.

I started a New Year’s Eve post, but then got interrupted so I didn’t get it finished. Wasn’t too bad either. However, now it feels old & irrelevant.

What interrupted me, you ask? OK, let’s talk about it.

For those who know me or have been reading this for a bit, remember how I have a son? The son that with his friends one cold February day in 2015, robbed me & then threatened to kill me? Restraining order? Yeah that son. In November, Dylan dropped out of school. Apparently he has a job with a security firm. (All things considered, this is slightly unsettling in itself)

In the last three weeks, I have had three different family members contact me after they have had some type of interaction with Dylan. Two of them have told me that he’s trying to go into the military. (Pretty sure he should have finished high school for that.) One told me he was asking questions about me. He claims he wants to have a relationship with me & Mark.

After three years of zero contact, having him all of a sudden pop up three times in less than a month has me a little… Concerned? Panicked? Scared? Sure. All of them. So I did what any rational thinking person would do. I went into the shower & I cried for 20 minutes. On Tuesday I called the sheriffs department. Just as I suspected, until I am in danger, nothing can be done. File for a new protection order. So at lunch I went to the gym. I hit the heavy bag. A bunch. Something about punching that thing rebuilt my determination that I will not live in fear.

Oh hold that thought… We are going to come back to this.

VULNERABLE MOMENT-Also. Subject change.

So in my prayers I have been asking God if it’s time for me to start dating. Ya know, since it’s been forever. I had a lot of reasons I could provide for not dating. Not really any for dating. But I’ve been feeling like maybe I was ready. So I had a list. I’m not sharing the whole thing but a couple were: I wanted a guy that can make me laugh. Because I’m funny. Lol. I needed a guy that has his life somewhat figured out. By this I mean, not narcissistic, mood swinging, depressed, or alcoholic. A baggage isn’t strewn all over the yard kind of a guy. Just for fun, I threw in that I wanted a cowboy-ish type: drives a truck & has a bit of a southern accent because, dang it, those are cute. AND the best one of the list: God, you are literally going to have to walk him through my door because I won’t know it. For reals. I’m oblivious.

Please don’t make this a big hairy deal…

But wouldn’t you know it? The day after Thanksgiving, my list walked through the door. Well, all but one or two of the list. Let’s just call him James. As in Bond. Lol. Don’t go trying to save the date or anything. It’s early stages. He’s great. I’m great. It’s all great. But it’s also new, terrifying, fun, & pushing all of my self protection boundaries. EEEK!! I’m not really ready to talk about it with the public, I don’t really know what it is to talk about yet. I realize that is now impossible since I am blogging it & 8 people will read this & know. But I mention it because it ties into the earlier mention of my son.

When I was robbed, I felt violated & exposed. When my life was threatened, I was stripped of my sense of security & my ability to freely trust anyone (including myself) was shattered. After all that happened during Feb 2015, I was left with PTSD, I have physical reactions to sudden noises, especially loud ones. I get triggered when something reminds me of that awful February 3 years ago. This is not because I haven’t tried to get past things. I have worked through a ton of baggage. But that doesn’t mean I can’t relapse. So getting word that Dylan was asking about me, set off my alarms. Not only was my trust issue fully awake & alert, but it was was like a toddler after someone takes its cookie. Mad. Towards everyone. Including James. (Note-I’M not mad at him. My emotions are. I know. I’m crazy.) It’s been like 6 weeks. We haven’t defined anything. What is there to define at 6 weeks? But having no clear definition of whatever we are allows my head to play games. Mean games. But James & I? We get along really well, I have a lot of fun, PLUS, he knows about most of my crazy & he didn’t run as fast as he could to get away from me. So that was a bonus. It’s working fine the way it is, don’t fix things that ain’t broken, don’t rock the boat…until my head gets in the way. Then it’s all broken & rocking. So why all of a sudden do I feel that I need the awkward as all get out DTR conversation?? And, the idea of being “in a relationship” makes my heart strap on it’s running shoes. I’m not sure i could handle a DTR. Then there’s: Why don’t I believe that this will work? Maybe it’s not supposed to “work.” Maybe it’s a get my feet wet relationship. Why am i discussing this with you & not him? Lol. Why have I convinced myself he definitely will be moving on by Sunday? Because in my head, I truly believe I don’t deserve to be happy, or with anyone that gets me, or fulfills my list. But in my heart, I know that’s not true. In my heart I know God created me to be joyful, shining, vocal, creative, productive, prosperous, happy & so much more in the life He has blessed me with. Otherwise, why live it? So while I am enjoying this phase of getting to know James, because at this point, it is carefree, fun & light. I’m also playing ping pong in my head…with a bowling ball. Thankfully, my crazy has only come untucked a couple of small times & he was very gracious about it. Why this poor man hasn’t run is beyond me. But I’m glad he hasn’t.

Ok. So remember that thought I told you to hang onto? Get it back. Hitting the heavy bag in the gym reset my determination to not live in fear. And a large part of my distrust ties back to fear. Here’s some more vulnerability: I’m terrified of allowing someone to get close enough to hurt me. Not uncommon. I don’t believe anyone can love me enough to stay. So why let them get close enough to break my heart when I know they won’t be around? Lots of us feel this way. We just don’t like putting it out there so it becomes common knowledge.

Anywho…I was praying on this afraid yet determined state of mind to try to see what God says about it. I know there is a statement that says God said “Fear Not” or “Do not be afraid” 365 times in the Bible. However, after researching this, it appears that isn’t an exact number. Depending on versions, interpretation & allowed contexts, it goes from 80-366 times. So I decided to embark on finding them. Each day, when I find one, I will pray it over my day, my life, my loved ones. No matter if I find 20, 200 or 312, the real skinny is that God has me, my life, my son & my relationships all in His big, glorious, loving hands. I’m not to fear anything but God, as He is my father, creator, protector, life coach & my biggest cheerleader. He set me here for a purpose that He carved out just for me. So I’m good no matter the outcome. Finding the verses will mostly be an exercise in resetting in my own mind that I don’t have to worry or try to control these situations. I have to trust that God has already walked in front of me to clear my path. Not of obstacles necessarily, but of His divine direction of my life. How comforting is that thought alone?

So friends…share your worlds with others. Allow someone in. Even if it’s hard & scary. We can live fully beyond these wounds & battle scars. But in order to love & be loved, we have to be willing to take a risk that we will get hurt again. And that’s ok. Because God will pick us back up, dust us off & set us back in place. If we trust Him.

Till next time…

Matilda Grace

Ps…did you see how I went ahead & gave you 5 verses to coincide with our 5 days into 2018?

#MeToo

Recently, there have been many women speaking out about sexual assault, harassment, rape & abuse, in addition to many people criticizing how it can go unspoken for so long. As a survivor of sexual abuse, maybe I can shed some light onto this for the people that just don’t understand. Please know, I am not sharing this for sympathy of any sort. I believe God has used my experiences to shape me into who I am today, I am NOT a victim of sexual abuse, I AM a survivor & a fighter! Please do not reply with any “oh I’m so sorry…” I appreciate the sentiment, however, it feels like sympathy almost gives power back to my abusers. I prefer to fight back with education & awareness. Something I wouldn’t have without my history.

Ok, first of all, let’s not forget that it is in fact, a form of abuse. Just like many other forms of abuse & violence, sexual abuses (entailing all forms-rapes, harassments, assaults, molestations, forced pornography, forced prostitution…) this is a manipulation, a control, a power trip, a way to dominate a person that is “beneath” the perpetrator. And in case you were unaware of the stats surrounding this silent epidemic, 1 of 4 women & 1 in 6 men have faced some sort of inappropriate unwanted sexual assault. Look around you, how many people is that in your life?

In my first experience, I was in the third grade. My friend had a brother in high school. He molested me during a time when we were being silly third grade girls. I had zero understanding of what was happening. He didn’t threaten me, but he did shame me into feeling dirty. I didn’t feel I could ever share that experience with anyone. So I didn’t. As a child, I believed older people were to be respected & trusted. How was I to know that not all were worthy of such trust? How was I to know which to hand my trust over to safely? I was in the third grade. My creep alarm was not yet developed. So I sat on it, blocked it away from my memory until I was 16. However, even to this very day, if I hear my friend’s name, my mind goes straight to her brother & that night almost 40 years ago when he stole my ability to ever fully be that little girl with child-like innocence.

My second trip down this road was at the hands of my grandfather. No pun intended, as he used his hands to molest me. If you recall from previous posts, he was fairly bold about his attacks. He bought me gifts to lure me into submission, then using his grandfatherly authority, insisted it was our secret. This time robbing me of being able to trust the people that are put into a child’s life to nurture, teach, grow, love & develop them. I suppose he did a few of those, but through a very damaging process. He taught me not all adults are trustworthy. He forced me to grow up at the age of 10, because I had to turn my grandfather into Children’s Services. He developed me into a girl that still struggles with trust issues 35 years later.

My final example for the evening will be from when I was in high school. I had a job at a fast food restaurant. (I will not name it because at the time, the laws were just not there to protect employees like they are now.) At work, I had a male co-worker that was apparently “interested” in me. When I did not feel the same, he began to utilize tools of the restaurant to make sexual advances towards me. I would turn the corner & he would stick a utensil into my nether regions. We used pool noodles on the salad bar. He would use these to assault my backside. He trapped me up against the walls. Gropping became a part of my daily life. When I complained about it, my boss would reply with “what do you want me to do?” I was still a teenager. How was I to know what she should do?

Just so you understand, very few people know about 2 of these situations. I don’t walk around shouting “I WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED AND ABUSED!!!” Being sexually abused isn’t a badge of honor we wear. It’s a vehicle of shame, condemnation & manipulation over us. We aren’t eager to call people out for their behavior because it’s embarrassing that we were taken advantage of in such a demeaning manner. It’s almost every negative thing you could possibly do to another person in one swift life changing action.

Why does it take dozens of women to “out” a Hollywood mogul? Because his power trip is so large it’s terrifying to consider doing alone. Why is it that once it began, now many others are being brought up? It’s not because it’s being made up as they go along. It’s because bravery comes with the numbers. It’s because some of the experiences have been repressed due to PTSD. These people have not stayed silent just so they can make more money. But can you blame them for needing to stay in the business that does provide them income? Would you be able to walk away from your job & potentially never work in your field again? I couldn’t. Sure, switch fields. As a Jane Doe, like the rest of us, not hard to do. But as a celebrity, how do you suddenly look for work at Subway or driving a bus? It doesn’t work like that.

I am not saying there aren’t people out there that make false accusations. There certainly are those types of people. However, most people will not seek attention in this particular way. I venture to guess, most people would not be able to make up a believable story about a sexual assault experience & tell others about it without feeling a small inkling of the shame associated with it. So imagine the shame we feel trying to tell the real deal. Imagine living through the actual stories you are now hearing. Imagine sitting your family down & explaining what has happened. Picture being questioned by police & advocates trying to get justice for yourself. Unsuccessfully trying to “wash” off the shame & the disgusting feel of their skin touching yours in hundreds of showers. Being examined under bright white lights by strangers while you lie naked in the ER. Live through all of this and tell me that women make this stuff up.

So to my friends who have survived this rocky journey, I applaud your strength, your bravery, your courage, your determination. Your recovery is inspiring to so many others. Find your steady voice & continue to share yourself out of the darkness.

To those of you fortunate enough to have not walked this path, be kind to those that have. And if you can’t be kind, be quiet. The harsh judgment or criticism you speak so loudly is damaging to our healing. If I was your wife, daughter, sister, mother, best friend…would you believe for one second it was ok to speak so cruelly to me after what I have lived through? Would you ever allow another person to speak to those strong, surviving women in your life the way you are cruelly speaking towards these women you know nothing about?

Friends, love your journey. God has placed you on the road to recovery so you can be a light in the lives of others. It’s not always easy. In fact, some days it is downright hard. But you can do this. On the days you can’t, find a friend you trust, meet for coffee and unload.

I love you all.

Matilda Grace

I hope The Joyful Heart Foundation & A21 don’t mind me hijacking their photos to help get my point across.

#NoMore #JoyfulHeartFoundation #MeToo #SurvivorNotVictim #BeKindOrBeQuiet #MariskaHargitay #ChristineCaine #A21

Act First, Think Second

My recent Facebook post: “Every day I have friends tell me about their lives…Current situations, past hurts, broken hearts. I try to encourage, direct towards healing, show love, be the hands & feet of Jesus. I can’t explain how sad my heart feels with each burden my friends endure. I pray that each of you knows how tremendously beautiful & perfect I think you are (even with your flaws.) I pray each day that you encounter the love of God in a manner that blows your mind. I love you deeply, but he loves you even more. Look up from your burdens friends. He is waiting for you.”
Why did I not pull an original beginning for my blog post out of my cute little head? Because this works. Every. Single. Day.

I could literally write for days & days about the current burdens & pain facing my friends & family. Going into their pasts would probably be years of writings.

If you have been keeping up, you know this has not been the easiest road for me. I also have shared with you a few of the situations my friends have faced. Just off the top of my head, I can list:

  • Cancer surgery-tests pending
  • Family members with drug addiction
  • Gambling problems
  • Child under two facing third heart surgery
  • Domestic abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Children with emotional & behavioral disorders
  • Financial fears
  • Depression & anxiety caused by past pains
  • Distrust because trust has been stolen so many times before
  • And a frightening amount of other sicknesses & worries that could probably circle the earth


It took me longer to type the list than it did to think of it. My heart aches for each of these burdens (& all of the others not listed). My heart sees the pain trying to tuck itself deep inside. My eyes see the flicker of despair as someone tells me about the latest news in their quickly shrinking world. My distrust reads their distrust & I understand why they are quick to push others away. My fingers open texts messages & pause carefully as I try to type out encouragement while my eyes fill with tears over the addictions of beloved family members.

This world is so quick to judge, critique, or push us down. I never want to add to the list of things people are working through. I never want to be the person that makes a heart feel anything but love. As I have mentioned before, this life is short, my people will know how I feel about them. I hold dear any time I have with my loved ones (related or not.) I tell them I love them. I hug them tight. I hand out those tissues. I listen to their heartbreaks. I smile in the hallway or at the grocery.

And I wonder, why? Why do my people endure such pain? Why do I endure not only mine but theirs? Why is life so hard? Why can’t we just have one day that leaves us alone? Why doesn’t the world reward good people for being good? Why do people speak of karma when it is complete crap? If what comes around goes around, my life would be cherry Jelly Belly’s & red roses. I love the nuggets out of people, I treat them well. I don’t hold anger, I don’t yell (much). I’m a good God girl. So if that doesn’t hold much water, what is the next excuse?

Guess what I have come up with…it’s pretty deep. Maybe you should sit down for this.

Bupkis.

That’s right. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Zero.

Life doesn’t treat us one way in return for our behaviors towards others. Life doesn’t care. Life is not a person or feeling. It’s an experience. It’s a concept we all get to take to the drawing board to develop however we see fit.

For me, that is to love. Pure, unconditional, unearned & filled with grace. (Not a coincidence I call this blog Matilda GRACE.)

So when my friend texts me that her brother is on heroin, I drop everything in front of me to call her & check in. I add her to my prayer chain. I have spent several late nights texting when a friend is overwhelmed with stress. When a husband calls about a trip to Florida, I say yes I will help with the kids before I even know the dates or details. When a friend needs surgery, I take the day off, clear my schedule & stay with her. Whether a friend needs a meal, a hug, or a prom dress for their daughter, I try move into action and accomplish it.

As I see it, being the hands & feet of Jesus means act first, think later. If I allow my head to get involved in what Jesus’ people need, then I’m going to miss a lot of precious opportunities to love on my people. And loved on is what they need.

No, I can’t cure the cancer, the heart defects, the drug addictions, the broken marriages or eating disorders. I can only answer the phone, give a tight hug & pray. Pray my little pea picking brain out.

My prayer? What I said above. I pray that each of you knows how tremendously beautiful & perfect I think you are (even with your flaws.) I pray each day that you encounter the love of God in a manner that blows your mind. I love you deeply, but he loves you even more. I pray that one day, you will see the precious person God sees when He looks at you, His child. He wants us whole. He wants us happy. He wants us loved. THIS answer is simple: Look up from your burdens friends. He is waiting for you.


Yeah, I hear you. “Tuck your Jesus Freak back in, it’s really flying high tonight.”

No. I will not.

My Jesus freak is what has brought me through 44 years of life. A rough life. So when I say prayer has power, it’s because I believe it. I believe it because I don’t think I’d be here to annoy & torture you today with out my Jesus Freak. It’s ok if you disagree, Jesus loves you anyways. It’s ok if you haven’t spoken to Him in decades, He still wants to hear from you. It’s even ok if you have made mistakes. Even big ginormous ones that have you stuck in a dark pit of fear or despair. He can wash those away. In fact, He already has.

I stand on my faith so strongly because it’s the only constant & consistent truth I have ever known. My family life was rough. My marriage broken from the beginning. My son fighting demons much bigger than me. But not bigger than God. I may not be able to be around my son, but that doesn’t stop my prayers from going up for him. I know that as much as I want him safe & making the best choices, God wants that & much more for him.

This world doesn’t give one lick about you, your heart, your feelings or needs. But I do. So brace yourself. I’m leaving my Freak on. I may not always see the needs of others but when God directs me to do something, I do it.


Couple of funny things about action first…One, it doesn’t require Jesus. Just genuine kindness with zero expectations of return. Second, training yourself for this is simple, just listen. It doesn’t always cost money. Sometimes it’s time. Sometimes it’s grace or love. Third, changing someone else’s path will ultimately change yours as well, into something more beautiful than you could imagine. So buy that single mom & her child dinner. Hug the hurting coworker.

Love your uglies. Love your friends uglies. Love everyone’s uglies. We all have them. And they come from unhealed hurts. So rather than add to the ugly, help to heal it!

Love you bunches! Till next time.

Missing You..Year Two

Dearest Andrew,

(Technically, I am a day early but when the words hit, they hit & not sharing them when they are full of emotion seems to defeat the purpose-so I am sharing a few hours early.)

Here I am, another year past without you. Two eternally long years that have gone by in the blink of an eye. People say “You’ve made it so far! You’re so strong!” You & I both know it’s not really been living. It’s more survival, a bleak existence of sorts. When I hear how “strong” I am, how I’m an “inspiration,” I wonder what those same people would say if they were a fly on the wall when I am home. Alone, lying in bed after work because I have no reason to stay up, or crying into the pillow because I’m exhausted from trying to be the survivor they see, the one who still misses her best friend so deeply that every day is such an effort she wonders why she is even bothering.

After two years, I keep waiting for my emotions to catch up to the cliches. “Time heals all wounds.” “Give it time, you’ve been through a trauma.” Time, time, time. I’ve had enough of this time. I’ve had enough of the pain, the tears, the “normalcy” that everyone else but the few of us broken by your loss have been able to return to.

As I lie in bed, still awake, despite being here for hours, my face crusted with salt from crying all day, which is almost a permanent feeling at this point, I remember the memories of that last week. This has been going on like a rerun for weeks now. I occasionally venture back to other days with you. Funny moments. Our arguments, which were heated & filled with passion for our respective opinions. How we were never afraid to be honest, good or bad, happy or sad. Except about how we felt towards each other. We had a deal. We wouldn’t talk about that. Neither of us could handle that at the time. But we spoke every day. Often. We knew everything about each other…good, bad & ugly. We loved each other in spite of all of it, & kept showing up. To nurse old wounds, make each other laugh or just offer dinner. To watch movies, snuggled into the couch. To be the closest friends two crazy people could be. To give each other unconditional love & acceptance because that is what we each needed at the time.

I’m not naive enough to sit here and say we were going to be “besties forever,” but we were perfect for the time we were blessed enough to share for as long as we were blessed to share it.

Perfect.

Well, perfectly messy. Perfectly crazy. Perfectly not perfect. We both had baggage we brought to the table each day. Lots & lots of baggage. So much, I’m surprised there was room for us to be in the same building.

The day you went home to Jesus, you left yours here. I’m so glad you no longer have those heavy burdens. Unfortunately, I now carry more. I wonder if you look down at me with frustration. I wonder if you scream down from heaven “I’M BETTER NOW THAN I”VE EVER BEEN! Let me go, silly girl.” I can picture you shaking your head at me, calling me crazy. I’m reminded of the many times you would open your arms to hug me after I’d had an extra crappy day. That is the memory I rest in.

After all this time, 730 days without you now, I have come so far, yet not moved an inch. I dread the idea of coming out of my grief & functioning like “normal” because then you are officially gone, although my head knows you left 730 days ago. I dread the idea of staying in my grief because every day is torture. I live in a state of purgatory in between. Some days I think I get too distracted & forget to remember you. But I haven’t, you just weren’t at the center of the day. How can I love others so deeply but feel like my heart died with you? My entire existence is an oxymoron.


In these letters I always tell you what’s new in my life. Today, I miss you as much as I did 729 days ago & I suspect will still be the same 729 days from today. At this point, I have learned that being graceful is more than being like Jackie Kennedy & that loving is more than being a parent. They are both more of being like Jesus. And like you were. As hard as you may have tried not to be, you were the heart & hands of Christ in the manner you handled people. I thank you for reviving a place within me that needed to have the passion fueled for His people & for accepting me as I was to be your friend. Thank you for allowing me to walk beside you for the remainder of your days. And I know that despite the expanse between us, you will walk beside me the remainder of mine.

Much love sweet Andrew,

Matilda

Worn Out & Broken Down

One of the things about behaving as if you have your life pulled together, is that the people around you begin to believe you just might. Then the only person left with the truth is-you. You are the one left feeling empty, alone, & isolated, because they see you smiling & participating & working & taking care of yourself in all the ways that we are supposed to: showering, bathing, brushing our teeth. 
They don’t realize that when the doors are shut & the lights are off, you’re left alone with those thoughts that never go away, the trauma that you continue to see over & over, the pain that keeps your heart raw, & the feeling that no one is there for you. And it’s not really that you’re faking during the day because brushing your teeth & showering & going to work & participating in social events are all things that are important & fulfilling & necessary to survive. BUT there is still this wounded side of you that is so beaten & broken that you wonder why you get up in the morning or what IS the purpose of your life? And until we find that answer, we question every morning. We question every interaction. We lack trust. We feel abandoned. And I would love to sit here & tell you that after almost 2 years of introspection & retrospection & seeking God & forcing myself to be with friends & Bible studies & social events, I would love to be able to tell you that looking upward towards the heavens, the answer is instantly right there…but it’s not. God doesn’t send us a text with our purpose or plan. He doesn’t email or call & leave a lovely voicemail. God doesn’t put out a holiday newsletter with what is up for us for the next year so we are left to our own devices, with the ultimate choice being our own (short of a divine interruption) to continue participating in all of these expected behaviors. Do they get us anywhere? As far as I can tell, only to tomorrow. Are we thriving & living a full life. I have no idea, but I don’t feel like I am.

Today is my 2 yr Divorce-iversary!!! Yay me! Life is going so well!!! I am fed up at my job, I haven’t had a date in decades, I spend every evening alone… GO TEAM SINGLE MATILDA!! I spent the day sitting at my desk crying.

I hate this time of year. From dec 20-feb 20, I just want to crawl in a hole. But work has me extra crazy. As much as I like my job, I’m really struggling in there. I have been for over a year so add that to this season & I feel like I’m losing my freaking mind. I try to keep myself optimistic & cheery but inside I’m sad, lonely, scared & crying. Well, today I’m outwardly crying. I don’t like being around myself when I feel like this so I try to minimize exposure for others & try to shut down as much as possible.


One of my friends asked me to seek out what God has to say about my emotional insanity. I argued with her & said it always comes back to me feeling like the child waiting for some attention & then being walked right by. I can stay optimistic for a while. A long freaking while. Months & months. I can play cheerleader for everyone around me & remind them of His plans, His timing, His love & goodness. But every time, I feel like I get overlooked. I don’t want to ask him AGAIN why he ignores me. Why my prayers disappear into an abyss. Why he lets me down. Why he allows me to hurt so deeply that I don’t feel like I will ever feel again. Why I can’t trust because of people he allowed in my life. I just want to be held & taken care of for once. No fighting, no struggles, no worrying about the next step. I’m tired of living in limbo over Dylan & wondering if he will always be wanting to kill me, will I have to watch over my back forever? I’m tired of watching Mark travel the world with the women he let in to break up our marriage. I’m tired of relationships with my sisters being superficial because I can’t trust them to take my safety seriously & not tell my parents what is going on in my life or where I live. I’m tired of not truly being able to trust anyone, even those I’m closest with, even myself. When is it my turn to feel safe and loved?

She then asked why I felt God has let me down. I prayed for Mark and Dylan for years & years. Way before things reached the point of no return. I believed in the power of prayer to heal my precious baby, to remove the baggage his birth mother had left him with. I prayed constantly for the man I loved to recover from depression & anger. Not only did he not heal them, he allowed them to destroy me. I’m left hoping people give two shits enough to spend time with me. I’m left questioning every single relationship because the people I thought would always be safe for me have been ripped away. I live everyday with a lack of security, a lack of love & a lack of trust. Plus that doesn’t even consider my wonderful parents, who would probably have rather aborted me but she was Catholic so they were stuck.

I don’t believe in myself enough to trust that anyone can handle my broken, or would care enough to try. I don’t like feeling unhinged, so I don’t. And then when the dam breaks, I am so unhinged I can’t get back together for a week. So I shut away because everyone expects me to be crazy & silly but that side is shut off & what’s left is negative & overwhelmed. Sometimes I am Thomas. I need proof, I need a miracle, I need a huge display that God is hearing me, is handling things & does actually care about what I’m going through. In case you are curious, today, I’m still waiting.

But surprisingly, I’m still optimistic enough & faithful enough to believe that there is a purpose, & that there is meaning & truth behind the trauma & devastation I have faced. And I believe that one of these days it will be revealed. So until then, I do feel forgotten & abandoned & alone. ALL of the time. But I have faith that one day I won’t.

Just Another Day

Today would have been me & Mark’s 20th anniversary.

Needless to say it did not hold the celebration I had long ago anticipated for us. He did send me a lovely text message that said “20th.. .sorry I didn’t get there.”

There are days when I look back at the 20+ years we spent together & I think of how I’m so lucky to be out of a dysfunctional relationship with that narcissistic man. There are other days when I look back & I think of the silly little girl that fell in love with that goofy boy who made me laugh all the time, protected me & defended me even as the dumb kids we were. How that naive 18 year old girl knew exactly who she was supposed to grow old with. I miss those moments.


I have truly loved two men in my life. Both of them are now gone.
Sure, I have cared about others, but I’ve only really given my heart away twice. As I lay here in a king size bed, filled with pillows & a giant stuffed Mickey Mouse, I wonder if I’ll ever love like I have in the past. I wonder if I will ever trust another that way, in a way that allowed my heart to be shattered. Twice. Will I ever trust myself to not pick the wrong guy? Will I ever ask another man to take on the freight train full of baggage that I feel I carry around behind me every day? Sure, I’m working through most of that, by the grace of God & with a lot of therapy. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not something that he would have to know about, understand, and be willing to deal with in some manner at some point. Will any man with his right mind be willing to take on the potential danger that being in a relationship with me could pose to himself? I mean, I do have a restraining order against my own son.

I don’t have any answers for any of these questions. I don’t even know if I care. Do I get lonely? Yes. But I’m not willing to settle. I feel like at this point in my life I have fought too damn hard just to survive to be willing to fall for the first guy that walks by and smiles at me. Anybody that wants to spend any quality time with me is going to have to be worthy of that time.  He will have big shoes to fill, a heart to handle with gentleness, luggage to help sort, laughs to provide, oh, and most importantly, he must love Jesus because Jesus is the only reason I still breathe.


So while Mark sits in his high-rise apartment in the big city, with his wealthy girlfriend/homewrecker, I spent the day with my church family and my roommate. I had a wonderful service at church, hung out with my baby buddy Huey, gave away a lot of hugs and smiles & received many more. I had lunch with people that have become family. It was long, it was delicious and we laughed until my sides hurt over inappropriate conversations. I watched cheesy Christmas movies & my roommate and I began to put up the tree. So my day was not filled with the celebration of a 20 year marriage with the man that I fell in love with at 18, but it was definitely still filled with love from the people in my life. And for that, I will be forever grateful.


This new chapter of my life has taught me where to find my strength, it has taught me that I am worthy, and it has challenged & rattled me deep into my core. There have been many many days in the last four years where I did not think I had the strength to go on. And I have proven to myself and to many others that I carry an immense amount of strength within me. And I know that I get that strength from my faith. But I also know that it requires me to tap into it. Even on my worst day when I don’t have the energy to shower or interact, I pat myself on the back and say “good job girlie, at least you’re still here.” I’m not the girl that walked away from her husband four years ago. I’m not the girl whose best friend shot himself in front of her two years ago. Not the girl whose son robbed her. I’m not the girl whose mother emotionally abused her for 40 years, I’m not the girl whose father never wanted her, I’m not the girl that was molested by her grandpa, I’m not the girl that feels abandoned all the time. Oh wait, that last one, yes, that I still do. But I’m still a newer, tougher, stronger, more in touch, more alive girl.

So chin up Buttercups. This story isn’t over yet.

29 & Holding

There is this woman I know. She has fluffy white hair. Her cheeks are dimpled. Her eyes squinty from losing her vision. Her back is a little hunched from walking with a walker for several years. Her knees aren’t springy. Her ankles retain water. Her mind alert. Her wit sharp.

I have known and loved this woman since the day I was born.

She is my grandmother.

Two days ago I received a text informing me that she has been hospitalized. She is being treated for a Urinary Tract Infection and Congestive Heart Failure. They expected her to discharge yesterday.

She did not.

Her kidneys are slowing down.

Today the update was that family is flying in from around the country & in the morning her children will meet with hospice.

As my cousins & I sat around her hospital bed this evening, we joked about which one of us was her favorite. Clearly, I was the winner. We told stories of things we remember from our childhood. We laughed at our silliness & the fun we had always had when visiting “ma-maw” & “pa-paw” as children. (Don’t laugh. I told you I was a corn fed mid-Western white girl.)

But what my cousins or aunts or uncles don’t know is the value this woman has in my heart.

Was she perfect? Nope. She is a liar. If you ask her age, she will tell you 29. Since I was a child, this woman has been 29. Lying in that hospital bed tonight was not a 29 year old. Lying there was my 91 and 1/2 year old grandmother. And all I could think about was all the moments I have had with her, and all the moments I wish I could have with her.

When I talk about being sassy or ornery or stubborn, I always say I got it from my grandma. She’s Irish. We don’t have the ginger hair but we have that ornery and sometimes cantankerous wit.

My grandparents house had comic books, (stacks & stacks & stacks!!!) a creek with a bridge over it, blackberry bushes, tons of land and a cement turtle we would ride to wherever we were headed that day. We had adventures every time we were there, catching crawdads in the creek, eating blackberries and hiding from one another. If I was alone I would read comic after comic. I would sort them out so I would remember which ones were read and which I had yet to read. I would organize them so neatly only to have my cousins visit in between me and mess them up.

She had a clear glass cookie jar on the counter we would sneak cookies from. She had teaberry gum. Her bathroom smelled like old lady rose soap, one of my most favorite scents now. They lived just down the street from a natural spring so we would take milk jugs and fill them with water. It was so crisp and cold we would drink as much as possible before leaving.

When I was in junior high, my mother quit speaking to her. When I got my license, I would drive myself to their house and eat lunch or hang out with them. She introduced me to one of my favorite movies, Brigadoon. It’s silly. But now more than ever, it will be special.  I got a job at a mall that backed up to their yard and I would stop by before or after work. I loved visiting with them. Rarely was I alone. Someone else always popped in.

After I moved out of my parents house, I remember she said to me once that she didn’t know how to save me from them. What I didn’t realize at the time…

She had.

Looking back, the fond memories I have in my childhood include my cousins, my aunts & uncles, my grandparents (excluding the child molester), my sisters & friends. Many of those memories happened at her house. My life was hard at home but my grandparents house was my sanctuary. They were my sanctuary.

So ma-maw, my wish is to see your fiery grin, to hear your sharp witted retorts and to kiss your soft cheeks for another 91 years. But if it is time for you to go home, to go see pa-paw, you leave behind a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. You have deposited bits of your heart & spirit into each of your children, grandchildren & great grandchildren. We will carry on the feisty Irish spunk in your honor. But you will be sorely missed because you have carried us along this journey for the last 91 years.

I love you Ma-maw.