#VulnerabilityForTheWin

vulnerable [vuhl-ner-uh-buh l]

adjective

1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon

2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.

3. (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend

I tend to have a recurring conversation with many of you. Oh sure, the words & situations are different & personalized according to your lives. However, I hear the same frustrations, fears, insecurities from each of you. Followed by “I am the only one that feels/thinks/believes this way.” Many of these being the same fears, frustrations & insecurities that I myself have. During these confessions, I have come to the conclusion that we all believe we must suffer these alone.

Why do we refuse to be honest about where we are, what we are struggling with or ask for help? Is it because we fear the vulnerability that comes with sharing? Is it because we are all posting Instagram pictures of giant smiles & happy families? Or because our Facebook statuses always give the impression that we are riding unicorns to work as supermodels & are about to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for solving world hunger?

Honey, let me let you in on a little secret – My unicorn stood me up, my supermodel contract was shredded & the only prize I’m winning is Kroger fuel points.

As much “fun” (very loose interpretation of that word!) as much fun as Facebook & Instagram are, I believe there is also a destruction that occurs within us by not being more open with our lives. When I get to work or church, my smile comes out. Not because I’m “faking” it per se, but because in that moment, I’m not crying. Now don’t think I cry all the times in between. I don’t. Mostly. Lol. But I don’t appear as if I am struggling either. Neither do you or you or you. So if my struggle is a little extra hard today & all the women around me are not sharing where they are with theirs, guess what? I feel like I’m the only one that feels/thinks/believes this way. I’m not saying we should walk around with tissues falling out of our oversized cardigan sweater which is covering our plaid pajamas & house slippers while we sorrowfully broadcast our woes.

What I am saying is this:

First of all: YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE THAT FEELS THIS WAY. Let me repeat that. Look in the mirror, point to yourself & repeat after me. “YOU are not the only one that feels this way!” I promise.

Secondly: Remember the overused cliche that says “Be the change you wish to see in the world?” Well, I hate to throw it at you again but it’s true. Your people need to know that being vulnerable & real is ok. Not just ok but acceptable & encouraged. Soooo…it’s your job to take the first step. I know. Sharing our weaknesses is hardly something fun. But it is a way to break that Super Hero Facebook status that only holds true when we have to keep it together.

Which brings me to my third thought. Why are we acting so together? Wait. Put that oversized cardigan & pajamas away. I’m not giving permission to sulk, quit life or slink into brooding. What I am giving you permission for is to be real with where you are at any given moment. So what if a song on the radio made you ugly cry on your way to work & now your makeup is running down your face? Wear those streaks with pride. Own your messy bun & yoga pants day because it’s been a week that would wear out a toddler. We put so much effort into appearing “together” we don’t realize the freedom we can feel by letting those cracks in our armors show our personal truths. Not just for you, but for your best friends, your sisters, your co workers…

And finally friends, let me ask you this: how much more powerful would my prayers be for you if I knew how deeply the situation was effecting your life? Or your heart? Not that I’m not praying when I say I am, but if it’s a casual request, I will likely throw a prayer out & move on. If it’s something I know is really agonizing someone, I usually keep it in my prayer bucket, follow up with them & keep encouraging them. Or what if someone could help you with a specific situation because you trusted them with the need, rather than not knowing at all or just knowing you were going through “something.” Maybe you really just need a night out so we can grab dinner or just a cup of coffee with an ear to listen? Or maybe you need a hug from someone that just loves you for who you are to them-a flawed, streaky makeup face, ugly crying beauty. By holding ourselves so tightly together we are unable to embrace the wonderful resources we have in each other.

My challenge to you is this: Try opening up. For real. Not just “I’ve got a lot going on.” But a real “I know I don’t trust people with all of my heart so I keep everyone at a safe distance & it makes me feel lonely most of the time.” (Yes. That’s mine for the day. Writing this blog is a HUGE exercise in my vulnerability. It’s a true love/hate relationship.) You don’t have to tell your pharmacist & oil change guy but when you speak with a friend, share your real heart & let them know it’s safe to share theirs.

Ok lovelies,

Love your uglies, let them show a bit.

Till next time…

Matilda Grace

#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

Searching

Have you ever put your worldly possessions in one of those storage units that looks like a giant garage? Have you then ever tried to get back into that storage unit & look for one particular item among 100 boxes? Even labeled as accurately & precisely as you can possibly label each box, it is still virtually an impossible task. How do I know, you ask? Because I am currently standing in said storage unit.

When the lease was up in my apartment, I was unsure what my next direction was going to be so I moved in with my sister & her family. I didn’t need most of my things so I loaded everything into a storage unit & took only the essentials for what I thought was going to be a short term solution. Eight months later, I’m still there. What I thought was very temporary ended up being one of the most emotionally healthy moves I have ever made. I live with five people who love me every day. Just because! My niece & nephews hug me several times a day. Just because! I did not realize how much I needed to feel unconditionally embraced.

That however is not what this post is about.

It’s about the storage unit.

So. All of my “valuable” worldly possessions are boxed up & in this garage. My washer, my dryer, my couches, my dishes, my Christmas decorations, and probably 60% of my clothing & shoes. When I got up today, deciding to dive into the storage unit & dig out some of my clothing, I had no idea how impossible that would actually be. Trying to maneuver through a tight pathway in this cramped hot garage jammed full of boxes & furniture to uncover the actual crates that I need only to find they are supporting tight & precariously dangerous towers of dishes just so I can find that one sweater that I really miss or those perfect jeans or that super comfy sweatshirt.

I must admit it’s not going very well.

While I am tossing tote boxes over my head (like a beast!!) to put them back on top of the pile it hits me that this is kind of a blogging moment. So I stop. Grab my phone. And began this post.

You’re welcome. LOL.

It made me think about where my life is & how I’m living in someone else’s house with someone else’s family (disclaimer:it is my family, just not in the sense of my kid/spouse/etc…& I am beyond grateful to be here!) surrounded by someone else’s possessions because my life is in what I’m kindly referring to as a “transitional phase.” And I believe it is. But the truth is I have no idea what I’m doing. I work at a job that I don’t hate, but is also not a passion. I live in a place that has all four seasons, sometimes in one day. (And I’m a beachy kind of girl.) I have lost many people that I have loved dearly. I’m in the perfect place to completely start my life over. (By the way I’m 45 & I feel like I am the rom-com poster child for starting over. I even bought a little black car. With a turbo engine. It’s fun. Again we’re not here for that.) But, I definitely have some decisions to make about my life & the direction it’s going.

  • What do I want to be when I grow up?
  • Where do I go to be whatever that is?
  • Am I good enough?
  • Can I do it?
  • Am I brave enough?

That last one is probably the biggest. I think we all know the answer to that is: [Insert me shrugging my shoulders]

But how many of us are searching & digging & tossing boxes from the areas of our lives around because we’re simply existing? Doing the mundane job every Monday through Friday so that we can bring home a paycheck so we can purchase the car that drives us to said job so we can go to sleep & get up & do it all over again? How many of us are searching for that passion that we see in the movies or in some of our friends faces? How many of us are searching & digging through life trying to find that perfect thing that brings us comfort or success, whether that be a career or family or a husband or a new car or even a dangerous addiction or behavior?

What we fail to realize is this: We can’t find comfort in a sweatshirt or a car or a career or a spouse. The only answer that I have found is that I have to get that from my faith & trust that God has this.

No matter what.

All of the trials that I face, He’s there.

All of the addictions that you face. He’s there.

All of the indecision, the questions about direction, the lack of hope?? He’s there through all of that.

AND He’s also there through all of the happy moments. Like the new car, the new job, the new blog post, the new house, even a new relationship. See, He wants to be part of all of those details. We usually just forget to include Him in them. But sometimes He’s not just part of the details, He is the details. Sometimes He is the solution. Sometimes He is the only solution. So while I’m sitting here not finding my favorite sweatshirt or the perfect sweater, it comes to me that my comfort comes not in my searching for answers, but in my free surrender to trust that God has every step of my life totally figured out & wherever I am is where He is taking me & wants me to be. Even if that’s in my sisters house because he has me in a transitional place. Maybe I’m moving out of this crazy weather state. Maybe I’m staying right here. Who knows? He does. So as long as I trust that, I don’t have to search. I don’t have to dig.

I just have to trust.

Dear sweet friends, whatever it is that you’re going through, THE first & most essential way to get through it is to trust that God is there with you through it. And that He can handle whatever it is.

So wherever you have your “stuff”, whether it’s strewn across the front yard full of chaos & crazy, or maybe you have it jam packed in a closet that is bursting to pop open, or if you have it boxed up in the attic but you’re constantly going back up there to dig through it, now is the time to relinquish all of it. Put it in a garbage bag & let God take it. Put your trust and your crazy in His hands. I am no longer going to search for what I think my life should look like. I’m going to believe that my next step has been set into motion by heavenly forces that love me as unconditionally as my niece & nephews. With my trust in the right place, I can AND WILL move mountains!

Till next time-Love yourself, love your uglies & love your crazy. It makes you who you are.

Matilda Grace❤️

40 Days: Days 1-3

I have an amazing therapist. (I’m not just saying that because she reads this either. Hahaha!) I met her through my church & I loved her well before I ever needed her on a professional level. She specializes in PTSD in women & her end goal is to heal us right out her door. I often think of what an overwhelming amount of trauma she is subjected to on a daily basis, followed with my mind boggling “does that actually happen, will we ever be healed?” I love & respect this woman as a therapist, a friend & a sister in Christ. I know my best is in her mind when we meet.

I have been seeing Josie on average every other week for about 2 1/2 years. In my appointment Tuesday, she issued me a challenge. Basically, I am to spend the next 40 days, for lack of better phrasing, being the opposite of myself. Don’t get all defensive of the super cute self you all know & love. Keep Reading…

We all have our pasts: lies & experiences that cause our reactions & trigger our emotions in our current lives-good & bad. In my life, this past involves abandonment issues, distrust, insecurity, thick walls, a lot of emotional scar tissue & unbeknownst to me, some unforgiveness. Ok, so truthfully, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that one on the list but it was wrapped up in pretty paper labeled “I’m totally good, I’ve got this.”

Since my “normal” self would never want to share this gross journey with anyone, especially publicly, I asked Josie if she minded if I blog it. You know, as my opposite self would likely do. She encouraged me to do so & now I get to torture you poor readers with it. The challenge for me is to do the following three things:

  1. Cease from self. Do not engage my protective strategies to keep my heart safe.
  2. Trust in God’s goodness & His desire to provide me with my every need.
  3. Forgive. All the people.

Starting with number one. Not engaging in my protective strategies literally brings me to tears just thinking about it. We all have things we do at times to keep unsafe people from wounding us. Welllllllllllll……….I may have a teensy issue with this happening in every. single. relationship in my life. There. I said it. I admitted the most awkward thing I can think of to you. That means if you know me personally, I may be very open with you, but you will never know the millions of wounds, thoughts, feelings or emotions running through me at any given moment. Even if I share, it’s going to be very guarded. I am always waiting for you to quit me. Quit loving me, quit supporting me, quit wanting to hang out with me, quit being my friend, spouse, son, mother, father… It’s actually a very lonely way to live. Ugh. That was certainly more truth than I expected to come out. OH, & on your way to quitting me, I’m waiting for you to hurt me. I will never have a confrontation with you because that would mean I may hurt you. Your feelings matter more than mine, so I will “eat my emotions” as Josie says, in an effort to protect yours & prolong the relationship. Because if we squabble, you will certainly quit me. So during the next 40 days, I’m supposed to have the confrontation. I’m supposed to tear down the walls I have so carefully erected, allowing myself to be vulnerable.

This. Is. Gross.

And it hurts. Already.

Number Two. Trust in God’s goodness & His desire to provide me with my every need? WHAT?!?! Aren’t we supposed to work for what we need? And how does one go about trusting when one has never been able to trust others? That is a foundational flaw in me that is quite difficult to wrap my head around. Yes, I know. I am a Christian. I love Jesus. But that doesn’t make me perfect or mean I have everything in life all tidy on a shelf. I am pretty sure God knew I didn’t trust Him well before I typed the words on this page. I’m just being vulnerable (see #1). This part of the challenge is still perplexing me. I’m going to pray about it & get back to you.


Oh Number Three…the old wolf in sheeps clothing. I would love to say this will be an easy one. My pride wants me to say I have no problems forgiving others. Often times that is entirely true. The unforgiveness I have is towards the people in my life that did not hold up their end of the relationships, causing most of the other items on that list way up above. There are some seriously deep wounds from some seriously important people. They are no longer part of my life so why am I allowing unforgiveness towards them to cause their wounds to continue seeping negativity into my life??? Good question. Plus the angry side of me asks myself why I would let them have any headspace or win by continuing to cause me pain. Harboring unforgiveness will not only continue to cause me pain though, it effects my relationship with God. The Bible mentions forgiving over 140 times. I’d say it’s a fairly important concept we are to practice. Even taking Jesus out of the equation, studies show it has physical, often serious, impacts on our bodies, such as heart conditions (hmmm… ironic? I think not), high blood pressure, auto immune disorders & in one study of cancer patients, 60% had high levels of unforgiveness. 


So I have had 3 full days of this challenge. I have struggled with all three things. I have “conversations” that need to be held, people to forgive and trust that needs created. I neglected to allow myself to be vulnerable by sharing my ideas during a meeting. I didn’t voice my opinion on a project that was removed from my hands, I have truly cried at being so grossly real about where I am. 

I have no real update except this post. Putting the whole thing out there for everyone. Hopefully, my 7 readers will help hold me accountable in this journey. 

Today, forgive the uglies! Forgive yourself. Forgive God. Ask for forgiveness-from God and others. 

Shame

Dictionary.com defines shame as:

            shame:[sheym]; noun

the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another:

            “She was overcome with shame.”



How many times does that example sentence apply to each of us every day? For me, several. Thankfully I don’t keep track. I’d probably feel worse about myself if I did. I’d shame myself for feeling so shameful all the time. But the majority of my shame isn’t necessarily driven by my own behaviors, because frankly, I’m kind of nerdy. I work, church & work some more. I’m home most weekends & I definitely don’t do much throughout the week.

No, most of my shame is driven by the influencers of my past. My sexual abusive grandfather. My ex. My son. My mother. My adoptive father. Even my biological father.

For some reason, this type of shame reminds me of the poo throwing monkeys at the zoo. You know the ones. Behind glass. Mischievous grin. Just as you get up close, they launch a poop bomb at you that splatters all over the glass. You can tell by the look on their face how deeply they enjoyed the look on yours. And they start to work on a new poo bomb for the next unsuspecting sucker to walk up. Good thing we aren’t fully exposed to them or they would be the least viewed exhibit in the whole place.

Take for example my grandfather. He began molesting me when I was 10. He didn’t just start with inappropriate actions. He began by gifting me with things & treating me special. Lucky me.

On that side of the family, I had a summer cousin. During the school year he lived in Cali with his mom. For summer break, he stayed with his dad. My grandparents & my uncle all lived on one enormous piece of land with several houses. So when Scotty came home, I wanted to do everything he did. He had a mini dirt bike. So I wanted one. My grandfather made sure I had one that summer. Scotty & I zipped around that land like we owned it. We rode back deep into the woods & ate our picnic lunches (fluffer nutter sandwiches, chips & water). We swam in the pond. Basically, I was a lot less girly, because I did not want Scotty thinking I was a sissy getting in his way. I wanted to be cool enough for him to want to hang out with.

Occasionally, Scotty had other stuff to do so he wouldn’t be able to hang out.

That was when it began. Gradual touching. I was immediately uncomfortable with it. I began trying to avoid being alone with my grandfather. It was difficult though because it was just me, him & my grandmother. I remember asking my grandma to let me take her for a ride on my dirt bike. She said she was busy but to ask my grandfather. Surely, driving fast with the wind whipping through our hair as I steered this dangerous machine around the yard would be a safe place. No. It wasn’t. Surely innertubing in the pond with the whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins…) would be a safe place. No, not there either. He said to me “this is our little secret. Just between us. No one else gets to know about this.”

But I knew it was wrong. I don’t know how I knew but I did. The molestation continued for a while. Finally, I told my mom.

She flipped out.


As toxic for me as my mom is, she did have moments where she was solid. This was one. She never doubted or second guessed me. They put me in therapy immediately. Filed a report with CSB. Cut the entire family out of communication with him. My adopted dad met with him, offered him reunification if he sought counseling. He refused. I never saw him again except at a couple of funerals.

But what happened as a result of my declaration was not something any child should have to walk through. I was forced to testify against my grandfather to a panel of CSB workers to determine if there was enough evidence for charges. They determined there was not. Remember, “just” molestation so basically “just” heavy petting. My grandfather called me early on to tell me that everything would work out just fine. It didn’t. We didn’t get to go to family functions. So my younger sister screamed at me “YOU’VE RUINED OUR FAMILY!” Yup. I had. I had split it down the middle. 2 uncles broke away with us. My aunt’s family & my grandma standing by my grandfather.

That is quite a burden on a child. To be followed with years of silence among the family. His name & “the incident,” were taboo. No one discussed either. I walked around with the assumption that everyone felt the way my sister did. I remembered that he warned me not to tell. If I had listened, I would never have hurt so many people. My guilt turned to shame.

Ugly harmful burdensome shame.


As I grew up, I realized that, yes, I had split the family in half. But because I had, I had also saved most, hopefully all, of my younger cousins from enduring the same twisted fate with him. But the shame remained.

No one had ever told me I did the right thing. That I was brave. I understand that 35 years ago, sexual abuse wasn’t nearly as open a topic as it is now, so I don’t entirely blame my family for that. It is just where society was at that time. But for me, the shame remains.

Even today.

I’m not ashamed that I was abused. But that shame holds on in a way that warps my self worth. Probably because since that time, other people have heaped more shame on top of it & now it has become a mountain range of shame.


This past Friday night, I got to see one of my favorite speakers, Christine Caine, speak at a local church. She has a remarkable book titled “Unashamed.” (Read it. Now.) During her speaking engagement, she pulled out the Bible & referred to Genesis 2:25. She read it to the crowd.

“Adam & his wife were both naked & they felt no shame.”

She went on to explain that we were never created to feel shame. It says so right there in Genesis. We were never intended to be ashamed of who we are. Because, also according to the Bible, we are all created in the image of God. So regardless of our shape or size, we are in His image & we are perfect. Big nose, big boobs, tiny ears, big feet, bald…whatever we find imperfect on ourselves is still of God & He loves it-and us.  Many of the things we see within ourselves as flaws are actually gifts from God.

So if we weren’t created to feel shame, we need to work at pushing it away from our lives. Now, understand this. Shame & guilt are two different things. Guilt is conscience for bad behaviors. Shame tells us we are bad people (maybe for bad behaviors.) However, we are NOT the sum total of our choices. We have a past, we are not our past. Every second of every day we make decisions & we can completely turn our lives around in one second. Sure it may take longer than that to see the fruits, but the decisions we make can propel us towards a new life instantly.

Dr. Brene Brown has said “Guilt says I made a mistake. Shame says I am a mistake.” See the difference? When we self talk from a place of shame, we feed that ugly beast within us more shame so he continues to grow & we continue to shrivel up.

The simple truth is that regardless of what we have done in our past, even our recent past of 2 minutes ago, we are still not the sum total of those choices. If they are bad, we obviously must face our consequences but that doesn’t require we stay on the bad choices path. Therefore, shame is a nasty lie we are told to keep us from fulfilling our God given destinies.

So, please bury this deep within your hearts: You are lovely, loveable, loved & there is no act you could do to separate yourself from the love of God. The shame you feel from your past is not from Him. 

Friends, love the uglies-yours. Work to recognize the shame lies inside & replace them with love truths.

Have a beautiful week.

Love,

Matilda.


“Happy” Mother’s Day :\

Mother’s Day

The day when we celebrate the mothers in our lives.

I loathe it. It is a day filled with hearts & flowers & pictures of mothers & mushy cards & dinners & …

If you have read previous posts, you may know that my birth mother has Borderline Personality which basically means she is emotionally abusive & manipulative. I haven’t had any interaction with her in 4 1/2 years. I feel “better” now that I have zero relationship with her. It took me 40 years to realize that she was never going to be the mother I hoped she would be, that she would continue to abuse me as long as I continued to communicate or see her. I was never going to be the daughter she could accept or love in a way that didn’t leave me feeling broken & wounded. So when she sent my sisters & I a text stating she was no longer going to be a part of our lives, I considered it my open door & I have never spoken to her again. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate my mother when I was a child. I just never knew why it felt like she hated me. As an adult, in therapy, I see that it is her brokenness that caused her to break us, but I’m no longer willing to accept that in my life. I’ve spent way too much time & money trying to fix what she has done to let her keep undoing me.


As far as being a mother, well, that aspect of my life also kicks me right in the gut. I suffered through 7 years of infertility treatments, never to conceive. We went through the adoption process, only to have our child threaten to kill us. We ended up divorced & each holding restraining orders against our son.

They don’t make cards for people with the relationship I have with my birth mother. Or for people with the relationship I have with my son. What would those say?

FOR Mom:

  • “Dear Mom, of all the things you have passed on to me, I wish you had kept your crazy.”
  • “Happy Mothers Day to the reason I have trust issues”
  • “Happy Mother’s Day! Thanks for the Egg Donation”

FROM my son:

  • “Happy Mother’s Day. Maybe I’ll get ya’ next year.”
  • “Happy Mothers Day. Roses are red, Violets are blue. I have Fetal Alcohol so I have no attachment to you.”

I think you get the point.


So yeah, Mother’s Day is not my favorite holiday. Truthfully, most holidays are filled with bursts of pain from losing people in one way or another, even when it’s a bit of a choice or out of safety concerns. But I also have so many people filling my life that most holidays are tolerable, even enjoyable while the memories & pain lie just below the surface.

However, Mothers Day is always hard. It’s a harsh reminder that the woman who created me never wanted me to begin with & she could never muster up enough maternal affection to raise me without damaging me AND that I will never again be a mother to my one & only son because despite the years of fighting to get him, he chose a life that endangered me.


But, I’m a joyful girl so I don’t like to end on a sour face. We can’t stop here.

I have many, many mothers in my life that are amazing & beautiful women that love me despite my crazy. I am so blessed with the nurturing each of them gives me when I need it. Because of them, I have learned what real mothering actually looks like.

The most consistent & remarkable woman that loves me is my wonderful step mom. She married my bio dad when I was 16 & I love her with every fiber within me. I don’t call her by her name, I don’t call her “step.” I call her Mom. She has been my mom for many years. She didn’t have to play that role for me, my siblings were much younger than I was so her hands were full. But she did. She never treated me unkind. She always remembered (remembers) my birthday & things that I am especially fond of for gifts. Invites me to places she thinks I’ll enjoy. She was a spiritual beacon, guiding me with my own journey to Jesus. She is willing & able to discuss any topic with us, no matter how awkward. She is the mother I longed for while I was growing up. I will forever be grateful that she never shied away from being in my life, rather that she embraced me & loved me as her own. It is in large part due to her acceptance of me, that I learned how to be accepting & loving towards others.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Don’t forget to love the uglies, even the difficult ones. Hug a non mom. You don’t know why they are where they are but don’t assume they are “fine” with it.
Happy Mother’s Day to the rest of you: moms, non moms, wanna be moms, act like a moms, momma bears & momma birds. Keep up the great work!

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.