#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❤️

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.


Puzzle Pieces

Sometimes in life we develop unexplainable relationships. They may be someone with a different personality type than you normally gravitate towards. Or maybe it’s someone with a different lifestyle than you. Maybe there is an underlying background story between the two of you that just keeps it from making much sense to others.
So. What.

Kudos to us for taking on the abnormal. Not that our friends are abnormal. (You better be nice, they are reading this thinking the same about you. Haha.) The relationship is abnormal. From our norm. They may fit perfectly into someone else’s norm, but for you, they are a puzzle piece that you had to work into place. Now that they are there, the completed puzzle looks lovely.

My life has lots of these puzzle pieces. I don’t care what you do for a living, who you were or what your past consists of, what size your clothes are or even your favorite food. I love my friends because I have worked carefully to develop the relationships & I see my friends through their hearts.

So are we a bit abnormal? Yup.

I’m cool with that.

Let’s take for example the funky underlying backstory. When we were 19, Mark broke up with me to go hang out with an ex girlfriend. She was his first love & they were young (16) & dumb. He & I obviously got back together eventually. Fast forward to right after we were married, probably around 26, 27 years old & we are attending the same church as this ex, Jackie. She was tall & thin with long blonde hair. I am tall. Lol. That is literally where the similarities ended. We had a mutual friend who understood the awkwardness. But we had a women’s retreat & Jackie needed a room because hers had fallen through. Our mutual friend approached me & said “I know this could be extremely awkward & I don’t want to diminish your experience but I need to ask. Can Jackie stay in our room?” With great angst, I said “of course.”

Jackie & I stayed up all night. Not an exaggeration. We got zero sleep. We laughed & talked & became great & amazing friends. We did small groups together, met for lunch, even had cookouts together-with Mark & her husband. We shared everything, our pasts, our presents, our fears, our faith.

Our relationship made zero sense to anyone that knew the history. I should have hated her, right? She was his first love. He left me for her years later. Maybe I should have. Maybe for a while, I did. But when our friend asked me to swallow it so Jackie could attend the retreat, if I had allowed that underlying backstory to say “no” to that simple request, I’d have missed out on one of the most beautiful people I ever knew.

Jackie & her family have long since moved away & sadly, we lost touch after that. Our relationship remains one of my favorites because we always had fun & she stretched me to try new things. We would stay late after small groups & sing worship songs on stage at church late into the night. We roller bladed (ps, NEVER ask me to do this. I’m the WORST!). We discussed faith based topics & how we felt and their impact on us.

We talked about her history with Mark.

Not intimate details but enough that he no longer was an underlying backstory. He was just a backstory.

More than all of that, our relationship taught me one of my greatest lessons…

After God, all his glory, & the salvation of the cross, the greatest gift God gives us is each other. We are not our past. We are not the decisions we make. At any given moment we can make a smarter, wiser, or dumber decision that will change the course of our life’s path. By allowing those things to overshadow the actual person, we cannot see the person inside. There may be hurts that we have the bandaid to fix. There may be brokenness that we have the glue to repair. There may be a soul aching for the Jesus we have within. There may be a wall only we can scale. There may be a belly needing our soup. Or just maybe, they have these for us.

Maybe the best thing for a relationship is to discuss that elephant in the room. To bring that underlying backstory to the surface, in all of its awkwardness. Maybe not. Maybe it’s too raw yet. That’s ok too. Maybe the backstory is keeping a mini wall between us, but it’s not keeping us from developing OUR great story. And one day, it too, will just be part of our story. Maybe that awkward subject of “feelings” needs to be discussed. Maybe you just need to clear the air about a past hurt or a wall you’ve built.

If you are my friend, you are my friend regardless of anything else in life. Color, size, past or creed hold little bearing. I love you for being you, unconditionally with zero expectations. I do not ask you to be perfect, just be. Obviously, I will stick my nose into your business & tell you my opinion if I disagree with your choices, but I would hope the same from you.

So friends, new and old…I am grateful for you. I love you. I don’t care how different we are. That thing you think I may never understand, you are wrong. I would. That upbringing that left you scarred, I see it. The abuse you try to hide, I too lived it. The bad marriage you cover, been there, done that. The child filled with discontent and rage, I see ya sister. I love you still.

I love you AND your uglies.

Every. Single. Day.

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.