Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fair Lady

Over the weekend, I introduced my kids to My Fair Lady starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.


I don't remember the last time I saw the movie in it's entirety.  It's been years.  During those years, I've gone through therapy and support groups.  My body has been raked through the coals of inflammation.  In short, there's been a transformation.
Watching Eliza Doolittle transform before my eyes was a different experience this time.

I watched her as a flower girl with dirt on her face.  I watched her moan and cry out.  I watched the longing in her eyes to become something more, and I watched that longing turn placidly into acceptance.
A dust-covered flower girl WAS WHAT SHE WAS.  Period.

Then I watched her find a glimmer of hope.  I watched her face as she realized that maybe -just maybe -she could change.

I watched as she washed her body, changed her clothes from rags to soft, feminine cloth.  Her hair went from harsh to soft.
She began to CARE for herself -externally and internally.  She cared for her body, her hair, her clothes.  And her internal worth began growing.  She began to feel and know her worth.

I thought of my Step 9 to myself -my amends to myself.  For my 30th birthday, I pulled an Eliza Doolittle Project without really calling it that.  I bought new underwear and a new outfit.  I had my hair cut and dyed.  I ate at my favorite restaurant.  Most importantly: I promised myself that I would always care for myself.  That I would continue to buy bras and mascara when it made sense and not 2 years afterward.  I would drink water and green juices.  I would eat protein and walk, walk, walk with my shoulders back and my face to the breeze.  I would inhale the love of God instead of the hate of self.

But we are works of progress, amIright?
And progress isn't progress without REGRESS to back it up.

In the beginning of November, a police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty an hour away from where I sit right now.  In my county.  In the county my husband works for as a police officer.
As my heart stalled, my husband drove straight for the gunfire.
And yeah.
Shots were fired his way.
While I sat on the couch, wrapped in my husband's cop shirt.

It was surreal.  This addiction messes with EVERYthing.  I love Danny and I struggle with the addiction side of him.  Divorce has been a very real option for us.  We've separated at times.  When times like that hit, I was conflicted every day -sending him to the battlefront.
"I love you.  I'm scared."
That feels like the two lines I've lived by as the wife of a cop and the wife of an addict.
I love you, Danny and I'm scared as hell.

Don't hurt me.
Don't get hurt.

That night -the night he ran to the gunfire and I tried to remember what it felt like to care about dinner and laundry -something inside of me broke.

I haven't had my hair done.  I haven't bought mascara.
I haven't exercised.
I haven't cared for myself.

My writing has struggle.  Where once words flowed through my mind and out of my fingers, I found nothing but blank space that I filled up with a Victorian-Era murder-mystery.
And now that that's over, I found The Great British Baking Show.
#bingebabybinge

I didn't even realize it had happened.  I just thought maybe the holidays were so busy they killed me.
I thought maybe it was being a mom to 3.  Maybe it was just the whole healing thing?

As I sat with the ladies in my writing group two weeks ago, one of them said, "We haven't had anything from you in MONTHS."
"Yeah," I nodded.  I tried to come up with an excuse, but they all seemed to get jammed in my throat as I realized the last time I'd written anything for hobby purposes was the day before The Shooting.

"I haven't written anything since The Cop Shooting," I said, realizing it for the first time as I said it.
"Makes sense," the ladies in my group said, almost in unison.

I see it now.  I SEE IT.
I just don't see yet how to get back up, to turn back on.  What does it all mean?  And how deeply is it affecting me EXACTLY?
Or has it just triggered other issues that were lying dormant, waiting for some kind of trauma to wake them up?

Cue help.
Self-help is the trickiest snitch in the world.  It means well but always bites me in the bum.  But in the last year, I've haltingly picked up SAFER self-help options, and so far it's going okay because for the most part (hello, progress and regress) God is driving this serenity train.
So I made an appointment with a coach -a well-being coach?  A health coach?
Basically, someone who can take my hands and put them over my heart and teach me how to open it and retrieve the answers that are now, themselves, lying dormant.

This is so messy, you guys.
And I look messy.

But as I watched Eliza Doolittle emerge in her diamonds and jewels, I knew that it was me, in my own messy way.
I wear my jewels on the inside.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Less-Worried

I brought a lot of books to our marriage.  Poor Danny had no idea what he was getting into, no idea that I dreamed of one day filling an entire room with The Written Word and fancy leather chairs and maybe a few smoking jackets for good measure.
I had classics I'd collected (some bought, some stolen from a high school that shall remain nameless...), a beat up slam poetry book, scriptures, churchy books, a book about a woman named Alicia who lost her entire family during WWII!  As the years went on, I collected more and more.
One year for Christmas Danny bought me a bookcase, and I filled it.  FILLED it.
Last summer, I tried that Kondo Method of cleaning where you get rid of books that don't fill your gills with guts and glory, and I think I tossed the slam poetry book and one of Dr. Laura's books about feeding husbands properly or some shizz like that.
I guess slam poetry lost some luster between midnight feedings and overdraft fees...
I won't even get started on why Dr. Laura doesn't bring me joy.

In fact, I'll drop all the booky stuff and just say what I came to say: Danny has a mountain of cop books (case law is apparently very important), so he gets the bottom shelf.
His one other contribution to our bookcase is THREE paperback books by CS Lewis: the first three in the Narnia series.  He'd picked them up as a kid and just sort of never let loose of them.

Having fallen in a sort of fantastical love with the way Lewis moves words around, it started to bug me that I'd never read them.  Danny and I have been trying to read them together.

As we've read his words, I keep thinking about a quote of his that has meant so much to me.  I wanted to share it here:
“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”

It reminds me so much of Step 3, but also?  It is what recovery is to me daily.  Handing myself, my will and my day over to God because I trust Him -THAT is the goal that SOMEtimes I meet and SOMEtimes I don't.  I think of another great wordsmith, one Dr. Seuss, who said very wisely,
"You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don't.Because, sometimes, you won't.
I'm sorry to say sobut, sadly, it's truethat Bang-upsand Hang-upscan happen to you."

Bang-ups and Hang-ups.  I was reading in my scriptures today about how God GIVES us weaknesses, and I got hung-up on that word, "gives."  Such a positive word. God gives us all good things, so surely my weaknesses must be good?  I recently listened to a Monk talk about how he quit having panic attacks when he accepted the panic as his friend.  He quit fighting it and accepted it.  
In 12-step talk, I think we'd say, "he surrendered it."
Because you can't surrender something unless you've accepted it.

I think back a few months ago to the sacred time I spent with my Granny who gently rubbed my feet and talked of the time in her life when she was left alone with eight children.  How did she survive that?
With God.
"I'm so grateful for those days," she said, "I didn't know it then, but God was giving me exactly what I needed.  I see it now, and I just remind myself when things get hard that God is always giving me what I need.  He is so compassionate."

Compassionate because He gives us adversity.
Generous because He gives us weaknesses.
It seems counter-intuitive, but honestly, I don't think God is much interested in the intellect of men and their worldly philosophies.  I think He's more interested in truth, simplicity, peace, meekness (the less-mentioned virtue, the underestimated underdog!), charity, love, humility, purity of heart, and willingness.

A less-worried world is what God is after.
A world where men worry less about battlefronts and more about the divine smolder sparking around inside of their own chests.
A world where the battlefronts surrender to the love of a neighbor.

Lately my life has taken on a small shift that has made a big difference, like the small shift in a track that causes a train to land in one city rather than another.
Life has become much less about RECOVERY and much more about simply HEALING and living genuinely with my whole heart forward.  I can't imagine I'll ever be off this track, and though I'm sure I'll miss out on ending up in a City That Might Have Been, I'll end up in A New City more suited to my needs.

A less-worried city.



 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Acquainted With the Night

Valentine's Day.
It is my nemesis, my bull in the china closet.  It comes bashing in once a year, plowing through the careful contents of my brain, and then it leaves as loudly as it came.
I'm left sifting through the, "what just happened?" emotion.

A few years ago, I "took the bull by the horns," so to speak, and I felt sure I was strong enough to tame the beast into docility.

My first Valentine's with Danny was really, really painful.  Each following year, I tried to make up for the first one.  I wanted ONE good Valentine's Day with my husband, but each passing year seemed marked by the first.  There were so many expectations, some realistic, some not -most all went unmet.
And to tell the truth, I didn't want him to really love me the way Juliet died over Romeo.  I only wanted him to see me -maybe notice how much thought I put into the day.
Did he see the clean house?
Did he see me with the kids?
Did he see the way my tangled, wild hair fell around my face?
Did he notice how happy I am in the kitchen, singing with Doris Day and Loretta Lynn while my long, wild hair slipped strands of herself into the pasta sauce?

It's all I want still.  To this day.
To be seen apart from my parts.  To be seen for the present version of who I am and what I'm doing -even if that's just breathing in and out while turning over a page of "David Copperfield."
And not to be seen for what I have to offer.
Sexually and otherwise.
That's earned, isn't it?  I'm guilty of only loving myself when I've earned it, and that mess of a therapy party has been enough to last me a lifetime.  Feeling that I'm only worth what I have to offer to SOMEONE ELSE?
I don't have room for that anymore.

A few years ago, I landed myself on the back of that crazed Valentine's Bull.  My lanky legs were a fair match for the breadth of the beast, and I made sure that I WOULD HAVE VALENTINE'S DAY and NOT THE OTHER WAY 'ROUND.
I made Valentines and sent them out.
I took the whole Romeo nonsense out of the day.
I planned an annual feast with just my own kids and husband, and I celebrated love in it's pure form.

It worked really well.  For years.
But guess what happened this year?

Last week, I got really sick. I was down in bed for 3 days, and the 4th day was a pretty funny joke of a day where I think I washed three dishes and went to bed at 8:30.
No time to prepare Valentines.
Usually for our feast, I spend a bit more money and make the day a bit more fancy that your regular Tuesday.
But this year, I had no money having so lately become a stay at home mom again.

To sum up: there wasn't lots of distractions from the pain.  Because that's what I've been doing all these years on top of that docile bull: distracting myself from the hurt and calling it healing.

It isn't healing.
And as it turns out, under all the busy distractions of sending out cards and setting a fancy table, I'm still really hurting.
Really.

Why?
Isn't the time for hurting over?
Haven't I been here for too long?
Does this mean I'm stuck? Over six years in and still hurting!
What's more: it truly feels as if the pain will never leave.  Does that mean I don't understand the Atonement?  That I discount it?  That my faith in God is weak?

I've heard it said that you can forgive without forgetting, and maybe for some the pain still stays with the memory, even when forgiveness is in place.
Maybe for some forgiveness feels as impossible as sobriety does for others.

Last night, I rolled into bed with ominous anticipation of today.  I thought about putting boundaries in place, boundaries like, "stay off facebook."
I flicked on my phone and scrolled through my feed to distract myself (because that's apparently my go-to when the going gets uncomfy), and I ran straight into Robert Frost's words.  My heart thumped in my chest, the way it does when words strike me so deeply that the only response to them is utter silence.
His poem, "Acquainted with the Night" begins:

I have been one acquainted with the night. 
I have walked out in rainand back in rain. 
I have outwalked the furthest city light. 

I have looked down the saddest city lane. 
I have passed by the watchman on his beat 
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain. 




Yes, that's me.  Walking through the darkness and dropping my eyes, unwilling to explain to my bishops and any other watchmen why.  Outwalking the city's lights, walking beyond the reach of man.  Chasing and also running from the rising sun/Son.  I know this feeling well.  It's finding me today, after years of running from it.

I'll get quiet now and let Frost finish:

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet 
When far away an interrupted cry 
Came over houses from another street, 

But not to call me back or say good-bye; 
And further still at an unearthly height, 
One luminary clock against the sky 

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. 
I have been one acquainted with the night.


Friday, December 23, 2016

In the Spirit of Christmas

This year, the Christmas season hasn't been peaceful.

My rock bottom anniversary is December 27th -the day I came undone in every possible way.  Years later, I heard Danny's full disclosure on December 13th.  This year, my body seems to remember. 

I slipped into depression without even seeing it.

Depression, for me, isn't debilitating sadness or a full inability to get out of bed.  It starts out as truth.
"You're out of shape.  You're past hope.  You move like a 50 year old because you don't take care of yourself."

I believe it all because I sometimes I wear a blindfold and trust every voice around me.  I can't see where they're leading me.
"I don't feel good," I told my husband, "Just getting my dailies done takes EVERYTHING in me.  Scriptures, prayer, good food, a shower.  It's all I can do and I'm maxed mentally."
"That sounds like depression," he says.

Depression.
That place.

The blindfold comes off and I look around only to find myself at the bottom on a dark hole.  How did I get there?  I took the stairs, blindfolded and steady.

As I've been sitting in the bottom of that hole, I've also been online shopping and checking things off my list.
Recital.
Concert.
Crafting.
Cooking.
What else needs to be attended? attended to?

Check, check, check, check.

My husband is right -this is depression.  It isn't a low low or a high high -it is a sort of numb middle ground where I can't feel the present moment. I don't think I even really want to.

Christmas is so rich with incoming stimuli -so many feelings.  I feel nothing except, 'Can I go home now?'

As my blindfold comes off, I simply make a start.  I start my way back up the stairs by reaching out.
"Heavenly Father, I'm down here again."
"Hey, friend... just reaching out to say I've hit a depression and need to say it out loud."
"Hey other friend, I'm reaching out because the holidays are hard and I didn't see it happening, but I've gone into depression."

Reaching out is the first and best step.
My sponsor talks to me about peace and slowing down, and as she talks, I think of what The Savior did.  Someone once told me that if we're struggling, we can remember that Jesus saved the entire world in three days.  I've clung to that for the last year.
"Things feel bad now, but in three days, things will feel totally different.  Can you hold on until then?  Just three days..."

Robert Frost tells us that nothing gold can stay, and I remind myself that the opposite is true as well: nothing bad can stay, not forever.

A friend of mine reached back to me without having known about my experience with my sponsor.  She brought up the 3 days of darkness before the Savior arrived in the Americas, and I know God sent this message to me: Time is on your side, so much can happen.  Hold on through the darkness, daughter.

So what does this have to do with Christmas?

I guess I feel distant from The Savior of the World, but I acknowledge and appreciate the example of SUPPORT He lived.  He was surrounded with support at all times.
This isn't saying He was supported at all times.

But He had His people.  His parents, and family, His 12 disciples, His friends: Mary, Martha, Lazarus.
He had support.  He reached out.
"Can you not wait with me one hour?"

Next year will look different because I will set some boundaries.  Three days from now, things will look differently.
I can hold on.
I can hold on while I climb back up.
I can hold on when I slip down a few steps.
I can.
Because God can for me.
Because He does.

He is my support, even if I don't always tap into that truth.

I hope your Christmas is filled with some solid support, whatever that means to you.
Love,
Alicia
This is me with someone in my support circle -The Savior of the World saved our marriage, and here's a piece of the first family pictures we've taken in three years.  That's a miracle to me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Supporting Myself

When I was growing up, I used to wander around my great-aunt's ranch house -the one she'd inherited when her parents had passed on.  It was an adobe wonder with stunning tile work through the hallways and glaring red carpet in the bedrooms.  In the living room, there was a magnificent picture window looking over the small city below, and a stone's throw to the left were two shadowy, cold bedrooms with a bathroom between them.  I crept into them one afternoon and was held captive by the pictures hanging over each bed... in one room there was a younger version of my great-grandmother, and I could see pieces of my mother in her face... her nose, her expression, it was familiar to me.  In the other room, a portrait hung of a handsome man I'd never met.  The mystery of it all kept me busy for hours.

Who was he?
Where did he come from?
Where was he now?
What did he do?  Who did he love? 

I worked up the nerve to ask my aunt.
"Who sleeps in those rooms?" I asked, knowing that she slept in the great room just off the kitchen.
"That's where my parents slept," she said, thereby increasing the mystery by a million fold.

Were they even married?
Why separate rooms?

Now that I'm older, I know a bit more about the handsome man I've never met and who passed away long, long before I was ever a thought.
But I still don't know why they didn't sleep in the same room together.
I'd ask someone about it now, but the mystery of it all still keeps me busy when my imagination needs a midnight feeding.

Lately, I've wondered if Danny and I will end up that way -sleeping separately for as long as we both shall live.  It isn't ideal, and I shake my head sometimes at just how much my marriage doesn't look like what I thought it would, even in surprising small ways.  I think I'm even more surprised at how okay I am with it, grateful even.  One thing that is coming up for me lately is how much SPACE I need, not just in marriage but in general life.  I need space for my imagination to cook up worlds without end.  I need space for rejuvenating.  I need space for safety.

The couch provides me with safety in that way, and during times where we sleep apart, I talk with God and allow myself to feel the peace that comes from the space instead of overthinking the WHY of it all.  Right now, I just need more time with God.  I'm on a slippery slope these days, and I can feel my center slipping into enemy territory.  Others are in my center, and God is on the outskirts.

The couch becomes a chapel in it's own right.
The nights are cold and just before the sun peeks in the east, the temperature drops even lower.  A few years ago, I picked up a few piles of scrap yarn and started making a scrap blanket.  I used three strands at a time, not thinking much more about it than, "I have lots I need to use up fast."
Using my favorite basket-weave stitch, I weaved for hours.  As my yarn basket lost weight, my blanket gained it.
So heavy.
Too heavy.
I couldn't keep up.  Eventually I tied it off and shoved it in my linen closet to think about later in life.  Much, much later.

But about a month ago, I pulled it out and covered myself.  The heavy blanket -though it wasn't wide, it was long -felt indulgent against my nightgown.
Every night, I pull the blanket over me and drift off.  Every morning, I sit cross legged on the couch and cover my lap with the blanket while I meditate and pray.

Yesterday after a solid prayer session, I opened my eyes and looked at my blanket.

Do you know how good it felt to cover my own arse?  To have something so protective of me MADE BY ME, standing guard every cold, dark night... the triple strands reminiscent of The Godhead that surrounds and upholds me as I plug through life's daily scraps, carefully weaving them all into one broad picture?

Prayer.
Food.
Dishes.
Soul Food.
Can I stretch and walk today?
Dishes.
Clothes.
Emotions.
Family members.
Wind down.
Rest.
Repeat.

The blanket is an empowering way to start my day -a beautiful reminder that I have my back.

It's an important reminder to have. A vital one.

Maybe this blanket deserves to be stitched into a heavy finishing sooner rather than later.



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Shameless Bad Days

Lately, I've had more opportunities to explore some trying "bad" days, and I'm finding ease in not handling them very well.
That is to say: I'm handling them better than I would have 7 years ago, pre-recovery.
And I'm also handling them worse than I did two years ago when I was oblivious to the grip perfectionism held (holds) on me.  On those bad days, I worked hard to do everything right.

Reach out.
Pray.
Use tools.
Self-care.
Good food.
Sunshine.

After a few days of "perfect" behavior, I'd inevitably crash and burn, unable to keep up with my own expectations.

A couple of days ago, a trauma trigger hit in a hard way. A comment was made about my looks that hurt.
I cried on the spot, and I cried hard.

Does it matter what other people think of me?  The way I look?
Not really.
What does matter is my own self-worth and acceptance.

But guess what?  It still HURT.

So I let myself cry, and I prayed and I cried to a few safe women about it.  The next day, I knew I'd want to numb out.  I knew I'd want to exclusively eat the gingerbread and frosting I'd made the day before.  I knew I'd find a series on Netflix to curl up with.  I knew I had no appointments during the day.

I reached out.
I prayed.
I talked about my susceptibility to numbing.  I talked about my pain.

Then I curled up on the couch with a stomach ache and a three year old and dozed off while she watched a cartoon.
Did I eat gingerbread and frosting?  YES!  Exclusively?  ALMOST!
Did I numb out to a movie?  NO!  Did I keep a movie going in the background while I got the house ready for feeding the sister missionaries?  YES!

I ate a nourishing dinner... and then more frosting.

It wasn't awesome, but it wasn't despair either.  I didn't do the day PERFECTLY, but I DID THE DAY and I prayed and told God I was hurting and not coping well.

Today will be a day of repentance -something else I'm learning to remove the shame from.

I love Baron Baptiste's take on repentance.  It was a game-shifter for me.
From page 6 of his book, "40 Days to a Personal Revolution," we read:
"...I came to understand that what he [Brahmacharya] meant by repentance wasn't that we should dwell on where we lost our way and all the ways we are bad, but rather to have the courage to face the pure, unsweetened truth of ourselves so that we can move on and grow in more honest and authentic ways.  It is simply the willingness to see in full truthfulness what we need to face within ourselves and our lives so that we might get into the right alignment.  As Jesus taught, it is always the truth that sets us free."

So today is a new chance to seek for alignment once again, to look for my own unsweetened truth.  And what is that pure truth?

I'm finding it isn't initially clear to me in situations where I'm right up against pain.  It's like one of those science projects where you look at a slide under a microscope while the teacher asks you -smiling all the while -what it is.
And you have no answer because it just looks like a confusing mess of messes.
"It's thread," they say, or maybe, "skin" or "oil."
THEN you see it.  THEN you can't NOT see it.

Being up against pain is like that for me.  While I'm up close and right up against it, I can't tell what it is or what's going on at all.  I just sit with it and stare at it and it hurts so much.  I talk about it and I eat about it.
As the days roll by and more distance is placed between pain and Alicia, I start to get clear about what I'm dealing with.  I start to be able to see what's going on.

It's as if I'm able to "zoom out" from my microscopic slide and gain some clarity about what I was up against.

Yesterday, I was still too close to the pain to make anything out of it.  I only prayed this prayer:
"Heavenly Father, I'm hurting.  I don't want to numb out.  I don't want to stay in victim.  But I DO want to remain completely true to where I am and what I'm feeling."

THIS IS NEW TO ME.
Am I always honest with myself?  NO.  This is something I'm learning, like a newborn learning how to walk.

I ended my prayer and listened to myself and what did I need?  To sleep some more because my stomach hurt.

So I didn't "do" yesterday perfectly according to my old standards of perfect, but today, I feel like I can begin to apply repentance.  I can see some of the "pure" truth about myself:

I use sugar as a Savior.
I can use the Savior and my Savior.
How?

I am deeply affected by others' opinions about me.
I can someday access a place where I'm not.
How?

I can also see the beauty in my sensitivities.  I can see that my body needs love and caring, and I can honor that today with some yoga (which I skipped yesterday) and some green juice (I skipped any and all greens yesterday).

In Tutu's, "Book of Forgiving," he tells us that in order to forgive others, we need to tell our story.  We need to talk about what happened, and I DID that with God and a few friends.  When we're ready, we'll be able to name our pain.
We'll be able to name our pain as we tell our story.
"This happened, and I feel ___________."

This morning, I woke up and was able to say, "That happened, and I feel rejected."

That's why it hurt so much!  Because as a wife going through betrayal trauma, feeling rejected because of physical appearance cuts on a very deep level -for me.

So I'm logging off to roll out my mat.
I'm logging off to get some greens in on top of the frosting I downed a few minutes ago.
I can go to my meeting and drink my favorite herb tea, slather on some oils to help nurture what's been hurt, and look around and find God.
And laugh, for crying out loud.  Because I thrive on laughter.

I might fall on my face, and that's okay too.

I choose to TRY to tap into realignment today, and I didn't yesterday -not fully.
That's where I am.
This is me being true and honest with me.



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Candy Apples and PTSD

My sponsor has often said that recovery for a woman married to a sex addict takes 3 to 5 years.  It's a grim thing to hear when you're in the first 3 months or years, and I'm here to say that I feel like I'm finally getting there after 6 1/2 years.

My days are spent free from obsession, though not from fear.  But I now have the clarity to access a life where I take action to choose to NOT act on fear.  I own a lot of my own choices now, in a way I never thought possible before.  I have a new lease on life.

But guess what?
This new life, with it's new perspectives and insights and serenity, still isn't free from everything.  Last night, after a perfectly nice day and holiday, I was triggered.

By a candy apple.

What?!  Doesn't the sheer dumbness of it all make you mad?!  It makes me mad.

Triggers are those insane things that happen without warning!  They put your head at war with your heart, and emotions fly around as fast as your heart pumps!

I KNEW IT WAS CRAZY TO BE TRIGGERED BY AN APPLE AND THAT MADE IT WORSE.

I've been hard at work in the kitchen these days because I genuinely love cooking.  I go through these hobby patterns where I delve into something I love for weeks at a time and then leave it for something else.  I vacillate between cooking and crocheting and making sock monkeys, mostly.  I always write, that one never cycles out.

On Halloween, I made apple glazed pork chops with a side of the most delicious apple sauce.  I made homemade mashed potatoes to go alongside.  It was a feast!  And when I went to bed that night, the dishes were done.  It felt so good. These last few days, I've baked and cooked in my favorite Loretta Lynn apron that I bought right by her house in Hurricane Mills.  That's me on the porch of her haunted mansion.  That Loretta is one tough cookie, and I gotta say: her spit fire got me outta bed on some of my darkest trauma days.
 I've watched Hope Floats while washing dishes, and most of all: I made 3 batches of caramel apples.
Not JUST caramel apples because I don't actually like caramel apples... but the caramel apples that are dunked in caramel and then white chocolate and then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
I feel like I need to quote Jason from Studio C right here, "We just made diabetes land!"

These apples are so diabolical that they leave our home VOID of charity.
NO ONE SHARES THE APPLES. EVER.

I gave a few away to visiting teaching ladies (sorry I missed you this month, but here's something better than a visit.  Don't share it), and I gave a few to my parents.

I was looking forward to eating my last one last night, and Danny ended up eating more than his fair share and I had to share mine.

It isn't a huge deal.  Mildly irritating?  Eh.
But anger hit hard.

I could hear a chorus of my counselors' voices, "Anger is a secondary emotion."
YES.

I wasn't actually mad.  I was scared.

Taking more than his fair share of THE apples was a TAKEY thing to do!  After I've given SO MUCH.  I've given pork chops and apple sauce AND APPLES!  What's more?  I've made apple syrup and apple pancakes and APPLE CIDER!  I've bought bacon which is a real treat when you've only got so much money but you've got so many kids and food goes in mouths as fast as it goes in fridges.
I've made delicious dinners over and over and over.  My hands are cracked from washing dishes as the weather dries and cools (who needs a dishwasher when you are one? that's what my dad says anyway...) and all I wanted was to enjoy my addicting annual caramel apple.
My last one, anyway.

And I couldn't.

There's been an unhealthy history in our marriage of me giving, giving, giving and Danny taking.  I wasn't setting healthy boundaries.  I wasn't even giving from a loving place.  I was hoping my giving would eventually end his addiction, or at least manipulating him in SEEING ME.
It didn't work, of course, because real life doesn't work like that.

That way of life was hell on earth, and any hint of it in this new life scares me to pieces.

I didn't want to talk to Danny about it.  I just went inside of myself and isolated.  When the kids went to bed, I opened up and told Danny that I was mad.  I told him why.  And I told him trauma was at work.
Over an apple.

I told him I knew in my mind my anger was disproportionate, and that's what trauma looks like.  It doesn't make me stupid for "overreacting."  It distorts my reality and messes with my head in a way that feel *almost* irretrievable.
I used to feel shame for that.  I think I still do feel some shame for it.
The shame makes it exponentially worse because I begin hating on myself for exhibiting trauma -it makes feel like some kind of crazy freak and WHO ACCEPTS CRAZY FREAKS?!?!

No one, right?
Wrong.
Jesus does.

And the trigger isn't true.  I don't live a life where I only ever give, and Danny doesn't only ever take.  In fact, when I was isolating, he was putting soap in the bathroom soap dispenser and finishing up the dishes so I wouldn't have to.  He was hanging up my wet laundry and picking up the bathroom.

But even if he wasn't, I can rest in my own boundaries.  I can give as much as feel healthy.
I can make crazy amounts of dinners right now (and hopefully freeze some) and feel self love.  I can NOT make crazy amounts of dinners right now but make crazy amounts of sock monkeys while my family eats frozen dinners and Subway and feel self love.

The trauma is real though, folks.
And the very fact that a caramel apple can send me into a tail spin of fear is evidence of just how hellish the trauma is.  My entire being is terrified to go back to that place.

And for good reason, for good reason.

Today is a day for nurturing which means I'm back in the kitchen with my Loretta Lynn apron, making some granola and muffins and whatever else asks to be made.  It's a day to listen to what I need, to not let the trigger rule the day.
It's a new day, a new life.
And I'm feelin' good.