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.

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.
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.
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?

Soul Food.
Can I stretch and walk today?
Family members.
Wind down.

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.
Use tools.
Good food.

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."

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.

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

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'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.

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."

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?
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.

Friday, October 21, 2016


The week before General Conference, I saw this Alice in Wonderland puzzle at Wal-Mart.  I fell in love.  I actually really love puzzles, but I'm so picky about them that I don't do them often.  Also, I've always had little kids around and you can't do puzzles with little kids around because

1) Destruction
2) Choking
3) Sanity.

But my youngest is almost 4, and my oldest is almost 10.  And look at that puzzle!  Look at all the details!  It wasn't a scenery puzzle with mostly sky or grass or water.  It has a river and flowers and a queen and sparkles and a tea party and cards and and and!
The kids and I put it together while we listened to conference.  I listen so much better if my hands are busy doing something.  It's a genetic thing.  Also a genetic thing?  Sleeping through conference.  We are a family of hard workers and we also sleep hard when there's noise.  So sitting down while people talk?
Let's just say I don't have a single relative that suffers from insomnia because there's such a thing as TV, and my relatives don't last through movies.

But with a puzzle in hand, I DID IT!

Since then, that puzzle has been done once by my mom and once more by us.  I noticed yesterday that the kids had started it over again.

As I looked at the 750 pieces strung together in a scrappy, rough fashion I thought about my own personal "cycle" type trials... I mean the trials that keep coming, coming, coming.
Shouldn't they get easier?
Shouldn't I have figured them out already?  Weeded them out?
Who am I kidding?  If there's anything I know about yard work, it's that weeds come back until you get down to the roots.
My Dad is pretty hard core with his tactics.  There's a type of tree that comes up rogue in our yard, and you CAN'T pull it up by the roots.
"Chop it off, drill down the center and pour the poison down the hole."

He's like a war torn sarg who never *actually* set foot on a battlefield.

Some of my trials are like 25 piece puzzles.  I mess up and stumble a bit, but getting them solved doesn't take too long.  And the next time the same trial creeps up, I'm all over it and have it wrapped up in seconds.

But then there's the 750 piece trials.
They take forever.  They consume me.
"What?  Dinner?  Oh... Isn't there cheese in the kitchen?  And tortillas?  There's three meal options right there, you lucky kid!  Go for it!"
There's so many mistakes and so much confusion and sometimes I tell the box IT IS WRONG BECAUSE LOOOOOOK and I swear the company forgot to put the right pieces in the box OR they didn't send enough.
I spend a lot of time studying the picture on the box, just as I spend a lot of time studying my trials in the scriptures and books.

When it's over and done, I'm always so glad I did it.

When the same trial comes around again, it isn't easy-peasy like it is with the 25-piece puzzle.  It might be SLIGHTLY easier, but it is still a huge time-consuming labor of love.  I still get frustrated and I might have even bribed a kid with money to find a missing piece.
Whatever works, right?  Survival mode.

Anyway, looking at the puzzle pieces strewn all over the card table this morning, I realized that there's nothing wrong with me.
Because today I'm in the middle of a 750 piece puzzle that I've put together before and guess what?
It isn't all that easier this time.

It's time to stop shaming myself for that.  It's time to stop the voice that says, "Come on, you've done this.  You know this."
Because YES, I've done this.
But that doesn't mean I KNOW IT.
It just means I'm taking longer to learn something REALLY worth learning, and God is kind enough to teach me.

Humility is the hardest won prize.
If I could bribe my way to the finish line, I'd be all over it.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Terror is Over

On Saturday night, I went to the adult session of Stake Conference.  At the end of the meeting, the stake president had us read the account of Christ sleeping on a boat during a storm.

37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
I've read that passage so many times before.  I know I have.  But my life is different now -things looks different, I process things through different eyes and a soul that has been baptized by fire.
If Christ is our ultimate example, and he is able to sleep through "a storm of great wind," doesn't that mean I have that power within myself as well?  And if I have the power retain my peace and serenity during the storm, then surely I have the power to eventually calm the wind as well.
Addiction brings so many chaotic side-effects: physical, financial, spiritual, emotional!  How often I have felt like the disciples of Christ, feeling the need to shake Him awake -surely, SURELY He was sleeping through my storm!  
Don't You care?  I'm perishing, here!
Betrayal Trauma has been my deepest wound to date.  During an energy healing session last year, the woman working on me told me that I had come to earth with betrayal issues -that I'd carried them with me ancestrally. 
"When you carry it already within you and then it manifests in your life, it can almost be impossible to recover from.  It is just so hard."
Her words were a lifeline to me.  There seemed to be so many women around me suffering from betrayal trauma who were doing SO MUCH BETTER.  They seemed healthier, more active, happier in their own ways.  I felt so much pain and fear.  I was devastated.
Rhyll Crowshaw has often said that a woman's recovery generally takes 3-5 years.
After I read about Christ calming the storm Saturday night, we sang, "Master the Tempest is Raging."  Do you know how many times I've not been able to finish that song?  Tears have flooded (good use of the word flood, by the way) my eyes and I've just stared at the words on the page with pain in my heart.  The third verse felt dumb to me -like it was meant for someone else... someone going through a trial that was smaller, easier.  


  1. 1. Master, the tempest is raging!
    The billows are tossing high!
    The sky is o'ershadowed with blackness.
    No shelter or help is nigh.
    Carest thou not that we perish?
    How canst thou lie asleep
    When each moment so madly is threat'ning
    A grave in the angry deep?
  2. (Chorus)
    The winds and the waves shall obey thy will:
    Peace, be still.
    Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
    Or demons or men or whatever it be,
    No waters can swallow the ship where lies
    The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
    They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
    Peace, be still; peace, be still.
    They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
    Peace, peace, be still.
  3. 2. Master, with anguish of spirit
    I bow in my grief today.
    The depths of my sad heart are troubled.
    Oh, waken and save, I pray!
    Torrents of sin and of anguish
    Sweep o'er my sinking soul,
    And I perish! I perish! dear Master.
    Oh, hasten and take control!
  4. 3. Master, the terror is over.
    The elements sweetly rest.
    Earth's sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
    And heaven's within my breast.
    Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
    Leave me alone no more,
    And with joy I shall make the blest harbor
    And rest on the blissful shore.
  5. Text: Mary Ann Baker, ca. 1831-1921.
    Music: H. R. Palmer, 1834-1907
The terror is over?  Are you kidding?  Peace felt like some kind of farce new-agey people posted memes about during their quarterly juice cleanses.  

I started my recovery 7 years ago.  That's more than 3-5 years.  That's almost *almost* double.  I've done a lot of stuff during that time: conferences, retreats, programs, workbooks.  I've felt myself fishing, fishing, FISHING for help, much like the apostles of old.
I tried everything that landed at my front door.  There was meditation and yoga and support groups of all kinds!  My cell phone was used more than my dish rags.  I called for help, I scrolled through articles.  There were sponsors (plural) and real life friends and online friends.  I prayed hard and long.  Sometimes I hated God, sometimes I ran away from Him because His answers were confusing and made no sense to me.  Sometimes I still do.

Here comes the big

During this last year, I have found peace in the wind storms.  Waves have crashed in my boat, just as they always have, and I have accessed this place of stillness and peace -no juice cleanse needed.
I have found contentment and acceptance, and I've realized getting present with where I am is the key to truly living life.

Things I knew in theory became understood.  

My finances -a big wave that have crashed at our door -are slowly beginning to still.  Why?  Because I AM STILL.  I'm putting them in God's hands.  My physical health is crashing in right now, and I know -I see now -that if I hold still and rest, the storm will calm around me.

I feel the truth of this.  I feel it fully. 

As I sang the 3rd verse on Saturday night, my heart burned within me.  Master, the terror is over.
The truth simply is this: when and if Danny acts out again, I will be okay.  God has me.  God has all of me.  It will be okay.  I will be okay.  

Pain and trials will come, and they won't be easy -but they will be different now.  I see it differently now.  Something has come undone and redone within me, and I wouldn't go back for any amount of money.

This takes a lot of work... working to let go.  The irony is not lost on me.  It isn't easy, either.  Church is harder now.  I hear things that don't feel right at all, and going to church isn't comfy like it used to be.  I listen to people judge others from the pulpit and I get so angry and THEN I JUDGE THEM, and so it is: church is the place I go to grow and sometimes it is awesome and sometimes it hurts like hell.
Those proverbial mirrors aren't fun to look into, but I'm glad I know they're there now.  I didn't know that before.
For whom God loveth, He chasteneth.
And wo unto Alicia when she is at ease in Zion.

She isn't at ease right now.  But guess what she is?  At peace.

Yesterday we cleaned the kids room.  I haven't taught my kids housekeeping routine stuff.  I've struggled with it in my own life, and working recovery for so long has taken precedence over dishes and dusting.  The kids' room has gotten so bad that it was dangerous.
Someone could trip or get mold poisoning, or something.

We banded together -the three kids and Danny and I -yesterday and we cleaned for 3 hours.  I asked the kids what they wanted for a reward for cleaning and they were united in their cause, "TACO BELL!"
Easy enough.
And kinda gross, but whatever.

As we worked together, I felt an old sort of feeling burning in my stomach and heart: goodness, happiness.  Those feelings always came up right after Danny relapsed.  The Honeymoon Phase was my favorite.  It felt so high and good and sweet and wonderful.  It is what kept me hanging on through the definitely NOT Honeymoon Phases.
Yesterday as my son disappeared under his bed and started throwing blocks and papers out, my oldest argued with Danny about WHY she NEEDED every RIPPED PAPER EVER, the youngest refused to put her kitchen stuff away until we chanted, "TACO BELL" and Danny and I passed the trash bag back and forth... I felt that old, familiar happy feeling.
But it used to hold a really painful element: I knew it was full of lies and false hope.  It was the doughnut kind of happy -it tasted so good while it lasted and was followed up with sickness and regrets.
But everything that happened last night?  The high wasn't as high as it used to be.  There wasn't that fake, shiny lining around it.  It just WAS.  And as we sat around a table at Taco Bell, I was happy.
I watched the kids stuffing their faces with tortillas and beans and cheese and laughed out loud. 

These days are rare and beautiful, and I can do something now that I couldn't before: I can show up.

The flip side is true as well:
I show up for the awful days.

I feel it now, I see it now.
I reach out like crazy -to God, within, and to others.

The terror is over, and now I look to God and work on sleeping through the storms of life.  I can pause and let go of giving circumstances more credit than they're due.  I am not my circumstances.

Which thing I never before had supposed.

Friday, August 19, 2016

There's Tomorrow


It feels so far away in the middle of a typhoon.

As I curl up in my bed with a belly full of chips of the corn and chocolate variety, I feel pain and shame.

I have tools.  I have tools right at my fingertips.  I also have dirty dishes at my fingertips and dirty hair and lots of folks who are way worse off than I am right now.

My typhoon is a fun fest of woman hormones, disappointment, and marriage stuff.  I've tried to find clarity and set boundaries and process.

Why can't I get up and drink something healthy?  That's easy, right?
Why can't I hop on my mat?
Why can't I let myself have one dang day where all I do is search for the bottom of the snack bag and NOT HATE MYSELF for it?

There's two tiny people on my shoulder -one is Glennon and she's telling me to be where I am and love my own guts.  The other is Jillian Michael and she's yelling at me about self-discipline and change and her eyebrows are scary and Glennon is whispering to me about loving someone who doesn't love themselves is also important but first? chocolate.

How do I get out?  How do I pluck my shame roots up and toss them over the fence?  How do I juice veggies and fight the voice saying, "Too little too late, sister"?
How do I stop streaming crappy Netflix movies?  Or get my kids to leave me alone so I can just stream crappy Netflix movies?

How do I move into acceptance?
I remind myself that circumstances are fake things about time and money and hustle.  I let go of the need to turn today around! and hit restart!

Today is just one of those foggy, hard days.
I used to earn my way through them, but now I'm just going to feel sad because, as Frost says, "Nothing Gold Can Stay" which means nothing sad can either.

I don't pin my hopes on Tomorrow, but Time gives me wonderful gifts like:
distance from pain and
clarity and

So Tomorrow it is.  Today can't stay forever.  Robert Frost wouldn't allow it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Plucking Scarcity

It started with my bank account.  I overdrew by a minor math error -again.  Two bucks short, a thirty dollar fee -there wasn’t enough money.  Payday finally came, though not fast enough.
Five hours later, I’d paid for my daughter’s piano lessons, my son’s haircut, pulled cash out for school expenses, bought five food items and cut a check for 20 dollars to the cute girl looking for donations for a good cause.

My check was gone.  Gone!  How did that happen?  There just wasn’t enough money to draw from, and between the piano lessons, the haircut, and the shopping, there wasn’t enough time to THINK let alone make the Mother’s Day cards we’d planned to make.  What about dinner?  I crack open the rotisserie chicken I’d grabbed at the store -it’s tiny.  TINY.  There wasn’t enough for a family of five, no matter how careful I was about portioning.

As the three year-old fusses in bed and the kids fight their way through their bedtime routine, I sink, wallow and WEAR that moment… My Scarcity Moment.  Brene Brown started an entire book with a chapter on Scarcity -the lie we tell ourselves: what we have isn’t enough and who we are isn’t enough.

 I heard it all pouring out as I melted down in front of my husband.
There’s not enough money.
There’s not enough time.
The kids need more than I have to offer, they deserve more.
I’m the worst at my job, not proficient enough.
I am not enough.

That succession is lethal.
The effect I let my bank account balance have on me triggered a ripple effect of scarcity.  It started with circumstantial things (money, time) and transitioned very carefully into internal, personal things (parenting, self-worth).
 If self-judgement were a sport, I’d be semi-pro. 
Sometimes I play God.  I take His jobs on, looking very much like a three-year-old girl dressed up like her mother in lipstick and heels.
“I got this,” I shrug.  I exact judgement in all its reckless forms -on others, on situations, on myself most of all. 

Kim is my counselor, and she tells me how important it is to STOP. 
“When a self-judging thought comes up, be aware of it and counteract it.  You won’t always want to do that.  Sometimes you’ll want to just sit in it.  When you decided to sit in your self-judgement, have a consequence in place.”
“Consequence?”  My imagination vacillates between a stern school marm rapping my knuckles and kicking back on my plush bed in time out.
“What will you do if you decide to sit in self-judgement?” She asks, unwilling to give me direct order.  Kim knows how much I’d love to just be told what I should be doing instead of deciding for myself.  I can barely manage a menu at a fast-food joint let alone be responsible for following through with self-chosen consequences. 
“I guess… I have some positive affirmations written down.  I could read them all in front of the mirror,” I’d hate that.  Talking out loud to myself is pretty high up on the list of things that make me uncomfortable, “And reading a few chapters in a book about how amazing women are.”
Today I’m procrastinating my consequences.  I went a full month changing my hateful “not enough” thoughts into productive “enough and then some” thoughts. 
So what went wrong?  What happened?  What left me in that pit of self-loathing?


How do I reverse the effects of scarcity?  It starts with resting up, refueling a depleted mental, physical, emotional and spiritual system.  Then I get present, quieting the rush and paying attention.
Gratitude somehow always follows.  As I close my eyes and feel the sunshine on my face, I feel grateful for life, for sun, for the moment.  As I feel the warm suds on my wet hands, the burden of dish washing turns into a blessing.  I’m grateful for blessings.

In those moments, I have enough money.  I have enough time. 

And if I hold still a little longer, taking deep breaths and letting the gratitude percolate, I remember: I AM ENOUGH.  Scarcity cannot survive a heart full of self-acceptance.  Like the weeds that grow in my lawn, scarcity keeps popping up.  I pluck, I pull, I mow, but scarcity is one of my weeds. Though I can’t keep it away forever, I find purpose and beauty in the plucking. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Protecting Myself

Throughout my life, I've had an "ebb and flow" relationship with God.  With God and everyone, including myself.  It never felt really intentional, and as I felt distance to God, I would try and close the gap with prayers, scripture study, service, temple attendance, or anything that I felt would help.

But this time.
Something different is happening.

The ebb is of my own, intentional making.

WHY?  This is the question tugging at my heart and brain.  What is going on?  God has given me some hard answers to prayers, and I've sort of stopped asking him questions because of it.

Is it because I don't trust Him?  Because if I did, I would be asking more questions, opening myself up to more answers, trusting that HE HAS ME.

Maybe.  Maybe it is trust.  I've tried praying about it, talking with God about where I'm at, but it's really hard to talk to God about where I'm at when I don't know where I am, not really.

As I sat in my church meetings on Sunday, someone was talking about living up to our full potential.  They referenced a talk by President Uchtdorf in which he says, "let us not pass through life immersed in the three Ws: wearied, worrying, and whining."

I love words and wordy things, so I penciled the clever alliteration in my notebook, "Wearied, worrying, and whining."  I stared at the three words, and they seemed like a brief character description of myself.

Recovery work really feels like a polishing, grinding, burning, refining, and all of those other pain-inducing words.  It has been hard.  As I feel myself gain some footing on letting go of what I can't control in my marriage and with my relationships, I find myself just incredibly physically sick.
I feel God is saying, "You've learned to let go of Danny, you're learned you can let go of your kids and other relationships, you're learning to let go of your marriage... are you ready to let go of your health?"

This sucks, folks and friends.  It truly sucks.  I come from "hustle" stock -people who hustle like it's a competition.
Well, it is.  And we're winning.

What do you need to hustle?  A good, strong body.  I have Danish ancestry (lots of Danish ancestry) and Native American Ancestry and even some Spanish ancestry.  I am built to last with solid shoulders, long legs and arms with the potential to be filled with lots of hauling, heaving muscles.
I look a bit like a man.
But anyway.

That body -the one that came in 3rd in an arm-wrestling contest in 5th grade, the one who did chair sits longer than most kids, that one that did sit ups and ran miles and pulled weeds and drove tractors... it is DYING on me.
I feel betrayed by my own skin.

Wearied, worried and whining about summed up my sole existence.
How do I stop?  I wrote under the words. With my chronic health issues, how do I stop feeling weary?  worrying? whining?

These are questions for God, I told myself.  And THAT'S when it hit me.

There's no way I'm asking Him about this.  He is the Master Refiner, and refining HURTS and I can't handle more hurt.
Ergo, I built a wall between me and Thee.

Not coming down.
At this point, I don't think I can even handle feedback about how I'm dealing with stuff.  I used to look for ways to be a better person.  I'd come up with programs and goals and charts and stuff, but now I work recovery and the hard stuff FINDS ME before I have a chance to go looking for it.
I feel sanded down today.  Correction: I feel like I'm BEING SANDED and not by the pretty, yummy sandpaper that tickles... but by the coarse stuff that would peel skin off a cat.

I started to feel some shame about how I'm trying to protect myself, but it melted away.  God gets me.  I don't get God... I feel like a small child, looking up at a mysterious, wonderful world that feels untouchable and saying, "You hurt me and I don't want to hurt anymore."
When I was a kid, I would watch adults at parties and feel the same sort of feeling... those tall people who laugh at jokes I don't understand and say things like, "We'll talk about it when you're older."
A world away.

I was never content being a child.  I wanted to grow up and solve the mysteries held hostage in the world of adults.

Now that I am an adult, I feel more like a child than ever, and God is the One I'm studying, wanting to unravel his mystery world.

There's one thing I've figured out.  Adults get kids, but kids don't get adults.  And I'm finding that as an adult, I don't get God.  But He gets adults. He understands mortality.
With that little knowledge, I feel safe being where I am and being honest with God about it.

"I'm struggling to pray right now.  I equate You with pain, and I'm hurting a lot."

That was Sunday.

Monday I had counseling.  I was planning on reading my latest Step 4 inventory to my counselor, and I was nervous.  I've done Step 5 before, but it's always a little nerve-shaking saying stuff out loud to someone else.
The day started out fast and hard: kid peed in my bed, dog had the runs. I had health stuff going on, but we somehow all made it out the door and to my work.  My kids go with me, so it can get pretty hectic sometimes.
Yesterday was no exception.
When my shift ended, I loaded us all in the car and all I could think about was heading home.  But a thought crossed my mind, "Get the mail."
I hadn't gotten the mail in weeks because -as I was about to tell my counselor in a few short hours -I struggle with denial, and if I don't GET the mail, then there's NO MEDICAL BILLS.


But I listened to the thought I had.
I opened my box and found that there was a package -one I hadn't ordered.  Intrigued, I went back to my car and opened it up.
It was a Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamp, gifted to me from a friend.  I'd had my eye on one of those lamps for over a year!  But I'd reasoned myself out of getting one over and over, and now... here was one.  Sitting in my lap!  I couldn't believe it.
I drove home and plugged it in.

As I read my Step 4 to my counselor over the phone that afternoon, I sat next to my lamp and felt supported.  Every once in a while, I'd reach out and touch it, just to feel loved.

After I finished reading, my session was up.  I hung up the phone and felt raw (like cats probably do after their skin has been sanded off, right?).  I wanted to eat some fudge.  Well, MORE fudge since I'd already down a couple of pieces. I wanted to clean my house and earn my own love.

I decided the healthy thing to do would be to just rest, and when I went to my Amazon Prime Streaming Happy Place, I found that they'd just added a new movie to stream for free -one I'd eyed at the store a few days earlier and snapped a picture of so I wouldn't forget to rent it very soon.

And there it was, just waiting for me.

After the kids went to bed, I curled up next to my lamp and watched a movie.

It turns out that God is strong enough to reach through my protection wall and show me that He loves me deeply and perfectly and that unconditional love isn't pain-free, though it isn't always pain-filled.

I'm grateful and I've cried about it.  I'm still afraid to let my guard down.  Pain still scares me.  Refinement isn't something I'm ready to paint my face and do war dances about... but I'm trying each day in my own way.
I am weary.  I am worried.  I whine.
But I'm also trying and I'm trying really, really hard.  You see me, and I am blown away by your perfect timing and perfect love.
Am I ready for our relationship to flow again?  I don't know.  But you've shown me that for You -on your side -the flow never ebbs.
I don't understand that, but I admire it.
Thank you, and I do love You, even as I stumble.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


... I need a foot bath to make it through the hard questions.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Being You

I've listened to this 4 times since Sunday:

I can't remember if she actually mentions God, but God is very much there.  It really resonates with my spiritual beliefs.

The Art of Being Yourself is the greatest fruit recovery offers: stripping away and sluffing off all the layers that keep us from living whole-heartedly and authentically.

There are 3 swears in the TED talk, but for some reason when swears come out in a Scottish accent, they sound like honey.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Works When I Work It

On Sunday, I went to a class with a lot of ladies.
Did your teeth just clench a little?  Mine did.  A lot of ladies can sometimes feel very, very daunting.  I usually come away going, "I'm so glad I did that" but there have been a few times where I've walked away going, "NEVER AGAIN."  Those few bad experiences seem to have a pretty strong effect, unfortunately.

As I listened to the teacher talk about how prone women are to comparing themselves to each other, I felt a question creep up.  I didn't want to ask it for several reasons.
#1) In the past, I have worked hard to SAY THE RIGHT THINGS... not to enrich but to show how good I was.  I wanted people to think I was a good person because if they thought I was, then I was.  The opinions of others were my God, of sorts.  I was a slave, self-made.
#2) I didn't want to hi-jack the lesson.  I know what it's like to teach and have a lesson derailed by a questions.
#3) It was vulnerable.

I prayed and checked my motivations, asking God if I should ask... I felt that I should, so I did.

"A few weeks ago, I had a friend visit.  Our personalities were different and our gifts are different, and for the first time in my life I felt enriched and inspired by her.  Usually, I feel threatened when other women shine in their gifts, as if something is wrong with me.  I'd love to hear from some more experienced sisters what helps them?  What tools they employ in situations where another woman is shining and they start to feel threatened or worthless?"

Immediately, the woman sitting in front of me reached back and touched my knee, lending sweet support which I really appreciated.  I think I know the answer here, but I felt I should ask.  Being teachable is important to me, and I'm not very good at it.
One woman shared her experience studying different personality types, how understanding HOW and WHY people are different helps her when people who are different from her rub her wrong.

I have found a lot of help studying this as well -I don't want to work Step 4 for others, but it has been VERY helpful to study the strengths and weaknesses of different personality types.  I often find myself nodding at God and going, "This all makes sense.  You put all kinds of people together to life and strengthen each other... it's perfect and beautiful.  We're all one, but we are all different.  Amazing."

Then came the *zing*.
One woman shared her own experience and while I can't remember the exact words, I do remember the exact feeling.  She said it hadn't been her experience to feel threatened or intimidated by other women shining... ever.  She only ever felt inspired by other woman as they shone.
As she spoke I felt pretty, well, dumb.  Broken.  Not enough.  Very, very dumb.

The woman sitting next to me sat up straighter, as if in a sort of panic and immediately reached for my back, holding it.  Maybe she was hoping to shield me?  I don't know.  I do know that she felt the blow with me.

Another woman shared, through tears, how finding her own divinity -her own self-worth -was vital in her journey... that comparing herself and feeling not enough was something she struggled heavily with, but when she focused only on her own stuff, everything else fell into place.

A fourth woman shared how she employs gratitude, how grateful she is for women who help her teach her children... some women can reach her children in ways she can't, and how grateful she is for them.

A few minutes later, I had to leave the class.  It hadn't ended yet, but I had something at my house that needed attention.  I wasn't too sad about leaving.  The brave thing would have been to STAY and FACE it all, but I breathed a sigh of relief as I walked down the empty hallway toward the parking lot.

In my truck, I reached for my phone.  Who could I call?  Who?  I needed to vent.  I stopped my hand in mid-air.  Another thing I struggle with is relying on others instead of God.  I pulled my hand back and started praying out loud.
"God, that hurt.  Not lethal.  But it hurt.  Am I just thoroughly broken?  Unworthy of JUST GETTING OVER IT?  I even wish I was above being hurt by something so petty.  Am I just not resilient?  Okay, okay, okay... even now, I comparing myself.  The ladies all had so much to share, and if I take what they say... studying personality types, finding inspiration, finding gratitude, practicing developing my self-worth and cultivating divinity... okay, okay... There's a sort of path in all that, right?  There's something..."
I tapped my steering wheel as I turned onto my road, "If I find self-worth and root myself in my identity as a Daughter of God, then I can practice gratitude for the gifts of others.  With that gratitude I can move into curiosity and begin to study others as they shine, appreciate what their gifts contribute to the whole, to the community, see them as children of God as well.  Then I could see inspiration coming."
Everything fell into place.
I still felt pain, but the sting of it had eased substantially.  I continued to pray, to lay my pain on God.

A few minutes later, I was eating a beautiful Sunday lunch with my family and I was PRESENT.

I wasn't obsessing or angry or seeking vindication or validation.  I was okay, really okay... not pretending okay.

I still wish I was the kind of person who wasn't HIT by comments like that.  What she said really had nothing to do with me at all, AT ALL.  It wasn't a direct or malicious comment.

That evening, I checked my phone and saw two facebook messages and one text -all from women who had been there.  None of the messages were filled with hate or gossip, only appreciation.
One simply said, "Thanks for your vulnerable question today."
I checked when it had been sent -it was sent in the middle of class.  Like the woman next to me who held my back, this sweet woman "held my back" by reaching out and sending me a message as fast as she possibly could.

I smiled at her message and went to my step 4 inventory -something I'm looking over again.  I added, "vulnerability" to my assets.  What a crazy asset.
On one side of the coin, I can experience deep connections with amazing women -amazing!  The women in my close life are deeply incredible women.

On facebook one day, I reached out because the day was sucky.  Not horrible or the worst day ever, but just truly a dumb, dumb day.  The responses I got were hilarious.  Seriously.
My friends posted memes and jokes that just made me smile and laugh out loud!  There was one or two "fixy" comments, but overall, my heart just burst.  Someone commented, "you have the best friends."
I DO!  I truly do!  My friends are all ready to handle REAL, and they WANT REAL.  They treasure it and place high value on things that matter (like cat memes, fur real).

The women who messaged me were all women I really admire.  That fact alone validated my vulnerability -it attracts really gorgeous souls.

On the other side of the coin is this horribly painful feeling that maybe I'm walking around the earth wearing nothing.  Except my weaknesses.  People often say things without meaning to hurt, but because I have little armor on, I feel the full WHAM-O.

But guess what?
Guess what?
God is ready to take that WHAM-O.  I can sit and lick it... and I have done that before.  I probably will again sometime.  But yesterday was a victory.  A recovery victory.

One of the women present in the same class said, "If the work I do in my head were somehow visible... like if the work my mind does in one day was represented by a garden that people could see, I think they would be amazed."

Oh, yeah.  Isn't that the truth?
Recovery is like that too.  I work it, but there isn't anything visible really -I mean my house is trashed and my 3 year old daughter carts her toy phone around and whispers, "Shhhh, I'm in a meeting."

It feels defeating most days.  Like, "what am I even doing?!?!"

But Sunday was a big pay off day.

I didn't camp out in victim.
I wasn't able to remember exact words I felt were aimed at me (I usually remember PERFECTLY).
I reached out to God first.
I prayed.
I enjoyed the rest of the day.
I connected deeply to women I admire because of my vulnerability.

When my husband asked how my class had gone, I told him, but I struggled to remember exactly what had happened.  I remembered what I'd learned... and that made me laugh.
"It works when I work it," I chuckled, quoting from the s-anon script.

I did get a text from the woman who made the *zing* comment, apologizing if she'd offended me.  I told her no, that I was fine.
Then I erased it and said, "it did sting."
Because I added something else to my inventory that day: I lie to avoid confrontation sometimes.

Self-discovery is an adventure, ladies.  It's a journey of owning up, of saying, "God, that wouldn't have hurt if I wasn't reacting from a place of pride... take this pain and forgive my pride."

Today in group, we read Step 3.  I had never noticed that in Step 3, it refers to trying to handle everything myself as slavery.
How true that is!  Self-inflicted slavery of the rottenest kind.

But God has offered me glorious freedom from the captivity of my own mind.
I need only choose it.

I don't always.
But Sunday, I did.  And that is a victory worth appreciating.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bleeding Out

At UCAP, I attended a class given by Traylor and Melody Lovvorn.  As they team-presented on trauma, Melody gave a very powerful metaphor.

In essence, she said, "When a woman comes into the ER, bleeding out from a gunshot wound and then the shooter follows in behind her, who gets the attention?  The gunman, naturally.  All hands run toward the gunman while the woman bleeds out."

Sometimes metaphors are nice and helpful... this one was.  But it was also painful.

I felt a surge of longing: where was this metaphor when I was bleeding out?
I felt a surge of gratitude: there are women in this room bleeding out, and this is making perfect sense to the invisible pain pouring from their hearts.  Thank you, God.

Who, then, stops the bleeding?  Who applies comfort and nourishing attention to patient unable to comfort and nourish themselves?
I think we all have our own answers.  For some, it is a dear, sacred friend.  For some, it is a sister, a mother, a neighbor.

For me, it was a shifting figure... but in the depths of my rock bottom, it was really just me heavily bleeding and apologizing for it.
I made such a mess.
No one cleaned anything.
The kids ate whatever, watched whatever. 
I tried to fold laundry that one time...

My triage stay was longer than average.

After a time, I moved into a sort of hospital room.  Now I'm in the thick of physical therapy.  My support team is proud of me, cheering me.  They listen, they love.  My sponsor is tugging at all of my wounds, pushing me.  I'm uncomfortable, and sometimes I feel like my sponsor doesn't like me at all.
I mean, if she did, why would she stretch me like this?
Later on, I realize the stretching was for my benefit and I'm grateful.

Between appointments, I find I need better food and more sunshine.
When I'm feeling confident, I return to the figurative street where I used to live... a bombed-out war zone.  I kick the bricks and sift through papers, broken glass.
There are shards of things I want to keep, but as I survey the scene, I can't help but wonder, 'who was the girl who felt all of this was vitally important?'
I don't recognize her anymore, not fully.  And once upon a time, I treasured that rubble.  But I wouldn't trade it for anything now.

Would I go back to the way it was?

When I spent hours in front of the mirror, trying to get it "right"?  Whatever that looked like.
When the only thing Danny and I had to talk about was the neighbors?
When I cared more about my figure than my character?
When I flinched and shrunk?
When I stood for nothing except outside validation?
When God was in the wings, quiet and patiently waiting while I carried out a performance for the sole purpose of feeding on the applause?

I wouldn't go back there.  What's more, I feel a strange sort of tugging sensation, as if there's an unpaid debt owed.
But to who?  To what?

The bomb.
The bullet.
That which brought destruction opened a door that wouldn't have opened otherwise.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Owning It

I was never an angry person.

Angry people were just annoying.  They made stressful situations worse by blowing up, people walk on eggshells around them, and there's a red-ish, black-ish cloud that follows them everywhere.  Though you can't SEE it, you can FEEL it.  Angry people were to be avoided whenever possible.

Angry people.
For some reason, as a child I had taken an emotion and morphed it into a personality type.  If someone had anger, they WERE anger.
And I wasn't. because anger was not good, and I wanted more than anything to be good.

Here I sit, watching the afternoon wind down into evening... the wind blowing outside, a crochet blanket over my lap.  My joints hurt.  They hurt A LOT.  They always hurt.  I never thought I'd grow up and sit in a recliner IN PAIN at 30 years old.
The Good Doctors run tests.  They're really good at ordering and reading them, and I appreciate it.  In all the blood pokes, the x-rays, the scans and nasty pre-procedure drinks, they have found that my body
is totally a-okay.

Well, mostly.  There is one word that keeps popping up:

Your stomach shows inflammation.
Your joints show inflammation.
Your tonsils were highly inflamed.
Your vocal chords are swollen and inflamed.
Your stomach is inflamed.

It's like a bad rap song.

To put it plainly: my body is attacking itself.  I have spent hours scouring my brain, the internet and books and the minds of people who have dealt with health crud.
It could be a chronic infection, a hormonal imbalance.
But you know what it actually is?  Do you?


Of course I was never angry because I didn't allow it.  I shoved down every emotion that I didn't approve of... anger was at the top of the list.
After I got over the shock and shame surrounding this:

Anger is a natural emotion that needs to be released in a healthy way, and I have anger.

I decided to punch a pillow in the face.  I spent some time comparing punching bags on Amazon.  Part of me thought I should spend some time in the middle of nowhere with breakable things and fire, but the other part of me talked me out of it.

I'm embracing the process, and hey.  There's progress.

Yesterday, Danny did something that made me so mad.  SO. MAD.  Two years ago in a similar situation, I would have shoved the anger down and patted myself on the back for my ability to not say and do unsavory things.
Then I would move comfortably into victimization.
Which always, always morphs right into resentment.

My cycle was predictable, and (I thought) rationalized.  Other folks would side with me, surely.

But I'm tired of that ride.  I want to get off.
So last evening, I did.  I finished making dinner and then left.  I went to the dirt road behind my house.  It's become a sort of haven for me -a chapel of sorts.
I ran.
It hurt to run.  My joints ached, my lungs burned.
I didn't stop.

I talked to God, did I use words?  I don't know.  What poured out of me had words in it, I know... but I conveyed my message primarily with emotion -with ANGER.

Danny hadn't listened to me -that was the problem.  I had talked and he hadn't HEARD me.  Working recovery has taught me something very sacred: my voice is a gift from God. 
I've spent years silencing myself, trying my very best to reign my voice in.  I had longed my entire life -desperately -to be quiet, never knowing how.  I punished myself for things I said, for using my voice too much, too loudly. The scars on my shoulders remind me...

In my youth, my unbridled voice was an irritant.
The does she ever stop? kind.  I knew it, and I didn't know how to stop it.  In moved shame, in moved self-judgement.
I lived that way for twenty years.

And as my tired, weary feet hit that dirt, I spit anger from every pore. God sent me answers, He spoke calmly.  I didn't.
Just when my body was giving out, I could see in my mind's eye: a little, hurting girl.

I wasn't mad, not really.  I wasn't angry.  I was treacherously hurt.

I turned to the little ditch bank. I've spent lots of time on that little ditch bank.  It has held my prayers, my tears, my meditations.
All around me were trees -rare beauties in the high desert.  I ripped at the dead limbs, stomped, ripped, tore, twisted.  Once I had a thick sturdy branch in my hands, I took to the tree.
Beat, beat, beat.  Curse, curse, curse.

To feel unheard is so incredibly painful for me.  It sucks for everyone, but apparently for me?  It touches a really hot wire.  Really, really hot.
I grabbed a thick piece of wood and threw it against the tree, it broke in two.  I didn't stop.
Throw, throw, throw.
Hot tears.

The tree didn't bow up.  It didn't puff up.  It didn't get defensive or cry.  It wasn't a victim.
What's more: it didn't shield itself.  If I didn't know better, I'd say it welcomed the lashing.
It took it all.  I landed blow after blow, word after word.  My hands were on fire.
That tree was God for me in that moment... taking my pain, my anger, my sorrow, my hurt.  I caused the tree anguish, and it did not flinch.
It only accepted, calmly blowing in the evening breeze.

Out of breath and suddenly aware of just how much my hands hurt, I turned away from the tree.
That's when I saw it.
Was it there before?  I didn't remember...

It was the perfect walking stick.  Just the right height, just the perfect taper, perfectly worn, adorned with some beautiful fire damage.
I loved it.
It was as if God fashioned it for me in that moment.  I picked it up, turning it over in my raw hands.

After all that -the outburst, the tears, the anger... God literally sent me support.
I picked up my phone for some more God-sent support, and then I walked back home.

The anger was gone.
It had successfully moved out of me and into the tree.  God took my anger, I surrendered my pain and hurt to him.
Did Danny REALLY cause me pain?  A little.  He tripped a short in me though.
Was my anger his fault?


My anger is just mine.
And I have it.

Anger is a firey, hot thing.  And after years of pretending I didn't have it, it's no wonder my entire body is ON FIRE INSIDE.

I can't afford the slightest bit of increased inflammation, so I accept anger.  I let it move through and out.
Anger from last night moved out, but hurt from 15 years ago moved out as well.

Recovery has taught me the sacredness of my voice.  I've allowed it to be shamed, I have judged it and hated it.
Now is the time for amends.  Now is the time to treasure it, to be upset when people I love don't hear it, to stand up for it, to have it's back, and to give it to God... to do with it what He will.

Render under God that which is God's.
My voice, my anger.

He supports me in my sincerity, in my TRIES.