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.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Step 4 -Shame Busting

I'm on Step 4 again.
Third time for me, thanks.

The first time was really hard.  It took 19 months.  I spent about 17 of those filled with shame, unable to put anything to paper, rationalizing what I could and numbing what I couldn't.  I felt like a freak sometimes, like a mortal sometimes.
And then I got a sponsor.  A few weeks later, my Step 4 was done.  Written, processed, read.  OUT LOUD.
I felt so weird saying things out loud.  I wanted to talk about everything little thing, explain stuff away, manage my sponsor's perception of what I'd said, what I'd done, how I'd behaved.

She sat with me with nothing but listening ears and a wide open heart.  It was unlike anything I'd ever experienced.  No judgement, no fixing?  What was this world?

I walked away from that conversation with a little more courage and a lot more clarity.  Life started making a different sort of sense... I could see my part more clearly in things.  My proverbial mirror was polished, and I think for the first time I was able to see myself authentically.
It gave me the courage to do it again.
More came up the second time, but it didn't take 19 months.  I didn't reason as much away.

I became more objective about myself -not to excuse myself in any way, but to just write a report of what I found when I sat that proverbial mirror up in front of me.  I saw some things I lacked, some thing I loved... I wrote them down.

Defects is such a mean little word.
All it REALLY means, really, is "things that are actually rooted in righteous stuff that I let run rampant so they got into a patch of loco weed and now I need Jesus even more."

This time around, it feels almost as if I'm falling into that mirror and being taken on a tour I was never ready to take before.  I'm recognizing lusts and appetites my body has, making note of them.  I'm seeing strengths that have popped up in the last 3 years -are any of them former defects?  This is something I'm asking myself, examining patiently.

Patterns, more patterns, are emerging.  Instead of feeling the urge to reason them away or numb them away, I'm kind of fascinated.  Like, "hey, I do that.  WHY do I do that?  What is my soul getting at here?  What am I missing?"

Step 4 has catapulted me down a crazy path where instead of feeling judged by women who organize well and then letting the shame eat away at my worth and center, I now say, "Yeah, organizing is something I will always be working on because my mind doesn't work that way because I have other gifts instead -creative ones that thrive in chaos.  I was shamed about cleanliness a lot, so I need to be patient as I work the surrender process, even in SMALL THINGS like laundry on the floor and cluttered counters."
I talk to God about it, I talk to me about it.  I talk to support people about it (sponsor, friends).
And then I'm free.
The shame dissolves.

I guess I'm excited?  to dig up more?

The truth dawns on me more and more these days: how can my soul be healed and reconciled if I don't know it?  If I am daily shoving it down and denying certain aspects, how can I ever connect fully to myself? to God? to others?

"Know thyself!" said a wise man once, and those words give me a triumphant sort of courage as I put my pen to paper once again, as I set to polishing my mirror yet further.