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.