Friday, October 21, 2016
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
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.
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!"
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.