Full Disclosure of My Greatest Shame

This is a full disclosure post on the part of my life that I’m most ashamed of, even though those who know my story well find no fault for me in my journey, only a well-advised directive that my choice in men has to reflect my worth, not their potential.

And while this has been a developing thought process over the last several years, it was brought to a head, for some reason, through the wedding of Harry and Meghan. Weird, because I’m not a Royal family watcher or fan, I’m certainly not a person for power and position, and I am the last person to be formal and fabled. But I’ve learned a powerful lesson from watching these two and learning their story, and it has helped to heal mine.

To set the stage, all I ever wanted to be growing up was a wife and mom. I come from a long line of long marriages, and my soul desire in life was to carry on that legacy. However, the men in my life who loved the best were not men in positions of wealth or power or influence, and then men who were, were often drunk, violent, and unpredictable. I learned to trust the underdog and reject the seemingly accomplished.

Those who know my story know that I was married the first time to my children’s father, my first supposed love, for 12 years, before barely escaping via a full restraining order and police escort, weighing under 100 pounds. I say “supposed” first love because you can’t truly let anyone in who has abused you and controls you, even if you THINK it’s love initially.

And those who know my story know that I was married for eight months, about three years ago, after being a single parent for a long time….having worked hard, hard, to get myself healthy and whole, thinking that I had finally chosen a healthy, whole person, only to find out that he had been serially cheating me with multiple women, the entire time I’d known him, dating, engaged, or married to him, including the solicitation of sex on Craigslist.

Both of these marriages I’ve documented well. But where my shame lies is with a second, rarely mentioned marriage, that occurred about three years after my first divorce. And I’m not sure why I feel such shame, because I chose not to sleep around, I chose not to just live with someone, I chose not to party and drink my blues away, but I was in such a broken, battered, and bruised spot at the time that I feel like I had no business entertaining a relationship at all, let alone a marriage.

We met on MySpace, dated long distance for a few months, married in Reno, and then, 8 months later, after calling me a nympho the first 8 months of our marriage for WANTING sex, he came home one day and told me that he was bisexual, currently having an affair with both another woman AND a man, at the same time, and wanted a divorce. He’d suffered a TBI a few years before from a motorcycle accident, it had completely changed his personality, and he was just figuring out who he was again, is what I was told. All I DO know was that the TBI really did happen.

So that little girl whose only wish was to be a wife of one husband, for a lifetime, was a three time divorcee; a shame that, for me, I’ve been haunted by for the last decade.

And in that process, one has to then acknowledge that their picker is broken, and try to fix it. And in that process, I’ve learned some things about myself. I’ve always played small, wanting to shrink my talents and personality as to not draw attention to myself and to remain in the background. I have a deep anxiety about my worth, or lack of it, and have felt my whole life that I have had to earn the love I’m given. Which has led me to men that “need” me, and need “fixing”, and have great “potential” and that maybe I can prove my worth by helping them find it.

And conversely, men who are confident and who are powerful, or in positions of authority have intimidated me, made me feel more broken than I already was, and I felt like either they wouldn’t truly love me, and only want to control me, using me as their trophy wife; or I wasn’t worth their genuine love and protection because there was nothing to earn, and I wasn’t worth being valued, respected, and loved, simply for being myself, and my imperfect self, at that. I’ve spent years trying to be perfect because then my weaknesses would be strengthened and my armor fortified.

Needless to say, my own hang-ups, and then my life experiences, have done a huge number on me, and my view of men in my life. And it would be really easy just to succumb and wallow in cheap one night stands, or write relationships off completely, but deep inside me I’m still a believer in the love of the likes of Ruth and Boaz, and furthermore, I’m raising a son, and what kind of a man do I want to raise in him?

And then I see Harry and Meghan, a man of power, position, privilege, wealth, and yet when I see him look at her, I see a man who deeply loves and honors his wife, and everything else fades to the background; who, in all his strength, in his wholeness, he chooses her, not because she was the seemingly perfect choice, but because she was HIS choice, and he is made better still by the compliment of her. And her “being” and value to him is based simply on who she is, not what she can offer, make whole, fix, or make small so that he can shine brighter.

So may I raise my son to value himself enough not to remain a victim, but to step into his sacred masculinity like a boss, and love the women he will with an empowering presence. May I model for my daughter to never use her beauty to lord or power over a man, but to also never shrink in their presence to make any man feel more “manly” and in control, at her expense.

And to myself, may I learn to own my story, never play small again, choose not to make equal with me men who can’t even stand on their own two feet; relish my imperfections and scars because they have been forged by me at a great price; not shy away from men who have their s*** together because I’ve worked my a** off to get mine together, and iron sharpens iron, but rocks, papers, and scissors only destroy each other; and to entertain and choose a partner that looks at me the way Harry looks at Meghan, learning to rest and trust in the fact that I am worthy of a man who needs me for nothing other than me simply being myself.

What My Body Said to Me, On Trauma and Healing

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I will protect you, it said,

I will keep you warm,

I will brace for the impact of the enemies’ scorn.

I will block the poisons,

I will steady your gait,

I will absorb the toxins that overload your weight.

I will be your blanket,

I will be your warmth,

I will be the shelter for your storms.

I will carry your load,

I will ease your burden.

I will be your ceaseless soul warden.

 

Your feet will be firm,

Your walk will be steady,

Your body will not sway, no matter how heavy.

Your skin soft to touch,

Your hair full and smooth,

Your lips like honey, your eyes the bluest hue.

Your voice sweet with sunshine,

Your embrace eroding strife.

Your curves and your arcs filled with the essence of life.

 

Until one day you whispered no more.

Until the day you had to even the score.

Until the day the shell was cracked.

Until the day the heart was broke.

Until the day the gut became woke.

Until the day this frame caved in.

Until the day the your weary being rattled like tin.

 

I am here, you said.

I can give no more.

I have been strong too long.

Now my tune is an empty song.

I am broken, you said.

I am bleeding, instead.

The whole has fractured into pieces,

And the once flowing life now freezes.

 

I gave you my all, you said, now it’s my turn to grieve.

It’s my turn to cry.

It’s my turn to reject the tormenters sigh.

I am in shards, I am in limbo.

I am splintered and sharp,

I am interrupted and disrupted, intermittently sparked.

My chemistry’s shot, my defenses are blown,

My skin is dry and tacky, my lips smack of stone.

My curves and my arches are now bumbles of blah.

My eyes, once transparent, are emptily flawed.

My hair, once shiny, and vibrantly borne,

Now hangs limp and torn, razor-ended and shorn.

 

We need rest, it whispered.

We need to be renewed.

We need new life once again to flow freely through.

We need joy, it murmured.

We need to laugh more than cry.

We need to absorb the fragrance of a satisfied sigh.

We need to divest of the dead, the swollen, the mold.

We need to breathe in the spirit of the sun, made bold.

We need our curves and arches to achingly yearn,

For the shared embrace that warmly takes turns.

 

It is our time to heal, you longingly said.

For the you without me, cannot be, because your being resides in the home entitled me.

Body and soul cannot abide wholly without the other.

We’ve been through hell and highwater hand-in-hand, together.

Now it’s time to batten down the hatches,

Use our warrior energy to heal the scratches.

We are done fighting enemies that attack us from without,

We now need to battle the enemies who lurk about.

We’ve survived numerous calamities and frontal assaults,

Now we need to attack the foes that grate like asphalt.

Our roads are clogged, our channels filled,

Our springs of life are achingly stilled.

Our weapons are depleted, our ammunition zapped,

Our heart overworked, and our gut is attacked.

 

So, breathe, and rest, and let your worries flow,

Sit, and stare, and let yourself be slow.

 

Our journey isn’t over, our next steps have just begun.

But we can no longer be divided, body and soul, all or none.

 

For first we must just be,

for before we can be one,

we have to become fully and completely, and utterly, undone.

apologize

 

Arrow Tattoo

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“Neither seek nor shun the fight.”- Gaelic proverb

Archery is a unique experience. It is somewhat counter-intuitive in nature. You have to pull back in order to release, you have to clench in order to liberate, you have to gather  in order to set free. And hanging in the balance of those two acts is that moment of tension, of unknowing, of what some call liminal space. Liminal space is time between the known and the unknown. It is a transitional moment of intensity when we stand in the path of the unknown. Richard Rohr says that liminal space is  when we have left one room and not yet entered the next. It is that graced time when we are not certain, or in control, but when the greatest growth and change can occur.

I kind of see it as the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter morning.

I have lived much of my life the last 15 years in this space. God made it clear where I didn’t belong, but not always making it clear where I did. belong And what is it about human nature that we want that space to claim as ours? We want to draw our line in the sand and say, “This is mine. Back off.”

But in this liminal space, it’s not always clear how we are to proceed.  Conflict, by it’s very nature, is conflictual. When conflict arises, I don’t know about you, but I tend to freeze. Then sometimes I “flight”, sometimes I “fight”, and sometimes I “fawn”.

The Celtics have a proverb that says, ” neither seek nor shun the fight.” It has resonated with me since I first heard it. Because it, like the tension-spun arrow, reminds me that it is in that moment of unknowing that is often times exactly where we are meant to be. I have had plenty of experiences where I have to shun “the fight” in my life. And I have had plenty of experiences when I have had to “seek the fight” in my life. I am far more comfortable with shunning than seeking. But the reality is that, ultimately,  I am learning to be the most at peace in the “neither” part. Forego the teachings of the “neither”, and  often times you overarch the seeking, or passively underestimate the shunning.

Life often calls us to advance. But before we can do that we have to retreat and reinforce our defenses. Sometimes we have to just “be”, when we don’t even know what we are “being”. But God does. And I’m learning that it’s far more important to be where He wants me to be, then to be where I think I am. ……if that makes sense.

And when I need a reminder, I have this tattoo as a memorial stone, harkening me back to times when I DID just “be”, and how that it’s far better to be in the plans,and hands, of God, than my own.

 

 

 

 

 

Grief, Exhaled….. Tattoo

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This tattoo took me over the edge from being a person who had tattoos that were “cute”,  to a half- arm- sized tattoo on my left arm.

For a while I often wondered if it was “too” big, or “too” out there, or “too” much, quickly covering it up whenever I was around someone who maybe I  thought would judge me as having gone “too far”….

It even caught me off guard at first, startling me into thinking I had black marker on my arm from teaching…

But then…. as I’ve slowly evolved and grown as a person over this last year, this tattoo has become not only my life’s mantra, motto, but it’s the embodiment of how I’ve chosen to see life.

The impetus for me to formally verbalize my thoughts, cohesively turning them into the deeply etched phrase here, was in living through  the most recent of traumas in my life.

Without going into detail, after being a single parent for over 10 years, I remarried, only to find out that my husband of less than a year had been serial cheating on me during the entirety of my knowing him…. friendship, dating, engaged, married. To sum up one of  his mistress’s words, which he corroborated, he married me because I provided a good reputation for him, and I loved his children.

A whole different trauma. A while different betrayal. A whole different grief.

And from these ashes, these words took shape. While I created this for MY life, I choose to treat everyone who comes into my life with these life affirming beliefs as well,and pray that I can pay my pain forward, through being a vessel of transformed grace and hope.

So here is what I think….

BEAR WITNESS….Do you see injustice? Do you see abuse? Do you see oppression? Do you see evil? Don’t turn your head. Don’t shut your eyes. Don’t silence your screams. Don’t ignore the pain. Face the storm. Sound the siren. Summon the jury.

REVEAL TRUTH….The truth can’t set you free until you first unwrap it, unhide it, and uninhibit it. Truth speaks for itself. Don’t drown it out. Don’t shovel it over. Don’t bury it in and slam the door. Lay it down, and out, for all to see. Bare your naked soul. Call it for what it is. It is not YOUR burden to carry the sins of someone else. Lay blame where blame is due. And then step back, unburdened, and fret not anymore, the shadows no longer hold you captive.

HOLD SPACE…..Sometimes there is nothing to do, but sit with the grief, let the tears flow, tend to the shuddering silhouette. Grief bottled in is no mourning at all. Don’t rush. Don’t downplay. Don’t compare. Don’t rebuke. Simply……..be.   Light the candles. Rest in the refuge. Be silent in the sanctuary. Stand down.

EMBRACE PAIN……Life causes all of us pain. We either allow it to shape us, or we spend our lives fighting, as it swallows us. Before we can heal, we have to simply acknowledge it. Weakness isn’t in being betrayed, or in losing, or in being ripped apart. Weakness is in acting like it never hurt us to begin with. Let yourself feel all of the bitterness and rage. Let yourself be broken. Let yourself fall apart. Let yourself be real. It’s ok to not be ok.

CARRY GRIEF…..Never let someone tell you that you EVER heal whole again, unscarred, unblemished, unfractured, back to who you once were. You don’t. And don’t try. A part of your grief will go with you for the rest of your life. Own it. Respect it. Carry it. You are who you are because of the heartache etched on your heart. Make grief your ally so that, rather than embittering and imprisoning you, it creates a compassion for others you meet on your journey who need to know they aren’t alone. Because no one can walk this road solo. And no one is untouched by grief. And the darkness doesn’t discriminate, but it DOES fade to the corner when we light the path together.

HONOR JOY……There WILL be moments, even amidst the worst of the storms, when laughter will bubble over, the sun will beam bright, and life will kiss you with joy. Don’t downplay it. Don’t sabotage it. Don’t disgrace it. Don’t ignore it. Don’t destroy it. Don’t disown it. Honor it. No matter the cards you’ve been dealt, you’re  bound to draw an ace at some point. Hug it. Enjoy it. Grasp a hold of it. And….even if it’s just the eye of the storm, and the clouds are drawing nigh again, engrave those moments as memorial stones of what can be, what has been, and what will be again. Because the darkness and storms may rage for a night, but even the gloomiest midnight ends. And the sun comes up. And joy…..joy….. joy…. always comes in the morning.

 

 

On Being White 

I was asked this morning what I think needs to happen for honest discourse to occur, for polarizing to stop, at least from the white perspective. And these were my thoughts. 
I think, first, that people have to really think. Use their brains. Too many people want to put themselves on autopilot, simply regurgitating what they heard someone else say. Second, people have to be willing to be uncomfortable, and be truly willing to listen to others, especially those who have walked a different road, and really hear their story and perspective, and be willing to be made uncomfortable and maybe have their values challenged, so that they don’t just judge, or even sympathize, but truly empathize. 
I speak so boldly, not because I’m a sheeple on one side or the other, but because I have the unique experience of having lived, in the trenches, on both sides of the issue at hand right now. I know both sides’ arguments, perspectives, and struggles. I know what it’s like to be white, and lower class, and the white minority some where. I know what it feels like to experience reverse discrimination and to be judged because I’m white. But I grew up believing that all police were my friends, all authority was fairly worthy of being trusted, and that if people struggled it’s probably because they chose to make bad decisions. And now my experiences of my last twenty years, have flipped many of those beliefs upside down, or at least leveled out the balance. 
So when I share something, it’s not because I’m jumping on some bandwagon. This is my life being lived out in real time. Every day. And I don’t speak about what I don’t have personal experience with. To me, I haven’t earned that right. 
Of course there are amazing cops, I know some.

 Of course there are black folk, just like every other folk, who are immoral, violent people. 

But what many white people fail to understand, or don’t want to understand, is that for the most part, white people get the privilege of having a bad day, even a bad month, year, lifetime, and they are given space to be human, to be acknowledged in the struggle. But black people, and honestly, you could plug in anyone else who’s not white and middle class and straight….. But their bad day becomes a judgement of their character, their race, their gender, their religion. They aren’t given the freedom to have a temper tantrum and know that they will still be safe and treated with dignity. And I do believe that black men get the worst treatment, and I believe that our history in this country is still the mind set of many in the present, just with different wrapping. 

You can legislate action, you can’t legislate the heart.

 Many people do not believe that all people groups should be truly valued the same. I believe that there are many white people that really want America to go back to what they believe were better times. But better for who? Not for women or anybody of color, or a different religion. America wasn’t founded as a bastion of white pride and culture. And if that’s what the founders really wanted, they shouldn’t have chosen a land already inhabited by Native Peoples and Mexicans. And they shouldn’t have imported millions of slaves, treated them like animals for centuries, then expect a law on paper freeing them to miraculously right and equitize a million wrongs. And they shouldn’t have imported Chinese to build the railroad. We can’t create a multicultural society to meet our capitalistic needs, and then dispose of people, or suddenly expect them to fully be a healthy functioning group, fully intent on supporting our country’s institutions, when it was those very organizations that devalued and dehumanized them in the first place. 
And are there white people oppressed in some ways? Yes. But that group, in general, has very little power to create change either ( although I do believe that’s why Trump has grown in popularity, he has tapped that vein of anger at being white and poor, while I don’t think he personally cares about them at all). Their voice is definitely an important thread in the fabric of our country. And unfortunately, they’ve often been pitted against people of color, being told that “those” people have made them poor. When in reality, the top 5% keeps this group from truly succeeding as well. 
But our country has put band aid on bandaid with our history without truly opening the wound constructively, cleaning it out, and really beginning the nasty and painful job of true healing.

Celtic Nature Tattoo

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When I was a young child, I lost my grandma to cancer. I watched her slowly wither away.  I was devastated. I went from a happy-go-lucky child, to one who was almost obsessively  worried  with the fear of losing my mom too. Worry and anxiety dominated my life for several years after my grandma’s death. Then, again, as an early adolescent, I lost one of my grandpa’s to  cancer as well. He literally shriveled up to nothing right before my very eyes.  This pushed me into a second depressive state.

Through both of these experiences, I internalized my worry and fear, so much so, that for several years my doctors thought I had a stomach problem. I was tested for stomach cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcers, colitis, celiac disease, IBS…..every possible digestive condition possible. And every test came back negative. The reason for my ailments? I was LITERALLY internalizing all of my stress and worry into my stomach and digestive tract. My stomach was eating toxic emotion for every meal, every day.

It’s also why, when I went through the stress of my first marriage, I dropped nearly 60 pounds, from 160 to under 100, in a few short months time. I simply stopped eating, and literally “lived” off the stress hormones.

During my first marriage, I also developed extreme TMJ. I would grind my teeth, and clench my jaws so intensely from the stress I was dealing with, that my jaw would simply lock shut, causing excruciating pain. To this day, I wear nightguards in my mouth every night, and I have a heavy duty narco-psychotic RX, that is for a short term use, to loosen the muscles in my jaw, for those now rare instances where the TMJ rears its’ugly head.

After I left my first husband, I broke out in 5 types of hives, resulting in my family rushing me to the ER. Every possible test was run for what could possibly be causing my rashes. The diagnosis? All my tests came back negative. The extreme stress I was under caused my body to simply flip out and basically set off emergency signals. The RX given? Eliminate stress from my life.

I had a skin cancer removed from my face at 37.

I went on HBP medicine at 38.

I had to go to physical therapy at 39 for a shoulder injury I had experienced at the hand of my ex-husband, only to suffer the muscular consequences almost a decade later.

Without hair dye- I was almost completely gray at 40, stress induced I’ve been told.

At 41 I had ovarian cysts that ruptured, causing me excruciating pain.

I could go on, but I think you’ve got the picture. You can experience so much stress in your life, endure so much trauma, that  at a certain point, your body will simply say, ENOUGH. It will go on strike. It will flip out. It will check itself into rehab. It will say to your mind, “I’ve put up with you, now you need to listen to me.”

And while I’m a hypochondriac ( hey…..I pay $2,000 a MONTH for Kaiser coverage for my kids and I, so I’m going to darn well go to the doctor whenever I FEEL like it), I have also become a growing believer in Eastern medicine too. I don’t want to treat my ailments simply by reactively popping pills. I want to get myself holistically healthy from the inside out. I want to prevent as much, if not more, than what I am simply reactively medicating and treating…. I’ve already started using essential oils daily (if you’re interested, I’m a distributor of doTerra Essential Oils), and they make a big difference, in certain areas of my physical and emotional health.

I’ve  also recently started studying the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda. I’ve learned that my dosha is a combo Vata/Pitta dosha. The elements that I primarily embody are represented by  air, space, fire, and water. Noticably absent is earth, which is the dominant element in the third dosha, Kapha. Earth is the grounding, balancing element, offering stability and steadfastness of nature. And while I’ve learned to be very stable and steadfast as a parent, it is not my natural bent.

And then it dawned on me…. It’s the reason why, every opportunity I get, I want to be in nature. It’s why I love gardening, and find it so therapeutic. It’s why I love walking barefoot in the sand and dirt. It’s why, growing up, you’d more often find me in my tree house or backyard lawn than inside in my room. It’s why I always need to see horizons in my vision, why my house decorations reflect mountains and beaches; and why, if I ever get the option, I choose sunlight over fluorsecent lighting any day. It’s why I’d rather camp in a tent than be in the highest, most beautiful fancy hotel room,at any opportunity.

And then it dawned on me….. All of this is why this tattoo, with its’ shades of brown and green, has always brought me such pleasure. Because the earth, browns, greens, natural fibers, and being able to be in places where I am surrounded by greenery and granite, bring me so much joy…because they balance me out. They strengthen areas in my own psyche where I’m weaker. They literally breathe life into my soul. And it’s why, since I’ve been a young child, I have loved the lyrics to the songs I sang in my church’s children’s choir,“Down By The Creek Bank” and “Ain’t Gonna Let the Mountains Praise The Lord”.  And it’s why three of my all time  favorite Bible verses are, ” But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand  Isaiah 64:8“; ” Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness  and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19“; and “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land  and will strengthen your frame.You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.Isaiah 58:11.”

The very rocks cry out, reflecting the very essence of God Himself; and it’s in that Rock, that I find my strength. Namaste.