I dunno What I’m doing Now

What you may not know about me, or I can’t remember if I’ve shared it here anyway, is how much I love to cook. Not cooking so that I can have a job, though making a bit of money doing it wouldn’t break my heart, doing it because I just love to make sure people are well fed. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.

So, I started a food blog. This isn’t my first one, and maybe it won’t be my last one. I recently left this post on that page’s IG account, and I think it’s important to share it here, too. It’s helpful to understand what I’ve been doing, but it’s also will tie into some other things I hope to write about more in this space.


When I officially made the switch to “food blog” instead of a collection of “me things,” it was because most of the me things were all so heavy, and this wasn’t the suitable space to talk about those things—they still are and it still isn’t—and because I was mainly posting foodstuffs.

I set several goals and expectations for this account, here and on Facebook. Only one has been met—to post consistently. The others that have gone unmet or unreached have convinced me that this isn’t the thing I’m supposed to be doing right now.

The truth is that I don’t have the time to run a test kitchen, write down everything I do, post it to the blog and here and there, create stories and reels and TikToks, create a small food photography inventory, and space, take fun and captivating videos.

I wish I did. I don’t. I have 950 square feet to use loving and caring for the three other people (and one pooch!) who occupy it, to feed them well, to feed my friends well, to create new things off the cuff—without worrying about writing it as I go, and then doing it four more times to make sure it’s excellent and can be recreated over and over.

I want to do that. Someday. Maybe. What I do really well, though, is take care of those around me, make sure everyone has food, shelter, and love. I snap some decent photos now and again of a variety of things. And I tromp around in the forest or by the water’s edge or in a wide-open field and admire the world that’s been created for us.

I don’t fully know what I plan to do here now. I feel like I gave it a good trial run. Maybe I’ll go back to plain old me. 🧡🧡

Loved, or maybe not – July 11, 2020

I have a secret board on Pinterest. This secret board has more pins than any other one, even the Jesus one. It’s called “Loved, or maybe not.”

While most people have given Pinterest the good ole heave-ho, I still keep it, primarily for that secret board. I’m pretty great about sharing feelings and being transparent about everything, except talking too openly about my heart feelings toward love and romance.

Too often, as a single woman (I’ll speak from the I perspective here, though I’m sure many of my single friends would find some agreement here, too), if I talk about being in relationship with someone longingly, then people assume bitter about my singleness.

Or I get so much unsolicited advice about how to find my husband.
Or the Christianese platitudes about how we all have our season and that my husband is coming. How do you know, have you met him??
Or the questions that always come up–how are you still single? Why are you still single?
Or the comments like–when you’re married, you’ll wish you were single.
Or the always crappy saying that if I just loved myself more, someone else would be able to love me, too.
Or the but “you’re so pretty” and “you cook so well.”
Or the “take this time to work on yourself.”
Or “have you thought about understanding why you’re still single?”
Or being told that being married isn’t all that great and also that it’s the greatest thing ever.
Or the… “if you lost weight, cut your hair, grew out your hair, wore more makeup, wore less makeup, change your shoes, wear different clothes, etc.”
Or the “I wish you’d meet someone.” Yeah, me too.
Or when people ask what I’ll do when they’re not around to help. Probably just die.
Or the “do you even go on dates?” “Put yourself out there?” “What about…” Has anyone precisely figured out where out there is?
I could list things out for days. Maybe even weeks.

This is why I keep a secret board on Pinterest. It allows me to feel all my feelings–good, bad, ugly, unkind, sad, unsure, insecure, content–safely tucked away for just me.

I’ve been single the majority of my adult life–that’s 30(ish) years of adult singleness. I have also wanted to be married the majority of my adult life–that’s 30(ish) years of adult singleness. There’s a good chance that I’ve processed through every suggestion above, at least 37 times. And have plenty more of my own, too.Image may contain: text that says 'you are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously sophia bush'

Offering hope to people and also allowing people to sit in the reality of what might be is something that has to be navigated with empathy and compassion. The truth is that it just isn’t going to happen for everyone, and we need (that’s a strong word #sorrynotsorry) to stop telling people it will. Especially when we tell them it will happen if _______ (fill in the blank) because unless God has spoken a word to you and confirmed it through something else, you don’t know.

Singleness can be and often is, sacred time well spent learning lots of things about our spirituality, our flaws, our goodnesses, and about other people. It’s respectable. It’s not something for which we need to feel shame. It is just what it is – a part of who we are and our experience on this Earth.

And sometimes it sucks.
And sometimes it’s great.
And sometimes we have secret boards on Pinterest to deal with it.

It’s tough for single people… lemme change that…it’s tough for ME to open myself up about a topic that is so tender. When I do, and it’s met with all the things (like those above) that won’t allow me to feel what I feel, it doesn’t give me permission to explore my own emotions, and that’s not okay.

One of my favorite things to say is that sometimes we just need to sit with our people in the dark. We don’t need to force them through it, or false hope them out of it, or quickly encourage them to the other side of it – there’s a time and a place for that, for sure. However, sometimes we’re just called to sit with them.

If you’re single and struggling in this season right now, I hate it with you. I still believe in fairytales, and I believe many of us will experience our own kind of fairytale. Yet, at this moment, I hope you give yourself permission to explore everything you’re feeling. I hope you remember that you won’t stay in that place; you’ve been there before, and every time you’ve gotten to the other side of it – I believe you’ll do that again.

Trauma Does Weird Things To Us – July 5, 2020

I don’t often dream, at least not that I remember anyway. I hardly ever have nightmares. The last several nights, I’ve been awakened by one set of nightmares or another. Nothing really tied together, or to anything really—just horrible things robbing me from sleep.

A few nights ago, I’d fallen into a sound sleep around 12:30, after wrestling down another nightmare. However, by 1:30, I was wide awake, jumping out of bed and onto my floor, crawling to the other side of my room, and lying next to the bed with my phone.

Five loud pops rang out, and with my bed right next to a first-floor window, I was desperate to find shelter in the dark. All fell silent. No sirens. No police lights. Maybe I imagined it? Another nightmare?

From what I learned the next morning, the “pops” were not imagined – it was someone setting off mortars, illegally, in the amphitheater behind my apartments. Usually, easy enough to distinguish the difference between fireworks and gunshots, but maybe not from a deep sleep state. 😉

Trauma does weird things to us. It changes us. It forces us to remain in a state of readiness, alertness. It’s hard to relax and breathe when we’re always waiting for the next thing to happen. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel safe in my home – especially not as a single woman living alone. I’m sure that’s why I’ve struggled to set boundaries around who lives here and for how long; the alternative is that I’m all alone, and that just feels really scary still. Interestingly, I don’t find the same fear anywhere else – just my own home.

And that’s how trauma jacks us all up. It takes the spaces that are supposed to be safe and turns them on their heads. So, we run. We find other things that give us a sense of control and safety. Some of us look for that in a bottle of pills or a bottle of drink. Maybe we eat too much, shop too much, gamble too much. Perhaps we work too much or try to control the people on our teams. Maybe we work hard to avoid people, thus avoiding conversation, thus avoiding dealing with “it”. Image may contain: text that says 'TRAUMA CREATES CHANGE YOU DON'T CHOOSE. HEALING CREATES CHANGE YOU DO CHOOSE. MICHELE ROSENTHAL'

It’s normal for us to want to look for ways and things that will soothe that which is hurt, broken, and plain scary as hell inside us. However, the day will eventually come, if we’re working toward health, that we learn that none of the coping mechanisms we’ve been trying really work.

Friends, actively seeking healthy coping strategies is essential. Trauma happens, and it’s terrible, and it sucks. Acknowledging that is important, and it’s part of the process – and then it’s up to us to make a choice to move toward health. I imagine that will look different for each of us.

For me, it has really been an inward journey, even writing this piece has offered some revelations I didn’t fully understand until it was written out. My most significant unhealthy coping mechanism is isolation. Oddly, it’s also one that I can turn to in health, but understanding the motivation for my isolation and knowing the right balance is critical. Prayer, mediation, being in nature, sitting near the water, appreciating creation, listening to music, driving down lonely roads, writing, and cooking are all ways I manage and cope with trauma.

Having safe people with whom we can freely talk and feel secure in our conversation is another healthy strategy. It might be someone we pay, a small group, a support meeting, or a partner, sibling, trusted friend. This has probably been my hardest to hurdle. And it might be yours, too. I understand. Asking someone to hold it all seems impossible. We don’t even want to hold it and handing it to someone else to hold it seems – mean. It’s crucial, though. It has to be part of the process.

When memories kick up, and they will, we have to actively use our senses to look, smell, touch, feel, and listen — we’re not there at that time, we’re here at this time. The memories are going to come, and triggers are going to happen – and eventually, they will lessen. In the meantime, we pray, find our safe person, pull ourselves out with healthy strategies we’ve put in place. It will get easier. It will.

If you’ve gotten this far, then I’m going to assume you either really like me and want to know more about me, or you’re ready to face your trauma head-on and start working toward your own health. I mean, I guess it could also be because this is a super light read for a Sunday morning.😉

No matter the reason, my friend, I’m glad we could walk this bit of the journey together. I feel as if I’ve learned some things about myself, and I hope that you’ve found some freedom to make moves toward dealing with the trauma in your life. If I can help, I will. There are a variety of resources available for us, and I hope we’re all actively looking for ways to be our better selves.

You are wonderfully made! – June 30, 2020

Many years ago, I lost a substantial amount of weight and then just kinda settled into my current weight, within 10-15 pounds.

I’m still overweight.
I still wear plus-sized clothes.
I still struggle sometimes to accept my *gross* arms and *gross* legs.

I have the potential to be a lifelong yo-yo dieter; I’m a recovering perfectionist and a high achiever. There was a season in which I spent my days bent over the toilet, throwing up everything that I’d eaten because I wanted to be like other girls.

But…

I’m not like other girls. And neither are you.
I’m not defined by my weight. And neither are you.
I work on being healthy, which may or may not lead to weight loss. And I hope you are working on that, too.

Image may contain: text that says 'you WERE NOT PLACED ON THiS EARTH TO try and shrink your BODY-UNTI UNTIL YOU DIE. DE UNFOLDI GLOVELY.COM COM GL'

As a natural caretaker and nurturer, I had to learn to turn some of that caretaking inward on my own heart, spirit, and body. I learned that taking care of me didn’t mean living up to the standards society set for me, or what my family said, or even my friends.

Taking care of me means feeling good, being healthy (body, spirit, mind), and finding some joy every day. End of sentence. None of that says that I have to look a certain way or weigh a specific number.

Some of us will struggle with the sight of ourselves for our entire lifetime. I hope I don’t. And I really hope you don’t either. I don’t want any of us to reach the end of our journey on Earth and wish we’d just loved ourselves exactly how we were created. I don’t want any of us to wish we’d not been so hard on ourselves to achieve something that really didn’t matter in the big scheme of things.

I do hope that each of us comes to a place of health – whatever that means for you and your own body – and happiness. I hope we all learn to value who we see in the mirror regardless of the number on the scale. I hope we all find people who will cheer us on when we’re feeling particularly funkalicious. I hope we all come to know how loved we are, just as we are. I hope we all remember that our Creator didn’t make a mistake with us. We have been wonderfully made, friends.

It’s all just hard – June 27, 2020

If you’re anything like me, you’re tired. And you’re probably a good bit sad, too. The entire everything in the country has turned upside down. Maybe, like me, not only is the country messy, but your life is messy. Mine, too. I’m tired. And I’m sad.

I’m not gonna lie—I was a little mad at myself for not “getting it together” all the times I thought I should. Right? Like, c’mon, man… you’re ALIVE! Your family is alive! you’re able to work. You’ve been able to visit people and places. Every corner I turned offered a blessing.

And still.

I’d lie in bed at night and cry. Sad. Broken. Hurt.

All the ways I’ve been desperate to cope with pain — cooking for no one, working too much, driving around to absolutely nowhere — help at the moment, and then at night I have to be alone, with nothing to distract me and think about all the things in my heart… in my head.

I’m a crap mom.
I’ll never be a good wife. Or a girlfriend. Or date.
I’m a terrible friend.

I think about how I miss my granddaughters and my friends. I miss my kid.

I think about the friends I have that I didn’t know were racist, and now it’s so evident, I have to make hard choices. I’m thinking about how everything has turned into a political arm wrestle—where we stand on face masks; whether or not we believe the science of a virus; systemic racism; and, well, everything.

It’s all just hard.

Today I gave myself some grace—lots of it. I thought about all the things above, and all the things I hold a bit closer, and just allowed myself to feel it all. I allowed myself to feel the pain of it, to acknowledge that it hurt and that it wasn’t easy. I reminded myself that the enemy was real and his tactics were legit. I reminded myself that we’re still very much in the middle of more than one crisis. I gave myself the grace to not have the answers today. And probably not tomorrow either.

Maybe you’re there, too, friend. Feeling all the everything and a little bit mad at yourself for not just getting over it.
Maybe the point isn’t to get over it.
Maybe the whole point is to go through it.
Maybe the point is to allow ourselves to see truths, to miss things, to learn new things.
Maybe the whole point is to realize that this is precisely what we needed.
Maybe we needed to confront the things we’ve not really had the bandwidth to sit in because everything was moving too fast.
Maybe we are learning how to confront things we’ve been willfully denying or pleasantly giving a blind-eye to keep the peace.
Maybe God is allowing us to walk in this time and space for a purpose.
Maybe this is His attempt to grab our attention in a way that we’ve historically shut out or down.
Maybe He is keeping us here until we’re one with Him.
Maybe we’re in the perfect position to allow our souls to sing how we need Him.
Maybe…

Maybe it’s you. It is definitely me. Friend, beautiful soul, human who is loved well and deeply — this is not a fight you’re in alone. I know, I know, I know that it feels like you’re all alone, I feel that way, too, sometimes. It’s like we know we have friends and people who love us, but this shizz in our head is a bit too heavy for just anyone. I hope and pray that you have a person to help you carry your shizz. If you don’t, find someone, okay? I’ll help. Not one of us can walk through life alone, and we’re facing all sorts of things that are going to make the shizz in our head fuzzy, and messy, and hard.

If not one other person has said it to you today – I’m so so thrilled you’re alive. I’m glad that I know you. You are made for a purpose that only YOU can fill. I am praying for you. The Creator of the world is not done doing His work in you. This battle is His, and you will see victory! Keep feeling, growing, learning, leaning in, searching, seeking, hoping, and, of course, keep loving well.

Image may contain: text that says 'writing is wringing out your heart and rearranging its spilled blood into words and verses vic'

Being his momma…

A few months ago I joined a Facebook group for momma’s who have addict children. There are over 34,000 of us in that group. I previously wrote about how when I initially found the group, it was an odd comfort for this weary momma. Then it just became too hard.

  • Daily – mommas are reporting dead children.
  • Daily – mommas are telling about how their AD or AS had x amount of days sober and then relapsed.
  • Daily – kiddos are found in the street, unrecognizable, left to “hit rock bottom”.

There aren’t a lot of celebrations in that group. And it’s hard. I never intended to find a voice for myself among the other mommas to addicts or to people in my own life about how to love us well, but here I am – feeling the urge to help us all learn how to navigate this space together.

I’ll admit – it’s totally selfish. I’m 100% undone with life and, literally, can’t keep going this way. In the last few years, I’ve thought about ending my life more times than I care for anyone to really know. Not because I actually want to die, though. Because I have no desire to die. The madness that has become my life, though… I want *that* to stop. And I don’t know how to make that happen.

Before anyone freaks out or welfare checks me – I’m not going to hurt myself. I promise. I super-duper promise. I’m just hoping to help people understand the gravity of the issue some of these mommas are facing, and I know because I’m facing it too.

I’ve learned over the years to set aside the shame the enemy tried to use to label me. He’s labeled me in every way that wasn’t true, and I’ve shed every bit of it and have chosen instead to live transparently, authentically, and with brutal honesty about my struggles, successes, and areas in which work still needs to happen.

Except this area. Except this shame label. Except the one label that I’ve only shed in baby steps. Admitting that I’m the momma to an addict wasn’t hard, not really. Once he was public with it, then I was too… mostly. It’s still his story to tell, but I’m recognizing that I have a story in all of this, too. However, in my efforts as his momma to fiercely protect him, what people think about him, and manage how he’s perceived by anyone else, it’s caused me to become completely isolated. An island. All alone. And certainly it’s left me unable to share my own story.

Just how the enemy wants me.

Friends and family remind me that I disappoint them when I’m not willing to follow through on plans because I’m “dealing with things at home” or my inability to make plans for the future because I don’t know what my life will look like then or the unsolicited advice to do it this way, that way, or any other way than the way I’m doing it.

Tough love isn’t the way.

Compassionate care isn’t the way.

Rehabilitation isn’t the way.

Hitting rock bottom isn’t the way.

Jail, felonies, fines isn’t the way.

Losing family isn’t the way.

All of us mommas, struggling to help our kiddos, have overthought each and every way. Every scenario played out in full color and in full color in our minds, dreams, and hearts every day.

We know that we’re disappointing you by not doing it your way. We know that we’re failing in most areas of our life. We know that we need to do something, but finding that something isn’t easy. We simply don’t think the same way or even the same things that “normie” mommas think.

Last night, lying in bed, I thought about how I would react if my son’s girlfriend called me to tell me he’d been shot. How would I react? Cry? Scream? Run to him? Bury myself in work?

At least once a month, but usually more, I think about what would happen if I got home and found him dead – either self-inflicted or overdosed.

I have a speech prepared for his daughters, in case he dies and I need to tell them. I have one prepared for my mom too. And my dad. And my whole family and friend group. And for my boss.

These are only some of the thoughts that plague my mind and the mind of thousands of other mommas every day.

Each one of the kiddos who finds their way out of the pit of addiction finds it their own way, in their own time, and only when they’re complete ready to do it. There is no secret or magic formula.

Each one of the mommas who finds her way out of the cycle of addiction with her kiddo finds it her own way, in her own time, and when she’s completely ready to do it. There is no secret or magic formula.

We know that your intent isn’t to shame us or make us feel bad, not usually anyway… And if doing life with us is too hard, we get it. Really, we totally get it. Doing life with ourselves is hard.

But if you do choose to do life with us, thank you. We need you.

We need you to listen without judgement, to not be a sideline commentator, or just to love us right where we are at that moment.

We need your encouragement.

We need you to know that sometimes we will follow your advice, but sometimes we won’t.

We need you to know that we have very little peace in our hearts and minds.

We need you to know that our heads feel chaotic and swimmy.

We need you to know that sometimes we just need to focus on other stuff; work, projects, you.

We need you to know that we don’t usually want to talk about it, but if we need to talk about it, that we have safety with you.

We need you to know that whatever decisions we make have been made with so much thought, consideration, and every pro and con in-between listed out ahead of time.

We need you to know that we’re doing the very best we can.

We need to know you’re praying for us and lifting us up to God because most of us feel completely forgotten and left on our own.

We need to know that you’re consistently carrying our kiddos, their addictions, and their health to the feet of Jesus and that you’re on our team when we’re crying out to God to save our kiddo.

It’s a big ask. A lot to put on you. We know. Believe me, we know. It’s part of the reason we slink into the darkness. Loving us isn’t easy. We’ve become professionals at learning how to keep others at arm-length’s distance all the time. We know the complications of loving us. We struggle to love us, too.

Maybe this is a manifesto of sorts… a public statement about being an addict’s momma. A declaration, kinda.

This is us.

His lovingkindne… what?

The enemy will push and push and push. The only hope the enemy has is to completely shatter us. The single way he can fully consume us is to keep coming for us and hope that we forget to Whom we belong. So often, we’re just dangling on the edges, and it’s only for the mercy of Christ and the Holy Spirit inside of us that we’re able to take a step back into Him; our true Savior. 

This week, the EMS saved my kiddo. I know we can go round and round about whether or not the emergency services should be “wasted” on saving people with substance abuse issues, but I will forever be grateful.

I got the call that any momma to an addict dreads receiving. “Is this so & so’s mom?” “Yes. Who is this?” “The fire department. Your son is unresponsive. Are there any medical issues we need to know about?” “He’s an addict.” “What’s his normal consumption so we know how to treat it?” “Xanax.”

Just like that. He’s swept off to the hospital. I leave my job to sit with him. I will always leave to sit with him. Not every momma chooses the path I’ve chosen, but we all have to choose what’s right for us. That’s something I’ve learned in this journey. All our paths look a bit different, and oddly similar still.

We had three solid good weeks. That’s how it always goes. Three good weeks. A trigger for him. One or two bad days. Then all the shame, apologies, regret. Did I mention shame? So much shame. Three good weeks. One or two bad days. Wash, rinse, repeat. I can almost set my clock to it.

Why is this my life, God? I did what You asked. I broke generational curses. I came to You in faith over and over again. I chose obedience when it would be so easy not to. Every day I surrender to You. He’s chosen You, God. He works hard, provides for his kiddos, doesn’t steal, pays his bills. Why is this his life, God?

This disease is all-consuming and has been for the last 9 years of our life, in one way or another. I rage against the heavens for him. For me. God knows this prayer from me better than He knows any other. I don’t have to beg God to hear me, He already does, yet I feel unheard. Alone. And struggling to find a way to ask Him one more time to save my family.

And then, simple as a warm Texas breeze, His love comes over me in waves. Psalm 118 says that He is good, and He endures forever. In our darkness, we can call out to Him. In our darkness, He will answer us.

Friends, we all have various struggles, challenges, and obstacles in our families. Mine is not anything that can’t be overcome and yours isn’t either. Trust me, I know how you’re feeling when it feels like we’re at the end. Not one more moment. I’m almost ashamed of my prayers the other day because of my total undoneness.

The enemy will push and push and push. The only hope the enemy has is to completely shatter us. The single way he can fully consume us is to keep coming for us and hope that we forget to Whom we belong. So often, we’re just dangling on the edges, and it’s only for the mercy of Christ and the Holy Spirit inside of us that we’re able to take a step back into Him; our true Savior.

He is good. His lovingkindness endures forever. Keep going. Please, don’t give up. I don’t know why this is your life or mine. I do know that God is in it with us, though. I know that in every instance when I think I can’t go on for one more minute, I can call out to Him and immediately feel His strength rise up inside my spirit.

We will not die, but we will live and declare the works of the Lord through all of it. We will come to see His hand in places we weren’t fully able to see until we moved through this thing. Our perseverance is creating something in us that we will use to reach others for the sake of the Kingdom. Our persistence to keep going forward will be rewarded when we’re able to walk with another soul through a similar journey with all the things we’ve learned in ours. Please, don’t give up. We need you.

You’re so wildly loved. You are not unseen, even if you feel that way sometimes. You are being heard all the way in the throne room of heaven because Christ is right with you through all of the stuff and things and stuffy things. Press on, my friends. I’m right here with you.

Psalm 118
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness endures forever.

5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
The Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can [mere] man do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side, He is among those who help me;
Therefore I will look [in triumph] on those who hate me.

13 You [my enemy] pushed me violently so that I was falling,
But the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.

17 I will not die, but live,
And declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord.
18 The Lord has disciplined me severely,
But He has not given me over to death.

21 I will give thanks to You, for You have heard and answered me;
And You have become my salvation [my Rescuer, my Savior].

28 You are my God, and I give thanks to You;
[You are] my God, I extol You.
29 O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness endures forever.

 

Keep Going…

The tension I feel between God and me sometimes is palpable. Then I fall into His theoretical lap, mostly ashamed of myself, and allow His love to wash over me. Again. And Again.

I’ve started and stopped this post so many times this week.

What did I want to share? Why did I want to share it? What is the goal or message of the post? Who should read it? I’ve been trying to sort out those questions, as well as formulate words that made sense. I don’t always do either of those things very well. 😉

I want to share about trauma and its aftermath. Unfortunately, my life isn’t short of trauma that I’ve needed to heal and process, but most of that was from my earlier years. For some of it, I was at fault(ish) because of the decisions I was making and the lifestyle I was living. My most recent trauma, though… not my fault.

Last year, on July 3rd, after an incredibly busy day at work – like my busiest one yet – I was finally home, the day before a holiday I already struggle to enjoy, taking a few minutes to relax with my cats on the sofa.

I heard someone come up the steps outside, but didn’t get up… see above sentence. Anyone that might be showing up had a key. No need for me to open the door, though, usually I would.

Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop.

I drop to the floor, footsteps running away, cars speeding off, my phone ringing.

My neighbor. Frantic. What was that? Are you okay? What happened?

I don’t know.

I call my kiddo. Where are you? Someone just shot up my apartment.

He’s safe. I call 911.

I won’t revisit the whole event; I’ve already shared about it. But I will say that a year later, I still freak out when I hear someone/something outside my door. That’s probably going to happen for a long while.

On July 5th, we were homeless. Unable to stay there. Unable to stay anywhere. Believe it or not, apartments are hesitant to have renters who’ve had their apartment shot up. I found respite from a friend and slept on her futon for several months, while my kiddo was at a slimy, sleazy, disgusting motel with hookers and drug dealers and addicts. Exactly where he didn’t need to be.

In my previous post about all of this, I talked about being mad at God. And I was. And I got over it. And then I got mad again. And then I got over it. And the cycle just kept going.

The truth is that mad might not be the right emotion. The truth is that a year later when I try to name the emotion, I still can’t. The truth is that I’m still struggling to understand everything. A year later I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. It’s too complex to find a good word to explain it… trying to unwrap all of these emotions is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but I’m committed to doing it.

The tension I feel between God and me sometimes is palpable. Then I fall into His theoretical lap, mostly ashamed of myself, and allow His love to wash over me. Again. And Again.

Aftermath of trauma, whatever that is for each of us, is going to look different. In so many ways, I’m grateful to the point of spontaneous tears when I think about how I normally would’ve stood at the door and how He protected me. I’m also frustrated to the point of spontaneous tears that my life will never be normal again. It will regain the appearance of normal, mostly, as it has with other traumas, but it’ll never be quite the same. No matter what. And I think I’m a little bitter about it. Maybe a lot.

I’m frustrated that I can’t seem to find safety or comfort, even though I’m in a whole new physical place. When I left the other apartment, my only home in TX, I left most of my big things because I needed to go quickly. So I’m sitting on furniture that isn’t mine, and it isn’t comfortable. I have boxes still unpacked, unheard of for me, because I have this weird aversion to feeling settled now. I’ve thought of every reason to leave TX all together. I’ve kept most people at arm’s length for fear of getting too close and then having to leave suddenly.

This aftermath is not okay. I’m struggling to find my way through it. But I am committed to the process. Dear friends, I have no idea what your struggle is today or what you’re processing through, but I’m here to encourage you to keep working it. Keep facing it, day after day. Trying to numb it or run from it isn’t going to do anything but prolong the healing that needs to happen.

When you’re frustrated, call someone you trust. Seek care for your mental health. Find a workout plan that works for you. Most of all cling to God through the process. I know how it feels to be angry with Him. I know what it feels like to feel as if He’s let us go. I know what it feels like to lose all hope. Living for Him, we were never promised struggle free or pain free lives. We have sin and evil in this world of epic proportions. We can’t escape it. We’re not untouchable simply because we serve the Almighty. God doesn’t have to keep me physically safe to prove He loves me – He proved His love for me when His Son was beaten, hanged, and murdered on a cross for me.

John 16:33 (AMP) I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

Let’s make strides toward His perfect peace. Let’s be courageous and remember that He is always in control. Let’s walk with confidence and joy – each day claiming victory in and through Him. Let’s remind each other that sometimes it sucks and it’s really hard and also that He is always for us and He is always there. He never leaves our sides, and when we’re ready to climb back into His lap for His extravagant love to be poured out over us, He’s there – in the waiting space.

Being in community…

By now, we all know that community is really important to me. When I’m not in community with other people, I’m left to my own devices and the enemy uses that time to whittle away at me. I’m no good in that space.

Sometimes, for me, community might look like face-to-face time, or Facetiming time, phone call time, or online group time. All of the ways we choose to walk with others are good and pulls us out of the isolation easily used to drag us into deep pits. And I’m not talking about my introverted friends who need their time alone to recoup their energy, I’m talking about the isolation chamber we can find ourselves in if we’re easily discarding the importance of community.

I have communities for lots of things; cooking, bible study, single friends, Christians, church, work, writing, etc… each of those spaces are important to me and I’m grateful to learn from others and be able to pour into others too.

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With that said, I joined a community last week with a bit of reluctance, a lot of sadness, and a good dollop of anger. The Addict’s Mom community. It’s a nationwide group with chapters in each state. I’ve not spoken a word yet because I’ve been completely broken  reading through the posts of over 34,000 moms who are walking this walk too. Oddly, as broken as I’ve felt over it, I also finally feel as if I’ve found my people. My group of mommas.

I have always appreciated the advice my friends have given, but I’ve only been able to truly grasps bits of it to fit into the reality of life in our house. The mommas pouring into me haven’t had to walk into their kiddos rooms to feel whether the body was warm or cold, listening for shallow breaths. Most of them haven’t wondered if they’d walk into the home to see a kiddo dead from self-inflicted harm or happy. Most of them haven’t had their kiddo weep into their laps when friend after friend dies from overdoses of heroine, fentanyl, or other benzos and opioids. Most haven’t wondered where their kiddo is sleeping at night because they can’t find them or worse yet they have been found in a sordid state. Most haven’t sat up for days at a time, with buckets of self-blame, wondering where they went so wrong to create a kiddo with so much damage. I’m not saying my walk is harder, I am saying my walk is different, though.

This community of mommas – they get it. In part, I’m grateful for my own addict as I know some of these mommas have it a lot harder than we do. My addict hasn’t stolen from me. He hasn’t gone missing for weeks or months at a time. He hasn’t been to jail for longer than a day. He’s only had one stint in rehab, and not 15, 20, or more. I’m one of the lucky ones.

As I find my footing in this new space, I realize that some of my readers will find comfort in the words I choose to share and some may be triggered. My hope is that we find community. My hope is that if you’re walking down this road, too, we will come to know how we’re not alone. My hope is that God will continue to hear the cries from every momma’s heart that’s breaking for her kiddos. My hope is that we each find the strength to walk through this life with compassion and empathy for others, a growing desire to pour into our community, and a willingness to continue doing the hard work we have in front of us.

You, sweet momma, are not alone. This isn’t a club that any of us asked to be in, but here we are. Let’s walk this out, shall we?

Share the song already…

None of us fully know what others are facing day to day or what’s happening in another person’s heart. Encouragement is never wasted.

Sometimes a friend will reach into your inbox to say words that affirm who we are and the path we’re walking. She’ll share a song that reminds her of you.

She told me that hearing this song that talks about desiring deep, connecting relationships reminds her of me. It’s how she sees me. And it’s what she likes about me. She called me courageous…

… little did she know that I sobbed into my hands last night calling myself stupid. Little did she know that just last night I was doubting all the ways my heart has loved and cared for others; with its deep desires, its longing for something real to grab onto, and the need to skip over all the nonsense and jump right into the deep, dark end with another soul.

Stupid for loving hard, for being so vulnerable, and for allowing the opportunity to be broken happen over and over again. Punishing myself for not learning lessons, for continuing to seek the things a person hides beneath, and to tear down walls to create healthier people even if it means pieces of me are lost in the process. Stupid for desiring the deep, connecting relationships that come with an overload of risk.

I asked a friend once why God would allow my heart to be so fragile that it stays in a continued place of brokenness – and this is why. Because God gave me the desire to love others so profoundly and with the sincerity to see the underbelly and not run away or be afraid. Because of these experiences, God uses my readiness to share words to bring hope to others. He’s created me so that in my willingness to be open and transparent, others can find their own opportunities to be brave. He’s made it so that other people can see something He’s placed inside of me and find their own ways to be vulnerable and courageous.

God will use each one of us to bring glory to the Kingdom. Our obedience to tread into the space He calls us is up to us. We get to make the decision to walk the walk He has for us, or not. Sometimes the enemy will have us questioning everything and everyone – doubting who we are and to Whom we belong. The enemy would rather have us imprisoning ourselves for the perceived weaknesses we have rather than stepping into those soft spaces of who we are created to be with bravery and courage.

Last night, the enemy tried his trickery… and it worked – a little bit. In true form, though, my Daddy God wasn’t going to let the voice of the enemy destroy His spirit in me and He directed His daughter to speak His words over me, to refresh my soul, and fill my tank. Obedience is critical when it comes to Kingdom work.

When you see something in someone, speak it out.

When you notice the bravery on that momma in the store, speak it out.

When you see that daddy doing his best at the park with his daughter, speak it out.

When you see your coworker accomplish something she didn’t think she could do, speak it out.

When you see that person you’re not even sure you like very much take a step in humility, speak it out.

When the Lord prompts you to speak into someone else, do it.

None of us fully know what others are facing day to day or what’s happening in another person’s heart. Encouragement is never wasted. Remind someone about how their gifting is making an impact in the Kingdom because the enemy is always on the prowl to take us down! Speak some meaningful truths to someone this week. Tell them the things you like about them and the things that you see God doing through them.

The song: https://youtu.be/1Wk8ZRgXQnY