Do I Dare to Hope?

Finally. I can speak freely. The legal action is settled.

I am weary from the emotional turmoil. I am not someone who feels fear very often but this time, I was afraid. Really afraid.

It was one year ago this past week when I began to realize that if I wanted to become healthy emotionally, I had to make a stand. And since making that stand, life has felt as if it has been ripping me apart.

I guess that is what divorce is. The ripping apart of a bond that was designed to last for life. I don’t recommend it except for in extreme cases…it is terrible.

As another hurdle has been overcome, do I dare to hope that it is the last one? Sometimes I think that I am the “eternal optimist,” the unrealistic person who always believes that deep down people are good and will do the right thing…and even though I’ve learned that isn’t always true, I continue to look for the good.

What is wrong with me?! Lol

Seriously though, I know that we are all born with a tendency to sin, but I also think that we all have to have something good in us! I don’t believe that God created us to be bad…He created us to commune with Him.

So I am going to continue to hope and look for the good. I know that I have to be realistic, but I really don’t want to dwell on the ugliness that hovers around life.

I want to live a life that holds fast to goodness, hope, and love.

The Best Gift

The best gift that I have given myself throughout the last 14 months is therapy.

When I struggled to know what to do next, I could see my counselor and she would guide me into figuring out what was best for me.

The only directives that I remember her giving me were 1) go get tested for every STD under the sun–BLECH! That was terrible to consider!, 2) find 2-3 close friends who can walk this out with you, and 3) find a support group of women who are walking similar paths that will understand where you are coming from emotionally. That was just on day 1.

Side Note-{Shout-out to pastors! A pastor friend gave me the same exact first 2 instructions as well. (Pastors-GO get the latest training so that you are ready to help people in crisis…in the beginning, when I didn’t have all the information and was incredibly overwhelmed, the very first person I wanted advice from was my pastor. I immediately wanted to know how to walk this out as a Christian woman. I did not want to mess this up.)}

Anyway, consistent counseling has helped me figure out my path forward, it has helped me see other perspectives, and it has provided me with the safest of places to come and grow.

Yes. I have walked to hell and back. Yes. I have been dealt a raw deal. Yes. What I’ve experienced stinks. But I needed to learn to look at all of that and grow from it so that I didn’t live as a bruised and battered woman or as a bitter and angry woman or as a woman destined to repeat the same patterns.

Today, I am here to tell you that it has been STINKIN’ HARD!! But oh, so very worth it!

Of course, I continue to need a lot of work but I want you to know that the most wonderful gift you can give yourself is being open enough to to become your best self…and for me that was my counselor who encouraged me to consider more than just my one-sided perspective but also learn to TRUST MYSELF.

Parenting Through Trauma

When my home got turned upside down, my thoughts regarding my kids went something like this, “Please God, let me walk this out well for my children. Please don’t let me fail them now. Please, please, please help me model how to lean on You.”

And then BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! Literally every single week for months, there was a new discovery or a new event that caused significant trauma and grief. I honestly did not know how I was going to make it through all that occurred from last February until August. The blows were constantly coming. And they weren’t just directed at me. They were hitting my kids as well.

My children were exposed to more information than they should have ever even known existed.

In those moments of crisis, rather than try to cover up and do damage control, I decided that we were going to hit it head on and talk about it. I believe STRONGLY that when overwhelmed imaginations are left to come up with their own ideas, things get out of control really fast. And partial truths do nothing but breed distrust.

A pastor friend once told me that preparation is better than protection. It was already too late to protect my babies. It was time to have difficult conversations and to show them that we were going to be there for one another throughout this entire ordeal.

And that is exactly what we have done and continue to do.

There have been no lies and no evasive comments. If I cannot tell them something, I simply say that I cannot tell them what they want to know.

So what does parenting look like during this time? It looks like giving them room to express their emotions. (It took a little while, but everyone finally grasped that expressing emotions did not mean punching holes in walls or destroying our home.) It looks like allowing them to say bad words. It looks like giving them space to process what was happening. It looks like developing an artistic gift. It looks like hanging out in a bedroom until feeling ready to talk. It looks like working a lot. It looks like playing board games. It looks like hanging out on the sofa together. It looks like increasing the animal population inside of our house. It looks like a beautiful, lovable mess.

I don’t always like every aspect it but I have chosen not to interfere with it. I continue to stand beside them as a constant reminder that I am here. I want them to know that I am their mom and that they are safe with me. They can totally lose their sh** and it will all be okay.

I certainly don’t always walk it out graciously. I have hidden in the garage and cried. I have gone to an “anger management” place and taken a baseball bat to a room full of breakables (only to fall apart sobbing, causing the owner to come in and hold me until I was calm again…that was really awkward). I have disappeared and lain in bed for hours at a time. I have fed them boxed mac and cheese, ramen, and a whole lot of fast food. I have said and continue to say way too many bad words.

But we keep going. and going. and going. It might not be pretty, but it is forward…even on our lowest of days.

Parenting through trauma is not about doing it perfectly. It is about being present and letting them see that you know that what they are walking through is really hard and really painful. And that it is OK to have all of these feelings.

And to my beautiful children, no matter what, I love you and I am not going anywhere.

Trust Yourself

Trust yourself. Trust your body.

The body doesn’t lie.

I have attempted to write this next post what seems like a million times! The words always seem as if they are too many, too explicit, or simply too much for others to handle. So I am going to try and come at this topic from a different direction…we’ll see how it all pours out. This is actually where the rebuilding of Amy began.

Our body is a wonderful, remarkable creation that many of us completely ignore. We have feelings or what I call “knowings” that run deep in our souls; however, many times we are either too busy to connect with them or we don’t even realize that we need to connect with them. We simply accept them and move on. And that works well…for a time.

As the practice of mindfulness has become an active topic of discussion, more and more people are beginning to realize the need to acknowledge what feelings are flowing through our bodies and where they tend to linger. When we take the time to acknowledge them, we can then determine if we need to take action or if we need to simply allow the feelings to move out of our system. As we give ourselves permission to do this, those “knowings” aren’t able to find a place to get stuck and grow into something as unpleasant as unresolved anger or pain or possibly even physical disability.

In my case, my body has pinged seemingly without reason various times throughout my marriage. Because I could never determine the reason for those pings, I chose to ignore them…but my body did not. They were kept inside and caused me great anxiety and significant grief. I hate that I had no idea why those feelings were there. The first time I remember feeling them was way back in 1998. There was such a deep feeling of grief that I finally decided that it must be postpartum depression, although I didn’t have any trouble bonding with my babies and the symptoms didn’t match up. It hit only at times when things seemed to get quiet and still, like at naptime or while sitting in church. I considered it depression but it didn’t really feel like depression; it felt like deep, deep grief.

With the knowledge that I have now, I know that there was a reason for that grief. Throughout the years, time and time again, my physical body told me something was wrong; but because I couldn’t explain it, I chose not to trust my instinct. In my core, underneath my conscious self, my body knew that something was wrong…my head just had no idea. It is so incredibly amazing how the body knows things!!

As much as I cannot stand to admit this, as time went on, the inner conflict of the truth vs. what I promoted as the truth caused me to feel as if a panic attack was always near the surface. I often felt as if I was only one step away from crazy. I guess you could say that I was in denial or that I believed the old saying, “fake it ’til you make it.” I thought that my perspective was wrong and if I just tried hard enough, I would begin to see the good in my marriage.

Proverbs 3:5-8 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

After being in survival mode this past year, I saw this passage of Scripture become real life. I didn’t have time or energy to “lean on my own understanding” (or other people’s understanding for that matter). What I learned is that when it was time to make a decision, I needed to look toward God to lead me away from the ugliness that was in my home. My intellectual self seemed to completely disappear. My walk became very simple. I looked up, I acknowledged the instincts of my heart, and I began to trust God with every.single.step. There was no time for doubt or debating with Him.

Here are my thoughts on this part of my story: I have spent more than a 2 decades being angry at God and wrestling with Him about my situation. When all of it finally blew up, my heart had already come to a place of acceptance. I knew that God had me in His hands. I knew that my responsibility in life was to trust Him to lead me in walking away.

I began to trust that my heart’s instinct would line up with God’s Word. I didn’t have the energy to go searching for answers…I had to trust that the Scriptures I had studied over the years would carry me through. Without consciously being aware of my actions, I kept expecting God to show up when I needed Him and He did. And since trouble seems to keep following me, He continues to show up and provide.

Have I walked all of this out with beauty and grace? Ummm, no. I have totally lost my sh** on more than one occasion. And the “f” word has become my favorite thing to say. (Truthfully, I find it the most accurate way to express my frustrations…go ahead and shake your head at me. This just is what it is.)

When your instincts and Scripture begin to line up, you know without a doubt that it is God showing you what to do.

Thank goodness!

I am not brave or strong…

I am not brave or strong…I have simply chosen to trust that God has put people in place who can help lead me through the crazy. This is my season of transition and I have needed a lot of help.

The reaction to this blog has left me reeling with a lot of thoughts. I honestly did not believe that anyone except my closest friends would read it; the private emails and messages have been a shock. In the beginning, I had no idea what I would even say on here, let alone know that people would be reaching out and sharing their stories with me!

The reality in my life at this moment is that I continue to struggle to reconcile all of this mayhem. In fact, when I finalized my post about the emotional abuse, my mind got stuck (like a broken record) on something Code Red had done. I absolutely couldn’t figure out how to get it out of my brain. It seemed that each time it made another round, my panic grew. I could not get away from it and it took me right into a panicky “I am not in control” feeling.

Thankfully, I have a wonderful therapist who knows quite a bit about trauma therapy (by the way, I thought trauma therapy was only for people who had experienced something really, really, really badwho knew?!). After 1 session with her, the thought was still in my head but not quite as overpowering. After a 2nd session, it was completely gone.

(You guys, therapy works. Do not underestimate it!! Just do your best to be open and willing to change your way of thinking…sometimes, the way we think about things is wrong. And that is OK. It really isn’t as painful as you might think to learn that you were wrong.)

Although it is hard sometimes, day after day, I keep reminding myself that God is my comforter…I know that He is. I know that. He totally is.

Sometimes, usually around 9:30 at night, when things are relatively quiet, I just want someone to sit with me. Emotions can be so frustrating.

And you know, the whole God is my comforter knowledge doesn’t really connect with my heart’s desire. But that’s OK. I know Truth and I really do know, deep in my inner being, that God is my comforter, even when I feel lonely.

Eventually, the past 26 years will simply be a story in my past. But for now, I am still just walking forward.

Told y’all I wasn’t brave or strong…I’m just woman heading toward something new!