Laughter, a safe place, and a tear

His face lit up with laughter, his eyes dancing as he eagerly tried to climb up and bring the story closer and closer to himself.

A gentle reminder from the librarian and he was down again, at least, until the next page when he sprung back to life, eager and excited by the room buzzing around him.

I’m not sure if anyone noticed me, standing off to the side, wound tighter than a spring, ready  to intervene. I’m fairly certain no one noticed as I wiped a stray tear or two away when my little one jumped up and enthusiastically clapped his hands a full measure behind the rest of the group during songs.

To the few who noticed me, I probably appeared half mom, half helicopter, buzzing around until I took our youngest back out to the  fish tank which has left his imagination abuzz and let my husband step in to watch our oldest who was enjoying story time with the passion he so often brings to  things . .  . on good days.

You see, while the hovering was noticeable there was so much that wasn’t.  The sensory issues we’ve fought for 2 years to have recognized because we “coped” better than others that give him his high energy but also contribute to ground shaking meltdowns. Our son’s lack of boundaries that allows him to open  up to strangers as well as family. The communication delays that can leave him struggling to follow the fast moving rhythms of a group.

I shed a tear that busy, messy Saturday because after months of work we had a normal family outing. My boys  joined in with the group games and songs, they came home and told their grandparents about their grand adventures,and went to bed with smiles on their faces.

The library has become a safe space. When your child has an invisible condition, the safety, the ability to sit and watch your child’s, and in some cases your own, world expand even slightly is such a monumental victory wrapped up in such an inconsequential package to  the unknowing eye, that you  want to shout it  from the rooftops.

Yet, it still begs the question,how many in those scenarios, see the child who has overcome and how many see a child taking away from their experience. How do  we change

words

I’ve always loved words.

As a child, my parents used to give my word games to keep me occupied. I’d always try and follow through but, inevitably, I would get lost within the stories that would come pouring out of my imagination, straining to run once they  were given the chance to break free. I suppose, in some aspects, my parents were more successful in their attempts.

Later on I found my escape in words. Whether streaming on a page, flowing through lyrics, or being brought to life through actors in scenes, words continued to touch and shape my inner world and filling it to the brim with colours and sights  fantastical. Ironically, my own words started to grow silent as life and circumstance taught me the safety in silence. Honestly, who was I too care, it was loud enough in my head without increasing it through my own voice.

Isn’t it true, as we grow older we all learn how violent words can be to the soul when handled maliciously or without  care? Words, once a friend, became a foe, and my spirit shrank as people used their words to  attack my faith, my abilities, and my soul until I could no longer tell if there was anything left of myself left to salvage or the validity of trying to salvage in the first place.

It’s funny the effect of words.

Even now as I do attempt to salvage and rebuild, grabbing a scrap of colour from here, some joy from there, and clumsily trying to wrap it in hope I recognize my own inadequacy for the task. After all, I didn’t build myself, I am created and I need the creator to restore what was broken.

 

 

Writing is a path to the soul, the innermost thoughts and, as an introvert, it has often been my friend. The chance to see the words flow out through my hands rather than stumble and trip out of a red tinged face while my social awkwardness betrays me once again.

But writing, at least pre-publishing, doesn’t give much grace or space to  hide behind as you examine the heart  and soul of who you are and for these last few years, there’s just been too much pain to let the words run loose out my finger tips and into the world to been seen and shared. It’s  too  exposing, too much vulnerability to a world that often seems harsh.

So I haven’t written, I let myself curl in and hide in an attempt to heal as dream after dream has continued to die before my eyes leaving me picking up the pieces only to watch new dreams shatter.

I’m still watching my dreams shatter, dreams that once seemed so good and hope filled now in a million pieces.

I’ve done myself  a disservice though because writing gives a voice when mine’s been taken away. What I thought was protective was actually silencing. Where I thought I was curling in to heal. I’ve actually been caging in behind walls of my own devising.

So I write.

Not with any elegance or theme but to give a voice where none has been allowed to sing and hopefully find my song once again

So, I fell off the side of the earth and landed in Wonderland . . . or is it Neverland? These days I’m not quite sure.

I used to write to explore a world I was anchored in. I was a student who was passionate about academics. I was a single woman striking out. Then I got married. New world, less writing.

To find myself, I also needed to learn the relationship and that left less time for writing out my thoughts.

Then I stopped writing. Did you notice?

I did.

Here’s the thing.

I’ve lost my anchor.

I don’t know who I am anymore because my life has done a 180.

I’m a stay at home mama now and I have no clue what that means but I’m willing to explore it. Eager, maybe, amid the fear.

A wise woman I know called motherhood “kingdom work” and it is, but it’s the most terrifying call I could have been given. As I look into little dude’s sleeping face I’m amazed that we were entrusted with this special gift, blessed beyond measure as I watch him walk through even these first few weeks. Yet, I grieve the loss of who I was. I’m no longer the woman I was and that’s okay but her passing needs to be noted, worked through, celebrated even and then we move on.

Now, if I can just figure out how to get a little more sleep maybe I can come back here and write 🙂

 

Relationships are the source of life’s greatest blessings  . . .

They are also the source of some of life’s greatest wounds and here’s the fun part, those wounds, they can only finding healing in community.

 

I know community is a blessing, even for this, finally, self-acknowledged introvert. I rejoice to see what God is doing in the lives of those around me and I grieve with those who walk through difficult times. Today, I am weary. Weary of relationships that hurt and recoiling to protect a heart I know i can’t protect on my own.

I’m not sure how it seems to happen that relationship complexities seem to happen in droves. No, I realize life is messy. I realize good and bad come together but oh, some days, it just is hard.

Lately I’ve noticed an unexpected part of growing up. Life away from your childhood home is a good thing. You get new experiences, new opportunities, and, for me, it introduced me to much beloved husband. However, on the flip side, I didn’t expect the cost of childhood and adolescent relationships.

People who were my friends, I thought, those who comprised those formative years, in an almost synchronized fashion went from catching up on holidays, to cutting off conversations, to no longer responding at all. It’s one thing to deal with one such loss when you’re already considered to sensitive for this society. It’s another when they all do it inside a month.  Talk about getting a slap upside the head with self-doubt and self-worth issues. It’s enough to make a girl wonder if maybe those relationships were projects, if that’s all i ever was. . .

My conscious side says that’s ridiculous but . . . old wounds die hard sometimes.

 

I wish I could say it was just old relationships, those are hard enough to mourn, the pain of an adolescence cut off abruptly from the present life. I wish I could but why lie when you already hide behind a penname in the anonymous world of blogging.

I’ve had two significant relationships currently go much the same way. My highschool friend and cousin recently cut off contact. Citing a desire to retreat from online things, cause anyone important can text what they need. I don’t have a cell phone. Yeah, that smarts.

The other is more complicated and the reason i’m writing tonight. I don’t know how to find the words to figure out where it went wrong, but I know he’s hurting and so am I. Maybe I’m writing more to figure out my own heart. Text always has come easier than the written.  I know life changes as are circumstances do. I knew getting married would change the dynamics between my friend group. We were no longer “students” (we still are we just don’t quite live that lifestyle anymore). However, I didn’t expect the friend who encouraged us to start dating to recoil so badly, depression alone doesn’t explain his behaviour.

Where we once talked, he now actively avoids me, seeking my husband’s company alone when he comes over, his behaviour and body language telling me i’m more a time killer until my hubby’s free.

Where he once listened, being a brother and one of my closest friends, instead, he used those secrets to hurt me. Something, the friendship we shared hopes was accidental and not malicious.

There are few guys i’m comfortable around, if I’m honest, I no longer count him as one of them.

So here’s my question? What do I do?

As Christians, we are called to love. However, that love does not necessitate an active  relationship. In fact, in some cases the most loving thing to do is to step away so that one does not continue to be harmful but how do you know when it is your fear and when it is simply time?

 

I think this musing requires another hot drink…

Confused Introvert on the Prairies

I`m a confused introvert. At the very least, I`m a conflicted one.

Living in a small town can be a blessing to an introvert. Small crowds and wide open fields means there are usually a multitude of ways in which you can find some time, on your own, and recharge. Even as I write this my company is the sound of crickets in the field next to the house which, without exaggeration, stretches as far as the eye can see.

The problem comes when the introvert in me says it`s time to be social. In a small town, you run the risk of over-exposure. We used to joke that you could sneeze in your room with the doors closed and curtains drawn, but it would still be news across town in under an hour.

Small town humour. It`s great, at least, until the lady across town asks how your allergies are going.

Sometimes I cringe against the interconnectedness that abounds here, other times I recognize it for the blessing it is and do my level best to interact with the community in which I live.

However, I also live in a college town. That means that at this time of year, it can be hard to find anyone with some spare time to talk. What`s a girl to do?

I suppose I could be patient . . . However, as someone who struggles with depressive thoughts and addictive behaviour, probably not the best option.

I could talk to my husband more, but, he’s not intended to be my entire social world. Not fair to him or me.

I could go online. This is actually the route I took. After all, I have lots of friends from life outside of school online.

Or at least, I thought I did.

It’s hard when an old friend doesn’t want to talk. . . it’s harder when none of them do.

Doubts begin to creep into your head. Did they ever care? Or were you merely a project or worse a duty. Interaction based on religious obligation is my worst fear, and tonight, that fear rattles around my head.

Were the relationships that governed my high school years, my summers, my life in Ontario all merely an illusion? Some joke played on the one person who wouldn’t get it . . . me?

 

I know my thoughts are dark and I know some relationship must have been real but tonight I feel dejected. Perhaps I’d be better off going on a walk.

Quotes

Taking off from my last posts. Some words from people more eloquent than I tonight.

“The toughest thing is to love somebody who has done something harmful to you…especially when that somebody has been yourself.” – Mr. Rogers

“There come dark days when I do read
These scars of mine like Braille
But not as words of grief or pain
But proof that Christ does heal”  Author unknown

Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.  by J. K. Rowling

“It has been said that time heals all wounds. I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue, and the pain lessens, but it is never gone.” R. Kennedy

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again. Maya Angelou

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Kahlil Gibran

Without pain, there would be no suffering, without suffering we would never learn from over mistakes. To make it right, pain and suffering is the key to all windows, without it, there is no way of life.      Angelina Jolie

“Grace heals our shame by removing what shame causes us to fear most: rejection and abandonment. Grace gives us a sense of worth and value that no shadow within us … can revoke.”  Jerusha Clark

“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.”  Audrey Hepburn

“for those of you who feel like you’re in a moment, or season, or year of hopelessness, know that I am with you. Those moments when you feel like forcing a smile is the biggest lie you’ve ever told, know that we are with you. You don’t have to fear honesty, or feel wrong for not subscribing to optimism. We aren’t intimidated by your questions. Your voice is beautiful and your breathing serves as a protest to all that is holding you down. You can scream at the darkness, make it afraid of your life, and we will be there cheering you on.” Unknown

“Tell her something true when all she’s known are lies. Tell her God loves her. Tell her about forgiveness, the possibility of freedom, tell her she was made to dance in white dresses.” TWLOHA

Stories wait for endings, but songs are brave things bold enough to sing when all they know is darkness  TWLOHA

Pain and voices

I really don’t seem to be posting much of late – whether it’s here or one of the many other sites I frequent.

I haven’t disappeared. I have just become a silent lurking searching for their lost voice.

Perhaps you have seen it?

If you have, would you mind sending it home? It’s rather lonely here searching for expression to the confusion inside when your voice has failed.

I remember having a voice.

Sometimes it whinged like no other about my health or life in general. Other days, my voice railed against the injustices that I encountered, each one breaking my heart until it had to come out lest I went crazy. On occasion my voice sang with the beauty of the day, unable to be silent in the face of so much goodness. Those were good days.

These days, I think, it has become lost in the chaos and I have yet to hear its whisper amid the winds.

Pain has a way of silencing the best of us and sometimes that silence isn’t chosen, regardless of those who claim that we should just move on with life. In fact, these people do a disservice because they disqualify the place and purpose of pain. Pain can teach us, so long as we don’t demand it follow our lesson plan. That is not pain’s purpose.  I could write pages on the many views on pain but today that is not my purpose.

Someone once said  that “Pain is not something that needs to be justified, In order to heal, pain must simply be understood.” For some, pain’s purpose is complete when it is understood and incorporated into their story. Rather than a raw wound, the pain becomes part of the character, its lessons shaping the life it has now been incorporated into. For others, understanding the pain gives voice to action. Rather than an acceptance, pain becomes a vehicle to change.

I’m tired.

Really tired. It’s been a long few months and this week just got a lot longer.

I’m taking a class, it’s a valuable class full of material that will be useful to know in the future. The problem – our class is on abuse. You ever want to kill a conversation quickly tell people that you’re studying abuse. It’s understandable really, abuse is disconcerting. Stories make us run the gambit of emotion from sorrow to anger with random threads of hope and, in some cases depending on where a person lies in their recovery journey moments of laughter. Laughter can be good depending on how it’s used. Even the idea of taking a class discussing these subjects is enough to put people off. All week my classmates and I have encountered enthusiastic people inquiring of our class, only to watch them walk away fumbling for words when they learn of our subject matter.

I don’t blame them, the church has a lousy record when it comes to supporting survivors of abuse, regardless of the form it manifested in. For people in an educational setting, honestly wanting to learn how to better work in the word, the confrontation of  such overwhelming inadequacy is enough to make us step back.

For me it’s been hard.

One of the things to come out of this week is that we never fully deal with abuse. To “deal with” assumes that the effect is over and while abuse doesn’t define the survivor (necessarily) it certainly has an effect. It’s frustrating to realize that some of the issues from the past may not be quite as “past” as I thought.

While I was never physically abused, there are instances where I was assaulted, sexual abuse is a part of my story, and emotional abuse can be thrown in too. It’s driving me nuts to watch as nightmares come back, as I instinctively monitor my surroundings for threats, and have to fight the instinct to flinch when people get too close unannounced.

It’s interesting, in a sad way, abuse takes away your control, so control can become ever so precious to a survivor, and yet this class shows, once again, just how little control I actually have.

I actually find it harder to sit in class, with my peers, and hear stories of abuse, wondering what they would think if they knew my story, worrying that they’d look on with disdain if they knew my story, affirm my worst fear of being too sensitive and needing to grow up. Another part of me fears that that isn’t actually my fear at all but that, if they knew, I’d been looked on with pity.

This class has been accurately described as a roller coaster as we learn theory, hear cases studies, watched Georgia Rule (interesting movie but hard to watch). To be honest I’ve laughed in this class over a funny comment, I’ve fought back tears as stories bring back memories, I’ve faced down anger at the injustice, and been fascinated at the theories (again, I’m a nerd). It’s a lot to take in.

So, where does that leave me?

I’m not sure. My professor encouraged us to self-care tonight and some chocolate and loud music hasn’t quite cut it yet so I write, whether it makes sense or not, to write makes it real. To see the words is validating and hopefully for tonight that will be enough.

“How will you know . . .”

*How will you know if I am hurting if you can’t see my pain? To wear it on my body tells what words can’t explain*

C. Blount

Self-injury has seen a lot of changes over the past years. From virtual unknown, to “hot topic”, to almost blase – self-injury has entered the public stage but is it really understood?

C. Blount’s words describing self-injury have become among some of the best known for their simple elegance regarding the complex topic of self-injury. In my own studies, I have encountered this particular quote time and time again. I’m actually amazed at the number of quotes used within studies on self-injury but then again maybe I shouldn’t be. Quotes are used to express what we cannot find the words to say on our own and few people can find the words to describe self-injury.

Self-injury flies in the face of self-preservation to those who have not walked that road. To cause intentional harm to our bodies, to risk our own safety whether in slight or severe ways goes against instincts that are ingrained in us from birth. So to come face-to-face with those who would purposely seek out pain, who are able to overcome this instinct creates confusion and fear. It’s understandable.

At least, it’s understandable until you broaden your horizon.

I’ve yet to encounter a self-injurer who has the same story. All have similarities but self-injury is an addiction that refuses to play favourites, anyone can fall to its lure and it is alluring at first. In a nut shell, self-injurers typically want to feel less or more, depending on their story  they may have sought both at different times during their journey. Because self-injury begins as a tool as a coping mechanism, before endorphins enter the picture, before the brain forgets to turn to other methods and the individual who desires to walk away finds themselves re-learning behaviours that used to be natural.

I know because this is the path I walk everyday.

I found self-injury in a desperate plea to keep fighting to wake up in the morning. I was so far within my pain self-injury wasn’t an action in contrast with my self-preservation but a lifeline I clung too.

Even eleven months after my last incident I still feel the urge. So I learn to help others who have fallen into this road and to teach those who haven’t.

Because, as painful as it is to admit it, the people I love and the faith I hold to have been some of the most harmful players in my recovery, not because of spite but ignorance.

The church can be a wonderful place of healing and was commissioned to be not only the “hands and feet” but the body, a community that supports, instructs, and corrects. Sadly most self-injurers encounter unhelpful correction or outright dismissal when they take those initial steps to recovery.

It’s funny a lot of people try and protect themselves from their inadequacy by presenting as “religious” telling those who are hurting to pray more or, in the case of people who should really just stay silent, question someone’s faith because they are struggling.

Others hold to what they know, reminding people of the consequences of their actions – the scars, the shame, the regrets, the isolation. Which makes sense, we tell people right from wrong and they should choose right. Right?

Well, I know I like to choose rightly but when you’re overwhelmed, often right, seems more self-righteous, or even more frustrating- so simple that you cannot understand why you feel the temptation in the first place.

Tonight’s one of those nights where it’s hard. I know I could talk to my fiancee but life doesn’t stop and midterms and jobs require sleep. I could talk to my friends but the fact is even now talking is shameful because people still don’t understand why I’m tempted or why I can’t just see how much “easier” life is without my addiction.

So what can we do?

The fact is most people don’t have the training to deal with the root causes that lead a person to self-injury, that’s what trained professionals are for but that doesn’t excuse us either.

What anyone who is hurting needs is simple, love. Funny, I think that may also be scriptural.

I’m not talking a sappy Valentine’s type of love either. This is a love that is hard, a love that knows when to be silent and grieve with a person but also knows when to speak hard truths. I love this quote by Henri Nouwen.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

It’s not an easy path to walk, but seriously when are the goods paths ever that easy?