Archive for the Photos Category

A farewell for now

MomMePetFluffy81-WM

I now belong to an “elite club,” as my cousin Carolyn Jo put it. My mom passed away May 4, and I now belong to that “elite club” of having lost both of my parents. As I said when my dad died nearly 9 years ago, you might think you have prepared yourself for that phone call, but when you get that call, you realize that you can’t ever be emotionally prepared. I say that as someone who does not like emotional pain, and whose default response to a negative emotion is to shut down. This becomes particularly true for someone like me who gets that call while I am out with a friend. Despite the fact that my therapist told me (as I melted down multiple times on her in one session) that it is okay to cry in front of Petra.

But I almost cried in front of Petra as she witnessed that phone call I got from Sharon.

12570845_10153973951419274_390970780_n

It’s been a whole month now. There is still a lot of emotion. No matter how certain I am of the eternal resting place of her soul, I still miss her. Much. With the Alzheimer’s and it’s associated dementia, I’ve been losing her for a few years. I am grateful that those years were few. When my Aunt Florabel started losing her memory, I remember Mom telling me that she was afraid that would happen to her. And then it did. She never completely lost her memory, and she never lost her core kind and humorous personality. She didn’t suffer from pain, and she considered the complications from the COPD (recurring pneumonia) a mere annoyance.

MomGrandmaDavis-WM

Mom6or7-WM

MomHS11grade-WM

Mom50sWichita-WM

MomGrandkidsWM

MomMeThanksg2015-WM

There’s a story behind this next picture. One year just before Christmas, Mom asked me more than once if I had gotten a Christmas card from Carolyn Jo. I thought it odd that she asked me more than once, but didn’t dwell on it. Then I got the card, and died laughing! A couple months prior my cousin Jill (Carolyn’s daughter) had gotten married. Mom got picked on over all the beer (which she didn’t partake of because she didn’t drink), and someone made the remark to her that she couldn’t even bring herself to pick up a bottle. So, Mom being Mom, showed them, and picked up and empty bottle and posed. Carolyn took the photo and made Christmas cards. Of course, Mom about died, but the entire rest of the family LOVED it! I framed mine, and Mom gave me the stink eye over it.

ChristmasWithBettyJo-WM

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. Her wisdom, her laughter, and her love. It’s farewell for now, but I know one day I will see her again.

IMG_20160604_0002

What I read this week – 1/22/16

Bookstore-WM

I do a lot of reading, and when an article resonates with me or is interesting (or funny or weird), I will post it to Facebook. I posted an article recently in a private group along with a plain statement about who the article reminded me of. One of the members thought I had posted that comment on my personal wall, which would have been a bold move, but a jerk move. And that’s when she called me out for how I post articles clearly (from our perspective) directed at certain groups passive aggressively. #truth Anyway, same person made the statement that she sees articles I post and makes a mental note to read them later, but then doesn’t. So I offered to send her an email compilation. Instead, I’m going to do a blog post so that I am actually posting. And perhaps adding some commentary.

10 Things That Scare Me About the “Purity” Culture

The “Purity” Culture came along after I was a teen, so I missed out on the purity rings and dating my dad stuff. Which, I didn’t want to go anywhere with my dad anyway. However, I was still taught much of the legalism behind the Purity Culture, and bore the weight of not measuring up alone and also got some added shame piled on me from not being “good” enough.

Sheila also wrote a great follow up to that one:

A Letter To All Those Who Feel They Have Lost Their Purity

Why You Should Tell Your Story, Even if It’s Messy

I have learned in the last few years that while my story is unique, it’s also not. There are loads of people who have gone through similar things and are struggling with similar stuff, and we need to know that we are not alone and someone else understands. Which isn’t to say that I’m not freaking out a little bit about speaking this weekend and telling my story. Even though I’ve done it before.

because this is the year you’re facing your demons & fears

“Have you ever had to face a monster? What did it look like? Where was it lurking when you found it? What did it take to face it without getting taken under?” I am actually in the process of facing a “monster” that’s been with me my whole life.

To You who Shames Yourself

I think those of us who grew up in an abusive environment are especially susceptible to self-shaming. Part of my “monster.”

What Have I to Fear

Petra and I had a really good discussion over this one even though she didn’t read the article. But I quoted the money quote with the article, so she got the gist of it. And I made this comment: “You know this is my “passive-aggressive” means of calling out all my uber-conservative christian fb friends who think the sun rises and sets on Franklin Graham and Fox News quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14 as if it’s even applicable because they have their flags so tightly wrapped around their bibles they can’t see that they really worship at the alter of American prosperity rather than following Jesus and enduring the suffering that he told us would come with truly following him.” And that was when she told me to drop my shoulders and breathe. Haha!

You’re All One Team

Good stuff from Joseph. I don’t care where you are working, or whether it’s volunteer or paid, when your teams are not working together, it hurts everybody.

Biblical Womanhood … Not What Many Think (RJS)

I’ve had to say this before, and I will say it again. I am not a “man-hating feminist.” I don’t believe that women AS A WHOLE should rule. But, neither do I believe exclusive male-rule is what God planned for mankind. I believe patriarchy is a result of the fall and male headship is part of the curse. Men and women are each uniquely gifted, but not according to gender. Men and women were created to lead together. To have dominion over the earth together. To have one gender asserting complete control over the other will always end up resulting in oppression, abuse, and blame shifting.

Rather than end on a contentious note, I will share a bit of a conversation I had with Petra yesterday via FB messenger. The whole thing was made funnier by the fact that I didn’t have my glasses with me at the start of it and couldn’t read it properly on my phone. But she told me that we should have gone to Fayetteville last night to see Peter Cetera. Not that she was really up for it, but I have my own reasons not to go to, well, most concerts.

PeterCetera-WM

If you liked this post or it resonated with you, would you please share it below?

Thank you!

In the mud

JeepMud-WM

When I was in Kindergarten, I remember one day standing on the sidewalk, and it had been raining. Someone ran up to me right in front of me kind of in my face, and it surprised me so much that I stumbled back, and fell off the sidewalk onto my butt right in a puddle. I got significantly wet enough that a change of clothes was required.

When I got home wearing different clothes and carrying the ones I had worn to school in a bag, my dad questioned me as to what happened. I told him, and then proceeded to get a dressing down for falling down.

Naturally I fell into that puddle on purpose.

Because I was berated for falling, I began to develop a fear of accidents. That fear was reinforced over and over again throughout my childhood because I had a lot of accidents. You know, like kids do. The constant fear, however, led to a compulsive need to control my environment in order to prevent accidents and extraordinary efforts to cover up any that happened in spite of all of my careful prevention.

A life lived in constant fear is not a life lived well.

A life lived trying to anticipate what ifs is a life devoid of peace.

Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:5-6 ESV)

As a child, I lived in constant fear that was reinforced by an emotionally and mentally unsafe environment. I was always on guard because I never knew when an attack was coming nor what might precipitate one. Thus I became unwittingly and unwillingly addicted to excitement and therefore sought out ways to feed that need my body had for adrenaline.

Fear-based perpetual outrage.

Our news media makes huge profits off our need to feed our fear and anger. Social media provides us the means to instantly share and thereby stoke the anger and fears of our hundreds of friends and followers. We square off into our various tribes demonizing and dehumanizing whoever doesn’t agree with us. Because, after all, we are the enlightened ones and are therefore better than them. So we seek out more like us, and more information to back up our beliefs.

We are obsessed with being right instead of desiring to be at peace with and/or understand our neighbors.

We have convinced ourselves that we must be in absolute control of the world around us so that we can feel safe.

All the while the media profits from turning left and right against one another – brother against brother, sister against sister. So divided are we that we are losing cohesion and ultimately destroying the security we crave.

And while we are trying to control our surroundings to keep from falling in the mud, we fail to realize we are flailing around in the puddle that we fell in a long time ago.

If you liked this post or it resonated with you, would you please share it below?

Thank you!

#medicatedandmighty – It’s complicated

This is it people. Two prescriptions to maintain this crazy. Wish me luck.

A photo posted by @muthalovinautism on

That is my friend Erin Jones. Her story has just blown up over the last few weeks. It’s a story about hitting bottom, and getting help back up. I encourage you to follow her on Facebook and/or check out her blog at Mutha Lovin’ Autism. Her story is shedding light on mental health, and seeks to break the stigma associated with mental illness.

I’m standing with her.

#medicatedandmighty Standing with my friend Erin @muthalovinautism and sharing my story of needing help, and before and after pics. I might have been running regularly in 2012 and looking ok on the outside, but I was trapped in a cycle of self-medication and denial. Midway through 2013, I hit a bottom, and started getting help. 5 months after I started taking an antidepressant, I stopped drinking. 17 months later, I stopped smoking (again). 18 months later, I put on makeup and a skirt, and told my story to a room full of people. 20 months later, I weaned off the antidepressant because it gave me the emotional reset I needed along with my program to feel my feelings without fear of them and without being consumed by them and work through the pain if the issues I stuffed, suppressed, and numbed for most of my life. #throwbackthursday #tbt

A photo posted by Martha Nemec (@dragonlady42) on

The last time I posted, I mentioned wrestling over sharing my unsanitized story. Since then, I have added My Story to the menu above (below on mobile). Because I have reached the point that I am ready to share it. Because one thing I have learned in recovery is that I am not alone and someone else has done or experienced something I have. Which means, there is someone out there who thinks that no one can possibly understand what he or she has been through.

It’s what my Manifesto is about. It’s about letting just one other person know they are not alone. And someone cares.

And there is hope.

I may or may not be on the autism spectrum. I don’t have a diagnosis, but I show a lot of signs. I’m still not convinced that I developed symptoms that would be considered on the spectrum due to trying to cope and survive the abuse as a child. Regardless, I have never felt “normal” and came up with my own coping skills which work well for a child, but not so much as an adult. I am certain that the abuse and all the methods I used to cope contributed to my own mental illness – namely depression and anxiety.

Y’all, you can’t function “normally” when you are bouncing between the 2. Self-medicating will prolong the inevitable breakdown. Stuffing and suppressing will only last for so long before you blow up. And the isolation will slowly wear you down until you want to die. Whether by your own hand – quickly or slowly – or through recklessness, without professional help, you will find yourself in such a depressive state that death looks like the only viable option.

And I know firsthand, you can’t just pray that away.

No, you need people who have been there and back and will walk with you or just sit with you without blaming you or trying to fix you. If you have been struggling with depression and/or anxiety, you probably do have a chemical imbalance which will require medication. Years and years of stress will throw the chemical balance off because your body has been on alert for so long it doesn’t know how to not be on alert.

It absolutely is a physical, mental, and spiritual sickness. You can’t just treat one area and expect the other areas to recover also.

And you absolutely cannot fix yourself.

If you liked this post or it resonated with you, would you please share it below?

Thank you!

The effect of focus

I’m afraid of heights. I’m not sure when I developed it because I did not have it when I was a kid. I first realized it one year when my mom and I went out to the old house at Birdtown to winter prep it. We had to cover the attic vents which required carrying the covers up a ladder and hammering them in. I got up the ladder and freaked. I couldn’t do it. Mom had to manhandle the vent on the ladder.

I didn’t get any better with ladders though I did get to a point where I could climb a ladder and do stuff, but barely, and I was terrified and hyperventilating the whole time. I had to face my ladder fear this weekend.

Half of the living room had been repainted, but didn’t get finished. Like most of the projects around the house. I finally tired of being pissed off about it and decided there was nothing stopping me from just finishing it. I had gotten more paint, and kudos to the lady at the Pittsboro Lowes who did an outstanding job of matching that paint. Labor day, I intended just to paint the one wall so I could move the TV, but it went so quickly that I did all of the room except for that small bit on one wall that is technically on the 2nd floor.

Before-WM

That was going to involve getting on a ladder and painting at the same time.

Some of it I was able to cut in from the 2nd floor landing, and thankfully that was the highest part. But still, I was going to have to get really high up on that 8 foot ladder with a paint bucket and brush…and actually paint.

There I stood, 2 rungs from the top, paint in one hand, brush in the other. I dipped the brush, wiped off some of the excess paint, and put the brush to the top edge of the wall underneath the molding. No tape. “Just hold the brush steady and cut the line.” I took a deep breath, and that’s what I did. I focused on cutting a straight line, and kept the fact that I was on a ladder secondary.

And it worked.

During-WM

I think in life we have a tendency to get so caught up in secondary issues that we are unable to do what we need to be doing. We get overwhelmed by things that are largely outside of our control so that we can’t focus on what is within our sphere of influence. It wasn’t that I ignored the fact that I was on a ladder. My safety depended on my awareness of standing on a very small surface 6ft off the floor. But my primary task was to paint a straight line, and as long as I focused on that task, I was able to do it without fear of falling.

I also had to have faith that the ladder would work as designed.

I made sure the ladder was solidly level and steady before I ever climbed it. I did not climb above the recommended highest safe rung, and stayed a rung below it. I made sure to lean my shins and knees against the 2 top rungs to steady myself. I am prone to vertigo so ensuring I had my body supported as much as I could helped to stave off that feeling of pitching. I did what was in my control, and left the rest to the ladder to not collapse.

I took the appropriate safety measures with the ladder because they were within my sphere of influence. Then I let that go and focused on the task itself not allowing myself to stew on what-ifs or if-onlys.

After-WM

Focus on the task at hand. Just do the next right thing. Be aware, but do what is yours to do and do it well without grumbling and without fear.

And don’t live in fear over things that you have no control over.

If you liked this post, would you please share it below?

Thank you!

The pain of letting go

Marsh-WM

I made the decision. I didn’t like it. I don’t like it. I knew I wouldn’t be “happy” with either option. I also know that keeping things status quo is not healthy for anyone involved.

I feel like I ripped out a big chunk of my heart and punted it.

I told that to my therapist and also that I felt kind of numb. Also that I felt like I needed a meltdown but that it would probably wait until the most inopportune time to strike. You know, like at work, because no one wants that. By “no one” I mean me.

I continually find myself wondering if I am doing the right thing. Did I make the right decision? And thus goes the rationalization process. Slogans fall flat as trite cliche. The doctrine of my youth fails from one-sidedness and does nothing but cover me in guilt and shame.

There comes a point when you realize you are the only one that is even remotely providing accountability to your husband. You can see that he is avoiding everyone but the friends who enable his behavior. You can see that he is not being honest with himself let alone anyone else. You see him walking around in that same facade you yourself used to walk in while keeping your addictions securely hidden away from view of anyone who might call you out on them.

You know that as long as nothing changes, nothing is going to change because that is what has been happening for years.

As I have been recovering, I have been seeing that I had few boundaries, and didn’t enforce the few I had. It was easy to overlook because I was numbing/escaping myself so as not to have to deal with much of anything. It has been something like coming out of unconsciousness into consciousness and seeing how things really are and realizing this is not the lifestyle I want to continue in. So I tried setting boundaries, but they were not respected. I tried pointing out what was really going on, and was dismissed and told I am the one with the issues.

But I’m not the only one with issues. I’m just the only one working on mine. And I have had enough of the insanity of addiction in my life.

So after the latest incident of craziness, I retained an attorney and am filing separation in a way to enforce separation. There is no violence or threat thereof, so I can’t get a restraining order. But since I am the only one working consistently and have been the only one paying the mortgage and utilities, I’m not the one who is going to leave the house.

And our children have dealt with the dysfunction long enough.

I’ve been told that he’s never going to hit bottom as long as I’m cushioning it. To be true, my lack of boundaries and lack of enforcing boundaries has certainly been enabling. But I finally had enough. So I took the opportunity while I had it to put up a legally enforceable boundary.

And it freaking hurts.

I feel like the pain is going to consume me in an implosion. As if my soul is collapsing in on itself.

But I am not going to cave in. I will not continue to live with the insanity of active addiction. I will not continue to subject my children to continued dysfunction.

If you liked this post, would you please share it below?

Thank you!

Starting Over #DoSummer2015 #DoOver

“It’s always best to start at the beginning.” – Glinda, the Good Witch of the North

I have realized something really scary. I am the most emotionally and mentally healthy person in my household, and the most mature.

15yo-wm

Right. I’m the mature one.

But while perhaps I live according to the mantra that Ouiser Boudreaux calls “A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste” far too much, there is, unfortunately, a reason why I am the most emotionally and mentally healthy and mature person in my household.

I realized my life was unmanageable and would remain that way unless I got help.

I made the decision to do whatever I had to do to change.

Sometimes I still fight it tooth and nail because I am still afraid. I spent my childhood living in fear, and it is deeply ingrained in me. What I am slowly learning, and much more slowly than I like, is that it’s ok to be afraid, and push through it anyway. Just like when I run, I’m ready to quit a quarter mile into it. But I keep putting one foot in front of the other because when I finish, I won’t remember how bad that first and/or second mile sucked. I will feel great because I kept going and finished.

I had a sit-down, face-to-face meeting with my sponsor last week. I was in a huge funk, and I needed help getting to the root of what was going on. Plus, I find it is a lot harder to hold stuff back when she’s looking at me. Through the course of processing and reprocessing what was discussed, I decided I need to get back in Al-Anon. I was going to go back to my home group Friday night, but I ended up going to an A.A. meeting instead. As I was adjusting my Friday night plans in my head, and planning out when I could hit the next Al-Anon meeting, I had a thought.

I can have an Al-Anon #DoOver.

I decided I could go to the same Saturday morning beginner’s meeting that I started in, and this time do it right. You know, because I never really worked an Al-Anon program the first time around. I went determined to speak also, but I didn’t really get a chance. However, I recognized someone whom I had met nearly 2 years ago in that room when I first started, and I went and spoke to her after the meeting.

I connected.

2 years ago, I spoke to no one, and tried to quickly get out of there. I was overwhelmed. I had been crying and fighting crying the whole meeting, and I needed to get out where I could. This time, I could tell by remembering how I felt the last time that I have grown quite a bit. I teared up a little, but while it is still automatic to fight it, I didn’t put all my effort into it. But I was also able to laugh and nod my head in understanding with other shares.

I might be a beginner again, but I am no longer a newcomer.

I’m glad to have the chance to start over.

If you liked this post, would you please share it below?

Thank you!

Fake it ’til you make it

Stairs-RavenRock-WM

I hated that phrase. Because some people never seem to get to the “make it” point and just fake it. And they just fake it when it will benefit them in some way. They can talk the talk around the right people, but just don’t seem to ever be able to personally apply it to their relationships with other people.

You know, hypocrites.

The other night, I was in a situation where I had to give a really brief version of my alcoholic story – what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now. I didn’t really put any time into preparing for it even though I knew I would have to give it. I just let it largely flow spontaneously. As I listened to myself speaking (which one can do when one dissociates), I heard myself saying something that I had said before, but hadn’t really heard.

“I knew how to pretend to live, but I didn’t know how to live.”

And that would be why “fake it ’til you make it” pissed me off so bad. I spent most of my life “faking it,” but not ever “making it.” From the outside it appeared I had it all together. And to an extent I did. But I was motivated by perfectionism; always striving for an unknown and/or unrealistic expectation of what success (professional, personal, and religious) really was.

Then my facade – my carefully constructed bubble of control – shattered.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. – Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 59

At this point in working the steps, I was told that God might not remove all of them, and that He wouldn’t necessarily do it right away. One of my character defects is impatience, so it was a given it wouldn’t happen immediately. That doesn’t mean He isn’t capable of removing my defects. He is. But He isn’t a genie that grants wishes the way we want it. He is a loving Father who knows and provides our NEEDS instead of our WANTS. I always want the easier, softer way.

I have found that my greatest growth comes through “suffering” rather than being handed to me.

And so, with the knowledge that that my request to have my shortcomings removed could be delayed or answered with “No,” I was told to believe they would be removed regardless and until they are, “act as if they have been.”

Fake it ’til you make it.

Finally, I realized the spirit behind it wasn’t one of hypocrisy, it was one of faith and good will. Take, for instance, my insecurity. It has not been taken away yet. Left alone and allowed to “rule,” my insecurity paralyzes me from making good decisions, or even any decision at all. Nothing gets done, status quo remains, and life becomes even more unmanageable.

But, I can “act as if” I am not insecure, and make a decision that is at best uncomfortable or at worst downright scary. As long as I don’t make a rash decision without looking at the consequences (good and bad) or take way too long to look at every thing I think might go wrong, something amazing is going to happen whether or not the decision is the correct one.

I become less afraid to make a decision.

I become less insecure.

Sometimes the worst part of a decision is the fear of making the wrong decision. Not because you can always make the right decision, but because making a wrong decision reinforces how you think about yourself.

“I’m stupid.”

“I can’t do anything right.”

Those are products of false humility which is actually just an aspect of self-centered pride.

And they are lies.

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:5-9 ESV)

Motives matter. Motive is why “fake it ’til you make it” can actually work. Motive is where you have to be totally honest when you ask yourself why you are acting on a “good” behavior. Are you trying to fool other people into thinking you have it all together, or are you simply just trying to do the next right thing because it is the right thing regardless of your feelings?

If you liked this post, would you please share it below?

Thank you!

Normal can be subjective

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya

Sunset-WM

I’ve been having a recurring dream. It isn’t exactly the same dream, but it is the same theme. I am sometimes in a prison camp, sometimes in a cult, and sometimes in some type of camp like a reservation. No matter which it is, I am trying to escape.

These dreams have been going on for at least a couple of months. Granted, I am grateful that I am no longer having the gray-mud-vomiting zombie dreams, but those were only 3 or 4 dreams total. My escape dreams have been 3 or 4 a week for several weeks.

Enough to wonder what the heck is going on in my subconscious.

I wonder if maybe my brain is trying to work out how I am trying to escape the lies I have believed about myself since I was a child. Maybe that sense I had that I didn’t belong or fit in was my way of coping with so much contradictory reality as such a young age.

I woke up in the middle of the night a couple of days ago, and couldn’t go back to sleep. I didn’t have a deluge of racing thoughts like I used to have, but I couldn’t seem to settle my brain back down enough to get back to sleep for 2 or 3 hours.

I had another thing that I hadn’t ever told anyone. Funny how things like that pop up when you get repeatedly triggered over something related. In the process of revisiting, praying, unpacking, praying, peeling that freaking onion, and praying some more, the thought came to me:

Nothing was normal. Everything was distorted. I don’t think I have a clear objective memory because there was so much contradictory information.

I didn’t want to let that thought be lost once I went back to sleep, so I wrote it down.

There is usually running involved in the dreams. Running away from somebody, some group, some zombie, some trap. The running never ends, except for that one time I was trapped in an empty cargo bay about to die from irradiation or poison. But at least the zombies weren’t in there with me.

Every race I’ve run has always had a clear end. There have been times I was sure I would never make it to the end, but I’ve always managed to keep going – even if I could just barely put one foot in front of the other. Because I knew there was a clearly defined end. And a couple of times because my friend Karyn either came back to get me or stayed with me vowing to drag me across the finish line if necessary.

Sometimes I feel like I am chasing after “normal,” when I have no idea what “normal” is. There is a conversation that takes place in Star Trek Generations between Dr. Soran and Geordi LaForge regarding Geordi’s eyes.

Dr. Soran: Have you ever considered a prosthesis that would make you look a little more… how can I say… more normal?
Geordi: What’s normal?
Dr. Soran: “What’s normal?” Well, that’s a good question. Normal is what everyone else is and you are not.

Geordi was blind from birth. There was no prosthesis that was going to give him sight in the same way seeing people had. The banana clip visor he wore gave him the ability to see things that sighted people could not. Soran was trying to force him to focus on the external appearance of normal – looking normal. In later movies, Geordi has prosthetic eyes rather than the banana clip visor. His eyes still didn’t look “normal.”

Geordi’s handicap did not handicap him. He couldn’t see things the way other people see, but he had a unique view of things that made his lack of normal sight valuable to those who had normal sight. His biggest physical weakness was also his biggest physical strength.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Maybe the reason I never escape in my dreams is because escaping the past doesn’t change it. I’m never going to have that “normal” childhood. I’m never going to have a “normal” loving relationship with my dad. And you know what? I might not ever “feel normal.”

But I am not alone.

Even in those dreams, I am not always alone. Sometimes there is a small group with me who are also trying to escape, and we are working together to escape and/or overthrow oppressors (or zombies). Here in the real world, in my real life, I am not alone. I have a tight network of friends who know most (and some all) of my junk. And they are willing to drag me across the finish line – to help rescue me from the cult/nazi/zombies.

I’m not the only person to not grow up in a “normal” environment. We generally try to appear “normal” because we want to be “normal” – to fit in. But we tend to find each other. And that’s where our “abnormal” lives intertwine and become strength. We understand each other. We can help each other in ways “normal” people can’t.

And when “normal” people find themselves embroiled in the type of “abnormal” that was our “normal,” we can be there for them in ways their “normal” friends and family can’t.

Thus, weakness becomes strength.

And “normal” means nothing.

Triggering onions

“Can I handle the seasons of my life?” – Stevie Nicks

RR-Sanford-Crop-WM

I may have mentioned this before, but do you know what happens when you peel an onion?

You cry.

I talked about why I was going to stop taking my antidepressant, but I really had no idea how that was going to play out. Despite weaning off over 4 weeks, I still had some significant withdrawals.

But the crying.

What are the odds that in your first week off your meds, you are going to be triggered. Repeatedly. About something you did NOT want to deal with so soon. (Or at all.)

I definitely didn’t expect to be triggered at church.

I knew I was going to break down this past Sunday. I had looked at the service lineup, and texted with my friend Stacey who was singing.

I had no idea I would have such an ugly cry meltdown.

After the sermon, we had communion. But not just communion. We had the opportunity to be anointed with oil, and prayed over with laying on of hands.

I walked up to Pastor Nate a complete wreck. “I can’t even word.” I could barely get out more than that because of the sobbing. But I didn’t really have to because he knows my story. We stood there in front of everyone, he praying over me, and me sobbing.

And I was okay with that.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:13-16 ESV)

I then took the cup (because the bread ain’t gluten free), and sat back down.

I sobbed uncontrollably some more.

And it was okay. And it is a big breakthrough.

I wasn’t allowed to cry when I was a kid. My crying was categorized as either “having a fit” or “showing my ass.” So I learned how to hold it in, and not cry. And then I medicated/self-medicated so I wouldn’t cry.

But crying isn’t something to be ashamed of.

I’ve been praying for healing. Family and friends have been praying for my healing.

Crying is part of that healing.

All I have to do is let it happen.

And it’s okay.