On surviving the future in Trumpistan.

Unwomen

Women rounded up to be sent to “The Colonies,” Handmaid’s Tale, Season 2.

 

My most fervent prayer is that Trumpism comes to an end.  Obviously, the best way for that to happen would be for Bob Mueller to make his findings known, and then we can celebrate as we watch the entire evil regime be removed and arrested on national TV, so they can never hurt anyone else.   That would be an event worthy of a new national holiday.

Of course, it might set off a civil war.  Trumplicans have promised that.  Whatever.   At this point, I’d welcome a civil war if it meant we could be rid of the orange menace and his cabal of anti-American, antisocial ghouls.   Bring it on.

But each day this horrific human being stays in office, the worse things get.  When I look back over the past eighteen months, it’s startling how much we’ve normalized and the unnerving way he’s been able to accelerate and intensify his assaults on democracy.   We are so much closer to being a fascist state than we were eighteen months ago.   Essentially we have one-party rule now, and no one ever holds Trump and the converted Republican Party (which is now the Party of Trump) accountable for anything, no matter how heinous or cruel their actions.    The crippled but still functioning free press is the only thing left that keeps us still tethered to a thread of democracy.  How much longer that  (and our freedom of speech and assembly) will last I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.

So I’m not getting my hopes up about the Mueller investigation.   If he’s even allowed to finish his investigation, the complicit GOP Congress, which is supposed to provide a check on the president’s absolute power, is likely to do nothing.   Trump will skate — even if he’s found guilty of treason, which seems more likely every day.   He literally could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and nothing would happen to him.   That might have been the one thing he ever told the truth about.

More likely is that we could neuter Trump’s tyranny by turning the House and Senate blue in November.   But because Russia has shown every intention of still meddling in our elections, because of blatant gerrymandering and voter suppression on the part of the GOP, and because of the Trump regime’s daily assaults and smear campaigns on Democrats, the free press, and democracy itself, our side is being discredited and weakened.    The Democratic Party is  growing, since many never-Trump conservatives have left the corrupt, Trumpicized GOP and independents have also seen the writing on the wall and have vowed to vote blue in November.   But we don’t have much power and our voices are drowned out by the much louder, wealthier, and more aggressive Trump GOP.

If we manage to succeed, Trump could be rendered fairly harmless and impeachment proceedings could finally begin with a Democratic House and Senate.  It could happen, but even with all the excitement about the impending “blue wave,” I’m not getting my hopes up.  Putin is an evil genius who knows exactly how to turn things in Trump’s favor, and the GOP, with all the Putin/Koch/Mercer/Adelson money behind it and almost unlimited power and control,  will almost certainly do their best to make voting as difficult as they can, and gerrymander districts even more than they already are.   So even with renewed Democratic motivation to vote, we could still wind up losing.

If they win, it will be too late.  America as we know it will be over. Back in January 2017, when Trump took office, Amy Siskind, an expert on authoritarian states and the author of the book, “The List,” which documents in horrifying detail each week of the Trump administration (every week, the assaults on our democracy have increased in both number and severity) predicted we had less than two years to save our country.  After that, it would be game over.  Well, we are there.  It’s been almost two years.    Honestly, I don’t have high hopes.   Of course, I’ll still do whatever I can to turn things around, and you’d have to kill me before I wouldn’t show up at the polls this November.    But I’m not feeling too optimistic.

I know I couldn’t survive in the sort of regime that will result when Trump seizes full power — which he will certainly do if we fail in November.    My temperament isn’t  suited for totalitarianism and fascism.   I couldn’t physically, emotionally or spiritually handle a political environment of such mysogyny, cruelty and watch the exploitation and institutionalized abuse of the most vulnerable members of society.

This regime seems very hostile to women in particular, and coupled with the powerful influence of Dominionism and far right evangelicalism, they are poised to overturn not just Roe vs. Wade, but also use “Old Testament Law” (the “Christian” version of Sharia Law) as justification to take away all our rights, including contraception and even possibly the right to vote or own property, just like they do in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.  As an unmarried (divorced) older female without much in the way of financial means, I’d be an easy target for the emboldened regime to exploit, marginalize, and abuse.   Social security and Medicare, which I’m counting on in a few years since I have very little in retirement savings, will be gone — and everything I paid into it over four decades effectively stolen from me by insatiably greedy oligarchs who believe they deserve everything and the “little people” deserve nothing.

Right now, I don’t see any way I’d be able to flee the country, and I wouldn’t leave without my adult children anyway, who are also vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by this regime for reasons I won’t get into here.   They would also be targets.

I fear death.   Maybe faced with a dystopian future of wasting away in a concentration or slave labor camp reminiscent of “The Colonies” in The Handmaid’s Tale (the “Colonies” are the grim hard labor camps that older and infertile women, and female dissenters are sent to shovel toxic waste until they die), that fear might disappear.  At that point, suicide might be an option.  I don’t know.   I can’t imagine such a thing now.   I still have too much hope that things can’t stay like this — even though intellectually I know they can.

Every day I pray that a miracle gives me back the country I love, or barring that, that an opportunity for escape opens up for my family and I to start over in a new country.   If neither of those outcomes are in the cards, all I want from God is a quick and merciful death to spare me from the horror and pain of the alternative.

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Dream tsunami.

tsunami

I just woke from an interesting dream.   I’m going back to sleep after I write this (I had to take a “mental health” day today), but I don’t want to forget it so I’m writing this now.

I’ve often dreamt about tidal waves, tornadoes and tsunamis.   I know these things represent my sometimes overwhelming emotions that seem to want to pulverize me.  Somehow in these dreams, I always survive them — or wake up.

In this dream, I was on a boat — maybe a cruise ship, I’m not sure.   It was very spontaneous.   I hadn’t planned to be on this conveyance, and was excited to going to wherever I was going.    I was talking to some older woman in one of the rooms, who was showing me a lot of old family pictures.  I wasn’t dressed or made up, then I looked out the window and saw people walking by on the beach outside laughing.    Because I was on a boat, I don’t know how that was possible but it was.

I decided to get dressed and go outside and join the fun.   Instead, I wound up in some food court where lunch was being served.    My table mate was none other than President Obama!  We just chatted like old friends — not about politics, just about the weather and other mundane things.  I wasn’t particularly impressed that I was sitting at a table with the president, talking to him; he was just a nice stranger.

At some point I turned around and looked toward the sliding glass doors behind me that led to the deck and couldn’t believe what I saw.    A smooth black wall of water, maybe hundreds of feet high, was headed directly toward us!  Because I was on a boat in open water, there was nowhere to run.   Obama looked too but didn’t seem scared.  He told me to put my head down, which I did.  I tried to relax and took deep breaths, bracing myself for the onslaught and certain death.   I prayed that Jesus would take me to Heaven.   I asked him to forgive me for my sins and lack of faith sometimes.  I kept breathing and trying to relax, but nothing happened.

Cautiously, I looked up and turned around.    The ocean outside was choppy as if after a storm, but otherwise looked normal!

“What happened to the tsunami?” I asked Obama.  He just shrugged.  I went back to eating and making plans for the day.

*****

This dream was different from my other tidal wave dreams for several reasons.

  1.  I didn’t wake up.
  2.  The danger passed without me waking up.
  3. I turned to God for protection.
  4. I didn’t panic.

I think this says a lot about my emotional growth.   The wave represents my emotions, but I have control of them now, and sometimes, things don’t turn out to be nearly as terrible as I expected them to.   Turning to God in moments of crisis can pull me through, as does mindfulness things like deep breathing.

It’s interesting about Obama.  I think he was there because this particular tsunami represents my emotional turmoil in the wake of this election.   Maybe he represents calmness to me.

Asking for help for a wonderful, maybe life-changing opportunity.

Ever since I became a Christian, all kinds of doors have been opening up to me, and I’ve also been given a lot more clarity in the direction God has planned for me.    Even if one door closes, another one always seems to open.    I still have strong doubts about my faith, and I’m always praying for that to be strengthened–not only so I can help myself, but also so I can help others too.    I’ve found that when I put my own will ahead of God’s, I always wind up with regrets, but whenever I’ve followed God and put aside my fears, that somehow it turns out to be the best thing I could have done.

Yesterday I received an email from a woman who reads this blog and has found it helpful.  She is also a victim of narcissistic abuse and has found my articles have given her courage and hope.    She also offered me a fantastic opportunity, one that initially I felt like I’d have to decline, but the more I think and pray about it, the more it seems to me that God is calling me to take up her offer.

Basically, it’s a three day Christian retreat in Chapel Hill, NC that trains people in not only increasing their faith through Jesus Christ, but also helps them learn to pray for others who are broken-hearted and need God’s grace and healing.

I’ve talked about this before, but for awhile now, my greatest desire has become to help others heal from abuse, C-PTSD, and even the personality disorders that abuse can cause in a person as they unconsciously rely on primitive defense mechanisms to cope.    There are many people out there who are hurting and are lost, just as I was lost and hurting until I went No Contact with my abusers.

I’ve been somewhat frustrated because there is really no way I could, at my age, afford or find the time and energy to return to school to become a therapist.  But I believe Jesus can also heal people who have suffered because of abuse.   I already spend much time in prayer for these broken hearted people, but I feel like my faith is shaky and leaves a lot to be desired.  I feel like my prayers could be so much more effective with the right sort of training and a supportive environment where I could put aside my day to day worries and just focus on God and prayer.

Getting back to the email I received, the woman who wrote to me has offered to pay my expenses for the hotel stay (3 nights) and lunches.   It is being held very soon–November 13 – 16, which is in just two weeks.     I can get there myself being that it’s only a 3-4 hour drive from where I live.    But going would also mean that I’d lose 3 days of work pay since it’s being held during the week, and of course there is the matter of dinner, gas, and extraneous expenses that may come up.    I would not be spending any money on luxuries or souvenirs.    I am going to talk on the phone with her tonight.  She has provided her phone number and I looked at the website link she sent me and it does seem legitimate.  But this is the only opportunity I have to go until next summer, when they will have another prayer retreat.

Here is a short description on their About page of what they do. (I don’t know if I’m at liberty to name the organization at this point).

focuses on the primary mission statement of Christ to heal the brokenhearted (Luke 4:17-18a), whereby Christ gives us singleness of heart and action (Jer.32:39) to the end that we are then able to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. (Matt. 22:37) ___ does this by intentionally synchronizing the most core parts of our heart to the Lord in a short period of time.

I feel like this could be lifechanging for me, and help me to help others more effectively.  I know God wants me to attend, otherwise I would not have received this offer.   But since I live paycheck to paycheck and already have so much trouble keeping up with my bills, and have no savings, and cannot afford to take the time off work and lose pay (I have no more vacation days), I would need about $400 by November 10th or so to be able to make this dream a reality.  Of course, I will share about my experience when I return.

$250.oo to make up for 3 days’ lost pay from work

$150 for gas and dinners for 3 nights

Total: $400.00

So I’m asking anyone who wishes to help me take this opportunity to help me grow closer to God and be able to more effectively help others heal through prayer,  to please make a donation before November 10th (it takes a few days for PayPal donations to enter your bank). 

For some reason, I’ve been unable to activate the PayPal donation button, but you can log onto PayPal and enter my email to send the money to.    Any amount of help would be gratefully appreciated!

*****

https://www.paypal.com/home

My email for making a donation is:  otterlover58@gmail.com

PLEASE SHARE OR REBLOG THIS POST!  Thank you.

Dear Father…

dear_father_____by_tamingthetiger-d3iyrad
“Dear Father” by Taming the Tiger

I usually shy away from anything too spiritual or religious, because I do realize many of my readers are atheist, agnostic, or of differing faiths–and I respect their right to believe as they wish.   But today in church when the priest asked us to “add our own prayers,” I felt inspired to pray a particular prayer that has great meaning to me, for a myriad of reasons.   I would like to share it here, so maybe others can join me in prayer for these things that are so important to me.

*****

Dear Father,

You have created us all in your own image. I don’t believe you have left anyone out of your great bounty and the hope for eternal life, in spite of what some Christians and others believe.      I don’t believe that Christ’s death on the cross was a “limited atonement” meant only for a select few (as Calvinists believe).   I believe he died for us all, and offers all of us the chance for redemption and healing, no matter how hopeless things may seem.

PTSD, C-PTSD, and narcissistic abuse survivors.

God, please shower your grace and compassion on all victims of narcissistic abuse and all people suffering from PTSD and C-PTSD, that they may find comfort in your arms and be able to trust again, realize that there is still goodness in the world, and eventually, that they may find loving, healthy relationships and friendships that do not turn abusive.  Many survivors have turned to you when everyone else seemed to be turning away from them and rejecting them, and found that you were there and were listening.  But many, especially if they were rejected or scapegoated by their own families, are so damaged they have trouble trusting anyone at all, even You.   Please give them the courage to turn to you when things are at their darkest and it seems like they have no allies.  Please help them to trust you, and to heal from abuse, regain their sense of self worth and self-esteem,  and be whole and happy again. Please show them that what happened to them didn’t happen in vain, and that they are so much stronger than they realize because of the adversity they had to face.  Please let them feel the loving arms of Jesus Christ holding and protecting them from harm.  Guide them on the path to become whole again, and to use what they learned to help others heal, should that be your will for them.

Also, although anger is a necessary stage of healing (in order to leave an abusive situation or person), please allow victims who become trapped in their anger and hatred to be able to move on from it, because only then will healing be possible.   I’ve seen too many survivors who remain so mired in rage that they take on the traits of their abusers and acquire a victim mentality that does not allow them to move forward in their journey to healing.

As for myself, please don’t let me stray from the path you have set me on, which is beginning to be revealed to me. Please don’t allow me to become bogged down by envy, selfishness, or pride.   Don’t allow me to let my own will get in the way of what you have planned for me, for whenever I have forced my own will, it always turned out to be all wrong.

People with NPD, BPD and other Cluster B disorders.

God, please show these broken people who have made so many bad choices and act out toward others–usually because as children they were shamed for their own vulnerability by abusive caregivers or parents–that they do not need to rely on primitive defense mechanisms, abusive or aggressive behavior, or a “false self” in order to survive and be happy.   Please show them the beauty of their own inner vulnerability and that being sensitive can be a great strength and is never a weakness.   Please lift the scales from their eyes and show them that the things they have learned to believe about themselves and others are lies–and the truth is the opposite of what they have always believed.  Please remove the fear and shame  keeps them trapped inside cold, dark walls that separate them from their own vulnerability and the light of your grace.   If there’s a glimmer of their original soul left in them, please help that spark grow like a mustard seed within them and burn away the darkness that surrounds it.  Make them aware that their defense mechanisms are only allowing them to live the stunted, painful life of an emotional cripple, and that by jettisoning authentic feeling, they also jettison love, empathy and joy. With fewer people with narcissism and other “predatory” disorders in the world, there will be fewer abuse victims too.

In particular, please make my mother aware of what has happened to her (due to no fault of her own) and what she became, even at her very advanced age.   Even if it’s too late for her to be healed, at least remove the scales from her eyes and allow her the grace of redemption.

Our increasingly narcissistic society. 

Over the past 30 – 40 years, our western society–especially in America–has become increasingly cold, callous, lacking in empathy and compassion, materialistic, hubristic, and narcissistic.   Wealth and power are valued over compassion and love.   Individual achievement is valued over community involvement.   Greed and an “I got mine!” attitude is valued over altruism and compassion for the less fortunate.

Even families buy into this lie to the point of scapegoating family members who fail to “keep up” (or who are vulnerable or attempt to expose the family dysfunction).    Intolerance of those who are different, hatred, and racism abound.   Every day people die because they are the wrong color, wrong religion, or have a lifestyle that the Powers That Be believe is wrong.  Our society is like a huge dysfunctional family, complete with its narcissistic and abusive leaders, its golden children, and its scapegoats.  This should not be the case.  God,  please heal the hatred and fear that permeate our society and keeps people from being neighborly and charitable toward one another.  Please make dysfunctional families whole and healthy again, and give the scapegoats of both society and of dysfunctional families relief from their suffering and pain.  Make “the least of these” realize they are as worthwhile and valuable to you as the powerful ruling class who seems to have every earthly thing.

I ask these things in the name of your son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Sometimes I yell at God.

angry_at_god

I talk to God a lot in my car, driving to and from work.  Sometimes I talk to him at other times too, like when I’m in the shower or cleaning a house.   Lately I’ve been getting in the habit of talking to him first thing upon awakening, even before my morning coffee.  I think this is progress.

I guess you could say what I do is basically prayer, only it seems friendlier to to me think of “prayer” as having a conversation, and that’s what God and I seem to be doing.  Even when it seems to be just a one sided conversation, with me doing all the talking (which it usually is), I just know that God is listening.   And God does provide answers–maybe not right away, and maybe in ways I don’t expect, but my prayers do get acknowledged.

All relationships have their ups and downs, and my relationship with God is no exception.   Sometimes I’m filled with gratitude and have nothing but praise for my Heavenly Therapist; but there are times when I’m mad at him.  I mean, really furious-mad–spitting foam out the corners of your mouth enraged.   When I get that mad, I yell.  I know God can take it.  Humans are more fragile; you can’t just go around screaming in their faces.  Some people do that, but you might get beaten up for doing it.   I know God won’t beat me up if I yell at him, and he won’t send me to hell either.

I used to be afraid to get angry at God.   But I’ve come to know God well enough to know he’s not going to judge me for stating my opinions or even blaming him for the things that have made my life so ridiculously difficult.   Like any loving father, God loves his children unconditionally, no matter how badly we behave.  God knows what’s in our hearts, and yelling at God at least acknowledges I know he’s present and listening.   And so, yelling at God becomes a form of prayer.

I screamed at God again this morning in the car.  I woke up feeling triggered again by issues that were brought to the surface of my consciousness by my dad’s death almost a month ago (has it actually been that long?)   I was feeling sorry for myself, bitter, enraged, sad, guilty, and regretful all at the same time.   But the primary emotion I’ve been feeling is anger (which I know is a flimsy cover for the hurt and pain that lies beneath that).    I wanted to get it off my chest and needed someone to blame, so I blamed God.

screaming_car

“Why did you let an emotionally fragile person like me be born to callous, hardened narcs?”  I screamed at the top of my lungs, making the driver in the next lane stare at me curiously (my windows were rolled down).  “It’s not f__king fair!,” I bellowed, not giving a damn that I dropped the F bomb in the presence of the Almighty.  He was going to hear it from me!

“You are Almighty,” I continued, “you have all the power. You could have made things different, but YOU CHOSE NOT TO!  WHY?  You could have let me be born to people who knew how to love me and wouldn’t abandon me and turn against me later.  Who would have helped me build healthy self esteem, who would always be there for me no matter what.   You could have stopped me from marrying a sociopath narcissist who tried to obliterate me  and almost turned my kids against me too!  You could have let me develop enough confidence to be successful at something in this world and take a few risks instead of being a little pussy too afraid to come out of my box.   But, NOOOOOOO,” I screamed sarcastically like the late John Belushi.  “You let me suffer instead!  You let everyone keep victimizing me even though YOU COULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING ABOUT IT!  WHY? WHY? For the love of God (yeah, that’s you–OWN IT!), WHY??? (this said banging my fists on the dashboard after each “WHY?”). Why do you keep letting me struggle to survive, live paycheck to paycheck, even though I work and work and work and work until I feel like I’m going to die?  And then get looked down on by my own family for not being as successful as them!  Why does everyone else get all the breaks in life and I never do?  I don’t have ANY advantages, NONE!  I don’t have financial security, own my own home, I don’t have a supportive family, I don’t have a large circle of friends to stand in for family because I lack the confidence to reach out to anyone!  I have no self confidence, I have no husband or lover, I’m all ALONE in the world, ALONE!  DO YOU HEAR ME? Dammit.  I can’t get close to ANYONE!   And I’m SICK of it!  You let people who do NOTHING throughout their whole lives, who had everything come easy to them, who haven’t suffered more than a chipped fingernail, people  who never lift a finger for anyone else, EVER, who ABUSE others, then they get rewarded even more than they already are? WHY? WHY? WHY?  HOW IS THAT FAIR?  I DEMAND an answer.  Dammit, I am MAD.  What did I do to deserve this, God?  WHAT? Nothing, that’s what!  Sometimes I think you hate me!  Sometimes I wonder why you let me even be born–it would have been better if I was aborted because the pain would only be for a minute or maybe not at all and not for a whole f__king lifetime!  WHY, GOD, WHY? I DEMAND ANSWERS!”

After one of these rants, I’ll feel a bit better–exhausted and a little out of breath, but kind of relieved and relaxed too.    Sheepishly, I’ll apologize for my outburst, and ask God to forgive me.

What I imagine then is a bemused smile on God’s face, for he is all forgiving and doesn’t hold grudges.   I think he’s glad I turn to him in my moments of need, angry or not.  He isn’t going to judge me by my moods or emotions.   Ever so gently and quietly, he reminds me that adversity breeds wisdom and God has given me a difficult path because he has something planned for me that requires that particular kind of training–not because he hates my guts and wants me to suffer.   Finally, in his patient and gentle way, he’ll remind me of all the things I do have to be grateful for right now, that my life is really much more blessed than it seemed 5 minutes ago when I was ranting like a banshee from hell.

****

Antidote to this post:
Changes

Changes.

changes

I never used to be able to relate to “positive thinking” statements.  They seemed trite and shallow, as if they were made up for other people–people with normal lives, normal families, normal incomes, good jobs, who didn’t suffer from mental illness, who hadn’t been abused by almost everyone they had known, and who had an actual future to look forward to.

Dying slowly.

When I was with my narcopath ex,  I really didn’t have a future.  Not if I’d stayed with him.  I was slowly dying a long, excruciating death–a death by annihilation of my spirit. His abuse was effecting my body, my mind, my emotions, and my soul.    Pictures of me taken when I was with him compared to pictures taken of me now show the toll the relationship was taking on me.   I looked older 3 years ago than I do now–and my depression showed on my face in every picture, even the smiling ones.  I was overweight and miserable. Even my hair looked depressed, dull and without shine. When I was told to “just think positive” I felt nothing but rage and frustration.  How could I even hope to have a better life, how could I even hope to ever be happy?   A smiley face meme, a “thought for the day,” or “inspirational” coffee mug just wasn’t going to do it for me.   And those things can be shallow and trite, but that doesn’t mean that a positive outlook is forever barred from me.  It doesn’t mean I can’t still find happiness.

 Cynicism and bitterness.

Even if I hadn’t been abused, by nature, I’m a depressive sort of person.   As an INFJ, I think deeply about things and feel them even more deeply.    I’m a worrywart who tends to see the glass as half empty.  I catastrophize and ruminate and obsess and worry about almost everything.  I get upset when I hear about wars, murders, shootings, racism, sexism, injustice, unkindness in general, and most of all, the abuse of animals and kids.  Or  the abuse of anyone for that matter.

I see all the trappings of success–big houses, late model cars, vacations, the latest this or that–and feel depressed because those things will never be mine.   I wasn’t invited to be in the Club.   I feel victimized and alone in the world.  I used to think God hated me.   I almost became an atheist–but not quite.   I always felt *some* kind of presence, but didn’t think that presence thought very highly of me.  I even thought that my purpose for existing was to be an example to others of what not to be.  I felt like I was held in contempt and condescending pity by everyone.  But what I didn’t know was I was projecting my own sense of self-hatred and hopelessness onto whatever Higher Intelligence was out there and everyone else too.    The internal voices instilled in me by my emotional abusive upbringing echoed down the years and contaminated any ability I had to find joy and meaning in life.   I became bitter and cynical, and turned up my nose at “happy people,” assuming they had no depth at all–but was it really just because I envied their ability to feel joy?

Slouching toward heaven. 

godareyouthere

When I finally went No Contact with my ex, things began to change.  Not a lot at first, but for the first time ever, I felt some hope and even fleeting glimpses of joy.   I started to blog. Writing down my feelings about what happened to me helped me make sense of them.  Through blogging, I found a community of others in a similar situation.  I no longer felt so alone.  Blogging was the best sort of self-therapy I could have hoped for.    A talent for writing was the one tool I had that began to help me be able to lift myself out of the mire.

Eventually, this got me to the point of wanting something more–an actual relationship with God.  A lifelong agnostic, I began going to church and decided to become Catholic.   I started to pray a lot more (I call it “talking to God,” which sounds friendlier).   My faith was shaky and fragile (and still is), but I kept plugging away, asking God to give me the ability to trust him and to give me faith.   If I couldn’t trust other people, it was especially hard to trust an entity I couldn’t even see.    Sometimes I felt like God wasn’t listening and had doubts that he existed at all.   But God was always someone I could turn to when no one else seemed to care.   I had no choice!   Over time, I felt myself beginning to change from within.  I began to appreciate the things I had more, instead of feeling resentful and envious of others for having more than I did.   I’ve even had a few of those rare transformative moments of  gratitude and happiness so profound it brought me to tears.

I am grateful.

I may not have a lot, but I have what I need, and that’s a lot more than many.   I don’t live in the best house in the world, but it’s a nice place to live and I like its cuteness and coziness.   I don’t drive a late model car, but I have one that’s reliable and gets me where I need to go.   I don’t come from a big loving supportive family, but I have two wonderful children who I have a good relationship with.   I can’t afford to take real vacations, but I have a car to go on short day trips.  I live in a beautiful part of the country, even if I’m jaded and don’t appreciate it as much as I used to.  I can sit on my porch and see mountains and trees and flowers and see the night sky.  I can hear birds singing outside my window.  I don’t have to look outside my window and see a back alley full of broken glass and hear sirens and people fighting all night.  I don’t love my job, but it pays for what I need and there are a lot worse things I could be doing.   I have two wonderful cats.  I have writing ability.  My blog is doing well and is not only helping me, but it’s helping others too.  I have a wonderful, empathic therapist who almost seemed to drop out of the sky at just the right time.  Lately, I’ve been finding myself thinking that my glass is half full instead of half empty.  That’s God changing my attitude in a really big way.

It’s not a smooth road.  I still get triggered and go back to my old thinking patterns.  I stil have days where I feel hopeless and unloved.  These attitudes are so ingrained in me that removing them sometimes feels like performing a skeleton transplant.  But all I have to do is lean on God and tell him I can’t handle it myself–and things do begin to look better. God is working on me, changing my attitudes, and people have said they’ve noticed a difference in me.

Big changes, bright future.

gulf_coast

I have a very strong feeling that God is planning a major change for me in the near future–a change that would give me a whole fresh start and more choices than I’ve had.   It looks very likely that in the very near future, probably before winter (my least favorite season–I hate it!) sets in, I will be moving to Florida to join my son.   I won’t be living with my son; I will have my own place.   He thinks he can get me a job where he works too.   I will be living near the beach.  I can watch the sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico every night if I want.   While I love the North Carolina mountains, they don’t speak to my soul the way the ocean does, not even after 23 years of living here.   I grew up in coastal New Jersey and New York and used to hit the beach every weekend in the summer since it was no more than an hour away from where I lived.   The ocean is in my blood. Here where I live now, getting to the beach requires planning a vacation or at least a weekend getaway since the closest beach is a five hour drive away.   I never have enough funds to do that though.  I haven’t seen the ocean since 2008.   That’s far too long.

I have no ties to North Carolina. There’s nothing left for me here–no friends, no family, no pressing commitments–so I won’t have any misgivings about packing up and leaving when the time is imminent.   I’m trying to get my daughter to come with me, because I think she needs a change too.  There’s nothing left for her here either except her dad, but he is a toxic person and her relationship with him is a codependent one.  She may not want to leave him though. She feels responsible for him.    But when and if she decides enough is enough (and I’m praying she does), the invitation to join me and her brother is always open.

I think that this move will change my life in so many positive ways.   No, of course it won’t be perfect, but I will be living near my son again, I will near my beloved ocean again, and I can make a fresh start in a new place, free of all the ghosts of my abusive past I still associate with where I live now, and which continue to haunt me at times.   I imagine myself in my little house or apartment, or sitting in front of the ocean, listening to the waves and the gulls, finally writing the book I keep saying I’m going to write.   And I’ll thank my Heavenly Father every day for presenting me with such a positive life changing choice.   I never felt like I had choices before.  Now I think I do.

Why God has waited until now, I don’t really know,  but it’s probably because I wasn’t ready.   I wouldn’t have appreciated it.  Maybe he wanted me to appreciate the things I already have first, before blessing me with new opportunities.    Now, when I see positive thinking memes or inspirational quotes, I actually pay attention.   Yes, they are trite and can be shallow and annoying when nothing else of substance is being given, but they do seem to have more meaning now.  Is that because I feel like God is finally smiling down on me so I can relate to them better, or is it because I’ve changed enough to pay attention?

Little gifts.

God shows up at the strangest times.  Earlier today I was at the Laundromat, and as I waited for my wash, I found a small devotional book called “Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There,” by Ruth Graham.  It was sitting right there on the table, on top of a bunch of advertising circulars.   A few years ago I would have left the book there.  Today I took it home with me and said a small prayer of thanks.  I know God left it there for me on purpose.  I’ve realized he is always trying to show you in small ways how much he loves you, but if you’re not paying attention you won’t notice.    If you open your heart to God and just talk to him, like you’d talk to your best friend or a loving parent, your heart will begin to change and your faith will grow stronger in tandem with that–and then it’s possible your whole life might take a turn for the better too.  It’s so simple–how did it take me so long to see this beautiful truth?  I feel in my bones that the last half of my life is going to be when the harvest comes in–a harvest rooted in the pain of my past.

Is there a reason why we suffered so much?

student_teacher

One last thought.   There’s an old Buddhist proverb: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”   Everyone who ever touched my life has been a teacher to me. Yes, even the narcissists.   Maybe especially them.  If it weren’t for them, I would not be who I am today.  I don’t think I would be as deep or as spiritual or value empathy and kindness as much as I do.   I don’t think I would have the same sort of relationship with God.  Many of the most spiritual (not necessarily religious–that’s a different animal!) people I know came from abusive backgrounds.   They suffered terribly and carried that heavy spiritual load all their lives, then finally turned to God because there was no one else.  In pain there comes much wisdom.     Maybe God allows some of us to experience more adversity so we learn to lean on him instead of other people–and then when we learn to trust him, he finally blesses us with people who can help us and love us unconditionally.   No, we should never have been abused by our narcissists.  It definitely wasn’t fair.  But out of that kind of adversity we can learn so much about ourselves, about human nature, and even learn to help others who suffer like we did.   And that is my greatest wish now–to help others heal.

I don’t want to become bitter and full of hate.

No-Lord-No
Credit: lynnmosher.com

I’m dealing with a lot of conflicting emotions right now in the wake of my dad’s passing, and rage is probably the dominant emotion I’m trying to process. Not rage at my dad per se, but rage at every narcissist I ever knew starting from the time I was a small child, making my life hell. For those of you who have read my recent posts, you might have noticed the increase in anger I’ve been expressing toward narcissists in general. My posts this week sound a lot like my early posts on this blog, during the first few months after I went NC with my ex.

Rage, anger, and even hatred can be useful, even necessary, when you’re going No Contact. Your survival is at stake. Your anger gives you the courage to escape and overrides any fear that may keep you in thrall to your narcissist. But beyond that, it begins to eat away at your soul and eventually can turn YOU into a narcissist. I’ve seen that happen so many times and it’s tragic. I’ve written about this phenomenon numerous times on this blog so I won’t do so again.

I bring this up because my writing lately seems to reflect a return to a narc-hating mindset. I don’t find hating narcissists helpful, personally. I find it more helpful (for myself anyway) to think of them as a different kind of victim, a type of victim that other victims have trouble understanding because their behavior is so predatory and sometimes incomprehensible. Thinking of them in this way seems to give them less power over me and makes me less afraid.

I don’t want to become an embittered, angry, hate-filled person. I don’t want hatred to take over my battered but still intact soul. I don’t want narc-hatred to turn me into a narcissist. This doesn’t mean I forgive the narcissists in my life for what they have done to me; but I do want to attempt to understand why they do the things they do. I want to understand how and why they became that way. It’s important for me emotionally to do this; being able to understand or at least try to helps me heal.

I know the rage and hate I feel right now is out of character for me, but all my emotions are in turmoil following my father’s passing. I pray that this too will pass and I can return to understanding narcissists without condoning or enabling. I still pray for their deliverance and always will.

Matthew 5:43-48:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? …

God answers prayers.

After posting my article about my fear of death yesterday and praying a lot about it, I came across a wonderful website called “Jesus Without Baggage.” I’ve never seen another site like it and I’ve been on it now since last night, just reading and learning. I can’t get enough.

I never thought I could reconcile my inability to believe in a judgmental, angry, legalistic God with a belief in Christ, but now I think I might be able to, all because of this website. It answers questions no one else has ever been able to answer before and addresses concerns I’ve had for a long time that “reading the Bible” only made worse (mostly because of the way it’s been misinterpreted and misrepresented by legalistic, narcissistic preachers and church leaders in order to exert “control”).

If you’re like me and want to have a relationship with Jesus but are completely turned off by fundamentalist Christianity, this is the site for you. I truly believe God answered my prayers by bringing me to this site so I want to share it with my readers too.

https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/

Even more interesting, the topic at mass today was “God is Love.”

I’ll be posting a new guest post in a little while.

Why I love liturgy.

A view of the famed Rose Window in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France.

A view of the famed Rose Window in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France.

Back in April, during the Easter Vigil mass, I became a Roman Catholic. This came as a surprise to many people I know, since I’d spent most of my life as an agnostic and at times veered close to atheism. I’ve also toyed with Buddhism and Scientology (and I admit I still have a soft spot for Buddhism because it appeals to my rational mind, and that isn’t likely to change). Due to the recent charges of sexual abuse taking place in the Catholic church, this oldest and largest of all Christian denominations has become more criticized than ever, and probably rightfully so. I don’t think it’s the only religious organization that has been guilty of such behaviors, but I think it’s the most publicized. I’m also not ignorant of the fact that the Catholic Church has a bloody and often very un-Christlike history, especially during the Middle Ages, as well as being the wealthiest religious organization in the world and often full of hypocrisy. In addition, I do not believe that being a Catholic is the only way to salvation. Any Christian who has accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior in their hearts will get to Heaven, regardless of denomination (why did I almost spell that DEMONination?) and don’t necessary even have to attend church at all.

So why did I become a Catholic, you ask. Why did I join a church that’s so rife with its past of violence, and a present still full of intolerance, sexism, and heirarchy? The answer to this is complicated.

I was raised in a family that although nominally Christian, was basically agnostic. We did not attend church regularly (although I was sent to Sunday school as a young child), and holidays like Christmas and Easter were recognized more for their fun/materialistic secularity (gift giving, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, new Easter dresses and coats, etc.) than for the solemn events in the life of Christ they actually honor. My family regarded them as “children’s holidays” that adults indulged and that would eventually be outgrown. Although I was baptized Methodist (and I was surprised to learn my Protestant baptism was recognized as valid by the Catholic Church), we never became very active in any church and therefore were not part of any enduring “church family.” When church was attended, it was a sterile, secular affair, full of feel-good stories of God’s unconditional love, lessons about tolerance and social justice (nothing wrong with that, of course, but it wasn’t very religious nor fill me with a sense of awe or wonder), and very little that was Biblical or traditional. Services revolved mainly around the sermon, always a feel-good pep talk about God’s all-encompassing love and loving one another. All of this clap-happy, touchy feely reformed-Protestant stuff flew in the face of the constant anger, rage, loneliness, and discord that was constantly going on at home. Due to that, all the messages about positive-thinking and feel-goodness seemed insincere and meaningless, and didn’t address the very real problems in my family that made me feel so defective and different from everyone else.

For a short time–maybe one or two years–my father became fascinated by Christian Science, and I was sent to a Christian Science Sunday school. I was too young to comprehend the metaphysical beliefs they espoused, which basically preached that all that was material was an illusion, and only Spirit mattered (later my father would become active in Religious Science, a similar belief system that isn’t based in Christianity and overlaps a great deal with New Thought, part of the New Age movement). I couldn’t wrap my young brain around the metaphysical mumbo jumbo I heard on Sunday and I desperately needed something tangible to offset my growing feelings of dissociation from myself and the rest of humanity and from God Himself. I was filled with uncertainty about what was real and what wasn’t. Living on a diet of spiritual junk food, I was starving for emotional and spiritual sustenance. Although I coudn’t have put it into words, I needed to experience the Divine with my five senses.

holy_communion
How I envied these girls!

Enter Catholic school. In 5th grade, the bullying at the local public school became so bad that my parents decided to take matters into their own hands and despite their misgivings about the Catholic Church, I was sent to a Catholic girls’ school. My grades immediately improved and I found it easier to make friends with these girls than at the public school. My parents were surprised (and probably a little disturbed) that one of my favorite classes (and the one I did best at) was Religion. I didn’t become religious back then, nor did my faith in God deepen (I was for all intents and purposes agnostic), but I found myself always looking forward to the masses we used to have at school on religious days. Although the highly liturgical services confused me at first (knowing when to stand up and sit down, memorize the various prayers, etc) I found myself drawn to the orderliness and beauty of the Mass. It somehow seemed Godlike and was steeped in history that the Protestant services I’d attended with my parents just didn’t have. I envied the cool trappings of Catholicism (when the other girls were going through Confirmation, they got a new name and a pretty dress and I wanted that too) and longed to be able to take Communion with everyone else. I wanted a set of my own rosary beads. Today I know these things really don’t matter (I think whatever denomination you are–even if none at all–is a matter of personal preference) but at my tender age, these tangible things seemed part of some wonderful, sacred, mysterious and heavenly world I couldn’t be part of. Sitting there in my folding chair watching the proceedings, I always felt the presence of God and a benevolent, forgiving love I never felt from my own family, even though I had to remain seated during the communion. It was one of the few places where I could feel the benevolence of God.

Many cradle Catholics remember negative experiences from their childhood about the Church and turned away from it as they came of age, but as someone who only knew it as a refuge from the harsh realities that took place in my agnostic home, I never developed those negative associations with Catholicism. I loved most of the nuns at my school. With one or two exceptions, they seemed so kind and compassionate, very saintlike–and they seemed to care about me in a way I never felt I got from my own family. Although I never talked about what went on at home, one nun in particular who seemed to favor me for some reason, guessed that things at home weren’t ideal, and told me to come see her anytime I needed to talk. I never did (for fear of what might happen if I “squealed” about the family to an outsider), but it felt good to know that she cared enough to reach out to me.

As I grew older I fell away from Christianity (not that I’d ever really embraced it much and knew next to nothing about the Bible or the life of Christ), and experimented with other belief systems, including Scientology and Buddhism, if anything at all. The Bible seemed to me like a book of ancient fairy tales with no relevance to my own life. I rarely prayed and looked down on churchgoing and religious people as ignorant and deluded. Although I never embraced full-on atheism (it was too depressing to think there was no afterlife at all), I thought that if God existed, he was pretty much hands-off and that everyone, other than the most hardened criminals and mean, cruel people, would get to Heaven, if there even was such a place. The concept of reincarnation made a lot more logical sense to me than the idea of heaven or hell.

But my soul was still starving and I think deep down I always knew this. Every once in a while, in spite of my doubts about the existence of God, I’d make time to attend a Catholic mass. I didn’t believe what they preached, in fact I thought most of it was pretty silly, but I loved the ritual and the order, and somehow always came away feeling transcended. I’d go take Communion (knowing as a non-Catholic I wasn’t supposed to) and feel somehow nourished. In a way I couldn’t explain, witnessing the reverence and beauty of the Mass, made me feel like part of something much bigger than myself and accepted for who I was, not (as in my FOO) expected to be someone I could never be.

I toyed with other Christian faiths, including Lutheranism and the Southern Baptist church. During the late 1980s, I attended a Lutheran church (and was confirmed as Lutheran) mainly because the man I married was Lutheran. The services were called masses and were very liturgical and quite similar in many ways to the Catholic mass, but they seemed watered down, somehow. For instance, the communion wafer was regarded as symbolic rather than being the actual Body of Christ. We never became deeply involved with the Lutheran church, and although we had our kids baptized Lutheran, we did not attend church on Sundays or otherwise do much to encourage their spiritual development.

When we moved to North Carolina from northern New Jersey, we were faced with culture shock–instead of having mostly Catholic and Jewish neighbors, suddenly we found ourselves surrounded by Southern Baptists who insisted we needed to be “saved.” Still looking for spiritual nourishment, I started attending services at the local Baptist church as well as Bible studies on Tuesdays nights. My kids attended 2 years of Vacation Bible School. I never cottoned to the hellfire-and-brimstone preaching though, or the literal interpretation of the Bible. I was especially turned off by the church’s conservative political agenda, that actually told us we were “going to Hell” if we didn’t vote Republican, as well as their dismissal of science. I decided to stop attending church there.

hellfire
Hellfire-and-brimstone preaching is a turn off to me.

A few years later, my daughter had a friend at school whose parents were Southern Baptists, and my daughter, age 9 at the time, decided to be baptized in their church. I was fine with that, even though I disagreed with the southern Baptist belief system, because it took the burden off of me to be responsible for her spiritual growth. I attended her baptism and was surprised at how modern the service was, with a pop-rock band that played contemporary Christian music rather than traditional hymns. Intrigued, I decided to attend a few more services, but I always felt like I was at a rock concert rather than at church. In spite of the emphasis on Biblical literalism, during the long, emotional sermons, I never felt my soul uplifted or any real feeling of spiritual transcendence. Although very different from the touchy-feely, heaven-awaits-no matter-what-you-do preaching of the liberal Protestantism of my childhood, this hellfire-and-brimstone preaching bookended by Christian contemporary music with the words splashed on a huge TV screen didn’t do much for me either. I longed for tradition, for history, for meaning.

I still occasionally attended Catholic masses, but never thought I’d actually become one. But shortly after I went No Contact with my ex (who freeloaded off me and mentally abused me for almost 7 years following our divorce and nearly bled me dry emotionally, mentally, financially, and spiritually) I began to blog. My mental and physical health came back first, and then I realized I was still starving spiritually. I needed God, who after all, had been watching and protecting me all the time I was in an abusive marriage and had shown me on several occasions how real He was. Last October, I decided to start attending Mass as well as RCIA classes (the classes you take to become Catholic). I had doubts about much of the doctrine (and truth be told, still do). I still wasn’t sure I wanted to become Catholic, but I thought I should at least take the classes and make an educated decision.

To my surprise, I found that Catholic doctrine isn’t very different from what I’ve always believed anyway. The Bible is held as important (more important than many fundamentalist Christians believe we do) but much of its content is not not interpreted literally and therefore doesn’t fly in the face of centuries of scientific discovery and achievement. Yes, we are saved by grace alone (all Christians are), but works are also important and are tangible evidence of God’s grace. Sacraments (communion, confession, etc) give tangibility to God’s grace although (I don’t think) they are necessary for salvation. Confession is not a punishment; it is an opportunity to unload to someone else and makes you feel better afterwards (very similar to a 4th step in a 12-step program). Although I had my doubts at first, I’ve come to believe the Host (the communion wafer) does actually become the body of Christ, due to the glorious, transcended way I always feel after partaking. I do feel like my soul is being changed for the better, even though it’s not a Saul-to-Paul-like sudden conversion full of fireworks and drama.

I admit I do still have some issues, mostly having to do with the Catholic church’s stance on social matters such as abortion and homosexuality, as well as the fact that priests still must be male. I don’t think the Pope is infallible either (he is just a man), but I understand the reasoning behind having a Pope and I happen to like the current Pope anyway. I don’t venerate Mary and the saints, although I have utmost respect for them. Veneration isn’t the same as worship, anyway. Only Jesus as God is worshipped so there’s nothing un-Christian there, a far as I’m concerned.

rosary_beads

Because of my doubts and personal proclivities, I’ll probably never be the “perfect Catholic” or “perfect Christian” but that’s okay. I pray that God keeps working on my soul to cleanse it from sin and I’m willing to believe anything God wants me to believe. I’m willing to turn my soul and my life over to the Creator. Whenever I’m at mass, I feel part of a vast family and something glorious, beautiful and so much bigger than myself or all humanity. I feel accepted in God’s kingdom and have begun to fear death and the future less than I used to. The tangibility, beauty and order of the liturgical tradition–the memorized call-and-response prayers, the communion procession, the incense, the swelling organ music and the singing, the kneeling and the standing, the Sign of the Cross, and all the rest of these “silly rituals”–makes me feel that God is a tangible, real thing, someone who is RIGHT THERE and that I can see, hear, smell, feel, touch and even taste. The traditional hymns with their pipe-organ and piano music and the ancient prayers imbue a sense of mystery and history into the services that neither liberal Protestantism or fundamentalist pop-rock sing-alongs do for me. And I love the Bible readings too. I’m beginning to feel that the messages in the Bible do have meaning for me personally. The orderliness and ritual of the mass is regarded by some as mindless, dull and lacking spontaneity (and to some extent I can understand this view), but I find the repetitive and predictable aspects such as the call-and-response prayers and chants to have an uncanny way of eventually filtering down from my mind into the deepest part of my heart, in a way a hellfire-and-brimstone or feel-good, prosperity-gospel sermonizing can never do.

Before becoming Catholic, I toyed with the idea of becoming Eastern Orthodox, a religion which, if anything, is even more liturgical and steeped in ritual, history, and tradition than the modern Catholic church (and is somewhat more liberal in its stance on women’s rights and birth control), but finding a sizable Orthodox community here in the Southern United States is a huge challenge to say the least. I did actually attend one Orthodox mass about five years ago (my son’s Kung Fu teacher was Russian Orthodox and invited us to attend his church), and although it was incredibly beautiful (and the food served afterwards was delicious), the feel of the Orthodox mass was a little too “foreign” for my taste. Anglicanism (The Church of England) also has a rich liturgical tradition (please see my Christmas post “O Come All Ye Faithful”) but again, is uncommon here in the southern US, and it’s still Protestantism anyway. I like the idea of being part of the oldest and largest practicing Christian community in the world that has such a rich and colorful history (even if at times in the past it wasn’t especially Christ-like). I feel proud to be a part of that. Although I know the trappings and ritual are more a matter of personal preference than salvation, for me they make an abstract God seem more real. Coming from such a chaotic, unpredictable background, the order and predictability of the liturgy is food for my soul. My adopted religion may not be the only road to salvation, but it’s the only road for me. Thanks be to God.

Millennials and liturgical Christianity.
As an aside, the Millennial generation, although largely turned off by religion, are, when drawn to religion, are converting to “high church” (liturgical) Christianity such as Anglicanism, Catholicism, and the Orthodox church. They are a generation that (like me, even though I’m not a Millennial) longs for a sense of tradition and connection with history that’s lacking in the evangelical, fundamentalist, and liberal Protestantism or New Age or atheistic belief systems they were raised with, all of which largely ignore or dismiss 1800 years of Christian history and tradition.

Further reading:
Why Millennials Long for Liturgy: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/why-millennials-long-for-liturgy/
Millennials are Seeking Tradition, Sacramentality, and Liturgy: http://www.catholicvote.org/millennials-are-seeking-tradition-sacramentality-and-liturgy/

Bring it on!

itsmytime

This week has been very difficult for me emotionally. It started with an unnamed, free-floating but intense anxiety and panic, to the point I could barely function. A few days ago I plummeted into a black depression that seemed different somehow in quality from my prior zombie-like apathetic depressions. it felt more alive and more proactive in some way. I’m pretty sure I had an idea all along of what was about to happen but it hadn’t quite bubbled into conscious awareness yet. Its rising through the murky swamp of my unconscious caused me to panic and then a kind of grief took over but I still couldn’t name what it was.

Most of you who read this blog regularly know I began this blog almost a year ago as a form of self therapy (because I couldn’t afford a therapist). From the beginning, I committed myself to 100% honesty. Well, I’ve probably fallen short of that goal, as I’ve omitted some important discoveries and other things about myself that I simply didn’t feel comfortable sharing, even under my alias.

Last night–nearly 11 months from the day I started this online journal–I had a huge breakthrough. Prior to this, I tried to sleep but could not. When I did my dreams were upsetting and I had this overwhelming sense of aloneness and separateness. I woke up shaking and close to tears. I gave up trying to sleep and talked to 2 close Facebook friends for awhile. They’ve been a bit worried about me this week because my mood has been so erratic and I’ve done so much crying, which until recently has been unusual for me. I cried all the time as as a child but then dried up sometime during my teens.

Several things have led to my breakthrough: writing a LOT about my feelings and recovery from narcissistic abuse, reading as much about narcissism, BPD and PTSD as I could get my hands on, trying my best to always be honest no matter how painful or embarrassing (but not always succeeding), and finding God and the power of prayer. It’s been an incredible roller coaster ride.

For several weeks prior to last night, I’d been praying for the ability to regain the easy access to my emotions I had as a child, only tempered with the wisdom and restraint of an adult, of course. I kept reading, writing, and trying to elicit emotion through music, movie-watching, and self-reparenting. I knew this required making myself as vulnerable as possible. I took myself to see “Inside Out,” which loosened something inside me but not quite enough. It was like one of those almost-sneezes that never quite comes out and leaves you wanting to punch a wall in frustration. Nothing much happened after that. I was growing impatient.

dear_past

A week ago, I fell into my panicky, anxious state followed by a “wet” depression (that included tears instead of my usual catatonic apathy). I didn’t even know what I was crying about. I lost my motivation to write (in retrospect, I think this as a form of self protection when I needed it). I was snappish and irritable on the job but would come home and set aside alone time so I could just let everything out without fear of embarrassment or shame. I knew instinctively something important was about to make itself known and that scared me, but I felt a kind of excitement too.

It happened last night at about 3 AM after my Facebook friends and I ended our conversation. I read something that triggered a deep knowledge that hit me like jolt of electricity. For a few terrifying minutes I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath and I might even throw up. I felt hot and cold flashes and started to shake. What I learned was overwhelming and devastating–but I also knew I’d known this for a long time but had repressed it.

Everything suddenly made sense and I felt like I was seeing my situation and all my relationships—hell, over 50 years of my life–with eyes that had been closed since I was very young. I remembered, vaguely, that someone told me something when I was four years old. I couldn’t remember what was said or who said it but I did know whatever it was had been the catalyst when all my problems started that would not abate for over 50 years. One day when I’m ready I’ll remember what actually was said and who said it. I cried harder than I’ve cried since I was about 12. I can’t go into detail right yet about what this discovery was–I’m not ready. I may never be ready. But it’s something that although its discovery is incredibly upsetting to me, it’s also something I needed to have in my conscious awareness before I could really start to do the hard work necessary for real healing.

God answers prayers in his own time. He’s working on me. I have faith he works on all of us if we reach out with a sincere heart and ask for help. Now that I have this information that was revealed to me, the next step is to figure out what to do with it. Right now I just feel shell shocked. I have to be gentle with myself while I work through and try to understand everything that happened. I’m working on finding a therapist to help me sort it out because I think it’s too big for me to handle all by myself anymore. All I can do right now is keep on praying and writing every day and working on myself and being as mindful as I can until I find someone appropriate. I know the work ahead of me is going to be harder now than it has been and that’s okay. It may take a long time and that’s okay too. I feel like I graduated from something last night. I’m ready for the next step. Bring it on!

Somehow I feel lighter today although I’m exhausted and desperately need a good night’s sleep.
I know I can do this thing. But for the love of all that is holy, WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG?