Stuck at the Gate

I arrived home, realizing I’d been avoiding my mailbox like the plague. My life has been busy lately, and busy tends to be translated as anxious x10 to my worrisome mind.

I killed our lawn mower. My husband killed our SUV and my van nearly died. All in that order over a three week period. While I’d like to say I handled this and the heating element of my dryer also dying with grace and patience…I did not. (But I sure thought I did!) It’s was all well and good until I showered a few nights ago. Then the tears fell – over my inability to use the soap dispenser with my ‘write’ hand. I sat down and sobbed, which made it worse, which made me sadder still. (Holy shit it’s been a ride. So glad I can’t repeat the past.)

Air drying towels and jeans should be a sin. There’s nothing I hate more than crispy towels and crunchy jeans. I can only compare it to stale cereal. Just yuck.

Anyway. That’s not what this is about.

In my mailbox was a letter…from my mother. Her cursive writing that spelled out my name and address made me feel heavy, like a laundry basket full of wet towels. I just placed it under my arm, walking inside feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders…

As I opened the envelope and pulled out the card I could see through the light blue background more cursive, more wordy thoughts, more glaring, dead references about my life, because judging is what she has always seemed to do best when it came to me. There wasn’t a bit of space left. Words were everywhere.

Not now I thought. I just can’t. I put the baby to sleep. I did dishes, folded clothes. I could not forget I’d gotten it.

Mom wrote…

Dear Bits, I was in a car accident in December in Portland. I was on my way to see my friend, my best friend since preschool. She took her own life. I didn’t know. It happened in October, but her husband hadn’t told anyone. He sent my Christmas card back, writing on the back that she’d passed. I called him and he told me everything. Just so sad.

I felt like the world had swallowed me up. 

I felt like an asshole.

I felt like a selfish asshole.

I read the rest. Out of guilt, out of remorse, and because my shame compelled me to.

Deep breath. It’s just words right?

My mothers parting lines – 

I want to ask your forgiveness and begin the restoration of our mother/daughter relationship. Let us cross over the bridge together that has kept our relationship apart, and move forward.

In my 35 years of life, not once has she said ‘I’m sorry’ for the things she’s done. Though she raised me to say it, believe it, bleed that forgiveness from every sorry pore.

I’m not ready

Deep breath

I don’t want to put away that list

The one filled with pain

Of abuse and manipulation

That one that keeps me here

Standing at the gate

My mother, filled with religion, with blame

The abyss I see just before the bridge she asks me to cross with her

I can’t

I know I should. I know that. Everything I have ever been taught, by her no less, has shown me it’s better, easier, right to cross that bridge. Everything , every Thing she’s ever done has only led me to a road void of love, and laden with the pot holes of her heavy hand, my burden to lay bare here.

Here is where I admit I hate the things she did/didn’t do. My own seething anger for all the times she beat the shit out of us because she wasn’t stable, able, willing to love – it leaves a taste of bitter fruit. The thought of letting go is at first so enticing, until a bite is taken and the drip of reality hits my palette. I can’t…

…But I will.

Meth/Death and Life is…

*I had the most amazing (powerful?) post written for today….and then my baby cried and with that alone on my mind I closed the screen and all was lost. So.Very.Frustrating.*

 

The words spelled out how aging comes to a woman who use to ‘do’ (crystal meth). Craved it more than the air, more than her sanity, her life. They were words brought together by pain and suffering, loss and hunger. RAGE. The nouns though few were ‘just’ people. People who only betrayed her, easily molded her. She became a child sleeping on a park bench…night after cold/damp/dark and scary night. Sentences filled with lowly quotes, angry musings. Perhaps a thought put to the paper on how growing older is such a miracle – because it is. She is amazed she survived at all.

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The places, the things/moments that put her there were woven into what would have been real/raw/and punctuated with needed heart-breaking. A story of rage turned toward redemption. The solitude that helped her find her peace. The child that lost her innocence but found a way to give that child a home, a comforting place…deep within.

It was to be all of those ‘things’ that one remembers, of a life gone but never far enough from her mind…

The closing was to be all about the light that had shown through her window, right to her thankfully still-beating heart, as the sun was rising…

I am an addict, forever in recovery. I am 19 years CLEAN this month. Though my teeth still show the regrets of my youth, my drug use, and the ravages of time…I will take it. This age. This wisdom. This life.

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A Daughters Heart

 

 

There is a child in my daughters class, who every day comes through the door dressed like a model for a department store. Popped collar shirts, masculine jeans, skater shoes…the most expensive of accessories.

The bell rings and his shoulders fall. His discomfort fades away and this beautiful child is – at least until the bell goes off to head back home – no longer the boy his surely loving parents dress him to be, but ‘Linda’…a snarky and at times confident child. Just one of the girls.

My sweet Birdie has sat me down many times to let out the built up frustration she feels on behalf of Linda. Whether this child’s parents even know, how come they make who she feels is obviously more comfortable as a her/she/girl/young lady, dress and act like a him/he/handsome young man. My daughter asks why he should have to pretend to be someone she’s not, while little Birdie has always been allowed to be Birdie.

My daughter does not like the tight, high-riding and/or low cut girls clothing. She does not enjoy bling and glitter, bows and girly-ness. Her wardrobe, much like mine was at her age – is filled with boys clothes, shoes, accessories. Nike football shirts, athletic pants and shorts, basketball shoes. She has one dress, which she has worn once. It wasn’t forced, she wanted it and so I bought it.

While trying to help my little girl (with the over-sized and often overly sensitive heart) understand Linda’s life, and the choices we make to be happy, the wise and wonderful mom in me realized something. My daughter is amazing. My daughter has managed to grasp and master what we take charge humans often find ourselves struggling with – acceptance. Whether of ourselves, others, circumstances, happenstances. She gets it.

 

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(While there are a host of ‘issues’ surrounding this ‘subject of debate’…I’ll cross my t’s and dot my i’s as they find their way to the paper, but not before.)

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I try not to be a drop in what I feel is an already overflowing cup of unsolicited opinions/advice, but I just want to say that with everything going on, going wrong – I am not worried or afraid of Linda’s miraculous friendship with my daughter.

I am fearful of war.

I am heartbroken for each human being that dies because they are starving.

I pray that those who are lost will be found, free, happy.

I do not pray that God changes someone who finds solace in being who they feel they’re meant to be.

 

*I am a Christian, and I’ve read the Bible. I’ve also lived, lost, learned along the way.*

 

I love my children, and as long as I’m living and beyond I will love them. If I can love my children then I can love your children. If I can accept my children’s desire to be who they choose/need to be, well then I can do the same for yours.

This isn’t about what I want but what makes my children/our children feel whole. I don’t understand it. But I’m not afraid of it, of change. I’m not afraid of a difference of opinion either, but I’m afraid for those human beings that are cast aside because they choose to live. I’m just one person I know. God has taught me that if nothing else, He’s saved me to share His love. He fought for my life through addiction, homelessness…and I’ll be damned if I’m going to be the one to cast a stone at one of HIS greatest gifts…another human being. A life worthy of existence. All unique, all loved, all beautiful in his eyes and therefore in mine.

 

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Because He Loves Me.

My father died the day after Easter four years ago. He was in a hospital, surrounded by those he loved, that loved him. I was not there. I was not able to hold his hand or sit with my brother while he cried for our father. I could only call from 1700 miles away and hope that my words made a difference. I was beside myself with guilt. I missed my dad. I missed being there.

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When I was a child my father took us to Grandma and Grandpas house for Easter. Ham, homemade canned cherries, black olives on each finger. Easter egg hunts, and running amuck with my many cousins, my brother. That’s what Easter should be. Memories carried throughout our lives. The memories that we want to pass on to our children.

Though it’s been so long since I went home to see my family, they are always close. A thought, a prayer away. My dad, in my mind, is sitting by a fire, enjoying the star light, drinking the worst tasting coffee known to man.

When I became a Christian it was almost unthinkable to me that any being could love me, let alone God. After having my own and very personal tragedies in this life – and living through them, I know He does. I would not be here without God keeping watch, ever waiting for me to stop running and just be still. Protecting me from the terrible choices I made, keeping me from the depths of my own hell. I had children and my eyes were opened to that love in a new way. Giving a child up to save a stranger, let alone a drug addict, teen parent, homeless pile of worthlessness, is something I would never do – but God did that for me.

So, as I sit on my deck, so blessed, knowing what it is to suffer, I’m all too aware that there is much that the world doesn’t see about me, my life. But if I could choose just one part of myself to share with you, it would be the love of God.

I won’t push it on you full court press, that’s not who I am. If you don’t believe in God or are undecided, I don’t cherish you any less, and love you just the same. I don’t preach, I just choose to live my life accepting others as God does with me every day.

No matter your faith I hope this Easter weekend finds you with family, friends, the things you truly cherish in this life. I hope and pray that you look around and see all you have. Your very little bit of heaven may be more than your neighbor has. Know that if you’re spending it alone, or maybe lost, I’m thinking of you. You have a value within that is unmatched.

Make wonderful new memories to replace the sad, lonely moments. Each day is a blessing.

Love Matters

 

Gia ónoma tou Theoú…

 

The ability to see beyond our own lives, and reach out to those who need to be seen, no matter our own struggles is such an integral part of what makes humans, well, human. It is also one of the most healing things to do. It is agape love, biblical if you believe, and at the very least inspiring if you do not.

Love, as with our personalities, lives, unique abilities, cannot be contained or simply placed in one category.

As a small child I was raised attending church and often there more than just Sunday morning. All the different churches we attended taught the importance of accepting, loving, passing it on. (Accepting that Jesus died on a cross for us, was risen to fulfill Gods plan for him, us, the world…and to love others as He loves us.)

‘A man makes plans with his heart, but the Lord guides his steps’ (Proverbs 16:9) is one of, if not the most life altering reading in the bible I have ever come across. I will admit that I have not memorized the bible cover to cover, but I have read it, and some of it many many times. There was a period that I literally fell asleep with my arms wrapped around His word. It is the reason I’m still married, and the reason I forgive myself and others, why I am alive.

As human beings we are often fickle with love, and in a society that has become so narcissistic, all too often use the word and minimize, trivialize its value. Love.

The biblical or ‘agape’ love is what holds society together, and once it dwindles war breaks out, our neighbors sue us, our employers hire cheaper labor that’s inept and our children grow up to be mindless drones who do nothing for their fellow man. People go hungry, homeless, and forgotten. The intimate, ‘philia’ love is found in life long friendships, the bond between men who fight for our freedom and what causes them to never leave a man behind. Our philia love is what, as mothers, We should strive to have with our children. Without it, our lives are without a sense community, our child without intimacy and a sense of deep belonging that will center them. ‘Ludas’ and ‘eros’ love (some say the two are very different, I beg to differ) is what gives us courage to take risks with those we fancy, if you will. We ask for the dance, a hand in marriage, brings our sensual desires to verbalization and sexual fantasies to fruition. Without this love, our courtships would be many, and our desire to receive or show passion would disappear. Our ‘pragma’ love is the ‘forever and ever’ love. It is the matured, time consuming love. Found in people who have been together for years, and is practiced and not just simply ‘there’ for the taking/giving. It is selfless, much like agape love, but harder to achieve with the day to day activities, mountains and valleys of our lives, and the lives of our children. Pragma love is also the most rewarding. It is the tie that binds us, keeps us from walking away. Last, and for myself the least…’philautia’ love is to love yourself. Not to be mistaken with being a narcissist, it is vital to our mental well being and an integral part of how we feel that others view us. For myself, the biggest hurdle in my faith is to love myself, and more importantly not rely on others to do it for me. Philautia is what happens when one looks in the mirror and says ‘BEAUTIFUL’ no matter the hour, income, relationship woes, anxieties. There is no place for a broken mirror in philautia love.

Why the break down you ask? Because it’s crucial to know love, and knowledge is understanding. Our hearts, our love, guide most things women say, do, act out. And that’s wonderful, if you know who’s guiding you.

As a Christian I choose to believe, because that’s a key point of my faith, that God guides me. He guides me by being my starting point and who I look to for love when I can’t find it, feel it, see it. For though I may make plans for my heart, He is there first, to make sure my walk is not at a painful price, to carry me when I can’t take one more step. How you ask? The Word of God.

The bible is not just fire and brimstone, nor is it sin, forgive, sin, blessings, sin, heaven. It is a map to being a person Who FEELS worthy of each and every love. It’s a walk filled with compassion. (If you read the bible and all you feel is guilt, I’ve been there. Guilt is not from God. Forgive yourself, as God did before you even asked.) Jesus came to live out a life as we do now to be able to say ‘I feel you, I have been you and I love you.’ That sense of worth comes from understanding and accepting God created you. He didn’t just snap a finger, do a dance and you appeared. He took a piece of himself, his love and devotion TO YOU, and molded it into this amazing, one of a kind beautiful woman or man, and blessed you. Your uniqueness (or what can make us feel different, and not in a good way) is what He loves most, and if you let Him, will use to change lives.

So you see, in our humanness our love falters, as can our devotion. Gods love doesn’t end because we stop reading our bibles, don’t attend church twice a week. He loves us so much, and was so certain that would never change, he gave us Jesus. He allowed His son to die for our sins. I can tell you that I wouldn’t do that for you, myself, my husband, no one. He sent Jesus to heal the sick, not the well. If you struggle with illness, whether mental or physical, He came for you, was sent for you. For it is the least of these that shall inherit the Kingdom of God. Why again you ask? Because He is devoted to us, loves us. God LOVES you, as a father, friend, physician, the creator of your heart. He loves you. Pass it on. 💜