Sunday, December 20, 2009

Authentic Relationships

I'm so missing those people in my life who accept me exactly as I am. With all my mistakes and issues and quirks. The people who truly know me, and love me anyways.

I hate feeling like I have to constantly be guarded, and keeping everything at an arms length to keep myself safe. I so miss those people who I can just be myself around. The ones who have known me for years. The ones who understand me, who get me.

I don't have those people here. And I so wish I did. I miss having my friends to just talk to, relate with, and do life with. It's hard doing things alone.

And I had NO idea how hard it can be to find true friends. I guess that's because the true friends I have are the people who have been in my life for years, since I was a kid. As children, we simply were who we were. Open to ideas and possibilities and things that were different than us. We each simply were who we were, without pretense or understanding that our innate personalities needed to be changed. This made it easy for kids to connect and get to know each other, and true friendships were formed.

Now, as adults we all have to work so hard to be the "perfect" whatever - mom, wife, employee, etc. Instead of being real with people, we have to make sure we project the image we want everyone to see. We create idealized versions of ourselves that have very little bearing in reality. That lack of authenticity makes true relationships nearly impossible.

I want to be real. And authentic. And get to know other people who are the same way. I want lasting friendships with true friends.

I guess that's a process though. So for now, I am SO incredibly grateful to be heading home for Christmas to the people who really know and love me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Front Page News

Ok, deep breaths... lots of them...

In... Out... In... Out...

These last few days have been some really hard ones. It just seems like I can't finish dealing with one emotional rollercoaster before another takes off. And I'm struggling to maintain some semblance of sanity and not end up right where I was 6 months ago.

Can you believe it's been 6 months? On one side, it feels like yesterday that I was so torn apart I couldn't function. I can remember every emotion, every hurt, every way that I tried to cover it up and make it go away. (None of them worked, by the way)

One the other hand, it feels like an eternity since I had the life I did 6 months ago. Both the good and the bad. It's amazing how far I've come and how things have changed. Solely by the grace of God, I survived. There were days I probably shouldn't have.

But this isn't about 6 months ago. This is about today. It's about moving forward instead of going back. It's about finding some peace in all the chaos and trying to just breathe when I feel like I can't.

I'm really good at hiding things. I am an impeccable liar when I want to be. I can make anyone believe just about anything, and I can hide things that I don't want people to know for as long as I need to. These "skills" (I say that because I do know that these are not positive attributes) helped me get away with way more than I should have as a teenager and beyond. It hasn't been until recently that I have learned that just because I can get away with these things doesn't mean I should.

However, there are some secrets of my past that I am so ashamed of and guilt ridden over, that I've never felt I had any choice but to hide them from everyone. Not a single person in the world except those who were a part of the experience had any idea about the nightmare that I lived for a year.

That all changed yesterday. When it became front. page. news.

Let me tell you how much it sucks when the one thing you've spent the last 8 years of your life desperately trying to hide from everyone makes headlines in the morning paper.

It feels like someone ripped open my soul and exposed it for the entire world to see. One ugly detail at a time. And there is absolutely nothing I can do about it but sit back and watch it all unfold. I have a front row seat to my own demise. I get to witness my entire wall of secrets come crashing down and the awful truths behind them glaring out for everyone to see.


And frankly, I haven't been dealing with it well. At all.

A (few) stiff drinks and an abundance of pills, mixed with plenty of anger and hurt have been my weapon of choice for riding this out. Curling up under the covers and wishing it would go away has been playing an active role as well. Of course, these things are much better alternatives than facing this thing head on. Than dealing with it once and for all. Than talking to someone about all the things that I've kept hidden for the last 8 years.

Nope, I'll just continue to do it my way. Because I'm not ready to talk to someone or let them be there for me or deal with this disaster. I just can't.

You'd be surprised at all the things that time DOESN'T heal.

Monday, December 14, 2009

You can have THAT "god"...

I was walking into an OBGYN office today, where the doctor also happens to do abortions. *Note - NO I am not getting an abortion. I am not pregnant. I don't plan to be. I was there for totally unbaby related reasons*

As I was walking in, I was "greeted" by a group of people holding signs and yelling at me about the evils of what I was about to do and telling me that there were other ways because their "god" loved me. All this while shoving pictures of aborted babies and the burning fires of hell in my face.

Again, I'm not pregnant, and I'm certainly not in the market for an abortion. But what if I was? What if I was 18, pregnant, and scared to death? What if the baby's father had left me and I had no one to turn to? What if I felt that I had let everyone in the world down and didn't know what to do? What if my parents had kicked me out and my friends had abandoned me? What if I felt like an abortion was my only way out? Would these people, screaming at me in the name of "god" and telling me I'm going to go to hell for what I believe is my only option really going to change my mind? Will it make me feel like everything will be ok and that people love and care about me? Of course not.

You can have that "god".

You can keep your "god" in who's name you blow up buildings, murder innocent bystanders, and shoot unarmed people. You can have the "god" who condones the rape of an innocent child, the forced marriage of a 14 year old girl, and the right of a man to beat his wife into submission. You can hang onto the "god" who wants his followers to walk into an Army medical clinic and shoot unarmed soldiers on American soil. You can keep your "god" in who's name people fly planes into buildings, plant car bombs in highly populated areas, and kidnap and kill those who don't share their beliefs.

I want nothing to do with a "god" who would turn his back on the drug addict desperately trying to get his life together, the prostitute who was sold into the business as a child, or the adulterer who only wants a second chance. I don't want a "god" who would want his followers to unabashadly hurl insults and accusations at a scared and alone 18 year old pregnant girl. I have no interest in serving a "god" who would turn his back on a single mom doing everything she can to support her babies, even if that means working in a bar at night. I don't want a "god" who allows his followers to spew hatred at a person because they are gay, or who refuses to have anything to do with someone because of the way they dress or the tattoos on their body. This "god" that judges people based on their social status and the amount of money they put into the offering plate is not something I want to be involved in. I don't want a "god" who demands perfection and will accept nothing less, so that I never measure up and spend my entire life feeling unworthy.

People do horrible, henous, AWFUL things in the name of "god". I promise you though, those people do not know GOD.

All over the world, these people use "god" has their posterchild for whatever cause they happen to believe in. They use religion as an excuse for their actions. That is NOT God, that is manmade evil. People take their personal opinions and put god's name on it to give them an excuse for otherwise inexcusable actions.

God gives his people a cause. He calls his children to a mission higher than ourselves. But that mission has nothing to do with judging people, changing people, or killing people in his name.

God's cause is simple... LOVE PEOPLE.

That's it. Not "change people". Not "force people to do what you believe is right". Not "scare people into not having an abortion". Not "judge people". Certainly not "kill people".

Just love people.

God's people have a mission, but they don't haveto justify it by screaming to the world that they are doing it in HIS name. Those who truly know God are the ones comforting the children who just lost their family to a suicide bomber. They are the ones feeding the hungry and nursing the sick back to health. You will find those that know God comforting the woman who regrets the choice she made to have an abortion, and welcoming the tattooed biker into their church. You will find them on mission fields around the world, helping to show God in practical ways by bringing food and clothing and education and healthcare to some of the poorest nations in the world. You will also find them in your own backyard, spending time with troubled teens and helping struggling single moms.

These people know God.

So those people across the street today, screaming at me about how I would spend eternity in hell for having an abortion do NOT know God. The man who rapes and beats little girls does NOT know God. The coward who opens fire on a room full of people in the name of religion does NOT know God.

So it's simple... you can keep your "god". And I'll do everything I can to help that terrifed 18 year old pregnant girl know that she is loved and safe and things will be ok, no matter what choice she makes. I'll show her what God really looks like.

And it shouldn't be hard...

I was that girl once.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Not Me Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

So, I LOVE MckMama and her blogs. I'm actually probably borderline obsessed lol. It feels like you know her, and I've been following her family's AMAZING story for a while now. I especially love her "not me" Mondays, and have decided to participate. Enjoy.

I did NOT put Olive Garden to go boxes in the oven and then turn it on, and come back to melted plastic and seafood alfredo all over the racks. And I certainly did not take a quick picture and then proceed to close the oven door and leave it there. Nope. Not me.

I did NOT move the clock back 30 minutes so I could put the boys in bed and have a few minutes to myself. I would NEVER do that.

And I certainly did not finish my 5 year olds homework for him because I forgot about it before I put him to bed, and didn't want the phone call from his teacher tomorrow explaining the importance of completing all homework. Not me. Never.

And finally, I did not have nachos for lunch and a bottle of wine and gummy bears for dinner. I would never be that irresponsible or unhealthy. Not me.

What did you not do today?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Complicated...

"It's Complicated"

I use those words a LOT.

To describe relationships, my life, my thoughts, my past...

But what do I really mean?

Do I really mean "I don't want to talk about it right now"? Or "You're not worth the effort it will take to explain it"? Or "I just don't want to go there"? Or "You wouldn't understand"?

Well, at some point I'm sure I've meant it in every one of those ways... but the truth is, it really is complicated.

It's hard to explain something that I myself don't fully understand. It's hard to reconcile the past with the present, the absolute with the variable, and the simple with the not so easy.

Part of it is that I know what's there to explain. I know how bad it gets. I know the ugly, sordid, sometimes unimaginable truth that sits behind the questions. Truth that I wish I could change. Truth that is so repungent that it hurts to even think about, much less explain.

My life wasn't always beautiful. There is a lot hidden beneath the surface that few have any idea exists. But unfortunately, it is what shaped me into who I am. That doesn't mean it is simple, or easy, though.

It's complicated.

I guess what I mean when I say it's complicated is that there is so much shame there that I can't, or won't, talk about it. Shame for things I've done, shame for things that have happened that I had no control over but that still deeply affected my world, shame for decisions I've made because of circumstances I was in... That's what is so complicated... figuring out the "hows" and "whys" and moving past the "what ifs".

I want to let someone in, to let them know me completely... my life, my past, my world. I want to be able to open up completely to someone, and lay it all out. But it's complicated... how it is possible that another person could accept and understand, when even I can't? It's easy to tell someone that there is nothing they can say that would make you leave. It's entirely different to feel that way after someone's darkest secrets come out.

I keep thinking about the song "Only Grace". In case you haven't had the opportunity to hear it, here it is...

I LOVE this song. I just haven't figured out how to live it, yet... I can't wrap my head around the concept, even though I SO want to. I can't imagine it all being let go. It all being over. It was a huge process to put it behind me. One that I've finally been semi-successful at over the last few months. But the idea of truly letting it go? Of not being terrified of someone seeing what's there? I wouldn't even know where to begin...

"I'm a lot better before you get to know me". I heard that said today, on (which you should absolutely check out if you haven't, by the way).

I think that's true of me. I think that's true of a lot of people. We are so trapped by our past that we can't just let go and allow the future to be. We sabotage relationships, successes, and friendships because we don't want anyone to see beyond the surface. There comes a certain point, and then after that, it's complicated.

That's all people get after a certain point. And that means we're cheating them. And ourselves.
But it's safer than allowing someone to see what's really there. Especially when it's dark and ugly. So at least "It's complicated" is safe.

But at what point do we decide to push past the complications, open ourselves up, and allow grace to become a permanent part of our lives? Honestly, I don't know. I haven't done it yet.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I am sitting in front of a crackling fire (that I started ALL by myself - I'm so proud of myself) and sipping a glass of wine.

The boys are in bed. The laundry is *mostly* done. I am watching The Polar Express and, until 2 minutes ago, was working on my Christmas letter.
It's another Thankful Thursday, and there is PLENTY to be thankful for.
I am thankful for...
...having a REAL Christmas tree for the first time EVER. I've waited 25 years for this, and I LOVE it. Isn't is pretty? *I'm also thankful for the great guy who had the patience to put up with my mother and I spending an hour picking it out and then did all the work to load it and cut it and haul it in the house*
... the possibility of SNOW in HOUSTON tomorrow. It's amazing. And I am incredibly excited. It will be like a tiny piece of home.

... the ability to have children. I didn't think I wanted any more babies, ever. But after a couple of months ago when I thought I was going to lose that all together, I am so grateful that I can hopefully and Godwilling still have a child someday if I choose to.

... employees who keep me on my toes and keep me entertained. I love the guys who work for me. If I have to spend 8-10 hours a day with a group of guys, they are definitely the ones I would pick! It makes my job so much easier to be around people I consider friends.

... the inner strength I have only recently discovered that I have. I am so PROUD of the ability to be independent and take things in stride and do them myself. I can change lightbulbs, start fires, hang draperies, and even fix flats and kill bugs if I HAVE to. (Of course, I prefer not to do ANY of those things given the choice) But the point is I didn't think I could for a long time, and now I know that I can.

... music. It is such a gift. I love music. I love singing. I love performing. And I miss it. It's something I'm starting to seriously consider getting involved in again. Some of my BEST memories from the last 15 years involve music - London, CCC, Centralaires, junior high, singing in church, performing at the bar. All of it was pretty great, because it was just me being me, and doing something I love. And it's always nice to have something you're good at :)

... the little things. Pretty flowers, Midol, chocolate covered gummy bears, Precious Moments ornaments with tons of memories, taking pictures, hot bubble baths, warm blankets, and chilled wine.

Life is beautiful. Always.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

After A While...

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul

And you learn love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security

And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open

With the grace of an adult
Not the grief of a child

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling apart in mid-flight

After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much

So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers

After a while you learn
That you really can endure
That you really are strong
And that you really do have worth

And you learn... and you learn...
With every goodbye you learn

In case you were wondering where I got the name of my blog - this is where.

You learn, and you grow, and you figure it out along the way. And life goes on. Always.

Even when you think you can't. Even when you don't want to. Even when you don't care.

It still goes on...

I spent a LOT of time waiting for the flowers. And it was such a waste of time and energy.

I started taking little steps towards planting my own garden and decorating my own soul about 2 years ago. I was in the midst of a crazy, abusive, broken relationship and was a disaster. But somehow, in the middle of all that, I got brave enough to do something for ME. I bought a motorcycle. At a huge price. Not monetarily, but emotionally and sometimes physically. And I have NEVER regretted it. Because it was the first step to finding me.

Despite the small steps here and there, it's still only been in the last 6 months that I have really began to decorate my own soul. Find what makes me happy. Discover my passions and abilities.

It's my guitar. It's my music. It's my motorcycle. It's skydiving. And dancing. And scary movies. And chocolate covered gummy bears. And cooking amazing new dishes. And concerts. And photography. And football. And tons of other things that I'm not even sure about yet.

It's decorating MY soul. And then surrounding myself with people who love and appreciate it.

After a while... you learn...