Friday, January 31, 2014

Hero

a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities



Everybody needs a hero. Sometimes it's that person who rescues you from the school bully or the mean neighborhood dog.

But sometimes we have to be our own heroes. There's not always a knight in shining armor to rescue the damsel in distress. The damsel has to rescue herself.

Years ago my first therapist told me I'd have to save myself from my past. Other people could be my cheerleaders and support staff, but the real work would be all mine.

I didn't like that one bit.

Over time I've come to realize the truth in his words and the value of becoming my own hero. For an abuse survivor it's all about taking back the control that was stolen from me. 

If I'd turned over my recovery to some hero or rescuer I would never have learned how strong I am now or how I strong I was then. Just living through the abuse and moving forward was a success, I just didn't know it at the time.

So here's to heroes. The individuals in the trenches who forget how heroic we really are.

Blessings.

linking up with Five Minute Friday


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Unanswerable Questions

I was sitting in a friend's kitchen on Easter Sunday. It was late spring and the kids were playing outside while we got lunch ready to eat on the front lawn. We had invited a family from church to join all of us because they were new to our congregation and she was a single mom with 2 kids and no family in town.

Her little girl, maybe 7, wandered into the kitchen and sat down at the table beside me. The mother looked at her daughter and said, "You and this lady have something in common." 

And I froze. 

Our commonality was we had both been abused. I knew this was what the mom was referencing. What I couldn't figure out was what she thought I was supposed to do with that opening. 

There is a space in time that freezes, or at least slows down significantly. I got caught in that time/space. Really it was only for a few seconds, but I clearly remember looking with desperation to the other women in that kitchen. Women who knew my story and were waiting for me to offer this little girl a gift of healing. 

I opened my mouth and said, "What's your favorite color?"

That was all I could process, except to know this was neither the time nor the place, nor was I the person to delve into this child's trauma.

She looked at me timidly and said, "Purple."

I smiled and said, "Me too!" And from there we went into a conversation on the benefits of different shades of purple and what other colors we liked using when we drew pictures.

Her mother wandered from the kitchen. I don't know what she had expected. I don't know what I could have done differently.

Their family didn't stay around at church long. I don't think I drove them away, but I'm not sure I offered them something they needed. So if that little girl is reading this now, or her mother is, this is what I want you to know. 

Purple is my favorite color. And I do love to draw and color pictures. I am infinitely sorry for the trauma you experienced, and I wish I had the wisdom to help you heal. But maybe I gave you something. I hope so. 

Blessings.

linking up with Writer's Workshop


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Doors

{explicit content; triggers}

I am a small child and it feels as if she is devouring me. I can't get away and there is no one to call on for help. She has said before she will kill me, and now she is making good on that promise, but in a totally unforeseen way.

I look to my left, and I see my escape. A door. Albeit a closet door, but it is a door nonetheless. Doors are escape hatches in my mind. 

I concentrate on the knob. It is aged brass but still has a bit of sheen to it. I imagine I can see myself in it. I see my hand reaching for it. I can almost touch it. Keep concentrating. Reach. Reach. Reach.

I don't feel the knob in my hand. I don't remember turning it, but now I am sitting on the pillow on my bed as far from her as I can get given that she is in the same room. I pull my knees up under my gown and keep looking to the left. If I shift my eyes I will see her and be trapped again. So I keep my eyes trained to the left. 

There is a bookcase against the wall. Filled with books and my sister's toy horse figurines. 

Our joint collection of Companion Library books. 

The bottom of the bookcase has two sliding doors where we cram everything when told to clean our room.

I keep my eyes trained on the bookcase. Don't blink. I wait, barely breathing until it's over. 

But once it's over will I exist anymore?

linking up with Just Write


Tea Mouse



linking up with Wordless Wednesday & The Jenny Evolution

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . January 28, 2014

Outside my window . . . well it's a blazing 14 degrees here. Actually I know I shouldn't complain since other locations are much colder. It's another grey day, but still no snow.

I am thinking . . . that I pulled off a nice "study" dinner for dh and his friends last night.

I am thankful . . . for a dear, sweet friend who provided me with a tangible reminder of God's love.

In the kitchen . . . last night was slow cooked citrus pork chops, steamed asparagus with garlic, cooked carrots, rosemary sea salt rolls, and blueberry dump cake. Tonight is still up in the air!

I am wearing . . . my usual. Robe, slippers, gown, and my parrot shawl.

I am creating . . . order. Still working on closets and cabinets. Today I'm tackling the laundry room with my bestie's help.

I am going . . . to counseling today. Wednesday is usually counseling day, but I had an unexpected change in plans, so today it is. We are working on another episode of abuse that has been very difficult to work through.

I am wondering . . . (as I often do) if I'm doing this life "right"? Does anyone else struggle with this?

I am reading . . . Hell Hole by Chris Grabenstein. It's number 4 in the John Ceepak Mysteries. Almost done!

I am looking forward to . . . warmer weather! I know it's supposed to be cold in winter, but we have had an unusually cold winter, with no snow, which is at least fun as rule.

I am hearing . . . dd chatting with the dogs. She amuses me in that she talks to them the same way she talks to me, so sometimes I get confused to whom she is talking. (Awkward sounding sentence, and yet grammatically correct -- I think!)

Around the house . . . still looking good! Need to pick up some from last night's dinner, but that's about it.

I am praying . . . for so many people who are struggling with illnesses, loss, and awaiting tests results. Praying for God's peace to cover all of them.

One of my favorite things . . . is pulling off a nice dinner. 

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . cleaning out the laundry room, counseling, grocery shopping, cooking for Room in the Inn, Bible study, another study night dinner, date night, and then SUPER BOWL Sunday!

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 
another photo from FIL's stash






Monday, January 27, 2014

Moogly's Big Rib Scarf
















I realized a few weeks ago the only winter scarves I had had been purchased, so I decided it was time to make something just for me. 

I had seen this yarn a couple of months ago, and picked up a few skeins not knowing what to do with it. As soon as I found this pattern on Moogly, I knew this was the scarf to make with this yarn. Of course, I made a few adjustments in the pattern. Mine is 72 inches long by 6.5 inches wide. I like LONG scarves!

I've worn it several times and am getting lots of compliments on it, but what's most fun is how much I love it myself!

linking up with Made by You Monday


Saturday, January 25, 2014

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Visit

I was supposed to have tea with a dear friend today. But she's had one form or another of crud at her house for a week or more now. She thought we were good to go, but this morning 2 more are sick in her household. 

Visiting can be difficult in these times.

We have access to instant communication no matter how far apart we are. But . . . it's not the same as sitting down with someone, face to face, and really sharing a visit.

We'll reschedule, and in the mean time keep up via texting and social media. Which is an excellent thing in my world -- the world where I could become a hermit. 


Still I look forward to sitting with her in the tea shop while the the Chinese lady shows me how to do tea ceremonies, and then sitting back and catching up over a little cup of perfectly made tea to visit with my friend.

(for Susan)


linking up with Five Minute Friday




Thursday, January 23, 2014

Punched

I've been punched several times in the past few weeks. Not literally, but figuratively. It doesn't lessen the pain, though.

A couple of triggers and a flashback have left me feeling vulnerable and paranoid. I'm working through the pain, and I know I'm in a much better place to deal with these episodes.

But . . .

I'm dealing with memory pain, low self esteem, negative thinking, and just a general sense of being a failure.

This morning my bestie called to check on me. I told her the one positive thing I've gotten from this latest round of "abuse roulette" is the realization that I used to feel this way ALL THE TIME. I walked around in this much pain and feeling this badly about myself, and I still washed clothes, fed my family, shopped for groceries, helped with homework, gave baths, showered and dressed myself, worked part-time, and got to church most Sundays. 

I guess I was doing better than I thought.

Abuse and recovery are a volatile combination. The ups and downs can drive me nutty (but maybe that's just real life for everyone). 

Right now I'm struggling with viewing myself as weak and disgusting. I recognize that's the abuse talking, and I know from personal experience I can get beyond it. It's just going to take some time and kindness on my part.

And maybe a punching bag.


linking up with Writer's Workshop


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

PTSD and Triggers

"There will always be triggers."

But so often in such unexpected places. A pin on Pinterest? Really? A simple crochet pattern?

It never occurred to me to steel my courage before going to Pinterest. Why would it? But there it was. Harmless to others and an immediate reminder for me of terror and pain.

Life can be a minefield for abuse survivors. I find myself going along just fine. Fully accepting my past while living in the present and moving toward the future with so much less fear. And then WHAM! The rug is pulled out from under me. I am a terrified 5 year old again (or 6 or 7 or 8 . . . ). 

I talked with my therapist about this after the last trigger hit. It caught me so off guard, and she reminded me that's the way of triggers and PTSD. I was reminded how much I hate the lasting impact of trauma. Trauma isn't a one time event. It stays with me indefinitely. Even when it's dealt with, it can still rise up out of nowhere and stab me in the chest. 

The key is to apply those lessons I've learned. To put all the therapy to use in that moment. To recognize what's happening and address what is real -- the abuse is not happening now. I have already survived this episode. This is just a reminder, and if I breathe deeply and focus on the present, I will survive this too. Being shaken is not a sign of weakness, but rather a normal reaction to a traumatic event. I'm not a bad person, living in the past, because the present reminds me of the past sometimes. I am a person who survived trauma. It's part of who I am. Every day.



Work Station






linking up with Wordless Wednesday & The Jenny Evolution

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . January 21, 2014

Outside my window . . . gray and overcast. It's 38 degrees. The temps are supposed to drop all day with gusty North winds and a chance of snow.

I am thinking . . . that life is not for sissies, AND I don't know how people do it without God.

I am thankful . . . for so many wonderful blessings in our little family of 4 right now. We laugh and say it feels as if the planets are aligning for us, but I know it is God, and we should enjoy these moments for the blessings they are.

In the kitchen . . . last night was macaroni and cheese. Tonight I'm not so sure. Maybe tilapia, baked potatoes, and broccoli.

I am wearing . . . My homemade gown, flannel robe, flannel slippers, and one of the first shawls I made. Cozy with a cup of tea and the wind blowing outside.

I am creating . . . order in my home while finishing up several crochet works in progress that I came across while organizing my yarn last week.

I am going . . . to have a quiet day at home.

I am wondering . . . about getting through another flashback I had recently. It is more information that needs to be dealt with, and I am dreading it.

I am reading . . . Hell Hole by Chris Grabenstein. It's number 4 in the John Ceepak Mysteries.

I am looking forward to . . . Fun Girls' Day with my besties on Saturday afternoon after I return from the ladies' retreat with church folks.

I am hearing . . . my wind chime dancing in the wind gusts. My son getting ready for school, and my dogs beginning to wake and look for breakfast.

Around the house . . . things are still so orderly! It's lovely and we can't quite figure out how it happened. Dd suggested it's the natural result of 4 healthy, communicating adults living in a house together. Hmmm.

I am praying . . . for my friend, Jean as she awaits a follow up test. I pray for peace, comfort, and love to flow through her body, mind, and soul.

One of my favorite things . . . is creating little nooks of visual happiness like this one --


A few plans for the rest of the week . . . fun day with my bestie, grocery shopping tomorrow, Precepts on Thursday, tea with a friend and then heading out on the retreat on Friday. Fun day on Saturday.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 

completed cabinet organization from last week :)




Monday, January 20, 2014

Cranberry Nut Rice Pilaf

I love rice. 

I just needed to get that out there. So I've made this recipe 3 times in the past 10 days, mostly because it's easy and everyone in the house loves it too.

As usual I started with a different recipe and made a few changes to make it my own (and simplify it).

not the best photo, but I had to grab a shot of the leftovers!

1 cup Mahatma Basmati rice
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 T. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground thyme (according to your taste)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook rice in mixture of broth and juice following package directions but cutting the time to 15 minutes. I also add 1 T. butter and a 1/2 tsp salt at this point. Check the rice and if it is the desired consistency (I like mine a little wet), add the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Cover until ready to serve. Makes 4-6 servings.

I have served this with seared pork medallions and Apricot/Peach Chicken Tenders. Personally, I could just sit and eat the pilaf without anything else.

Happy Eating!

linking up with Made by You Monday


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lost

Not all who wander are lost -- J. R. R. Tolkien

But a lot of us are. Or have been.

I wandered for years in a kind of distorted animation. The world was going on and on around me, but I felt as if I were standing still watching. Wondering how to jump onto the merry-go-round. Wondering why everyone else knew what the plan was, and I was so . . . lost.

When I first began to unravel the mystery of childhood sexual abuse in my own life, it was a roller-coaster ride of emotions. Up and down. Good and bad. Thrilling and depressing. All at one time.

Mostly I was lost. Everyone else knew the plan -- how to get on the merry-go-round and enjoy the ride -- because they weren't walking around with a hole in their soul. They had emotions that hadn't been ripped and shredded by people using them to relieve their own pain. 

But I was lost. My compass had been damaged. I'd lost my way because I'd been harmed and didn't even know it.

It's been a long time repairing the damage. Most days I don't feel so lost anymore. And that's a good thing. But sometimes when I least expect it, it sneaks up on me again, and then I recognize the pain and emptiness of being lost again. And it scares me. Because I don't want to go back to that place of darkness and confusion where there was no way to trust anyone else or even myself.

That's when I remind myself of the guideposts that have been erected -- some by me, some by my therapist, and some by friends and family. I look for those guideposts and I slow down and breathe deeply. I am not lost. I am just wandering.


linking up with Writer's Workshop





{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Encouragement

I can't live without them -- words of encouragement.

I need them to keep plugging along. To keep believing. To stay the course.

And they come from such a variety of people.

The woman who took my order at Panera the other day. The lady in the hallway of the office building. My son. My husband. My daughter. My best friend's husband. The ladies in my Bible class.

And it makes me wonder. Do I offer words of encouragement to others? Often enough? Do I get out of my own head and see the need in others? I hope so. It's something I'm working on, because I'm not the only one who can't live without those words.

Those words that remind me of things I already know, but need to hear, because it's just different when someone else says it out loud. And they are a gift, those words. 

6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.  -- Romans 12:6-8


linking up with Five Minute Friday




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Marriage, Commitment, and Survival

We sit in the counselor's office. We talk about 28 years of marriage. We are committed to each other, to God, to the marriage. Whatever the pc term is right now. We want the same things from marriage, but we keep hitting this wall where our conversations go in circles. Where we don't truly hear what the other is saying.

We are not heading for divorce. We just aren't in a good place right now. I want to feel that he has my back in the little things, and he wants the same thing. We're good on the big stuff. He's the first person I call or run to in a storm and vice versa. But the little day to day frustrations -- not so much.

She looked at us (this very young looking counselor) and said we should be proud. We are still together. Still trying to improve. Get closer. Even after all we've been through. We, our marriage, has survived.

And she's right. We have survived, but I want more, and so does he. We don't just want to survive. We want to thrive. We want to have joy in our relationship. I don't just want commitment. I want passion and real connection.

Commitment gets you through the hard places, so don't misunderstand. I KNOW commitment is vital in a marriage. 

I said I want him to be my best friend. I want to feel that I can say anything and know it won't change the fabric of our relationship. I want him to read between the lines, correctly. And I want to read between his lines as well. 

So we talk and we share. We hurt and are frustrated. And we keep dancing this imperfect dance of marriage.

Imperfect Prose

Wordless Wednesday

(image from Facebook)

linking up with Wordless Wednesday & The Jenny Evolution

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . January 14, 2014

Outside my window . . . it's 37 degrees and sunny. MUCH better than last week's frigid 9 degrees!

I am thinking . . . about having been married for 28 years. Someone complimented Alan and me for the longevity of our marriage especially given all of the struggles we have had. Longevity isn't enough in and of itself, which is why we continue working to find better ways of communicating and supporting one another. We have definitely not arrived at perfection!

I am thankful . . . for good friends who embrace my children, and how my children embrace my friends.

In the kitchen . . . last night was salmon and leftovers from Sunday's lunch party. Tonight I'm thinking a pot of turkey chili sounds good.

I am wearing . . . all the usual gear -- cotton gown, flannel robe, and flannel slippers.

I am creating . . . 2 scarves based on Moogly's Big Rib Scarf pattern. Once I finish these I hope to start Moogly's Afghan Crochet-a-long.

I am going . . . to continue the cleaning out routine. Today's project is the craft cabinet in the bonus room. I'll try to take before and after shots.

I am wondering . . . about "communication dances". How people get into ruts and routines, and how difficult it is to change the dance even for a better method of communicating.

I am reading . . . The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton. Almost finished, and it is really good.

I am looking forward to . . . spending some time with my bestie today -- sorting and chatting.

I am hearing . . . my daughter chatting and the dogs puttering around.

Around the house . . . things are looking FABULOUS. Really I'm so excited.

I am praying . . . for many people who are struggling with various issues. I find that the more I engage with others, the fuller my prayer life becomes. 

“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. 
Properly understood and applied, 
it is the most potent instrument of action.” 
-- Ghandi

One of my favorite things . . . is feeling peace. I recognize that is a rather wide open and generic "thing", but it is true. Peace is the sensation/emotion I desire most.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . we're back in the routine -- appointment and grocery on Wednesday. Precept Bible study on Thursday. Friday is currently open. A painter/friend is coming on Saturday to give us some estimates, and Sunday we are having friends over for lunch. I haven't seen them in years and am really looking forward to catching up.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 
clean closet!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.




Friday, January 10, 2014

See

Grumpy people. Angry people. Judgmental people. Critical people.

Sometimes I feel I am surrounded by them. I try to fix the situation that is causing those feelings. I take on responsibility for everyone else. 

And then God steps in and reminds me

I've heard it all my life. Don't worry. Worry is a sin. I don't intend to sin. I don't intend to worry.

So I stop and I pray. I pray to see with God's eyes. I pray to give it all to Him. I pray to really trust in Him.

Scared people. Sad people. Insecure people. Worried people.

Now I see.

linking up with Five Minute Friday


Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Girl's Best Friend

This is Dahlia (daylia). She was my first ever Christmas doll. I was about 18 months old when I got her. That same Christmas, Santa brought me a little red rocking chair as well (which I still have).

My mother says that I walked right up to her, picked her up and sat down in the chair and began to rock and sing to her.

She was my constant companion. By the time I'd had her a little more than a year, we had to restuff her body, as I had loved her flat! I remember sitting in my grandparent's living room (we were living with them at the time) with my mother. She explained that she was the doctor and I was the nurse and we were going to operate on Dahlia. It was all very serious. We plumped her up with cotton balls!

For years she was half bald, because I carried her around by her hair.

Once when I was in high school, I came home from some activity to find Dahlia sitting on the mantel in a new dress. My mother had been home alone and made Dahlia some new clothes -- just because.

A few years ago I found a doll repair specialist and turned Dahlia over to her with very specific instructions. 

It was a lot like leaving a child alone at the hospital. What was I thinking? What was SHE thinking?

A couple of weeks later my husband picked her up and I dressed her in the new outfit I had bought for her.

I love her just as much now as I did that first time I saw her. She now sits at the foot of my bed with other beloved folks. She is a treasure!

(this is a repost from 10/1/10)


linking up with Writer's Workshop




Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Imperfect Prose

I want to have something inspiring to share today, but instead I have a lot of stress and concerns about some highly personal things. Things it would be inappropriate to share here. Things that aren't just mine. 

It's a new year. The time for fresh starts and new beginnings. The hope of getting it right this year. Clearing rubble from relationships. What I seem to be facing instead, are new and deeper layers of ick to excavate. Things keep piling on top of each other, and I can’t seem to catch a break.

This may sound like I’m complaining, but that’s not what this is about. I’m not complaining. I’m just feeling overwhelmed. I keep thinking this life is meant to get easier. Develop a rhythm that is consistent and dependable. That hasn’t happened for me. And I don’t know if that’s a “me” problem or a “life” problem.

I don’t really believe my life should flow effortlessly. I recognize that the more people I know and the more fully engaged I become in life, the more opportunities there are for challenges. That being said, I’m floundering a bit right now.

I’ve written a lot about overcoming my past – the abuse. But I’m also a black/white kind of person, or as a friend of mine recently said, one extreme or the other. The question that’s been rolling around in my head lately is this – because things are difficult now, in this moment, does that negate the hard work – dare I say good work – I’ve done in the past? Does struggling now mean the previous hard work was done incorrectly, or worse yet was it pointless?

My head knows the answers to these questions. We all do the best we can at any given moment with whatever information we have. Could things have been done differently? Undoubtedly. Would it have been better or more right? Maybe. Who can say?

This is what I know today. God is with me. I must continue to see and believe that as truth. I will make mistakes in the future just as I have in the past. There are no absolutes.

So I’m asking for your prayers. For me, my husband, my kids. It’s tough when everyone is struggling simultaneously, and that’s where we are. My guess is you’ve been there, too.

Imperfect Prose is perfectly apt for me today.

Blessings.

linking up with Imperfect Prose