It’s such an awesome thing; when life has given you a big crap sandwich for a bit, and then you see two people madly in love and you just have to smile and be in awe and think- I remember that. :0 )
In this case, it’s my son, Brian, and his little lady- Mandy Tator Tots:
And then when I was driving home tonight, and saying, “God, I know you have a great plan for me. It’s painful, it’s hard right now. But I know you have my best interest at heart.”
And then I looked up and saw this!
“Yeah. I’ve got you, kid,” He said…and smiled.
I’ve recently read a story about a beloved blogger (Rara AKA Rarasaur) who has been the victim of a hate crime. I can’t go completely into her story because I don’t have enough information, but she was accused of embezzling $500,000 from her former employers.
She left their employment to start her own business along with a healthy client list. My suspicion is that her former bosses were afraid that she would be competition in some manner, so they assassinated her character by accusing her of embezzlement, and went a step further by contacting her entire client list, damaging her reputation and corrupting any potential hope of generating clientele.
She and her husband sold all that they had to obtain an lawyer, and she ultimately lost her business. They moved into a tiny hotel and lived on $5 pizzas- hardly the stuff of half a million dollars! For the next few years, Rara fought for her life. In the end, it was useless. Rara was sentenced to 3 years in prison: 18 months for good behavior. (Most prisoners only serve 50% of their sentences if they become model prisoners.) There was never an official investigation into the (alleged) missing half a million dollars. It was all very hush-hush, yet they still managed to ship the case over to the D.A. and she was charged.
I don’t know Rara personally and have only ever left one comment on her blog, but her pictures of herself reflect a woman who radiates love. She’s been known to raise boatloads of money for other people and is an activist in the blogging community, as well as a poetess and huge supporter of organizations she believes in.
Everything in me says that she is innocent. The reason this story is so close to my heart is because I too was falsely accused of something I didn’t do many years ago. My entire family was ripped apart and we were all punished relentlessly, year after year. I wasn’t allowed to speak in court, ever, and so after years of being thrown about in a vicious and abrasive system, I fired my attorney just to be able to speak out in court, finally. I slammed my hands down on the table and demanded that my kids return home. They had taken everything else from me, but I wasn’t going to let them take my voice.
It was the right thing to do. The case took a necessary turn and I was spared going to prison on trumped up false charges. The case drug on for 13 years or so. I was pulled apart at the seams and tested beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I went through absolute hell but I never gave up. Year after year, the battering continued, but I never gave up. I learned just how weak I was in the face of such a crushing device as our government- but I also learned how strong I was.
So many innocent people are sentenced to prison every day. It’s a horrific circle of injustice: the accusers, lawyers, and everybody involved knows that poor people cannot defend themselves properly, therefore, they offer a plea agreement (which is seldom in favour of the defendant) and most times, the defendant ends up taking the prison sentence because they’re out of resources and too exhausted to continue fighting.
I have my own theory as to why evil things happen to good people. I deal with many (many) people on a daily basis who have suffered abuse, trauma, etc. and who carry deep scars and even deeper resentment. I’ve spoken (typed) with literally thousands of people over the past decade, sharing my own personal story of tragedy and triumph. Why do horrible things happen to people like us, who just want to do good in this world and live our lives?
And every time, I think of Joseph (from the Bible). His is a true story. Joseph’s siblings hated him so much because his parent favoured him over them. Jospeh had had dreams of his brothers bowing down to him: it infuriated them! Josheph’s father, Jacob, had given Joseph as special coat made from various colours. When his brothers saw it, their envy was so intense that they wanted to kill him. So one day, they thought of a scheme that involved killing their brother, and smearing animal’s blood on his precious coat. They would take the bloody coat to their father and tell him that Joseph had been murdered by an animal, and that’s just what they did. They wanted to defile the very thing that represented their Dad’s love for Joseph.
So, they threw Joseph into a deep pit, ripping his coat from him. They devised ways that they might kill him. Only one of his brothers, Reuben, loved him. He stood up for Joseph and suggested that they sell him instead and get some money. He appealed to their greed to save his brother’s life, and it worked.
Joseph was sold to some travelers on their way to Egypt. He landed in a rich man’s house named Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife desired Joseph and tried to seduce him on a number of occasions, but Joseph was all about doing the right thing. He was thrown into prison for telling the truth. He had done nothing wrong.
While in prison, Joseph suffered much hunger and beatings; diseases and all sorts of evil things. All the while, God had been preparing Joseph’s heart for great things! But look what he had to go through to get them.
Fast forward many years. Joseph had grown into a man and had been incarcerated for many years in dark, diseased dungeons. One day, the king of the land had troubling dreams and only Joseph could interpret them. He told the king that there would be a great famine in Egypt- the king himself had dreamed about it!
In the end, Joseph was made chief in command (second only to the king) and saved all of Egypt, and ultimately his very brothers who tried to kill him. And in the end, they indeed did have to bow down to their brother, just as his dream had predicted.
When you observe Joseph’s life in bits and pieces, it seems so unfair that he had to suffer the way he did. But God just wanted to “give him a new coat”. The bigger picture is a beautiful one.
Joseph’s story is not so different than my own.
In all that happened to me, God simply wanted to give me a new coat. 🙂 That coat is very expensive. It looks like old goat skin that is weathered and worn, shredded here and there and barely held together after years of being ripped apart, but it’s laced with diamonds- the most durable stuff in the world.
The most important thing to remember, when you’re in the fire and feel as if you’re going to be burned to a crisp- is that the heat is God’s love. It hurts like hell, sure it does, and it feels like hell. But His intention is not to kill you. It’s in that fire that all of the impurities are burned away, and in the end, you’ll come out shinier than gold and you’ll have the goods that it takes to help other people who are still in the fire.
So Rara, if you ever read this some day, I have no doubt that you’re going to come through this thing a winner. Think about all of the lives you will touch that can only be reached by becoming the sacrifice, as you have done.
There’s a great need for genuine love in prison. I have no doubt that you’ll touch many lives. God needed to send the right woman for the job, and I believe He did.
Shine on, Rara. xo
I tell you, school couldn’t come fast enough. For some people, beginning their next semester entails stress, anxiety, uncertainty, procrastination-anxiety, feelings of being overwhelmed, and feelings of general excitement mixed with doom. For me, it’s just the opposite. When I’m in school, I’m completely in my element: I know what to expect and I work best when I’m in the pressure cooker! It’s just how life has molded me to be.
I’ve added my 14 exam dates for Abnormal Psychology onto my wall planner, as well as my deadlines for my case studies and oral case study presentations. (Isn’t that a bucket of fun waiting to happen?) I’ve watched my video for Anorexia and other eating disorders for my Social Work Practice class and have submitted the accompanying assignment work sheet. My homework for the evening is to read 25 pages in each of the first chapters and take 10+ pages of notes that I’ll be tested on this week.
And then there’s my Biology lab course and Intro to Social Work! I’m still sorting out those assignments, dates, deadlines, video presentations, and other important assignments/folders. Apart from my oral presentations (and 30 + hours of volunteer work), I’ll also have two separate 15 page research paper projects in two different classes.
I’ve been hammering away at getting things sorted for the past 5 days solid: it’s a lot of work, but the preparation beforehand saves me stress later. You can hardly be too prepared for college classes.
I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to squeeze a vacation in soon as I won’t be taking a summer break this year. Four months this spring at VU and then it’s straight over to SNHU to begin work on my BA in Sociology where I’ll work without a break for the next year. I can now say that my life is planned out for the next several years!
I haven’t had a horrific migraine in more than two months; that in itself is borderline miraculous. I believe I’ve made a profound discovery. There are triggers that set off migraines when you’re a chronic migraine sufferer, as I have been for several years now. I have specific triggers that I avoid at all costs:
- too much sugar and salt
- too much audial, radial, and visual stimulation
- weather/change in barometric pressure
- grinding teeth [bruxism/night grinding]
- lack of sleep
- alcohol [never more than two glasses of red wine- ever]
- no yelling or heightened displays of anger
- insufficient exercise
- too much heat
- being too cold
In other words, I have to walk very softly or I can get a vicious migraine that lasts for 3 days. (My blog is filled with days like that.) I’ve been my own guinea pig for more than a year in experimental home trials where I’ve undergone numerous self-testings: I’ve made some very important discoveries.
The most important discovery of all is that it could be allergens which are triggering the histamines to go to war against my own body. The result? Migraines! Through my own researches, I’ve come to learn that the sinus cavities swell when the body is under attack from various allergens. The most common ones come from cats and pet dander. Several of my family members are allergic to cats and need to take antihistamines when they’re around cats. Armed with this knowledge, I decided to start taking 1/4th of a Phenergan (prescription: it’s a powerful antihistimine that fights nausea) daily, without fail, to dry up the almost constant sinus drainage I have and have had all my life. It works like a charm! Benadryl is too strong for me, so the quarter strength Phenergan is ideal.
I’ve been doing this for a while now, and have noticed that since my histamines are regularly controlled, my triggers have become subdued as well. I haven’t taken a whole Phenergan in more than 5 years- that stuff’ll knock you out cold, but at 1/4th the strength; it allows the antihistamine to do its job (dry up the sinus cavities) while mitigating the histamine and body’s histamine reaction, resulting in a dramatic decrease in migraines, so much so that I seldom get them at all any more.
I used to think that the arachnoid cyst in my head caused these severe migraines; not any more. Perhaps the neurologist was correct: he suggested the migraines weren’t caused by the cyst and shared with me that arachnoid cysts are often congenital. Many people have them (from birth) and never know it. Some people have problematic cysts though, and the sinuses and arachnoid membranes flare up, which exacerbate the onset of migraines greatly. I believe my own body’s histamines have been the culprit the entire time. My daughter loves the kittowies too much to let them go, so I have to adhere to a strict code of health and watch my “triggers”, but hey, I’m practically migraine free now, and as a result of my super-tight-lifestyle, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. No complaints here.
(You know you’re getting old when you actually want to be healthy…)
For my friend: All the Avenues Look Ugly.
I know you hate the world, I do too sometimes, and I know you want to die and think about it a lot. I want to tell you while there’s still time that you are a beautiful person! We all shine in different ways. Some of us are happy, bubbly, people that refuse to see negativity in the world, and some of us see the wreckage because we know it’s there.
I wish I had something profound and life-changing to say. But I really want to say that even dead flowers in a jar can be beautiful, and the point to all of this is that I care. You are loved, friend.
“Oh my goodness, I have a screaming migraine and it’s that time of the month. Is there anything else worse than that for a woman?” I asked.
“Is there anything worse than that for a man?!” Josh answered.
He has a valid point.
I knew it was too good to be true that I wouldn’t get a migraine, especially after mentioning it only yesterday. I awoke this morning with a skull-crushing migraine. it’s 1:15 a.m. and it’s now been almost 24 hours (straight) that I’ve had this. And that’s with pain medication. After several years of battling these things, you really do learn to live with them. I shop, cook, clean, write, do schoolwork- I do everything with a migraine and there really are no words to describe the pain. “Intense” just doesn’t do it and keep in mind that I chose to give birth to 3 children “naturally”, so I would know a thing or two about serious pain. This pain is far worse than childbirth. I didn’t cry or scream when I gave birth to my children. I went in like a soldier- no baby stuff! (Well, ok, “baby stuff” but no “sissy stuff”.) When I delivered my oldest daughter, Heidi, the woman down the hall was screaming her head off. I politely asked the nurse to ask her if she could be a bit quieter because she was distracting me. (Yep, true story, I’m afraid.)
My point is that I believe in “mind over matter”. I went in believing I could control my own pain during childbirth and I certainly did, or at least I psyched myself out to believe that I didn’t have to yell or scream or fall apart during it. (It worked.) So yes, I can take some massive pain. These migraines are no joke! I cry. Lots. I can’t liken it to any other pain I’ve ever known. Because this kind of pain comes with nausea, so it’s not enough that you feel as if your head is being sawn in half (from the back) but also, you get the added benefits of feeling like you’re going to barf continuously. Without ceasing. For 24 and 48 hours straight. It’s there when you go to sleep and it’s there when you wake up and it turns your dreams into night terrors.
Barfing and babies and pain and stuff really does have something to do with praying down the rain. That’s coming up.
In all of this pain, I can be grateful that my prayers were answered. I was in the kitchen yesterday and was so hot and miserable. I said a little prayer: “God, please let it cool down. Send the rain, Lord,” I said. And that was it. No big prayer meeting. It was said in one breath and with little after thought.
I woke up this morning and immediately was surprised. It was almost cold in the room! I looked out the window and the sky was grey and congested. My prayers had been answered, speedily. But it seems I traded in my “speed dial” prayer for a heavy dose of pain. I got the cool air and the rain, but my head was a total mess.
I remember a time when it was raining torrentially and Josh and I were helping a friend move. I was in a pickup truck and there was nobody around.
“God, could you hold off the rain so we can get this stuff moved?” I asked.
It didn’t rain for almost two months afterwards. We had one of the biggest droughts we’d had in years. And another time, I was walking home with a few bags of groceries. Not sure what the car story (or lack of it) was at the time, I just remember walking about a mile or so in the rain. No picnic.
“Lord, please make the rain stop.” And that was all I said. It stopped within the next 2 minutes. I could hardly believe it.
So yes. Now we have rain.
My head is screaming so badly at the moment. I have to go and lie down. The pain is reaching the “maddening” stage and I feel like I could smash glass. 24 hours of relentless pain is right up there with torture. I’m simply exhausted.
The peppermint tea is a small comfort.
Josh made homemade chicken soup.
That was a huge comfort.
Time to collapse.
“I’m swearing off all sugar,” I said, to Josh.
“Good! You can do it.”
“Yep. Starting tomorrow. ‘Cause I start my fast tomorrow, so…that would be a good time to start. Besides, there’s a strawberry cake on the stove.”
“Well good, Birgy. I know you can do it,” says Josh again with a hint of boredom.
“Oh crap! I just found a whole bag of Blow Pops!”
I can’t explain this sugar craze I’ve been on lately. I’ve been eating so many Lifesaver Gummies- it’s sick. Whole packages. Generally, I fast 5 days per week. I do this because it brings me closer to God. I intentionally suffer. On the week ends, I eat whatever I want, but really, I usually eat in moderation- never a second plate and I don’t eat until I’m stuffed. Why blow your levels all out of whack?
Besides, I eat to sustain life- not to cram stuff in my face. I respect that my body belongs to God- and it’s His “house”. So I keep that in mind when I’m preparing food and cooking. Usually, I’ll have a small (healthy) breakfast, oatmeal, etc. and take my daily regimen of pills which consist of:
Evening Primrose Oil
Super B Complex
Milk Thistle (cleanses and detoxes the liver)
Colon Cleanser (psyllium husk/herbal)
Multi-vitamin + Iron
After this, I won’t eat until 6:00 p.m. After breaking my fast at 6, I’ll eat a healthy meal: veggies cooked in either 100% canola oil or imported cold pressed olive oil, + meats (beef/chicken/pork, usually) + multi-grain baguettes toasted in olive oil or something along those lines- but always pretty healthily. I allow myself to snack on fruit and cheese usually, and ice cream and chips- I don’t limit myself to ounces and stuff. I don’t count calories. I don’t “diet” as it were, not in the traditional sense. I don’t fast for aesthetic purposes. I fast for spiritual discipline and cleansing- I’m a big believer in fasting.
Five days per week- Monday-Friday.
What this does is teaches me inner strength and control. When you have the ability to control what you do and do not eat most every day and aren’t “governed” by it, then you’re able to control your thoughts, behaviors, willpower, and many other areas that we often battle and give up control to.
And generally, I don’t go around telling people that I fast often- many people don’t understand. They don’t see why it matters. But it brings me closer to God and His will rather than my own. Also, when you take food out of the equation and “pleasing the self” for 8 hours of the day- it teaches you to “lay down”. It teaches you to be still and be very quiet. At least for that time. And over time, you learn to appreciate these low places in the spirit and soul. Good comes from it. Growth.
So usually, I don’t go hog-wild on whole bags of Lifesavers. I justified it by my fasting I suppose, but then, it does little good to fast like I do, if I give up complete control and eat whole bags of candy after my fast ends. It defeats the purpose of the whole thing.
So, no more wheelbarrows of sugar!
I thought it was about time for an update on my relentless jaw and tongue chewing habit. “Habit” is a mild way of looking at it, actually. When you spend 10 hours a day doing something, it’s no longer a habit, but an obsession and addiction. I was biting the sides of my tongue and jaws on the inside so much that it often bled and was sore much of the time. This exacerbated my TMJ tremendously. What I was doing daily went against all of my beliefs and norms and everything I knew to do. I simply couldn’t stop. I researched it and made a remarkable discovery: this is an area in psychology that is rarely focused on and discussed! I couldn’t even find the scientific name for it and barely was able to find forums where it was openly discussed. Not many cries for help- not many confessions. This confirmed my suspicions that this disease is still done in secret mostly, and so well hidden that it’s rarely discussed. There’s a tremendous amount of shame that accompanies this disorder because it doesn’t make sense to begin with. To confess would be an open acknowledgement that “something is wrong with me”. It’s so much easier to keep it in a locked closet and pretend that it doesn’t exist.
It’s no different than cutting or any other form of self- mutilation. It’s the same processes in the brain that sanction gashing open the flesh and feeling the pain. Not only feeling it, but welcoming it. In my case, it was my teeth doing the cutting instead of a knife. I guess I had to get so sick and tired of being sick and tired of the disease controlling me rather than me controlling it, but finally, I was able to get to the place and recognize that “jaw-biting” was like an abusive partner that I swore to love and commit myself to and even protect. I needed to view it differently if I expected real change. I needed to break up with it.
After “breaking up with” my sick disease, it’s been three months. I haven’t done it once even! A life-time addiction- gone in once second. And I have been through some serious ^&%$ since then. At first, my thoughts were overwhelming. My anxiety was through the ceiling. I didn’t know what to do with my hands. My thoughts were working overtime and very much in an OCD-related way. So much chatter. It wasn’t easy- I just knew I needed to stick it out. After many uncomfortable weeks, the chatter dissipated and all was quiet. Finally, there was peace.
Recapping the letter:
[Originally posted February 12, 2013]
Dear bad habit,
I don’t know how to tell you this, but
I just want to be friends I want to break up with you. You know I love you! And it’s not you- I swear- it’s me. I just can’t do this anymore. I don’t like the way you’re constantly attacking me, and it’s like I have no time to myself. What you’re doing to me seems harmless, but it’s abuse, and I will not stay with somebody that abuses me. We’ve been together for 35 years. I know I’ll never see you again after today. I can’t say that I’m sorry about that. Goodbye. And thanks for everything.
I grew tired of being afraid of the gargoyles on Spring street. Maybe “afraid” isn’t the right word; intimidated is closer to how they make me feel. I’ve seen those gargoyles there (at Industrial Nightmare– a haunted house attraction) for the better part of a decade and I’ve looked away every time I see them. They’re hideous. Lately, because I’ve been a bleeding wound from the breakdown of my relationship with J- it’s made everything seem worse than it actually is. Red lights seem longer, curious and inquisitive glances seem harsh and judgmental, time drags on painfully.
As I was driving by today, I saw the gargoyles. I practiced exposure therapy on myself- and it worked! I got out of my car, camera in hand (Lensbaby attached), put on my hazard lights, got out of my car and walked out into the street (yes, actually in the street) and stood below the gargoyle. I studied it briefly then fired off a round of shots. (I reasoned with myself: I’m not afraid to go into abandoned houses, quite the contrary- I love the “ache” that fills the gutted-out space and the stories they sometimes tell. I feel right at home in an abandoned house so there’s no reason why a gargoyle should intimidate me.)
Perhaps the truth is that I see a bit of my own nature in this creature:
When I hurt like I’ve hurt this past month without Josh- the world seems colder. I was alright to simply die inside and I really didn’t care much any more. Love is a funny thing: with a bit of it tucked safely in your pocket, you can take on the world. Without it- it’s a chore to breathe.
Josh came by today. We went for a walk across the creek and up over the train tracks. I was so happy to see him! All of the blame and accusations that have been gnawing out my heart melted away and I became very aware of my own fragility: I had taken him for granted and it really is that simple. This is something that can only be realized after the fact; when all of the chaos has died down and words have ceased and there’s only the echo of your thoughts to contend with.
I came across this picture today:
Happiness was so easy back then! Was that really only eight months ago?
Time can seem so cruel.
I’ve been lost in a sea of pain, but there’s a new layer to me that I felt earlier, as I was folding the clothes: a quiet strength that I never knew I possessed. My strength has always been as loud as thunder- very present and very obvious. This came in a whisper and it said, “This is the way things are now. Pick yourself up and carry on.”
“Your absence is so loud,” I said to Josh.
He held me for a moment. It was enough.
Lensbaby Composer/Double Glass Ops./shot in monochrome/5.8.13/natural lighting/manual- taken on my walk along the creek
From the dark and stormy seas
That try to keep
From fighting the good fight
The good fight
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 1 timothy 6:12