Tag Archives: adversity

Letter to an Ex X

Dear X,

If I had known what I know now, we wouldn’t have gotten married. We wouldn’t have had an amazing child together. I wouldn’t have stopped trusting so openly and without cause. I wouldn’t have been carrying around baggage. I wouldn’t question myself on every single decision. It’s likely that I wouldn’t have sold the family business. I wouldn’t question my mind.

But it happened. You conned me. You fooled me, my mom, my family, and your step-son. When it comes down to it, you felt unworthy. You started using more routinely. Because, I believe you were already using. You decided that you couldn’t do it without superhuman characteristics. So you sold your soul, and your wife, your ‘sons’, your dreams, for something that made you feel so good at the time.

I have a hard time understanding, because I haven’t been there. I won’t even take antibiotics. But I have been addicted to things. I ‘needed’ cigarettes for many years, and diet coke, and sugar. So that makes me just as ‘bad’, even though I manage to hold a job, pay my bills, pay for our child’s holidays, birthdays, school functions, soccer, karate, church functions, and playdates.

I have accepted that you will never be a part of anything financial in our child’s life. That you will forever disappoint him because you cannot test clean. I’ve watched every episode of Intervention. So has my boyfriend. We have talked in great length and depth about how we will never unburden ourselves or Ethan from this massive web of destruction you have casted upon our lives. I have had nightmares about what you are doing to destroy your life, and how that affects our son. He loves you, but he accepts that you are not here. You cannot be there for yourself, let alone him.

You talk as though everything wrong you have ever done is in the past, yet you have zero proof that you are any closer to that next milestone of where you ‘should’ be. You have clued me into how you cheated on your lab tests. How you used until 3 days prior, and then switched to suboxone – the very drug that now, people are getting hooked on. The very drug that could kill someone like me. I didn’t deserve this, but no one that lives through the cleaning up of an addict does. Why should I be immune?

I shouldn’t. That’s the truth. It was God’s plan for me, and God will continue to see me through. Losing our home, my car, your job, your income, your support, is not the worst of it. In truth, the worst of all of this rests in something much deeper.

Our child has learned that he can only depend upon one of us. Now, he is happy to lean on anyone else. This creates the gang-mentality that I will likely have to always combat. I always dreamed of having the family I didn’t have. That will likley never happen because of the environment your addiction has created within our lives. But as a Christian, I am supposed to forgive you, accept you, and turn the other cheek. And this is the worst part. I hate myself for not being able to do any of that.

You have ruined my life. You have ruined our child’s life. Instead of starting from the bottom and working our way up, I am forced to start in the trenches. Our son is 8. Your addiction, you say, began when I was 5 months pregnant. You are repeating what you knew. I am a workaholic, repeating what she knew.

You had a horrible childhood. Your parents both had serious issues, and were heavily medicated. They spent most of your childhood unemployed because of it. Guess who gets lost in the shuffle?

I refuse to disappoint our child. He deserves a family who shows him love, who teaches him how to love unconditionally. I may not be able to reconcile what you have done, but I can work to improve the future of our child. And while I may have spent the bulk of my life believing that I don’t deserve more, I believe that I absolutely do.

So my plea to you is this – please work on you. With everything you are, and everything you ever wanted, work on you. Make strides in that direction. Go to meetings. Make valuable friendships, based on trust and clean living. Pray. Listen to what God has to offer. Earn a living. Be a grown-up. Show our child what it’s like to be a man.

We will take your recovery seriously when you do the same. When you’re finished with the lies, the manipulation, and the fiction. Our son wants his dad back. You told him the truth. Now live the promise. I refuse to assist in the lying, in the promises, in the fairytale. The work is yours to do. Whether you do it or not, our child will feel loved, with or without you. It’s your call. I cannot do it for you, and I cannot help you anymore.

If anyone out there is contemplating destroying their lives, consider this. When you were a child, you had those lucid, beautiful moments. You will continue to experience those, but not if you are leaning on substances. Those are lies. BE YOU. Naked. Truthful. Genuine. And vulnerable. Beauty is found in solace and serenity. Not in substance.

Evil Ego

Between two loving beings, there is no room for ego. There is no room for impatience, nor fear. There is no room for doubt, or hurt. But inevitably, in every relationship or friendship, the closer we become, the more likely it is that the ego will try butting in and messing everything up that you’ve worked so hard to build. Why does this happen?

In my very humble, very human opinion, it happens because the bigger the love grows,  the bigger God becomes and the more the ego feels threatened.

You may have heard people say that the devil is trying to win someone over. The ego is the devil. He can destroy the strongest of castles, harden the softest of hearts, and possess the humblest of people. What he can’t do is continue to exist in the shadow of love. We have to recognize the evil ego and stop his flames before they destroy us. It’s an every day battle, and then sometimes it’s not. But when couples have been married for decades they say (and they always do), ‘it hasn’t always been easy’, this is what I feel it boils down to.

There is no reason to feel attacked by those negative feelings when the ego gets out of control. No. We should recognize what’s happening and understand that the love we feel, the glue that holds us together, must be strong and wonderful stuff if the evil ego wants so badly to destroy it. We should feel flattered.

So, be flattered, and then destroy it. Every last bit. We can’t control the behavior of others, but we can control our own. We can choose to feed that ego with anger and watch it overtake our lives and relationships, or we can choose to feed that love with tenderness and devotion and watch God grow instead. We have that choice.

Apples and Purples

I think I’m pretty strong. Sometimes I am. Sometimes I’m just pretty foolish, like when I start comparing my life to the lives of those around me. I know better. First of all, there are plenty of people out there who dream of having my life. I have two healthy boys, an incredible boyfriend, lots of very loyal and loving friends and family members. I’m in good health, have lots of hair, and even have achieved white girl Michelle Obama arms. I live in a free country, can workout any time I want, go grocery shopping when I’m out of toilet paper, sing Karaoke if I choose, and travel down any road without feeling the threat of passing soldiers or overhead bombings. Instead of paying attention to any of that however, whenever I spend too long in my own skull, I begin digressing into that old-school pity party where I used to live in high school.That place where no one understood the troubles I’ve seen. No one can see my sorrows.

That’s a shade of grey I wish would stay away. It’s so controlling and abusive. I never signed up for it, but the moment I let my guard down…

Conversations that have taken place over the last few days start replaying in my head. For instance, I hear Doug and his mom discussing how much they all need each other and how good they are for each other. That’s absolute truth! But now, in my lowly mood, what I hear is ‘you have no one, Heather’, ‘You’re an orphan, Heather’. When I think of the differences between Doug and I, I wonder if I am worthy – just like I used to – or if, in reality, I simply have too much baggage & I’m just too pitiful for him & threaten to bring his world down. Has he ever said this? Um. No. It’s all in my ridiculous thoughts.

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s 2015 and I really really really want to be his wife someday, but know that it will be at least a couple more years because I cannot get married next year. And maybe it’s because every time I hop onto Facebook, someone else is signing off for the night to curl up with their husband to watch a movie before bed, and I don’t remember what it’s like to take that for granted.

My life is what it is. God has a plan and I believe that with everything I am. I just wish that it was a plan I liked this time around, and I’m scared to death that it isn’t turning out to be all that.

But I still like apples and purples over oranges. I still have my own two feet firmly planted on the ground, holding up this abusive little mind that still loves mornings and decaf and hates night time mindful meanderings that lead to nightmares and loneliness. And if I could only find a way to fast forward through that part of my day that happens just after my kids’ bed time, and just before my alarm goes off the next day, I would be a very happy only indeed.

Because beginnings are full of hope, and endings are full of sorry.

Reflection on the mirror

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a reflection worth? For most of my life, I would’ve answered ‘about five cents’. I never gave much credit to my own reflection. She was too short, too stout, with chunky cone-shaped legs, a muffin top, and sagging breasts. In fact, this dialogue had gone on so long inside of my own head that I had grown quite comfortable with the discomfort of myself within my own skin. Apparently, and to my surprise, many of those around me have had the same struggle. It was always easy to accept the inside of me, to even ‘love’ myself internally without ever ‘accepting’ myself externally. When we are self-aware, we become pros at this dynamic – loving one part, and rejecting the other. 

The problem is that if we do not accept and embrace our complete selves, then can we really ever ‘love’ ourselves? When we fall in love with someone, we generally love them completely, or at least – that’s how we should love. 

We all have a choice in this. If we do not love some part of ourselves, we have an opportunity each and every day to change that part for the better, and if we focus on what we want to become – I truly believe that is what we will become. But we cannot settle for our own excuses, and that my friends, is difficult. 

As for my own story, I have been putting in the work for a few years now, the fix what was broken inside of me that caused me to linger on the negatives I saw in my reflection. That work began on the inside, the spirtitual, the psychological, the emotional, and eventually transcended to the outside once I felt stable enough to add that work. I have always worked out in some way – yoga, pilates, kickboxing, running – but I never could achieve that ‘number’ – size, weight, measurements, that I so desparately wanted….until now. I had to get to that place in my mind where the voice pushed me farther when I wanted to quit. I had to delve deep down into my ‘hunger’, into my relationship with food, to understand why my choices were sabatoging my journey. 

In our society, food is largely accepted as its own reward. We socialize around food, comfort with food, and reward with food. But food isn’t really the problem here, anymore than a gun without an operator kills. We need to fully understand our thought process, question our own ‘hunger’, and most of all, we need to stop telling ourselves that eating healthy means we are depriving ourselves of the very happiness that others around us have the joy of receiving. When we make choices, they only effect our own bodies.

I am not perfect, by any means. And as my boyfriend would tell you, I still have slight mood swings when I eat foods that are unhealthy because I still battle the guilt of those choices. But for the most part, I make good choices now because I am motivated by this new feeling of acceptance that I have for – not just the inside of me – but for the outside as well. It has taken me almost 38 years, but for the first time in my life, I believe that a reflection is worth a gazillion words, and not just pretty words, but words of strength and self-awareness. I have a deep-seeded need to help others get here, not for reasons of vanity but for reasons of acceptance and self-love, because in all reality, if we stop battling ourselves, we also stop battling everyone around us who love us. We cannot change our reality by excusing ourselves. We can only change our reality by accepting ourselves. Acceptance and self-love ripples from us and into our relationships by transforming self-doubt into self-love, which also just happens to make happinesss a little more contagious.

Inner Strength

“I want to thank you, Lord, for life and all that’s in it. Thank you for the day and for the hour, and the minute. ”-Maya Angelou

Today the world lost a beautiful and resilient soul, who not only survived the worst kinds of struggle and turmoil in her life, but overcame it all to flourish in the arts and inspire others with her heart-felt words of wisdom and faith. I remember reading about Maya Angelou in high school, and studying her work throughout college. What always struck me about her writing was that no matter what her readers had encountered in their own lives, her words resonated in such a way that simply by reading her, our eyes and hearts opened up to something intangible, enlightening, and strengthening. She was one of those rare artists that made me feel as though God was using her as an instrument, or a lesson in faith, that he was speaking through her. God only speaks through an open door, and into an open heart. That takes the utmost courage, especially for those who have been so jaded by others. To not become bitter and cynical in the face of adversity is strength enough, but to transcend pain and raise others while working through such challenges, is nothing less than awe-inspiring. She had an appreciation for life, a gratitude for time, and a love of joy that forces the rest of us to reflect.  After all, someone is always experiencing something more difficult and rising up in spite of the pain, and sometimes because of it. What makes the difference between the one who rises, and the one who falls is quite simply…Faith.

 

Finding Bottom

“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner that keeps on trying.”  Nelson Mandela

What makes you try? What is it in you that lights your soul on fire and sparks your motivation when you’ve been knocked down time after time?

We’ve all known people who seem to take all of life’s punches with dignity, and keep getting back on their feet. Nothing stands in their way. Period. And just when you think they can take no more, they do.

There are two sides to this phenomenon, at least from my perspective. The first side is that you have to wonder, why must they have to keep overcoming obstacles? Why must some people face so much adversity, when others of us face so little? Where is the justice? Of course, that question comes from a very concrete and human place. When things aren’t neatly tied up with a pretty silver bow like Hollywood would have us believe, we become disgruntled. Things should make sense. Everyone, at some point, asks ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’. But good things also happen to bad people. So, while there is balance, it isn’t the kind of balance that makes logical and judicial sense. Quite simply, we believe that ‘good’ people shouldn’t be punished and ‘bad’ people shouldn’t be rewarded.

The key to understanding this is to not understand it at all, but to (in a sense) give it to God. There is a reason for everything. There is always a reason. If we’re drowning in the details of our mess, we never seem to notice that we can actually touch the bottom and stand if only we stop flailing around, out of control. It isn’t until long after we’ve recovered sometimes that we notice the bottom was there all along, and so was the security. Sometimes we need to get shaken up just to balance out. Yes. We’re like juice…shake before opening!

The other side to this is the resiliency of some people. This has everything to do with that first side, because it has to do with Faith. Have you ever been enraged by something that’s been ‘done to you’ only to realize minutes later that if you had been in their shoes, you may have reacted the same way? Self-awareness makes Faith an easier thing to grasp. But Faith also means understanding that, though you may not feel you deserve what you’re going through, there is a reason. Just like there’s a reason that you’ve been through everything you have before, and survived it.

When I was a Senior in high school, my least favorite english teacher gave us one of the most interesting assignments. She said for each of us to prepare a Valedictorian speech. I would’ve been the Valedictorian too, if it weren’t for the good grades part. But I remember it clearly. My theme was that ‘hope is survival, and survival is hope’. Even as a 17 year-old girl with terrible grades, no motivation, and no prom date, I grasped a bit of this Faith thing. I had survived the death of my father, countless broken hearts, a heaping helping of disappointments, and constellations of pimples, but I still managed to cry myself to sleep only to awaken the next day with hope and a smile.

While that was (sadly) 20 years ago, I’ve learned that my resilience pales in comparison to so many people I’ve had the pleasure of encountering. Yet, in each and every case, the one constant has been Faith. None of these people have been perfect, all have been sinners, but not one of them surrenders to adversity. Faith is contagious. Resiliency is the badge of Faith, but when it’s all said and done it’s the waking up that matters and builds strength. And realizing that you don’t have to hit bottom to know there is one, is reason enough to keep on trying.