7 Years Ago

Seven years ago today.

Seven years ago I chose to tell someone. For the first time I didn’t feel compelled to tell, as if the words couldn’t stay in any more. Seven years ago, I wanted to tell.

Seven years ago, I opened my heart, just a little, but more than I had ever done before.

Seven years ago, I decided something- someone- was more important than my fear. I decided to listen to my heart instead of the destructive voices that had controlled me for years. I decided that the regret of saying nothing would be worse than the fear I was feeling.

Seven years ago, I received love, patience, and understanding. Seven years ago, I was accepted for the beautifully broken person I didn’t know I was.

Seven years ago, I started down a path that would not only change my life, but save it too. Seven years ago, I finally started to live.

Seven years ago, I made the best decision of my life.

Happy 7th anniversary Robby. Here’s to 70 more.

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Dear God,

God, I’m struggling. I don’t want to be bitter or resentful, but I keep feeling as though every one around us is being blessed while we just keep waiting. We want a child so badly. We know that you meant for us to be parents, but it just hurts so much. To see people having babies, to see kids who would be Jamie’s age. It just hurts. And there is nothing we can do but keep waiting. I’m trying so hard to hold onto my faith, to the knowledge that you have a perfect plan. But I need hope. I need reassurance that we will get our blessings.

And I know it’s not fair to ask You for blessings, when You have given us life and love, and all the other blessings that I know we have but right now don’t seem that important. I want to be thankful. I want to rejoice in you, rejoice in life. Please carry my heart for me, because it’s hurting. Fill it with hope and peace and thankfulness. Let me appreciate instead of resent.

And, oh Lord, please please bless us. But until you do, let us be happy in the moment.

So Lonely

I’ve been feeling very lonely lately. Struggling with the feeling that I matter, that I’m worth something. That I’m important.

And I’ve talked to Robby about it lately but it hasn’t helped. He’s been sweet about it, telling me that I matter, hugging me, but it just hasn’t helped. Because he’s been the one making me feel lonely. He keeps withdrawing from me, putting up this wall that I can’t get through. So I just keep trying harder. Trying to be noticed. Trying to do everything, and do it all right.

And tonight was a catastrophe, which I won’t get into, but I ended up telling him how I’ve been feeling. That he makes me feel lonely because he shuts me out. That I feel like if I don’t try and connect with him, that we will just be here but never really together. And how it’s so confusing because some days he will want to be intimate, will really be himself, will be comfortable with our relationship. But then the next he will act as though he’s just going through the motions.

And I want to take care of him, to love him, but it hurts so much to feel like he just takes and takes without giving back. Without being sincere.

Because he never follows through. He says he’s going to make changes, says he’s going to do this and that, and for a little bit he does. But then it stops. He stops being a partner in our relationship. Stops trying. And it just goes back to the way it was, with me trying so desperately to bring him back.

And I shouldn’t have to bring him back. All I want is for him to be here, really here. And every time he pulls back, or stops trying, or leaves me emotionally, it hurts.

It hurts so much.

And to be honest, I don’t know how many times I can go through this. It seems like it happens every year. But words are just words, and I have to look at the actions. And I don’t want to reach my limit. I don’t want to have to accept that it’s never going to change. So I’m going to keep trying, keep loving him, and most importantly keep telling him when he hurts me. And maybe it will get better and be real this time. But I’m so afraid that I’m going to end up alone, whether alone in our relationship time and time again, or truly alone. Without him.

Dear Jenny

I cannot even say how excited I was to meet you Friday night when you came to Dayton. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you since, well since I first started reading your blog several years ago. Because honestly, everything you’ve written sounds like something I would (or have) said.

And when I thought I wasn’t going to get to meet you Friday, I was pretty much in tears. I was #128 and around #25 our friends who were driving in from Cleveland texted me to say that they were almost there. My husband and I knew we’d never get back in time if we waited, so I went and asked the post-it lady to trade in my books, but they didn’t have a copy of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I thought for sure that meant that I just wouldn’t get it signed, but the kindness of your fans floored me. I’m explaining that I need to exchange my copy of Furiously Happy, while trying not to cry, and they offered to let me jump the line.

Every. Single. Person.

They all stepped aside and with kindness in their eyes told me to go ahead. They all told me not to worry about it, that they understood. And I got to meet you. I got to tell you how much it meant to meet you. I would have loved to talk to you for hours, but I am so glad that I got to tell you I submitted a writing for the Furiously Happy video. It touched my heart to see that you were so moved.

But if I could have said everything I wanted to, this is what I would have said.

You write about depression and mental illness the way I hope to write about abuse and bullying. I want to bring the awareness that you have brought, create the community and support that you have created. I want to spread the hope. And I just want to tell you how much I admire you for that. When you signed my books and I told you that what you do means so much to me, that was what was behind those words.

You truly are an inspiration to me, in all that you have done, and it gives me hope that one day I can write my own book that will (hopefully) create a home for those people who have been trapped by abuse and bullying.

You make me snort and giggle while I read your writing (which makes it really hard for my husband to sleep). You are completely the type of person that I would love to have lunch with and get to know. Swap crazy stories. Shake our heads about how or husbands don’t understand our awesomeness. Play board games. Build each other up. You can never have enough of those people in your life. I love that you embrace life and live FURIOUSLY HAPPY, and do the crazy things that make you happy. I try to live that way too. I have licked a volcano, taken a sword fighting class, danced in the rain, and done tons of other stuff like that. Because I have been struggling with recovering from being severely bullied for most of my life. And some days the voices that say ‘you’re worthless’ win, and some days I dress as a queen and play flamingo croquet.

Hold onto the love of the people you have helped, and when the struggles come, we will always be there for you, even if being there means writing notes to you as you hide under your bed.

Thank you for all you do

Laura

PS- When we were kids, my dad, sister and I totally ate milk bones. The green ones tasted the best. My dad used to pack them in my lunch as a joke when I was in Elementary School and my one friend still randomly brings it up.

Keep Walking On The Path

I’ve been trying to reconnect with God lately, so I’ve been reading my devotionals lately and I really loved parts of two of the passages.

“Peace is more than a feeling, it’s a knowing that everything is going to be alright because God is on your side…A sure indicator of trust in God is a fixed mind…It is being able to rest in your heart and soul…”

“Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you. Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to My heart…All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction.”

I want to become more dependent on God. I’ve really struggled with being too dependent on myself. Ever since I’ve started healing from the PTSD, I’ve felt more whole than I have in my entire life, which–I am ashamed to say–has made me feel farther from God. Almost like I don’t want to need Him (?). I want to feel powerful and in control. I don’t want to feel dependent.

But I also haven’t felt very at peace.

Because feeling like you have to keep your life in control all the time is exhausting. And I love God. I miss that closeness, the comfort. The comfort of knowing that I am in his arms. I know I need to rest my mind on Him and to follow His path, even when it scares me.

So today I did.

A while back I met a woman who told me she tries to give everyone she meets a compliment, and I thought that was a beautiful way of life. To tell people what they mean to you, even if you don’t know them. To pass on the positivity. I really felt like it was a God moment.

And today as I was pulling into my parking spot at home, I saw a woman in traditional Indian clothing sitting on a rock. She looked so peaceful, so beautiful, and the sight of her really moved me. And something inside me really wanted to tell her that. But of course I argued with that something. I argued. I told myself it would be awkward. That I would make her uncomfortable. That I was already inside and it didn’t make sense. But I remembered that all I had to do was cling to His hand, even if I was afraid.

And so I walked across the street to talk to her. And it was scary, and a bit awkward but I am so glad I did it. She didn’t speak much English, and I speak none of her language, but we were able to cobble together a bit of a conversation. Her same is Sandya (sp?) and she lives with her grown son Raj. She likes to sit on the rock in the sun. She used to live in India where she was a priestess in the Temple. She also said something about waterfalls at Temples but I didn’t quite get it. She also asked if I was Indian.

I was so happy that I got to meet her and that I listened to God’s prompting. Just little steps at a time.

What Do We Want?

Rob and I have been talking a lot since my realization and our talk at Steak n Shake.

Since we lost Jamie and stopped trying to conceive, we have wavered back and forth on whether or not we want to have kids. Do we adopt? Do we not have kids at all? At one point we were convinced we were going to adopt, and at another point were absolutely convinced we weren’t going to have kids at all. We just could never seem to make up our minds, or even truly know what we want.

And then we started talking about before we lost Jamie.

It wasn’t an accident that we got pregnant. We had been wanting to conceive for a year, and had taken steps (changing medicines, etc) for when we did. We had wanted a child for so long, and were so excited when we found out about Jamie.

But after we lost Jamie everything changed. Rob and I realized that we were both trying so hard to get pregnant right away because we wanted to make up for losing Jamie. We wanted to make it up to the other one because we felt like we let them down. Then, we ended up putting so much pressure on ourselves to get pregnant that we started creating all kinds of problems for ourselves. That’s when Rob’s intimacy problems really flared up. That’s when I had my major PTSD freak out. And we just kind of ran away from the idea of kids.

And now that we are both working through the truth of what happened as well as working through our issues, we are wondering if we do want kids. Were we running away from the idea of being parents because of all the trauma, or because we really don’t feel it is right for us? Everyone has told us that we will make wonderful parents, but we don’t feel that is a good reason to have kids. It needs to come from us. And we still don’t know. Rob wants to finish working through the issues he has just started addressing in therapy, and I want more time to absorb and process the new knowledge that I was a good mom, that I am a good mom to our angel baby.

I think I might want to be a mom again, but I’m not sure yet. I don’t know how to be sure.

God’s Timing- Nov 2013

The same week we began ‘Unglued’ I started a new type of intensive therapy called EMDR. EMDR is specifically designed to help alleviate and even reverse the effects of PTSD. For me, I planned on Unglued being more of a time for fellowship than growth. After all, I’m not an ‘unglued’ person, so how much was I really going to get out of this study?

But every week God surprised me. It seemed as though He was personally tailoring my EMDR and Unglued sessions to fit perfectly together.

When I was struggling with the fear to start EMDR I read this passage “…I don’t know how to get a handle on this. But God help me if I don’t get a handle on this. I will destroy the relationships I value most and weave into my life permanent threads of short-temperedness, shame, fear and frustration. Is that what I really want?” And I found the strength to walk into the office.

At the time I started to become frustrated with myself, telling myself that I should be able to handle therapy ‘better’ we started a session on self-defeating labels and grace, and I started learning to give myself a little grace.

As the memories of the trauma started to consume me, and made me feel like I was losing control, I completed my procedure manual for Unglued Moments. Those 5 steps helped me to feel as though I had a bit of control, a little bit of power, and so I kept going.

And when I had to start identifying the beliefs about myself that the PTSD had trapped me in, I found comfort and guidance in the study. The line “…Where you come to believe you belong is where you will stay” awakened me to the fact that I don’t want to stay in the PTSD reality.

Negative Inside Chatter and the related discussions helped me to realize that I am not alone in seeing the worst in myself, and that these wonderful women don’t see those terrible things in me at all. But even more importantly, it helped me to see how important the EMDR is, because after all, how a woman thinks is often how she lives.

And the ‘Good Words’ exercise revealed to me that my lingering words don’t have to be the ones that have haunted me my whole life. I no longer have to carry the thoughts “I did something wrong”, “my feelings don’t matter” and “I don’t deserve love”. Instead, God showed me that I can be—that I am—compassionate, friendly, generous, patient, playful, and—most of all—thankful.

Is That Why?

My whole life I’ve struggled with forgiving him for what he did to me. After all, how do you forgive someone for ruining your life? I’ve had therapists tell me that he didn’t know what he was doing, that at that age it’s called sexual reaction, that he was only doing what he knew.  That he must have been abused too.

But it never helped.

He still hurt me. I could never separate the fact that he hurt me from the fact that it wasn’t intentional. That he might have been a good person underneath it, and he was just as confused back then as I was during my PTSD years. That he was struggling with something bigger than he could handle, and that those actions weren’t his.

I never understood that. All I could see was what he had done to me.

Until today.

Because I know that boy from work. I know that he is not cruel, that he is not malicious. That he does not want to hurt people. I saw his eyes fill with tears when he told me that his future was to hurt people because his dad told him so.

I know him.

And he is not a predator.

That does not make what he did okay. Not at all. But it does help me understand my abuser from all those years ago. Maybe he wasn’t a bad person either. Maybe he didn’t want to hurt me either. Maybe someone knew the true him, was trying to save him, and was heartbroken when they realized how lost he was, just like I am with this little boy.

Maybe he was hurting just as much as this boy is hurting now.

And I still haven’t forgiven him, but for the first time in my life, I think I understand him.

How I Want To Feel About Myself

This afternoon was a pretty typical day at work. I helped some kids with homework, had a few kids act up, the usual. A little bit of frustration, but nothing that I couldn’t shake off. In fact, I was contemplating the idea of bringing Rob home a cupcake that one of the other teachers had leftover, just as a little treat to brighten both of our days, when I noticed that the trash bag I had just dragged down the hall was leaking chocolate milk.

Ugh.

The kids know they aren’t supposed to put milk in the trash. They know this. We tell them this every day when they (inevitably) try and sneak the half-empty milk carton or cereal bowl into the trash can simply to avoid having to deal with the mess. But it was too late, and now I had a mess to clean up. And I was frustrated.

Super frustrated.

It didn’t take all that long to clean up, maybe an extra 5-10 minutes, but for some reason it put me over the edge (probably because it meant I was now leaving work late, sweaty, and annoyed that the kids couldn’t throw the freaking milk away (!) ), and instead of processing it and just taking it in stride, I stress ate a cupcake to make myself feel better.

Then I had this moment where I realized what I had done. And I immediately felt worse.

I just ate a cupcake because there was some milk on the floor.

How immature of an attitude towards food is that? I know what a body needs to survive. I know how different types of food are broken down by our body and processed, and how each type is beneficial in its own way. I know how to count calories, fat, fiber, and anything else that can be counted (except carbs, never got that one down). I can explain the difference between white and wheat, wheat and whole grain. But when it comes to relating to food, I am like a four year old who wants ice cream because her balloon floated away.

I don’t think I ever truly learned how to relate to food. To me, food was a safe haven. It was a distraction from the awful reality I was facing. A comfort. A band-aid. Over the years it has grown into something that neighbors, or even mirrors my feelings.  There have been times in my life when things were so awful that I just couldn’t eat. I would go days, or even weeks with eating maybe the equivalent of 1 meal a day. And even then I would have to force myself to eat. Or Rob would check to make sure that I ate. More commonly, there are times when I have to constantly remind myself that I’m not actually hungry, I just want to eat. That my anxiety or nerves are so bad that all I want is one more mouthful of comfort. And even though I know that my body doesn’t need the food, I can’t convince my emotions that that is true.

I’ve always known that I’ve had a problem with food. That my habits weren’t quite ‘right’. Maybe they will be, someday.

Maybe someday I won’t want to eat because I’m depressed about how overweight I am.

Adjusting

Well, Robby made the switch to 3rd. He goes in for his first shift in just a few hours. Other than being tired from staying up all night Friday in order to switch his sleep schedule and being nervous for his first 3rd shift, he seems to be doing really well, which is great.

I, on the other hand, am very anxious.

I actually have been since Friday night when I went to bed by myself. I was lying there, trying to be calm while telling myself that I didn’t need Robby to sleep, and that I could take care of myself, when it hit me: The last time I told myself those things while trying to sleep alone was when I had left.

I know that this isn’t then. We aren’t sleeping apart because we are broken. We are sleeping apart because our schedules require it.

But it’s still hard.

It’s only been a few days and we are still adjusting, but it is hard. I know our relationship is in a good place. I know that I’m not running from him because the PTSD is twisting my reality. But when I was filling the bed with stuffed animals, trying to forget that he should be lying next to me, some of the old wires started to cross and I started to feel alone. I have never felt more alone than those 3 days in that hotel.

And I never want to feel that way again.

I want our relationship to stay good. I don’t want us to become roommates who never see each other. I know we are going to have to work harder than we have the last few months, but I also know that we have been through much harder things.

But I’m still scared. I know how easy it is to still into bad patterns. I know how easy it is to drift apart. To become lonely. But I have to keep telling myself that we are prepared for this. We know what to watch out for and we know how to invest in and build up our relationship. We just have to do those things, and I have to have faith that we can do this. And as long as we both stay alert and proactive, I know we can.

But maybe that’s the other thing that worries me. Robby has a very hard time with follow through. He’s much better about follow through when it comes to our relationship than when it comes to taking care of himself, but it’s still something he struggles with. So I guess that I worry that we will say that we will be diligent, but when things start to strain, his struggles with follow through will make things harder. So I guess that’s where we start. Talking about my worries.