Day 41 – Piled up

My son, Andrew, was born in 1986.  I was 22 years old.  I was so happy to be a Mom and I knew that I would do anything and everything in my power to assure that he had a better life than I had.

He got sick the first time when he was 6 months old.  He never really got well after that.  He had an undiagnosed immunodeficiency.  Which meant he picked up every cold or virus or infection that was going around.  Including some not so common infections.

I never was able to go back to work after he was born.  But I loved being a mom so staying home was ok.

At 12 months old, he had his first really big bout with pneumonia and had a really hard time recovering.  Again, he never really got well.  He just got better and then worse again.

When he was 2, I was driving home from church one Sunday night. Several other people were coming by for dinner after church and weren’t too far behind me.  My husband had been working so he wasn’t with me.  It was just my son and myself.

As we were heading home, we were in a horrible car accident.  Someone pulled out in front of the car immediately in front of me, which caused a chain reaction.  My car was in between two others so it was completely totaled. The front of the car was gone and the rear of the car was gone. The only thing left was our passenger areas.  Thankfully,  my son was fastened securely in his car seat so he was not injured.

I was injured pretty badly.  I had a lot of damage to my neck, back, shoulders and chest from getting whiplash in both directions.  There were two separate impacts so each gave me different injuries.  I also was bruised up pretty much everywhere.  I was taken to the hospital and released but had to begin intense physical therapy and wore a neck brace etc.

My first few moments in the ambulance, I remember thinking that I couldn’t be a mom to a sick little boy if I was broken.  The guilt was awful. How did I let this happen?  How was I so careless.  Yes, I thought all those things.  In those days, there was nothing I didn’t blame myself for.  I was just continuing the blame that I had always known.

The pain was so intense, but I could not take pain medications and care for my son.  At the time, my husband was working three jobs to for all the medical bills, medications, etc.  There was no way he could help me care for our child.

Some how, some way, I managed to care for this little boy and endure two years of physical therapy.  Holding him was painful.  Lifting him was painful. Bathing him was painful. Everything hurt.  And he was sick this entire time.

That meant caring for him as if nothing was wrong with me.  Doctor appointments, hospital stays, etc.

And some how, I did it.

I was thinking tonight, as I’m driving home from having dinner with my amazing son, how strong and brave I had to be during that time.  How did I do it?  How was I able to get up each day and push thru?

Of course, prayer was always a big part of my life, but a lot of times, when I was in the shower and in so much pain, I would cry and ask God why this was happening to me.

What I didn’t see then, is how incredibly strong I was.

The first miracle is that we were alive.  The second miracle is that I was able to care for him regardless of my physical condition.   And the  third miracle is that I did it with joy. I never ever resented having to care for him. I was just so grateful to be a Mom.

I started to compare that time to now.  Working thru PTSD and feeling so weak at times.  Many days, I have felt that it really couldn’t get any worse than this.  But how quickly I lose sight of all that I have survived.

Even though at that time, it seemed everything was piled up, I found a reason to live, love and have joy.

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When I first saw this picture, I thought it was so appropriate.  Even though the rocks were piled up there was a bridge to get over them. I just had to elevate myself.  I had to encourage myself.  I had to find a way to go forward.  And I did.

Now, if I can just remember this the next time I have a nightmare, or flashback, or memory that I can’t shake.  If only I can remember the next time I’m in therapy and am so overwhelmed with emotions, that I can’t even speak. If only I can remember my own strength and resilience.

I have it in me.  I am strong.  I am a warrior.  Piled up or not, I will survive.  Now, If only I can remember.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

 

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Day 40 – Healing High.

Since the beginning of this blog, I could just sit down and write.  Never really had to think about it.

Today is Tuesday.  I haven’t written since Saturday.  Writing means I’m required to think and feel and try to put that in words.

I haven’t felt well. My stomach has not been feeling good.  One of the things that happens to me, is that when I’m really trying to avoid feeling emotions, is that my insides get all turned around. My stomach hurts.  My blood pressure gets out of control and I normally get a whopper headache.

This weekend I needed to cope with some deep feelings.  But I just couldn’t allow myself to even cry.  I’m sure that the people that were with me had no idea that I was thinking or feeling anything but happiness.

Why do I do that?  Why can’t I just cry like others do? Why can’t I just feel the emotions and not be afraid of them?

The truth is that yesterday, I kept thinking that this recovery thing sucks, and what’s the point?  I hate that I feel so great for a while and then can plunge so far down into that deep hole in a matter of minutes.

I used to be able to be so insensitive.  Now I feel like I’m sensitive about everything.  I feel like feelings are everywhere and I can’t escape them.

For 36 hours, I felt so awful and for 36 hours I felt so guilty for feeling awful.  Why can’t I just say, “that made me really sad” and just go with the tears or the anger or whatever. Instead is dissociate and numb until I can move on. There never really is a point where I deal with what happened.  I literally just move on.

I guess in a sense, it is the weakest way to deal with things.

There really is no point to this blog post except to say that I fell off my healing high and was so disappointed in myself.  Now I have to forgive myself and not be hard on myself.

I am not good at nurturing myself or forgiving myself.  But regardless, I must pick up the pieces and try to find some peace.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

 

 

Day 39 – I Came Out Last Night

Last night I shared my story on blog talk radio. It was the first time I have ever share a synopsis of my life. I shared personal information on a national radio show.

Ten minutes before the show, I was pacing around the room. I knelt down to pray and asked God for the right words to say.

As usual, I was worried about saying the wrong thing or sounding unintelligent.

The show lasted about 90 minutes. I’m not even sure I was breathing during that time.

A lot of thoughts went thru my mind before during and after. Part of me wondered if people would think it sounded too unreal to be true.

In a sense I felt like I had betrayed my family by telling the “secrets”.

The truth is that they aren’t around anyway, so it shouldn’t matter.

I felt very strong and powerful for making it thru in one piece. I had a lot of encouragent from friends.

The purpose of the show is to bring awareness to and stop child sexual abuse.

This organization has become family. The support and tools that you can find there are priceless.

I have recently become an ambassador for NAASCA and I hope to serve any way I can.

Anyway, I did the show and finished and spent sometime watching a movie to try and forget all of the things I had just told on the air.

I had a very hard time settling. I was restless and anxious. I wasn’t expecting it to feel so real.

I had heavy sadness, last night and all day today. It’s such a mixture of emotions.

I don’t think that I have truly accepted it as MY life.

Today was my granddaughter’s birthday so it helped me to stay focused. She helps me to stay grounded.

She’s turning 13 tomorrow and it’s hard to watch her at this age and not feel some sadness for myself. I am scared to death for her because there are so many awful things happening in the world right now. I just want to lock her up at home and never let her be hurt by anyone.

She is beautiful and becoming such an amazing young woman. I hope she never sees the ugly part of the world that I grew up with. Here she is a few months ago –

Im so exhausted tonight. I have had 4 nights with very little sleep. I’m praying for a night of peace even if I can’t sleep.

I appreciate everyone that supported me doing the show. I do feel like the secret is out.

Maybe now, I can move on and prepare for the next time that I am given the opportunity to tell my story.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

Day 38 – I’m on Fire!

The summer after 3rd grade I was at home, packing for a trip to visit my biological father. He was coming to our house to pick us up for the summer.

We had moved to Florida about 9 months earlier. I remember, even at that age, being depressed and withdrawn.

There was always so much turmoil in our home. Drinking, drugs, loud voices, cursing, and physical altercations.

My mother was not well in those days. Both physically and emotionally.

When we bought this property in Florida is was covered with tall pine trees and palmetto brush. Every day all of us children had to go out and pull roots and weeds. Saved our parents a lot of money. At the back of the property we would take the yard brush and burn it.

This particular evening, my mother yelled at me to go throw some things on the burning pile of brush. What she gave me was in a plastic bucket. (Or garbage pail. I really can’t even remember what was in it).

I took the pail out to where the fire was and attempted to throw the contents onto the fire. (Yes I was 8).

As I am heaving the pail, I accidentally let go of it. I stood there in disbelief. I started crying. I knew I would be in so much trouble. I was always in trouble.

At that moment, I made the decision to go after it. After a couple of steps, I sunk in hot ashes. Almost up to my knees. I didn’t realize there were hot spots from where the fire had previously burned.

I didn’t feel anything, but I pulled myself out and when I did, I could see that my bare feet were charcoal black and the skin looked funny.

I ran up to the house crying to my mom that I dropped the pail. And then I said, and I think I’m burned.

My step-dad came in and confirmed that I was burnt. He said that they had to get me to a hospital. In usual style, my mom said she would wait at home.

I arrived at the hospital with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. The wounds were washed and dead flesh cut off. Both feet were bandaged up to my calves. My step-dad took me home a few hours later.

I remember the shame I had in my inability to do anything right. I knew I couldnt complain about the pain.

My biological father was a medic in the military, so he picked us up the next day and I went home with him. Thankfully my mother did not have to be burdened with me.

That whole summer I had to be carried around. The day bandage changes were excruciating. But at I took it like a soldier because I felt so bad for burdening everyone.

Looking back, the whole scenario is unbelievable. But it really did happen. And it happened to me.

Thank God, I have no physical scars from that day. But the shame of making that mistake was always with me.

Today, I can forgive myself for being 8. I can forgive myself for being human. With the help of God, I’m working on forgiving those that didn’t protect me.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

Day 37 – Is that your Final Answer?

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.  I chose to cover the subject because it has affected my family and my own life in such a profound way.

When I was 25 years old my grandfather passed away.  A few months later my Aunt passed away. She was 37 years old. Her death was ruled a suicide but the family  felt it was an unintentional over dose.

Following these two deaths, our family was really in pieces and trying to heal the best we could.  About 4 months later, my cousin (the son of my Aunt that passed) committed suicide.  He was 17 years old.

When Ryan passed away, it truly was a shock.  No one in our family suspected that he was that depressed.  At my Aunt’s funeral, he seemed to hold together so well.  I’ll never forget him telling us, the day of the funeral, what a beautiful family he had  and how much he loved us.

Having already been thru numerous attempts of hurting my own self during my teenage years, and then years of suicidal thoughts, I wondered if it truly was the best way to end my own pain and suffering.  I know now that it is not an answer  to pain and suffering and often doesn’t go as planned.

I used to go to Ryan’s grave whenever I was at my lowest and talk to him.  I would tell him how much I could relate to his pain.  Thankfully, I always came away feeling like that wasn’t a good solution.

Let me try to explain the darkest feeling that you can ever feel.  The feeling is much like having blinders on.  You literally cannot see anything around you.  You can only see that you need to get to the final answer.  You feel dead inside.  You feel like you don’t matter. You look in the mirror and don’t know who you are. You feel so exhausted, like you just can’t fight any more. You feel like  you are drowning and can’t breath.  You feel numb because the pain is too much.  You feel like everything is so dark.  Like you cannot see any light at all. Not even a glimmer. You feel like you finally have a little bit of control over your life that no one can take away.  It may be one or all of these things at once.

My point in telling you this is because awareness is 95% of the problem. We see people hurting and suffering every day,  and the majority of us are interested only in our own pain.

Earlier this year, when I felt those old haunting ideas coming to my mind, I reached out.  It took 5 failed attempts before I finally reached that one person who was meant to be my Angel.

I’m so grateful for my friend,  Shehalis, who literally saved my life in April.  She was selfless and kind enough to put her own needs aside and give me love.  She met me where I was, in the middle of the night. She helped me find hope in my darkest hour.  She cried with me.  Hugged me.  And just listened.  Yes, it cost her time and energy,  but she gave me a glimmer of hope.  She gave me attention.  She gave me the gift of life.

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Hopefully, I will never ever be in that place in my life again.  And I hope I can help others to equip their selves to handle life’s darkest moments.

I’m telling my story to stop the shame.  I’m telling my story to give thanks to God for all the important people he has placed in my life. I’m telling my story because it’s not uncommon.  It’s reality. It’s life.  It’s a problem we must address as a society.  It’s happening in every nation.

Let’s be more understanding.  Let’s love others.  Let’s care about where people are emotionally. Let’s pray for one another.  Let’s offer help to those in need.  Let’s just be nice to each other.  Believe it or not, these things matter and could be the one expression that saves a life.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

Day 36 – Safety Deposit Box

Memories are held in a vault for all of us. Wether good or bad, they are stored until you pick them up.

For me, they have been held in a very small safety deposit box at an unknown location.

This year the bank found me. They tracked me down and said come and get your rotten eggs out of the vault. They have swollen and are bursting out of the box.

I knew how awful it would be to pick up those memories so I ran from them.

They have been put away for safe keeping for so long that I was hoping I wouldn’t even recognize them.

As soon as they found me, I knew I had to not only open the box, but I had to take them all the way out. I had to bring them home with me.

This analogy may sound strange but these memories are horrible and they cannot be left to fester any longer. I opened them up and I can’t take them back.

The question is, do I really want to? Shouldn’t I replace them with valuable memories? Shouldn’t I load up my box with jewels and precious keepsakes?

Then as I pick them up, I’ll be happy to open the box and see them again.

As a child, we may not always get to choose the contents of our safety deposit box. There was definitely nothing safe to go in there for me. I had to store things there that were unbearable to think about or feel.

Once I get all the rotten eggs out of my box I’m going to be proud of how I held them. I’m going to be proud of who they have made me to be. And I’m going to be proud of my strength and courage to get them out.

I’m not ashamed to say that I have needed help with this journey and I couldn’t have done it on my own.

I’m so grateful for those that have gone back to the vault with me and kept me safe.

Thank you to my precious friends who have become my family. You’ve given me diamonds and love letters to put in my box. I’m forever grateful.

Until next time – I am being Mj every day.

Day 35 – Blind Faith

Every day, as I’m being abused and living in so much dysfunction, I’m praying for it all to end.

Since I was about 8 years old, i knew there was a God. I wasn’t sure how He could help me. I wasn’t sure if He even knew who I was. I wasn’t sure if He could fix my situation. But what I did know was that I had to keep asking Him to help me.

I couldn’t see any way out of my situation or even a reason for living. At 12 years old, there were times that I thought suicide was the only way out. And still, I kept praying.

I went to a small bible study group in 9th and 10th grade. No one there knew what horrible things I was going through. I’m sure they thought I was just quiet and shy. I lived for that bible study. It literally kept me alive until the next week. It was one of the few places that I could feel safe.

At the age of 18, I joined a church. No one there had any idea how much I was hurting. I felt like they were my new family and there was no way I could tell them my shame. Still, I prayed for God to end my heartache. Even though the abuse was over, I hated myself. I hated my scars. I hated my lonliness.

Those prayers saved my life. Those prayers gave me hope. I didn’t understand God or faith but I always knew that I had to keep trying.

Over this past year, I’ve had to go back to that same blind faith. I wasn’t sure how to survive PTSD and I couldn’t see my way out. But I had to keep praying. I had to have hope.

It’s been hard. I’ve had to do a lot of work on me. I’ve suffered and hurt as if it was happening all over again.

And still I prayed.

I don’t pretend to understand how God works or why He allows things to break us at times. But I do know that where there is even the slightest bit of faith, there is hope. And hope is why I’m alive today to tell my story.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.