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Bethany G. Paget

Midwife of words

Month

October 2013

On Remembrance and Grief

It’s grey and cloudy today.

I like it.  It fits with where my heart is at.  I wouldn’t say that I am sad or depressed by any means.  I kind of just am.  I promised my wounded parts last night that today I would allow the feelings to be felt.  I, as the core would allow the grief to come to the surface instead of pushing it aside with a TV show, facebook or deny them because I don’t want it to mean anything.

This is a hard week for me.  I have an ugly anniversary on Thursday.  I sat down to write the story last week because I thought I was ready.

I’m not.

I have to give myself permission in this season to not write certain things that are too ugly or painful.  That permission feels very nurturing and tender.

I am grieving and remembering and it hurts.  This is a tough time of year for me.  It’s memory after memory, anniversary after anniversary.  Like a flood of blood coming out of a wound I need a bandage to put over the memories to sop up the pain and ache that is flowing from my heart.

Healing is hard and after 2 ½ years of some “serious as shit” therapy it seems only to be getting harder.  When you just hit the root of something it becomes harder first.   I don’t like that.  I am tired, ugh; so very tired.  As I go deeper it feels like the mountain of not being able to handle it all just gets bigger.

I’m finding that bandage in words, in the beauty of new friendships, in finding my BRAVE, in holding onto the light; because I know it’s there.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by even the daily life tasks.  There’s dishes, laundry, cleaning, feeding the cat and my daughter and I.  I struggle with even getting those things done, let alone feeling my FEELINGS.

Because we all know how easy it is to feel right

When the grief is piled high, I tell those wounded souls inside that they aren’t allowed to feel right now it starts to become outwardly evident.  The dishes pile higher, the laundry pile (although clean) on my floor stays unfolded, I get angry at the cat for wanting to be fed because I don’t even know how to feed myself.

Abigail get’s what she needs.

But me?

I don’t take care of myself, inwardly or outwardly.  Showers become farther apart because the EFFORT that it takes to do all that feels like TOO MUCH.

It all feels like too much lately.

Yet something has been shifting in the last week; as the leaves really start to fall.

Fall is my favorite season.  I mean despite that it becomes cardigan and scarf weather which everyone knows is my all.time.favorite.  I like the cool weather, the grey days and yes I like when it snows.   I love the coolness outside and the warmth inside, snuggling with my girl watching a movie and drinking hot cocoa.  And I am just going to be honest; I have a MUCH better cold weather wardrobe than I do warm weather.

Ok so that aside.

This year I am seeing life as the leaves fall.  As my grief builds and I wonder in this head of mine what to do with it; I watch the leaves change from bright green to yellow/purple/red/orange and then.they.FALL

What if I let my grief fall?

What if, as I remember every painful anniversary from now until April I let it fall?  Just as the leaves do.

But rather than letting it fall away into the abyss of

“Sorry your feelings aren’t valid and I AM NOT GOING TO FEEL YOU”

What if they fall into something beautiful?

Words

Art

Loving my daughter the way I was never loved

Loving MYSELF the way I was never loved

Looking into the heart of the God who digs in the dirt with me

I wrote about dancing in the fire and not being afraid; of coming out smelling like smoke and knowing that’s okay.  I want to do that now.

I want to have the ashes from things burned down in my hands and throw them; knowing that The Spirit will catch them.

I want to pick up more and smear them on my head and sit with words burning in my bones and be okay with the ache they cause.

Instead of running from remembering.

I have a friend who told me she’s going to call me on my running and I love her for that.

I am going to tell each and every wounded part of me that their feelings and memories are okay.   I am giving them permission to feel them, to tell me what they need to feel loved and nurtured.

It’s going to be a tough few months but I am not going to hide my head in fear.

As the leaves continue to fall I am going to remember to live as I grieve.

As Always,

Bethany

The Fatherless

She’s a “lost little girl” to some.

No father, destined to become a prostitute, a stripper, a drug addict or a teen mom.

I spent the better part of my pregnancy and the first five years of motherhood terrified by the statistics of what single motherhood meant.  But I was told over and over (by well meaning people)

“You are raising her different”

“She does have a dad.  God is her father.  As long as you raise her to know that she’ll be fine”

I believed those words, took them to my core especially because of where I was at in my faith journey and my own struggle with not having a dad.

It sounded so simple.  Of course; all I had to do was teach her that God is her father and it will be okay.  I didn’t think about the absence of her physical father or the lasting effects that would have on her.

My not having a father is a completely different situation than Abigail’s and has its own intricate ways of being dealt with.  But it is NOT in any way the same.

I have heard that we are not complete family because I am not married.  This has been spoken by pastors, from their Holy Pulpit.

If they knew the story would it make a difference?  I left because drugs were more important to him than his child.  I left because I wanted my child to grow up in an environment different from the one I grew up in.  He had the choice to change and he chose not to be a part of her life.  More than once he had the choice to clean up his life and really be a dad; but he always chose to stay in his drug filled world.

But we are a complete family.  Because we are bound by the Spirit.

iPhone 001

He started calling again three years ago before her fourth birthday; making big promises of being involved and calling all the time and sending money.  I got my hopes up because that’s what I had wanted for the both of us.  It came to the point though where I was enabling his behavior.  He’d not call for a few weeks and I’d listen to his excuses and absorb them as I had before but because my hopes were so high I brushed them off.  I had a moment where I realized that he was never going to change and that everything he said was out of guilt, his own guilt.  I gave him an ALL in or ALL out ultimatum on New Year’s Day 2011.

We haven’t heard from him since and it’s taken me a long time to become okay with the fact that he really has chosen not be a part of his daughters life at all.

So here we are 7 years later.  My sweet girl who doesn’t even know her dad; half the time she forgets his name when talking about him.  But she wants him or a dad in general.  She sees her friends with their dads and I know her little heart just breaks in two because I know my little girl heart that still aches from not having a dad breaks in two with hers.

I’m learning that I am parenting Abigail all while parenting myself.  I am parenting my little Bethany that never had the dad she needed.  It’s hard to do that when your flesh and blood baby girl whose hurts you would wipe away in an instant asks why her daddy isn’t here but then can’t tell you his name.   Then finds the easiest thing to do is to blame herself.

The older she gets the more questions she asks obviously; about why he isn’t here, where he is and why I divorced him.

I tell her very gently that her dad and I were never married, that he is making poor choices and that it has NOTHING to do with her.  That she did not do anything wrong to have him not be a part of her life

Then she hits me with a gut punch last night.

“Mommy I tell my friends that you and my daddy got divorced because I don’t want them to know that he never was around”

FUCK

I can’t tell a seven year old that her dad would rather smoke crack and drink beer every night then be with her.  OHMYGOD.  My heart ripped apart.  She thrashed on the floor, a mess of feelings, and suddenly I realized that it’s going to take a lifetime of healing for HER to see why he isn’t here.

I can tell her what I know.  I can make wise decisions about what I tell her when.  I tell her everyday how much God values her and how much Jesus sees her.

But she is going to have to find this healing when her heart is ready.  This isn’t my healing to give her, it never was.  She knows and has a relationship with God that is quite beautiful actually and I believe that the way He speaks to her will help her heal as she gets older.

Right now though I can’t force her to understand why Jeffrey chose to walk away.  I have my own healing to continue to do from his and my relationship and part of that I believe will help in how I help her see that it wasn’t her fault.

She is loved by so MANY people but she is missing that love of a daddy and when she sees her friends with their dads it rips her heart apart.  I want to provide that for her but I can’t.  I’m her mamadad (what we decided on father’s day) but I am not her dad.  I can’t provide those things that a healthy father would.

I’ve tried to have guy friends provide that for her but it isn’t the same and we really don’t have any other male influences in our lives so it’s tough right now.  However I do believe in a God who promises healing and redemption and new things.

Whatever that means for Abigail and I.

As Always,

Bethany

Surrender to grief

Empty promises

Neglect

Their Words and actions became her identity

The lapses / their judgments’

Their denial / her fault

Ache

Dread

So heavy it pulls down like an angry brick

Feelings aren’t allowed

They expose truth

To leave would mean death

Death of something already decayed

To grieve something that never was

Is to surrender to Him

To The One who knows

How to catch tears that fall from brokenness

As Always,

Bethany

The Study of Self

Self.

In evangelical circles self is a word that is spit out like rotten milk.  The thought of self being anything other than dirty, broken, shameful and full of sin is a foul taste in the mouth of the church.

When I came to faith it was taught that I had to put all thoughts of self away, and that I was supposed to put everything and everyone before me; God, my husband (that I still don’t have) my kids, the people in the church and “the lost” felt deafening to my always put last heart.

I did it though because I was supposed to.  Doing anything other than that was rebellious and sinful.

What I struggled with was being taught that because we are “The Body of Christ” that when everyone is meeting each other’s needs no one will be left with an empty cup.

It did not work that way, my cup was dry and….

I did not even know who I was or what I needed.

Leaving that teaching behind, letting go of the thought that “self” is a foul word has been an extremely difficult process.  It’s been a part of my overall process in therapy.  As I work through and peel away the layers of trauma and deep wounds the need for love goes deeper.

The thought of self was scary because I believed that inherently I was bad, sinful and terrible without Jesus and that if I could just keep praying, going to this bible study or just listen to a little bit more Christian music that I would find out who I was and be infinitely loved MORE by Jesus.

I am who I am with Jesus – regardless

When those layers of deep hurt started to fall away and the light of Bethany started to show through I started to see that in fact in I had legitimate needs that had to be met.  That was an incredibly terrifying thought.

Some were simple.  Like learning that it’s okay to not answer my phone, check social media or go to events because I would rather watch My Little Pony with Abigail.

Or that I really like baths, and reading in them, and writing poetry on the walls.

I had to say no to meals for people because I really couldn’t do it.  I was sick myself and needed to try and feed Abigail and I first and those that said they were going to help us didn’t.

There was one that was a lot bigger.  Finding my voice.  Learning to speak this new language of boldness and bravery where I am no longer afraid to speak truth, healing and love over my life.

It was also time to accept that going to church is not a healthy environment for me right now.  The words I hear, the falseness and theatrical like presence on the stage is not healing or safe.

That was a big one.  Admitting that feels huge.  It feels heavy and light at the same time because I know that there are many who don’t agree.

“But you NEED community”

“How are you getting fed?”

“Don’t allow the enemy to let you isolate?”

The truth I had to come to in my heart after a lot of time with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit (and a lot of therapy) is this Matthew 19:19:

“Love your neighbor as you do yourself” (MSG)

I cannot in any way love any one or give to them if I do not first love and meet my needs.  Growing up neglected, put last and not having the very basic needs of life met changes the way a person views relationships and give/take.  Establishing a loving relationship with a whole, Christ centered Bethany then allows me to pour into those I love.

The Study of Self

I don’t believe that in self we are inherently bad, terrible or dirty people.  I believe that #shithappens and we learn coping skills that cause us to make choices that lead us away from a loving God.  When we see Him as He is, He restores those choices and causes us then to see how beautiful and whole we are because HE made us that way; from the beginning in His image.

I am learning to love me.  To love my flaws, my quirks and my positive attributes.

It’s a new process to start to see the things God has to refine with a positive lens (not meaning the behaviors are okay themselves.  Rather separating my core self from the behavior) instead of letting hatred take over; it becomes easier to show them to God and allow His grace to enter in. When I am able to see them with the eyes of my Christ centered self, rather than in one of the parts of me that feels terrified it becomes easier to allow them to come into the Light.  Rather than pray harder, read more verses, serve and bless others more and stop being self-absorbed.

I don’t believe this is a message of self-absorption, selfishness or saying “STOP doing things for others.” I don’t believe that at all.  However I believe that to love and give and be able to sacrifice truly and beautifully in the image of God one must deeply love themselves, meet their needs and pour into their own cup.

I am in the midst of a dramatic intersection of faith, life and art.  If you would like to know more about what fills my cup:

*Lipstick

*Scarves

*Cardigans

*Pooh Bear

*Changing Leaves and cool fall mornings

*TOMS

*Internet turned deeply bound heart friends

*Being enmeshed with The Spirit regardless

*Purple hair

*My Little Pony with Abigail

*Washing my daughter’s hair

*Dread party vox’s

*That Thrashing Book

* MUSIC! MUSIC! MUSIC!

*Art Journaling

*Black out poetry

*Reading in the bath

*Healing and recovery

*Getting mail

*My story sisters

Go to the link above to my friend Mandy’s website and check out her yummy-ness but FIRST buy her book Thrashing about with God

I’ll be writing a full on review as soon as I am done reading it but what I can say now that this post came out of pieces of this book.  And Mandy, well Mandy has a beautiful heart that shows how amazing the intersection between faith/art is and how thrashing it out becomes beautiful.

As Always,

Bethany

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