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Bethany G. Paget

Midwife of words

Month

March 2014

Single Moms and Married Moms

Parenting is hard no matter which way you look at it.  Being responsible for the well-being, growth and formation of another human being, who at first is completely helpless, is a nerve wracking experience.  Since they don’t come with manuals on what they need, you have to go off of what you know, books you have read, and parental instinct.

It’s exhausting, tear-inducing and nap-worthy that first year no matter what.

I do have a few things to say, and I am sure they are going to be feather ruffling.

I have been alone in my parenting since I was four months pregnant.  I left Abigail’s “dad” because he was abusive and didn’t want to stop drinking.  He never wanted to be a father and I was not going to raise my child with someone who felt like it was okay to hit me.

So, fair enough, I chose to be single and I don’t regret leaving EVER.

However I am still single and why I am single doesn’t change that.  I have done everything by myself.  I had help, I’m not saying that there weren’t people that walked with us and did what they could, but for the most part, I’ve been alone.  Getting my first apartment, finding childcare, arranging childcare, our court case when I filed for custody, our court case when she was abused, and all the other tiring regular aspects of parenting I have done solo.

I’ve wanted a weekend away, a night away or even a few hours to just be alone in a heavenly environment.  That’s not to say that I haven’t ever had anyone offer or that I haven’t asked for help, but it’s hard to ask for help when all of your friends are married and have their own families to work with.

I think that’s why it bothers me so much when I hear married women say that they know how I feel being a single mom when their husbands are away or are working long hours.  It’s NOWHERE near the same thing.

They still have his income and emotional support to rely on.  Now granted, I don’t know the large picture so I could be wrong, but if you are married you do not know what it feels like to be a single mom.  It’s an insult to say that.

I have done every.single.thing by myself since Abigail was born and have not had a partner or even a co-parent to rely on for financial help or every other weekend help.  It’s all me all the time.

That gets exhausting.

Very exhausting.

She looks to me for her every need, and if I can’t meet that need, I have to figure out a way.

When her school had the father-daughter dance right before Valentine’s day, I got it worked out so I could take her. I thought it would be fun and she liked the idea too.  Except at the dance she got really upset because she didn’t have a daddy to dance with.

Um shit I can’t fix that.

I know that I cannot see into every situation and know the depths of it, but it hurts when I hear a married woman try to compare her mothering to mine, like she gets it.

Because she doesn’t.

My life is so very different.

If I can’t find a babysitter, I don’t go.

If I can’t find a ride somewhere for us, we don’t go.

It does get frustrating because I want so much more for us.  I WANT her to have a daddy, so bad.  I want to be married and have a husband, but I cannot force something that it’s not time for.  I tried that and it blew up in my face.

I cringe because it’s hard to explain why I am so frustrated without hurting someone’s feelings because those are their feelings and I am sure that it is hard to be married and have your husband gone for long hours at work, or on business trips.  That’s something I cannot understand just like they cannot understand my situation.

It doesn’t change the truth though.  There is no way to know what it feels like to be a single mom unless you are a single mom.

I cringe every time People magazine puts another famous mom on their cover and bleeds the headline “So and So’s tough life as a single mom.”  Now granted they did just get a divorce or separate so there’s that, yes, BUT they have millions of dollars, and nannies and cooks and the ability to give their children the life that I can’t give Abigail.

Shit I don’t even know how I am going to pay April’s rent, and my truck blew up so we don’t have a vehicle, and I cannot even make it to the grocery store.

There is a big difference between a low-income single mom and a Hollywood single mom.

When I hear you complain about what your husband does and doesn’t do around the house, I want to scream, because I would love help around my apartment instead of having to clean when I have one of my massive headaches.

I think about how nice it would be to have someone here to be with Abigail when I am sick or have a headache flare.  Someone who could take her somewhere while I recover; instead she gets bored while I sleep on the couch.  Or she takes the basket full of nail polish and decorates her pony castle; or she pulls the motherboard out of my laptop.

No, I cannot nap when she’s home because I don’t know what she’s going to get into, but please don’t complain (in front of me) because your husband won’t empty the damn dishwasher.

I know this might sound laced with jealousy and anger, and maybe it is, but I think there is also an amount of common courtesy and seeing things through other people’s eyes before we speak.

As Always,

Bethany

My Story – The Story

I had a bit of a writer’s breakdown last night.  I was messaging with a friend on facebook and it went a little like this:

“Will you be my writing mentor?”

“Of course”

“Because my writing sucks”

“I am sure it doesn’t suck”

“ALL I WRITE is my story”

You have the cliffs notes there, but the synopsis of the conversation was that all I write is my story and I feel like I need to start writing more topical posts.

However I got to thinking later about my blog, why I started it and why right now sharing my story is so important.

I grew up in an incredibly abusive, dysfunctional home environment.  It didn’t matter if I was with my mom and step dad or if I was at my dad’s.  I was being abused and mistreated.

I was either told not to tell or just figured that what I was going through was normal so speaking up wasn’t an option.

I always felt disconnected from everyone around me.  I never really had any friends; usually I was being bullied and sought refuge in the few I found.  I would draw close to teachers that I felt were safe and mother-like to me because they felt safe as well.

It was more about safety than it was about telling.  I didn’t know that what was going on was abusive.  I didn’t even know that abusive when I became an adult.  I didn’t remember a lot and like I said it was my normal.  When I started therapy three years ago that veil dropped and I saw the truth.

Things with my dad always felt uncomfortable but I didn’t remember the abuse until I started to heal.  That made a big difference in being able to see why I couldn’t tell anyone, I never really knew what was going on.  I had some memories but not enough to substantiate as a child what was going on.

My trauma was expressed in my behavior and I was treated accordingly.  Unfortunately that was unpleasant and added more trauma.

I was still never able to articulate to anyone what really happened.  What it was like.  The people I did tell were my junkie friends and we were usually trading “who had the worse childhood” stories.

Last summer when I took Story 101 something shattered inside me.  Like a sledge hammer to a glass sculpture and a million pieces went everywhere and inside that sculpture was my voice.  Tied to my voice was my story.  It was time.

It was time to start speaking, sharing and no longer keeping the hidden things hidden.

I had started two other blogs but I never kept up on them and truthfully I never had any readers so one is dormant and the other is a picture dump spot.

This one, this one though it where my soul goes to fly.  Where I have found that place to bare who I am to all of you.  And I realized that it’s okay if right now all I share is my story.

I figure there will come a day when topical items are something I am able to focus on and share, I do have a few half written pieces in my writing file but when I get to the halfway point they just go south and I cannot seem to finish them.

Here though I don’t have to be tough and pretend I am ok when I am not.  I don’t have to be the girl who layered on black eye liner and had black hair so that people would think she was tough.  I don’t have to be the midriff baring Zippo lighter carrying beach bum I tried to be.

I can be me, Bethany telling you who I was and who I want to become.

I don’t want to hold onto the shattered pieces anymore and writing about them is like flinging them into the ocean of God’s grace.  I don’t have feel the glass from the shattered pieces digging into my skin anymore, because once they are on the page they don’t dig in as much.

I am thankful for you all who read my words, who hold them and who offer me words of comfort when I write things like my last blog post when I was really feeling hit hard.

Writing my story is like allowing that Bethany girl to say what happened to her when her abusers would never let her speak.

It’s removing that hand from over her mouth and looking them in the eye and saying:

“You don’t get to make my choices anymore.  I get to talk now.”

It takes back the power from them and puts it in my hands.

It gives the ashes beauty and makes the soot I sit in sometimes have purpose.

As Always,

Bethany

Lent and – I Just Can’t

I just can’t.  Not these days.

I say that phrase several times in a 24 hour period.

Whether it’s the laundry, the dishwasher or honestly, simple things like brushing my teeth or putting on clothes and not staying in my pajamas all day.

The last month has been really difficult.  My car died, like transmission went BOOM so I sold it.  Because I have no transportation I lost my job.  So I have been homebound, with no income for a month.  At this point I am depending on getting into this rent assistance program once I get my three day notice.  But for me that’s a hairy, triggering and nerve wracking situation.

I never thought I’d be here again.  Again.  Again.

I hate saying that word.  I’ve been here before though it was different circumstances I have been in a place where I can’t pay rent.  Only that time I went to the rescue mission in Topeka, Kansas and stayed there for two months.

It’s leaving me feeling like a failure in some sense because the last two years has left me ripped open and sore. Both physically and mentally and I feel like I should have been able to stop some of it. The Chiari and the surgery I obviously had no control over but I always could have done this, or that or this.

It’s a look back type of situation and I keep beating myself up because it’s not just me I am dragging through this, its Abigail also.  I don’t want her to grow up with these kinds of memories.  I want to try and keep her as sheltered from the truth of this as possible but it’s difficult when she wants things I cannot provide.

My faith has taken a hit as well.  To where I don’t even know what to pray anymore.  Do I believe God has me here for a reason?  I don’t know if I can believe in that truth anymore because this is REALLY SHITTY and I don’t seem to grasp on to the thought that I can believe in a God who would continually allow His children to suffer like this, or call this “discipline for poor choices”

I pray, I scream, I lament and wish I had sack and ashes because I would be sitting and mourning, praying and grieving if I did.  I ask out right, I pray for discernment, for hope and for SOMETHING TO CHANGE.

But it never comes.

I just can’t.

I got all flustered on Wednesday because I started thinking about how I feel like I am failing as a Christian.  I don’t do the things I used to do before my faith split and started percolating in a different direction.  Then I look back and remember that those things were making me miserable and that I wasn’t any more of a believer than I am now.

My therapist had me look up a verse yesterday because I was stressed about not cultivating my relationship.

“Very truly I tell you.  Whoever hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but crossed over from death to life”

John 5:24

I had to process her telling me that just showing up, even when I am angry, even when I don’t understand or can’t see past the half hour in front of me that I have already done what He has called me to do.

I have believed.

So when I think about Lent and the holiness of the Resurrection coming and Christ coming out of that tomb in full resurrected, bodily form I think I can make it.

I can at least make it today.

I can, I just CAN.

As Always,

Bethany

Lent and the Glory of Jesus as Human

I thought knew who Jesus was.

I don’t; but I’m learning.

It’s said that people often see God/Jesus the way they saw their parents.  I absolutely see that being true.  I saw Him being someone that I had to work hard to be accepted by, that I had to constantly be earning His love and that nothing I did would ever be good enough.

I heard the message of Grace and Mercy; how I was loved beyond anything I could imagine and that I did not have to earn God’s love.  I heard the words but the message did not click.  Nothing clicked.

I worked, I told God in my prayers, in my journal and in my actions that I was worthy of being accepted and loved by Him.

I thought that as long as I smiled at the grumpy guy at the pharmacy that I was sharing the love and that was good enough.

My asking the checkout girl at King Soopers about her day and how busy she’s been was exactly what God was after.

Making sure that I served at the Rescue Mission or in the nursery once a month was what I needed to do to show God I had it covered.

Those were outward things.  Outward because I always did outward things to show my parents I loved them.  Mostly after Abigail was born and things had settled.

I would bring home an extra milkshake or dessert for my mom.  I would make sure the house was extra clean because I knew they liked it that way.

I would try and keep Abigail quiet because I didn’t want to upset the delicate balance in their house.

None of it mattered because I couldn’t make them love me.  They had decided long ago that I was unloved.  Now that I know this it makes sense to me that I would do anything to earn the love of this God I had just come to know.

All these messages I was hearing never sank in.  They never made sense.  I wanted them too but they never did.  I wanted to believe that this God of the Universe could love me unimaginably but why, why would he love me.

No one ever had.

I didn’t know any of this.  I didn’t know that I God could just LOVE me.  Me for me in all my messiness.

Enter Jesus.

Realizing who Jesus is as a part of the Trinity helped me formulate this idea of the of the love of God.

My life has been messy for a really long time.  So has my relationship with God; I never understood the trinity until recently.  Jesus in his human form but also as his god-man was a confusing concept for me.  The more I left my fundamentalism roots the more I began to see Jesus in a different light.

It was a beautiful light.

The more I read the Gospels I began to see Jesus as someone who noticed people.  He saw beyond the exterior that they showed people and into their souls.

The woman who bled for 12 years and crawled through a crowd to touch Him; he saw her.  He not only saw her he wanted everyone in the crowd to see her as well.  The text says that Jesus felt the power go out of Him and that he asked who touched him.  But he already knew that it was her.  He reached down and he pulled her up.  I can only imagine her shocked reaction as this Messiah she had had come to know reached down to touch her when no one else would.

They were in the middle of a crowd and He made sure that everyone saw her, that everyone who wouldn’t go near her because of her bleeding saw Him heal her.

That is the Jesus I came to know and love.

I have been feeling this darkness sweep over me and now knowing the humanity of Christ is a beautiful thing.

I was always come to the Garden of Gethsemane when I feel my most hopeless because this is where I see Jesus in His full humanity.  He wept, He ached, He sobbed and lied in the dirt and begged His father to take this thing away from Him that He knew He was going to have to do anyways.

I don’t doubt that this season of darkness is purposeless.  I don’t doubt that somehow I’ll come out of the fire a little more refined than I was before but still smelling like smoke because that’s where the story is.

I don’t always understand why or even anymore do I ask because it proves fruitless, sometimes there isn’t a reason.

But now I see more of Jesus in His full human form, the Jesus who wept, and knelt and asked His Father why.

As Always,

Bethany

Lent and The Beauty of Grief

I feel guilty when I hear my friends who have lost their parents talk about how much they miss them.  It grieves me.

It grieves me because I am grieving the loss of my parents only not by death.

I am grieving by choice.

My whole family is still alive except I do not have relationships with them.

I have not spoken with my father in almost six years, same with his side of the family.  I recently cut off contact with my mom and her family.

I don’t take this lightly either.  It wasn’t a rash, reactive decision.  It was one born out of years of abuse, neglect and abandonment that did not stop once I became an adult.  I only realized the truth of what my childhood was once I entered therapy.

The reason I feel guilty is I technically suppose I could still have a relationship with them and somehow feel that my grief isn’t valid or “like theirs” because my parents are living and I am the one who chose to walk away.

Yet in a way my family is dead.  They died when I realized that my father had been sexually abusing since I was a young child.  They died when I realized that my mom in her narcissistic ways was using me and my trauma responses as a way to make things about her.

They ceased being my parents when they dropped me off at the ER and left me after I attempted suicide.  When I think about all the years and times that I needed a solid and stable family and did not have that because they chose to leave me in a state where I had no one and no money and wound up in the state hospital.

When I had to flee my abusive boyfriend, four months pregnant with is child they accused me of taking money and smoking crack with it instead of hearing me when I said I had paid his rent at the motel we were living in.  There was no offer of help there were only random phone calls and updates of what I was doing.

Looking back I needed to be on my own when I left Jeffrey because if my mom had been there I wouldn’t have done the things I needed to do my way and I wouldn’t be where I am today.

But when I moved home almost 9 months later with a three month old baby after not being home in almost four years I expected things to be different.

They weren’t.  They were passive aggressively different and because I had my new Jesus life where I thought everything was great and I was forgiven I thought that things were going to be fine with my family.

In truth I had stuffed down the 900 pounds seething monster and moving back in with my parents brought that monster to life.

It took the next six and half years for me to really realize, one interaction with them at a time for me to realize that I was still an outsider and always would be.  I may have come home with the first “prized” grandchild but I was looked at different.  Suddenly no one knew how to talk to me when really all I wanted was for things to be normal.

They couldn’t and wouldn’t be normal, the years I was gone some terrible things happened and I had been on a lot of drugs.  But I was clean and I wanted to everyone to know that.

I again tried so hard to get my parents to see that I was different, that I was clean and that I was a good mom.  That I loved my daughter and that I was going to everything I needed to do to be a good mom.  It wasn’t enough though.  The approval that I was trying to gain from them wasn’t coming and I was tired of trying to win it.

When I got into therapy three years ago and started to dig deep and really talk about what growing up was like and what relationship with my parents was like now that’s when the realization set in that I hadn’t grown up the way I thought I had.  That when diagnoses were given to me and the medications were thrown at me it was done to make my parents feel better, not to help me.  My parents saw me as acting out behaviorally.   I learned that what I was experiencing were trauma responses, fight or flight and what is now known as Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

That is when things with my family started to change.  I didn’t want to spend time with them even though they wanted to spend time with Abigail.  For the most part I was okay with that until I started to notice things that she would say when she would come home.  She would react to me in certain ways when they would drop her off.  I started to become really uncomfortable with them spending time with her but cutting off ties?

There was a part of me, a wounded child part that knew I wasn’t ready.  I already felt the loss of never having a mom.  I would search out relationships with nurturing older women who could “mother me” because I needed that.  I became attached to the majority of my elementary school teachers and the ones in junior high and high school that were kind I formed bonds with.  Without a mother figure to look to I needed someone to fill that gap.

Things fell apart when I came home from Africa and found out how things had been with my mom and Abigail while I was gone.

It was bad.

Then I started to get ballsy and bring things up to my mom that I remembered from childhood and she point blank denied it and told me that I have deep psychological problems.

After that I was done.  We didn’t talk much after that.  I got sick and had surgery and had to lay down some pretty tough boundaries because me being sick is something they thrive on.

I stopped spending time on them unless it was necessary and when I did I was ignored, made fun of in a roundabout way for my “Jesus Beliefs” or just not made to feel welcome.

When Abigail said to me that she didn’t understand why my parents paid more attention to my niece and nephew than they do to her I realized that I couldn’t let Abigail grow up with the same abusive, passive aggressive manipulation that I was.

I cut off contact.

I blocked their numbers.

They kept calling.

One night Abigail got a hold of my phone and called my mom.  I was sick and had the flu and had been sleeping for most of the day.  Abigail brought me the phone and said my mom wanted to talk to me.  I hung up.  I wasn’t going to bring them back in my life.

Ten minutes later I had two sheriff deputies knocking on my door saying that my mom had called in a child welfare report.  They deputies came in and checked everything out.  Obviously everything was fine and I explained my situation with my parents.  Turns out as the deputies were leaving my parents were getting off the elevator.  They let them know they were not welcome at my house and they needed to leave.

This brings where I am now.

Grief.

I don’t like grief; I honestly don’t know a single person who does.  I have 32 years of a lost relationship to grieve and I honestly don’t know how.

I have never had that mother daughter or father daughter relationship that others have and I ache over that.  I can’t even watch Disney movies with Abigail where there is a Father/daughter.  It’s too hard.  Everything about this kind of loss is too hard because it leaves me feeling unwanted.

That feeling of being unwanted translates to every other relationship in my life.  Friendships, relationships, even people online that I do not know very well.

I still wish I had a mom and a dad that had wanted me that want me now and would love me the way I know I deserve.

I wish I had gone to a father daughter dance, or muffins with mom.

I didn’t and I have to grieve that.  There is Jesus in His humanity to bear that grief with me and I am holding on to that tonight as I write this because I feel unwanted and unloved.

Trying to mother when you need to be mothered yourself is a tiring process.  Making sure that Abigail has what she needs usually comes before me having what I need.   By the time I am done I have nothing left to give for myself and I crash or zone out and watch TV.  Sometimes it’s nice but it’s not very healing.

I want to heal.  I want my grief to fall away like Christ’s grave cloths.  I want to find the way to mother myself, to let God mother me and father me because I know he can do both.  But when grief presses in and causes you to think that everyone around you doesn’t want you either it’s too hard to see God that way.

Grief is messy but it can be beautiful too.  It’s beautiful because as the tears fall the healing comes.  I realize that I am not only healing for myself I am healing for a little girl who deserves a healthy mom.

As Always,

Bethany

The Gift of Writing

I love writing. I believe I was born to be a writer. It’s in my blood and always been.

I’ve used writing as a way to cope for many years.

I’m over at my dear friend Clair’s corner talking about that very thing today.

Won’t you stop by.

http://thegiftofwriting.com/2014/03/writing-ashes/

As Always,

Bethany

The Girl you Once Were

The Girl you Once Were

After all those years of running you found it and grabbed onto it as fast as you could.  It seemed ideal with having a home to live in and freshly cooked meals.  There were people that lived there that were willing to support you in your time of need so of course once they gave the go ahead you took the proverbial money and ran, through the front door into this new life awaiting you.

The Girl you Once Were

It did turn out to be new life, just one week later as you ran towards the front of that mega church in Southern Florida.  The pastor was giving his end of service alter call and using his typical joking style of Jesus knocking on the door to our hearts but we look through the peep hole, see it’s was Jesus and decide not to answer the door.  That night though there was something that burned in you, whether it was true faith or an emotion driven response you knew you needed to go forward.  So you did.

The Girl you Once Were

With your growing belly, bleached blond hair and tattoos you now had to conform to a more modest style of dressing.  Because: coveritup and yourbodymakesmensin.  Even in these modest rules you had to adhere to I remember there being a bit of rebellion and wanting to let your tattoos show so they could see how tough you were.  Tough didn’t get hurt.  Tough kept you safe.

The Girl you Once Were

You swung from living one type of life to another.  From being a drug addict to being a pregnant Christian in no less than a month.  Your story was put on display.  You were the poster child for a “true miracle of God” because God had 100% healed you of your addiction.  Every time there was an opportunity for there to be someone to speak about the inner workings of His Caring Place they chose you because of “your amazing transformation”  I know that you couldn’t see it at the time because it all felt like a beautiful whirlwind of amazing change but when I look back I can see how you were sort of a pawn for the ministry and that yes, God had done incredible things in your heart but in truth another person was born inside of you that day that started to carry those truths and bear that burden of being the perfect Christian.

The Girl you Once Were

Since you had left Jeffrey and moved into His Caring Place you lived inside this insulated bubble.  Each person that played a part in your life had SOMEthing to say, some part in molding you into the image they expected you to conform to.  There were so many hands in the pot there is no way of knowing what was God’s truth and what were lies whispered by people that just wanted you to look like them.  Each question you would ask, no matter what is was about what met with the same answer “You are a Christian now, this is what you believe.”  It didn’t matter if you were asking if you could still be a democrat or if smoking was okay.

Image

The Girl you Once Were

I remember you thinking and believing that now that you had given your life to Jesus that everything was going to just be okay, including your mental health struggles.  I know there were several comments made about stopping medication while you were still living in Florida.  Once we moved back to Colorado it seemed as though that somewhat safe bubble popping caused the fear is rise up like bile in your throat.  I can recall the early days of parenting Abigail and not understand the anger that arose when trying to be her everything.  Moving back in with your parents I know was so hard and brought back so many of those deepest darkest aches that caused that bile like feeling to spill over into every area of your life.

The Girl you Once Were

You were taught to memorize verses about Perfect Love Casting out Fear.  If you could just work harder and have more verses in your little flip chart the darkness would leave, your faith would grow and God would be so proud.  Yet the more verses you memorized nothing changed, there was no free feeling in your chest just an ever present heaviness which to you felt like you were had some unconfessed sin.  So you went to counseling at the church only to have the pastor say that it sounded like you were doing everything right.  Remember though you told him that sometimes you clenched your teeth so hard that it felt like they were going to break.  It felt dismissive when he turned you over to the pastors daughter in law for mentor ship and she had us go through the bible.  More work to satisfy a God you felt like you couldn’t ever do enough to get to love you enough.

The Girl you Once Were

It became about doing this and doing that to make the internal chaos go away.  Bible studies, conferences and retreats.  I remember your desperation to get well but not know how to do it. It seemed as though if you could find “the one thing” that would do it, that would fix the internal chaos, that would appease God then He would finally take what felt like Paul’s thorn.  But those things never fit that mold.  They never offered that one thing and again you walked away empty, sometimes even more empty than before you started.

I remember how defeating it felt when the “one person” you thought was going to be the one to fix you would let you down yet again.  I remember the pain and the hot, burning tears of loneliness that would hit your pillow at night because you just wanted to be loved *for once* and the loved you were working for from God didn’t seem to be enough to cover the expanse of your heart.

Image

(at a conference in January of 2012)

The Girl you Once Were

The Tuesday morning bible study finally felt like home.  Even though it was so different from anything you would of ever found yourself liking and “old Bethany” would have laughed at you for falling in love with a bible study where mostly women in their 40’s and 50’s went but you loved it.  I remember though feeling in the beginning like it was hard to fit in because they were so different and we still had that need to show everyone how tough we were because tough doesn’t get hurt and I know that coming out a bad break up you were not going to let yourself get hurt again.  But these women accepted you and loved you and surrounded you for three years and it was right where you needed to be for that time period.

The Girl you Once Were

I remember when we started to change and growth really did start to become apparent.  Not to just to us but to everyone around us.   I remember you having that feeling again that our life after Christ and our story had been put on a pedestal and we had to keep up the image that had built of us by others.  I know for you that meant making sure that everyone around you believed what you were saying, though inside I know you felt like a fake as the words would roll off of your lips.  It was easy to talk about how faithful God was in the midst of the unthinkable or how much He deeply loves His children when in truth we really hadn’t come up against a situation where that was put to the test.

I remember you feeling like the poster child for Tuesday morning bible study and any other time you would share your story.  Somehow knowing that our story “was so powerful” clicked from the beginning that there was this HUGE platform that we were supposed to have as a believer, like Beth Moore.  I know you thrived on that for a long time and anytime anyone would say “God is really going to use you” it would validate that platform ideal.

The Girl you Once Were

I remember when things started to change, when you started to change.  It began in therapy when our eyes were opened to the deep trauma of our past which indeed played a huge part in the way we saw God, experienced our faith and others that we related to in the church.  The people around us really struggled when we started to change and grow for ourselves because it caused that image that they had built for us to shatter.  God was no longer a one size fits all God but a God that we felt comfortable questioning because our life had fallen apart before our eyes and everything we thought we believed turned out not to be true.

The Girl you Once Were

I really admire you for how hard you tried to hold onto the old while the new was ushered in.  Especially those relationships with the women you had formed over the years.  It took great strength I know for you to be able to see that they were unhealthy and to cut the ties knowing that once you did that you would be alone.  To do that while your eyes were continually being opened and while you sick took great strength and I admire you for that.

None of that was easy nor has it continued to be.  There are people who still want to see us as we were not as we are and it pains you greatly every time we are seen in someone else’s reflection.

The Girl you are NOW

Now Bethany you know who you are, at least you are continually open every day to self discovery and open to seeing yourself differently.  Your willingness to break ties with unhealthy people though is beautiful and protective of those with live within you that are wounded and need protecting.  Your fearless attitude in knowing that asking questions, even doubting God is okay because that’s how faith grows just excites me because it’s real and true and honest.  It’s not a platform seeking idolatress faith that seeks to prove to others just how much you love God.  I am proud to see that changes that you have struggled to make because I know how painful they were and you made them anyway.  You made them while sick, while recovering from brain surgery, you made them while parenting alone and that in itself is a struggle.

Bethany the girl you are today is because of the girl you once were and she knows that.  She is part of you and I know you love her.  You are one in the same but have branched off into two separate beings.  She had to slow her growth so that yours could flourish.

Image

(my gypsy lovin, non matching self)

As Always,

Bethany

The Girl You Once Were

Bethany and Jeffrey

The Girl you Once Were

After all those years of running you found it and grabbed onto it as fast as you could.  It seemed ideal with having a home to live in and freshly cooked meals.  There were people that lived there that were willing to support you in your time of need so of course once they gave the go ahead you took the proverbial money and ran, through the front door into this new life awaiting you.

The Girl you Once Were

It did turn out to be new life, just one week later as you ran towards the front of that mega church in Southern Florida.  The pastor was giving his end of service alter call and using his typical joking style of Jesus knocking on the door to our hearts but we look through the peep hole, see it’s was Jesus and decide not to answer the door.  That night though there was something that burned in you, whether it was true faith or an emotion driven response you knew you needed to go forward.  So you did.

The Girl you Once Were

With your growing belly, bleached blond hair and tattoos you now had to conform to a more modest style of dressing.  Because: coveritup and yourbodymakesmensin.  Even in these modest rules you had to adhere to I remember there being a bit of rebellion and wanting to let your tattoos show so they could see how tough you were.  Tough didn’t get hurt.  Tough kept you safe.

The Girl you Once Were

You swung from living one type of life to another.  From being a drug addict to being a pregnant Christian in no less than a month.  Your story was put on display.  You were the poster child for a “true miracle of God” because God had 100% healed you of your addiction.  Every time there was an opportunity for there to be someone to speak about the inner workings of His Caring Place they chose you because of “your amazing transformation”  I know that you couldn’t see it at the time because it all felt like a beautiful whirlwind of amazing change but when I look back I can see how you were sort of a pawn for the ministry and that yes, God had done incredible things in your heart but in truth another person was born inside of you that day that started to carry those truths and bear that burden of being the perfect Christian.

The Girl you Once Were

Since you had left Jeffrey and moved into His Caring Place you lived inside this insulated bubble.  Each person that played a part in your life had SOMEthing to say, some part in molding you into the image they expected you to conform to.  There were so many hands in the pot there is no way of knowing what was God’s truth and what were lies whispered by people that just wanted you to look like them.  Each question you would ask, no matter what is was about what met with the same answer “You are a Christian now, this is what you believe.”  It didn’t matter if you were asking if you could still be a democrat or if smoking was okay.

The Girl you Once Were

I remember you thinking and believing that now that you had given your life to Jesus that everything was going to just be okay, including your mental health struggles.  I know there were several comments made about stopping medication while you were still living in Florida.  Once we moved back to Colorado it seemed as though that somewhat safe bubble popping caused the fear is rise up like bile in your throat.  I can recall the early days of parenting Abigail and not understand the anger that arose when trying to be her everything.  Moving back in with your parents I know was so hard and brought back so many of those deepest darkest aches that caused that bile like feeling to spill over into every area of your life.

The Girl you Once Were

You were taught to memorize verses about Perfect Love Casting out Fear.  If you could just work harder and have more verses in your little flip chart the darkness would leave, your faith would grow and God would be so proud.  Yet the more verses you memorized nothing changed, there was no free feeling in your chest just an ever present heaviness which to you felt like you were had some unconfessed sin.  So you went to counseling at the church only to have the pastor say that it sounded like you were doing everything right.  Remember though you told him that sometimes you clenched your teeth so hard that it felt like they were going to break.  It felt dismissive when he turned you over to the pastors daughter in law for mentor ship and she had us go through the bible.  More work to satisfy a God you felt like you couldn’t ever do enough to get to love you enough.

The Girl you Once Were

It became about doing this and doing that to make the internal chaos go away.  Bible studies, conferences and retreats.  I remember your desperation to get well but not know how to do it. It seemed as though if you could find “the one thing” that would do it, that would fix the internal chaos, that would appease God then He would finally take what felt like Paul’s thorn.  But those things never fit that mold.  They never offered that one thing and again you walked away empty, sometimes even more empty than before you started.

I remember how defeating it felt when the “one person” you thought was going to be the one to fix you would let you down yet again.  I remember the pain and the hot, burning tears of loneliness that would hit your pillow at night because you just wanted to be loved *for once* and the loved you were working for from God didn’t seem to be enough to cover the expanse of your heart.

luncheon10

The Girl you Once Were

The Tuesday morning bible study finally felt like home.  Even though it was so different from anything you would of ever found yourself liking and “old Bethany” would have laughed at you for falling in love with a bible study where mostly women in their 40’s and 50’s went but you loved it.  I remember though feeling in the beginning like it was hard to fit in because they were so different and we still had that need to show everyone how tough we were because tough doesn’t get hurt and I know that coming out a bad break up you were not going to let yourself get hurt again.  But these women accepted you and loved you and surrounded you for three years and it was right where you needed to be for that time period.

The Girl you Once Were

I remember when we started to change and growth really did start to become apparent.  Not to just to us but to everyone around us.   I remember you having that feeling again that our life after Christ and our story had been put on a pedestal and we had to keep up the image that had built of us by others.  I know for you that meant making sure that everyone around you believed what you were saying, though inside I know you felt like a fake as the words would roll off of your lips.  It was easy to talk about how faithful God was in the midst of the unthinkable or how much He deeply loves His children when in truth we really hadn’t come up against a situation where that was put to the test.

I remember you feeling like the poster child for Tuesday morning bible study and any other time you would share your story.  Somehow knowing that our story “was so powerful” clicked from the beginning that there was this HUGE platform that we were supposed to have as a believer, like Beth Moore.  I know you thrived on that for a long time and anytime anyone would say “God is really going to use you” it would validate that platform ideal.

The Girl you Once Were

I remember when things started to change, when you started to change.  It began in therapy when our eyes were opened to the deep trauma of our past which indeed played a huge part in the way we saw God, experienced our faith and others that we related to in the church.  The people around us really struggled when we started to change and grow for ourselves because it caused that image that they had built for us to shatter.  God was no longer a one size fits all God but a God that we felt comfortable questioning because our life had fallen apart before our eyes and everything we thought we believed turned out not to be true.

The Girl you Once Were

I really admire you for how hard you tried to hold onto the old while the new was ushered in.  Especially those relationships with the women you had formed over the years.  It took great strength I know for you to be able to see that they were unhealthy and to cut the ties knowing that once you did that you would be alone.  To do that while your eyes were continually being opened and while you sick took great strength and I admire you for that.

None of that was easy nor has it continued to be.  There are people who still want to see us as we were not as we are and it pains you greatly every time we are seen in someone else’s reflection.

The Girl you are NOW

Image

Now Bethany you know who you ahttps://allthingstruthful.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/iphone-0221.jpg?w=650re, at least you are continually open every day to self discovery and open to seeing yourself differently.  Your willingness to break ties with unhealthy people though is beautiful and protective of those with live within you that are wounded and need protecting.  Your fearless attitude in knowing that asking questions, even doubting God is okay because that’s how faith grows just excites me because it’s real and true and honest.  It’s not a platform seeking idolatress faith that seeks to prove to others just how much you love God.  I am proud to see that changes that you have struggled to make because I know how painful they were and you made them anyway.  You made them while sick, while recovering from brain surgery, you made them while parenting alone and that in itself is a struggle.

Bethany the girl you are today is because of the girl you once were and she knows that.  She is part of you and I know you love her.  You are one in the same but have branched off into two separate beings.  She had to slow her growth so that yours could flourish.

As Always,

Bethany

Lent and The Glory of a Borrowed Car

I am writing though Lent as I discover trough these sacramental 40 day days chronicling how I am seeing Jesus in my every day life.  In my world that is sacrifice because things are often over looked as messes, annoyances or thinks I would often overlook.

Today is different though.  It’s a story about a friend of mine, unlikely friends but given our circumstances we were almost thrown together by the hand of God and my life is nowhere near the same without her.

Shelby and I first met when she babysat for the kids during our Tuesday morning bible study. Her mom attended and though we weren’t super close her mom felt tight enough in the group to share her prayers and struggles with the group.

When Teresa (Shelby’s mom) started sharing about the serious health troubles that Shelby was having we were all broken.  Shelby was you, 15 at the time and the serious issues she was having didn’t seem fair.  When she finally got her diagnoses in October of 2011 of Chiari Malformation (seeing a pattern) it seemed as though they had had relief and could moved forward.  Shelby had surgery in February of 2012 and started moving forward.

When I received my Chiari diagnoses in October of 2012 my first thought was “I need to call Teresa” I knew she was the only one who was going to understand what I was going through.  And I was right, she did.  Answering questions, being there and most important was a support.

I needed her in a way I couldn’t understand at the time.  Even though she was going through her own rough period she gave me what she could of herself and that meant more than anything else.

The week of my surgery she sent her older daughter Morgan over to clean, take care of me, of Abigail and get some last minute stuff done.  My surgery was on a Thursday afternoon so Wednesday night Morgan (shelby’s sister) and Shelby picked me us up, dropped Abigail at her  friends, took me for coffee and then home to get the rest of my stuff packed.  And then they spent time with me; I think that was also the night that we tried to make whipped cream from coconut milk in the blender.

That was a no go.

But spending the night before major surgery with people who love me meant the world to me.

Shelby came to see me in the hospital.  Not that I remember anything other than her mom telling me to set my alarm for every eight minutes so I could hit my magic morphine button and the both of them trying to fluff my pillows.

Our relationship really began outside the hospital.  It grew as we spent more time together and shared our similar yet vastly different Chiari stories.  She has no ongoing lingering problems.  I do.  But the comfort that her words provide, even though she cannot fully grasp the ongoing effects of having lingering issues is huge.

She is quite a bit younger than me.  She just turned 19 and I will be 33 in June so I consider her a little sister which is not a role I take lightly.  I am incredibly protective of her and in some ways feel like I am responsible for helping her break out of her home school, naïve shell.  Which I know she is not as naïve as some other homeschooled kids but I love her and I don’t want to her to get hurt.

We were at breakfast last Friday and she looked over at me and said “I am really glad that you are in my life Bethany, I mean it”

I don’t have many people that say things like that to me and mean it.  I took it in my heart and allowed to ruminate.  It felt like a truth I could absorb and I did.

Shelby and I have a special, sacred type relationship.  Like sisters but more.  There is that level of intimacy that is there that would be with siblings but we have also gone through the same traumatic experience and not many people can understand that.

I can try and talk about my surgery with my friends, whom I do but because they haven’t been there they can only understand a depth that Shelby cannot.  I have developed such a deep, protective and sisterly love for this girl.  We know how to finish each other’s sentences, she comes over in the morning with biscuits and stays with me at the bus stop so I won’t have to face a person I don’t want to and she lets me borrow her car.

There are so many things over the course of two and a half years that I have learned about friendship and this is one of them.  Friendship and relationship and can be both beautiful and detrimental to a person.  It takes two people to have a friendship and that is not something I knew until I got sick.  My relationship with Shelby is 100% give and take and that is what I noticed yesterday.

She let me borrow her car.  Mine is broken down, well not so much broken down as it is it died and sold.  I needed a car so I could get to therapy and a couple other things I needed to do yesterday.  As I drove away from dropping her off at work I was struck by the value in our friendship.  By the love relationship that has grown between two unlikely people.  Yet here we are, my little sister and I and I couldn’t love the girl more if we were blood related.

As Always,

Bethany

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