Swim

I feel like I did out in the ocean that one time. How I just kept swimming. I was so tired. I was so scared. I thought I was going to drown. I didn’t think I could make it. But I kept thinking about my kids. I kept swimming. Yes, like Dory. I kept swimming. And I made it. I was so relieved. I was so happy. I laid back in the sand and stared at the sky and just breathed. I was alive. It was crazy. Overwhelming. I did it. And here I am. Out at sea. I just keep swimming. And this time, the waves are overwhelming. I can’t do it. I can’t. I am so tired. I am so tired of always trying to keep my head above water. I just want to stop. I just want to rest a while. To not have to try so hard. Why? Why do I have to try so hard? Why? It’s funny. He was the one that brought me out there. Out so far into the water. And here I am, constantly feeling like it’s his fault. That I am trying to get back the life he took from me. I know I should stop blaming him. But that’s what I see. I was with him for so long… such a vulnerable stage in my life. How long must I suffer? How long will I keep trying to get back to shore? He led me so far out this time. I just can’t. I’m so tired. I just want to rest a while. Just lean my head back into the water and rest.

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Better than then

Once when I was married I read a book. A horrible book that someone recommended for marriages. While there were some truths in it and information that was good, the majority of it was legalistic and demeaning to women.

A point in the book talked about divorce and how it wasn’t an option. How women should try their best to be there for their husbands no matter what. That if he did something illegal, she should stay married to him and visit him in jail and hope for his rehabilitation…

Ok… I think can understand that somewhat… to a point.

We read further and they recommended that if he was abusive you should still stay with him. Maybe moving out for a time to show him that his actions aren’t good and he needs to change. Then coming back into the home… With your children. Staying there. Hoping for the best. Waiting for him to change.

The couple goes on to tell us women to think about our children being raised without a father. Think about ourselves sleeping in a big lonely bed. Think about our finances and how will we provide for our children… They say it’s best to stay with him and make it work.

I will admit, this book was one reason why I stayed in my abusive marriage for so long. (16 years to be exact.)

This book has now been set on fire, as of 3 years ago.

I struggle now…

I have lonely nights in that big empty bed.

I don’t know where my next rent is coming from.

My kids have shoes that don’t fit.

I don’t know how to make my school schedule and my kids’ schedules work sometimes.

I depend on family and friends for help.

My children don’t have a father figure.

 

 

And it’s wonderful.

Nothing… Nothing I go through now compares to what I went through then.

I do not wonder all day if I’ll be good enough to not make him mad.

I do not keep my head down and try to say the right thing when he’s mad.

I don’t worry and try to fix things if I mess up and make a mistake, hiding it before he sees it.

I don’t wait in bed for hours, hoping he just falls asleep and leaves me alone.

I don’t worry if my children can hear, can see, what I’m going through. Fearing that they will be next.

I’m free. My children are free. And everything from this moment on will be beautiful.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to Me

My Mother’s Day musings. Last night I went dancing. I don’t really know anyone there, so it leads to many introductions and lots of small talk. Small talk usually leads to questions about kids. And I’m sure you all can guess what kind of comments come with my reply about how many children I have. As an introvert, I sometimes find these comments hard to handle, especially when I hear them over and over in one setting. And recently I had been questioned about why I chose to have so many children with someone who was so mentally unstable and abusive. Well, I think why I had so many children with him isn’t the main question. From that marriage I do not regret my children at all. I wish I had awakened sooner to the strength I had at the end when I left, instead of suffering years of every type of abuse. But my children? I do not regret. They are beautiful. They are strong. They are funny. They are smart. They are talented. They are inquisitive. They are loving.  They are hopeful. And kissing their innocent sleeping faces last night, hearing their little sleepy greetings of Happy Mother’s Day, and receiving their warm snuggles in the morning is the best part of who I am. They are my passion. I am honored to be called their mother, and I am so glad they came into this world to be my children.

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A little consideration

“Thanks for noticing me,” the catchphrase used by Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh. Eeyore is described by author A.A. Milne as an, “old grey donkey.” He is remembered by most Pooh fans as the gloomy, sad character, with the bow on his tail, the tail that he keeps losing. He is overall a grey donkey with the little brightness of the pink bow, maybe to symbolize the occasional hint of joy that we see in him. One can’t help but feel sorry for the little guy, but despite that, many lead their lives daily passing by those that most resemble Eeyore in their moods. They take no notice of those who seem to suffer from the same depression, or if they do take notice they choose to ignore it.

We are first introduced to Eeyore in the book, Winnie the Pooh. He is first found to be standing all by himself in a corner of the forest, thinking sad thoughts. He is known to think such thoughts from time to time such as, “Why, Wherefore, and Inasmuch as which?” Upon a greeting from Pooh, we realize that Eeyore is gloomy because he had lost his tail. We hear one of Eeyore’s famous lines, “Not very how,” in reply to Pooh’s greeting. Pooh then goes on a search for Eeyore’s tail and finds it at Owl’s. Eeyore is then so excited about the return of his tail that he is supposed to have frolicked in the forest, swishing his tail back and forth. This can be a very surprising part in the story, as most of the time Eeyore does not express such joy. It puts a smile on even the hardest of hearts to know that Eeyore is so happy over the return of his tail.

Eeyore comes off as a pessimist, and also seems to have many sad things happen to him. Once these sad things occur, he is known to reply with remarks such as, “It’s just what would happen.”  It’s as though he expects these things to happen, commonly being heard to say things like, “if it is a good morning, which I doubt” “probably lose it again” “it’ll probably rain.” He’s not usually surprised when bad things do happen, “I might of known” “we can’t all” “as usual” “that’s all there is to it.”

Despite his gloominess his friends care about him. They don’t make an attempt to change him. When Pooh first introduces Tigger to Eeyore, he explains Tigger’s behavior to Eeyore and then Eeyore’s behavior to Tigger. He doesn’t make any excuses for either, just the brief introduction, just matter of fact. No one ever talks condescending to Eeyore. They all try to include him and understand him. They attempt to help him, and he also helps his friends. He is a very loyal donkey. He is giving as well. We see that when he is first introduced to Tigger and realizes that Tigger hasn’t eaten. Though he is saving his patch of thistles for his birthday, he doesn’t mind to share them with Tigger.

Sometimes I think Eeyore was just misunderstood. I wonder what made him appear so gloomy. Maybe it wasn’t gloomy for him to reply after Rabbit’s, “That’s right, Eeyore. Drop in on any of us at any time, when you feel like it.” “Thank you, Rabbit. Andif anybody says in a Loud Voice ‘Bother, it’s Eeyore,’ I can drop out again.” Maybe Eeyore had experienced negativity so much so before, that now he is more of a realist.

I’m not so sure that Eeyore wasn’t hopeful. There were many times through out his parts in the stories that he seemed interested and excited that he might be included in something. Just his simple, “thanks for noticing me” shows that he wanted to be included, he wanted others to notice. Such as in his sweet reply, “I might have known,” said Eeyore. “After all, one can’t complain. I have my friends. Somebody spoke to me only yesterday. And was it last week or the week before that Rabbit bumped into me and said ‘Bother!’ The Social Round. Always something going on.” We also see this when he mentions his birthday as he does from time to time. Of course when we first meet him we see that he is disappointed that no one remembered. Later we hear him talking about the thistles he’s saved for his birthday.

Most people’s perception of Eeyore is that he is eternally gloomy, but that really isn’t his perception of himself. As we see in The House at Pooh Corner,

“Pooh explained to Eeyore that Tigger was a great friend of Christopher Robin’s, who had come to stay in the Forest, and Piglet explained  to  Tigger  that  he mustn’t mind what Eeyore said because he was always  gloomy;  and  Eeyore  explained  to Piglet  that,  on  the  contrary,  he  was feeling particularly cheerful this morning.” Eeyore doesn’t expect too much of himself so therefore remains quiet most of the time.

We see that Eeyore doesn’t expect much from anything really. “Eeyore doesn’t expect much from his friends and always expects the worse whenever they come to help him. Here is where his friends come in handy; they dismiss his gloomy thoughts, which cause him to feel grateful to them.” Maybe Eeyore is gloomy, maybe he doesn’t have a lot of positive thoughts, but he is kindhearted and loyal to his friends and they are loyal as well. It’s amazing what we can learn from a children’s story. It is well known that Eeyore has a depressive nature and he is always gloomy, but he is also a compassionate animal. This is shown when Eeyore is able to grow a plant which Rabbit, a much respected gardener is unable to grow. Eeyore achieves this by giving the plant some of his love.

Eeyore is actually kind of surprising and funny. It’s almost as though he realizes things are going to go wrong in life. And instead of responding with worry and sadness, he just takes it all in. I am not quite sure what to make of him. Is he depressed? Or does he take it all in stride? Being alive for 35  years and being in an abusive marriage, I have seen things. I know this life gives us more than we think we can handle at times. I wonder what Eeyore went through to make him respond this way. He doesn’t pretend. He doesn’t fake happiness, but at times he shows it. He doesn’t pretend to be into something that he isn’t. He shows us just how observant he is in his many quirky, witty, and well-timed replies. As when he loses his tail, “It’s not much of a tail, but I’m sort of attached to it.” Deadpan. Literally funny. Or when Pooh comes trampling through and wrecks his house, “Thanks for noticing me.” Why not see the silver lining? When he has a good idea, “Might take a day or two, but I’ll find a new one.” And then he walks off as though that’s exactly what he’s going to do- go and find something that is abstract.

Eeyore is usually one of the core group of animals, along with Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit and Tigger. Of these five, he is the most reluctant to go along with their plans or adventures, but does not oppose them because he believes it to be futile to try. There’s so much we can learn from this one little guy:

“We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.” Eeyore says. “Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose. Eeyore replies, “Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.” I think a good thing that Eeyore teaches us is that we are all different. We weren’t all meant to be outgoing, loud, excitable people. Some of us are to be quiet, and that’s ok. I think Eeyore’s friends teach us that that is ok, that everyone is different and we are to be accepting of them even if we don’t understand. As Eeyore notes, “A tail isn’t a tail to them, it’s just a little bit extra at the back.” Not everyone is going to understand us. There will be those that no matter how much we explain, they just won’t be willing to understand our point of view. And that’s ok. Sometimes the people who aren’t understanding are the ones who need the most gentleness and understanding. “It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily. “So it is.” “And freezing.” “Is it?” “Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.” He likes that silver lining, see? He isn’t all hum glum. He puts a positive spin, that even though it’s cold out and everyone is freezing, Hey, there hasn’t been an earthquake. What can we be thankful for? “They’re funny things, accidents. You never have them till you’re having them.” Yes, another life lesson. Live life! Go! Try something new! Don’t be scared! Don’t hold back! Sometimes mistakes will happen, but you can’t live in fear that they will happen. And you never know they are happening until that moment anyways. Don’t second guess everything you do. You may lose your tail along the way, but with good friends, you will be sure to find it. Surround yourself with those good friends, and be one yourself. It’s really all that will get us through those times where our house gets knocked down, we run out of thistles, we get bounced into the river, or when we lose our tail. “A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference. Or so the say.”

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Out of the blue

You ever run into someone you haven’t seen in a while? Or hear from them? It’s like you never even stopped talking. Especially if they are a good friend.

Same thing with memories right? Something will remind you of that moment long ago… A scent. A dream. And it’s like you are back there, reliving it.

Have you ever been so caught up in a memory it’s almost like you are there? What about a negative memory? Does your heart rate increase? Your breathing almost stop? Your body tense?

If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, I encourage you to seek help if memories of the abuse are overwhelming to you. I know it took a lot for you to leave, and now here you are dealing with the aftermath. When will it stop? When will you be able to move on? I know… I understand. But sometimes we need a little more help moving forward, and that’s ok.

PTSD doesn’t just affect our soldiers. PTSD can affect those of us who have been under the oppression of severe abuse.

If you are having frequent memories, flashbacks, or dreams… or if you get upset during moments that remind you of the abuse (triggers) then you are having PTSD symptoms. You don’t have to do this on your own. Seek help.

What’s in a name?

I love finding out the meanings of names. I know all the meanings to my children’s names. Pure, Peace, Trust, Soldier, Blessing, and Strong-willed. I definitely see these characteristics in my kiddos. I think it is ok to wait a bit before naming your child. Praying about it, getting to know them a few days. It’s not necessary to get that birth certificate done the day of birth. Give it a few days and see what comes to you as you get to know your new one. I believe a week went by for each before we named our middle two.

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Another variant besides seeing the characteristics of the name meanings in the person, is seeing the need for that characteristic. For instance, my ex’s name meant Peace. And he was missing this. I prayed this over him, asking the Lord to help him walk out who he is, that he would learn to walk in peace and know true peace. I’m not sure if it was all in vain. Or maybe it helped at times. It just seemed he had too much chaos to overcome. He was never able to find that peace. At times now, when I am frustrated or overwhelmed with life as a single mother of six, I can feel myself wanting to blame him still. And I am reminded that this is my life now, each step is my choice, it is difficult, but it is where I am. I am not going to live my life blaming someone else. Constantly frustrated, constantly complaining. And so I take those thoughts and I turn them around and I pray Peace over myself. I take those deep breaths and think those happy thoughts. I count my blessings and thank God for every one. As life comes crashing down around me, I praise Him for the good things. And I find Peace, despite the chaos.

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The meaning of my name- Worthy to be Loved. Oooh how I desired this. When I was a young girl I discovered the meaning behind my name. I remember this feeling welling up in my heart of pure joy over being worthy of love! And I remember needing that. To be loved. To be accepted. To be wanted. Sadly, I fell into looking for it in places that turned out to be detrimental to me. Isn’t that the story we always hear? Young girl, looking for love in all the wrong places? She’s wanting to be accepted and she goes off with someone who “accepts” her, but in actuality he is also broken. Maybe he lacks esteem, so he belittles her to make himself feel better. Maybe he lacks peace, so he throws chaos at her to try and get rid of his own. Maybe he lacks love, so he tells her he hates her, so that he isn’t the only one. Misery loves company.

And all through this she still had that childlike faith, that if she could just smile enough, he’d be happy. If she’d be calm enough, he’d find peace. If she’d love enough, he might one day love her back… But you can’t fix someone who isn’t willing to be fixed. You can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change. The only person you have any control over is yourself.

So here I am, years after draining myself, pouring myself into someone who didn’t reciprocate. And I’m trying to grasp the meaning of my name. Trying to walk in that meaning. As someone who is worthy of love. Trying to walk with my head up instead of always looking down. Trying not to hide in the corner. Trying not to run away at the slightest hint of rejection. Trying not to isolate myself. And it’s hard. I feel I’ve come so far in these years since I left, but I still have so far to go. I look at that meaning, and I roll my eyes. Who would love me? What do I have to offer?

But then I am gently reminded that it’s not all about me, but Him. He is my creator. He saw fit for me to be here. Who am I to question Him and His decision. He created me, He loves me, and He wants nothing more than for me to walk out the full Glory of who I am in Him. And so, I stop, I breathe, I find peace… And I realize, I am loved.

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Still swimming

Note: I’m pretty sure I blogged about this incident before.. but it’s been a couple years since I blogged and this was such a big event in my life, it was bound to come up again.

 

“I haven’t moved anywhere,” I thought to myself as I looked at the water tower to my left. “The current is too strong.” Tears came to my eyes and defeat tried to overtake me. I was weak and tired. How long had I been swimming? How much longer would it take to get back? Could I get back? Will I see my children again? I blinked back my salty tears, and lowered my goggles over my eyes to protect them from the salty ocean water. And I swam.

Earlier that day my husband and I had decided to go snorkeling. We had no experience. He was a strong swimmer though and had heard enough about snorkeling that he felt comfortable. I hesitated because I wasn’t much of a swimmer, but I didn’t want to disappoint him, so off we went. The rental hut was covered in reeds, lights dazzled, flowers brightening the entrance. “Snorkeling are we?” questioned the man. He gave us some tips and suggested a small coral reef off the shore on the other side of the beach. So there we went.

The water mixed with the sky on the horizon. “We got this,” my husband encouraged. “You’ll do fine.” Goggles, mask, flippers, gloves, thumbs up, and into the water. The cold waves dancing on my already goose-bumped skin, set in from a tinge of fear. And yet I swam.

It was beautiful… the colors, the fish, coming up to say hello. I was relaxed, laughing at the puppy fish following me, just as a little puppy would. My husband wanted to see more. He led us out into deeper water, hoping to find another reef, another corner of the world to explore. Darker waters where we couldn’t see much. I motioned that I wanted to go back. He nodded, and then turned. After a moment’s pause he looked at me. The shore was a beautiful landscape, like one you would see on a postcard. Except, this wasn’t a postcard. We had gone much further than we both had thought, the current had carried us out. Were there sharks? How strong is the current that brought us out here? I was frozen. But then I swam.

That’s when I noticed the water tower off to my left. And that’s when I started my journey. This was a quiet journey, in which I discovered apart of myself that I didn’t know existed. A determined journey. I watched the world below me, unknowing to my struggle, my desire to get back to my own world. Along they swam, so easily, so happily. I lost sight of all of them, as I had to push through each stroke of my own. Feeling hopeless in their world where they so easily moved. But I swam.

Eventually the waters cleared and I lifted my head, taking it all in. The tower behind my shoulder. The reef in front of me. My husband closely following. I had done it. I swam over to join the frolicking world of the reef. I celebrated with them over my accomplishment. The colorful party of fish coming over to me to offer their congratulations. Some people say we are a small brick in this vast cathedral… a speck in the universe… a mere drop in the ocean. All you gotta do is swim.