Enough is Enough

Originally posted on Beating Trauma:

Domestic Violence Wheel Non-Gender

When I write and speak about child sex trafficking and abuse, I am encouraged by the support from most people who hear my story or read my blog. Most people understand that children are victims and do not have the power to stop the abuse that is controlling their lives. Most people understand that the brainwashing and shame transference in these situations runs very deep and can keep a child victim from speaking up for many years, or at all. Most people understand that children are afraid in these abusive environments. And I am grateful for this.

But during the past two weeks, I have been discouraged and disappointed by the victim-blaming associated with three different attacks on adult women, some of whom were rich and famous adult women. The difference in our support of child victims compared with adult victims of abusive behavior continues to perpetuate a culture of…

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Trouble communicating clearly in online community

I’m feeling raw and anxious, jittery and and edgy. The tears are welling up from the sadness and anger chasing each other around inside of my head and my heart.

The thoughts are popping and the emotions are hopping all over the place. As usual, way too much is going on in my life all at the same time. Some of what’s going on is probably being in the hypomanic cycle and the affects the weather has on all of my mental/physical health issues. The things that impact the biology of my brain and body, which are totally beyond my control. Then there are the external triggers, the conduits for the pain and injustices in the past that I suppressed and never dealt with, to funnel themselves through, which is all also outside of my initial control.

I’ve got to process and clear away the stuff that’s swirling around and writing it out here is the best way to do it.

Back in May, when the 28 Days to a New Me group was in it’s writing focus, I got back into using the Ku (formerly Heyku) app to do some creative micro writing and pair it with images. Ku is a wonderful community, full of talented, thoughtful, inventive, creative, and unique individuals from all over the world. It was energizing and inspiring to be engaging and writing within this community. Then, I was asked to help organize volunteers for the Themeku project that had been started by another Ku user at the beginning of May. I probably should have declined, with all of the other issues going on in my life and all the other relational conflicts. However, it seemed like a Godsend at the time, and it probably was. I needed a constructive project to take my attention. The problem is that I should have put a limit and boundaries as to how long I would take that role on and what the scope of my involvement would be. However, those would be boundary issues, which, if you’ve been following along for any length of time, we all know I kind of suck at.

There were a lot of participants, the app was being updated because iOS was being updated, and I was juggling custody/parenting time/child support issues, being mom & grandma, living with adult children, reconciling relations with my son, and building relationships within my faith community – all while cycling through the hypomania/depression and fibroflares. A few of the participants volunteered to help me get things done, including the founder and the previous organizer.

One of the strongest participants wound up going through some really intense things herself and, like a number of us, her participation in Ku and with the daily Themeku prompt was one of the best things to use to maintain sanity and have at least one joyful, happy element in her day. When the process glitched and prompts weren’t available at expected times, this person posted some kus that were expressing her feelings of frustration and discontent at the process not working and how it negatively affected her.

In the midst of that, I tried to keep my calm and respond rationally and reasonably. Apparently, I failed, and my responses came across as harsh, unfeeling, and the way I subsequently handled the situation made people pause, fearful of me and how I would react to them speaking frankly about things. All I could see was that I was one person, without the tools and time to really give this thing what it needed. I thought I’d communicated about what was happening in my world enough that the people involved in the actual organizing process and the more active and connected participants had an understanding of what I was juggling. Then add into the mix the fact that there isn’t a single person on Ku who actually KNOWS me as a person. Without prior experience with my personality, character, speech patterns, sense of humor, etc. people are more likely to filter words on the screen completely through their prior programming and attribute whatever their emotional triggers are to the person on the other side of the screen.

Basically, I thought I was communicating one way, others were perceiving it a completely different way, and no one was saying anything to me about it.

Story of my life.

How are people supposed to know they are communicating in hurtful ways if no one calls them on their behavior? How can rifts be repaired if the person who experiences the pain isn’t willing or able to tell the other person what’s wrong, and then stick around to work it through?

I have spent the last 25 years trying to learn how to be a better, healthier, more functional communicator and person all the way around. I know there’s always room for improvement and I’m willing to accept responsibility and take ownership of cleaning up my side of the street. I’ve done the best I can with that. What I want to know is, how can I be held responsible for the perceptions of other people, when they choose to keep those perceptions to themselves or discuss those perceptions with everyone except me?

Also, there it too much “stealth communication” happening. Coded language to say one thing that means something different. Speaking in what feels safe and politically correct ways because we are afraid to have someone turn their displeasure, or rough edged attention our way. Then there’s the “hit and run” way of communicating: blasting one’s reactionary and emotional response to what has been perceived, then abandoning the conversation and putting invisible walls up, refusing to enter into dialogue and work through to a solution and common understanding.

Everybody has difficult times and painful histories. At least everybody I’ve met on or offline. It doesn’t matter how together our lives seem to be from the outside looking in. Degree of talent, wealth or poverty, high intellect or developmentally challenged, gender, faith & religion, age, ability, skin color, cultural background, national origin, politics, vocational background, none of it matters, everybody has painful stuff in their lives. Everyone sees and experiences the world differently from everyone else. Even when we agree on something, we aren’t really agreeing on the same thing, we’re agreeing on our interpretation of that thing, which is always different than the other person’s interpretation of it.

My feelings were hurt when I realized that people had felt they could discuss what was wrong with me with each other, but not ever come to me with the issues and give me the chance to address and resolve them. It hurts me to realize that others were hurt by the way I presented myself and did things and that I didn’t get the chance to know for sure what it was I was doing that caused it, I can only guess. I’m also kind of angry that people think it’s okay and acceptable to discuss amongst themselves the faults and foibles of someone, without ever confronting them, and expect that person to figure out what they’ve done wrong or that they’ve done something wrong.

Unless you’re an X-Man or some other kind of sci-fi superhero, you can’t read minds. I can’t read minds. Nobody can. If I see you face to face and see your eyes, witness your body language, and listen to your inflections and tone of voice, then I can intuit what is on your mind and behind your words. However, it’s been said that 80% of communication is non-verbal. How in the world am I, or anyone else, supposed to know what’s gone wrong with the communication if I’m only working with the ten percent consisting of written words only?

Living an abundant life in the midst of poverty

On June 9th, the teaching elder of my faith community, Marc Alan Schelske, posted a Question of the Day asking about the most influential teachers in our lives and what impact their influence has had in our lives. My answer turned into a blog post, “The Influence of Male Teachers.”

I had completely lost touch with both teachers I wrote about, one who had previously been on my FB friends list. I was disappointed and even a bit fearful that this particular teacher was no longer to be found. I really wanted him to know and understand the difference he had made in my life, and probably countless other students’ lives. I let it go.

In the meantime, as part of the process of committing to pursuing my own growth and development personally, professionally, and spiritually – things I’ve been learning and observing from Marc, Steven Shomler, and Robert Kennedy III, among others – I committed to showing up at a face to face meeting of other writers weekly on Sunday afternoons. I over scheduled and over committed to four different meetings/gatherings today, all four of which are important in this journey I’m on. These four things were taking place in two different parts of town. The writer’s meeting was the outlier. It was also the meeting in the middle, meaning hauling my laptop on multiple public transportation vehicles, and cutting times short on attending a couple of events, including the writer’s meet-up.

The temptation to blow off the writer’s meet up would have been significant and easy to succumb to, even as recently as last month. The impulse was there, but without the strength and power of compulsion I previously experienced.

I have been the only one to show up and I knew someone new had signed up to join in. So, I just sent a message that I would likely be up to an hour late and informed the hostess of the last event that these other things had been committed to first and that I would be there late. It worked out that I got a ride to the writer’s meeting. I’m very glad I made the commitment and followed through. The opportunity to discuss and encourage another writer in how she’s growing and developing her voice was immeasurably rewarding for me personally. It’s odd and a bit surreal for me.

I often find it difficult to believe that I have much to offer others. Living in subsidized housing, not having an income of my own, along with the layers of mental and physical health issues, combined with the relational issues between me and my loved ones, make it easy to believe I am valueless. The guilt, shame, and self-blame that I’ve immersed myself in for so long has played into and been exacerbated by the bipolar II and the PTSD. I believed I was my own victim and by default my victim mentality was my unrealized self-identification.

As my healing, recovery, personal, and spiritual growth has progressed over the past two and a half years, especially over the past several months, those layers of shame, self-doubt, and base fears of my insignificance in my own life have been revealed and examined. There’s still much to do, but, I’m finally through some of those toughest outer layers. Somehow, that is starting to show through to others.

I’m still in the habit of thinking less of myself than I do of others. i value and hold others in greater esteem than I do myself. One day I will move beyond the need to rate and weigh myself against others. So, going to a meeting of writers, people who have either had their work published or are degreed and educated in their fields, who have been actively working on their craft for a while and appear to have lives they’ve built to support their passion and ambitions, while I’ve been living in my self-imposed victimhood, is a daunting task. I typically prepare myself to be awed and amazed by them and to learn from them. So, when one of them shows up and asks for my feedback and advice, I’m surprised, but offer my perspective and thoughts openly and honestly.

At today’s meeting, a young woman, who is from another culture with an amazing story of her own, was there and our conversation centered around helping her to think of ways to discover and develop her voice and identify what she wants to say, to whom, and how to do that. The newest member engaged and participated in the discussion in ways that grew and challenged me, as well. By the end of it, I’d grown in the realization and understanding that both of these people valued my presence and perspective, that I’d brought something to the table besides my own need and hunger. It was humbling and uplifting for me at the same time.

The other woman left with ideas and hope for the direction she’s going in with her writing. The other writer and I really hadn’t worked on our own projects and it was approaching closing time for the venue we met at. We were preparing to leave and confirming our intentions to meet again next week. An older gentleman approached our table and asked me if I had been a student at a high school he’d taught at. I was a bit disconcerted.

We wound up talking about my experiences in middle school and the high school. I honestly don’t remember this teacher, though he was vaguely familiar to me. I asked him about the one teacher who impacted my life and had probably been the single most positive and constructive influence in my young life. It turns out they are good friends and still connected.

The thing that stands out most to me about this encounter is that this man recognized me. He remembered my voice, my mannerisms, and my face. He had cared enough about me as a student that those aspects of me had stayed with him, to the point that 30 years later, he made the effort to reach out and reconnect with me. He genuinely cared about and wanted to know who I am and what had happened with me in my life.

I was as open and honest in that conversation with him as I had been in the earlier conversation with the other writer. Only, this time it was intensely personal. I shared about how dissociated and disconnected I had been and the fact that I had been affected by my mother’s suicide when I was twelve. I spoke of the bullying and sense of displacement I’d had at not only being a stranger from a strange land in the midst of my peers, but also the fact that my experience of being non-white, from the lower socio-economic part of society in what was then a predominantly white, middle-class population had been an unspoken factor in my choices to flunk myself out of the honors classes he taught and later to drop out of school, subsequently becoming a teen mom. I explained it has happened because I’d already given up on myself and didn’t believe in my own potential, despite evidence of that potential and that others believed in my potential. I explained how his friend and colleague was the only person who ever celebrated what I despised about myself and made me feel like I wasn’t a failure or judged for the path and direction my life had gone in.

By the end of it, I think all three of us were a bit emotional. I had teared up more than once. The teacher pledged to reconnect me with his friend and took his leave. My new friend was deeply affected and wound up sharing how impacted he had been by being there to witness that encounter between me and a former teacher who remembered me more than I had remembered him. He shared how unusual it was for people to connect and share on the deeper level he’d seen me do with the teacher. He shared a personal experience of his own which he felt would have been comparable and the differences between his experience and what he’d observed in mine. After all of that he offered me a ride to a nearby transit center to make my commute home easier.

By the end of the ride, we’d concluded that the inner depth he wants to achieve in order to progress in his writing, is something that I already do and that our meeting today was a manifestation of his intention and desire to grow in that direction. Similarly, my encounter with this teacher from my past was a manifestation of my intention and desire for me to let my other teacher know his impact and influence in my life.

This entire day, from the relational engagement with a new friend and potential business acquaintance this morning, our shared relational encounters with the second gathering of people, leading to the final encounter with my teacher, would not have been possible if I had not been actively facing and confronting fears, allowing myself to start trusting more in that God is who He says He is, that I am who He says I am, and that I am cared and provided for.

The externals may indicate that I have a life of poverty and lack. However, the experiences of today are revealing the abundance and provision in my life and teaching me that I am not impoverished, but have much to share freely with others.

Crazy Good Parent: Survival Tips from the Bipolar Mommy of a Special Needs Child

I was invited to write another post for Crazy Good Parent.

I wrote about what I learned from my 31 years of parenting experiences as a mom experiencing undiagnosed Bipolar II disorder and PTSD and the impacts it had on my, now, adult children. I also shared some of the coping techniques and how they’ve helped since I’ve been parenting my little Princess Tomboy, getting the correct diagnoses for myself, and discovering her needs on the higher functioning end of the Autism Spectrum.

Click the link to read the article:

http://crazygoodparent.com/2014/06/17/survival-tips-from-the-bipolar-mommy-of-a-special-needs-child/

Another school shooting. Too close to home?

Last week an online friend of mine who lives in a quiet community in British Columbia, Canada, was overwhelmed with terror and grief, as her safe, pleasant, idyllic world was shredded by a shooter on rampage. It seems like these reports are coming in daily. A Facebook friend of mine, who lives in California was outraged over the Las Vegas shooting that took place yesterday. Today, an outlying community, three small cities East of where I live, within the same county I’ve resided in for the majority of the past 33 years, experienced what is no longer unspeakable: a student brought a gun to school, fired it off in the locker room. A teacher is reported to be injured, the shooter and another student dead.

Those are the reported facts I’ve been able to see, despite the 452+ articles relating to this incident which existed less than three hours after news of the first reports of shots fired and school lockdown came in.

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My friend from Canada was understandably shocked and overwhelmed with the idea that her safe little community was no longer safe and lamenting over the fact that it never should have happened where she lived. A sentiment echoed by an out of town, resident who was interviewed a couple of hours after today’s event:


“This shouldn’t happen in Troutdale,” said an emotional Maydew, who developed much of downtown Troutdale. “You don’t expect something like that to happen in your hometown. It shouldn’t be happening.”

I’ve been thinking about safety, fear, and entitlement a lot lately. Especially within the context of terrorizing acts of violence, domestic or foreign. Something I have realized is that I seldom, if ever, have experienced a true sense of safety. Mostly it’s been an unrealized, unrecognized thing. I haven’t been subjected to random or systematic acts of violence, as they are reported in the media. I have not lived in a land where generations have grown up and lived with daily threats of abduction, rape, killing, disease, and death – as a number of countries on other continents do. I don’t live in an area subject to extreme and consistently life-threatening environmental and weather conditions. I have, however, grown up within the context of a society founded on ideals and beliefs of personal independence, equality, and freedom. We are taught to believe that we are entitled to live worry-free lives in our safe little bubbles, being nurtured and protected from the ills and evils of the world outside of those bubbles.

At least that’s the modern mythology I grew up in as the only child of an under educated, under-employed, divorced, teen mom with undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues. Multiple moves between multiple states in the midst of three marriages. Rootlessness, emotional abandonment/detachment, sexual abuse, bullying, subtle racism, and social isolation had been inherent and continual aspects of my life from birth through twelve years old. Then my mom killed herself, according to the police investigator’s and coroner’s reports, which turned out to be perfunctory, incomplete, and inaccurate statements reported as accepted fact.

For the past 33 years I’ve jumped from one frying pan into the fire, after another, always seeking that sense of safety and security many first world residents complacently accept as their entitled due.

The truth of the matter is that no one is safe from potentially life threatening danger at any time, anywhere, because hurt people, hurt people. And the number of walking wounded increases every, single day – minute by minute, hour by hour.

Our entitlement mentality makes us the ideal victims of fear mongers and terrorists. It is this entitlement mentality that leads to gross abuses of power which lead to persecution and genocide.

The only way to build and rebuild a sense of safety in an unsafe world is to stop focusing of the fears and trying to identify the scapegoat to blame for our fear, dissatisfaction and unrest. We need to let go of the entitlement which leads to the false expectations that bad and horrific things should never happen to us, where we live. Instead, we need to take our blinders off and look inside of ourselves and fully examine our hearts and minds so we can see where in our sense of entitled ignorance, we have contributed to the lack of safety and sense of fear that others experience.

We need to step outside of our complacent little bubbles and safety zones, break down the crumbling walls we’ve built between whichever us vs them dichotomy we live in and start building shelter and community which is inclusive and healing for everyone who encounters it.

For myself, I have no real clue how to do that in my life. I’m inadequate to the task when I rely upon myself to do it and make it happen. I’ve come to realize I can only do it through God’s Spirit in me. In order for that to be possible, I first have to learn to let God in fully. That isn’t possible if I keep myself filled with fear. So, I’m learning something truly awesome, God is the fear eater and life giver. When I give Him my fears, He eats them and exchanges them for peace, grace, mercy, compassion, and empathy. It’s a 4:1 exchange.

My heart and mind grieve for the broken, damaged, and lost lives in Troutdale, Los Vegas, and British Columbia, as well as for all the ones which have gone before and those which will come after. I just hope we can learn to let go of entitlement and fear, take them and give them to God, so that we can be in the solution and stop living in fear of the problem.

The Influence of Male Teachers

My friend and Teaching Elder, Marc Alan Schelske, posts a question of the day on his Facebook page.

Question of the Day: Name a teacher who was really influential in your life and why. Extra Credit: How is your life different today because of them?

In thinking about my years as a student, two male teachers stood out to me. Here is my response:

There were two teachers who radically influenced me in my middle school years at Parkrose MS. The first was Eli Jimenez. He was a science teacher. I didn’t really like him or his class much. He wasn’t very outgoing or friendly. He was a bit strict and taciturn. He was the teacher who expected rules to be followed and taught by the book. I vaguely recall being uncomfortable and not feeling like he cared about me, as a student, but being quite passionate about wanting us to learn the material he taught.

I’d moved to Portland the previous year, after Spring Break and well into the Spring term. I’d moved from Texas and definitely sounded like I was a Texan with my twangy drawl. I’d come into the sixth grade classroom, all Texan bravado, and loudly greeted my classmates with, “Hi y’all! Where do I put my junk?” There was raucous laughter from many of the other students. However, there was one girl who took an instant and active dislike to me. Retrospectively, I suppose she was someone who had experienced racism and bullying herself, since she was probably the largest girl in the school in both height and weight, in addition to being the only dark skinned person in the classroom. She bullied me the remainder of that year and continued the behavior when we started seventh grade.

One day, I’d had enough. When she confronted me in the hallway during a passing and break period. It was after my mom had signed guardianship over to her brother, gone back to Texas and committed suicide a few months later. I didn’t really feel as if any adult actually cared about me and what I was experiencing. Somehow, I had reached a point where I realized no one was going to ever stand up for me or protect me. If it was going to happen, I was going to have to do it for myself.

So, when Molly stopped in front of me in the hall, maybe saying something threatening and mean, instead of putting my head down – or perhaps after having tried to put my head down and move around her, unsuccessfully – she put her hands on my chest, just below the shoulders, menacing me. Somehow, I brought my hands up, in between her arms and knocked them away. This happened one or two more times. A circle of taunting students formed around us. I was terrified, but determined. I was fairly certain I would either be going home or to the hospital, beaten and bruised, if not bloody.

Just at that point, Mr. Jimenez came to see what all the ruckus was about. He broke up the circle, sent Molly away, maybe to the Principal’s office, and took me gently, but firmly by the back of a shoulder and escorted me to the counseling office.

At that point, I think I started thinking that maybe there were adults who cared what happened to me. I just remember experiencing great relief that he’d rescued me from certain harm.

I think having someone I didn’t particularly care for and who I didn’t believe cared for me, rescue me and protect me was a foundational reason why, despite never truly feeling attached or cared about at various churches and other social communities, I still continued to visit and attend various churches and involve myself in different organizations, always trying to give people the benefit of the doubt to show me that I mattered, even if I was uncomfortable and feeling out of place.

The second teacher was Mike Greenfield, the Spanish teacher. He was quirky, gangly, fun-loving, and adored bulldogs and Miss Piggy, he made learning fun, and loved his students. I felt safe in his classroom and accepted by him. I’d been teased throughout my life for being short and fat. Miss Piggy was a taunting name I had been called a lot. The fact that his room was decorated in posters, celebrating both Miss Piggy and bulldogs, a short, stocky, and what I thought of as an unattractive/ugly breed of dog (both things I felt about myself) was subtly, but significantly influential in re-shaping what and how I thought about myself throughout the years. He was the teacher whose former students, either high school or college aged would sporadically and unexpectedly drop in to say hello and visit. I looked him up years later, after I had my second child and was working with teen parents, one of whom was a student at Parkrose HS. I discovered he’d moved over to the high school. Like his other former students, I visited his classroom. He was always happy to see me, welcoming me with hugs, smiles, and laughter. He showed me and told me he was proud of me, never criticizing or judging me for having dropped out of high school, running away, becoming a teen mom myself and not finishing college. I felt like he saw me as a success story. The first and only influential adult in my life who had known me when. I now believe that he was the one and only example of unconditional love I experienced in the first 25 years of my life.

These two men, are the only two men I think I ever felt safe, protected, and cared about throughout my young life.

In our world today, male teachers can frequently experience suspicion and stigma because of the negative media attention surrounding those who abuse their power, position, and authority – breaking the trust, spirits, and innocence of those they are charged with teaching, coaching, and leading. Seldom, do you hear about the ones who go about their lives and their jobs nurturing and caring for the children they see more than many of the children’s parents see them.

Often, these teachers can be the only constructive and caring male the children and youth they teach know and experience. I don’t think teachers truly get the credit and acknowledgement they deserve. I believe that is even more true of the decent and caring male teachers who are out there.

Can you think of a male teacher in your life or your children’s lives who makes or made a constructive impact in your world? Please share the experience and celebrate him in the comments here or over on Marc’s Facebook page. Then, try to let him know directly.

It’s a small world, after all

I did it. I finally did it. I got out of my isolated little comfort zone and stepped out of my habit of staying home and making myself completely available to the whims and needs of my Delightful One, her SpiritLove, and their Moonchild.

Princess tomboy was finally coming back after ten days with her daddy.

20140602-072445-26685820.jpg So, it was my last opportunity to focus completely on me and what I want to build into my life.

It was Day One of June’s 28 Days to a New Me challenge: The Non-Fear Factor. Our challenge this month is to identify four things that fear has been a barrier to doing in our lives. Each week we’ll have challenges to face these fears head-on and move through them. The first of my four is writing the book.

There are many fears about that. Many having to do with my self-identity; false beliefs regarding my capacity, ability, and whether I truly have anything new or of value to offer the world at large. After all, the externals of my life remain the same overwhelmed mess. All of it essentially boils down to fears and beliefs of being “less than” everyone else in my life and in the areas I want to be engaged and grow in, especially when it comes to successfully transitioning from what I consider to be personal writing to professional writing.

Two or three years ago I signed up for NaNoWriMo and joined the Portland NaNo Writers group on Meet Up. I receive regular emails notifying and inviting me to attend a three hour meeting to write in the company of other writers. I’ve always had the excuse/reason of parenting Princess Tomboy in the context of all the relationship issues between Keith and myself. At least I did until we separated in December 2013.

So, for the last six months, I could have gone and haven’t done so. Why?

If you’ve been following along, you are aware of the challenging and painful circumstances. These things, in and of themselves have been understandable and forgivable reasons to forget about the meetings, get side-tracked and not prioritize them. Fair enough.

The truth is I never forgot about those meetings, even when I didn’t check my email. I was scared. Scared of not being good enough. Scared of being judged. Scared of being ridiculed or dismissed. Scared of how my life would change and the adjustments I would have to make to learn to be the person I want to be. Ultimately I was scared I didn’t have it in me: the strength, resourcefulness, determination, and provision to accomplish this elusive thing called success.

These fears aren’t really the thing, are they?

They are the costume obfuscating the real thing. Deep, abiding shame and a sense that I don’t deserve to be successful or to be happy because of my past and the damage I did to my oldest kids while they were growing up.

I’ve spent the last two weekends immersed in my son’s faith community . . . Right, smack-dab in the middle of his family of choice: his legal mother and father, his wife, and the people in their fellowship who only know me by whatever reputation they’ve formed of who I am, based on their interactions with the son who rejected relationship with me so resolutely that before he got married he changed his name by going through a legal adoption procedure that severed any and all legal connections between us and between me and his future family.

The first weekend was brutal for us both. My appearance in his personal safety zone triggered his PTSD. Our subsequent interactions triggered mine. It took every ounce of courage, determination, and commitment to rebuilding a relationship with him on new foundations to keep me in that building to eat, discuss, and worship with the others present. Thankfully, my cousin and her family were present and lovingly supportive in subtle ways. They gave me a ride home and her husband shared his perspective, that it had been painful to watch what my son and I were going through, but that I needed to keep showing up.

I spent three days last week holed up in my apartment. I didn’t even check the mail. The farthest I ever went was to walk while having a cigarette, and I didn’t have many of those.

I had a counseling appointment Thursday afternoon. So, I showered and dressed for that. Friday I took my laptop to the local medical center, the nearest wifi where I could hang out without fearing being asked to leave for loitering. While connected, I had private chat conversations on FB with my son’s wife and father, both of whom recommended I keep showing up, echoing and confirming my cousin’s sentiment. Saturday morning I went to worship and fellowship with my faith community then showed up to my son’s community Saturday night.

It was transformational. I was reminded that no amount of self-sacrifice, no amount of penance, self-deprivation, self-chastisement, or perfection seeking will ever “make-up” for my past transgressions or heal the wounds I created in the minds and hearts of my children. I can’t earn forgiveness, mercy, or grace. They are gifts I have to receive into myself by accepting them and letting God inside of me to heal my wounds and trust His provision and ability to heal their wounds.

Sunday morning my daughter asked if I would hang out with and take care of my granddaughter so she could go to work and let daddy catch up on sleep. I jumped on that!

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Then, as the morning turned to afternoon, my mind kept returning to thoughts of the writer’s meeting. Instead of sacrificing that part of myself, I took the baby into her papa and left him to be her daddy while I went to the meeting.

It was an amazing experience. Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime. Suffice it to say my horizons are expanding. Toward the end, as people were preparing to leave, I asked the organizer what part of town she lived in. She offered me a ride home. On the way we discovered she was a former high school pal with my first college boyfriend. The same one whose wife was my best friend in college and who gave me shelter and respite during Spring Break this year during the death throes of my relationship with Keith.

It really is a small world we live in.