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20 Mar

Life is feeling much brighter now. I moved out of my parents’ house for the last time. I found a job and I start here in the next few weeks. I haven’t had a drink in a month. I’m still consuming caffeine and nicotine to an unhealthy degree but…those things can be worked on.

I’m healing.

I’ve been reading a book that my sponsor bought for me for Lent. It’s called Lent and Easter Wisdom from G. K. Chesterton. I HIGHLY recommend this book. Every day it’s seemed to bring either soothing words of peace or gentle yet firm reminders to hold onto my faith and obey God. Some days it even brings both!

Throughout my healing process I’ve been considering taking a fairly big step: becoming a CASA volunteer. For those of you who haven’t heard of CASA you can learn about it here.

Ever since January I’ve felt this tug toward this group. I honestly haven’t felt this strongly drawn to do something since I felt the pull of the Catholic Church two falls ago.

It’s a pretty big commitment so I want to make sure that I’m emotionally and spiritually healthy before I jump in. I’m hoping to get in contact with a local priest in the coming weeks so that I have someone to talk to about it. I’ve talked to S about it a bit but I can’t quite get a read on where he stands. I think he’s very worried about the emotional toll it could (and probably will) take on me.

I’m a little bit worried about it myself.

But the thing is…I know that God can give me the strength I need to do His work. I’ve seen Him do it before. And since this is something that has been on my heart for months now, I feel more and more each day that becoming a CASA is His work for me.

Please pray for me as I consider this step in my life.

The Hiding Place

4 Mar

I’ve always been a notorious and skillful hider.

When I was 12 I learned to hide my self-perceived  physical flaws with makeup.

When I was 15 I learned how to hide my feelings from my mother so that she wouldn’t worry.

When I was 17 I learned how to hide school loans from my dad so that I could go to college.

When I was 21 I learned how to hide from myself with cheap alcohol and even cheaper cigarettes. And of course I learned how to hide both the alcohol and the cigarettes from friends, family, employers, and professors.

Those are probably my landmarks as far as acquiring new hiding skills goes. I’m still hiding all of those things.

I don’t know why, but I don’t know how not to hide. And the thing is, it’s a horrible cycle. I hide things because I’m afraid of upsetting or bothering others. Then when I can’t hide those things anymore the people I was protecting get upset either because of the thing itself or because I hid the thing from them or both. And then I hide even more things because those people got upset the first time so why shouldn’t I hide this new thing that seems even more horrible compared to the things I’ve hidden before?

I feel sick when I think about all this. I hide everything important and the truth of the matter is this: all those things I’m hiding are lies of omission. Why can’t I just be honest for once? Why can’t I have the courage to speak the truth and not fear the repercussions of admitting to those I love that I am not the person I’ve worked so hard to convince them that I am?

I will say though…God in His mercy gave me a very patient, understanding, gracious, loving husband-to-be. One of the first things I told S was that I hide things. And that I know how dangerous and relationship-damaging that hiding is. He has worked with me a lot on not keeping things from him.

And it’s so freeing! I look at this man and I can say whatever I want. There’s a lot to be said for someone who loves me even after I’ve borne my naked soul to him. And not only does he love me…he doesn’t get upset and he continues to encourage me.

I want all my relationships to mirror the honesty and openness I have with S.

I used to feel that same sort of openness with God, but something happened and I don’t have it anymore. It’s like instead I have a strange mixture of mistrust mixed with fear mixed with anger mixed with regret. I don’t like the feeling. Maybe this Lent I’ll have the chance to purge myself of it.

 

1 Mar

So…shortly after my last post my mom went back to the hospital for multiple health problems, then my dog got cancer, then my diabetic dad stopped watching what he was eating, then my deployed fiance was indefinitely stuck overseas for three months, then I read my roommate’s journal (Totally wrong of me, but in my defense it was lying open on MY bed.) and I discovered all the things she hated about me, then in an effort to fix my relationship with her I admitted to her that I had read it and that conversation ended with an unspoken agreement that for the duration of the semester we would not be on speaking terms, then it was finally time to put my dog down, then I nearly failed my science class which would have kept me from graduating, then my senior capstone project refused to go as I’d planned it, and then as quickly as all that bad stuff entered my life…it was gone.

I graduated from college. I moved back to my parents’ house for a few months to relax and catch my breath before my wedding. I adopted a dog from the shelter and brought him back to health – and as much as I’ve helped him, he’s done twice as much so for my own healing. S FINALLY made it home from deployment and safely back into my arms. My mom had a couple surgeries and is doing much better. My dad is still struggling to eat right, but mom and I are helping him along. All is well. Kind of.

On the outside of me everything is back to being okay, but on the inside things are still a bit muddled.

Those were long months of loneliness and depression for me. Honestly, I don’t remember much about them. I know that I was sad all the time but I couldn’t cry. I know that for the most part I stopped talking in general. I know that I lived on coffee, cigarettes, and spaghetti. I know that I rarely slept for more than an hour at a time. I know that I woke up one day and realized I had a drinking problem. I know that it took me a few weeks to work up the courage to get help with that problem. And I know that I spent a lot of time at the park sitting on a bench and holding my rosary but not being able (or maybe willing) to pray.

Now that things are better and I’ve finally found respite…I’m not sure how to feel when I look back at that dark time. I’m disappointed in myself – I thought I was stronger than that and that in times of stress and adversity I would rise to the occasion rather than slinking around in despair. I turned to vodka and camel reds instead of my faith. I was self-destructive…and that scares me.

Looking back I don’t even know when or why I stopped going to Mass, or studying the Bible and Church teaching, or praying…I just know that I did. It wasn’t by any means a conscious decision…it just happened.  And then it turned into a vicious cycle where I didn’t want to go to Mass, or even see people who might have a speck of religion in them because I knew that if I did I wouldn’t be capable of covering up what my life looked like and I was ashamed of what they would have seen. Honestly that mentality even went so far as to keep me from posting on here…because I didn’t have anything fun or joyful to write about…I just had cold, hard, embarrassing honesty.

I have healed a lot…but there are still parts of me struggling to catch up – my faith, my ability to respect myself, my desire to know and seek God…

 

Story of My Life

15 Sep

Today I came across this post about my generation’s incessant narcissism.

It’s a good one, isn’t it?

It’s funny to me how God seems to arrange these little patterns in our lives so that we’re primed to hear what His will is for us. This past week I’ve been struggling so much with being overwhelmed. I feel like I am constantly bombarded with noise and advertisements and technology and promises that if I just fix my hair a certain way then my  life will be perfect. In fact, I don’t just feel that way…I am being bombarded by all that stuff.

My peaceful times right now are limited to sleeping, taking a shower, and going to Mass.

My roommate absolutely loves tv. She watches about 6 to 10 hours a day. Which is fine for right now. I can live with it. I own headphones. There are a million coffee shops and libraries around here to escape to. But I’d reached a point this week where I asked S if he would be okay with not having cable…maybe with even not owning a tv. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life sitting in front of a box that tells me how I’m doing life all wrong.

I also decided this week that once S gets back from his deployment I’m going to delete my facebook. I only communicate with him, my mom, and my sibs on facebook, so it’s not like I’m going to lose out any vital communications. I’m just so tired of being jealous of other people’s lives. I’m tired of how superficial I become after an hour on facebook. I’m also realizing that there are some people in my life who weren’t meant to be there for the duration of my existence. It’s okay to let people go. It’s okay not to know whatever happened to so-and-so. There are people in my life right here and right now who I need to pay attention to, rather than worrying about some kid I met at summer camp six years ago.

Facebook and tv were fun. But now they’re just mindless distractions that make me feel bad about myself and I want them out.

So then I read that post about why my generation is unhappy. And it’s so true!

Somewhere along the way I got the idea that my life is this unique and beautiful story that is ten times more amazing than anyone else’s. It’s not just that I feel good about myself…it’s that I feel superior to everyone else. I am addicted to feeling like I’m better than you. I’m addicted to smugness and narcissism. How messed up is that?

And I could blame society or my parents or whatever for instilling that feeling in me…but let’s face it, I’m a grown up. It’s now my job to take responsibility for my own crappy habits and personality traits.

[Also thank you all so, so much for the thoughts and prayers for my mom this past week. She’s out of the hospital and she’s doing pretty well. Apparently she had multiple health conditions that she’d been letting slip for the past few years and they all kind of came to a head all at a once. So things are still kind of crazy, but for the most part she’s in the clear.]

 

6 Sep

My mom had a heart attack yesterday.

She’s stable and in the hospital now…but what a hellish day.

I ended up in the arms of my sponsor’s mother. I lived with her this summer and she became a sort of extra mom figure for me.

She reminded me of the beginning of Scott Hahn’s book Hail, Holy Queen. When he talks about the bond between mother and child. There is something about that bond that is unbreakable, indescribable, incomprehensible.

She’s my mom.

She carried me in her womb and then in her arms when I was a child.

She fed me, changed me, clothed me, provided for me.

She taught me to love Jesus with all my heart.

She bought me books and taught me how to love reading and learning.

And even though she wounded me with her words and actions when I became Catholic…that’s okay. It doesn’t take away from who she is or everything else she’s done for me.

A few hours later I ended up crying on the shoulder of my friend with the new baby. Who just happened to be feeding her baby when I walked in. Somehow she managed to hold me and keep feeding little E at the same time.

Somehow my friend who used to be silly and flighty and irresponsible and care-free has turned into a mom. Watching her care for her little girl has helped me appreciate my mom for the care she has given to me. For the things that my mom gave up for me.

Everyone tells you that being a mom is a joyful thing and it’s just the best thing in the world, but no one tells you that it’s a sacrifice. That it’s heartbreaking at times. That you give up friends and hobbies and late nights out because all of a sudden you have a tiny person or persons that need you.

I was going to tie this in with Our Lady somehow, but now I’m crying and I’ve rambled so much that I can’t quite sort it out.

The Un-Perfected Art of Not Holding a Grudge

2 Sep

Grudges are hard for me. When someone wrongs me I chew on what they did for a really long time. Then when I’m done chewing I take it out of my mouth and I put on my bookshelf so that I can look at it whenever I feel the need (or when the wrong-er asks me to do something for him or her…in this case it’s a her).

I would try and explain how hard I try to let go of things…but the truth is, I don’t really try that hard at all.

Somewhere along the way I picked up this idea that if I were to forgive someone, then that would be opening myself up for that person to hurt me again. Or that if I were to do something nice for someone who had hurt me then that person wouldn’t learn his or her lesson and would just go and do the same wrong thing again to me or to someone else. And of course I have more little justifications for why it’s okay for me to cling to my grudges.

And then I remember the words of Christ…

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either” (Luke 6:27-29).

I learned these words when I was 6. I can still hear Mrs. R reciting them with us over and over.

These words were easy then. Because they were just words – words that I could mindlessly speak as a child but that I now find haunting me as an adult.

It’s really hard when you know exactly what it is that Jesus wants you to do and it’s exactly the opposite of what you want to do. Such a Jonah day…

Life is a really strange thing.

31 Aug

Welp…summer is over. School is back in session.

I’ve got four classes, two jobs, a book to write, a fiance to maintain a relationship with from a million miles away, parents to try to please, and a faith to cling to.

I’ve also got a new little friend. Little E was born a few weeks ago and she’s since proceeded to steal my heart. Her momma is one of my closest friends so for the first time in my life I’ve gotten to be a part of a new little life in a really strange way.

It’s so weird because I go over to their house and I push her mom in the shower and then I just sit with this new little life and I can’t help but think that this is how I’m meant to live. I was created for the quiet hours spent watching a little one’s chest rise and fall. I was created to calm the screams and to cherish the sighs.

It’s really strange.

I’ve wanted so many things in this life. But this is one of the few desires that I feel to my core.

On that note…I have to get ready for work.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for me. Pray that God will carry me through this valley of dollar signs, wars, and busyness.