A Series on Abuse:To Love “Our” Own Abusers? Only Maybe.

Yesterday one of my “get-me” girls shared a thought that I’d like to start with today. For backstory, this all started with the following that I shared before writing yesterday’s post:

“I’m loving reading all the posts y’all are writing, about the hurt, the redemption, being at the table…

the fire in my bones wants to tell another side of the story. the side i can contribute to right now. But i’m afraid. 

i want to write about how abuse needs to be labeled. normalized. how we need to be able to say “abuse!” when something happens because if you treat cancer like a cold, you don’t get you don’t get the necessary intervention for the malady you have, you treat a symptom that is far from the problem. 

and i want to write about how, in that, we are called to love abusers. 

which holy hell and God almighty, that means a lot of things. 

what i want ot write here is that i am NOT NOT NOT calling anyone to a blind forgetting that others would label as forgiveness. I am NOT diminishing anyone’s story. 

i want to talk about my struggle in this, in fighting  what i want to do, which is take a bat and kick the shit out of abusers and get survivors out of there. I want to talk about how violence breeds violence and i want to fight to stand in the gap. to somehow use Christ’s call as an instrument of change. 

what i’m saying here is: I want your thoughts and reactions. the real ones. and if what i write hurts or stings or offends, i want to know. because it’s all so sickeningly complex. 

so… now i’m going to go try and write about labeling and loving abusers. im sure it will be a series.”

dear triteness, you are sometimes true and good. not now, though.

dear triteness, you are sometimes true and good. not now, though.

to which I got a lot of amazing, encouraging replies. The one that I’m chewing on right now is this:

 “I love your heart. I love your honesty and your gift. Like E said, I trust that The Spirit is working this out in you. And you’re right- it’s a complicated issue. Have you read Wounded Heart? My honest first reaction is I’m glad it’s you and not me being called to this (how is that for honesty). If I’m not mistaken, the biblical definition of abuse is to treat or use someone for a purpose other than their created purpose; aren’t we all then, abusers? I believe we need to find ways to love the very worst offenders. But, I don’t believe it’s a general call on all Christians to love their OWN abusers (not to say God won’t call one of us specifically to do that ). Of course, we now need to define ‘love’ and on and on it goes. I think it doesn’t really matter what I think. Go write.”

So for today’s post, I want to just say that as I chronicle some more musings on this, I am not suggesting that anyone feel or act out of the burden of facing his or her abuser with open arms. Like my friend said, God may call us to do that. But if he calls you to that, he will also equip you for the task.

The specific message I am trying to send in this series is that as people, as groups, as a society, I think “we” would all benefit each other by taking the time and effort to look at people who abuse as just that: PEOPLE. A person who abuses is a person. A human, made in God’s image, with unique traits to bame, I need the time to step away, put down the bat, and remember who my enemy really is,

and who it isn’t.

boundaries are one of the keys to my ability to act out of love for this person

boundaries are one of the keys to my ability to act out of love for this person

To be practical and transparent, I’ll use myself as an example again. In my life, I have found that some of the abuse I survived was committed by persons who I have learned to love well and freely(ish. boundaries are actually the key to my ability to act out of love toward this person). But some of it was different.

When I was 4, 5, and 6, a tiny, innocent little thing not much for sticking up for myself or making a fuss about…anything, really, I spent the summers with my daddy in Tennessee. We were neighbors with my Pawpaw, whose mere memory brings me so much joy that it’s quite difficult to put him in the same sentence with the following the other people living with him: his wife and stepson, the latter who was just 10 years older than me. During this time, I spent a not-unusual portion of my days at and around Pawpaw’s house. Around his stepson. Where he lived. Where he has access to me. Where he would hurt me. The sexual molestation I faced in that time was just the beginning of the pain in my life as a result. The years and years of aftermath, or lack thereof, created a deep and ugly place in me. And God gift of healing has touched it. That place is, by his mercy and through counseling and the love of others, mostly rebuilt into something strong, something beautiful.

But if I ever saw this man, at this point in my life, I would have to fight to keep vomit down. It would take all my strength, and no small amount of the strength of my support system, not to let rage boil in my heart. Because I am finite and weak, in the grand scheme of things. And it is too close a thing to my heart, the deep and treasured parts of me, for me to handle with a necessarily-detached grace.

And there is freedom in that. In knowing my heart is not yet strong enough for a call I have graciously not been given. So if you are here, and you are hurt, please know: that is not what this is about. Maybe you cannot love your abuser, no matter what that means. May you are not ready to receive love for the abuse you committed. Okay. It’s okay. We’ll get there, loves. God is not through with us yet.

More tomorrow on what I do actually mean. :)

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A Series on Abuse: Introducing an Abuser

I think this will be a series. I pray my heart has the strength to write the things pounding against my head and heart, demanding to be let out. But as I even consider it, my tears well up, threatening to take me out. These are not freeing tears, they are crippling.

Jesus, I give them to you. The tears and the people. The fight for control and against your people.

I am part of a group of writers who I love and who, by God’s good grace and miracles abounding, get me. When something is wrong, I can tell them. When something is right, they can tell. And there is a certain magic of people whose hearts understand your words and whose words speak to your heart.

 

Currently, we seem to all be telling the same story. And even with all our voices and all our hearts, we are just scratching at the surface. We are not creating a masterpiece, releasing the angel from his stone imprisonment. Our movements are not so fine, so calculated. We are not even fashioning arrowhead weapons of flint, as our renditions have not the effect being able to take to war. Instead, we are battering ourselves against a boulder, coming away bloody and battered  and making the barest of impressions. We are walking away, knowing that this time, the pain was productive. The mountain we face is changing it’s face. The changes we make on it can make a change in the world. So we continue.

our tiny impressions are important. photo by Christopher Ernest

our tiny impressions are important.
photo by Christopher Ernest

 

Today I want to talk about abuse. The word, the action, the seemingly impenetrable walls that go up when the issue is broached.

 

I want to broach it, y’all.

 

I want to talk about what no one wants to talk about because I think that talking about it is one of the very best ways to prevent the perpetuation.

 

So to start this conversation, I’m not going to talk about abuse I’ve survived. I’m going to talk about abuse I committed.

 

 

what does the face of an abuser look like?

what does the face of an abuser look like?

 

I’ve thought a lot about this lately. About how to tackle issues much, much bigger than me. About how to tell stories that honor the inherent human dignity of all involved, that allows survivors* to speak and abusers* to walk into the light. My God, my God, I want us all to live in the light.

 

Wikipedia, which we all know cannot tell a lie, defines abuse as follows

Abuse is the improper usage or treatment for a bad purpose, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse can come in many forms, such as: physical or verbal maltreatment, injury, sexual assault, violation, rape, unjust practices; wrongful practice or custom; offense; crime, or otherwise verbal aggression.[1]

dicitonary.com’s definition is here 

and there are lots of other resources to read up on. 

Abuse is mis-use. Using something out of it’s intended purpose. And there is a great chasm of ways to misuse a thing, an animal, a person. But have you ever wondered how people get to the far end of that road? It is most often because no one stopped them on the close end. Abuse, of it’s own accord, only grows, multiplies, travels. Without intervention, abuse is a hearty, abundant, freely-moving thing.

 

And I know, I KNOW, friends, that we don’t our yelling frustration to lumped in with things that make us shiver and shake down to the soul. But I believe, BELIEVE, that when we talk about something, we understand it more. When we understand it more, we can better handle it, better handle life in it’s wake.

 

 

I have been an abuser. A person who abused. I have yelled hurtful, awful things. I have physically hurt (or at least attmepted to hurt – my physical smallness/impotence of my efforts to hurt does not diminish the intent) others out of malice, not defense. I have used a person’s emotions against them. I have manipulated words, feelings, and situations to benefit myself at someone else’s expense. Hell, in my twistedness I’ve done it at the expense of us both.

 

In those times, I WAS ABUSING. I was a person, with inherent human dignity, saved by grace (because certainly these actions occurred both before and after I came to know Jesus and his love for me), acting in a way that ABUSED others. Or myself.

 

My God, my God, i want us all to live in the light.

My God, my God, i want us all to live in the light.

I say this because in the coming days or weeks (however long it takes to post) I’d like to start a dialogue. One that opens up space for people to talk about abuse in a way that is not scary or shunned. Or even if it is scary, is worth it.  And I want to start by talking about how part of overcoming abuse is knowing that abusers are people too. And that to fight abuse is not always to fight the abuser. And that love does not always look like a blind forgetting that others call forgiving, just so they don’t have to deal with it anymore. And that fighting abuse, and loving an abuser, means loving them enough to introduce interventions that keep them from abusing, from assaulting their own inherent human dignity by committing acts they were never design to commit….

 

but there I go, getting ahead of myself. C’mon back later. Walk this road with me?

 

*for the sake of these posts, and the ease of readers/commenters engaging, I’ll be forgoing much person-centered language and using “abusers/surviviors” rather than “persons who abuse/ persons who survive abuse/ persons who have been abused.”

I Read it Wrong

I know. Grammar dictates the above should be “I read it incorrectly.” 

Grammar can be such a communist leader, sometimes. 

I shouldn’t try political humor. I’m too unschooled on the subject. Of Politics. Humor I’ve got. Humility, also. :)

I am a person with dyslexia. I am not dyslexic (defined by the therm) or A dyslexic (as though I can be bound into a group based on this issue alone) but a PERSON, who has dyslexia.

A human female who has trouble reading, sometimes.

And who hates herself for it.

This is not a helpful attitude to have toward oneself in any sense, but especially when concerning a malady over which one has NO control. Especially when theology tells one that this has no bearing on one’s worth.

But I tell you what, I sure am hard on myself about it.

Every time I register for classes, I go through a 5-tiered check-and-re-check system when assembling my schedule. Because I’m so incredibly concerned I’ll do it incorrectly. I’ve done it incorrectly so many times that even now, with all these checks and plans, I still get mildly anxious when looking at the registration page for school.

Numbers are PARTICULARLY difficult. I mix them up more often than I get them correctly. When having to recite the sound of a number I fare well, but in writing or reading them, I’m a mess.

There is a part of me that absolutely gets all the reasons why this is just a thing and it is fine and no reason to be upset and even less of a reason to be upset at myself.

But there is another part of me that feels stupid and inadequate because I read things “wrong,” kind of a lot. I’m self conscious about it in new situations. Which, of course, makes it worse. Because (and I’m not going to go into the science or logic behind this but it’s just true) when your brain is busy worrying about things around you, it’s not best able to concentrate on the task-at-hand, and even less so when said task is something at which you have little natural ability.

Image

So.

I’m dyslexic a person with dyslexia (person-centered language is still hard for me in this area).

And I want to tell you this not because I want you to understand and be kind to me. No one has ever intentionally been unkind about it. (Well, before I understood what the problem was, some people did think i was stupid because, in reading things incorrectly  I’d get confused. But not anyone who ever had a real conversation with me.)

I say this because I think maybe you’ve got a thing too. Maybe you’re a person with trouble sleeping, or a person who often says the wrong thing. I think you might be a person who has trouble with your thinking or doing in some way that makes you think you must really be below the curve,

you must really be a broken one,

you must really not be worth much.

And that is just NOT the truth about you. Like it is NOT the truth about me. Like the things which trouble or plague me over which I DO have some control also don’t mean a damn thing about my worth.

Because the TRUTH about people is that they are made by God,

in His image,

Loved by him and therefore declared loveable and lovely because.He.loves.them.

And all the things we see, be they differences in ability or appearance or attitude, those are just descriptors,

not definitions.

And when I find something hard or messy or hurtful, I have come to understand that I’m not the only one dealing with it.

Entonces, I just prayed for you. I prayed for those who read these words, that they would know: that their worth isn’t tied up in the trappings of this world. That Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, came in strength and truth and through his life, death, and resurrection He rescued and redeemed all his people for all time* to walk forward in victory and LIFE abundant and good works that he prepared in advance for them to do IN HIM. That He is now and will continue until his return using every circumstance, even the ones that make me bad at reading, for His glory and our Good.

(check out the video on that link. especially if you’re iffy on this whole “Jesus gives me value,” or even “Jesus is real,” thing. Or for that matter, come over and lets have coffee and talk about it.)

juxtaposed: mornings

I used to write poetry. Sometimes I still do. I stopped publishing it, but then I remembered sometimes expression supersedes coherence, as such. To that end, here’s a recent work:

 

one morning

waking up, having maybe never fallen asleep

wandering through valleys of sensation and visions of confusion

held, safe, touched, known,

looking into eyes, losing track of I

in we

in love

in lost-track-of-time, but found-so-much-else

 

one morning

a night that never paused

just lagged

and bent

and breezed in storms of clouds and heads and hearts

now rowing on determined path to remember

reaching out  with left-overs, with dregs, with vapors for this hand-breath

fighting the urge to analyze non-existent lying eyes

fighting to believe promises never made, hopes never related, dreams that cannot find their place

 

 

“I don’t need answers, I just need some peace. I just need someone who can help me get some sleep.”
-Ben Rector, When A Heart Breaks

Bubba and Belle

if I really think about it, if I really look at them, my brother and sister who are moving across the country and across the world, i tear up.

my heart, unbridled by TRUTH and giving in to perception, cries out along with my eyes. No.

No! Please, please don’t leave. Please don’t go away. I love you, I want you here, I want you near me.

I’ve done it again. I’ve grown attached to people. The deep veins of familial ties never truly established in blood have etched themselves in through these people, this spiritual family. They have become part of my daily routine.

They have become part of my heart.

I was not, at first, quiet about this displeasure. Especially with Bubba. With my Belle, I had more time. I knew this was her plan from the moment I met her. We’ve had years now to grow together and love and as I have supported her, i have, not thinking what it would really mean to not have her (or, in more faithful moments, believing that “what it would be like” is God’s plan – infinitely better than any alternative). So with my Belle, as the date has approached, I’ve kept myself (ever so slightly) in check with the (out loud) “OHMYGOSH DON’T LEAVE ME,”-s.

But Bubba up and made this decision OUT OF EFF…REAKING NOWHERE. (Not true. I’ve known he was thinking about it for months but literally REFUSED TO THINK (or even pray other than a randomly thrown up “oh god, tell him and make it clear….but mostly make it clear that he should stay but i mean, whatever you want, im just sayin..”) about it.

And long story short in a month, they’ll both be gone.

My sweet neighbor who I love and visit and spend time with and who is, as many have pointed out, a special friend, a brother-from-another-mother who plays with me so well that other people will miss our interactions, HE IS LEAVING.

My beautiful gypsy sister, the one who is so different from me, but SO GOOD AT LOVING ME, will be HALFWAY across the dang world and WHO  will i call to come over and have sparkling grape juice and strawberries with my while i scurry about cleaning my apartment and over-analyzing whatever is on my mind and with WHOM will i go on movie dates with my pink glittery flask (a gift from my bubby, the biological brother, the other Valle-felon) if my Belle in in TURKEY. Where the last time i was there, they kept trying to abscond with my passport and squinty-eyed at me even though I don’t have the evil eyes.

(that was a tangent. if those last few sentences didn’t make sense to you it’s only because they don’t make sense.)

This is not supposed to be a rant. this is supposed to be about not ranting.

i’ll ‘splain tomorrow. if i can pick myself out of the “what will i do without bubba and belle” despair.

Mrs Dubs

I just found out that the mother of my first love has cancer.

Which made me think of two things: First, that I will start to pray for this woman who deserves a thank you for putting up with my rowdy teenage angst while I dated her son. And second, about her son:

The man I loved back in high school.

i was going for sassy, but came out angry. the matching fauxhawks we AFTER we broke up!

Tall. Brown hair. Hazel eyes. Grew his beard out for me. Played every instrument he touched. Yeah, you can imagine how 15 year old me felt about 16 year old him.

Though years, states, and circumstances have separated us, and though I smile back on every memory I have of the man(the boy, back then!) I don’t feel any unresolved business between us. We had a rough break up, we went different places in the world and in our lives, and eventually we just… were okay, I guess. I mean it took a lot more drama than that but it’s sweet to look back and remember that during a time I was sure I wouldn’t make it (it really was a ROUGH break up, now that I think about it) God carried me through. What at the time was THE most important thing in my life is now something I have to search to remember.

God’s mercies are new every morning, and after 8 years of new mornings, it’s difficult to truly recall what pain that time was. But I wanted to remember for a minute because it wasn’t the last time I felt that way.

And there will be times in the future when I feel it again.

When what I think is THE most important thing in the world suddenly becomes no longer part of my world.

And I will hurt.

And I will cry.

And I will be sure that I am not strong enough to handle this.

And I won’t be.

But God always will.

If you pray, please take a moment to pray for Mrs. W and her family.  As she faces a treatment plan she cannot afford and a sickness she cannot fight on her own, I know they will all appreciate the strength and peace of the Lord.

What is Important?

::ohmygoshsoold. Look what I found!::

 

I’m writing this post in early December.

It’s late at night and looking at the situation in which I find myself, I think it is just as likely that when this publishes, a million days from now, that I will be dating Hoyt as that I won’t.

Anyway, part of what I wanted to do with my six-months-turned-three-months of singleness was to discover what really was important to me in a relationship. That way, I could know, could say, “Hey, if this is what you’re offering, okay, let’s give it a try. But if not, I know what I want and this isn’t it.”

And you know what? I surprised myself.

Because I’ve figured for a while that the only important thing to look for in a man was that he love and follow Jesus.  But that’s just not true for me. It’s the MOST important thing, but not the only one. God made me the way I am for a reason and for the right person, the way I am will be a blessing! So, for me to be in a romantic relationship with someone, I’ve realized I need some things without which I’m just not going to flourish. And it’s been hard for me to admit, but I know it’s true, and I’m trying to believe it’s okay. Like:

Affection and attraction. Some people need exercise to keep from going crazy. Some need alone time. I need affection. And I get plenty, I’m well loved. I’m always with kids and I’m around women who like hugs so I get my fill. But If I’m going to be with someone, this person is going to need to be really in to me. I don’t have the energy otherwise. I could go on and explain but right now I don’t want to. I’m just going to say that when it comes to this, I’m needy.

Along with that comes the fact that I need to play. To engage on a deep, intentional level. And often. Interact with me!

Pianoanna is like the opposite of me. She is the lowest maintenance wife I’ve ever met. She and her husband absolutely love one another, but they just don’t spend all their time doing lovey-dovey things. They do sometimes, but they’re chill. And that works for them. (It works WELL for them, they’ve got a STRONG relationship)

But I want lovey dovey! And no amount of DESIRE to be practical is going to change that.

It is important to me to go out and do things. I’m really bad at this on my own but if a relationship is going to carry the weight required of the step up from friendship, it’s just got to have better yields too. That’s just science. ;) I want to actually go on DATEs with someone if we’re dating.

That’s all of the surprising/hard-to-admit stuff for now.  Tonight I’m fighting the fight to know and believe that God is enough and that he’s in this, and I’m just giving him a chance to teach me what he wants to, and it doesn’t have to be scary. And if it ends, because Hoyt doesn’t have the time to pay me attention or just ends up not-that-into-me, that’s fine too! God will not stop being the big strong loving God that He is.

Just cause they're on my mind...these guys are important.

Isaiah 25:8 (He said so)

I get confused at times.

like, i have trouble reading, and will sometimes read the wrong words, or just not understand what they mean. Mostly, i just need to take a moment and think a bit more on the situation, even if i’m just being asked a simple question. I don’t think it’s something wrong with me. But I do feel like I’m different. I haven’t seen many other people have to repeat a question asked of them before they are able to answer.

Have I mentioned (i know i have) that I am surrounded bu the most amazing people? People who love me and will tend to me and be patient and repeat themselves and learn to communicate in a way I’ll understand and even sometimes avoid certain things because they know i WONT understand?

Uhm, anyway… it won’t always be this way. (The way where I get confused and hurt that I’m confused, etc).

I know it’s true, because He said so.

He will swallow up death forever;

and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,

and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,

for the Lord has spoken. – Isaiah 25:8

Tradish

Are you a fan or a not-fan of the abbreves people make?

As in presh instead of precious

or perf instead of perfect

or, abbreve instead of abbreviate, for that matter.

Maybe it’s not something that happens a lot where you are, but my people do it all.the.time. Maybe it’s a phase. Anyway, none of that is ACTUALLY the point but as someone who once met a man named “Steven” and proceeded instead to call him “steamboat” for the next seven years, I’d just like to get a gauge on what the rest of the world considers cute colloquial charm and what they instead deem as just ridiculous. Or, in my case, ridic. ;)

But the ACTUAL point of this post is to give one of those more traditional updates. I’m going to try my hardest to make perfectly plain sense (and not Palin sense, as I just typed accidentally, because I don’t ever want to live in Alaska) but we’ll see how far that takes us.

purely because i never used this photo before. this was in february, i believe.

School: In case you missed it, I’m pursuing an M.A. in Professional Counseling. I expect to graduate between August of 2013 and May of 2014. It’s a very long Master’s program. (61 hours, max 9 hours per semester, 6 hours per summer). After my first two semesters, I have a 3.8 GPA.  I hate that I only had a 4.0 for one semester, but that’s just because I’m prideful. There is nothing wrong with a 3.8. I’m learning a lot and will be in school this summer learning more, even though it will cost me time in the sunshine. The fact that I can say that with a smile is a miracle in itself.

i realize these photos don't at all match up, but i just thought this one was funny, and also hadn't been used.

Social: I am NOT dating anyone. Back in April I went through a break up so emotionally wrought that I actually flinch/shudder whenever I see the man I was dating. Sometimes things just hurt more than you can explain. Sorry, i’d be more poetic, but i’m trying to just be clear so the people who don’t see me that often can know what’s going on. My friendships are growing, though, and it seems just about every day I find myself thinking, “I have more amazing friends than i can count. How can one girl be so loved?” But i am kinda touch deprived (my own fault. After the break up, I got a little gun shy about being touched. Weird reaction, I know).

on the way home from TN during spring break. it's like spiritual. ;)

Spiritual: I’ve totally dropped the REAP plan but do still make time to read the Bible almost every day. I’ve even started reading a chapter of John every morning when I wake up to help me actually get out of bed (as opposed to twitter or google reader. My phone has all of those options). I’m journaling more again (I probably always journaled more than “average” but I’m actually getting back up to “normal” for me.

getting less and less related

Shackled: My felony accusation is still pending. Yes, you read that right. I was accused of a felony, and found out a year later (about 2 months ago) when someone stole from my wallet and then I got arrested. My bail cost more than I make in a year. Yes, you read that right as well. It was an odd night. Not my best, not my worst, and a funny story that I’ll type up someday. Anyway,I didn’t do what I was accused of and even have proof  (police and auto insurance records) to prove I didn’t, but I still have to have a lawyer present those things. I wish I could say I’ve proven faithful through it, but the truth is it’s wearing on me more than I realize. My stutter has presented twice in the past week. I’m learning a LOT through it, stuff that could go up in that spiritual section above, but i lack the right words to describe it now, so maybe I’ll tell you about it later.

i. love. my. bubs!! he does NOT love me taking his pic.

Sibling, etc: Family stuff is just as crazy as it normally is. People fighting, medical issues, surprise funsies, and facebook shenanigans. Par for the course on our insane, multi-cultural, never-boring course.

20 points if you can figure out what I'm doing here.

What else might you want to know? This fall I start working at The Austin Stone Counseling Center (a job with an hourly pay NOT involoving fundraising). So I’ll still be working for the church in the sense that I’ll be working at their Counseling Center. But it’s a more 9-5 m-f job. And I’ll still be in school full time. And I’ll move SOMEwhere at some point after the 1st of August, which is still exciting if for no other reason than I’ll be just shy of a year in the same place. The longest i’ve been anywhere since 2002. I’ve been working out more (meaning at all), and enjoy going to the gym 2-4 times a week to get in some quick time on the elliptical. Which is really a result of me taking self-care more seriously.

Questions? Questions? No?

Sorry for the Radio Silence

It was purely unintentional.

Because i got to take a totally spontaneous trip to see the squeezies. Dr and Mrs were taking a trip to the river. I had lost my joy, my appetite, and a bit of my mind, and just wanted to see them.

She cried when I left. she was just tired and i calmed her down, but it's still nice to be loved.

enter: a perfect two-day get away to somewhere so far removed that I didn’t even open my computer, and I let my phone go dead with no concern, since no one had reception anyway. I have not one single picture nor one single regret from the excursion once with left the Z’s house, but I do have a tan, a rested body, a smile on my face and an ability to eat. Jury’s still out on the sanity. ;)

But srsly folks, I’m SO SO thankful for this weekend. Having two days off in a row is a rare and special treat afforded only by the two-week break in school. (Don’t freak out. Yes I work 6 days a week, but I also get whisked away to Uganda sometimes. It all works out.) And two days away was SRSLY a need at this point.

i found this dead moth in my car. I was sad for the beautiful, muted colors on the strange, furry creature. I took her as a sign. I didn't want to keep loosing my brightness.

Lemme share something you’ve probably picked up on. I struggle with the occasional bout of depression. Thanks to the Lord and the amazing community around me, I’ve learned to recognize the signs, NOT FREAK OUT, and tend to myself (or ask for tending, when necessary).  One of the signs that I’m dealing w some emotional stuff I may not recognize is loss of appetite. Last week I ate one meal per day for five days. And the meals were getting smaller. I know better than to WORRY about this (never gonna make it better) and instead kept my closest friends up on the sitch, in case this lasted too long and I needed to start getting my calories from a cup. :)

But on day six, I finally felt hungry, and not like putting something in my tummy would cause reverse-peristalsis. Then I saw a picture where I looked fat.

Oh yeah,that IS me cuttin' bubba's hair. At the office.

Look y’all, bad posture bad smosture, I felt like i looked awful in this pic.

So I was TEMPTED to not eat. I knew it had been long enough that I could do it, without people really noticing. I used to be really good at not eating. And i lose weight when I don’t eat.

This was a big warning flag for me. I texted The Social Worker, “I’m tempted to not eat. I’m going to go eat dinner right now.”

There. accountability. Then I called Mrs Z.

“I feel awful. Can I come see you?”
“We’re going to the river.”
“Can I come with?”
“YES! Absolutely!”

Yes, it was a two hour drive, but I needed to shake the system. I needed to get out of the funk. And like I said, I’ve learned enough about myself to know it’s a BAD idea to just expect things to get better, if I want to get out of a bad funk, I need to do something about it.

i dunno what's up with the lighting in this one. after zumba, at the ball game.

When I got to Castroville, I told Mrs Z “I have to eat while I’m here. And NOT any gluten. If i say I’ll be okay or it will be worth it, I WONT AND IT WONT.”

We went to Zumba (secret: i love working out. wouldn’t figure it, i know) and then to a ball game for a niece of hers. sunshine, dancing, babies, friends, and lots and lots of hugs.

y'all are my teeth really that color? Don't tell me.

I hope, if you struggle like I do, you’re afforded the opportunity to know how to ask for help, to see what doesn’t need to be made an issue (In my case, missing a few meals because i’m tummy-sick) and what demands immediate attention (I am tempted to not eat because I feel fat).  And I pray you have someone, someones, who know and love you well enough to help you through it all. I thank God that I have the Spirit as my constant companion, and that he’s seen fit to give me lots of earthly companions too. But NOT the kind of companions they have on Joss Whedon’s Firefly. ;)

Once I could take this and laugh at it rather than stress abt it, i knew the fog was lifting.

And i just wanted to share. Because it was not always this way. I did not always have these helpful coping tools. I was not always able to look and God and say, “This is awful. Please come help me.”  I was not always able to look at my friends and say that. And I want you to be able to.

sometimes self care means walking around in flippers