Thankful for Unreasonable Love

It’s hard for me to write these days. I don’t have extra time. But with Thanksgiving breathing down our wattles, I wanted to say a quick thank you to my husband.

My husband, Guy. He’s a rock. I know all women say that about their husbands. And some are referring to the stony outcropping of a lump that inhabits their sectional, but this man. This man is my rock.

He is the stone that I have built my adult life on. Over and over, my “home” has been torn down, ripped to the studs, overwhelmed by the storm and waves of PTSD, anxiety and mental/physical illness/addiction. My whole life seems like a chaotic whirl of emotion and pain. But in the middle of that whirl, the lighthouse I fix my course on, is Guy.

He’s brought me to Christ. He wouldn’t say that. He wouldn’t know that.

My mom taught me church, the Bible, what it meant to be a Christian, but my husband has drawn me to my knees in reliance on Christ.

We’ve had turmoil. We’ve had horrible fights. We’ve had almost 20 years of anger, bitterness and rage to conquer. But we’ve done that mostly hand in hand.

He’s supporting me in this crazy idea of mine, to go to Israel and help little children and elderly who use wheelchairs. He’s so excited for me. He has been my cheerleader throughout this whole process.

I’m so lucky and thankful to have such a passionate, caring, loving husband who desires me, cheers me, loves me and forgives me. A man who cares about my spiritual well-being as much as my physical and mental well-being. A man who cares about my being at all.

And gosh darn it, I just think he’s so handsome. That doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. And some ladies might think I’m legally insane to swoon over this rock, but he’s just so gosh-darn kissable. His humor and charm make him irresistible to many.

I’m thankful that God made such a wonderful man, a man after my own heart, to pair me with. To make a child with. To grow up and old with. I’m so very lucky to have honesty, loyalty and love in my life.

Thank you, God. I rejoice this Thanksgiving for friends, family and my forever friend and partner, Guy. :*

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Anxious Axioms

Some days.
My molecules feel like flying apart.
Keeping my atoms assembled feels like a full-time affair.
Ions excited to bump around inside my body.
Buzzing like a ramshackle wasp nest hanging by a dangling, vibrating twig.
Sent swinging by the angry, kicking toddler who lives inside my ghost-of-a-heart.
Sub-atomic
Axiomatic
Nuclear bomb
Automatic
Quixotic notions about therapeutic potions
Hopeless solutions for mind pollutions
I won’t make it through this time.

I gotta stop drinking coffee.

YOLO

Lilli, my daughter, is pictured with multiple shades of hair color styled into a faux-hawk with YOLO glasses I made for her on the last day of school. LOL I LOVE this pic.
I wrote the following in January of last year for my daughter, but I think it applies to all women.


Don’t worry what people might say about how you look or what your voice sounds like. You know we (Mom & Dad) love you and we would never hurt you or be dishonest with you. We certainly wouldn’t misguide you. You can trust us when we say, your voice is important and beautiful. You’re special. God made you that way. If you didn’t stand out, no one would hear your voice or see your beauty! If someone doesn’t like it, they are either jealous or confused!


For all you ladies who might feel like you stand out, that’s not a bad thing!
Have a great Friday!!

Try

Suck it up.
Makeup on.
Fake it ’til you make it.
Frown is gone.

You can quit.
No one will care.
But you won’t be happy.
And fair is rare.

It’s not the worst thing
To plaster on a smile.
Being kind to others
May help after while.

If you’re down and dark?
That’s okay for tonight.
Pray for the dawn
To bring your light.

The Carousel

For my daughter. She just started high school and it’s a bit overwhelming. She’s doing great, but it’s a little scary.

The picture above is her at the KC Zoo, having fun on the carousel. She was 6. Shot with a Nikon, 35 mm, manual. It was a fun day.


Hold on tight, dear.
Don’t let go.
The carousel twirls faster
The more you know.

Life goes by
In a furious blur.
But it’s oh-so thrilling,
Full of adventure.

Up and down.
Always turning.
Moving forward.
Always learning.

You might get sick.
You might lose your head.
You might just love it.
Turn the world around instead.

Don’t be scared, Darling.
You have to be strong.
You’re not alone.
Mom’s here all along.

So throw your hair back
And laugh at the ride.
Have fun on the carousel.
Don’t leave it untried.


Proud of you, Honey. You’re so special. One of a kind. Brilliant, beautiful and bound for glory! Don’t settle for less, always challenge yourself. Don’t worry about what people wear, say or think. You belong to God. Your value comes from him.

And always ask for help! We’re here for you. Your teachers, counselors and parents. It’s normal to feel anxious, everybody does!! 🙂

knee-deep

This is not the surface of Mars. But I wish it was. A sci-fi Bradbury story and not my life.


Scared and Scarred
I am 6. Tender. Overly sensitive. Idealistic. In the living room watching TV (listening to my parents scream).
My father is chasing my mother from the bedroom to the living room. She sits on the sofa by the window. He grabs her leg and drags her from the cushion. Her pants rip and she awkwardly falls to the floor, pinned between the sofa and coffee table.
My brother jumps up and tangles himself with my father. My brother is 17 and a full-grown male. He might be one inch taller than my father. He weighs less, but not by much and has anger and youth on his side. They wrestle and fall into a window. The glass breaks and the fighting continues. They push each other away and stand panting and snarling, waiting for each other to make a move.
My brother walks out of the house into the yard and my father follows. They exchange violent words and my father threatens to stab my brother. He holds his hand in his pocket, standing at a distance from my brother, claiming to have a knife.
I will cut your gizzards out.
One of the many delusional things my father utters. It makes little sense. He is embarrassingly profane and foaming at the mouth. He taunts my brother to attack again. I can’t remember how it’s resolved.
Sometime later, I crawl up on the sofa to look at the broken window and wonder why our afternoon was disturbed. I cut my knee with a shard of broken glass hidden in the cushion. I still have the scar today. It looks like a soggy piece of puffed rice
cereal landed on my knee and stuck.

The cut was deep. Huge beads of blood. The emotional hurt was even deeper.


Complex PTSD is real. This memory was written in present tense to show how real memories can seem. You can relive some trauma at the slightest trigger: smell (cigarette smoke), action (washing hands), word (gizzards), threat (humiliation), similar circumstance (injustice). Reliving some nightmare from the past isn’t easy. In fact, it’s soul crushing. Mind melting. Scariest thing a person ever has to do–walk into the past like a darkened, grimy hallway of a forgotten house of pain. With no skills, lights or way to defend yourself. Anyone with C-PTSD does not want to be permanently haunted with ghosts. But the mind can’t erase severe hurt. It tries, but those imprints have power. Evict those ghosts with the Holy Spirit and this link: Self-Help Strategies for PTSD Visit this site as well: AnxietyBC

And get help. Talk to someone. Anyone.
This weekend I realized–I am serving my past, not my professed master Jesus. I am serving horrible memories and failing as a wife. I don’t want this. My past is not something to cling to in the storm. Jesus is.

Unfunyuns

Guest post: Lillian Maggio

My daughter wrote this. I helped edit. It was for a Ray Bradbury contest. Exactly 451 words (Fahrenheit 451). Entrants were to choose a word from a noun string. Bradbury often used strings of nouns to compose his stories. Lilli chose “crowd” from one of the lists the contest provided.

Bradbury also used onomatopoeia. She tried to imitate his style by using unconventional sound and description. I really like the way it turned out.

She is only 13, but she’s already a great writer. She’s read my stuff and watched me for years. She has a lexile score (reading level) of a senior in high school and tested as a genius in Kindergarten. To say I’m proud would be an understatement. I’m overwhelmed, humbled, thankful. She is beyond reason. She is my undeserved grace in a world full of punishment. She is intelligent, charming and kind IN SPITE of me. I deserve very little credit in her astonishing achievements. I’m just glad she’s my friend and daughter. I’m glad I get to be on the sidelines, cheering her on. I would like her even if I wasn’t her mom, but I’m so glad I get to be here on the front row.

Proud of you, Lil. You’re already a world-class writer. ❤ Thanks for letting me post.


Class. I am sitting at a desk. I am reading a book. Everyone else is in various stages of trying or not trying to read. The girl to my right is unfocused and sloppy. The boy behind me does not make an effort. An unopened book demands his attention as his head rests on the desk.

These are the only people I observe. At first.

The girl has a bag of Funyuns in her greasy grasp. She slowly takes out one Funyun and brings the ring to her lips. The entire circle won’t fit. She breaks the extruded cornmeal between her teeth and dried bits of fun sprinkle onto her already-stained shirt. She is loudly slapping her lips together. No one else notices. I notice. I can no longer process my walls of text. I look up, glare at her, but she does not sense my exasperation. One Funyun. Two Funyuns. Three. Crunchcrunchcrunch.

The boy behind me yawns. The natural conclusion to a normal yawn would be now. But he continues. I count three extra seconds. He is trying to distract me. It’s working.

Funyun Freak sends another snack to certain destruction. Crunchcrunchcrunch.

I’m not completely sure what my book is transmitting. I’m looking at the words. I’m reading the words. But the words stop somewhere in the small space between my eyes and neurons. I might be reading the same paragraph multiple times. The truth of that matter is insignificant. History repeats itself. No difference is made.

More Funyuns. Crunchcrunchcrunch.

A boy, near the door, turns a page of his magazine. Fwip. A girl, two rows ahead, shifts in her chair. Squeak. Crunchcrunchcrunch.

The boy behind me yawns again. Two extra seconds. Crunchcrunchcrunch.

A backpack zips open.  A crumpled paper jumps. The tile explodes in a thousands pops from the paper bomb. Nobody hears that. There’s a war zone just outside my ear. Inside, a thumping noise. My heartbeat. Thumpthump.

I look over at the teacher. She is composing an e-mail. Clackclackclack. She is oblivious to the chaos of her classroom. I’m the only one awake here. Crunch, thump, clack, thump, fwip, thump, squeak, thump, yawn, thump. Thumpthump.

I give up. Slam my book shut. Sigh and lean back. Staring at the ceiling. But Funyun Freak can’t take a hint. Crunchcrunchcrunch. Thumpthump. Thumpthump.

I fantasize about taking her filthy Funyun feast and knocking it to the floor. Crunchcrunchcrunch. My feet dancing over her fragile, yellow, onion-flavored treat. Crunchcrunchcrunch. And then. Tossing the crumbles into the air over her head to celebrate her unwavering stupidity. Thumpthump. She has taken any lingering sanity that I still possessed.

Riiiiing. And this was only first period.

Fantastic

My family and I just went on vacation to Florida. On our way back to KC, we decided to stop at Fantastic Caverns, near Springfield, MO. I took many photos in the caves, beautiful colors and high contrast. I was pretty snap-happy. I was surprised that I could get any images though, honestly, because the light was so low. Thankfully, my digital Nikon knows more about photography than I do. 🙂 Sure, there’s light in the cave from well-placed, man-made spots, but it’s still a cave.

I only know the most fundamental aspects of manual photography. The camera still focuses for me, but I can set the aperture and speed myself. I’m still working on knowing the different settings, but I do several test shots until I see what I like. It’s like poking around in the dark until hitting on something. Like being in a cave. Hopefully, I don’t fall into a hole.

Coming out of the cave, my camera didn’t adjust because I had set it manually and I snapped this photo.

overexposed.jpg

Obviously, overexposed.

If you look closely, you can see the water pouring off the edge and streaming down. It had just rained heavily the day before and the vegetation above the cave entrance was drenched and dripping. Once we came out of that dark square, we had to adjust. We were immediately baptized by the unexpected downpour and blinking to accommodate the new conditions. It was a fast change from dark to light. And it took a minute to get your bearings.

Such is life, no?

The women who first explored the cave (yes, women) were said to have only a candle in a can. It probably only illuminated a few feet in front of them. THAT is scary. They were surely brave ladies. They could have fallen into a deep hole and been fatally injured in the matter of a few steps.

When we were in the cave, the ride was bumpy, dark and at times frightening. You had to keep your head down or lose it on a stalactite. We stopped at the edge of a sinkhole that looked like the mouth to hell. Everyone stood and rushed to our side of the trailer and I felt as if I might go tumbling over the side. I was very nervous and I simply faced forward and breathed, mouthing the words to my husband, “I don’t like this.” I have anxiety about heights and open spaces. I almost-spoke my fear to him mainly so he wouldn’t encourage me to look around and gawk at the gaping hole threatening to swallow our entire caravan. So he knew, at least, “I’m freaking out!”

I patiently focused on myself, not others around me, and I made it through. I focused on the things I could control. And I made it through. I looked forward. To making it through.

Sometimes, when you can’t handle life, all you can do is care for yourself. And breathe. You can’t worry about anyone else. You can’t change anyone else. You can’t make others sit down. You can’t save anyone if you all go tumbling over. You can only save yourself.

You can’t make the driver go faster. You can’t make the driver go at all if she wishes to park you on the edge of hell. You have to control yourself, focus on what you have been given dominion over and pray that it will be over soon. Pray that the driver will stop talking after she’s made her point and quickly drive you to safety. She knows the way, she’s been down here before. Just hold on. Focus on what’s right in front of you.

This picture (above) sucks. It is a terrible failure of my manual photography skills. You can’t see the lush green of the hanging branches above. You can’t see the beautiful drops of light that spilled over our heads and sparkled in the cool morning sunshine. But, it is a beautiful captured reflection of the human condition of adjustment and transformation.

We don’t just start being good after seeing the light. It takes a minute. So grace is important for the cave dweller. Soon we will see the world in the way it was intended. We will emerge with new eyes. And some days, we may still long for the darkness of our old world. It’s beautiful mystery, silence and danger. But no one is meant to live in a cave. We are meant to live out in the light.

I know.

I don’t like living inside of my cave of anxiety and fear. It hurts everyone around me. But living above ground with normal people sucks. Triggers abound. I’m used to anxiety and fear, I can live with those. I know what to expect. But that means living alone because no one else can stand the darkness.

So, I choose light. Because living in darkness, while quiet and predictable, is a pretty miserable half-existence not intended for human habitation.

 

 

Present Tense

My book, Present Tense, is available on Amazon tomorrow for free. February 9-13! Normally $2.99. Check it out. It’s a quick read; probably finish in one go. Or if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free anytime. It’s a vignette-style memoir with a glance at PTSD and how it starts. It does not answer the question of recovery, but it gives an emotional starting place.