unlovable

from 2014. i’m better now. almost.


so, okay. i have this terrible condition that rears its ugly head every so often. i start to feel bad. mentally, internally. then it sort of morphs into something worse. a terrifying feeling of not being loved. then i set about to let everyone in my tiny family know about it. i moan and shout from the next room, “No one loves me!” then my family rushes in and kisses me and reassures me. “We love you!” it’s a fun, silly game, but one that i need sometimes because while i make a joke, i still need that comfort and love to bolster my fragile mentality.

well last night, i finally realized, what i really feel is, “I’m unlovable.” i begin to feel as if no one in the world could possibly love me. that i’m too fat, ugly, annoying and selfish for anyone to love. so i said, from my bedroom last nite, “I’m unlovable!” then my family rushed in, Lilli who is so smart, “I love you! And God loves you!” I said, “No, you don’t. You can’t possibly.” and she made some silly joke to make me laugh about how i was being impossible. and then Guy rushed in, hugging me and kissing me, singing Voice of Truth.

…and the voice of truth tells me a different story,
and the voice of truth says do not be afraid…

which is his subtle-not subtle way of saying, “Shut up! Stop lying to yourself.”

and that’s what i am doing. i’m lying to myself. i’m listening to that tiny, crazy voice that tells me:
i’m worthless.
i’m scared.
i’m not loved.
and that’s not the voice of truth, that’s not the voice of God. that’s the voice of the enemy–my own thoughts OR the twisted up world OR the devil.

i am lovable. i am loved. if for no other reason than God loves me. i am thankful for my family. for my husband, who is the voice of reason. for scooping me up and sparing me from my own terrible thoughts, for giving me undivided attention even when i’m pretty obvious about it. i love you, Guy. thanks for the reminder.

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no words

sometimes
there are no words
for how you make me feel
just an intense reaction to
something immensely real

you could call it love
but what does that even mean?
love
isn’t
real
unless actions make it seem

if you walked to
the end of the earth
i would somehow follow
if you fed me hope and grace
i would wholly swallow

i don’t know how
without words
you make me whole,
holy, innocent, new
like a bird sitting atop the world
perched on God’s-eye view

you’ve cared for others
but never a heart like
*this*
i won’t ever leave you
these lips you can’t unkiss

we’re an idea you can’t unthink
a wreck you can’t unsink
a tonic you can’t undrink
a mark you can’t unink

i wait for your winged heart
to wind and fly its way to mine
to find its home
(no longer alone)
to forever rest and finally shine

yes, we can.

no one has to do it all
we can share the work
you don’t have to walk so tall
especially when it hurts

submit to being led
when everything comes to a crawl
let me be your feather bed
when you need a place to fall

it’s not possible to always be strong
one day you’ll skip and stumble
feeling weak is not wrong
just don’t forget to be humble

no one’s ever flawless
everyone makes mistakes
somewhere deep in this solace
is the place our heart awakes

give grace and be open to receive
simple premise that promises perfection
dare hope and we shall believe
let this be our invocation

Charity Begins at Home (and with Demi)

I asked a WordPress friend to speak about charity. Here are her thoughts and answers.


Demi, known as The Lupie Momma on WordPress, is turning 27 this year. She is not disappointed about getting older, she’s planning a huge 30th birthday celebration. (Get it, girl!) But she is a little sentimental about her daughter growing up so fast. Demi has a sweet, little girl who is almost 4. Demi is a wife and mother by day, working gal by night.

She’s dabbled at blogging for a few years on a few sites, but recently she decided to finish her novel. While struggling with Lupus (autoimmune disorder), she’s been working hard on this memoir. Demi is right and brave when she says “…life is too short not to go after everything.”
What do you do to volunteer or donate?
I’ve always given my clothes that are in good shape, that I’ve outgrown, to people I think can use them. Now that I have a fast growing toddler, I have started giving her old clothes and toys to other families. We have been fortunate enough to be able to afford these things, but we realize that some people aren’t as lucky.


Demi told me more about her personal giving.
They have a friend, Brandon (name changed for privacy). He’s a single dad of triplets. The mother is not involved on a regular basis. Brandon has to provide for 3 children. On his own. Demi knows how expensive one growing child can be. So. She started helping in any way she could. Brandon’s children are just 6 months younger than Demi’s girl. 2 of the triplets are girls. So Brandon is fixed for “hand-me-downs”. Brandon is truly grateful for the regular supply of girl’s clothing that Demi gives every change of the season.
Right before Christmas, Demi was preparing for the incoming onslaught of new toys for baby girl. They found an unused toddler bed and chair. She messaged Brandon right away. A few days later, Brandon posted about bills and presents; how hard it would be to provide this year. Demi had thought about buying a few small gifts, but after the post, Demi’s husband went full-on Santa. Gender-neutral toys that all the kids would enjoy. Delivered to Brandon’s house just in time for Christmas Eve. They didn’t say a word, leave a note or want any attention for doing so. They did unto others as they would want for themselves. Unfortunately, Amazon shipping included the husband’s email and Brandon figured it out. Needless to say, he was very thankful.


Why do you volunteer or donate?

We donate to help those in need because we would hope someone would help us if the shoe was on the other foot. Whether it’s to Brandon and his kids or hurricane relief somewhere else. (The state of Florida thanks you, Demi!!)
How do you feel when you give?
It’s a good feeling. Sometimes I feel guilty that I couldn’t do more, but my husband reminds me that its better I do a little than nothing at all. (I agree with your husband! If we all do some, we can do it all. <—Has someone already said that? If not, it’s so true!)

If we all do some, we can do it all!


Are you Christian or other religious affiliation? Do you give for a specific reason?

We’re Christians, but not the “we think we’re holier than others” type. We aren’t going to spit out scriptures at you or chaste you for not going to church.
No specific reason we do–except for the Lupus Foundation as that is a close charity that I personally benefit from.
I don’t know if I was necessarily taught to donate or volunteer, I just think my mother instilled in us from a young age to help others when we can. I remember being out to eat as a kid and my mom giving me a few dollars to give to the homeless man sitting a few tables away. Since then, I’ve just always kind of done it. Giving money to a random homeless man, or buying them a meal, giving my clothes to someone who could benefit from them. And now that I’m a mother myself, I want to instill that in my daughter. That not everyone is as fortunate as we are, and that it’s good to help others when you can.
How do your kids feel about your helping?
I’m not really sure she fully grasps the concept yet. She’s only three. Occasionally when we’re packing up stuff she hasn’t played with for months, we get the “That’s my toy!” but we explain that you know you haven’t played with it in a while, and there is someone else who would enjoy it. After a few pouts, she usually just drops the subject, goes and plays with something else. Explaining the Santa to Seniors, and why we were getting gifts for “old people who weren’t grandma or grandpa” was a bit tricky. But she picked out the names of the women we got, ‘all E’s because her name starts with E’ and picked out the bags to put their stuff in, she even threw in some hot chocolate packets for them. I hope that as she gets older, she’ll admire us for it. And continue to do it as she grows up.


While Demi regularly donates old clothes and toys, she was moved to go above and beyond this holiday season. She said, “…it felt nice buying gifts for other people that probably actually deserve the gifts.” Every year, people feel burdened in buying gifts for extended family members as an act of obligation. Holiday gift exchange can feel like a pressure cooker of negativity and resentment, boiling over by Christmas. And at the end of it all you may, like Demi, wish you had helped someone who actually needed (not wanted) something.
Demi left me with this thought from John Bunyan:

You have not lived today
until you have done something for someone
who can never repay you.


Let us know how the book is coming, Demi. I can post a link in an update. Thanks for sharing!

Please consider donating to the Lupus Foundation or to Demi’s personal fundraising goal.

Break in the Tape

My husband is currently converting a mountain of reel-to-reel to digital storage. We need to downsize and this is taking up some space. Plus, the longer the tape lays around in cans, the more it will decline in quality. It will never be any better than now.


If you’ve never seen a reel-to-reel deck, it seems impressive upon first inspection. Lighted needle displays. Shiny buttons. Smooth, metallic housing. The kind of inviting build that makes you want to press all the things. “What does this do??” The kind of electronic device that makes you feel like a kid again. Especially when you try to use the damn thing–clueless. Only the most experienced reel-to-reel user would know or remember how to utilize the hunk.

Even at my mock and scoff, it is an impressive piece of equipment. For anyone born after 1980, you may not have ever seen one. It is the high-end equivalent of a simple cassette tape recorder. It records sound on spools (reels) of tape. Our machine looks very similar to this.

akai_630DB_11

Anyone can record sound with their phone or computer these days, so I understand its head-scratching obscurity. But I also see the appeal.

As my husband has started the long-procrastinated task of converting every piece of tape to virtually indestructible and mostly-permanent digital storage (somewhere in the cloud and probably 1 or 2 physical flash drives), the voices emerge from the past. Voices, songs, jokes and skits from 50 years ago. 50 years. From before my husband’s birth.

My husband lost both of his parents as a young toddler. First, his mother passed from unexplained natural causes at the age of 19. Then, his father passed from a terrible accident just a short time later. He never knew them. Never formed a memory of them. Never got to love them. He was raised by his paternal grandparents.

I asked my husband, just a few days ago, “Have you ever heard your mother’s voice?”

He hadn’t. Then among the first tapes he started listening to, he heard Dianne’s voice for the first time. He’s 48 years old. That’s impressive. Wondrous that a machine can save and give a priceless gift 50 years later.

Even with that precious holiday surprise, the process of converting all the tape can be frustrating. For him. For me.

The tape is old, fragile, spliced together in spots. The breaks in tape keep coming unglued, as we all do after the holidays. LOL The old adhesive has lost its sticky and under the mild stress of being played again, the tape snaps apart at each splice. Sigh.

Guy has to stop what he’s doing. Retape the splice with good, ol’ Scotch tape (don’t do this if you are saving your tapes and not getting rid of them after converting, regular ol’ clear tape is not a good, permanent fix) and restart the recording. Or hope that he can fix the glitch in editing later. Frustrating. Mildly. But his negativity was starting to spill out the other day in groans and grumbles. I mentioned it to him because it was starting to spill all over me.

I could feel the bad juju starting to grip my humor. I couldn’t brush aside his growing irritation any more. Walk out of the room. Close the door. Ignore his fumblings. It was right under my fingernails and I couldn’t flick it out.

“Hon, let’s talk.”

Sigh.

My husband never likes to talk about his feelings. As an introvert of the highest order, he finds the need to talk about feelings the most irritating conversation in which a person could be involved.

“Why?? Let’s not. It’s fine. I’ll stop.”

And then, with just slight coaxing from me, we talked. I’m glad we did. So is he. No really.

We talked about his frustration. Where’s it bubbling up from? He knew going in, the tape was old, it’s going to have problems. He was ready for anything. Until every little thing happened.

In talking, we both realized, the tape is life. Little hiccups along the way put stress on us. The tape of our memories has splices or breaks. All the memories we ever form are a playback for when we experience similar hardship. Something significant enough to make a memory. A manual for what to do when you encounter the same bullshit on a different day. Our minds rewind the tape.

When you play through some tragedy again, the tape can break. Snap. Frustration is right at the top of now and we break. We go flipping off the reel. Fwip, fwip, fwip. Until someone finds our broken mess, untangles us. Tapes us back together.

I’m glad to be your tape, Guy. I’m glad to find you flipping out and piece you back together. Especially when you can’t simply push play. Thank you for letting me help you get back on track. The tape of our time together is definitely a #1 hit.


I’m proud of you for finally saving these memories. It’s important. I’m glad I get to listen.

1 More Day

To my wonderful husband. You’re the best. For me.


19 years
And 1 more day.
So exciting
To have made it all this way.

You’re not the same.
We’ve both grown.
We both changed.
Married to the wild unknown.

You’re not the man I chose.
But I’m glad to fall again.
I choose to love you over and over.
Not wish for way back when.

I didn’t know if we’d make it.
Some days I had my doubt.
Some days you wanted to leave,
Some days we both wanted out.

A daily choice is required
When loving someone so long.
You have to determine to love them
Even when they’re wrong.

You have to choose to love.
Even when it’s hard.
You have to love the ugly parts–
Even what’s wrecked and scarred.

We have to pick up the pieces
Of some other person’s mess.
Gluing back the broken bits
Can be a stressful process.

But you’re so very worth it
Because I am happy to see
When we’re put back together
It’s even better than we could dream to be.

All the cracks and chips
Are filled with precious gold.
Our gaps and imperfections
Are where our love is told.

It’s easy to love a nice person.
So what have you achieved?
Loving some who’s difficult
Is quite a feat indeed.

It’s easy to fall out of love.
Just as easy as falling in.
But it’s also easy to remember why
I stick through thick and thin.

You’re handsome, smart,
Funny and sweet.
Kind enough
To rub my feet.

Your heart is pure.
You’re loyal, true.
You have a heart for God.
You’re the best dad, too.

We don’t look the same,
But our brains remain for now.
I’m glad I also loved your mind
When we chose to make our vow.

19 years-we made it through.
I’m so happy we chose to stay.
I’m always thankful even if
We only have 1 more day.


Love you, my darling. Happy Anniversary.

Sister

I wish I had a sister.
I have two of my own.
But they were always busy.
I was growing up alone.

I wish I had a sister
Who took the time to teach
How to love myself,
How to aim beyond my reach.

Or even how to brush my hair,
Set makeup on my cheek.
I wish I had a sister
Not a rival, so to speak.

I wish I had a sister.
One that loved being my friend.
I wish I had a sister.
Someone to count on ’til the end.

Someone to value me.
Someone to hold me close.
Someone to pull me up and in.
Someone who let their feelings show.

A woman to show the way.
A friend to hold my hand.
A person who deeply cared.
Someone to understand.

I never had a sister
Until I finally went through birth.
My daughter is all I could ever want,
Best sister on this earth.

Christmas

Christmas isn’t special.
Christmas is just a day.
Christ wasn’t born on the 25th
In a lighted ornamental display.

There wasn’t any tinsel.
There was not one flake of snow.
There wasn’t any cocoa.
There was no electric glow.

Mary and Joseph
And a little baby God
Sharing time and space
With travelers abroad.

No one cared who they were.
No one even knew
What on Earth was happening,
Except for a special few.

Shepherds watched.
The stars flew close.
Entertaining angels bowed
And played Heaven’s host.

No food or present can capture joy
No movie or card can free
Tomorrow you’ll find your pretty box
Is empty under the tree

The only thing empty to find
Is one important place–
The tomb in the morning with Jesus’ clothes
Replaced with amazing grace.

Light the tree and sing your songs,
I won’t begrudge your choice.
Just don’t forget the simple birth
Of your freedom to rejoice.

Kathryn, Rachel, Irma & Torrence

This will be the fourth in a series of 5 short articles.
Irma blew through on September 10, 2017, the eye-30 miles east of our location.
We met Torrence just 1 day before Irma.

Previous articles:
Kathryn
Rachel
Irma

Torrence-#4


Torrence is tall. Intimidating. Large build. Emotionless face. Stone-cold stoic. Big guy. His face is like a smooth rock with dark gems shining from behind his modern frames. He is Navajo.

His voice, though. His voice. Soothing. Simple. Soft. Un-panicked. Unhurried. Reassuring. Masculine and strong, but sweet as a baby’s breath on your cheek. Ten thousand harps plucked at once. I’m sure Torrence has been trained to speak this way, but if you’re an angel, it probably comes naturally. Torrence was our voluntary angel.

We met Torrence during Irma. Sitting on a tile floor in a school cafeteria, staring up at towering Torrence. I felt like a scared, little kid. Looking for hope. Terrified that my apartment (just a town away) and all the tiny scraps of my life were about to blow away. Or drown. Or even worse, my life and the lives of my husband and daughter were in immediate danger from the impending storm. No one knew how bad Irma would be, but the weathermen all guessed (for days) it would be the worst storm in this century.

Torrence, however, gave us peace, information and cookies. 🙂 Cookies do help make a person feel normal somehow. Thank you, Cookies. But really, thank you, Torrence.

Torrence wore his Red Cross vest, cargo pants, sturdy boots and an invisible pair of wings. He took care of everyone around him. Without sleep. Without comforts.

While we all lounged around on the floor, trying not to complain about school lunch, hard surfaces or sharing bathrooms with 2,000 people, Torrence attended his flock. He would make his rounds with pertinent information, handing out treats and tranquility.

Torrence spoke so frequently with our family that I began to feel bad. Unworthy of such care. Our cafeteria floor neighbor even remarked at his attention.

“Do you know that guy?” she asked.

“No. We just met him. He’s Red Cross. He’s just nice.”

Torrence embodied Christ. All of my childhood and adult education about Jesus and his intention were summed up in Torrence’s actions. Christians all talk about being more Christ-like, but Torrence is doing it.

He’s calm. He’s caring. He puts others first. He had a pregnant wife at home and he’s 1,000 miles away helping strangers in a dangerous situation. When other people are leaving the state entirely, Torrence is rushing toward the storm. Thank you, Torrence. Thank you for your time, your dedication, your sacrifice and your skills. But most of all, thank you for your gracious care and protection. You were there in case things got crazy. I’m sure we didn’t see the full potential of your capability, but I’m so thankful to have met you.

When you meet someone who acts the way you want people to act, how you aspire to be? It’s a good feeling. It’s meaningful. It’s important.


From the first moment I met Torrence, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he looked exactly like my German grandmother, Kathryn. I mentioned it to my husband. He just looked at me like, “Huh?”

They look nothing alike. He’s a tall dude. She was a short white lady with blue eyes. He’s nice. She was a hard-edged crone. But I had this ethereal, wispy connection to her spirit through his rugged features. I don’t know why. I just don’t. But she was there in his face. Strange how we connect the dots.

And as I thought more about his face, he reminded me of my friend Rachel from high school. But in my mind, she’s a petite African-American teenager. Torrence is in no way feminine. But these two women from my life are there in his face.

All completely different. All there together. What does it mean?

Kathryn, Rachel, Irma & Torrence

This will be the second in a series of 5 short articles.
Rachel was one of my closest friends in high school.
When we were seniors, she was probably my best friend.

Here’s the first article, if you missed it. Kathryn

Rachel-#2


Rachel is short. Really short. I’m very tall for a girl. We are friends. We are oddballs. In every possible way. I’m overweight. She wears glasses. I have a two-tone mullet (okay, maybe I was the oddestball). But we both like Duran Duran in a small town where Country is king.

Rachel has an athletic build and powerful legs. Small face and, impossibly, the same metallic eyes as my grandmother. It might be the glasses, it might be the hardened edge against a chaotic life. It might be the soulful stare of a mind that’s lived ten thousand lives before this moment. It might be she’s a guardian angel or ancient shaman and no one, not even her, knows it.

It is worth noting that Rachel is the only African-American girl in a Midwest farm town. Not because she’s different, but because it’s the late 80s and the middle of the country. We are only 30 miles east of Kansas City, but we might as well be in the Ozarks. We grow up with red necks and racists. Bigots and brutes. Ignorant sons of bitches who say mean things, do mean things. Inherited thoughts from an even more unenlightened generation of drunks and dullards. Alcoholics give birth to alcoholics. Idiots give birth to idiots. Mean people give birth to mean people. Ignorance begets hatred. Not always, but a lot. Not everyone in this small town is a bigot. But a lot.

I remember meeting Rachel’s mom. She was so funny. One of the nicest moms I ever met. She started telling me about the bias they encountered. Over and over. Walking into the local bingo parlor and every white face whipped to see who just opened the door. (They probably would have done the same to any outsider, honestly. The bingo crowd was a small enclave of smoker gamblers. Hell, I was shot some looks in the bingo parlor for talking over the number call. But I’m sure it didn’t help that they were black.)

“Do I have chocolate pie all over my face??” she quipped. I died laughing. So did Rachel. No one had ever been so open and direct with me. That’s the kind of mom I want to be. Drop-dead honest and funny.

Rachel was smart. Whip smart. Just like her mother. She was clever, full of jokes and laughter, and worldly. She knew and cared about the things that I loved. Or the things I didn’t know I loved until I met those things.

She let me borrow her Rich Hall Sniglets compilation and I almost lost the book in study hall when I burst out laughing at one of the entries. The Sniglet in which Hall (et al) describes someone sharpening their pencil. Specifically, the movement and perfect synchronization of the Sharpener’s butt to their hand as they crank the tiny handle. (Can’t find the actual entry, so I forget the word. 😦 Ack! Please comment if you remember!)

I believe I spit all over myself and almost peed my pants in a totally silent room. I nearly lost all bodily fluids and control. I shook violently at the stifling. My face contorted. Flushed with blood. Anyone who couldn’t see what I was holding might have thought I was having a seizure. I was definitely shot a look from the study hall teacher attendant, much like those bingo hall side-eyes. Although, this look had also a small touch of concern for my well-being. I was embarrassed and hysterical all at the same moment.

Rachel always knew about the coolest thing. She was the coolest person I knew. She changed my idea of people. She stood everything I knew on its head. She taught me to be confident in the face of fear. She taught me to be fierce. Loyal. Brave. Nice to those who weren’t. Assertive to those who required it. And honest. Even when it’s difficult or embarrassing. Not by lecturing me, but by example.

She taught me I could be myself without having to apologize for it. She accepted me. I accepted her. For whatever we were.

I don’t know how I made it out of that one-song town. I don’t know how I had a black friend.

My dad was an alcoholic, a racist. Not always bright and definitely crazy. He would come home and complain about the n****** at work. He said he even stabbed a black man at work one day with a screwdriver. I don’t know if that’s true? He said a lot of crazy things.

He said the man attacked him first. He had a stab wound in his leg to prove it. (That could have been from anything! By his own hand even.) I was personally ill and deeply concerned by the description, but you just didn’t question the man. It is humiliating to even hear this story, relay this story or be related to someone capable of this act. To know someone who is willing to hurt another human being physically. It’s disgusting to me. It is humbling and worrisome to be powerless in changing your life, the life of your loved ones or the world. You would think my father would lose his job if that actually happened. But in this culture? I don’t know now.  I do know this: my dad was completely capable of stabbing anyone and the meanest human I personally knew.

And Rachel was the nicest. I’m glad I had Rachel. She changed me. She taught me something my dad couldn’t. Or wouldn’t. Embracing something or someone different than what I grew up to know wasn’t difficult. If all you know is pain? The first person or opportunity that looks like something other than pain is welcome. Appreciated. Loved.

We understood each other. I was understood for the first time by a smart person. For the first time I loved someone different. If I did nothing else for anyone ever? I at least did not carry forward the burning torch of racism for myself or my daughter. And I’ll never forget Rachel’s eyes.