The Post I Secretly Hope No One Notices

Fix It

In the five months this blog has been alive, I’ve had two goals. Inspire others to overcome everything that holds them back from living out who they are. And don’t make anyone mad.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way human nature works. We stay stagnant until someone is brave enough to slap us in the face and wake us up from our stupor.

So, here’s to making people mad. If it inspires even just one person, I’m ok with the rotten tomato brigade.

Today, I will stop trying to live by the popular Pinterest saying: “Be brave enough to tell your story, but polite enough not to tell the story of others.” Our lives as humans are so tightly twisted and mangled together, that that’s just simply impossible. You can’t tell a story of triumph without speaking of the darkness. But you can’t tell of the darkness without speaking of the person who caused it.

I’m on a journey to break through the darkness of a hostage identity. The one holding it hostage was my mother. She really messed me up.

“Yeah, well none of us had perfect parents,” you say. “At least you had a mom. At least she wasn’t a druggie prostitute living on the streets.”

Both of these statements are true, but there’s fallacy in the thinking.

If we’re honest, we don’t shrug our shoulders at our parents’ mistakes out of kindness, but out of fear. Fear of confrontation. Fear of drama. Fear of rejection. But mostly, fear of responsibility.

If we acknowledge their parenting failures, we’re forced to act upon that acknowledgement. We’re forced to confront the “messed up” parts of our life and fix them. We’re forced to take action to prevent making the same mistakes they made.

But here’s the rock solid truth: If you don’t stand up and acknowledge how your parents messed you up, no one else will. If you don’t fix what’s messed up, no one else will. Your parents cannot do that for you, no matter how many times they anguish, “I’m so sorry. Forgive me. I only did the best I could.”

So today, I’m taking my stand. I’m standing up on the wooden soap box in the park to say…

My mother made mistakes. These mistakes messed me up. It doesn’t matter if the mistakes were huge or small. What matters is I’ve spent the last 9 1/2 years trying to fix what’s messed up, and I’m not done yet. That’s huge.

I’m messed up because I spent every waking hour of my first 25 years of life doing exactly what she wanted, when she wanted, and how she wanted because it was my job to make her happy. It took me 9 years to even realize that this emotional control had polluted my thinking.

I’m messed up because my mom taught me that every.single.man had only one thing in mind: sex. And that they will take every opportunity to get it from any female body. She would stop our homeschool afternoon and drag us with her to my dad’s job site to make sure he wasn’t messing around. I struggle with trusting my husband a lot… I mean like beyond the normal trust things that come up in a marriage.

I’m messed up because my mom decided our family should join ATI. My dad went along with it to make her happy. She gave herself to following Bill Gothard and conservative family Christianity. She set up “standards” we had to follow so we could be Gothardy. I resisted, then fell for it, then resisted, then fell for it. Funny thing was, the only time I resisted was when I was away from my mother. The only time I began to fall for the legalism and strict authority focus was when I was home with my mom. Even in my 20’s, I submitted like a child to her rules and wishes, because Mr. G said that’s what a godly daughter does.

I’m messed up because my mom abused me physically and psychologically. She became the dictator, in the name of parenting. It’s made me so confused in my own parenting. I hate the concept of authority because of it. The recent realization that I am a teacher, and have no reason to even try to be a dictator, has been the most freeing thing to me as a parent. I’m so relieved. ‘Cause if being a mom means being a dictator, I can’t do it.

There’s many more ways I’m messed up, but that’s enough to get the point across.

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I can’t just shrug my shoulders and excuse her with “she did the best she knew how” and “she was probably messed up by her parents too”. Excusing it doesn’t address the problem; it simply shrugs off responsibility.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not a blame game. I’m not throwing mud. I’m not lashing out. I’m just being honest and shouldering the responsibility to do something about it.

Now that I’ve realized it, stated it, and believe it, I have the power to change it. I see where I’m messed up. I realize why. Now, I can take the action to fix what’s broken and do my darnedest to mess up my kids a little less than the previous generation.

So stand up on your soap box. Admit how your parents messed you up, so you can fix it.

 

*photo credit

Your Story: A Girl’s Just Gotta Twirl

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Ginger is a dear friend of mine. She has walked the journey through the shadowy darkness and broke through the other side. She blogs of her experiences, as well as many other things, over at Just One of the Boys. Today, she shares with us a glimpse into her journey…

I remember twirling in my fancy dress as a little girl. Time seemed to pause just for me as I spun around and around on my tip-toes. My ruffled dress and I whirled about the room so fast that everything around me simply faded away. That dress transported me to my own little world where I could be a ballerina, a fairy princess, or Cinderella at the Ball. I wanted to dance in my special little place forever…

But what happened to the imaginative little girl that I used to be? Her heart had been bursting with endless hopes. The dreams that she held so dearly knew nothing of limits. Her little world was full of light – a beautifully magical place where good always prevailed over evil, no real harm could befall her, and where Prince Charming was coming to rescue her, dressed in his shining armor.

Dark shadows crept toward her, and she gradually stopped twirling. As she was confronted by these ghosts, she let her dreamland slip away. Over time she sadly gave into the idea that she would never be a fairy princess. When she stood still, darkness crept in to surround her.

Amy's flower girl

Other girls laughed at her. She buried her desire to once more twirl around and around. She tried to fit in…and failed miserably. “You’ll never be good enough,” the Shadow of Inferiority hissed.

“I’m not hungry.” The lies that she told herself over and over again were so ardent that she actually started to believe them. The lower the number fell on the scale, the closer she thought that she would be to perfection. She thought that she was almost there, but perfection never came. “Just a few more pounds. Just a few more inches,” lied the voice of Self-hate.

She felt in her heart that something was not perfectly right, but he seemed like such a nice guy. He sought her out. No one had ever paid her this much attention. He said that he couldn’t imagine life without her. Surely, this had to be her long-awaited Prince. The Shadow of Deception felt too good to be true.

“It’s your fault. You made him angry,” the Shadow of Abuse deflected the blame at her.

Crashing through her little home, The Storm of Infidelity left a trail of devastation in its wake. Once more she allowed her heart to listen to the vicious lies in her head. If only she had been prettier. Maybe then he wouldn’t have betrayed her trust. Maybe then she would have been good enough. If only…

As the shadows of Divorce and Loneliness threatened to surround her, she realized that she no longer had to be frightened by the ghosts of the past.  Wondering why she had ever stopped dancing through life, she worked to slowly unravel the darkness that had been her constant companion all of these years. She found courage that had sparked deep within her. She could now face the darkest of shadows without allowing them to overtake her. She gave herself the freedom to cautiously begin to twirl once more.

Days turned into weeks, weeks eased into months, and the months flowed into years. She gathered a strength and assuredness that can only come from staring down the darkness. With a new radiance, a smile graced her face for the first time in years. A deep and meaningful happiness welled up in her soul. She learned more about her true self as she grew as a woman, and she found that her real life journey far exceeded anything in a fairytale.

When the wounds of the past had started to heal, someone new entered her life. More than just a brave prince, he was a kind and selfless spirit. As their friendship developed, and then grew into something deeper, she found that she did not have to stop twirling for him, or anyone, ever again. He, too, was on a path of healing, and their separate lives began to mesh into one beautiful dance. She now had a partner, a friend, a Beloved – and the ability to keep twirling as life moves forward. Shadows will come and go over time, but she now felt confident that they no longer had the power to hold her back from pirouetting joyfully through life.

The little girl grew up, and as she fought, lost, blossomed, and triumphed, she began to twirl once more – and she vowed to never stop.

I vowed to never stop…

“Those who look to Him are radiant, 

and their faces shall never be ashamed. ~ Psalm 34:5

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*Photo credit: Top photo – by Joanne Funk. Post Header & Bottom photo – by John Zimmerman

Music Monday: Believer

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(listen on Spotify or Youtube)

I can see thru the laughter
I know you’ve cried your share of tears
But you don’t have to do this by yourself
You tell me that you feel abandoned
Carrying the weight of all this pain inside
You trust in someone else
But you’re crying out for help
 
I’m a believer
That He’s strong enough to hold you now where you are
I’m a believer
In the One who’s always reaching out to your heart
He understands you
There’s not a greater love that you’ll find in this life
I’m a believer in Christ
 
You’re trying to escape the landslide
Running from the choices that you’ve made
When will you surrender to His grace
He promises He’ll never leave you
Offering to free you from your past
Cause that’s the sacrifice He’s made
He can be your shelter and your strength
 
No matter what you’ve done
Or how far you’ve run
There is hope for you
For every broken heart
He’ll meet you where you are
He will rescue you
Let Him rescue you

I see you sitting there with your laptop balanced precariously upon your knees. I see you standing at the kitchen counter clutching your phone in your hand. I see you sitting at your desk clicking through today’s interesting blog posts.

I see you… not with my eyes, but with my heart. And I see past the smiles, past the busy household, past the mess, past the perfect outfit… and into your heart. I know tears have streamed down your face and spilled onto your hands. I know you’ve felt the weight of loss, betrayal, and failure.

I’ve been there too… in the hopeless abyss of uncontrollable circumstances. Some caused by my own mistakes and some by the mistakes of others. I know what it’s like to wonder if my life will be completely different the next time the sun comes up. To wonder if I will find myself somewhere else surrounded by people I do not know, because the people I love most have been torn from me. To wonder if a few short moments would promote me to the next stage of life long before I’m ready.

I’ve felt the ripping of the heart. I’ve wondered if it could ever be whole again. I’ve felt pain deeper than I had ever dreamed.

And you know what I found each and every time?

That He was there… strong enough to hold me. Strong enough to carry me through it all. Strong enough.

And He was there holding out His hand of grace… not just a forgiveness that withheld what I deserved, but grace that gave way more than I deserved.

And let me tell you… I’m finding He is THE most skilled heart surgeon in the world. His steady, confident hand has rescued me more times than I can count.

Let Him rescue you.

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In the conservative circle in which I grew up, contemporary Christian music was not allowed. After marrying, I began to listen to a CCM radio station. Much of my spiritual growth since then can be attributed to the many CCM artists and the songs they write. There is truth in those words and power in their music.

If music means as much to you as it does to me, you might want to check out Spotify. This music program allows you to search for particular songs and save them to playlists, allowing you to listen to your music whenever you wish. Best yet, it’s free. (It will require you to download their music program to your computer, but I promise it will not download any junk.) You can find all the songs highlighted in Music Mondays at the Recovered Identity Spotify playlist.

 

*photo credit

My Love Hate Relationship With Fall

Leaves6Fall… the very word conjures up visions of cloudy days, chilly fingers, and a depressing gloom.

Everything bad happens in the fall. For real. My cat died in the fall (on my birthday). Bill Clinton became president in the fall (also on my birthday). I witnessed a near murder in my own family in the fall. My marriage was tested with torturous flames in the fall. You see where I’m going with this? Fall = Bad!

Oh, and also Fall signifies the start of winter which lasts far too loooooooong in Indiana.

In my teen years and early adult years, fall was a time of depression for my mother, usually resulting in thick tension. Depression slithered through the house threatening to swallow all of us into its stinky belly. During these times, I took on the role of mother for my younger siblings and the role of counselor for my mother. Two roles a daughter should not take on. It’s not her place.

I’d known nothing but depression during the fall when I married my love. It took me four years to finally get to a place where fall did not send me down into a spiral of darkness. I finally felt like maybe fall could be my friend. I reached out my hand in a peace offering to fall. It bit me. Fiercely.

Just a few short weeks into the fall of ’08, our marriage hit a painful hurdle. It was confusing hard. And once again, fall swallowed me up in depression. It didn’t help that I gave birth just a few short days before. Post partum hormones do not mix well with sorrow and pain.

Last year, toward the end of September, I packed up my kids and my camera and went out to find something to love about fall. I was determined to beat fall at this game of darkness. Where he loomed in shadows, I found light and beauty. I’m not sure that I really felt happy right away, but I forced it in an effort to trick myself into being happy. I chose to fight the gloom.

And I won. For the first time in all my life (that I can remember), I enjoyed fall. Before I knew it, Christmas had arrived and fall slithered away.

It’s mid-September. Fall is sneaking up again. The days are more often gloomy and chilly. I want to stand up to it… not let it win. But it’s so easy to just let it grab my foot and pull me back down. It almost sounds snuggy to be in the sorry-for-myself-in-my-sweatpants mode.

I think maybe now I know why it was so darn hard for my mom in the fall. It was habit to fall into depression. And habit is easy and safe. It takes bravery and strength to resist the comfort of gloom.

For the sake of my kids and my husband, I will choose to stand and fight. I will choose to wear clothing that makes me feel dressed for the day. I will choose to wear makeup and jewelry to make me feel pretty. I will choose to smile when I’d rather cry. I will choose to use gentle words when I’d rather snap.

Fall, you cannot have my soul. You just canNOT.

Muddled Trust

trustTrust. The word itself conjures up mixed emotions. We feel grateful for those we can trust through thick and thin. We feel anger and hurt when we think of those who’ve taken advantage of our trust. We feel proud for the positions in life that our own trustworthiness has bought us. And we feel guilt and sorrow for the relationship mistakes that have cost us trust. We all find ourselves at various levels of trust in each of our relationships.

I wish trust were easy. Like you either trust them or you don’t. You’re either trusted or you’re not. But it’s not that easy.

Somewhere in the middle of trust and no trust is the muddled up trust. The place where one day your heart is so full of trust and the next day it’s overflowing with doubt and suspicion. That place where you think you’ve finally won their trust only to realize they still accuse you of imagined offense.

And this muddled stage of trust rips at the heart. We want to trust; we really do. We humans are hard wired to live life based on trust. But it’s just that sometimes the defense mechanisms in our mind refuse to let our heart rest in trust. And the war of the mind is a tricky one. It’s hard to know which thoughts are the good guys and which are the bad guys.

We can’t keep the suspicions from popping up. And once they’re there, it’s like playing private investigator to determine whether it’s a suspicion to act upon or to reject. It’s the uncertainty that eats at the heart.

If the suspicion is true, you realize you’re once again naive and taken advantage of. You feel like an idiot. The pain goes deeper than it did the first time. You’re ready to curl up in a corner and cry your heart out while simultaneously forming a battle plan so the person can never hurt you again.

But if the suspicion is unfounded, you feel guilty. After all the hard work of the other person to gain back your trust, you pay them back with doubt. You stab them over and over again with the reminder of their offense.

Some relationships are distant enough that you can just leave it in this state and just not see the person anymore. Some relationships will just always be in the “I can never trust them” state. But sometimes it’s family. You see them day in and day out and you love them with all your being and you just want to trust them and be trusted.

And that’s where trust gets tough.

 

*photo credit

When the Dreams Shatter the Night

nightmareI’m jolted awake and realize tears are flowing down my cheeks. I feel sick to my stomach, and my heart is beating hard and fast. I blink three times trying to establish reality and hug my pillow tight.

It happened again. My worst fear came to visit me in the night. I know in my mind that it was just a dream, but I can’t turn off the feeling that it was real. I roll over and snuggle up behind my husband. I find his hand and hold it tight. I just need to feel him. I need to know he’s there. I need to know this is reality… me with my husband.

These dreams don’t visit every night. In fact, they only visit when something in reality triggers them. A person, a situation, a certain car… a glimpse of anything connected with disturbing memories. It’s these triggers that jump start the fear. I can manage to keep the fear stuffed in the deep recesses of the filing cabinets of my brain during the day. But once I lay my head on the pillow and lose consciousness, I’m at fear’s mercy, and fear is not nice.

It mocks me. It makes me feel like a fool… like a psychological idiot. It envelopes me and threatens to take over. It plants more fear. More distrust. It threatens to steal the relationships dearest to me. And I hate it… with every once of my being.

But what do you do? What can you do to keep the fear from manifesting into dreams in the night?

I don’t know if I have an answer to that. But I have some things flittering around in my mind…. Things like:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (I John 4:18).

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (II Timothy 1:7).

“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31, 32).

But what’s the practical of all that?

If perfect love casts out fear, is this God’s love to me or my love to others? If it’s my love to others, how do I perfect my love?

If this spirit of fear is not from God, then I’m going to take a big stab in the dark here and say it’s from the devil. So how do I resist him and his attacks of fear?

How do I continue in His Word? Is there a truth I don’t know yet? One that will set me free from this fear that slips in at night to terrorize me?

I just want answers. I want to know how to turn it off.

God, help me throw off this spirit of fear and to claim the spirit of power, love, and self-control.

 

*photo credit