I was never set free by the truth

John 8:32 “and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

Growing up, I was continuously reminded at every opportunity that lying is literally the worst thing I could ever do. This Bible verse was repetitively hammered into my frail bones like it was the answer to every adult problem I could ever face. I will never forget the first time I was caught in a lie. My brother and I had been playing in our backyard and we decided that it might be fun to play our version of Power Rangers, a show we weren’t allowed to watch out of fear that it was too violent. A little while later, our mother appeared on the scene and demanded to know what we were playing. I was too afraid that I would get in trouble for playing an innocent game she disagreed with, so I lied. If I think hard enough, I can still remember the taste of the bar of soap and the way it made me gag as it was shoved in my mouth as punishment for my lie. The scraping of the top layer against my teeth. The bitter taste burning the back of my throat and making me dry heave. The acid that burned my stomach. There was no calm reprimanding. It was threat level midnight on first offense with my mother.

Or the incident a few years later, when Harry Potter became a mainstream obsession. Shortly after the first movie came out, I remember shopping at Target with my mother and brother. They had a television in the kids section that was playing a loop of the movie on silent. Our church had banned Harry Potter out of fear of the presence of witchcraft in the books and movies. As we were shopping, my mother noticed my brother had begun focusing his attention to the movie looping on the screen. She told him several times to stop watching it, and he assured her that he wasn’t. He was caught in his lie. Returning home, he was gifted with a fistful of belt thrashes.

There were endless conversations about the consequences of lying. The reminders that those who lie are hell-bound. The assurance that even white lies count, and yes, there is never a lie that is ever effective to keep anyone safe. Because lies will never keep anyone safe.

The troubling thing for me now, as a survivor, is that lying seems to be the only way to keep myself safe. The only thing that lets me sleep at night some weeks. The troubling thing for me now, as a survivor, is that lying seems to be the only thing keeping my shame at bay enough for me to even perform the act of surviving.

..for me to even perform the act of surviving.

You see, I spent 19 years holed up in a vortex of silence. The echo of truth banging against the walls inside the black hole we called a home. I was told that the life we were living was the truth, but no one else could have a look inside. Those who did not live there were not allowed to have access to the keys. They were shut out–metaphorically and literally.

Indoctrination does a funny thing. It brain washes you. It convinces you that what you are being taught is absolute truth and there is no point in questioning, because it is just the way it is. It makes you feel that the world is actually a warped Picasso painting, and that you are obviously a righteous, stable statue of perfection and purity outsiders are not quite ready to accept. It is an absolute mind-fuck of epic proportions. I watched as my parents told me over and over that I should despise those different from us. “Be not of this world. It surrounds you, but do not let it become you. ” Reminded that I was alien, not born of this world, but of a blessed bloodline I should be terrified others would taint.

Apparently, so blessed that I was not allowed to discuss my problems with other family members with whom I was extremely close with. Once it was discovered that I was having knowledgeable conversation with my cousins about topics other than the Bible, we were discouraged from spending time alone together. We were constantly interrupted, for fear I would be someone who removed the blindfold. I was repetitively wrist-yanked by my mother into the bathroom for harsh scoldings about my behavior. I think they were afraid that I, as the oldest, would be the one to make them all aware of the blindfolds that had been placed on our eyes in the delivery room. That somehow I had figured out their big secret, delved beneath the poison of their indoctrination and found fresh air.

The troubling thing to me, as a survivor, is that the truth has NOT set me free.

This week I have struggled with just making it through the long days. I have fought with sleep overrun with nightmares about the abuse I suffered, waking up in panic attacks that feel like I am being choked from the inside out. I have found my head in a constant cloudy reminder that my shame will always be the strongest chains, binding me to the past. Chains that I currently do not have the tools to break, so I do my best to paint them pretty colors so other people don’t notice their ugly hue clashing with my attempt at a bright exterior. Chains that I try to disguise by pretending their existence isn’t hindering my daily life, yet knowing they are.

There will always be the shame. The first emotion poured into the empty vessel of my soul as a baby, and the warning about not numbing my conscience. I think I will always feel guilty for exposing the truth about my past. I will feel forever consumed with the worry about what my abusers will think, and the inability to come to terms with the remainder of healing I still have yet to accomplish as a result of that denial.

I have always felt like I am being choked by a force far greater than myself.

When your parents are your abusers, you wonder if you will ever be able to untangle the complicated weaving mess of your relationship. If you will ever be able to dissect the shame and decide if you want to have a real relationship with them despite all those feelings or as a result of them. You will spend what feels like centuries, wading through old conversations in your head trying to pick apart the moment you realized that you were drowning in a sea of shame so deep you worried you would never be able to breathe again.

As a survivor, the truth never set me free. The truth only tangled things.

 

Money is a worldly worry–our relationship

I think I should make a point to tell you that my relationship with God is pretty hilarious to me. Sometimes I think he looks down at me and giggles that he made such a wild thing, and that this wild thing is His. I bet He giggles at the hilarity that is my life, the silly decisions I make on a regular basis, the bravery I try to have even when I’m deathly afraid. 

Last night was proof enough, again, of our relationship and the intricate way He just gets me, regardless of the range of intense emotions I am feeling at the moment. He always does, and sometimes my breath catches when I realize this fact. When I remember that even when I don’t feel Him, He is always there. 

It was before bed. And I had been thinking about how, after my interview and job offer, I never asked what I would be making an hour. Moving here has put a serious dent in our savings–as we expected. We knew that we would have to pay for the moving truck, and for the new plates, and the different insurances, and so on and so forth. It’s life in a new place, on our own again. It’s going to be expensive, and we had prepared for it. 

But as I sat in my living room last week, overwhelmed by the fact that the monthly bills were piling up, that life here is simply more expensive than it was when we had 40 hour work weeks at a place we were miserable at, and when we were hardly seeing each other. The price of a good life is faith. And He’s been showing this to me–constantly. 

So last night, I had been thinking that I didn’t know how much I was going to be making, that I accepted this job offer because I knew, somewhere deep down that this is where I was supposed to be working. What if the hours and the money just didn’t add up and I couldn’t make enough for us? 

But then He said to me “What if I didn’t let you ask what you would be making because I knew you would be trying to add it all up in your head, trying to decide if you could make it work. But remember, you asked me to put you right where I needed you, to give you the right job. And I did. I want you there.” Then it hit me. Again. Money is a worldly thing. He’s been teaching me this slowly, off and on the past few years. But right now is the biggest test of this belief. I’ve always said that I would rather be homeless than do what He has for me in life. And coming out here, so far away from home, has really tested my belief in this statement. What if the money ran out before we could get jobs and we were forced to join the throngs of homeless people lining the streets of Portland? No, our God would take care of us. If we trusted Him enough to tell us where to go, He would open up the doors for us to have the right jobs, at just the right time. Like I have said before, He doesn’t do something early, He doesn’t do it late, He does it right on time. And getting this job, this is no mistake. I know this deep down. And if this wasn’t a mistake, if this was His plan, He will work out the money. We just have to be wise. 

I think it’s funny that He knew all this. He knew my type A mind, who wants to plan out every step, and to calculate and understand. But I don’t have to. If I really have faith. If I really trust that He has it all planned out, I’ll let it go. Money is a worldly worry. I’ll say it again, He is the accountant. I will be wise. Money is a worldly worry. 

And as much as there are so many unknowns here. As much as I am discovering people and places and trying to find my way, I have never felt more peaceful. Never been more peaceful. 

Struggles in a new city

Here, time flies by. I take each day as I can, swallowing the occasional sadness that comes from a deep homesickness. I do not know where this comes from. I know the memories I am about to make are probably far greater than the fistful of laughter I remember from my home city. And yet parts of me ache for things I never had, which is weird. I guess this feeling hasn’t exactly been foreign to me. Yet, I still believe I am clinging on to the imagined scenarios of myself I wish I had experienced. The acceptance, and the welcoming, mostly. In being different, I somehow always seemed to find myself feeling left out. Left out of the conversations and the understandings. Like I had never managed to grow up past the age of ten, and I was foolish for expecting that other adults would see that, I, too, had become one as well, and deserved to be told how they felt about me. It’s not like I wanted in on the gossip, but just the understanding and the knowledge that comes with being part of one unit, of an entity greater than myself. 

I’m still struggling to find a job. And it’s okay for now. I keep knowing that whatever is supposed to happen, will. And it’s not the fear that my God won’t come through at just the right moment (I know that He doesn’t show up a moment too late or a second too early in our struggles), but I fear that I myself might not be doing enough for Him to work with. I know that I believe that He does not help those who help themselves, but I believe that we have to do something for him to be able to develop. I can’t sit on my ass and hope that He magically creates some beautiful future for me. I have to fight through the fear, push into faith, and struggle through each aspect of my faith. He knows this. 

It’s human nature for many of us to want to do what we can to right the world, to fight for the future WE believe we deserve, and to put into works what we want. But sometimes we just plain don’t know what we want. We couldn’t know what we want because these truths have not been revealed to us. So we sit and wait and press our palms together hoping that we will be able to find the treasure hidden for us on the end of the path that has been carved into the forest just for us. A path that has our names on it. You see, we each were given a path. We all have a future mapped out, a destiny, per say. And gifts–things we are so very good at–that we are supposed to use to change the world in some way. It may be simple. Maybe our gift is our compassion and our need to help those around us. Our path may be slow steps to being a light in someone else’s life. But we would not be able to see this path without the help of some divine spirit. 

So I believe that I must do my part to find my path, to push through the forest for the trees, and to fight, to always fight, for the use of the gifts I have been given. That’s my duty. And I worry, that right now I’m not doing enough. I’m trying to apply for jobs when I can, but as far as resumes go, I don’t exactly know what I’m doing. Having worked entry level positions my whole life, it’s different for me to not simply fill out an application online, but to formulate a complicated process of words and letters to explain just what I learned and did at my old jobs. I had put down what I felt were challenges to me at my old jobs–what I had learned and fought through–because I thought that it would give others a good sense of the type of person I am. Until my husband told me that while he completely understood the point of view I had been trying to display, to others it might look like I was complaining about the challenges I had faced. I’ve decided to keep those to myself until I interview. I guess that might stay off any confusion on their part. 

The other challenge I have faced is not knowing exactly why I am here. I know I was sent here so I could use my gifts. Meet people. Start reaching towards my dreams. 

A few weeks ago I was lying in bed, honestly overwhelmed and scared for the future, and for the things that we ahead. Often, He talks to me in the quiet times, in the pauses when my heart beats fear and confused. Suddenly, I heard Him say, “Remember when you felt weak and hopeless? I will use you to speak to thousands. Be bold in the faithfulness of my promises.” And I smiled, because He has shown me this in a vision. Because I have held tight to this promise, this small glimpse into my future, and have remained strong in the face of all adversaries. 

I’m so tired of being weak. Of finding myself drowning beneath humanity and the expectations I have of my future. I don’t know what to expect. Who or where I am supposed to be meeting others. And this is why I feel like maybe I’m not doing enough for Him. That I’m not getting out enough. Maybe I’m not pushing myself when I feel exhausted from the newness of a different way of life. 

I don’t really know how else to explain it. To express the tumult of thoughts that threaten to assault me daily. I sometimes lie in the quiet and hear my heart beating a symphony of fears and expressions of unknowns I haven’t accounted for. I over-analyze everything. Feel myself sometimes gasping for air in an empty room, like the expectations I have placed around my neck are too tight, and all I need, all I fucking need is one moment to breathe. Just a moment to breathe. 

I find myself in a torrent. The teetering of finding myself on the brink of change and staring into the light that is my future, clouded by a myriad of questions. Of unknowns. How do I navigate? 

 

Life Lately–Adventures in the PNW

I’ve sat down and tried to write this post a million times. I don’t know where to begin. 

If you are wondering why I changed the title of my blog page, it’s because a chapter of my life has ended, and a new chapter has begun. Life has brought a new wave of changes, and I’m looking at them through the window of the past and the future. How I got here is complicated, and where I am going is also. I don’t know what is ahead, but I wanted to share with you, my readership, where I have been and what I am planning. Just know, that nothing is for certain these days with me. Everything is about to change. Everything has changed. Life won’t ever be the same. 

Here’s what I mean. In the past few months I have taken the 2,000 mile journey from my home state of Illinois to the state of Oregon. I have picked up every scrap of the life I had in Illinois and carried on the back of my worries. I gathered up all of my courage and my memories and drove and drove and drove. It took me four days, and I battled two blizzards in the mountains. I pushed through every doubt and fear, and have found myself here, in the suburbs of Portland, on a new adventure. 

For years we have felt the pull to move, the tug of an unsatisfied life. I have fought with the depression that closed in on me when I was living in my hometown. There was nothing there for me. I won’t deny the experiences I had, or the life I lived as being a part of me– a necessary part. I met some amazing people, and learned a lot of valuable lessons. There was a lot of good things that happened to me there, and through it all I became a new person. Sometimes when I look back, I don’t remember how I got to where I am, but I know that I am not who I used to be, not the person who used to look in the mirror and wish that she could be more lovable, could be more understanding, and not so full of bitterness and sadness. 

There have been a lot of challenges. Mostly money. We saved up for so many years to finally find this life, to feel that we were able to move to a place we had never visited, so far away from home and everything we ever knew. That’s the funny thing about this, and the great thing too, I guess, is that we don’t know anyone here. We have no family. And that’s what makes this such an adventure. A new  beginning. A start from scratch. 

We quit our jobs for this. We picked up everything we have and decided to throw it at the wind in an effort to find a new life. We know the things we have been promised. The light that is there, and the beauty that comes when you trust, when you have faith in the unknown. 

So here we are–jobless, in a new city. 

My core fears are being challenged. My type A personality is worried about the fact that I have applied to a dozen jobs and heard nothing. I have always gotten quick responses. But I think that this is a test. Do I trust Him enough? I hope I am passing. You may not believe in a god, and that’s okay, but I do. I believe that He has my best interest at heart, and here, here is where He guided me, so I’ll push through all of the doubt and into the light. I can’t be in the dark anymore. I can’t fight to feel something greater than myself. And here, somehow, I already feel at home. 

I may know no one. But there are people here who look at me, curious. 

I may not know what lies ahead. I may be a little afraid, but fear does not mean I lack faith. 

So I push forward, bright with the possibilities my future holds, and open to a world of new beginnings. A fistful of chapters.

I am so excited to share with all of you the adventures that lie ahead, and the things I will find here. Are you ready for the journey? Because I am. 

This could be someone you know

Has anyone ever told you
what it feels like 
to be two parts of one whole? 
To not be sure 
of which half you’ll wake up as
in the morning? 
to feel your heart
constantly wedged in your throat
for fear of saying
what’s on the mind 
of the sad half of you? 

There are some days
I never touch down to reality
some days I feel the clouds
of my ancestors
begging me to be brave
and stand strong
but it’s so hard 
when you’re weak 
from wanting 
to wear the paths 
of your prayers
like circles 
around your fingers
because then there’d be proof
that you’d been searching
for the map all along 
and people might stop thinking 
that maybe 
your just listening 
to the beating 
of your own 
misunderstandings. 

I’ve spent so much time 
becoming acquainted 
with the hole in my pillow 
my head leaves 
when I just want to be left alone.
I’m so afraid 
that if I share the riverbeds
beneath my eyes ,
reveal all the joy 
the darkness
has stolen from me 
that someone 
will start seeing false cracks
in my smile
the way the moon 
saw my tongue 
and tried to fill it with it 
with visions of the fields
so I could run
away with my depression
and build a home for us 
beneath the weeping willows. 

I find it’s better 
if I stay home 
beneath the covers
because then 
I don’t have to explain 
to broken faces
why I can’t find the beauty 
anymore. 

I can’t wake up 
another morning 
with lead in my bones. 

I guess this is my cry for help

 
 

Life as a Highly Sensitive Person

I’m warning you, this will be kind of a long post.:

Most of my life I have seen and felt things I have been unable to explain to people I know. I have generally refrained from sharing these moments with others for fear of being considered insane and then quickly recommended to attend the office of a clinical psychologist who will do nothing by smile as she leans back in her comfy office chair. Last week, however, began a very honest conversation with someone I know, and it opened the doors to us discussing how she is a sensitive. I didn’t know what that means, but last night I went out for coffee with a good friend and I brought the topic up. I then went over a handful of reasons why my previous conversations clicked with me, and why I felt open to the possibility that I might be one as well. I know that this is going to be a different type of post, and that some people might not agree with that I am saying. I am not, however, asking for agreement, but rather I feel the importance of sharing these experiences so that I might come to terms with an identity I never considered before. It’s an interesting aspect that I am now taking a look at, and I want to be able to share these moments with you as an audience so that I can properly mull them over in my head, so that I can hear feedback from others who may have previously felt uncomfortable coming out of the woodwork, and so that I may make further discoveries of myself.

If you are curious as to what a highly sensitive person is, read this article here, please.

My entire life I have always felt extremely sensitive, but the definition of sensitive in this context meaning that I have been easily bothered by sadness, and I distinctly remember moments when my empathy for another person was overwhelming in every way. It’s kind of hard to explain. So let me share a few vivid moments that are currently all clicking together like puzzle pieces for me.

1. I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but I want to say that I was probably eleven or twelve. (The years on these events will most likely be sketchy unless they are more current. I can never remember any numbers for my youth). I’ve always lived a few hours away from Chicago, but the majority of the time when we visited the city it would be to visit family who lived in the suburbs surrounding it as well, or we would go shopping and wander around Michigan Ave. My reason for saying this is because although we were in a city with a large homeless population, I do not remember exactly being exposed to those horrors until this specific moment. My family and I had decided to take a road trip to Boston, and we took one day to drive around NYC. Somehow, after we were done visiting the places we wanted to see, my parents were attempting to leave the city in our car, but they got turned around, and we ended up circling a pretty rough area. They became paranoid and made us put our heads down in the car, but I was determined to look out and see how bad it could be. I saw homelessness everywhere and this was the first time I ever remember realizing what was going on. The realization that those people pushing around carts full of their only belongings weighed so heavy on my heart I went into a full on attack of tears, and my mom did everything she could to calm me down. I remember her telling me that there were homeless people everywhere, it happens, and I felt at that moment that the empathy rising up inside of me could not be explained to her in a way that would make her understand. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to understand so much as I felt a disconnect on the way I felt and the way she saw things. I felt hopeless. I can still see the unbathed, aching, barely clothed people pushing empty carts around streets with blowing garbage.

2. This incident also happens to do with homelessness, and I have shared this with people on several occasions. I know this event happened after the NYC one, but again, I don’t know the year. My mom and my brother and I were walking around the city of Chicago and there were people everywhere. It was like streams of people on their cell phones, with their briefcases, taxis, people who don’t have to worry necessarily where their next meal was going to come from, and who were so tied up in their bubbles they did not comprehend the brokenness I saw. The light turned green, and this hunched over person around the age of fifty, with dark skin and tattered clothes attempted to shuffle across the crosswalk with nothing on their feet but boxes tied on by string. BOXES. I’ll take a moment to let that sink in while I take a moment to quietly cry. If I had been any older and had the ability to do so there are a few things I would have done in that instant. The light turned red. Taxis in their hurried self began honking as the person was struggling to cross the street fast enough. No one cared. It felt like someone was tearing the inside of my heart out. If I had been capable, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have ran up to that person, carried them over to the other side of the street, then asked their size shoe and ran straight over to Payless. I would have found a bucket and carefully washed their dirty feet and then placed new, comfortable shoes on their beautiful, broken body. There are few moments in my life that have so broken me, and this is one of the moments that stands out the boldest in a myriad of colors. This moment has been hard to write about.

3. In my teen years, I remember lying in bed and feeling a demon in my room. To the right of my bed was my window, and to the left, in the back of my room, was a closet entrance. The light cast from the moon allowed me to see a slight shadow around the being, but there were no eyes, and it was floating towards the ceiling right in front of my bed and next to the closet. More than seeing it, I felt it. The presence it emitted was powerful, and I was paralyzed in fear. All I could do was stare at it, and pray in my mind for it to go away. It didn’t. A week or so passed. Eventually I got enough courage to start singing hymns and repeating a botched version of a Bible verse I know my mother had shared with me and told me to use when I was afraid. Nothing happened. Finally, one night, after days of not being able to handle the fear, I ran to my parent’s room bawling and explaining everything. My mother said something evil must have been in my closet. I wasn’t that old, so I don’t know what could have lived off of the journal scratchings of a girl who only wanted to be saved by a prince charming, or several small dolls. But when I cleaned out my closet, the demon was gone, and I never really felt it in my room again.

4. I know there are ghosts where I live now. Nice ones. I hear them sometimes creaking around in the upper level of this house, but they have never bothered me. I only get scared when I’m home alone and I want to go upstairs, because I’m afraid that they might suddenly show their face, and I’m not quite sure how I would handle that.

5. I see things. A few years ago I had been writing before bed. I had an idea for a poem and I began writing it my notebook. I took a reprieve and lay my head on my notebook and fell asleep. When my husband was done reading, he gently prodded me to put the notebook down and go to bed. I did. When I woke up in the morning for work, I saw the character I had been writing about, sitting at the end of my bed. She was homeless, and I saw every curve of her skin and bones, her tattered clothing, the way she wore shame and sadness like cigarette smoke. I think I may have asked her to talk to me, to tell me her story. I jumped in the shower and the whole poem was there. I kept repeating it out loud, afraid it would go away, but I still to this day see every detail of that incident, the plot of her story, where she lived, her home in a box, her mom and dad and they way they loved drugs more than they could ever love her. She was the first to come to me. Her name is Suzie, and I felt like she was telling me a story that she wanted me to know because she had lived once, and her story needed to be told.

Another time, after someone had requested that I write a poem about human trafficking, I did some research. I came up with a name for my character, Moon, and asked her to show me her story, and it unfolded before my eyes. Each character and aspect. It has been this way off and on. I see characters, talk to them, ask them to share in their heartache. Not all of them have been written about, but they have all been witnessed by me.

6. A few months ago I was having trouble writing. I had been in the middle of a major drought of writer’s block, and it was suffocating. All I wanted to do was write, but nothing was coming to me, and I felt like I could stare at pages and computer screens until my eyes were blood shot and it would not happen. One night I had a lucid dream. A demon came to me and asked me to do something. I do not remember what his request was, but I do remember that he threatened to go into my right hand (which is the one I write with), if I did not comply. Obviously I denied his demands, and I saw and felt him twirl around and disappear into my hand in a mass of anger. I bolted awake and rubbed my hand. There was an awful sinking feeling accompanied by a great darkness that folded in around me. I know that writing is my gift, and that evil was at that moment trying to take it away from me. But I believe in better things, and I turned my cell phone light on until I could fall asleep. Since then, I have been writing a lot more. The block dissipated.

7. The other week I was playing a game on my phone, about to doze off, when suddenly I felt an enormous weight on my heart. It hit so heard I wanted to sob. I had been listening to music I use to write and to sleep, and felt this need to pray. Now. And desperately. Eventually the feeling faded, and I was overwhelmed by exhaustion and complete confusion. I fell asleep. I still have not been able to figure this moment out, but I know that what I felt called to pray for will all click in the future.

8. I see people wearing their despair. Like clothing they do not want, I see rejection and abuse clinging to their skin in ways they wish it didn’t. I sometimes see people and feel like I can sense their past. I have yet to sense a future, but I have seen the lines and the wrinkles and the way people’s eyes shine and felt a story lining up in my bones. I have seen their struggles weighing them down figuratively and that translates into those invisible clothes I see hanging on their ragged bones. It’s very hard to describe, but I feel that I sense things others don’t when they are around them.

9. There have been times I have pulled up next to someone while driving and feel an immense energy that I cannot explain. It has happened when people enter rooms, or in other instances as well. The energy is so strong and scary and deep, that I feel pressed into the need to pray. I feel overwhelmed and it can be draining. I try to focus on bringing positive energy to those situations, and am thankful they don’t happen very often, because when they do they are extremely draining.

So that’s it. Those are the nine things I felt the need to share with you today. If you have questions, comment below. I’d love to hear from you. I’m new to this idea, so I want to be able to discuss this with you if you are willing.

The way grizzly bears are more like fire flies.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what love looks like. And how often that word carries with it the weight of a thousand definitions and reasons and complications. Too often we make love selfish, and wear it on our wrists like a fashion statement, when love is the most beautiful, astounding thing I have ever seen. Someone who is really attempting to live a life full of love–now that is truly a sight to behold, because once you really begin to try to love the way love should really happen, your heart becomes a wellspring. It’s indescribable. 

I just think of the inside of a person who is learning to fight is a nighttime in summer. Within lies all the potential and greatness, floating around as lightening bugs, waiting for the moment they can pour out of their mouth and shine. 

Last night I learned a powerful lesson. It was a difficult lesson, but I knew something was changing inside of me the moment I chose to find peace instead of anger at the position I had been placed in. Let me explain. I was working my job in retail and a woman that has been known to cause trouble in our store came in last night. Generally speaking, she’s downright mean and bitter. Nothing you say will calm her down or make her compliment you. She just gets a rise out of her harshness. I am definitely not one for confrontations. Especially from people I don’t know. Last night, she unloaded on me, big time. Her ranting and raving lasted for quite some time. But something inside of me screamed louder than anger and told me to bite my tongue, stand up for myself a little in a kind manner, and let it go. 

After she left I was kind of overwhelmed. As the minutes ticked on, however, I wasn’t angry, I felt sorry for her. I had seen her in our store before. She looks lonely and miserable. And honestly, as I began to ponder the circumstances for her arrival last night, I began feeling regrettably empathetic towards her plight. 

I have been addicted to watching the show Hoarders for quite a while. I quite enjoy psychology, and comprehending the reasons behind the way people behave when they have had difficult challenges in their life. One of the things that is a common theme in the reason why I have observed people hoarding is their desire to keep people out. They have been repetitively wounded in various ways for so long, that in their desperate attempt to deal with the pain, they hoard stuff that is useless to build barriers between themselves and other people. That at least the objects would love them always, that it would be there when they cried. That happiness could be found in another sack of papers or useless shirts. But no matter what they could somehow manage to find peace in something that couldn’t hurt them. It’s not that they didn’t want people in their life, because honestly most of the time the stars of these shows are so lonely you can see their breaking heart worn in the crooked way they smile. They are just so damn afraid of letting anyone in that could hurt them, that they feel keeping then out is the only way. 

And this is exactly what I felt about this woman last night. It was like she had been wearing the weight of generations of pain and all of these traumatic things that had happened to her in the direction of her step, in the cut of her words, in the bite of her anger. There is one thing I have really learned these past few months, and it is that most of the time, that anger is all a front. It keeps the people out. Anger does a good job of scaring others to stay away. It’s a defense mechanism. It happens when we are afraid to see or deal with what we are capable of inside, when we don’t comprehend that healing can happen. 

When I started thinking about the incident after, all I could do was be humbled by the prospect that she is still in the darkness with a blindfold, feeling around the cave. Something settled on my heart and made me feel stunningly aware that anger was not the appropriate response. Love will bring light. Pray for your enemies. Smile when it’s hard. And for goodness sakes, be brave. Love is never easy, but it’s worth it. I will probably not change her, but she changed me. Even if it was just because she was angry for the millionth time. 

Like I say, there really is beauty in everything you see. 

Until next time,

Rosie