A couple of days ago a dear friend of mine and I were chatting and he asked how the family was doing. It had been a few weeks since we had chatted so I instantly started typing out all of the great things that were happening in our lives. I found myself excited to share the great things! Over the last few months my responses haven’t been as happy due to feeling so sad about losing my dad and life challenges. I loved his response - it reminded me of how much he’s helped me see the good in life over the last couple of years.
Later that evening I was sitting in my family room, watching Hallmark Movies, lights off except for the Christmas Tree lights and I caught the glow of the lights shining on my dad’s pictures. I started crying. At first it was a level of sadness that my dad wouldn’t be here for the holidays and how could I go through the holidays without my dad. Then the tears came stronger and it was why did you have to go dad? Why? I sat and looked at all of the pictures and all of the great memories and thought why can’t I have more time with my dad? The sadness turned to a great feeling of loss. A loss that was painful, a reminder of the pain of losing my dad.
I find myself finding much more joy in each day, but there’s also feelings of sudden sadness, loss. Yesterday was a fantastic day! A day of laughter, counting many blessings and enjoying time together as a family.
Then, a couple of things happened last night and here came the spiral. This is a spiral I’ve felt many times over the last couple of years. A spiral that has come since I’ve slowed down, faced my real feelings and taken a deeper look at myself and worked at being healthier. I’m feeling more. Learning more. The tears come in ways I’ve not allowed for so many years of my life. It’s all good, but a learning process. Learning to find the middle ground instead of the extremes.
As the spiral came last night I thought to myself. . .this has been a year of losses, so many losses. Not only the actual losses, but near losses. Where are the blessings in all of the losses?
I posted a picture of the temple and some thoughts last night on Instagram and on my Facebook story, but at 5:00 a.m. I was pondering things and found myself feeling that the short write up didn’t explain my feelings, didn’t explain really what I felt so I deleted it.
As I pondered all of these things this morning, here’s the flood of my thoughts:
Yes, it’s been a year of losses
Started the year off with shoulder surgery, loss of oxygen that put me in the emergency room, loss of use of my arm and being super dependent on everyone and even after being completely healed there’s still loss to the point that I can’t get ready by myself for the day. I’m reliant on help each day.
Loss of use of my back in certain ways. Back procedures and physical therapy that have helped, but still loss of use of my back. Reliant on people to help me pick things up off the ground - can’t just naturally bend over and pick things up.
Near loss of my marriage. After 25 years of working so well together, task oriented marriage we’ve had to focus on digging deeper and connecting in ways that we’ve not connected before. A level of trust, friendship and love that I’ve not allowed for 25 years in protection from my past.
Loss of a full time missionary. Yes, my son served most of his mission as a service missionary, but regardless of how they are serving, a full time missionary spirit is felt in each of our lives and was felt strongly in our home. Due to experiences, people’s opinions, feelings, etc there was also a loss of friendships and relationships.
As mentioned above, loss of friendships. Not only associations, but close friendships. People who I thought would be a part of my life forever. That I thought would be a part of our family. That I miss greatly. People who I learned much from. There are definitely days and often that I wish I could take things back, change how I did things, how I trusted, what I did, how I allowed myself to trust and feel.
Loss of a son. . .to marriage. The volume went down in my home. The bounding in the home of excitement, sitting on the couch and just visiting and talking to me daily. . .gone. The hugs that I could count on every single morning and night. . .gone. The very late night talks - him climbing in our bed when we were pretty much asleep and him wanting to talk. . .gone.
Loss of my dad. I can’t even write this one. . .super duper awful painful. The loss of his hugs and hearing him say I love you sweetheart. The loss of playing Acquire every Sunday night. The loss of our visits. Loss of his deep testimony and all of his deeper conversations that I often didn’t want to participate in. The loss of seeing him sitting in his chair and working on family history. The boys spending time with my dad so often. The list goes on. Why did he have to go? The loss of future conversations. The loss of having him here for the holidays. Why??? Why did he have to go? We needed him here with us so much more.
Through this loss of my dad, I’m not going to lie, the loss of my faith. Not a loss of my testimony, but loss of faith for a short time. The pain was too deep. Taking a deeper look at my knowledge and understanding of the gospel. Why pray? The pain wouldn’t go away. How could anyone understand my pain, including my Heavenly Father and Savior? Do I believe I’ll see my dad again? Is there life after death? I’ve always feared death. My dad didn’t.
Loss of myself. Loss of desire for connections, friendships, people in my life. Everyone would leave. If my dad could leave my life, everyone would leave my life. The abandonment in my life was real. I wasn’t sure if I could love, if I could trust, could handle any additional pain in my life.
As I thought through these losses this year I found myself reflecting on 2 years ago today. Two years ago today is the day Brayden made his final decision to come home. The day he told his mission president he was coming home. He hoped to get home before Thanksgiving, but I hoped he would stay through Thanksgiving in England and have one more week of experiences in Cardiff. This was the beginning of a massive spiral. What I would say was possibly one of the worst weeks of my life, but on the other hand one of the most blessed weeks of my life.
Brayden decided to come home, call with his mission president, feelings from our local leaders that didn’t support that decision, a letter from a trusted close friend that was extremely painful, a broken water heater, a toilet that didn’t quit running and flooded our entire bedroom, hallway and dripping outside in front of our garage. A visit with our bishop on November 26th that caused a lot of uncertainty of Brayden’s future as a missionary. Not because of our bishop, but because of others. Our loving bishop stood in our entryway for 3 hours lovingly supporting us and trying to comfort me as I had a nervous breakdown. Telling our families on Thanksgiving that Brayden was coming home. Coordinating with all of his doctors and getting things figured out and scheduled for him as soon as he got home. Praying Brayden could emotionally handle everything that was coming at him and trying to shield him from the stresses at home. My dad being super sick and ending up having surgery the week Brayden came home. That’s just the start of the list of that week. . .it was HELL!!!!
BUT, looking back at that week, that’s when I saw people with great love come through for me and my family. I didn’t have the strength or brain power to put something together to welcome Brayden home, but a loving neighbor did. She was amazing. Friends and bishop who came over frequently and loved us through this very difficult time. A bishop that saw that I needed counseling and got me into an amazing counselor that has blessed our whole family over the last 2 years. Doctors who blessed Brayden’s life in ways that we couldn’t have ever imagined. Brayden having the opportunity to serve with my dad and mom at the Storehouse and experiences that have blessed his life forever that wouldn’t have happened if he stayed in England. Time with my dad before he passed away - Brayden wouldn’t have been home if he stayed. Two years later the list goes on and on and on of the blessings of seeing the Lord’s hand in the details of our lives and Brayden’s mission.
So, thinking through the losses of this year. . .there have been so many great blessings through the losses.
Due to the losses and needing help each day Rick and I have had so much quality time together. Amazing conversations. I’ve been humbled and been able to feel of Rick’s unconditional love for me as he’s served me daily. We’ve had so many special conversations together. Our love has grown in ways I could have never imagined. The Lord knew that we needed this time together.
I’ve been able to better understand friendships. I’ve come to understand how friendships look differently. There don’t have to be extremes - all or nothing. I don’t have to fear loss of friendships. It hurts to lose friends. It hurts deeply and I’m still working on processing these feelings, but I’ve also learned that all is not lost. A friendship that ended 27 years ago, because of circumstances that we were both in, she chose to walk away. I’ve felt bad for all of these years for how I treated her and a few weeks ago I reached out to her and come to find out she had felt bad all these years how she treated me. There was healing and an instant friendship back. I felt the same love I had for her 27 years ago and am so grateful for the healing and our friendship.
I’ve had the opportunity to have hard conversations and heal relationships this year. To let go of hard feelings and clear the air. I’ve learned that it’s not worth holding onto hard feelings. I’ve also learned that there’s only so much I can do for people I love so much. I’ve had constant reminders that Heavenly Father knows those I love so well and at times all I can do is pray for them and turn it over to the Lord. Sometimes people leave my life, not because of me, but because of what they are going through. I’ve learned that sometimes there aren’t enough apologies I can make or not enough I can do to heal some friendships - this breaks my heart so much, but I have to trust the Lord has me and those I love and pray that maybe someday those friendships can be healed. I’m not perfect. I make many mistakes. I’ve also learned that it’s alright to love deeply.
With Brayden getting married, yes, there’s so much I miss, but I’ve also gained such an amazing daughter in law who I love as much as my boys. I wouldn’t want it any differently. I’m so grateful she is a part of our eternal family. And, Brayden still comes bounding in our home, comes and has the conversations with me, we chat often, I get his hugs whenever he comes around and there is a new kind of love and relationship that I wouldn’t trade.
My loss of faith. . .wow, has my testimony been strengthened through this trial and journey. The power of Priesthood Blessings is real. I’m grateful for the strength of my testimony and the answers I’ve gained and the peace that I can find through the gospel. I know my dad has been in the details of our lives. I know he’s been in the details of Brayden and Sarah being sealed for eternity and Zach going through the temple for his own endowments. I know that my dad was able to be on the first flight with Tanner as he went to Texas. Where Tanner would have normally felt anxious, he wasn’t. I know my dad is with us. I know he loves us. I’ve felt his love and healing in ways that might not have happened. I’m so grateful for the last hug I had with my dad - I wrote it down. I was so excited at how much love I felt from my dad. There was something different that time. I’m so grateful for the relationship and time I had with my dad here. I’m grateful for his example and for all he taught me and my family about the gospel and how he lived his life that I have no doubt we can be an eternal family. I’ll be with him again.
So often in life losses help us recognize the greater blessings! Losses bring us to our knees, break our hearts and humble us. Through those experiences we find our strength. We find ourselves. We dig deep. We see and find a greater understanding of who really is there for us. We come to understand a deeper kind of love. Through the gospel we are able to find peace through the storms. Doesn’t mean the storms go away, in fact, this year I’ve felt like I’ve been in a constant storm, but I’ve found so much love, peace and happiness and deeper relationships. The happiness and laughter in our home is something we’ve never felt or had before. The relationships I have with each of my boys - I wouldn’t trade anything we’ve been through to have what we have now.
The greatest thing that has come from all of this. . .I love myself. I see my value. I understand who I am. I really understand that I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father and Father who are both in Heaven watching over me and holding my hand, guiding me and in the details of my life. I’m worth being loved. I have so many in my life that do love me. I can focus on those that love me as I continue to heal and get stronger and get through the this thing we call life. . .something we cheered about to have this experience.
I woke up this morning around 6:00 a.m. thinking about my dad. That’s not abnormal, but I found myself thinking about him alot more and feeling emotional and missing him terribly. I found myself reflecting on August and finding out he was really sick, in the hospital, home, back in the hospital and then gone. I thought about the fasting, prayers, faith, priesthood blessings and all things we could possibly do to save my dad and it didn’t work. I was pondering why, why couldn’t all of that saved him this time? It saved him last time. Last time it seemed like greater odds against him making it and he made it. He made it miraculously! He defied all odds.
Then my thoughts led to what’s the date today? It’s November 7th. November 7th. No wonder I’m thinking about him soooo much! November 7th, 2011 was one of the most life changing days in my life. I remember the details from that day like they happened today. Getting the boys off to school, resting for a minute before I got going for the day, it was around 7:30 a.m. and my phone rang. It was my sister who lived with my parents. She was calling to let me know that dad had a cardiac arrest, he wasn’t breathing, they had rushed him to the hospital.
I couldn’t believe what I had just heard!!!! What???? I just saw dad last night and he was fine. He was working on Bishop Storehouse stuff getting ready for the Thanksgiving rush. We had been over there for Sunday dinner and I had a long, tiring weekend and was a little grumpy and didn’t want to play Acquire with my parents and left without a hug and with more of an attitude.
NOOOOO!!!! My dad couldn’t go. He couldn’t die. I got up and hurried and showered to run over to the hospital. I found myself walking around my house numbly saying perfect faith. If only I had perfect faith he would make it. He would be healed. But, I couldn’t have any doubt. I needed that perfect faith for a miracle.
We got to the hospital and the priesthood holders in the family gathered around and gave him a priesthood blessing as he lay there barely hanging on. They were going to freeze my dad to stop any additional damage. Each day we would spend 12 hours at the hospital just waiting for anything. Any hope.
A few days after my dad’s cardiac arrest I had it come clearly to me that I didn’t need perfect faith. I just needed a little bit, a tiny mustard seed of faith was sufficient and it was alright to be scared, sad, nervous and all the feelings that come with the possibility of losing my dad.
We witnessed many miracles and despite all of the brain damage and the hopelessness of the doctors and all of the tests my dad came home on November 30th. Legit - a walking miracle. A talking miracle. We had him back. Still lots of healing to go, but by January he was back to the temple, storehouse and his life.
Fast forward almost 10 years later, August 2021. My dad gets covid. He’s having a hard time breathing. He’s getting weak. He’s now got pneumonia. A blood clot in his lung. He’s talking and being his normal grumpy patient and doesn’t want to eat. He wants to be home, not in the hospital.
AND THEN, the dreaded message. We need to meet over at my mom’s and make some decisions. We didn’t know what the meeting was about, but once we got there and saw the living will and mom and just the feeling. . .dad was bad off. He’d lost consciousness. Do we intubate him. What can we do? Fast, pray, priesthood blessings - everything we know to do and of course, the miracles will come. We’ve witnessed this before. Dad can do this. We can keep him here. Dad knows we need him here. That lesson on faith from 10 years ago. . .I just need to have faith.
NOPE! No, it wasn’t meant to be. Not this time. Dad was leaving us. As I had a few minutes alone with him on the Thursday, August 19th I could feel the spirits in the room. I told them to leave and leave my dad here with us. I was willing to have a tug-o-war for my dad to stay here. It was like I could communicate with my dad through my thoughts. I didn’t have to use words. He was laying there unconscious and his body was failing. His human body was failing. Not his spirit. His spirit was strong - I knew that
Sunday, August 22nd my dad passed away. The miracles didn’t come the way I had hoped. The way we all hoped. We did all the same things. Why not this time?
I know there have been many miracles, but this journey has been super hard. It’s looked so different than 10 years ago today.
Back to this morning. . .tears came as I pondered all of these things and then we add that Zach is being ordained an Elder today. My dad has never missed an ordination for my boys. He’s been to every important thing for my boys. He’s been a part of their spiritual journey. My dad has had an amazing spiritual impact on my boys - their testimonies have been blessed by my dad. Why can’t he be here? Why can’t my dad be standing in the circle for Zach today?
"Why can’t my dad be standing in the circle for Zach today?"
As I pondered all of these things I heard the words, there’s no coincidence that Zach is being ordained an Elder today on the day 10 years ago my dad had his cardiac arrest. This was meant to be. My dad will be standing in the circle. Not the way I want it. Not the way I would have envisioned this day, but it’s the way it’s supposed to be. My dad being on the other side helped guide Zach’s footsteps to this place - that Zach is being ordained an Elder today and going through the temple on Tuesday. Yes, this is exactly how everything is meant to be and my dad’s not missing out on anything. He’s all an integral part of all of this.
I love you dad! I miss you terribly! I’m so grateful for the miracles you’ve blessed me and my family with throughout our lives, including today. Thank you dad. I know you’re here this week for all of these amazing things happening in our lives.
July 16th: Brayden and Sarah got engaged and we all went over to my parents to tell them and my parent’s were so excited! My dad was childlike and it was the day he had waited for so long! The last time I have pictures of my dad.
July 18th: Sunday dinner at my parent’s and a great visit, played games and all was great. Last time I talked to my dad.
August we got through everything with my mom, sister and dad being so sick and we lose my dad. The pain of losing my dad is excruciating. I battle so many childlike feelings, temper tantrums, screaming out for my dad and crying every single day. I was very shut down.
All I could say was that my dad left me. He left me. Then people trying to be helpful would say it was his time or he probably didn’t have a choice and Heavenly Father needed him. I know that should be comforting, but it wasn’t. It just made me mad at Heavenly Father and He abandoned me too. Healing from many years of abuse and abandonment tenderness and healing a little child that has been frozen in time and ignored and hated by me as an adult is hard and then losing my dad makes it so much harder and created a backward slide and so much pain.
I’ve been functioning. It’s taken me awhile, but I’m getting out there and starting to interact more with people, finding myself laughing more and striving to connect again and be more engaged.
As the wedding has gotten closer the pain has heightened again. The thought of my dad not being there - UGH, it’s almost like I can’t do it. He was supposed to be here - in PERSON. I know his spirit will be with us, but that’s just not the same and honestly hasn’t felt like enough. This was a day he’s looked forward to for 4 years. He wrote Sarah every week on her mission, served with Brayden during his service mission and asked all too often when they would get married. How could this be part of the plan? My dad is gone!
On Monday I went to counseling and I didn’t have anything really specific, besides how do I survive the next 10 days. How do I cope with all of the emotions? Not only all of the wedding planning and the things that needed to be done, but the abandonment tenderness that’s been close to the surface that distorts things and processing things of Brayden getting married. Him leaving. Then there’s the wedding stresses and decisions to still be finalized and all of the last minute things and praying things show up.
On top of the wedding emotions I have so many emotions tied to my dad over the years in November. November 2nd about 13-14 years ago he had a heart attack. About 12-13 years ago his chrones flared up so bad that he was in the hospital a lot of November and had to have an extensive surgery. 10 years ago November 7th he had his cardiac arrest. We got so many miracles through that and he came home November 30th. In August we all wanted those miracles again sooooo badly, but deep down I knew that wasn’t going to be the case and I believe we all knew it, felt it, but wanted to stay in denial as long as we could.
I’ve been working hard on not doing what if’s, trying to predict the future, write the program ahead of time, etc. I’ve tried to live in the moment, but just needed some great advice on surviving the next 10 days. How do I find joy in the journey with all of the emotions and stress that I was feeling and based on the past couple of months it seemed inevitable. Even up to Sunday evening I had cried and felt loss and tenderness so why wouldn’t it get worse over the next 10 days?
As I visited with my counselor he gave me 2 pieces of advice.
Remember to only take on and own what is mine. Let go of everything else.
Pray. Pray for peace. Pray for support. Pray for me to feel my dad. Paul said to me, “You’re dad is with you.”
Well, after 2 years of counseling, many tears and intensity and facing what I thought would be some of my most difficult times over the next 10 days this was my advice, my counsel. He told me that I’ve got the tools. I’m stronger. I’ve seen the changes and I’ve physically and emotionally felt the rewiring. It’s true. I do have the tools. I’ve changed. I’ve come to really understand love. Loving myself and those who do love me in my life. Not just by words, but for real, sincere love.
Monday I went home and I took to heart the 2 pieces of advice. I prayed. I sought the Lord’s hand and shared with Him the details of my life. My concerns, my worries, my sorrows, my losses, how my heart has hurt for the last few months not just from the loss of my dad, but other losses.
Tuesday I had an amazing day!!! I was blessed with all that I needed. I was blessed with friends, conversations, help, love that I needed. That I knew was directly from the Lord.
Wednesday had some rough patches, but I addressed the rough patches and found so much peace. In fact, addressing the rough patches helped me recognize who I really am. How strong I am and how much confidence I’ve gained. The difficult things were handled with love and I was able to let things go and move forward.
Wednesday evening I had the opportunity to have a friend of mine do my hair. She’s done my hair for YEARS. For several years my hair has quite growing. It was breaking off all over the place. It was super unhealthy. This time my hair had grown out really healthy, wasn’t breaking off and honestly was the healthiest it had been in a very long time. It was rewarding. It helped me recognize that truly I’m doing better in all ways.
Thursday morning I woke up super early and I felt a happiness and peace I’ve not felt for a long time. The feeling, words that I heard were, “Your dad is with you. I’m here. You’ve not been forgotten or left alone. I won’t miss this. Enjoy this time and have happiness.” It was like someone turned on a switch and the light was back in my life. A light that’s been missing since my dad got sick and died. It was like it was alright for me to laugh, to be excited, happy, to look forward to the wedding, all of the good happening in our lives. There is so much good!!!
I felt like a childlike excitement. My little girl felt excited. She was happy. She was healing. She knew that she was enough. She’s loved by those that matter most. I’ve giggled and allowed myself to be excited over the smallest things. When the pictures came in for the wedding dinner I just couldn’t wait for Sarah to see them and I called her and she came right over. We celebrated together.
When the Perry’s called and said they were coming a day earlier to stay with us and help with the wedding and I get to have Oliver here who brings out such a great love in my heart I squealed. It was all I could do to not tell the boys!!! I’ve been giddy all day about them coming tomorrow.
When Brayden and Sarah said come and see our apartment last night I said let’s go. We went over there and instead of my normal this looks great and let’s go I sat and enjoyed time in their apartment. We laughed and took pictures and just had a great time at their place. It was wonderful!!!
I’m sharing. I’m sharing my giddiness! I’m excited to share my childlike happiness. Until writing this post and having a little anxiety hit me tonight over a situation I’ve laughed, been light hearted and just found so much real joy. I’ve felt my dad with me. I know that he’s leading the way and taking care of things for me and my family so that these wonderful things coming this next week will happen in a wonderful way.
I’m so grateful for the wonderful advice I received on Monday, but also for all of the work I’ve done for myself over the last couple of years so that the rewiring is in place and I’m able to feel the spirit, feel of my dad’s love and sincerely enjoy these 10 days, actually 6 now. I’m grateful for the change of heart. . .for the light switch being turned on and for the love that surrounds me - real love!
In life things happen. Changes come. Life is ever changing. There’s certain things in life that we look forward to. As a mom you hope your children will grow up and graduate from high school, go to college, move out, get married and the list goes on. Not only with our children, but with us. We volunteer, work, coach and the list goes on. We know that through those experiences changes will come. It’s all a part of life.
Several years ago I said to my brother in law that I hate change. I hate things changing and he said why would you hate change? At the time I didn’t completely understand it, but now I do. I understand myself a lot better. I understand how my life experiences have shaped me. How my mind processes things. Abuse at a very young age and several sexual, physical and emotional abusers over many years changes you. Has long term effects on you - even if you think you’re alright keeping it all locked up inside. You can do this.
About 18 years ago I was PTA President at the elementary school. I put my whole heart and soul into everything I did there. I had met a lot of people. I got to know all of the teachers, so many parents, the students and became super close to many of them. As the year was starting to wrap up I couldn’t handle it. I was scared to death. Now what? What was going to happen when I was done. I wouldn’t have any of these friends anymore. I wouldn’t be important to them. Would I even be allowed back in the school? The feelings of fear and loss were so deep and I honestly couldn’t see past these fears. I remember going to the year end luncheon with all of the faculty and they thanked me and I was even going to be coming back the next year as PTA President and I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed - like a child. I was coming back. People would ask me what was wrong and I couldn’t explain it. Things were changing. My board was changing. Would I be able to live up to what I did that year? It was like neither way was comforting.
The years have gone by and I could share many other experiences of change, loss and my insecurities, but I had become really good at not crying, moving on and tucking away the fears. I just moved on and didn’t share all of the insecurities that were building in me.
Then counseling comes along and I’m healing. I’m learning. I’m understanding myself. One year and 8 months into counseling I lost my dad. The worst thing that I could ever go through. My emotions are on the surface. I cry daily over things. I’m learning to let myself truly express my feelings, whatever they are. The feelings of abandonment tenderness are close to the surface. I get it. I get what I fear.
Due to all of the abuse and life experiences I have massive abandonment tenderness. I've always had friends. I've always been surrounded by people. I've always been involved. It's appeared I've had confidence, but honestly that was just a mask. I was scared to death. If I was in charge of a meeting I would be up sick the whole night, the night before. I wanted to do everything perfectly and not mess up so that people would like me, so that I could have value in people's lives. I felt that was the only way to have value. I didn't value myself.
2 years ago as I started counseling it was a very rough road - I was facing alot of demons in my life - so many fears and insecurities. I was starting to take down the cage I had around my heart. I was starting to let people in closer. I found myself trusting. I found myself loving and then I found myself loving deeper. I let a few people in much closer into my life.
The last 3 months have brought much loss in my life. First my dad, he died. Until a few weeks ago I would sob as I would say he left me and if he didn't have a choice, then Heavenly Father took my dad and how is that showing love. I can now say that my dad died, but the abandonment tenderness is very real and painful.
I know I'm gaining a daughter who I love soooo much, but in my childlike mind at times I'm losing a son. I'm super happy for them and wouldn't want it any other way, but deep down there's a loss, a hole in our home. This is a battle I have with myself, because of my abandonment tenderness.
A couple of weeks ago I was ghosted. I really didn't know this term until my boys told me what it was. Circumstances have been rough for a little bit, but I didn't see this coming. Someone I counted as a very dear friend, that I thought we could have an open and honest conversation. Someone that I trusted. I let my guard down. I let myself be real. I made lots of mistakes. I wasn’t on my A game at all times. In fact, I failed. I failed a lot with this friendship. I had hoped that love and care for each other would carry us through the rough times. I had believed those feelings were there, but they weren’t.
I had hoped that after a couple of weeks we could work through things, but a couple of days ago as I felt to ask where they were at with things I got, "I don't want to spend time on this relationship at this time."
Now what? Now what do I believe? I failed. I let my guard down. People do leave if they get to know the real me. I just couldn’t be enough. No matter how much I hoped I could “fix” things I kept falling down. Those words have stung. I’ve played them over and over in my head this weekend. It still hurts, but I’ve got tools. I’m working on moving forward one step at a time and striving to live for those right in front of me that do love me. That do care about me and not try to write the next script.
I'm at peace. I'm good. I'm going to be alright, but tonight the feeling of loss and abandonment has gotten the better of me. It's painful. I doubt myself. I wonder why I trust. Why do I open myself up for this pain? Why do I feel this is the better choice than keeping my heart locked up?
Thursday evening I took a dear friend of mine on a roller coaster of emotions with me. It was pretty bad. My abandonment tenderness was out in full force. I was grateful that when she and I said goodnight I scrolled Facebook and one of the first things was a post that connected with me. I had to read it. I feel like it was a direct answer to my prayers. To my pain. To help me see that there is light through all of this. That the Lord is in the details of the details of the details of my life. Right now I hurt. Right now I'm not sure how to process all of the pain, but what I do know is I'll keep praying. I'll keep pressing forward and know that there is peace and greater happiness.
From a young age Halloween has been one of my least liked holidays. I didn’t like dressing up. I hate being scared. I get nervous at nights. Dark scares me. Haunted Houses. . .absolutely not for me. Blood, skeletons, spooks, masks - all of that was way too much for me. I could handle the cuteness, but nothing else. I don’t know who’s around, what’s looming around the corner.
I tried. I tried to like it. Even in college I agreed to go with a group of friends to the State Mental Haunted House. That didn’t go well. I was scared to death! AND THEN, one of the scarers came at me with a needle and blood was dripping from it and I passed out. I had to be carried out of the haunted house and that’s the last time I went to a haunted house.
I found more joy in Halloween, when with my parents, neighbors and a lot of my family got involved with doing Nightmare Express Train rides at my parents on my dad’s train. My boys absolutely LOVED being scarers and being a part of this activity each year as 10,000 people would come and ride the trains. I could handle this because there wasn’t blood, no gore and we were making some great memories together with family. It made me super sad when the kids would come out crying, but we worked at making it fun for them too.
That ended and I thought alright we’ll take the boys and go trick or treating and Tanner was like what is this, why would we dress up and knock on people’s doors and ask for candy. Where we’ve found joy in the holiday is being with friends and family and doing different “other” traditions - like our family halloween picture, carving pumpkins and potluck halloween foods.
This year we are at a baseball tournament for the weekend. We won’t be home for any of the Halloween festivities. Tanner wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, but baseball. He doesn’t enjoy dressing up either and baseball is all he needs.
Friday as we drove to the field I saw junior high students getting out of school and all dressed up in different costumes. Then scrolling instagram and facebook I saw lots of pictures of costumes from littles to adults. They were fun to look at. I do love people’s creativity and honestly I admire people who can dress up and have fun with all of it.
As I was at the ball field I was visiting with a mom that was trying to decide what to do with her kids. Should she go to the store and get some costumes and let them trick or treat out of town, trick or treat on Sunday at home, etc. Her kids were talking about different costumes and what they would want to dress up as.
As I pondered this I thought to myself, what would I dress up as. If I had to dress up in a costume for any reason, what would I choose? The only thought I had was, “You’ve always hidden behind a mask. You have always dressed up.”
I hadn’t really thought about that before. Yes, until 2 years ago I did hide behind a mask. In fact; many different masks.
Not only did I dress up in certain types of clothing, but I’ve always had a rule I couldn’t leave my room until I had makeup on and my hair done. I had to look the part. Through my teenage years and into college I didn’t own levi’s or tennis shoes. I owned nicer clothing, heels, nails done and was all put together. When Rick and I got married for our first Christmas he gave me tennis shoes. I didn’t know what to do with them. I was also super worried about my weight so I watched what I ate and if I felt I was gaining too much I could easily throw up the food. Appearance was something I could control.
Then along came 4 boys and life and I started getting more and more casual in my clothing. I wanted nice clothing and tried, but it was difficult to take care of 4 boys, be at the ballfields and keep things clean and nice. I did a pretty good job and for sure I would never be seen in a t-shirt. That was forbidden. I didn’t really even own any t-shirts.
Then my health starts to take a toll and here comes weight gain that is out of my control. Then the health and weight takes a toll on my body and here comes pain. It becomes a very vicious cycle. And now, every time I look at myself all I see is a fat person. A person that can’t hide behind the mask of looking all put together anymore. I try to purchase cute clothes, take care of my make up and my hair, but the weight has become a part of my ugliness. It’s something that hurts me everyday. That comes to mind as something that might hold people back from wanting to be my friend, me posting pictures of myself and thinking I feel I ruin the pictures. For so many years I had that mask mastered.
Some of the other masks that I hid behind for over 40 years were:
I could do it all
We have it all together
I could be in 50 places all at once and pull it all off perfectly
Always had a solutions
Could fix anything
And the list goes on. . .
I had lots of masks and to be truthful no one, not even my husband, knew the real me. To be honest I didn’t know myself so there was no way anyone else could know me. I was sooooo busy volunteering and putting myself out there and solving problems and making a difference and being in the public eye and the community I wouldn’t and couldn’t stop for even a second to really take a deeper look at Who I Am.
I didn’t want to face the truth. I couldn’t. I hadn’t told anyone. No one. There were very deep dark secrets that I thought if anyone found out about me there was no way anyone could love me. I hadn’t loved myself - EVER! I would be judged. If I ran and worked and served harder, better, more I would finally feel love and love myself and all of the past could be erased. It would go away. I could go to my grave keeping all of these things to myself. Isn’t this how it works? It’s the safest, happier way to go. I wanted so badly to just be enough. Tasks would eventually = enough. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t hurt. I couldn’t face the pain.
THEN, things happened. I had to slow down. My health became so bad I could lose my life. Stress had to go. Life was unraveling. I had to resign from positions - how embarrassing. I failed. I let so many people down. Some were no longer my “friends.” Then came more. Son getting married. Son leaving on a mission. Son getting sick. Coming home 3 months later. Being judged. Treated poorly. Mom protective bear came out. I lost it. I had a nervous breakdown. I had nothing left. There was nothing left to me. NOTHING! I just cried. And cried. Cried and cried and cried - there was no telling when the tears would stop.
That’s when life changed. . .time for counseling. Reality was setting in. Nightmares were hitting me hardcore. Memories flooding. Couldn’t sleep. Terrified. It was like living in a haunted house - my own cobwebs and scarers from my life. Apparently the locks on the abuse were coming undone. The hundreds of locks I thought I could keep tight on there forever.
Behind all of those masks who I really was:
Abandonment issues super deep
No one would ever stay in my life
I couldn’t be loved
I didn’t deserve anyone good
Being alone was the only safe place
I would never be enough
Not even Heavenly Father and my Savior could possibly love me - I had to prove myself
I had to earn love and I couldn’t do enough to earn that love
I was terrified of being touched
Touch was evil
I had sinned for years through my childhood and teenage years because of the abuse
Carried so much guilt - it was my fault
And the list goes on. . .
Over the last 2 years of counseling, PTSD, anxiety and antidepressant medications, the masks have come off. The layers and layers of masks. I didn’t need Halloween to put on a costume. I didn’t need Halloween to be scared. I didn’t need Halloween to show me all of the skeletons hanging in my closet. I live with the fears and costumes that Halloween brings everyday of my life.
I’m rewiring my brain. I’m learning. I’m being retaught. Changing over 40 years of belief about myself. My old life is a habit. It’s an addiction. It’s what I know. It’s what I’m familiar with. I’m fighting it! I’m giving it all I’ve got to be me! To be true to me! I make mistakes. I lose people in my life now because of my mistakes. My heart has learned to love. Now my heart loves deeply - too much now at times, because I’ve now felt a broken heart in many more ways than I could have ever imagined. At times I miss the old me. I miss all of the masks. There’s something comfortable about that space. But I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t true to myself. I couldn’t feel love. A caged heart isn’t selective. Now I understand the love my husband has for me. Now I understand loving him much more. I love my boys in a whole different way. I’m loving myself for the first time.
I’ll keep working on removing the fake masks. I’ll keep moving forward and being me. I’ll keep praying that I can be enough and that those I love will love me. That my mistakes won’t “scare” those who matter most to me away
A wife and mother of 4 boys and 1 daughter-in-law, I have spent my entire adult life devoted to my family. I have been busy in their schools, supporting them in all of their school work, sporting events, activities, etc. I spent years heavily involved in the PTA, church callings, etc Life for me has always been overwhelmingly busy. While I thought this was my sanity, the truth is it masked issues - real issues - that I needed to work on to gain true sanity. I am sharing my story in this blog. I do this so that I might be able to help other women find their true sanity