On August 22, 2021 my dad passed away. On July 18th we were over for dinner, played games and we visited and that was the last time - the last time I hugged my dad and heard his voice say, “I love you sweetheart.” He lost consciousness before I was able to go to the hospital and see him so July 18th was the last time he and I talked in person.
Throughout the funeral and afterwards I was blessed with cards, words of kindness, hugs from family and friends, special gifts like pictures of Christ, sayings of remembrance of my dad, beautiful plants and other sweet things. I’m super awful at keeping plants alive, but gratefully many have stayed alive and I enjoy them everyday. I wanted a memory wall and corner of my dad, so I printed pictures and have a wall that has pictures of each of us with my dad and my dad’s picture framed in a white frame with Christ pictures around him. The corner has a plant, statue, sayings, train and is a very treasured corner. I have a cherished tree ornament that won’t be put away with Christmas, it will stay out all year.
I’ve had people ask me if it’s hard to have so many reminders of my dad around me and yes, yes, it is. I super wish he wasn’t gone, but he is and whether I had the reminders or not I would think of him and seeing his smile, cherished memories, feeling of his love and reminders of who he is are a huge blessing for me. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Some days I look at these reminders and smile and talk to my dad and other days I look at them and cry and either way, it’s alright. It’s good.
About a month after my dad passed away a couple of my friends and I went to lunch. I had needed some time from everything and really everyone after my dad passed away so it took some time for me to go out to lunch and get with friends. One of my friends had a gift for me. My dad’s funeral had been on my birthday and we usually go out for lunch for our birthday’s so I wasn’t sure if it was for my birthday or because of my dad passing away.
I opened the gift and it was something I’ve never received before, but honestly it’s something I’ve always found magical. The gift was wind chimes. I loved the gift!!! I loved the gift before she said anything. And then she said, “I got you this gift so that anytime you hear them you can think of your dad.” I had never thought about that, something like this. When I got home my husband hung them out on our porch.
From inside my home I can hear them whenever they chime. Sometimes they are more loud and the wind is strong blowing them around and other times there’s really no wind, but when in my heart I say a little prayer saying dad I need to hear from you, I need a reminder, the chimes do a small quiet chime and brings me great peace and I say thank you dad. I know that was from you.
At times I wonder if I can breathe at the pain of missing my dad, thinking there’s no way he can be gone. But he is. Except for in the little reminders I have all around me and when I think I can’t breathe because I miss him so much I know there will be wind in the chimes to remind me he’s all around me. He’s in the wind, in the sounds, in the details of my life. Maybe even more than he could be when he was alive. I’m so grateful for the gifts in my life, for the reminders, and hope that I can be the wind in others lives to give them hope, peace and help them know they are not alone.
Today has been super duper weird! I was feeling so good yesterday. Just happy, positive and that things were good. I felt that I could take on life’s challenges. I was seeing the blessings, strength and confidence that I had gained. I was grateful for the opportunity to help some other friends with things going on in their lives and look at my life and recognize the hard road and where I’m at now.
THEN, yesterday afternoon some things triggered. I was bothered. I was irritated. I was what I call myself destructo! When these things would happen I’d spiral super fast and couldn’t pull myself out for the rest of the night. I would do things to push people away and just couldn’t snap myself out of it. I felt this was my reality. Gratefully with all of the rewiring that I’ve gone through, gaining tools for life, I recognize when these things hit and I’m able to fight against it more. I don’t always succeed at beating it, but I can function, live life and recognize that this isn’t my current reality.
One of the things that I do is shut down. I’m not willing to share anything. I’m willing to be mad, angry, beat myself up, tell myself I’m worthless and no one can love me, but I’m not willing to discuss any of the good. It’s almost like a haze or a darkness comes over me and I can’t push it away. I can’t turn on the lightswitch and make it all go away. I shut down, because there’s these inner conversations that I have with myself that create many double binds for myself and the last thing I want to do is share these things with anyone else and have them try to help me sort through these things. I know it doesn’t make sense, but these double binds are MINE and no one else can help me through them and honestly, any help could really backfire.
Last night was different. . .I was trying to share how I was feeling. Some things that were hurting me. I was typing these things and chatting with a very close friend and instead of writing the right answers or sorting through what I wanted to share I just shared. I said things and described things differently. . .it was the most honest I’ve been with myself and they were super hard topics, super to the core of me. Things I thought for sure I’d keep locked up forever. As I shared these things I found myself sharing that I longed for certain types of relationships because they hurt, I want to be an object, I don’t want to feel, I’m more comfortable with pain. The list of honest things went on and on. . .and they were super painful and I couldn’t believe I was sharing these things.
Here’s the thing. . .when things like this or awful nightmares happen it’s turned out to be more freeing in the long run. My consciousness is ready to let go and heal. It’s super painful, because I’ve kept these things to myself, deep down, for a very long time and I like control. I like to think I can control this release of things and what I share, because I have for years, but not now, not now that I’m healing. I’ve gone into this process open minded and said this is it, I want to heal and move on with my life, not just do pieces, hit the tip of the iceberg, so this is what I get.
Unfortunately, with that sharing and realizing the words I used and how I really felt I got angry! Super ANGRY!!!! I bet I could count on one hand the amount of times that I’ve said to myself, why did I have to go through this, why me, those types of things? I’ve never even said if I could go back and change things I would. Though I absolutely dislike what happened to me and the things I’ve gone through I’ve always taken ownership of this is what makes me me and I feel there’s been some really good things that have come from me being me. I also feel that because of what I’ve been through I’ve been able to help others and I love that so much. I’ve had so many experiences that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have these life experiences. I’m not really an angry person and I’ve not really felt anger towards my abusers.
But last night, the anger poured in. I hate that I like pain. I hate that I want to be an object. I hate that I have to fight with all my might to beat these awful thoughts about myself. I hate that I’ve paid such a high price for so many years. I hate that I’ve not understood relationships. I hate that I’m clingy and pray with all my might that I can be important to others. I hate the way I’ve been as a mom for so many years. I literally was so mad! I hated everyone of my abusers last night. I’ve had so many people ask me why I’ve not turned them in or done something and honestly I don’t want to ruin their lives like they’ve ruined mine. I figure it’s their price to pay, their problem to work out, but honestly when this anger hit I thought maybe I’ve not been fair to others that these abusers might have caused others, but then that’s not my problem either.
To top it off I was going in to a doctors appointment that was causing me great anxiety today and just the realization of all that I fight through physically and I believe strongly that’s due to how much I’ve held in for so many years emotionally. Plus the wiring in my mind that I couldn’t take care of myself. I had to keep going. I had to live perfectly and prove myself constantly and all of the stress and lack of sleep and emotional stuff has caused a lot of this damage. It angers me terribly!!! Yes, I’ll take responsibility, but seriously, it’s hard to understand for yourself the good when you’ve been groomed and lived a life of abuse and awful belief’s and so much of that abuse came from people that were trusted in our community circle. They were good people. Whatever!!!!
Then there’s this whole thing that I long for good, healthy relationships, but with some of these relationships I just can’t do it in a healthy space. I’m not ready to share this part of me, but its awful!!! Thank heaven that Rick loves me despite my craziness and obsessiveness and fears and clingliness.
Through all of this last night I was just mad! I was mad at my friend who I shared these things with. I was mad at Rick. I told both of them to feel lucky they weren’t alone. BUT, what I was most mad at was ME!!!! I know better. I know what I need to do. I’m now seeing it. I can see what happens and what I’m doing and sometimes I can’t stop myself. I know that sounds crazy, but I can’t! I’m like a child with a hyper focus on things and just can’t change my course, my direction.
So, legit, it wasn’t like I ran into the wall and changed courses. It’s like I ran into the wall and then for fun I thought I’d keep hitting my head over and over and over again. Then I would pound my fists over and over and over again. Sometimes I’m sure I can break through the brick wall bloodied and all, but I will win with all of my crazy thinking. NO, no, I won’t.
I’m super blessed with a sure foundation of a few people who haven’t left. They try to put padding up when I get in these phases so I don’t get to bloodied up. They try to turn my direction to the stairs and a door that I can walk through, but sometimes I’m just too stubborn. They stay with me. They love me. They don’t leave. Wow, what an amazing concept! They don’t leave me. Something new for me to understand. I can’t even shove them away.
I woke up this morning and worked and went to my doctor’s appointment and my very loving husband was there with me through all of it. Even though I couldn’t eat, I didn’t know what to say, my anxiety was through the roof, I was kind of grumpy. . .he was there. He loves me! I’m loved! I don’t have to do this alone. My counselor doesn’t give up on me and when I tell him the most craziest thoughts and feelings I’ve had he looks at me with sincerity and validates my feelings. What???? I’m not super crazy. This doesn’t make sense to me and I’m a sinner, but no, no I’m not. It all makes sense and I get the tools and assignments to move forward, to learn, to rewire and get stronger. And because of this small group of people who love me and don’t leave I understand so much better my Heavenly Father and Savior’s love. They love me even in my most angry, sinful thoughts. They guide me gently and lovingly to lead me to the right people, right opportunities and little by little I leave the wall, pounding my head against it and I find a greater peace.
I’m 49 years old and for most of my life I’ve lived my life striving to do good and make a positive difference. I was on committees, served in young women leadership callings, stake dance committees, served on institute council, worked for my dad and helped with many of his projects, served a full time mission, held church callings after getting home and once Rick and I got married we served in many church callings and as soon as our children were in school the volunteering in the schools started and easily gave 40 hours a week of volunteering in the schools and it grew from there. I’ve wanted to help others and make a positive difference and strived to do that with whatever opportunities were presented to me.
That all looks great and wonderful, but there was this other side of me. From a young age I was sexually abused and then throughout my teenage life and up to leaving on my mission. Even when I returned home from my mission I didn’t make the best choices on who to date - I made better choices, but not the best. I had these two lives. I had two completely different lives. No one knew about this life. No one had any idea what I was going through. It was super painful.
Abuse is an awful thing. At a young age abuse is awful. As a teenager abuse is awful. At any time in our lives it’s awful. Abuse creates feelings in an individual that don’t make sense, that hurt. There is a lack of confidence. A lack of belief in yourself. There becomes a dependence on the abusers. That you don’t deserve anyone else, but those that treat you poorly. Feelings are stimulated inside of you that aren’t necessarily ready and hard to make sense of, but you desire more of. You start to feel you want the bad guys, not the good guys.
So, what do you do when the good guys come around? Due to the 2 different lives I had the abusers pretty actively in my life, but kept much of this a secret. Then there were the nice guys. The guys that saw me doing lots of good things, happy, all put together, with a wonderful family. They would come around, ask me out, want to date and at the first move of being the nice guy I was dumping, running and doing everything I could to get rid of them. Often I wasn’t very nice.
My mom was always there for me to visit and talk anytime I needed her. She was so loving and supportive of me. She was very observant of my choices and would often ask me why I got rid of the good guys. Why didn’t I keep the nice guys around? I didn’t have a good explanation at the time. I didn’t understand myself. I wanted to keep the nice guys around, but I just couldn’t do it. I was super turned off and I remember feeling annoyed, super annoyed, by their kindness.
As I’ve been going through my healing over the last couple of years I’ve had different friends and people come to mind from my past. People who were there for me, who were friends, the good people, from my teenage years and college years. I’ve had mixed feelings. What do I do? Do I reach out and apologize? Do I move forward with my life? They’ve moved on with their lives and maybe they’ve forgotten about me. I’ve also wondered if they even remembered things the way I did. We’ve all walked different journeys and roads even though they might have been walked side by side.
There’s been specific people that have been on my mind and in my heart from my past that I’ve felt someday, when the time was right, I’d be able to reconnect with, give an apology if needed. I’ve also found myself feeling love and happiness from that time in my life. Reflecting on the more positive side of my life and not the pain. I’ve kept things so separate for so long. So many years of my life that I just didn’t talk about and so much pain - so much that molded me to who I am now, which has been for the good and the bad. The connections and relationships, emotions, fears, insecurities, lack of confidence in myself and not loving myself which in turn led me to believe that no one could love me all stem from that awful time in my life.
With the healing, feeling love for myself, gaining confidence I feel the happy memories, the real friendships from that time have meant so much more to me. It’s like a shift, a shift from the pain to the happy times, to the people in my life that did love me for real. Recognizing how much I did to push away and destroy the good relationships. I call that nowadays being in destructo mode. At least I can recognize it now.
The Anderson family has been in Lindon for over 40 years. My dad and family has made a great impact on the community. They are so loved, our family has been so loved for so many years. When my dad passed away it brought the community together. So many from my past, from my younger years, that were great friends, came out to support our family and reached out to me personally. For a few months it was difficult for me to respond, to have the right words to respond to these amazing friends. I feel that through my dad’s passing there was healing for me, to feel and see the love that so many had for us, for me.
Since that time I’ve been able to reconnect with dear friends. People who mattered to me, but I didn’t always know how to show it. Little by little, prayers have been answered and I’ve seen the opportunities happen that I’ve hoped for. This last week I was able to go to lunch with one of my most dear friends from high school. When she and I met up for lunch we just picked up where we left off. It didn’t feel like it had been nearly 30 years since we had hung out. She lost her dad a few years ago and we went to lunch on his birthday. It was a special day. I felt so much love and happiness and healing.
When I was a teenager there was a neighbor guy that was super kind to me. He was a gentleman. I don’t remember a lot about that time, but what I do remember is that I didn’t treat him well. I pushed him away. Deep down there’s this feeling that I was very unkind to him. What I’ve known is that I’ve always wanted to apologize for how I treated him, but super weird, 30 years later how do I go and do that. He’s married with a family, leave the past behind, I’m married with a family and honestly maybe he doesn’t remember me. Lives change. New roads. New places and life experiences. He and I have had small communication - he made donations for auctions that I was in charge of, but I was still at the level of business and not really into friendships. Of course, a thank you and an appreciation, but a distance still and it’s been 11 years since the last communication.
Last night, by a weird twist of things, he and I were able to chat. It was the catch up, how’s life, but then I felt this was my opportunity to apologize. I was so grateful for the opportunity to apologize and that we are still friends. The communication was different - very different, because of my healing, because of the love that I’ve found for myself, for those that loved me during some of my worst years. I’m grateful for the opportunity the Lord gave me to chat with him.
A couple of years ago I told Rick, my husband, to bring up from the basement and sell all of my dolls. We were trying to bring in some extra income to help with bills and I had all of these porcelain dolls in the basement that hadn’t come out of the basement since we moved into our home over 15 years ago. When we moved into our home we had 4 boys. 4 very young boys and anytime we hung up a frame or put out anything nice it was broke by a bouncing or kicked ball or wrestling. I realized quickly that my dream of dolls up in my home would not be a part of our decor and I was alright with that. I knew I loved my dolls, but I loved sports and my boys even more.
I was just about a month into my counseling when he brought up some of the dolls. I went through a bin of them and was like, ya, sell them. I’m good with letting them go. Then he brought over two dolls that were in their beautiful glass cases. He set them in front of me to see if I wanted to sell them and I just started sobbing. It was like a massive trigger. It was the craziest thing.
As I looked at these two dolls I found myself thinking about different aspects of my life.
Doll #1: All put together. All dressed up. Make-up done. Hair done. Smile. I dressed up as nicely as I could with going to college, school, work and things that I was involved with. I didn’t really even own a t-shirt or levi’s. I loved wearing heels and didn’t own tennis shoes. This was a way to portray to all of those that I interacted with, served, worked with, in school with that I had it all together and could do things professionally and successfully.
Doll #2: A little girl all dressed in her frilly dresses. My Great Grandma was an AMAZING seamstress and each year she would make us girls dresses. They were frilly and beautiful and I loved them so much. I would look forward to her dress each year. With these cute girly dresses, our hair done and all put together we looked so cute
I loved that I felt beautiful and all put together on the outside as a little girl, but on the inside I had turmoil. I was hiding things. Hiding a lot of pain. I believed my abusers that I was loved by them and that others wouldn’t believe me. I wanted to be enough and hide the abuse and pain. I loved the outside of the little girl, but she grew up to the “proper all dressed up doll” all too quick.
I kept those two dolls. They sat in my family room for a very long time now that my boys are older. I would look at them and reflect and think about what they represent to me. Eventually they moved up to my bedroom and as I’ve been healing I’ve found joy in looking at these beautiful dolls. I’ve been able to see a greater beauty to them - a deeper beauty.
What’s been interesting is as I’ve looked at these 2 beautiful dolls I’ve thought to myself I want a doll that really represents the internal me, the doll that would represent me from a young age to now. Not the proper, put together, beautiful dresses, hair done, etc. I wanted something that looked more broken. I wanted something that looked more in ripped up clothing, clothing that wasn’t put together. Something that didn’t represent beautiful, beautiful to everyone that saw her. I didn’t feel beautiful for a lot of years - a ton of years. I’ve looked many times for different dolls, but just haven’t found the right one. Haven’t found one that I felt truly represented me - the internal me.
Then in November / December I thought this is the time for me to get this doll. The doll I’ve wanted for so long. I started looking more for the right doll to get on Christmas. I felt that would be very symbolic. As I thought about it I thought inside I was raggedy. I was raw. I wasn't put together at all. I wasn't proper. I was in pain. I wanted my hair to be out of place. I didn't feel or look perfect or cute. I wanted to be loved as just a little raggedy girl.
I had looked for other ragged dolls, ones that looked more scruffy and not put together and in December one day I woke up and I thought, Raggedy Ann. She completes me. She's beautiful just as she is. She's the best doll of the 3. She's me. I've always loved Raggedy Ann. I've always wanted to embrace her and now I can. I can get one for myself. And she's adorable and loveable and ME!
I had to search - she wasn’t easy to find, but then I found one that had her arms folded into her. I thought yes, this has been me. Closed up, arms folded in, protecting myself for years. My arms weren’t open and welcoming. I was so excited to find her and I ordered her.
Then I got notification that she was on her way. I clicked on the tracking and another picture came up of her and it showed her arm outstretched. I thought I love that. I’ve opened myself up. My arms are much more outstretched and not closed up anymore and I feel safe, happy and great love.
I got her today and I was so excited to open the package. As I opened her up her hands weren’t folded in at all. Not one hand folded in and one arm out - both arms are out. I thought yes, this is perfect. Her button eyes. Her red hair, I had red hair as a little girl into my teenage years. Her hair is yarn, my hair is thin and had a hard time being healthy over the years. She’s beautiful just the way she is! And she’s raggedy and so am I.
I’ve wondered if I should write a blog today, if I should really share how I’m feeling today? As I’m sitting here pondering this thought I thought, yes, share today, be real. That’s one thing that I’ve felt strongly about, being real. Soooo, here goes today. . .
Well, let’s start with last night. Tanner, Rick and I were setting up to play Acquire. We love playing games at the end of each day. Acquire is a game that I grew up playing and was one that we’ve loved playing with my dad. Tanner made a cute comment of “I’m going to do a grandpa move” and he set the tile upside down in a random place on the board. I laughed and said, “I’ll do the same” and I laid down a tile upside down on the board. Then as fast as all of this happened I had the thought, “I wonder how dad is doing.” As soon as that thought crossed my mind, thinking I should reach out to my dad, the thought came just as fast that he’s gone. I can’t ask him. Tears filled my eyes - it hit so fast and was such a weird series of thoughts.
I had friends warn me that I would start to get to more normal, as normal as life can get, days. That I wouldn’t think about losing my dad as often and I would be focused on the daily things. I was also told that when those thoughts and memories hit it would hit pretty hard and those feelings last night hit pretty hard.
As I went to bed last night I was reflecting on my dad, life and just how things have been going lately. The last couple of weeks have had many highs and lows - some very difficult things - and I feel very tired. I also know that the Lord has blessed me in so many ways, but sometimes it just gets to me, life just gets to me.
When I woke up this morning I felt off. I had thoughts of things, an object, a situation that has been hard for me the last 5 - 6 months. This is something that I fasted in behalf of last Sunday, prayed and got a priesthood blessing to clear my life of this. Clear my life of the pain and the space its taken in my head. Gratefully the last 5 days my mind has been so much clearer. I’ve had so little thoughts and felt so much healing from this object in my life. Why in the world did I wake up this morning with thoughts of this? Why was it weighing heavy on my mind? Gratefully I was able to erase it mostly from my mind, but it just was a weird way to start the day.
Then off to Tanner’s basketball game. That was fun and great to get out. I was grateful to just be sitting with Rick and have no interactions with anyone else. I’ve not been in the mood to interact with anyone today, well, quite honestly for the last several days. I’ve found myself not looking at texts or messenger nearly as much as I used to. I guess I needed a breather. I just have wanted space.
Once we got home I worked and Rick worked on cleaning the house. When we got home we had a long list of things we wanted to get done. We were like let’s get all of this done and then within a couple of hours we were both like we’re tired, we don’t have the energy for all of this. That caused me to feel overwhelmed by life, all of the things that we needed to get done, things that are pressing.
Today also brought a blessing of Brayden and Sarah stopping by this morning and Brayden coming and hanging out with us this afternoon. That definitely brought some happiness, laughter and love in our home.
There’s lots of good things in our home. My family is amazing and we’ve had laughter and great things today in our home. My home is getting clean and that brings me happiness. Rick is amazing at taking care of me and our family. We’ll be playing games tonight. I’m grateful for my friends. . .soooo, what’s wrong with me???
I’ve chatted with a couple of people today and I’ve felt stupid. I’ve thought to myself, this is why I don’t chat when I’m in these moods. So, I’ve silenced my messenger and text and praying I don’t say anything else stupid. In fact, maybe I should just go to bed and forget the day.
None of you have ever had a day like this, have you? Just one of those off internal days and not really sure why. Can’t find a way to snap out of it? Maybe I’m the only one, but I’m guessing I’m not. Just some days the optimism doesn’t win out. . .no matter how hard we try.
So, Zach comes downstairs and he’s sitting here with me and says, “Mom, I want to spend time with you.” It’s just him and I at home and here I was thinking I just want my own space, I want to be alone. So, he’s joined me in watching a new Hallmark Movie and during the commercials he and I are laughing at the commercials and having very random conversations. I’m grateful he’s willing to meet me where I’m at today. What a blessing. . .I was writing this blog as Zach came downstairs and I’ve been amazed at how things have started to feel different. Started to feel a little lighter. Zach and I have laughed at the craziest things. It’s not changed the internal heaviness, but it’s getting better, just a little laughter, time with my son who cares and loves me. It’s the little things.
So, as I’m finishing up this blog I’ve thought to myself, I still feel fragile, I feel like I can’t take on the world, but I feel happier. I feel like engaging with my son is a safe, happy place and a blessing. I’m grateful for the little things. Laughter brings about a different feeling too. As you face life challenges, tough days, an off day, look for the small blessings, the tiny tender mercies and try to open your heart to those little things.
As I shared with a friend of mine that Zach was spending time with me and I was trying to soak it in despite how I was feeling she commented that it was a win that I was trying to engage vs shutting him out for how I’m really feeling. The happiness is contagious and brings hope and hope is what I’m finding tonight. Little by little, still fragile, but always the blessings.
And, for all of us there might be other factors that play into days like I’ve had today and for me there’s been many changes to medications this week and medical things. . .I need to be kind to myself and recognize the level of difficulty. Always, take that into account on your rough days too.
A wife and mother of 4 boys and 2 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