"Knowing what I know now, about God and His Sovereignty...
Somewhere there is a heart willing to listen to this story about this little girl, orange carpet, hollyhocks, a small town ...and violence. Somewhere there is surely someone who will read Your story and see the Grace and Mercy in your life...and God will use you to touch that person, for His Glory.

Your story touches my heart, Pat "

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Prisoner of Fear and What if

From the age of 19 until 44- yep this Spring, I didn't drive on the highway. One or two little jots from one exit to the other in town was all I could muster, Lamaze breathing came in handy there at least.
My mother never drove, we didn't own a car. Growing up in small town ND, not having a car didn't really pose a problem, we just walked anywhere we needed to go. She said she backed into a pole and never drove again, I don't think she ever had a license and her mental state kept her from getting one.

When I finally got my license at 18, I set to driving.  Not a careless driver but a complacent one perhaps, definitely naive,  I had an accident that first year. Mom and Harvey, her husband- or so they said, not legally married but having been together 3 years by now were moving and I was in the way as usual. Harvey never liked me and the feeling was mutual, he by his own admission didn't like his own kids and if "he had to do it all over again, he wouldn't have any kids!" They would probably not have chosen him for a father either. I was not to go with in the move so the plan, unknown to me at the time was to pawn me off on a son of a co-worker. We met, went on a date and within a week I was told I had to move.
Stunned I asked him, David, what to do. He said, "you can move in with me." I don't think he was in on the plan I think he just reacted to a girl in trouble.
By the next week, all moved in I realized I was living with an alcoholic, soon after when he didn't come home one evening I walked to the end of the block where friends of his lived, seeing his car I peeked in the window. Through the blind I saw him, his buddy and buddy's wife, gathered around a glass table with a razor blade in hand cutting white lines of powder.
Stunned again. Deep in the pit of my stomach, I ached, sickened  and frightened with no where to run. We were now in Wyoming, oil transplants...I had graduated high school there but really didn't KNOW anyone, not well enough to ask for help. I knocked on the door, it took a while to answer....she smiled saying "come on in."
I think I made a bit of a scene, much to her disapproval, after all I awoke her small children, sigh, I guess that was worse than their parents doing cocaine in the living room.

Things went from bad to worse, I think we lived together maybe 5 or 6 months, I didn't even like him. I had made a couple trips to where mom now lived, about and hour away, that didn't work either.
On the ides of March I had headed back "home", he had asked me to return, what else was there to do? On the trip I looked down in the car, not sure what I was doing, I may have glanced at my 8 week old Cocker Spaniel puppy or looked at the radio, but when I looked up I had crossed the white line into the oncoming lane. No one else was there.....but I panicked, over-correcting, I sent myself hurling into an embankment . Flipping four times and ejected out the third roll through the front windshield.
I remember placing my hand in front of my face and thinking "oh shit, I have wrecked my car!" Funny what the mind thinks at a moment like that.
I awoke to an ambulance crew and the women who witnessed the whole thing, one went for help the other stayed with me.  They asked my name....I couldn't remember, they asked the day....I was a week behind, but slowly it came back.  I  could hear whining coming from my now teepee shaped Toyota. My pup inside with a scratch on his nose, I looked to see him and saw my car a good 100 feet away, that is what saved me....I was told by the responders usually the person is killed when the car hits them or lands on them in this situation. I was thrown late in the rollover and far.

I laid in the emergency room having a cavern sized tear in my arm stitched, everything ached. Concussion, broken pelvis, glass embedded everywhere and at the time they thought a broken back.
Four days, four nights and my mother, who lived 30 minutes away came...for one ten minute visit. My boyfriend....came once for about an hour then to pick me up when I was released.
Thank God for the old woman in the bed next to me who was my advocate for pain meds, my only company, she at least cared.
When David and I got home I quickly realized he was embarrassed to be out in public with a hobbling, black and blue stitched up mess. At some time during that first week or two we had another argument, he must have been on something because I witnessed an anger I had not yet seen. He grabbed the stair railing and shook it loose from the wall, the entire thing, his face distorted and eyes enraged, I  knew I had to leave for good. By God's design my grandparents were at mom's for a visit, and I asked to go home, back to ND with them. David drove me down that road one last time, and I never drove on the highway again.
  Though my body hurt for years,  I was captive to fear much longer, what if I do it again?   I didn't even drive in town for almost 3 years.
I prayed for strength, for bravery for trust...but fear always defeated me. My poor husband has driven many 15 hour days on trip, and put up with me squirming over ice, speed, what others are doing, I am sure my blood pressure has been off the hook more times on the road than I care to know.
I was a prisoner.
This Spring, I drove 100 miles on the interstate. A quiet stretch, no snow or ice....I did it.
I had struggled as a Christian with God's sovereignty, knowing nothing would happen to me that was not in his hands and knowing good or bad...it was in his plans. I knew that yet I still chose fear. paralyzing fear.

Isaiah 61

 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
   because the LORD has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
   to proclaim freedom for the captives
   and release from darkness for the prisoners,

God set me free from that paralyzing fear,still a work in progress, you won't find me volunteering for long road trips or driving with unsafe drivers, but the beginning of freedom.
God has set me free from many things. Some things I still hold on to.
We are easily captivated, to fear, to addiction, attitude, unforgiveness.  We are captive to what others do or don't do, what they say or don't say, what we need from them and do not receive. But we can be free.
If you find yourself captive, bend your knees.
If your fearful, grab ahold of He who is solid.
If your angry, release.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


 this post is similar to a previous post called Staircase on Southern Belle

   I grew up in government housing, perhaps a small town white version of the hood. I had lots of friends there, many great memories and more than a few that aren't as good. It seemed like most of the trouble came from our house, the reality is, our troubles were were just the more visible kind. It wasn't uncommon to wake up to yelling there, sometimes it was the fighting kind like when  a young kid pulled a knife on Bob, and they danced through the yards like a poor version of West Side Story. Once we were awoke by our drunk but happy neighbor, he needed everyone to come out and see the fish he caught, we did. Mostly it was just run of the mill domestic "discussions", with an occasional sledge hammer to a truck window.

  Arranged in groups of four,  perhaps 44 total, the apartments were made of brick with small little yards,each with a clothesline. Holly hocks were everywhere, I think they were the only flowers that grew there.
Our place had three levels and the staircase between the main floor and upstairs bedrooms holds many memories for me. At the end of that staircase  was the large gold frame mirror where once a  little girl with an unwanted  pixie haircut peered in crying.
About half way down you could see into the living room and kitchen, if I sat there the wall still had me hidden from view but I could see everything going on in that  mirror, this is how I watched the troubling tv series Sybil. I wasn't allowed to watch it but something inside me really wanted to. I was hiding there in terror watching as Kunta Kinte had his foot chopped off on the series Roots, for years I couldn't sleep with my foot hanging off the edge of the bed. I spent hours there, playing, running and jumping, skipping steps making large leaps to the bottom, but a haunting memory of violence is most associated with the staircase.

She sat in a flannel nightgown on the kitchen chair, brown print wallpaper behind her and a small white porcelain stove to the left. He stood in front of her wearing blue jeans and a white t shirt like he always wore, he had just gotten home from the bar. His dead dark eyes squinting in anger, he was yelling, at only 5 foot 7 or 8, he was small in stature, but he was a scrapper. The little girl watched from the staircase, she saw his fist rear back, his other grabbed the flannel, the knuckles on both turning  white. The woman clasped her hands around his and pulled back, the flannel tore and she yelled, "Bob, NO!"
The little girl screamed, every bit of her body seized in fear yet....no sound came out.

To this day I don't remember the sound, I am not sure anything actually came out of my mouth. I don't remember his fist hitting her face, it probably did like so many other times, violence was normal those years, almost daily.
That incident is so vivid yet, so incomplete.

  A little girl on a staircase
with orange carpet
in a brick fourplex
with hollyhocks at the rear entrance,
across the street from a park
in a small town
in North Dakota.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Healing is a Choice

A few years ago I lead a class at our church based on the book "Healing is a Choice" by Stephen Arterburn. I opened with my testimony, what it was like growing up with a narcissistic parent and come and go alcoholics. Knowing the content could be a lot for some to handle, I expected a few to leave, and they did. I was left with a room of hurting, people. Most of them processing, a few still blaming and a couple in willful withdrawal.
On the second night of class Ms. M walked in. She was pretty with long brown hair. She seemed confident, that take charge personality.
She sat at my table and began to talk of her childhood, soon the facade of that confidence crumbled. Having missed the first night and not hearing anything I had said, my jaw dropped when she looked at me and asked,"Do you know what a narcissist is?" I said yes, and smiled, perhaps I smiled out of shock.

She had two parents that fell into that category. Two? Details escape me, but I will never forget how fractured she was- still. At around 40, an adult with children of her own,  the little girl deep within told her story through tears and shaking. She could barely breathe.

So many times I have thought because I didn't suffer physical abuse it really wasn't that bad. I still think that. I figure most of the things wrong in my life are a result of me...and no one else is to blame, yet seeing her somehow validated the hurt that was holding on to the little shaking girl inside of me.

I once heard Dr. Laura Schlessinger speaking on air to a woman, she too had a broken mommy. Dr. Laura told her she needed to mourn the loss of her mother, the mother she wished she had.
I stood in the kitchen and cried, realizing I too had to mourn the loss of my mother, the mother I wished I had, the mother that would be there when I needed her.
I guess it fractures a child when they are forced to grow up. Forced to make decisions or be the adult of the house, to need comfort and receive none. It makes one tough, it can make one bitter, it may make them a bully and it can give them the facade of confidence.
You can't hurt me, I won't allow it.

but then.....
in that moment of mourning came the beginning of healing.
She couldn't be, she was incapable of being that mother I needed.
Narcissism stands in the way of empathy, it annihilates sympathy for anyone but itself.
It moves to the front of the grade school lunch line and punches anyone who tries to get in the way.
Narcissism consumes my mother, it does not absolve her of her behavior but it does explain it.
And, it allows me to lay aside all expectations from her.
She cannot let me down if I do not look to her to lift me up.

Miss M somehow still was waiting, needing validation from her parents. They were unable to give it, she was still allowing them to let her down.
She never returned to the class........Healing is a Choice.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pretty Girls and Pixies

Pixie- 1) short hair, close to the head, around the top of the ear to ear lobe at longest length, boyish cut
           2) small human-like tricksters that lead people astray, similar to fairies

Around the age of 6 my mother wanted me to get a pixie. I hated them and didn't want one. My hair was around shoulder length but I agreed to get it trimmed, since I had loudly protested against the pixie, I thought we were in agreement.

Some time that same year my grandmother took me to pick out a dress. It was the high end children's clothing store, the one we could never otherwise afford.
 I tried on a blue sailors dress with a crisp white collar that had blue anchors on the tips. It had a pleated skirt that fluttered and whirled when I spun.
I wanted that dress, but walked home broken hearted without it. Too short.
I cried some, whined a lot, and plotted like a pixie on how to get grandma to turn around and get it.
I must have twirled that skirt in my head a hundred times.

At our home was a staircase ,at the end of that staircase was a gold mirror and in that mirror was a sobbing girl with a pixie haircut. It seems when the beautician turned the chair around my mother whispered her plan for my hair and since she was the parent it superseded mine.
I cried for hours, I yelled, I hated it.
I was so mad, how could she do that.
It was only hair but I remember being completely exhausted from crying over it.

Years later, the gold mirror is gone but the disappointed crying little girl still peers in.
Now it is more
a bad hair day
ugly clothes that fit too tight
I stand there and envy girls that can wear pretty dresses and twirl in them, not dying of embarrassment if that skirt went flying up.
Those pretty girls with pretty faces, long flowing hair and lacy dresses, do they ever cry when they look in the mirror?
of course they do.

Something within women wants to be loved, accepted, valued and pretty. To be special.
A single friend of mine once said, "I  want a man that makes me feel like a girl."

I want to be a girl.
I want to be pretty.
It seems I spend so much time thinking, if I ate less.....exercised more....then I would be, duh....

but then the reality of crunching cookies and hours on the couch crash in.
Fantasy interrupted.
Kind of like when your hair is long and flowing....you chop it off, and wonder why you did it.
I know pretty is not only about the outside. Our identity is not only the way we look...I just wish the pixie inside me would stop showing up in the mirror.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A whiskey drunk

8 am,  bright sunshine warmed my face when my door opened. Barely awake and squinting I saw my mom enter with a man. Bob. He resembled Abraham Lincoln, much shorter but with deep set brown eyes and thick side burns. He was smiling and trying very hard to win me over.
How does a 9 year old know they are trying to be impressed by an adult?
I knew something instantly....I didn't like him, I didn't trust him.
Even with promises of returning later to make a water balloon man and have "lots of fun" I found the pit of my stomach hollow, that feeling of dread, paralyzing dread, not yet fear.
 To this day I have told my husband there is a voice that comes from an adult toward a child that gives me that same feeling. I can't explain it, I have only heard that manner of speaking, a few times since, but in an instant I don't trust that person. It is something sinister, manipulative and disingenuous.
My stomach maintained that feeling for years to come.

My door opened in early Spring, I don't remember the first drunken binge or the first time he hit her. I don't remember the first time he lost the car or broke a window but by the fall of that year he had well established his pattern of behavoir. Work- bar-home around one AM, repeat. Sunday's were the worst, at that time all bars were closed. I find it odd he didn't  keep alcohol at home, he liked the bars. So he was dry and angry on Sundays and it seemed to get worse as the day went along.

Bob had recognizable drunks, I caught on to it quickly. I knew when to try to smooth things over between them and when to stay hidden in my room.
His beer drunk was the rarest, he was friendly, funny and cheerful. Full of optimism and promises. We once left to a family gathering 40 miles away with a beer Bob and returned with the mixed drink Bob. Out of control, chaotic and driving 80 mph down the wrong side of the highway. He was punching her the entire way in the front seat. When we came to the intersection he didn't know which way to go. Turning to the back seat, he asked me, "Which way?' I was struck with fear, I knew if I picked the wrong way this drive from hell would continue for who knew how long. I thank God I pointed in the right direction. We were home in  about 10 minutes and he was off to the bar.
Whiskey Bob was the most frequent, he brought broken bones, broken furniture and broken emotions.
Still the most fearful was the what on earth is he on Bob, often returning in a state of paranoia, his deep set eyes were completely dead yet seemed to be on fire. Sometimes he would hide in a corner for fear "they were out to get him." Soon he would shift, blaming my mom for telling them where he was. On a good night he just went to bed and passed out, this was when my training on how to roll a drunk occured.  Since he cashed his check and went straight to the bar, our only hope of any money came on these nights, I stood lookout while she dug through his pockets.Other times he would shift  into a paratrooper, doing rolls off the couch onto the floor, explaining how one would do it from an airplane. He was a minister, occasionally a cop, you never knew who you were about to encounter.
As a child I prayed, as a teen I rebelled. As an adult I became very angry until God began my healing process.

Form the ages of 9-12 I prayed a lot.
Everytime he was on a black out drunk I prayed he wouldn't return. At most, they lasted a week.

When he committed himself for treatment, I prayed he would stay away forever, he checked himself out early.

When he overdosed on a bottle of pills and whiskey, I prayed as he laid out in the yard that the ambulance wouldn't make it in time, but I could hear a faint siren.

He lived with us four years.
I had nightmares for ten.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pig Tales- Stories of a Fat Girl and the Struggles Within- Beginnings pt 2

  this and other posts are not meant to be disrespectful to my mother, it is simply my life.
  I have a few good memories of my mother. At one time she had a sense of humor, a smile, she told jokes... usually highly inappropriate.  She danced, and  danced well. I remember her teaching neighbors how to jitterbug. She especially like to move to "White Lightning" by Jerry Lee Lewis.
I don't know when her love for things, for happiness or at least the quest for it ended. One bad choice to many just sucks the life out of you I guess.

She thought a man would help, divorced from my dad with  a 4 year old, she somehow thought that would fix things. Poor choices led her to that spot and poor choices again effected both our lives.
Some guy was always around, none stayed for long, at least before Bob. Many of those men just happened to be someone's husband. We woke up to the neighbor's glass on the screen door breaking, a woman had thrust her fist through it, we didn't go out to see what was going on until the woman left, you see, her fist was meant for our door.
Less violent was the morning #1 Bitch was written across our living room window in blue crayon. I think I was 7.
Between the years of 4 and 9 I remember a few of the men,
the candy man- he always left a box of Starbursts and some chocolate
the guy who sang
the guy who gave us carpet

and Carl
he lived a couple hours away and mom never drove in fact I have never seen my mother drive. We took weekly train trips to spend the weekend at his house. He was nice enough but he too drank. A lot.
His house was cold, the waterbed I slept in was colder.
He was always remodeling.....nothing changed. Just a piece of plastic hung between the living room and the new addition. Uninsulated...without electricity or heat it just allowed more of that damn cold air in.
It was a small farm and he had goats and a couple horses. One of the goats was due to have babies, I awoke and went in their room, he asked me to go check and see if the babies were there. HE was hungover, SHE was hungover.
Bundled up trodding through snow, I set out to the barn. It was sunny but I could see my breath.

Two small white baby goats lay together, frozen solid to the ground.
The momma bellowing near by.
Tears fell to the ground...the frozen ground  where there was barely any hay, no heater and no blankets.
That isn't even my worst memory of that cold farm.
Drunks shouldn't drive, children shouldn't be in the car, stuck in snowbanks. No one should walk blindly in a blizzard not properly dressed and I cannot recommend spending 8 hours in a bar eating potato chips and pop.

Carl, like the rest of those men, came and went. Little discretion was shown one could say the model for teen age promiscuity was set here.
Mom did settle with someone, she has been with him for years, I don't like him and never did. I wish I could tell you she was happy and that she found contentment.
They live about 3 states away, I nor my children have seen my mother in over 11 years. We speak occasionally and that is sufficient. I am not cold I am protected.

I once read a quote, I cannot find it exactly now but it is, I believe, from the book Malignant Self  Love, it was something to this effect.
having a narcissist for a mother is a bit like having a 6 year old who has a doll for your mother.  The point  being made is that a 6 year old doesn't really think outside of themselves. The doll is for them...for show....for their needs. Just a doll, a doll to be dropped on the floor and trampled over when it is no longer needed, or when something better comes along.  When I first read that I was moved to tears, not because it hurt as much as it validated what I had always thought. Hurt was real, rejection was real.
I have much more to tell you but let me tell you this first. I am well.  I have been married for 23 years and have two fantastic children that I love dearly. Our house is normal, whatever that means. God is continually healing me and he is the only one who can.
I am a little girl that needed a better mommy
a mommy that is trying the best she can
a daughter who is healing
 a wife who is faithful
a sinner saved by grace

Pig Tales -Stories of a fat girl pt 1

 When does the battle with food begin and why?
     For me I think somewhere around the age of 9. My fourth grade year I remember a few things that perhaps changed my life and the way I chose to feel safe or to "cope", to feel secure, even loved.
My mom had always been what I refer to as broken,
   unable to love in a way that a child needs.
In that year she made some exceptionally bad choices that rippled for years.
       His name was Bob, and I hated him the moment I met him. The day they married a dark cloud followed me home from school, I tried to stay ahead of the rain but I could not avoid the storm that lie ahead. Storm Bob brought alcohol, addiction and violence.
Broken glass and broken emotions lie in his path.
He never laid a hand on me, by the grace of God but the two of them somehow still managed to fracture trust, innocence and contentment.
He because of his actions, she because of her selfishness and inaction.
By the time I was that 9 year old I had been fighting her battles and explaining her lies for years. Seems unrealistic, like an invalid memory but it is not.

A 9 year old cannot explain narcissism but they know somehow they aren't as important to their parent as they should be. They know that allowing a child in the back seat of a car going 80 mph down the wrong side of a highway isn't how it is suppose to be. In that car the intense smell of alcohol, screaming and hitting just isn't right somehow.
Nor can a child understand why their mother would look for that same person when he disappeared for days at a time.

   I always wished he would never come back.
Occasionally my mother would have a moment of lucidity? compassion? guilt?  and at 2 am would walk me to my grandmother's house where it was safe, quiet.
I would then watch her turn around to walk back home, back to him, back to black eyes, broken ribs and chaos......and I would wonder why.
Perhaps waking up in a safe home with the smell of fresh bread, cookies and breakfast somehow began to fuel a  coping method.
      stuff yourself with food till your too full to absorb anything else
       numb yourself
I don't know.
In no way do I dismiss my personal responsibility as an adult of self control and in no way do I blame anyone, it is my struggle. In a way a cherished sin or a self imposed thorn.
I also do not intend to say everyone who overeats has issues or sinful habits. I do. Food is my comfort, in some ways healthy and celebratory, in some ways secret and angry.
Things that happen play a part in who we are. This is a part.