Anxiety

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There are times I feel I’m floating
there are times I feel I’ll drown as
life’s current keeps on pushing some
times upstream sometimes down while I
choke on murky water as fear presses in
around until calm flows in and settles
when I touch the solid ground then I’m
lifted up and rushing somewhere down
the stream once more reaching for
something to cling to brushing
past the peaceful shore faster
I am being carried torment drags
me out to sea and I’m trying not
struggle as the pain envelops me so in
stillness I surrender sinking to the
depths below and I see that light is
waning as much further down I go
and as hope reaches the bottom
I push up with all my might
through the darkness that’s
subsiding thinking I may
be alright gasping as I
break the surface fill
my lungs and I exhale
just in time to be
sucked under stretch
ing out to no avail
then a hand comes
out of nowhere
from the one
who heard
my plea I
leave all
I’ve known
behind
me reach
for Him
and I
am
f
r
e
e

I Have Let You Go

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To the man that I know loves me:

I have let you go.

I know that it may seem silly to say this to you right now. You’re probably puzzling over what this could possibly mean. Why would I choose this moment in time to say this to you? You’re perfectly healthy. We’re the strongest in our relationship that we’ve ever been. There have been no threats of separation. No diagnosis of disease. Yet here I am letting you know that I have let go of you nonetheless, because I need to.

You know that I’m a worrier. There isn’t a moment when you’re not with me that I’m not worrying about what’s happening to you. Are you sick and we don’t know it? Are you safe? Are you paying attention when you’re driving? Are others watching out for you? Has someone pulled a knife on you? A gun? Threatened you? Hit you? Hurt you?

When I know that you’re on your way home and I hear sirens in the distance, the fear takes my breath away. I pray that it isn’t you that they’re coming for.

I have lived with this overwhelming fear for 11 years. I have lived in fear…for you.

So many times I have thought about what would happen if I lost you. I can never imagine this world without you. I can picture myself curling up and dying right along with you were you not to make it home to me someday. I always think that if I did not die, too, I would just shut down. Never get up again. Stop functioning at a normal human level. Cease to think, reason, or even move.

I admit that I’m co-dependent. I rely on you. You cook because you know I hate cooking. You always put gas in my car because you know I hate doing that, too. You pay the bills. You drive the kids around. You spoil me as much as our finances will allow. I often start to wonder if I might be taking you for granted. Then I think, “No. I always appreciate all that you do, I just don’t tell you enough how much it means to me.”

I could likely never put into words how much I do appreciate you. More than mere appreciation, though, what I feel for you is adoration.

Even after all this time, I am still completely head-over-heels, droolingly, babblingly smitten with you.

After 11 years together, I continue to look at you with stars in my eyes and butterflies in my stomach. I will watch you singing on stage, or working, or teaching, and think, “Wow. That’s my man.” Then this feeling of overwhelming need will wash over me. I don’t know what it is about those times that I can’t have you that make me desire you even more, but for some reason, it happens.

Yet I’ve been taught the evils of lust. So I have wondered, “Is it okay to lust after your own husband?” Surely that’s an exception, right?

Then I realized that my desire is not always purely physical. I sometimes feel a need just to be near you. Simply touch you. Just hear your voice. Know that your heart still beats. Feel your aliveness.

My love for you had crossed the line into unhealthy obsession. I knew it, and God knew it. As I looked at you on stage again today, and thought, “Look at that guy. He’s amazing, and he’s all mine!” I heard that still small voice tell me, “He is not yours to keep.”

You would think that those words would have crushed me, and maybe, had I had any farther to fall for you, I would have been hurt when I landed on the solid ground that I had just been knocked down upon. I could not have crawled any deeper down into my pit of selfishness, though, so those words had an effect on me that I would not have otherwise imagined that they could have.

You see, it all came to an end for me today. The fear of losing you. The fear of what the future holds. The fear that you will be gone from this world someday, it’s just a matter of when and where.

Understanding that you don’t really belong to me took a burden off my shoulders and freed me in a way that I had never thought possible.

I know that we aren’t promised tomorrow, but if something were to happen to you before the next sunrise, I now believe that I could make it through. Yes I would still mourn. I would hurt. The pain would likely stay with me for longer than I care to even think about.

But I would be okay. I would survive it. I would press on; because you don’t belong to me. Your life isn’t mine to hold on to. You are simply a loan that will need to be repaid someday, and when collection day comes, I will still be able to stand because you were never truly mine to begin with.

You will still hold my heart in the palm of your hand while you’re here, and I will likely hold yours as well, but I understand now.

It’s just for safe keeping until we move on from this world, and someday, we must.

I still love you just the same, and always will, but I’m letting you know that I’m okay with letting you go…

Because now I can.

Reflections of a Life Wasted

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I’m coming up on my 39th birthday here in…umm…

*Cue awkward silence as I count on my fingers and mumble under my breath, “Let’s see. Multiply by 5, subtract 96, carry the one and…*

5 days.

Now, there’s no big fuss made over a 39th birthday. It isn’t even a milestone event in one’s life. Next year, however, the big 4-0 will hop up and bite me in the backside like a snake that’s been hiding in the tall, overgrown grass of my life. I look toward this event with trepidation.

I guess the approach of what society has deemed to be the “over-the-hill” mark, rendering my last official year of youth as methodically ticking away, has caused me to really start reflecting back on my life. Replaying the mistakes that I’ve made. Weeding through the “what ifs”. Gritting my teeth against the “could-have-done-betters”.

I’m a dweller. I try not to be, and the Christian crowd will tell me that I shouldn’t be, but I’m just so very human. I think that mulling things over again and again and reworking them in my mind is probably in my blood. I can agree, though, that without God in my life now, I would have completely reverted back into my head and might otherwise be found drooling in a corner somewhere rocking and mumbling to myself. Clinging to faith and hope keeps me upright.

I didn’t always, though.

Fresh out of high school, I viewed the world as my playground and had very little determination to seize any kind of future for myself. I entered one scholarship contest to an art school that I was mildly interested in, but when I showed up with portfolio in hand, I took a look around at the other 300 applicants and their work, and was instantly discouraged. I packed up and left that day thinking much less of myself than I had when I woke up that morning. Afraid and unsure of my abilities from that point forward, the portfolio found its way into the back of my closet, thus closing the doors on any further attempts to try to be somebody and make a career stem from my talents. I never looked back again.

Instead I gave in to the calling of my social life, got a little apartment above a house lived in by the woman renting the place, and held killer parties. I figured maybe the parties were getting out of hand when people were vomiting out the windows onto her car below. She was understanding enough, though, and gave me the opportunity to stay as long as I toned it down.  Soon after, the roommate moved out, the boyfriend moved in, and I did behave; as much as a young single girl shacked up with her boyfriend possibly could, and for a while, at least.

I traded one boyfriend in for another when that one enlisted in the military. He was a good guy, but I was wild, free, and simply didn’t want to wait for him.  So out went the old, and in came the new. With the new, I fell instantly head over heels. Or so I thought. Reflecting on it now, I had no concept of what love really was back then.

Then the bad break-up happened and I ran from my hurt. I packed up my apartment, quit my job, stuffed anything that wouldn’t fit in my car into my parents’ basement, and took off to a place 8 hours north of home to escape seeing him. I had met some people there the summer before, and my grandpa had a cabin there that I broke into once I arrived. It was quickly discovered that I was staying there, though, and I was tossed out on my bad decision making backside.

After a month of living in my car because I had no other place to go, and a job that quickly went south because I either didn’t show up for my 12 hour shifts or came in hung over, I threw in the towel, pawned my entire CD collection for gas money, and went home.

I got my old job back. The boyfriend and I got back together. I became pregnant at 21, and we got married to the urgings of family members to “do the right thing.”

Well, the right thing essentially turned out to be the wrong thing.

At the ripe old age of 23 I was a divorcée that was looking for love in all the wrong places to try and ease my pain. I traveled in all the wrong circles and spent nights with forgettable men. Some of them so forgettable, in fact, that I couldn’t even be bothered to learn their names to begin with.

I had become your average barfly because I just couldn’t bear to sit home alone with my thoughts, wallowing in my self-pity, so I had sought out ways to drown them. Cheap alcohol and the attentions of the opposite sex became my crutch.

Until a long island iced tea bought for me by a dark haired stranger, and a one night stand, turned into ‘a regular thing’.

Age 26 then saw me stuck in a loveless relationship with an alcoholic compliments of my bar hopping habit, (and that long island) that thought nothing of disappearing on a drinking binge for an entire weekend, while I sat home wondering where he was with a 4 year old and another baby on the way. Well, what did I expect from a guy that I picked up in a bar?

I also had 2 abortions under my belt by this time. I wasn’t a Christian then, and in my panicked worldly ways and unwillingness to change, I did then what is now the unthinkable to me. Those uncaring and heartless murders have slowly gnawed away at me like a flesh eating disease for all of the years since. Anytime that word is even mentioned around me, it becomes a knife stabbing at my heart all over again.

So, age 27 found me deeply wounded by my own choices, with 2 different children by 2 different fathers, desperately trying to find a way out of the nightmare relationship that I was in. I tried the direct “get out” approach to no avail. He used the fact that I now had his child as an excuse to drag out the misery for both of us.

Once again I sought ways to drown my sorrows, this time settling on church and video games. I found God to the tune of the alcoholic’s snide, ridiculing comments, and I also found a virtual reality world where, for a while every night, I didn’t have to be me. I could forget how low my life had sunk.

It was through those online games that I finally found my current husband and rescuing hero, and how I coincidently was able to finally end the relationship I was in. He didn’t stick around long once I was finally able to profess my love for another. He then decided to deny our son out of his anger toward me. My husband has since stepped into the role as daddy, though, so my son’s biological father denying him hasn’t really affected him much. Yet.

My husband is one of the few things that I’ve done right in my life.

At 28 I married him on a cold January day to the joyous melody of everyone telling us that we were wrong. “It’s too soon. You barely even know each other,” they would say. The courtship started with his first pixelated words to me across my computer screen in September, ( ‘happy birthday’, coincidentally) and spanned over 4 months of nightly phone calls, webcam chats, and 2 visits in person. By the beginning of December, I was shopping for a wedding dress. Maybe we didn’t know each other completely yet, but we had the rest of our lives to get to that point. We knew it was right, and that’s all that mattered.

That marriage brought with it 3 young step-children. I admittedly haven’t always been the nicest person as far as they’ve been concerned. I couldn’t really pinpoint why, though. Likely petty jealousy over the attentions of my husband. I saw him as this treasure that I wanted to keep all to myself, and I didn’t realize for the first half of our marriage that I couldn’t. His youngest is very needy, too, when it comes to her father, so I’ve had to really struggle to work through my sharing issues.

I’ve tried to mend my relationships with them, with some success. They essentially tolerate me now, and the youngest one is even loving toward me, though she’ll argue with me ceaselessly over anything that I ask her to do. I think sometimes that it’s her way of showing animosity toward me brought about by past hurts, but then I realize that it just comes with the territory when you have teenagers.

Regardless, though, my husband was a package deal and it took me awhile to figure that out.

At age 35, I almost lost him. We were so heavy into our online gaming addiction that we had fallen away from church, and each other. In our emotional separation due to distraction, I regrettably strayed. He gave me a choice to leave or stay. I stayed, and it took hard work on both of our parts to make our marriage fully functional again. Counseling. Church. New friends that were good for us. Turning away from our addiction and turning to God.

I’ve made so many mistakes in my lifetime thus far. Lord knows I have. They weigh on me like chains draped across my shoulders at times.

Sometimes I think to myself, “You never went far. You never made a name for yourself. You really have nothing to show for your life but a barrage of bad choices. That’s your legacy.

Then I look at my daughter, who’s about to turn 17, and my son who’s about to turn 12, and it seems like only yesterday, but in another dimension entirely, that I spent 19 and 22 hours respectively in sweating, screeching labor to bring them into this world…

And now my daughter will sit and talk to me and confide in me like I’m her friend…

And my son will hug my waist and hang there like a boy-sized belt…

And my husband will wraps his arms around me and kiss my forehead…

And my step daughter will call me beautiful…

And I’m assured that they all love me in spite of me…

And I feel safe from not only the world, but my own tendencies toward destructive behavior…

And I’m reminded that I’ve made it this far…

And I know I did something right in the midst of my messes…

And everything is okay…

So that brings us to the here and now. Time isn’t stopping, and it certainly isn’t slowing down. I am older and I am wiser, but my life will likely never be mistake free. I’ll keep on making them, but they’ve at least been getting noticeably smaller over the years.

I’ll wish me a happy birthday this year, and my biggest gift will be the knowledge that I’m a survivor.

Of myself.

An Open Letter to My 16 Year Old Daughter

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To Amber, my “Berber” Baby…

Where do I even begin with the hopes and dreams that I have for your future? There are just so many things that I’d wish for your life; paths that I’d choose for you, if I were allowed to. Your life is your own, however, and though there may be rules and guidelines for you to follow now in an effort to steer you in the right direction, soon all I’ll be able to offer you is motherly advice. It will then be your choice to either heed or ignore it.

So as far as hopes go, I’ll start with the hope that you can one day see the beauty that lies in forgiveness. Finding the ability to forgive has been a huge struggle that you’ve faced for a while now. Let go of your anger toward others. You’ll love how free it will make you feel.  Always remember that people are just that; people. Imperfect beings. They will screw up. Try not to hold anyone to a higher standard than you would hold yourself. You don’t want to become a bitter, lonely woman someday because you have placed excessively high expectations on others, and are unable to forgive them when they can’t meet those expectations. There’s a saying that goes, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” This is very true. It will only hurt you if you can’t learn to let it go. I’d hate to see you leave nothing but a slew of failed relationships behind you because you’re unable to finally see what it means to forgive.

I also hope you dare to dream, but hope you never have that dream where you’re standing in the high school hallway naked while the other kids laugh and point. That’s a terrible dream. Yeah, don’t have that. Dream good dreams instead and focus them into your artwork. You’re an amazing artist already, and I’m in awe of your extraordinary imagination. You can do great things and go far with your God-given talent. Speaking of God, and I know you’ll probably just roll your eyes at what’s to come so I’ll try not to draw it out…

I hope you’ll one day turn to God and seek a relationship with Him. Desire His will for your life and know that He’s genuinely there for you and wants to bless you. I know that several “Christians” have hurt you in the past and have proven to be terrible examples of His love and compassion. Now you don’t want to even consider a relationship with God because you’re afraid that every move you’d make as a believer would cause you to be thrown under a microscope and judged, so you’ve turned away from faith completely. This all goes back to forgiveness, though, and how people are just people. The ones that point fingers are no better than anyone else. Remember that. It’s not about them, anyway. It’s about you and Him. God himself is not a bad dude, he’s just misunderstood.

I’m not going to go on to tell you that I hope you find someone…a partner in life that makes you happy. Happiness lies within you, and no single person on this earth can give that to you. I do, however, hope that you find someone that treats you with the respect that you deserve. You’re beautiful, inside and out. I’m aware that you know it, now, but I hope that no one ever crosses your path that makes you forget it. Never settle, either. Your perfect guy is out there, and he’ll be worth waiting for. Remember what I said about forgiveness when you do find him. You’ll need that to make it work.

At the same time, though, don’t allow yourself to become someone else’s punching bag, either physical or emotional. Learn where to draw the line. Never ever accept abuse as a way of life.

Last but not least, I hope you strive to be something more than I was. Advance your career. Make something of yourself. Never give up. More importantly, though, if you don’t happen to achieve all that you have planned, don’t allow yourself to be filled with regret. Try not to dwell on the “what ifs” like I have done. They’ll just tear you apart.

Do you remember the 6 years that I left you from the ages of 6 to 12? Yeah, so do I. I doubt I’ll ever forget. Your dad and I both wanted you. We always have. You weren’t some possession that I could just keep in my pocket, though, and the judge said that you were better off staying where you were, with him. I left anyway. You were in good hands. They just weren’t my hands.

I’m not sorry for that pivotal turning point in my life. I can’t apologize for the choice that I made to follow my heart.  I am loved more than I ever could have dreamed. I’ve found the other half that makes me whole. I will, however, always regret that we couldn’t be together during that time because, while I may have found one piece of my heart, I left another behind with you.

I’d call you during that time we were apart, and we would sing “You Are My Sunshine” together over the phone. Remember? We may not sing together anymore, but we talk now, and it’s nice, those heart to hearts. Mother daughter bonding chats. It can’t make up for the time that we lost, but I enjoy our close relationship now more than you’ll ever know. You’re still, and always will be the sunshine that brightens my life.

I’m pleased to see that you have finally grown into your own person. I have to admit that when you were younger, you simply, and blindly, followed the pack. What the crowd did, you did. How the crowd dressed, you dressed. What the crowd liked, you liked. Now, you’ve developed your own sense of style. You have your own likes and dislikes. You form your own opinions and have developed your own personality.  You have become you.

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While I cradled you in my arms as a baby, I daydreamed of who and what you would become. Where would your life lead you? I can honestly say that while you may not fit the exact profile of the future daughter I had created in my head then, you’re even better. You’ve grown to be even more beautiful, funny, talented, and loving than I had dreamed. You’ve become a young woman that I am very proud to call daughter.

My pride and love for you will always be there. You’ve already done things that have left me disappointed in you and there will likely be more as time goes on. We’re all human beings, though. We’ve all made mistakes. Lord knows I’ve made my fair share. For me to hold yours against you would make me hypocritical at best, and not fit to call myself a mother at worst. My love for you is unconditional. There’s nothing on this earth that you could do that would make me stop loving you.

Yes, you will make bad decisions, and you will fall. I won’t always be there to catch you, either. You’ll be 17 in 3 short months, and then, before you know it, you’ll be out in this vast world seeking your own adventures and riding the wind in whatever direction it takes you.

Unfortunately, though, life doesn’t come with bumper pads, like the Winnie the Pooh ones that used to line your crib. I hope that you’ll always be able to pick yourself up and dust yourself off when life knocks you down. That’s how we become stronger. That’s how we build character. When you do fall, please try not to stay down for too long. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow, so make the most of today.

I’ll leave you with a reminder of the greatest words of wisdom that your dear old mom has ever spoken.

Quite frankly, it is what it is.

And in keeping true to your German roots,

Ich leibe dich.

-Momsie

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The Art of the Open Letter

The Anti-Health

Weekly Writing Challenge: Fit to Write

What does health mean to me?

Well, not being the me  that I am now, for starters.

I’m a mess, but I’m not even a hot mess. I’m more like the aftermath of a hurricane.

I’m health’s biggest joke. Health laughs, points, and torments me like a bully in the schoolyard. Health sticks my head in the toilet from time to time and gives me crap caked swirlies. I, in turn, hang my stinky head in shame and retreat back into my eternally warped mind.

I’m admittedly overweight. Some 60 pounds by my own standards, 80ish by the standards of those that set an impossibly obtainable precedent for what is, in this day and age, actually considered to be fit and healthy.

Marilyn Monroe had it, I think. What I would consider to be a true, attainable picture of health and beauty. She was not rail thin. She had hips. She had curves. She gave J-Lo’s infamous backside a run for its money.  She was, and still is, a beauty icon that women compare themselves too. She would, however, be considered obese by today’s ever shrinking standard of “healthy”.

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I don’t want, nor will I ever want, to be a size zero. I think about a 6 is sufficient. We won’t discuss what size I really am, though, or how far I’d have to go to get there…

Sure, I could fix it. I have before. In all honesty, though, I have absolutely zero ambition to get me started, and, well…I like food…a lot

I also have more important things that need repairing inside before the repairing can start outside. I consider myself the equivalent of a “fixer upper” sitting up on blocks in some redneck’s yard in the trailer park of life. Nothing fancy like a Mercedes. No, more like a rusty El Camino. Sure, some body work and a coat of paint would do wonders for the outside, but she aint goin’ nowhere if the transmission’s shot, Jim Bob.

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Boy is my tranny ever shot.

I’ve officially been broken for 16 years now. Something in my head snapped like a dried twig at the ripe old age of 22. I was 4 months pregnant with my daughter, when poof…the anxiety fairy came down on her crappy little cloud and sprinkled magic crazy dust over my frontal lobe. I should have ripped the little witch’s wings off.

After years of trying different medications and “highly recommended” self-help books, all the king’s horses, and all the king’s therapists haven’t been able to put me back together again. I doubt they ever will. Some of the pieces have gotten lost along the way.

You’ve gotta love the Christian crowd, too. “Just pray it away,” seems to be the ultimate answer. “Give it to God, He’ll fix it” or there’s my all-time favorite, “You must not truly have faith in God or you’d be healed by now.”

It’s not that I entirely disbelieve them, either. I know God can fix anything that He wants to. I do believe, however, that there’s a part of me that wants to be the way I am, and won’t let Him. I’ve wrapped my OCD around me like a security blanket, and I’m not sure I’d really want to meet the me I’d be without it. So, instead of letting my emotional blankie go so that I can begin the process of growing up, I’ll just pop my proverbial thumb back into my mouth and hold it tighter.  Just try and take it away from me. I dare you. I’ll scream.

I feel like my OCD is the only control I have over my life, and in reality, to those up above looking down into my rabbit hole of insanity, it’s what makes my life spiral out of control. And one side makes you smaller, and one side makes you larger, Alice…

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I used to blame my parents for the way that I am. They dabbled in prejudices the way that an alcoholic dabbles in whiskey. The term “lowlife” got tossed around like a football at Cowboy Stadium.

“Look at that lowlife, probably hasn’t cleaned her house in months. Did you see her bathroom?”

“Look at that lowlife in that piece of sh*t car.”

“Look at that lowlife white girl dating that black guy. Do something like that, and I’ll disown you.”

“You’re not going to turn into one of those lowlifes, are you?”

That lowlife stigmata has haunted me so much over the course of my lifetime, that I honestly don’t know what genuinely qualifies anymore. All I know is that I still bend over backward to this day not to become one of those people. In reality, though, I bet those people are genuinely happy. My parent’s never were. Still aren’t.

Parents, if you think that your prejudices won’t have an adverse effect on your kids, just go ahead and keep it up. Let them turn out like me.

They also sculpted my guilt the way that Michelangelo painstakingly sculpted David. I didn’t turn out to be a great masterpiece, though. “Just look at what we do for you and you won’t do this for us?” I was apparently the poster child for ungrateful and unappreciative. Thank you was never enough. Hours upon hours of household service were never enough. Blood, sweat and tears were never enough. I was never enough. Never going to be enough.

Never would amount to anything. Still haven’t amounted to anything. Always point out my flaws. Never focus on my strengths. I do have strengths, I know I do. Don’t I? I did what you asked, why is it not good enough? Will you praise me now? No? I forgot something? Didn’t do it right? Missed a spot? Sorry. Are you proud of me, anyway? Be proud of me, no matter what. Accept my flaws. Tell me I’m good enough.

Love me. Say it. Well, mom says it…now. She does. Never used to when it counted, though. When I needed it. Dad? Once a year if I’m lucky. Formative years? Yeah right. There’s a joke. I know I’m not a Mercedes, mom and dad. I turned out to be an El Camino. Love me anyway. TELL ME. Let me out of this cage of worthlessness. Break…this…cycle…

It will go on. I’ll likely ruin my kids now with my OCD. They’ll need extensive therapy because of me. I’ll have to make amends with that someday. Face them when they tell me that I’ve destroyed their lives. Pay for their therapy and try to fix them. Darned if they won’t know that I love them and I’m proud of them, though, no matter how much they screw up, make the wrong choices, or disappoint me. I will love them, and they will know.

Blame. In the end, that’s all it is. Blame that I can’t place on anyone but myself anymore. If I’m going to point fingers, I might as well aim them right back at me.

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My husband always talks about a wonderful thing called the “age of accountability”. That’s when, sometime early in the teen years, one starts to know the difference between right and wrong and becomes ultimately responsible for the choices they make. I’m well past that age. My choices are my own now. I can’t play the blame game anymore. I have the power to stop this.

So why do I feel so powerless?

I can’t say I’ve lost all hope in getting better eventually. I’ve taken baby steps over the years. I can leave the house to go to work now. I wasn’t able to before. I don’t vacuum 3 or 4 times a day like before, either. I’ve even been known to skip it for a day from time to time. It’s hard to do. The anxiety punches me in the face, but I fight through it.

Baby steps aren’t enough, though. I can’t lead a normal life on baby steps. I can’t be considered healthy on baby steps.

I can’t go on trying to gain some childhood approval that still isn’t forthcoming, either. It’s likely too late to do any good anyhow.

I’ve all but driven my husband nuts. I think he has depression now because of me. Good going. We can just add that to my ever growing list of screw-ups.

Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I know that I’ll eventually have to pull up my big girl panties and take big girl steps. I can crawl now, sure, but I have to learn to walk…

Someday.

Later.

Not now.

Not ready.

Oh health, just shove me in a locker again, and get it over with.

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Daily Prompt: Life Line

Daily Prompt: Life Line

You’re on a long flight, and a palm reader sitting next to you insists she reads your palm. You hesitate, but agree. What does she tell you?

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I’m nothing short of bursting at the seams with excitement as I sit and wait as patiently as one with “ants in their pants” could possibly wait. I chatter continuously at my husband, as has always been my custom when I’m filled with sheer elation at the prospect of a joyous event that has finally been set in motion. He responds by playing the latest game that he’s downloaded to his cell phone, never bothering to glance in my direction, but often throwing in the occasional “uh huh” or “me too, dear” as I ramble on, as has become his custom over the years. I don’t allow his lack of interest to tarnish the silver lining surrounding the cloud on which I’m currently riding. I’ve been looking forward to this trip for far too long, and nothing can curb my highly elevated enthusiasm at this point.

It has always been a dream of ours to visit Ireland. So much so, that it’s one of the 3 things that I can now contentedly cross off my miniscule bucket list. I have yet to find buried treasure or learn to drive a stick-shift automobile. I likely never will. I consider this for a moment. Well, 1 out of 3 isn’t terrible, I muse, and I’m about to embark on an adventure of such epic proportions  that the other 2 list options can just fade off into oblivion as far as I’m concerned.

Ah, Ireland. The rolling hills, the beautiful countryside, the sheep in the fields, the castles, the food…oh my goodness, the incredible Irish dishes, yes please! The quaint little pubs with local elderly gentlemen regaling visiting foreign folk with fantastically spun tales of wild Irish youth and love gone by, in thick Gaelic accents. I want to drink in the sweet nectar of all this and more.

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The calling of the first class passengers and those needing special assistance snaps me back to reality from somewhere inside my grand daydream. “I still can’t believe it’s finally happening!” I exclaim to my husband for quite possibly the 50th time today. He just smiles and nods as he continues to busily work his fingers over his phone screen.

The kids are finally grown and gone, and we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in January. We’ve had our hardships over the years, but we made it through all of them and we deserve this special treat to celebrate how far we’ve come. To celebrate us.  We’ve managed to painstakingly pinch every last penny until Lincoln screams in pain to make this trip possible. I lean over and give my husband a peck on the cheek, before resting my head on his shoulder for a moment. He presses his cheek against the top of my head. I’m proud of us both for finally turning this amazing dream into reality.

I check the time on my phone and fidget in my seat, before deciding to make sure that my passport, I.D., and boarding pass are at the ready for the thousandth time today as I wait for our seat assignments to be called. It’s hard to say if this newfound ritual is compliments of my OCD, or the adrenaline fueled excitement that I’m currently running on. Likely a little bit of both, I surmise.

They finally get around to calling rows 20 through 25. I nudge my husband with my elbow and say, “that’s us.” We proceed to gather up our belongings and head toward the quickly lengthening boarding line.

We finally reach the robotically jovial stewardess at the front of the line, who looks over our boarding passes with an obviously overworked smile. She repeats our seat assignments to us as though we are feeble minded and couldn’t possibly read them on our own, and wishes us a safe and pleasant trip through her gleaming pearly whites.

We make our way down the long gangway, my husband whistling a Christmas tune the entire way as has been his habit for the 20 years that we’ve now been married. It’s July. I stopped bothering to point this fact out to him years ago, and now I just smile and shake my head.

We are greeted by yet another methodically friendly set of flight personnel at the door to the airplane, who welcome us aboard and once again wish us a pleasant journey.

Smiling Flight Attendant

We inch our way toward the back of the aircraft from among the throng of inconsiderate individuals stopping in the middle of the aisle to fight with overhead bins or argue with other passengers and flight attendants over confused seat assignments. I can see frustration growing on my husband’s face as we shuffle along. Finally, we arrive at seats 24 B and C. I feel a little pang of sadness as I realize that neither of them are a window seat. Ah, well, you get what you pay for I suppose, and we did our best to cut traveling expenses as much as possible so that we could fully enjoy our 2 weeks exploring the lush green land for which we are about to embark. I hand my carry on over to my husband, and he makes quick work of shoving it into the overhead compartment, before we settle into our seats. My husband has Closterphobia issues, so I know he’ll want to sit in the aisle seat. He always does in crowded places.  So I grab the middle seat and proceed to try and get as comfortable as possible, not really paying much attention to the person that already occupies the window seat.

I barely get myself situated before I hear a strong, cheerful, feminine voice  from my left announce, “Hi, I’m Anna.” This boisterous greeting is accompanied by a slim fingered hand boasting pale pink polished nails and 3 over-sized silver cocktail rings extended in front of me. I turn slightly in my seat so that I may comfortably surrender my right hand in acceptance of her handshake.  We make eye contact for a moment and I take in Anna’s friendly features while quickly looking her over.

She’s perhaps 50, Caucasian, taller than I by a good 6 inches, and fit. Her long, frizzy, grayish blond waves are held back from her face by a pink, orange, and black oriental flowered silk scarf wrapped around her head and tied at the nape of her neck. She has a wide pink-lipped smile accompanied by a beautiful set of large, dark grey eyes with soft creases gently nipping at the corners. I take note of her clothing; a bright pink tank top under a thin white cotton off-the-shoulder shirt, with small pink, orange, and yellow flowers embroidered along the neckline. This was tucked into a matching, floor length, gypsy-style skirt held securely around her waist by a tied woven hemp belt. She had kicked off her silver-beaded leather sandals that are now shoved partially under the seat in front of her, and I can just barely make out her perfectly pedicured and pale pink polished toes peeking out from under her the hem of her skirt. In truth, she looks somewhat like she just stepped out of the 1970’s.

I smile and introduce myself in return. I then point to my husband next to me, and introduce him as well. He leans over me and offers a hand for her to shake. After the proper introductions have been made, I point to her skirt and tell her, “My daughter would absolutely love your outfit.” She flashes her brilliant smile once again and says, “Your daughter sounds like my kind of girl.”

The next words out of her mouth admittedly catch me off-guard. “You’re very short,” she proclaims. “Excuse me?” I say. While this is an all too true observation, I’ve yet to have a practical stranger make that assessment so boldly.  I wasn’t quite sure I had even heard her right. She laughs off the expression of shock that must be noticeably written on my face. “I mean your life line; I was noticing that it’s quite short and shallow.” She must have then noticed my expression change to concern because she goes on to quickly add, “Oh no, no. It’s nothing to be concerned about. It doesn’t mean that you have a shortened life-span; it simply means that you have a tendency to be controlled by people and situations.” She extends her hand once again, palm side up, and says, “Here, let me see your hand. I’d be happy to give you a full reading…”

She had misread my cause for concern. The words, “Oh, no thank you, I don’t…” barely escape my lips before my husband, who had, to my surprise, been listening to the exchange over his phone follies, interjects with, “We’re Christians. We don’t have anything to do with astrology or palm reading or any of that sort of thing.”

“Ah, okay,” she rather impatiently snaps, and proceeds to pull out and open a thick paperback novel that she had apparently jammed between her thigh and the armrest before we sat down.

That’s it. The conversation has been called to an abrupt halt. I could read a lot into her tone and half smirk though, which said, “I’ve dealt with you closed minded freaks before, and I’m not about to travel this road again.”

I look at my husband. He peeks over my head at Anna leaning her forehead against the window, now quietly and rather quickly engrossed in her novel. He then looks back at me and shrugs as he shakes his head no.

I knew exactly what he was thinking. Though my husband has been known to dive into a religious debate with all of the passion and fervor of an Olympic gold medalist, he wouldn’t be pressing Anna in further conversation. It was clear that she stood firm in her convictions and had closed off any further exchanges at that point. My husband and I both knew that pressing people that were not at all open to hearing what you had to say would just push them further away from wanting anything to do with God and those that serve Him.

I close my eyes and lean my head back. It’s going to be a long flight. I silently say a prayer for our safety during this flight, and for Anna. May she have a life filled with peace and perhaps, someday, be receptive enough to at least listen to a Christian point of view.

Closed minds comes in many different packages, after all.

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Note from the author: This story is completely fictional but has several truthful ideals and undertones. Though I understood that the point of this prompt was to accept the offer a palm reading and write about what my future may hold therein, for certain obvious reasons, I could not.  I chose to take my story in a different direction, and I hope that those of you that are spiritual and non-spiritual alike are still able to enjoy my story and accept it…open mindedly. 

Vengeance is…Who’s?

As is human nature, our carnal mindset tends to kick into overdrive when we we’ve been hurt, angered, disgusted, or any other very human emotional response that’s powerful enough to completely override our impulse control. That’s usually about the time all rational thought goes out the window and is replaced by something that to us, a society of intelligent creatures with the ability to reason has been ingrained into our flawed, sinful characters since Cain first spilled his brother’s blood on that ancient patch of soil…

Revenge. An eye for an eye. You’ve wronged me in some way, committed some heinous act that I’ve decided deserves retribution, so now I must repay what you’ve done… with interest. You see it everywhere in the media, can barely turn a channel on the T.V, hear or song on the radio, or munch a bucket of popcorn in a crowded theater without touching on the highly publicized, worldly ideal that evil should be returned for evil…tenfold.

Now, If you’ve learned anything about God in your lifetime, whether you choose to be a believer or not, you’ve likely heard some of the more popular biblical principles that he’s imparted to us for the sake of leading us down the correct path in this crazy little thing called ‘life’; the  path of righteousness and salvation. The bible, or ‘basic instructions before leaving earth’ imparts these bits of Godly wisdom to us not to be cruel, or keep us from enjoying the life that we have been given, but because God, our Heavenly Father, has our best interest at heart. He created us, and in His image no less, so why would He wish for us to indulge in things that will cause us harm? I’ve never seen a parent watch their toddler lean over a hot stove and say, “Go ahead. Touch it, because I can see that you really want to.” Those parents would want to remove their child from the danger, and in much the same way, God put rules into place to keep us safe.

One of those rules and it’s a BIG one, folks, is given to us in Romans 12:19, which says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Now there’s a hard concept to for our ‘act now, think later’ fleshly selves to grasp.

This past week I was unfortunate enough (or dare I call it fortune because the situation didn’t involve me) to be on the outside looking into a turn of events that made me think long and hard about this very verse, in a way that I never had before.

I had never given this command much thought up until this point. Now don’t get me wrong, I followed it, but I followed it blindly. I had always just shrugged it off and thought nothing more of it other than that it was just God’s way of telling us to put our complete trust in Him. A test of faith. He’s got this, count on him to take care of it, and go about your business. While having faith and giving God control over difficult situations of course plays a huge part in this command, I realized that there’s a deeper reason for it, other than just pure faith. What’s that reason? ONLY GOD KNOWS WHATS TRULY IN A MAN’S HEART.

Let me explain. This situation I’m referring to, which I’ll simplify for the sake of those involved and convey to you to the best of my knowledge for the sake of understanding the point I’m trying to make, is something along these lines:

A man once committed a crime. He claims to have been set up by someone with a vendetta against him, angered the wrong people, and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whether there’s truth to the accusations against him or he truly was falsely accused and is an innocent man, though, is neither here nor there. He’s served his sentence, paid for this crime, and is going about his daily life. Working his job, supporting his family, and basically, minding his own business. There have been no further accusations against him since this one past offense.

Now someone else, and a Christian, no less, not even having an issue directly with him, but with his spouse, has decided to launch a crusade to destroy this man, going so far as to call his place of business to try and have him fired for those criminal charges from long ago that the man has already paid his debt to society for.

My point in all this is that it’s not up to us to judge what’s in a man’s heart and take matters into our own hands. God knows what’s in our hearts better than even we do, and only He knows if that man (or woman as the case may be), has truly repented and is trying to never repeat the same act of sin. It’s not our place to launch some hate-fueled vigilante justice crusade. You can try to convince yourself that your intentions are nothing but admirable, and say that you have the best interest of others at heart as you label your vengeance as an act of societal compassion, but God sees into the hearts of men, and He knows what’s in yours as well. Just because it looks like a cow and moos like a cow, He can smell when it’s a load of bull. You likely have no idea what’s really happening in the heart of the person that you’ve become hell-bent on destroying. Once you do exact your revenge on that person, the consequences and repercussions are likely to cause a wave of destruction, not just for them, but for you as well, and others caught in the path of your tornado of irrational action. God’s trying to stop you from wandering off the path that He’s laid out before you, because there are thorns to both sides. Don’t touch that hot stove of revenge and regret. Vengeance is HIS, and with good reason. It’s not a toy. We’re not meant to play with it.