The Healing House: Final Touches (Excerpt 4)

Blurred HolesWell we had a bit of a setback. My visit last week literally made me sick. I spent a good hour or so with you, and ended up in the Emergency Room that evening. I found you in the worst shape yet. There were holes everywhere painfully exposing your inner workings. There were signs of breaks, rotting, and layers upon layers of patch work. It was like reading a history book about your life. I could literally see inside you, through you even. There were remnants from decades ago, left behind by those that came before me. It broke my heart to see you in this condition. Yet, I’m still hopeful, still faithful. For amidst the lesions, the fractures, and the rot…I see strong bones, a hearty foundation. You were built by a Master. All that have worked on you say so. They all speak of your beauty, the details so carefully placed, the things you have that are unique, yours alone. They are amazed at your age and continually reassure me that you’ve stood the tests of time, that you’re still standing, and most importantly that you have years of joy left in you. It’s just a matter of closing the wounds and cleaning up now.

Some wounds were still open, but there were others that were being stitched, even some where the final touches were being made. Wow…I just hit a “speedbump” of sorts with those last words, “final touches.” I was flowing, speeding along and then, “FINAL TOUCHES.” I’m forced to take pause and reflect. I’m forced into the moment, awakened for a minute. Do you realize the power of those two simple words? I’ve been touched so many times inappropriately that those two words literally hit me like a bus, out of the blue and totally by surprise. The thought of never being touched in those ways again is freeing. I feel lifted! I’m moved to tears once again as I realize the healing has already started. I wonder how you feel, what you feel. It’s painful but promising isn’t it? I’m sure you’ve been touched in ways that were disrespectful as well, ways that made you feel unappreciated, used, and in the end dirty, tarnished, trampled. My dear friend, the healing has begun. It’s exciting, but brace yourself because the healing can be the most painful.

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VOL 2 The Healing House: Momma Do You Believe in Monsters? (Excerpt 3)

PeaceThe next significantly traumatizing event I can remember happened at a party me and two of my best friends went to one night when we were around the age of sixteen. I remember being so excited because I was finally old enough to drive and get out of the house I found so restrictive and so chaotic. I suppose I expected the world “outside” would be so much more grand, so exciting, and so free. What I learned is there’s always a price for freedom.

The girls and I got all “duttied up” and tried to look at cute as possible so that hopefully we’d catch the eye of one of the young men our dads had kept us locked up from all these years. As I remember, there were at least a few really cute ones there as we sauntered in naively. There were drinks flowing, music playing, and handsome young men swaying to the music while making idle chatter with us. We were finally out and about in the world, but the fun was soon cut short.

At some point in the evening I was coaxed or pushed into a bedroom. I’m really not sure how I got there, but I’m certain of the fact that I didn’t expect or ask for what happened next. All of the sudden it seemed, I was surrounded by five guys, all five of which were trying to hold me down and take my clothes off. I guess I’ve blocked out to what point they got to with my clothes, but the rest I remember vividly, and really–does it matter about the clothes? There were nasty, slobbery kisses, lots of hands groping me from the left side of the bed, the bottom of the bed, and the right side where I was held down. There was lots of dirty talking surrounding me, lots of laughing, and very loud music playing in the background. Some of the guys started to take their pants down. If I didn’t realize the danger I was in before this, I did at that moment. I was frightened beyond anything I’d encountered before. I wasn’t the “grown sixteen year old” I thought I was. I was now a little girl again. I was taken back to a time before when I’d encountered a monster. I’d seen this monster before, but this time there were several. I fought!

As I sit here writing this, I’m taken back to this event and I moved to tears, not just by the pain it brings up, but by the fact that God just brought a song to my heart to comfort me. It’s one of my favorite songs, one that comforts me, makes me feel protected, secure, and most importantly not alone–strong. Everything by: Lifehouse

Find me here
And speak to me
I want to feel You
I need to hear You
You are the light
That’s leading me to the place
Where I find peace again

You are the strength
That keeps me walking
You are the hope
That keeps me trusting
You are the light to my soul
You are my purpose
You’re everything

You calm the storms
And You give me rest
You hold me in your hands
You won’t let me fall

How appropriate for this moment, for this time. I can see that little girl that was me calling out to Him from that ugly place, “FIND ME HERE!” I don’t want to feel this. “I WANT TO FEEL YOU!” I don’t want to hear this. “I NEED TO HEAR YOU! “YOU ARE THE LIGHT THAT’S LEADING ME TO THE PLACE WHERE I FIND PEACE AGAIN.”

For a minute I was back there. I was feeling the touches, hearing the sounds. My skinny legs were wrapped tightly like a pretzel with my left ankle hooked around back and to the front of my right ankle. This little technique proved valuable and helped me thwart off an inevitable rape by five strong young men. I fought with every bit of toughness my dad had instilled in me. I screamed for help for what seemed like a long time. I hit, scratched, bit, even spit.

Even with all this, one of the guys had the nerve to try and stick his penis in my mouth. I let him know real quick that wouldn’t be a good for either of us. I remember explicitly telling him, “Go ahead, put your dick in my mouth and I will bite it off!” This is not the way I talked normally, but I felt the occasion called for it. I was trying to appear tough, but in my head I was afraid, terribly afraid. The rest of it all continued, but none of them came near my mouth with any part of their bodies after that. Help was on the way.

Thankfully my one of my girlfriends noticed I was missing and went looking for me. She heard me screaming and gathered a few of the guys to help. They were on the deck at the sliding glass door banging and ordering the guys to leave me alone. Eventually they were either let in or broke in. We gathered our other girlfriend and quickly left the party leaving the “good guys” to deal with the monsters.

I never really talked about it after that night. I mean they didn’t rape me so what could I say about it really? A pattern was set into motion. For some reason I always tried to minimize these events. There was a part of me that looked for blame in myself. There was another part of me that began to accept this as the norm. Also, who would I tell? I’d told my mom about the other monster and she didn’t believe me, why would she believe me now? Maybe she didn’t believe in monsters. As I said, I had very loving and supportive parents. I’m just not sure they’d ever dealt with such a thing, and honestly, I never gave them a chance after the first attempt. From this point on my life became increasing crazy. The older I got, the bigger and uglier the monsters became.

“You are the strength that keeps me walking. You are the hope that keeps me trusting. You are the light to my soul.” Everything by: Lifehouse

VOL 2 The Healing House: Once Upon a Time (Excerpt 1)

Picket Fence MosaicI’ve experienced love on many levels in my lifetime, and from my experience, true love, real love is much like having a baby. It’s something that starts to grow in you even before you know it’s there. I grew up watching people who I thought were in love doing all the things that people in love did, or so I thought. From the eyes of a child, it seemed so grand, so enchanting. Enchanting, um, a word often used in fairytales. As I grew older I came to see love through very different eyes. The white picket fence I’d constructed in my head started to weather. The paint begin to peel and crack, and I came to understand that picket fences required more work than love.

I, like many who see a psychiatrist or psychologist, was ask about my childhood, my parents, any abuse or neglect. I served twenty years in the military as a medic so I’ve seen my share of the sick, the wounded, and the dead. But when ask about abuse and neglect, no! I’d responded quickly and with confidence so as not to make them suspicious. As I recall the first bout of severe depression I experienced was while deployed to Saudi Arabia during Desert Shield/Storm. I became very familiar with the psychoanalysis question bank. My stories grew shorter and shorter the more times I had to explain them. I always thought I had the best parents ever. They were loving and aside from the more than occasional, slightly cruel but funny tricks my dad played on me, they took good care of me. But, the more I talked, the more I realized that maybe I did have some resentments, some repressed issues with security that I would come to call the “leftovers” of my childhood.

As I sit here typing, memories of seeing my parents together and loving are live-streaming in my head like an old silent movie. You know, the ones where everybody’s smiling, sitting in each other’s laps, and appearing to move in fast motion. I can almost feel the cool leather or pleather of that small black and white patterned couch beneath me, feet propped up on the coffee table, with a reel to reel playing out the scenes that were so beautiful then. All I can hear is the clicking of the film as it unwinds and winds itself from one reel to the other. Ah, nostalgia, what a warm feeling. Peace, safety, security, warmth, and love….but so quickly it’s all interrupted with noise, noise of the past, those noisy “leftovers.”

This is where the picket fence begins to lose its appeal. For many years I remember my sleep being interrupted by arguing. I’m not sure if it ever got physical between them, but I know there were things thrown and things broken. A typical weekend would start with my dad leaving with friends or his brother for a little time with the boys. Typically these nights lasted into the next morning. They usually involved drinking, fighting, other women, and polishing of belt buckles as my dad laughingly called it. At times I’ve laughed at my dad for his joking about the subject, the taunting he used with my mother to make light of it. Somehow it’s lost its humor over the years. I know my dad was young. He was growing up, doing the best he could with what he’d seen and been taught, but it did affect me in more ways than I’ve been willing to admit until recently. I hated seeing him drunk, sometimes even crawling to the bed. He’d ask me to get a milk jug and a trashcan. The milk jug was what he urinated in and the trashcan was what he used to vomit in. I feel a bit of anger welling up in me as I think of these times. I felt scared, nervous, and insecure when this would happen. But if I was doing these things, at least that meant we were at home and all together, even if it wasn’t the best scenario.

There were many times when my dad didn’t come home, and my mom and I would have to go out looking for him. My mom would warm an old quilt by the fire or gas heater, roll me up in it, and we’d go on our little road trip to find Daddy. We lived in a very small town so it wasn’t hard to find someone. Lucky for us there were only a few juke joints nearby. Eventually we’d find his car and my mom would give me the speech. “I’m locking the car doors. I’ll be back in a minute. Now don’t you let anybody in but me no matter what. Momma’s going to get Daddy and then we’ll go home.” They’d both come out with the door swinging wide open, and yelling. Sometimes my uncle would follow and try to resolve the situation, but that waned as he learned my mom didn’t back down easily. She was and still is as tough as nails. As big and strong as my dad and uncle were then, I think she probably could have got a few good licks in despite the size difference. And as much as they hated her breaking up their parties, they both respected her and loved her through it all. It’s a shame that she probably didn’t realize that. I’m certain she didn’t feel it. I saw and I felt her loneliness and pain.

Eventually the yelling would stop and we head home. Many times my mom would lock my dad out of the house or the bedroom. There was one time when she left him on the back doorsteps, another time when she left him literally hugging the toilet bowl. Once she even left him underneath the clothesline, and just for good measure, she left a dripping washrag on the line directly over his face—her version of waterboarding I suppose. There were equally as many times when we would pack our clothes and leave for Maw’s house. It hurt to leave Daddy at home, but at least Maw’s house was quiet. Then the next morning Daddy would show up and eventually talk my mom into coming home. If he couldn’t talk her into coming home then he’d coax me into coming with him which usually meant Mom was sure to follow.

This pattern we established, as odd as it may sound, somehow gave me something I could depend on. By some means, this pattern provided me with a sense of security—but not. I’m at a loss as I try to explain it. I guess it became comfortable because I knew what was going to happen. Once the trigger was pulled, I knew what to expect so some of my anxiety was alleviated. When life was good and everybody was happy, I was anxious. In my little world, as it was then, I was extremely “braced” for things that might happen. I had a new shell chambered and ready to fire. I didn’t know when the good times would be abruptly ended by the clash, crash, and the chaos that had become the norm. Raised voices set off “silent tremors” that rumbled like an earthquake in the distance that quickly gained speed and grew in size as they took over me entire body. The tremors ended with the energy leaving my fingertips as I pressed the butt of the gun tightly against my shoulder, squinted my eyes, and FIRED! From that point on, I was ok. I carried out my part in the silent movie. Gladly caring for my Daddy, nestling up close to Mom to console her, pulling the warm quilt over my face and sinking deep within the security of the beautiful colors.

At this moment I’m writing what I’m writing because I felt I needed to. I feel lead by God to put these thoughts on paper. I don’t yet know the full purpose; I don’t even know how far or how deep I’ll go. All I need to know is that this writing is in concurrence with God’s will. I am confident that the purpose will be revealed to the person or people that this is meant for. I’m not sure of who, what, or when, but I do know that the why is healing, and somewhere down the road the story ends at the Healing House.

Waking Up: The Worst Part of My Day

Evening SunWhy is waking up the worst part of my day? I’m startled by even the slightest of noise. Even the sweetest tune for an alarm–alarms me. My heart starts racing. I can literally feel my pulse gain speed until it’s in full gallop, pounding out of my chest. Then there’s a rush, but not a good one. It feels like intense heat radiating from my core and moving outward to the tips of my fingers and my toes. When it hits my head I get a little dizzy, and I feel pressure, like my skull isn’t big enough to hold whatever it is that’s inside me obviously trying to get out. I feel like I’m being hit by a bus, like I woke up to a head-on collision. I’m not moving. I’m just standing there letting it happen, laying still so I can feel it come and then pass. Endless lists of all I have to accomplish in this day swells my brain. My mind is flooded with questions of how I’ll get it all done. Then every few minutes my mind goes on a pinball trip of “what ifs.”  I’m exhausted by these intrusive thoughts of all the bad that could happen, not to me, but to all the people I love, and there’s many I love. I thank God for that. He’s blessed me with a wonderful family and remarkable friends.

I thank God for a heart of love, forgiveness, tolerance, strength, endurance. Somehow He still resides in me, in this heart of mine, but why? Why would God want to live in a vessel so broken right now, so lost, so much in pain, and so misunderstood? I ask these questions over and over again, and I don’t know the answer, but I do know this. In the end, I will heal. God will restore my happiness, my joy. I pray that God will use this time, and use me to express something that will heal not only me but those around me with similar feelings.

Finally the worst part of my day is over. Now I can proceed, carrying these fears, but I’ll smile through them for I’m not ready to let the world know, at least face to face. It’s only through writing that I can be honest, but in time it will come. Eventually I’ll be able to share my experience with those closest to me. I pray that they’ll understand and not just call me crazy.

VOL 2 The Healing House: Kiss of the Monster (Excerpt 2)

There were several significant evenBleeding Rock Heartts in my life that landed me on the dreaded psych-couch. Oddly enough I can’t recall what order they came in. For years I only remembered bits and pieces of what happened. When I finally remembered the whole story from each event, I didn’t feel much like sharing any of them.

There’s one event that I’ve played over and over in my head, probably more than any of the others. It seems so insignificant that I can’t understand why I think of it so often. I’ve yet to figure out why it bothers me so. My parents had these friends they hung out with pretty frequently. My mom worked with this lady and at some point ended up cleaning her house for extra money I believe. I remember my mom raking her carpet, the last thing we’d do before leaving after cleaning.

Over time this lady and her husband became friends with my mom and dad. They would get together, eat, and play Rook while I watched from a side chair usually next to my mom. One night we were at their house and I went outside to fetch something from the car. The husband startled me. As I turned to get out of the car, he was suddenly there, in the doorway. He leaned into me and had me blocked with his arms. He told me to kiss him. I remember being repulsed. He was what seemed like ancient in years. Regardless of his age, he was a friend of my parents, old enough to know better, and out of respect for my parents alone should have left me alone.

This friend of theirs would come and pick me up and take me places. We’d had lots of fun together over the years, but that was before I came to know him as a monster. Maybe this particular event was so significant because it was the first of several molestations. It was when my relationship with men, all men, changed forever. This is the very moment when men became monsters.

I can’t remember exactly what happened from that point, but I think it was only a thwarted kiss that landed somewhere on my face. So, why does that bother me so much? And why is it so hard for me to name it? Was it molestation, sexual assault, what? I’ve ask myself this time and time again and I cringe every time I place one of those terms to it. But why? Why is it so difficult for us to speak these words? I’ve even looked up the meaning of molestation. For the record, molestation means: 1. To bother, interfere with, or annoy. 2. To make indecent sexual advance to. 3. To assault sexually. It angers me to think of how many times, hundreds, maybe thousands, I’ve tried to make this significant event, insignificant. But just as sin is sin, molestation is molestation. There are no levels of what should and shouldn’t bother you, no levels of what should and shouldn’t hurt you. If it bothers you or hurts you, then it’s bad, it’s molestation. That bother, that hurt becomes wounds, scars, and you carry it on you, in you for the rest of you life sometimes. This MOLESTATION hurt me. It wounded me. It scared me. This little thwarted kiss, as harmless as it may seem to some, changed the way I viewed the world and all the people that lived in it, especially men.

The Healing House: My Undoing (Excerpt 3)

I visited you again yesterday; I try to get by daily but sometimes life gets in the way. I’ve been dealing with the pain of your undoing, of my undoing. I’m reminded of an album, “The Undoing,” by Steffany Gretzinger, reminded of a song, “I Spoke Up.”

Everyone knows that

I was the good girl

I did my best to

Make everyone happy with me

Then I found out that

It was impossible to please

The whole crowd

So I spoke up and I spoke out

I learned that love don’t hold its tongue

And passion doesn’t bow to what they think

It’s You and me

Sometimes it’s painful to be brave

To look fear in the face and know your name

To find your strength

Hidden in the WallsSometimes in order to get “DONE” you have to get UNDONE. I’m living my undoing and it’s not easy but you understand don’t you? I mean, yesterday when I saw you last, I noticed there was still debris everywhere, still signs of the ugliness you had hidden in your walls. There’s missing pieces even.

The Surgeon tried to put me as ease by informing me that grafting or transplant would be possible, that He could take pieces from elsewhere, from others like you. Oh, and with a smile He reminded me that He made the Heaven’s and the Earth, that He created you and me, and if pieces couldn’t be found, He’d simply make them as He did when He created you, when He created me. Rejection…what do you mean? Don’t worry, we’re all the same blood type in His Kingdom. Our blood is of His blood, royal, pure, regenerative, oh Holy Surgeon, Holy Creator, thank you for the blood that transverses my vessels, the blood that carries life to every crevice of my body. Let it flow, let it restore our brokenness.

My friend, I pray for you when I pray for me. May you be confident and comforted in the fact that the Surgeon hasn’t left the operating room, that He is here with us…still and always. As an added measure, He shaped and carved this yoke especially and particularly for us so we could share the burden. He handcrafted and provided this yoke so that neither of us would be ahead or behind, but we’d walk beside each other, one another. That’s what He does. He brings those around that share the load. He knows what we need and who we need. He’s ever present yes, but He also provides us with others to fight with us, for us. They are strong where we are weak, and we are strong where they are weak. It’s a beautiful balance He brings in the friends provided, the partners placed beside us, the supporting family He empowers to step up. There’s plenty trying to help in their own way, but be still and listen to His choices. For if you pick of your own heart, of your own mind, you’ll do wrong. He places the right people around you and beside you, but it’s up to you to make the right choice. Follow your heart….I say no. Be still, listen, and follow your Spirit, because that is God, and He knows who is right for you, for the season, for the moment.

Thank you my friend. Thank you for sharing this load, and thank God for bringing you forth. Don’t look down at the task ahead, the row we had to hoe, to plow. Don’t leave my side, don’t stop pushing forward, don’t give up. Look up! Just on the horizon there’s light. Our healing, the beautiful RESTORATION is just ahead of us.

Seeing Light Through the Darkness

Beauty HidingI was thinking earlier today about the fact that my first two blogs were pretty dim, dark even. I thought I’d better write something a little positive if I was going to claim my little space of the blog world. Here’s some insight for the ones that have read the two excerpts from my book, The Healing House. There will be three volumes. The first volume is about the transformation that’s going on in the present. I’m in the middle of the painful part so my writings tend to be a bit dim and depressing. It’s part of the process so I encourage you to stay tuned. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. My fear will be replaced with boldness, my anger with love, my resentment with acceptance, and my sadness with joy….oh and so much more. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the Surgeon in The Healing House is God, and God restores.

The restoration will be beautiful, uplifting, encouraging, and healing, but first we must go there. I’ve looked inward plenty of times before, but I’ve always been frightened away by what was lurking there. Many times I thought I was ready, but I wasn’t. I didn’t have the strength to tackle the task. I was overwhelmed by what I saw, startled by the alarms that were set off by the mere breaking of the plane of the threshold to my soul. I retreated.

Now I am filled with passion for telling my story. I know that I will be healed in the process, and I have faith that others will as well. The other strange thing about this time is that I’m not running from what I’m feeling. I feel horrible at times, exhausted from reliving the painful experiences, yet I’m driven to continue. In a way, I want to sit in the darkness a bit longer. Maybe it’s because it’s become comfortable, predictable, or maybe I just want to full explosion of excitement when moving from darkness to light. I’m clinging to the darkness in hopes that I don’t forget what it feels like. For if  I forget the darkness, I will lose appreciation for the light.

While thinking of this on the way home from a friend’s house tonight, I had to giggle. One of my favorite hobbies is photography. As I was thinking about the contrast of darkness and light, I was reminded that this is probably my favorite thing to photograph–light peaking in through dark, dim-lighted areas. I looked through thousands of pictures and found hundreds of these type photos. I felt like these were intentional “God-winks.” I’m reminded of how playful, clever, and funny God can be. He rarely jumps out at you. He frequently peaks around the corner, maybe tosses a little pebble to get your attention. That’s exactly what He’s been doing with the peaking light, reminding me that He is ever present.

Even in the darkest of times, He’s there, just around the corner. He’s peaking through tree limbs, through an open window, glowing in the horizon, flickering in and out through leaves blowing on the trees. As I move through the darkness, I will console myself with the fact that He is with me. I will remind you that He is with you also. Don’t be afraid. Don’t turn away. Stay!