The Healing House: My Happily Ever After (Excerpt 6)

Here we are my friend,

Exactly where I’d hoped we’d be.

The men are in the living room,

Football blaring from the TV.

 

The sounds so exciting,

I can’t help but stop and listen.

They’re smells of dinner throughout the house,

Coming from your kitchen.

 

The dogs are playing all around,

There’s peace within your walls.

The grandkids’ enjoy their favorite pastime,

Sliding sock-footed down your halls.

 

The scars of restoration,

Are so faint they’re barely there.

Your beauty gleams from floor to roof,

There’s healing in the air.

You patched the walls.

You shored the floors.

You repaired the roof.

You sealed the doors.

 

You made it ok for me to share,

All of what makes me, me.

You’ve taken the shame and tossed it out,

Now I see the beauty you see.

 

Your mercy relieved my doubt.

Your grace retrieved my soul.

Your love has grown my confidence.

Your forgiveness has made me whole.

 

My HAPPILY EVER AFTER,

You’ve placed within my reach.

I hold to it and cherish the blessings,

I commit myself to teach.

 

I’ll sing to others your praises,

I’ll preach to others your love.

I’ll boast your carpenter skills,

To any who feels unloved.

 

You’ve restored a beautiful house.

You’ve removed a wound that kills.

I owe you all the glory my Lord,

Thank you for now I’m healed.

 

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The Healing House: The Looney Bin (Excerpt 5)

RevolverNOTE: Please know that this story has a happy ending, one that I am pleased to share with you. This is my last writing about the dark side of mental illness. I’m excited to begin writing about and sharing my victory.

I’d hoped to see you today, but my plans were interrupted by my neurasthenia, another technical term for the neurosis I live with, but almost died from.

My day started out pretty normal, but by midmorning I had lost all ability to cope with even the smallest tasks. My emotions were all over the place. One minute I was depressed and feeling alone, like I was nothing but a disappointment to everyone around me. The next minute I was angry, then nervous and crying.

I wanted to see you, my “Healing House.” I wanted to move in and have you comfort me, but you were in your own state of disarray. They’d uncovered some other issues and were in the midst of repair so I went into the closet of my temporary home. I took my revolver and hide it in my pants till I could get to the car. I headed your way, but I didn’t make it that far. My emotions became overwhelming. I had to pull over.

I remember parking in front of Target and just sitting there trying to gather myself. I glanced several times at the revolver I’d laid in the passengers seat. I’d attempted suicide before, but could I go through with it again? This time it wasn’t pills, it was a gun. There’s no room for error with a gun–not something you want to do half-assed. I made several phone calls from that parking lot but nobody could see me. I called my family practitioner, my psychologist, and my psychiatrist. Everybody was either out of the office or booked. The lady I spoke with from my psychiatrist’s office was concerned and ask me to promise I’d go to an emergency room. I told her I wasn’t going to do that and hung up. I taught at a local college. I couldn’t let them find out I was crazy. I had kids, parents, friends, a church. I sure didn’t want any of them to find out. Then I wondered why I was worried about any of that. I mean, there I sat contemplating suicide. As my mind spun around flashing thousands of images before me, the fact that I cared what they all thought of me gave me hope that I wouldn’t take my life. I left and was headed to see you when things took a bit of a turn for the worst.

I’d just gotten on the interstate and was speeding excessively. I picked up the revolver and put it to my head, then to my mouth, then my heart. I wondered which would kill me faster, which would be less painful. I also thought about what would happen if I somehow lived through it. I was stuck between head and heart. The heart seemed like a better choice since if I happen to live through it, they’d probably be able to fix it. The head, now that’s a shot you definitely don’t want to live through. I recalled a video I’d used when teaching EMTs in the military. This man had attempted suicide by shooting himself in the mouth. He’d lived through it but his head was a mangled mess. I’d pretty much decided at that point that if I did it, it would be through the heart. I was angry at my brain for not working properly, but most of my pain was from my heart. It was at that point that I pushed the cylinder release forward and whipped it open to find that all the bullets had been taken out. I threw the gun into the floorboard. I cried and yelled at the top of my lungs WHY? I felt a huge let down move through my body. I’d reached the climax of my day, what now?

I somehow ended up at a vet center speaking to a counselor. I don’t know if I could have gone through with shooting myself, but regardless, that counselor saved my life. She eventually talked me into going to the VA emergency room only because she promised to go with me and make sure they took me back right away. I refused to set among other people while in the condition I was in. As soon as I was in a room I texted all my children, my fiancé, and maybe my parents, I don’t really remember. I told everyone that I was going to see a friend in Tennessee for the weekend and I ended with I love you. It was what I thought would be a good excuse not to call or text for a few days. At some point the VA ask for my car keys so they could have a police officer move my vehicle. I panicked at that point because the revolver was still laying in the floorboard with the cylinder open. If they saw that, they’d admit me and never let me out. Through the haze of some meds they’d given me, I quickly texted my daughter and told her where I was and ask her to send someone to take my car and hide the revolver.

I remember my fiancé coming in to talk with me. He hugged me and yelled at me asking why I was doing this. I yelled back, “Why did you take the bullets out?” One very observant nurse realized that this interaction was upsetting me so she came in and ask him to leave. I slept for a little while then woke to a couple of EMTs getting me ready for transport. After what seemed like a very long ride, I ended up being admitted to an inpatient psych ward or as some call it, “The Looney Bin.” As much as I’d fought to stay out of a place like this, I felt more as ease than I had in a long time. I knew I needed a break from everything and everybody. I needed to rest, recover, and get back on my meds.

Looking back on this terrible day, I now realize that even through I can recall the details of the day, I was in a daze the entire time. It’s like I was sitting beside myself watching everything take place. It looked as if I was in control, that I was aware and could make decisions, but that’s not the reality. I felt as though I was watching a movie. Have you ever been watching a movie and could see the monster raising up behind someone but they were unaware? You’d be so into the movie that you would actually scream, TURN AROUND! That’s the way I felt. I was screaming at the top of my lungs, the awake me was screaming at the dazed me. STOP! NO! DON’T! But the movie kept playing. I, the main character, was about to be swallowed by the monster creeping up behind me. Suicide had risen from the dead. I felt a slight breeze as if something or someone had walked up. The tiny, wispy hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and chills ran down my spine, yet these warning signs were dismissed. Would I hear the screams? Would I turn around and see the monster that was after me?

In the end, it wasn’t the breeze or the wispy hairs that warned me of the imminent danger. It wasn’t even the screams. Ultimately it was nothing more than a gentle whisper. I thank God for watching over me and saving me from the monster. I am happy and so very blessed to have lived to realize my dream of “The Healing House.” I look forward to writing about my “Happily Ever After.”

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.

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.

The Healing House: Scrapes (Excerpt 2)

Blurred ScrapsI visited you the other day and brought all the kids’ unfinished scrapbooks, memorabilia from my time in the military, pictures from all the years we traveled, smiled and laughed as a family. As I looked at the many places we’d been, all the experiences we’d shared, and all the fun we’d had; I wondered why it couldn’t be that way now. Where had all the genuine laughs gone? What happened to the fun part of life? I was stuck on the front steps analyzing each picture, trying to understand why I didn’t feel as happy as I once was. Is it just me or does it seem as though we are only happy looking back? Am I the only one that finds it hard to enjoy the moment? There may be short periods of happiness, glimpses of smiles and muffled audio of laughter, but mostly there’s sadness and pain, anger and hurt, failure and disappointment. Yet in looking back I see fun, smiles, laughter….good times.

Then there was the “me box.” I shuffled through literally hundreds of pictures and announcements of awards, promotions, diplomas, degrees, medals, certificates that for a moment, I felt accomplished. How could I, looking at all this evidence of success still feel like it wasn’t enough? Why, in my head, is there more to do, more to prove? Is it others I’m trying to prove something to or is it me? I’m not sure. I don’t feel like anyone is pressuring me to do more in terms of my career or education. I do however feel the need to continue. Just a couple of days ago I called my advisor  and submitted my paperwork for reentry into the PhD program. It bothers me that I didn’t finish it. What bothers me most is that I didn’t finish it mainly because I was scared. I’d heard about the dissertation I’d have to do and I honestly didn’t think I was smart enough to do it. I didn’t want to go through this program, get to the end, and be embarrassed in front of all my professors. I mean, I’d faked it till this point, but I didn’t think I could fake being smart enough to present a dissertation. It’s a competitor that haunts me still. It’s like being a prize fighter but never fighting that one fighter you thought might be the one to knock you out and take your title.

There were pictures of me and my children in places all over the world, places that most people only dream of seeing. There was one of my little ones sitting on a bench at a park in Metz, France eating a hot dog—so cute sitting there, face spackled with ketchup. Then a saw a picture of me and the boys hugged in tight for a picture with the Eiffel Tower just behind us. My daughter was the oldest so she remembers most about our travels. I’m sure she recalls the long hike through Venice, getting lost, and my friend calling her name loudly to embarrass her. I’m certain she remembers her 13th birthday trip to Germany and her 15th birthday trip to the Azores. Yes we had fun but where did the good times go?

I love being a mother, but these days mostly I just feel misunderstood, disrespected, unappreciated, taken for granted, pulled in a million directions—a failure. It seems as though now all I can focus on is the seriousness of life; work, school, illnesses, injuries, bills, taking care of the house, the car, the laundry, the dishes. Then there’s the cell phones, desk tops, tablets, handheld games, watches that keep up with our every step, even what we eat; society is riddled with technology, and that supposed to be a good thing. I’m sure most people can relate. We’re all steadily growing those tumors, the ones that continue to move us farther away from the simple life I’d only heard about from my parents. Actually thinking back, I suppose I did experience a bit of it as a young child, just not to the extent my parents did. Nonetheless, we’ve all gotten too busy and way too serious to enjoy life.

In the same box of forgotten memories, I sifted through pictures of the 1st, the 2nd, and the 3rd…all former spouses. I laughed out loud just now while writing former. Why, because the 3rd was a “former” Marine, and he taught me to never use the word EX when referring to Marines. Well, I guess it stuck, but not only for referring Marines, but spouses as well. It seems fitting for both since I do feel like I endured a type of military basic training with each of them. I’m sure they feel the same. My heart still hurts when I look back at the death of those relationships. Regardless of who pulls the plug on relationships, it hurts—it’s a dream, a goal, a wish, a hope unrealized, another picket fence torn down.

How are you feeling my friend? How’s your heart? I’ll bet you’ve experienced the same heartaches. Surely in your 115 years, you’ve been abused, deserted, maybe you’ve even pushed people away then realized you needed them. Maybe like me, you pushed away some you loved the most. And the kids you had, did they misunderstand you, take for granted the security you provided them? Were they unappreciative of the shelter you provided? Did they trample through your halls, slam doors, leave dirty hand prints on your walls? Did you feel unappreciated, taken for granted, pulled in a million directions? Did you feel like a failure?

If we’re going to do this together, we have to get to the heart of our pain. Brace yourself because the Surgeon is near our life pump. This is almost certainly the most painful part of the procedure, but hold on; it’s almost over. Almighty Surgeon, use what you’ve already implanted in me to restore my heart. Narrow the thickened walls and allow me to feel again. I’ll take the pain of the bad, for I miss the joy of the good beyond measure.

The Healing House: Surgery Without Anesthesia (Excerpt 1)

RubbleI see the rubble that lines your walls and I feel your pain. It’s like you’re having surgery without anesthesia. As I gaze upon your face, it seems as though you are sleeping peacefully, but as I enter I hear you screaming. All involved carry on without hesitation. Don’t they hear your cries for help? Maybe not, maybe this is the way God meant for it to be, just you and me. Maybe it’s meant for us to endure this surgery, this pain together. The day we met I got a visceral feeling of what was to come. I felt the incision even before it was made. I was afraid. But I continued my fight to have you. Now that we are in the midst of this, I feel what I feared. As the Surgeon removes the tumors of times past, it feels as though my bowels are being ripped from within me. Just as you, I appear to be peaceful to the outside onlookers. But they know little of the tumor that dwells inside. Like you I’m screaming but nobody hears. How will we bare this pain? Why did I take on this journey with you? It’s due to a little imagination and a lot of faith. I have this vision, one that I think we share. When I look at you, even from within, I see the restoration, and I’m in awe of your beauty. I see shinny floors, sparkling tile, your shelves filled with books, a comfy reading chair with dim lighting overhead. I feel your warmth and it feels like home. I hear the yells from the men in the living room. They’re cheering on their team. I hear laughter of women coming from the kitchen as they prepare a homemade meal. And there’s children running up and down the stairs, giggling and playing. Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear? This is what we’ve both longed for. Eventually the Surgeon will artfully close our wounds. I anxiously await that day and look forward to seeing and receiving the manifestation of healing. I feel what you feel. I heal as you heal. May the pain and the healing we share eternize our bond.