What will come of this? I was petrified to pull out the scraps. The process was overwhelmingly intimate. Delicate, fragile, and timid. One that I only let my therapist into.

I gingerly opened my soul and uncovered the part of me that had been kept in hiding. I feared that if anything more happened to the college student in me, she would disappear completely. So the scraps of what were left of her had subconsciously been put into the witness protection program.

But now it was time. My body was telling me. The nightmares, the panic attacks, the sleeplessness, the anxiety. And lest we forget the depression.

They were all her, whispering to me from my past. She had finally deemed me safe enough to be trusted. She took me on a scavenger hunt of sorts, giving me clues to find where she had been locked away for safe keeping.

Once I found the place where she had been kept, I faced a choice. Do I risk taking out those frail little scraps that were left of her? What if she blows away in the process? What if she disintegrates altogether? I don’t want to lose her. She is a part of me. She is me.

She required every ounce of courage, strength, and gentleness I have ever possessed to bring those scraps back up to the surface of who I am and get her what she needed. Listening. Understanding. Validation.

Not judging her and telling her she could have done more, should have handled things differently, as I so frequently say to myself. Accepting her for the tender, sensitive nineteen year old that she was, confused with very little of life figured out.

Affirming her for being so beautifully valiant in the face of her trauma.

We worked together for quite some time. She would speak and I would listen and love her just the way she was. The whole thing was very mysterious, really. How is it that a soul heals? What magic is there in paying attention, giving space, offering patience, compassion, mercy, love?

I just know that there is.

And I think one of the hardest people to give those things to is myself.

But there are times when I am the only person who can make a difference in my healing. I can receive all the beautiful things I long for from hundreds of people around me, but if I am not willing to both give them to myself and receive them from myself, I remain lost in my own brokenness.

This was one of those times. I had to learn to love myself, both past and present. My healing depended on it.

What brokenness do you have inside that needs love from your own self to heal?


She was a little girl once, beautiful and innocent. Then life happened. She got hurt. And somehow, somewhere along the way, long before I knew her, that little girl figured out how to cope with herself and the people and world around her in a way that kept it all at a safe distance. She created her own reality.

And now she is locked in there, and that reality seems very rational. To her. It has pieces of what the rest of us experience, but it’s much like the mirrors at a fun house. Distorted versions of what stands before them. Including me.

I spent my life trying to figure out how to make sense of fun house mirrors, attempting to please them while simultaneously struggling to figure out what reality truly was. Confusion. Ambiguity. Always questioning myself, wondering what is real.

Over time the mirrors took over and the ground ceased to exist and I floated in a nebulous darkness. Which way is up? I groped around, grasping for anything to help me orient myself. How do I get out of here?

Eventually, miraculously, I found a way out of the fun house. There were people who fought for me, who loved me. But what made the biggest difference was when I decided to fight for me, too. To do everything I could to find out who I really am, not whom the mirrors say I am.

Now I am out. The force of gravity tells me the ground is down and the sky is up. And I love knowing those basic things.

And I desperately want to bring the little girl who led me into the fun house out and show her the ground and the sky. I want to show her the mirrors lie. They distort and trick.

But she has been in there so long that gravity and ground and sky are petrifying to her and the mirrors have become safe. And while all I want to do is help her, love her, that’s not what it looks like in the house of mirrors.

So she remains out of my reach.

space, care & coming

I am not a big goal setter. Growth is very important to me and I vigilantly watch for it, but not so much with the goals. My friend Leeana has done a workshop called “A Year In Review”. Totally my speed. I recently looked longingly at my art from last year’s workshop and missed my friend. Now she lives in Baharain. No workshop this year. And then she put a post on her blog that went step by step through the workshop. Score.

So on a day I took my kids to the park, I printed out the post and made sure to have my 2011 calendar with me. In between pushing kids on swings and working out sibling skirmishes, I opened my calendar and explored my soul for last year’s growth.

I discovered 2011 was a year of creating space. Precious space for others, for connecting with friends both near and far. Connecting with others always helps me feel more connected with myself and more stable and loved as I move through the craziness of life.

There was also a lot of space made for taking care. Taking care of myself and my family. That may sound obvious and elemental, but it took me quite some time to learn to take care of myself. I had a little girl in me that had been covered up instead of getting the care she needed. And we all know that taking care of ourselves is a necessary step in taking care of others. Even if we try and skip it sometimes.

So there were copious visits to therapists, dentists and doctors. Time was spent taking care of those things we often like to ignore. Bodies and souls. Our culture tells us just to keep going and pay no attention to the things that seem to be breaking down. Such things will work themselves out. But this year we ignored culture instead. And it feels very good to have taken care of those things.

I also realized for our family it was a year of coming: becoming, overcoming, and coming of age. As a wife and mom, I realized that I carry the lives of my husband and children around with me as a part of my own, so their struggles and growth and changes are a part of my own story as well.

Leeana quotes the passage from Ecclesiaties (made famous by John Lennon) that there is a time for all things under Heaven. As I read the list of a time for this and a time for that, my breath caught on a time to break down and a time to build up.

I entered 2011 quite broken down, and so for me it was a year about building up and seeing how beautiful that process can be. Finding a self that had been waiting quietly, timidly, and ever so patiently for me to discover her. Becoming.

Then there is my middle son. This year was about breaking down – or breaking through – fears. Facing big scary things like swimming in the deep end and having surgery and staying overnight in the hospital. Those are things that break down an eight year old. And yet through facing those things he was built up as well. Overcoming.

And my oldest – this year was about the child he was breaking down to make room for the man he is becoming. Goodbye elementary school. Welcome middle school and blackbelt and emerging man. Coming of age.

Then the youngest. His baby-ness is gone, broken down. The preschooler is building up, the language is building up, and the legos are building up. Coming of age too, just a different one.

And lastly my biggest man had a big birthday this year, and it wasn’t an easy one for him. He seems to be coming of age, too.

And all of it was cathartic, to see it all on paper and have a chance to acknowledge what this year held for our funny little family of five. Maybe no goals were achieved, but much growth took place. It felt kind of like taking a lot of loose strings and tying them together in a way that actually made some sense to look at.

What do you find when you look at your year in review? What do you want to find at the end of this year?

the mysterious miracle of healing

This may seem like a silly picture. That’s okay because it is one that I took because I marveled at what I was seeing. This is a picture of a redwood tree that has been burned and is in the process of healing.

I am amazed by the miracle of healing. No matter where anyone believes that healing comes from, the fact that it takes place at all is astounding to me. I happen to believe that when healing takes place, it is a mixture of a lot of different factors. I believe in a God who heals. I believe God made the human body and human spirit in such a way that they have a propensity to heal. And I am grateful for science and health professionals who know how to come along side a human body or human spirit offering invaluable help to bring healing. And I get most excited when I see all these things mysteriously come together so that I can’t tell where one factor starts and the other ends but somewhere in the process of it all the miracle of healing takes place.

I had a minor surgery just a few days ago. Nothing big or alarming, but enough that I had to be put under and sharp things went at my body. Afterwards, I had to rest. My body needed time to heal.

Sometimes it can be frustrating to take a time out from normal life in order to take time to heal. Needing someone else to make me food or take care of my children or clean my house or drive me around can feel powerless. Healing makes me needy. I don’t generally like to fall into the needy category.

And yet I have been amazed the last few days when I get up after a longer night’s sleep than I thought anyone with children was allowed to have (after spending all day resting and napping for more hours than seems reasonable), I feel better. I have a marked improvement from the day before. Healing is taking place.

And because a year ago I was dealing with some very difficult things and thought I would forever need my weekly visits to my counselor just to survive, this current physical healing is reminding me of the healing of my spirit I experienced this past year. Although the healing was in my spirit, there was a very physical, physiological piece involved as well. Turns out I had a nervous system that was awry and needed some help re-setting.

I had no idea how this nervous system piece was affecting me. I thought it was normal to experience life the way I did. My coping mechanisms worked well. But then, as healing started to happen, I marveled at what “normal” really was. It was as if I had figuratively been walking around crippled with a broken back having no idea that the rest of the world didn’t stare at the ground all the time but walked upright instead.

Of course, we don’t always heal. I have had many dear friends this year loose loved ones and I am acutely aware that healing does not always happen. And yet, the fact that sometimes it does is still amazing to me. And so even though my incision wounds are still sore, they are much less sore than yesterday or the day before that. And even though my throat is still a bit scratchy from the tube they put down it while I was blissfully knocked out by the drugs they gave me, it is also better than yesterday or the day before. My body is healing due to the mysterious combination of factors: my husband has been taking care of our home and three children so that I can rest, bodies do heal, and I believe God has his hand in there too.