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Freedom

Posted on July 3, 2018 by Jenn

Recently, I have been told that I push people away and that I have to let people in and be vulnerable.  But, quite frankly, when I have let certain people in I get the shit kicked out of me.  In the past, I have taken the risk of being vulnerable, revealing my somewhat insane past, only to have been abandoned by friends and parents.  In fact, when I told one of my friends that my mother assaulted me, she stopped calling and pushed me away.  At the time, it only reinforced the lie that because of where I come from I am not worthy of love and belonging.

(This kind of thing happened repeatedly in my twenties. I would tell the truth to my friends, and they would leave, not returning phone calls or simply disappear.  Or they would blame me for my past, stating “Why didn’t you try harder to get your parents and New England family to like you?”  I suppose much of this was said to help fix me or the situation, but there are so many situations that are simply unsolvable.  This is where trust and surrender come in, which I both love and resist.  I know my past scares people; to be honest, it scares and pisses me off at times, so I understand why some people would walk away.  It is incredibly difficult to understand why some parents would treat their offspring like trash on an ongoing basis.  Sometimes it’s too painful for others to know.  I think I understand why many of them did what they did, and I release those relationships with grace.)

So what in the world do you do when your templates or maps for attachment are disorganized, based on family-of-origin issues?  (By the way, disorganized attachment, the most common for trauma survivors, means that a child does not feel safe with his or her caregivers but must rely on them for life.  For a child to be in a family, he or she must feel safe, secure, loved, and nurtured.  For many trauma survivors, especially sexual abuse survivors, this is basically impossible, and so children react in a myriad of unhelpful and unhealthy ways. The previous information is based on The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk.)

This is what you do: you find the people who are kind, loving, responsive, and accepting of you.  You make time to take care of your own exquisite, lovely, playful, joyful and delightful self and continue to buck the traditional notion that one must have a relationship with family as the standard parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and whatnot. You forgive yourself for indulging in darkness for decades while recognizing that it makes sense, given what you went through.  You find compassion for yourself

Do I wish that I had fabulous parents who treated me like I deserved? Absolutely.  Do I honor them by telling the truth about their behavior of me while recognizing that they too were beaten, mistreated, and neglected? Absolutely.  Do I acknowledge that God wants me to rest in love and peace? You bet.

Do I keep trying to make certain family members like me, respect me, talk to me, when they are neither able or willing to do so?  No. Do I continue to move toward God, wholeness, grace, acceptance, healing, etc.? Of course.

I accept full responsibility for my life. I accept that God loves me and always has and He will make it easier and easier to find the safe people in my life to be vulnerable with.  Unfortunately, it probably won’t be the standard family that we all hear about in movies, books, and Christian culture.

I suppose that’s one of the hardest things about being a Jesus person: the expectations.  As a greenhorn Christian in my twenties, I was told, well-intentioned of  course, that I would have a great family, that my father would come to know Christ eventually, and if I just prayed hard enough, that my family member would get help.

All those expectations are dead and gone.

If you read the Gospels closely, Jesus never, ever said all our wildest dreams would come true.  He just said that He would be here with us (God or “Immanuel”) in the muck of things and, paradoxically, that we get to enjoy our lives.  For someone like me, with no Christian parents, engaged and active Christian siblings, and huge cadre of childhood Christian friends, this truth helps tremendously.

Our country’s national holiday is tomorrow, and while I am not exactly patriotic, especially given our country’s buffoon and dangerous leader and various other sundry reasons, I’ll focus on freedom.  There is freedom in accepting the truth of one’s past and powerlessness of changing anyone but ourselves.  There is also deep, expanding, and gracious joy when we lean into the discomfort of being loved just as we are today.

I get to be the tender, merciful, and loving parent I never had today.  I get to decide who I want to have contact with and who the safe people are in my life.  I choose to practice kindness toward myself on the big freedom day.  The same goes for you. There are no exceptions.

PRACTICE

It might be a good idea to write down a list of adjectives that describe your gifts, after you sit in silence and wait for God to show you.  The trick will be taking time to be still, to practice staying in your body, and to breathe.

(Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash)
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    Rest – Part Two

    Posted on June 27, 2018 by Jenn

    I am not sure when the burnout started. It might have begun the first day I saw a counseling client, back in autumn of 2012, in which I was tasked to help a recovering alcoholic find stability through the Twelve Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous and the counseling process of attentive listening.  Perhaps the burnout began when I started my counseling internship in 2014, in which I was instructed to make state-agency clients learn about their diagnoses, persuade them to take their medication, and convince them to volunteer their time in the hopes of making a better life for themselves.

    If only it were that simple.  People don’t like to give up their problems that easily.  They marry them, have children with them, become one with them.

    I suppose the counseling burnout really began with mom and dad, where I served as the peacemaker while my parents fought and raged at each other.  Mostly, I remember strained silences in which I physically could not find peace in my body because my father (when he wasn’t gone) would shoot dirty looks at my mother and my mother would project her own anger of my father onto me in the form of relentless harsh criticism, evaluation, and judgement.

    I thank God daily that I am an adult now and get to do things differently.

    Perhaps ancient childhood stories of pain, of growing up too fast, of having to “figure out” how to save my parents’ marriage, are getting in the way of my current vocation.  I would certainly believe they are, and that in my own counseling, I’ll need to work on those issues in further depth, taking the time to allow myself to feel anger, grief, bargaining, depression, and acceptance of my past.  Dr. Kubler-Ross was spot on in her understanding of the grief and forgiveness process.

    But the thing is that all I know is that right now, I am weary of counseling.  I am done with frantic texts from clients, asking for immediate assistance, of calls late into the night begging for help.

    I suppose I feel used. I am quite sure it’s not the intention of my clients who are soliciting counseling advice.  They are doing the very best they can, but I mostly feel as if my worth as a human being lies in my ability to help others, rather than in my inherent worthiness as a human being.  Like you, the fact that I am breathing air in my lungs makes me worthy of love and belonging.

    The problem is that counseling is a worthy and noble profession, and in many ways, obtaining my graduate degree led me back to my favorite thing to do: writing.  The problem, of course, is that writing is not really the main feature of counseling.  Listening to people is. The other problem, of course, is systems.  Many systems require workers to exert power over clients, i.e., that somehow, by the sheer force of will, those of us can “make” clients come back to counseling, make them want help, and make them choose good things.

    The power, then, lies within me, but the truth is a lie.  I am not Jesus.  It is not my job to fix anyone nor can I because I am merely a human being, complete with beauty and chaos within, just like every other human being on the planet today.

    I’ll be at another counseling agency soon, and I am hopeful.  The great surprise is my future supervisor outright rejected the lie of power over others.  In the interview, she said “We only ever plant seeds and there is nothing we can do to make anyone change. They have to be the ones to do so.”  I can do that. I can provide information, education, and a listening ear.  I just won’t buy the lie anymore that I can fix anyone anymore.  I can bear witness to the suffering of clients (when I am spiritually fed by the Divine and my tribe) but I can do nothing else.

    PRACTICES:

    In order to alleviate my anxiety and practice detachment, I now practice EMDR on my phone via the Anxiety Release app.  EMDR is an evidence-based therapy for anyone who has survived trauma, and let’s face it: that’s all of us.  The app provides several short sessions of tonal bilateral stimulation, which helps us get unstuck from obsessive thinking and allows for a greater sense of relaxation and peace.  I can’t recommend it enough.

    I recite the first line of the Serenity Prayer during difficult client sessions to find stability:  God, grant me the serenity. Truly, it is a remarkably healing prayer.

    Coloring with markers is a wonderful way to release stress and making affirmations using markers is even better.

    Reminding myself that I don’t fix but educate others is a helpful antidote for me.  It breaks much of the counseling theorists’ advice, which centers on feeling the feelings of others to make psychological contact.  BS, y’all, BS.  It is okay to detach oneself and remember that everyone, even those living in chaos, are not forgotten about by the Divine.  In fact, one might even go so far as to suggest that God is right there with them, in the muck doing what She can to honor their choices and to help. (Eve by William Paul Young).

    I practice gratitude daily and remember that counseling is not forever (necessarily) but simply for now. I can do most anything one day at a time.

    I let go of perfectionism, people-pleasing, and performance as measuring sticks for my worth.

    In my meditation, I ask God to help me sit with the difficult feelings of overwhelmment, compassion fatigue, and neglect.  My feelings are a clue for me that I need to slow down, pray, and rest, and there is nothing better than doing absolutely nothing and waiting for answers from the Divine.  I sometimes think that God would talk more to us if we just stopped moving for awhile and stayed still long enough to listen.

    (Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)
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    Mother

    Posted on May 18, 2018 by Jenn

    ***trigger warning: the writer touches upon difficult subjects like childhood abuse, systemic racism, and forgiveness***

    So last weekend was Mother’s Day, and I was tempted to write an essay about the day, my experiences thus far as a human being with a complicated relationship with a woman I do not even see.  It isn’t easy having a disrupted relationship with your own mother.  People are very quick to judge you, shushing you and clucking their teeth, as to why you choose to remain distant.  Attempting to explain the reason for the distance is sort of like trying to explain verbal language to the surreal aliens that Amy Adams encounters in the recent movie Arrival.  In this scenario, I am Amy, trying my best to help the other humans understand the aliens who access reality in vastly different ways from them.

    Who is my mother in this metaphor? It can’t be taken too far, of course, but metaphors are one of the things that help us, human beings, process our daily experiences.  Metaphors fill the earth, our religions, school playgrounds, and civil discourse. I hear them everyday in the counseling room, in my own head as I think of poems and stories to write, as I read words on a written page in a beloved memoir, or in daily conversation with others.  It is part of being human, I think, to use poetry to express the ineffable, the mystery of being human and being alive in a jarring yet beautiful world.

    The week leading up to Mother’s Day, I experienced increasing panic and apprehension about the day, and I had good reason.  I am in a Twelve-Step recovery group for people affected by the disease of alcoholism, in which a few woman have advised me to connect with my mother, in spite of the physical assaults, emotional abuse, and sexual misconduct.  Several of them wail and lament the loss of contact with my mother, perhaps projecting their own tiny insecurities about losing their own mothers or whatever, onto my life and advise me, repeatedly, to make contact, to try and engage her, to make her want me.

    Sometimes people in Twelve-Step groups can be so helpful, well-intentioned, and exhausting.  Sometimes I wish they would check their “help” at the door and simply accept that sometimes some parents do unconscionable things to their children.  It is not their job to fix anyone, but to listen well, to support and encourage, and to stay in the solution.  The problem is that sometimes the solution is respectful, prayerful distance, and that usually doesn’t sit well with most folks.

    ***

    When I was a little girl, I lived on the outskirts of a small country town with my father and mother, isolated from our New England family.  Our nearest neighbor was a young couple about a mile down the white gravel road that led to their double-wide mobile home.  Mother was the social one of my parents’ marriage, and there were many happy times I remember us driving to the five-and-dime store and the closest library (about a thirty minute drive away), and swimming at the local community pool.  Mother and I would often visit the ladies who lived around the small town, with my mother listening to their tales of woe and heartbreak.

    I loved both my parents very much, but I was very aware that my mother was different from the other mothers.  It was mostly due to her skin color, which I loved: milk chocolate brown (due to a birth defect).  The atmosphere in North Texas in the early 1980s remained steeped in White supremacy and it continues to remain so.  I know because I experienced it, along with my mother.  Growing up, many times people thought my mother was my nanny. I would proudly exclaim that no, indeed, this woman, was my own beloved mother, but I would wonder why they would assume she was the help.  It only increased my anxiety that something was very wrong with the world and led to an early racial awakening and very real understanding of how racism continues to thrive in our country.  It is madness and creates isolation, leads to mental illness, mass incarceration, and tears apart relationships including the one we have with ourselves.

    I cannot imagine what stress living in North Texas in the early 1980s put on my mother.  She was a gregarious person, charming with a huge toothy grin, and all my friends loved her for her warmth, affection, and humor.  Sometimes when I am with little children now, and I make them laugh and smile and see how they do not judge my beautiful (yet unruly) curly hair, my large glasses, and my height, and think to myself, This is why Mother loved working with children. They are precious gifts, beams of light that do not judge you but only welcome you in with love.

    The darker side to the story includes things that may make you uncomfortable: beatings, hair-pulling, brutal criticism for most anything I did that was not perfection.  This is the sort of thing we usually like to read about in scary stories, but when our lives are scary stories, we seek solace in a variety of ways, some of us through drugs or alcohol, some of us through controlling others, and some of us by cultivating the very Death instinct we received from growing up. The latter was my addiction, and for many years, I chose darkness, actively participating in my own death through various ways. Then, a few years ago in the middle of my work in the Twelve Steps, I woke up. Both God and the Twelve Steps saved my life.

    ***

    The last time I saw my mother was in 2004. I was in the midst of my twenties, a lonely time for me, as I was trying my best to find stability in a variety of areas.  One of my friends suggested I try again to cultivate a relationship with my mother.  His recommendation touched a deep chord within me, so I found her phone number, long buried in a stack of papers near my living room computer, and gave her a call.  She was not happy to hear from me.  This should have been my first clue, but a frenzied desire to restore and reconcile our relationship compelled me to push an encounter with her, which I did but at my own expense.

    Dear reader, it did not end well with hugs and kisses and amends made for past mistakes.  I had huge dreams and expectations that it would end in harmony. (In counseling circles, we call this magical thinking.)  It had the opposite effect: it sent me back in my own healing, practically damaging any chance there would be for a restored relationship with my mother.  Unbelievably, I totally forgot about the assault until last year when I completed my Fourth Step, a grueling account of sorts in which you analyze your life, looking for any fears, resentments, and past hurts and discover your part in them.  The goal is to free you from victimhood and help you embrace ownership in your life choices.

    The question is where does a child find her contribution in the participation of physical and emotional abuse from parents?*

    ***

    One of the most freeing things I receive from being in a  Twelve-Step community is that I get a glorious opportunity to detach with love from the hurt people in my life, including my own mother.  Detachment is simple: you remember that the hurt person is one of God’s kids and that this is the truest thing about them, beyond their weird behaviors, difficult mannerisms, and strange ways of relating.  It’s the royal road to forgiveness, which folks in Twelve-Step groups say is letting go of all hope for a better past.  It means I get to take off the lenses of denial, face the swampland of my own soul (Carl Jung), and realize the negative self-talk I struggle with comes (in part) from my mother.  However, it is something I choose to reject on a daily basis, and embrace healing and the long road of forgiveness, compassion training, and actively wishing my mother well.

    And here is the real deal, friends: I do love my mother. I wish her all the best, health and happiness, and most importantly, I wish her peace.  I wish her all good things and know that if or when God intends for us to connect, that He will do it in his own time.

    A Scripture that brings me comfort when others are trying their best to get their “help” all over me is from 1 Corinthians 13.  In The Message, Paul writes “love does not force itself on others. . . but keeps going to the end.”  So I smile calmly as the chorus of women try their best to fix me, reminding myself that I am worthy of love and being helped (even if it pisses me off now and again) because these women truly care about my welfare.  They are the mothers I always longed for and now have, thanks to a program of ragamuffins and spiritual vagabonds who want recovery and freedom from the past. I remember that I often fall into wanting to fix others, my help getting in the way of their dignity, and I pause and breathe deeply, knowing that the long slow work of redemption takes time.  I trust that God knows about our complicated relationship and that wishing her well is the best Mother’s Day gift I can offer to my own mother.

    *To clarify, there is nothing that a child does that warrants parental abuse.  Children are by their very nature helpless and dependent upon their parents for security, safety, warmth, and love.  When parents engage in physical violence, emotional taunts, and sexual abuse, then children suffer greatly. It is never the fault of the child to receive such abuse.

    (Photo by Jasper Boer on Unsplash)

     

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    The Only Way Out

    Posted on April 23, 2018 by Jenn

    Sometimes the only way out is through. (Anonymous)

    There are so many things swirling in my mind right now, so much pain that lives close to the edge of my social mask I wear daily. I try my best to keep the pain at bay, forcing myself to smile and be grateful for the blessings of others. I try so hard to be grateful for the little things, like holding a newborn baby, seeing big puffy white clouds in the brilliant blue sky, and petting my cats’ furry bellies.

    The truth is that today, dear reader, I am so damn lonely I can barely see straight.  Even being around people has not helped because there is this thing between me and them. I do not know how to explain it, but it’s a barrier of sorts.  I hear the words of others and make all the appropriate facial expressions one is supposed to make in order to lift my mood and elevate me, but it is not working.  Again.

    I do not know whether it is loneliness, depression, lingering sadness, grief, or hormonal fluctuations.  I try not to figure it out because as Henri Nouwen once wrote “demons love to be analyzed”  but let’s be clear, the grief is here.

    So many things in my life have not turned out the way I planned them.  I have so much to be grateful for and yet there are some very real things my heart desires that I fear will not come to pass.  What is there to do? Where do I go when things are this intense?

    I am lucky enough to have a found an anonymous blogger whose voice speaks to me and reminds me who the Great Someone is that will never leave me but longs for my good, who is trustworthy, is aware of my struggles, and is transforming my heart.  Many things that happened to me, that have shaped the woman I become are in the past.  They no longer exist in the outside world but they linger on in my memories, both real and imagined.

    My work, it seems, is to keep moving forward, to acknowledge the demons of depression, despair, grief, and loneliness but not to feed them any longer.  This is where the real work of transformation occurs.

    It also calls me to trust God, and surrender all of me to Him.  Radical trust. Radical grace. Radical acceptance of my life, just as it is today. What a tough concept to swallow when we live in an instant-gratification and me-first-now culture.

    So I will say it again: today has been hard for a variety of reasons.  Nine years ago my father died and left me to pick up the pieces. It hasn’t been easy. I have made some beautiful and terrible choices along the way, but I strive to keep on going, trusting that God has my back all of the time and that this transformation is messy, time-consuming, but will ultimately result in my freedom from despair.

    We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. (Maya Angelou)

    Bibliography:

    Nouwen, Henri. 2016. Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life. New York: Convergent.

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    Riding the Waves

    Posted on April 16, 2018 by Jenn

    I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might / I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens. (Psalm 77:1, The Message)

    I’ve been struggling with a bout of chronic pain, and it’s making things difficult for me to believe the best, to hope, and to trust in the basic goodness that resides in life and in others.  I’ve been having to let myself feel all my feelings and have realized how much I over-identify with some of my more so-called negative feelings like sadness, anger, and fear.

    In his teaching on Emotional Sobriety, Richard Rohr talks unashamedly about how our emotions are reactions based on early conditioning, personality, and cultural upbringing and his words on the sharpness of strong emotions echoes Brene Brown’s findings in her seminal work on shame resilience.  His call to action is to look to God for our needs for affection, emotional security, belonging, and identity.  They will not be found in others because we are limited human beings; we simply cannot be god to others because we do not have the capacity. I breathed a deep sigh of relief as I listened because I am actively wrestling against the instinct to find my identity in pleasing others, in working so hard that I have to take time off to recover, and in making things look perfect for others so that I can feel good.  That’s my old program for happiness and it no longer works for me.

    So the thing to do, of course, is to lean into the sharp edges of emotions, just as they are, and move through them. I find it helpful to think of myself surfing when I find myself in the midst of a strong feeling. I remind myself that feelings are like waves and sometimes they are so strong we do get hurled into the water and thrown off course.   The beauty of waves is that no matter how large they are is that they will indeed pass away eventually.  The trick for me is to focus on God in the midst of the strong waves and listen for his voice rather than reacting to the clamor within.

    This sounds so easy but as usual, theory is very different than practice.

    My weekend has been a challenging one due to the chronic pain episode.  Many feelings have surfaced and much is related to grief and loss.  I mourn the loss of my ability to lift weights as it was something I remember doing fondly when I was a teenager and young adult.  My physician has advised me that lifting weights is probably out, but that I can do resistance bands, but still, the pull to the past me, the one who was stronger and healthier, who used to  be able to lift, is enormous.  The call, of course, is for me to let go of the past and embrace this new way of being.

    What does that look like in the midst of chronic health conditions that make it difficult to think straight sometimes?  For me, it looks like talking back to the messages within the feelings but putting them in their place.  I no longer need that old storyline.  In fact, I need to focus on what I do have and what I can do to take good care of myself.  It means positive self-talk, actively saying out loud what the truth really is instead of listening to the old storyline of gloom, doom, and despair.  Paradoxically, it also means that when someone asks how I am doing, rather than putting on a cheerful face and pretending that all is well I say the truth like “I’m doing okay. I’m in some pain today. How about you?”

    I think we do a grave disservice to our humanity when we constantly try to put a positive spin on many things in our lives and then, consequently, the lives of all of those around us.  Cognitive reframing, while an important tool in counseling, can cut off an honest exchange a person shares in order to process his or her feelings.  It is an example of cognitive rigidity, really, because the focus it does not allow the presence of grief, of sadness and loss, of unrelenting sorrow that happens in our lives.  These are perfectly normal responses when bad things happen to us.  Can you imagine sharing something heartbreaking with someone only to hear that person respond with “Well, you should be grateful you have been beaten by your husband/have cancer/lost a child/have chronic pain/etc., because it makes you are stronger?”

    Well, thank you for sharing, but I’m not buying your fix today.

    God wants our honesty and if that means a cry-fest, then go for it. If that means talking angrily to God, then go for it. If that means, mourning the loss of the past, then by all means, do it.  Our emotions are precious messages telling us to pay attention to our bodies, minds, and souls.  As psychologist Susan David said in her recent TED talk on emotional agility, emotions are “data not directives.”  They tell us crucial things about ourselves that we would not normally have accessed before, directing us to take action in accordance with the values we hold most dear.

    So for today I will allow my feelings to rise and pass away, remembering that it is always okay to feel first, and then focusing on the things I can change.  It means I have to actively practice trusting God in the not-knowing future, which is scary for me.  It’s scary to walk through life’s uncertainties on my own, but I don’t feel nearly as terrified when I put my focus on trusting that God will get me through.  And for those of us who have a hard time admitting that it’s okay to feel all of our feelings and yet walk the balancing act of not allowing them to control us,  take a look at Psalm 77 in the Message. I think it gives a great template for how to feel our feelings and then move to God and gratitude to keep going.  In the Psalm, David raises his voice in anger to the Divine, but he reminds himself of the works God has done for his people, which redirects his “stinking thinking” to a more balanced perspective,  And balance is just what I’m looking for when it comes to riding the waves of this strange, wild, raucous, and beautiful life.

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    A Cup of Gratitude

    Posted on March 27, 2018 by Jenn

    It has been six months since I began this blogging adventure, and I have learned much about myself through the process of writing, the sheer terror and thrill of putting my work out there for anyone to see, and the process of letting go of the results.  This has not been the easiest thing to do, but it’s been one of the most freeing and life-giving things I have ever done, next to psychotherapy, flying in an airplane, and serving the poor in another country.

    Today, the only thing I want to write about today is my gratitude for you, the dear readers who take time out of your busy days to read my little essays.  Thank you for reading my work, for posting uplifting comments, for your encouragement, friendship, support, investment, and love.  Some of you persuaded me regularly to keep writing and posting, no matter what happens.  Some of you read my blog and think about what I have written and share no comments, which is also fine, as technology can be a double-edged sword of pleasure and annoyance.

    I totally get it and thank you anyway.

    For me, writing is not only an activity to do in solitude but one that pulls me into the embrace of humanity, the embrace of a God who works in the economy of grace, through others, nature, community, and time.  I write because I long to connect with others whose lives reflect the desire to rise above the difficulties they face each day.

    So just imagine you and I are having a cup of tea together at my house. I put water in the electric kettle in my front room tea station and grab a couple of my favorite mugs off the black rack on my wall above the painting of the joyful woman, and you and I sit down together over a cup of tea, a meal, and we break bread together.  Truly, this is what writing feels like, and I have no better explanation than that.

    I am nothing if not a bit earnest and serious in my love for God and for others and and writing, and I thank you, again, for going on this journey with me.

    Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. (Philipians 1:3-4 MSG).

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    What Some Families Do to You

    Posted on March 2, 2018 by Jenn

    So much of my own recovery has been unlearning the sick ways of being that my parents taught me.  I wish it were not the case. I wish that I had been born to normal, well-adjusted parents, who gave comfort, solace, and support instead of verbal assaults, beatings, and uncaring silence.

    In the deepest part of my soul, I know that they truly did the best they could with the skills, tools, and willingness they had.  However, their best was absolutely shitty.

    This is not exactly comforting news.

    But make no mistake: I am better, healthier, and more alive than I ever have been before.  I feel loved, cherished, and cared for by the God of the universe who offers boundless grace and peace by the mysterious circle of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  I’m reading through the Divine Dance by Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell and know, in the marrow of my bones, that there truly is a celebration going on inside of me ALL THE TIME, and I am invited, and have been, since the day I was born.  The same invitation extends to you.  There are no exceptions.

    But sometimes it is nice to read something and laugh out loud as you realize, yet again, how long it takes to undo some things.  This poem by Philip Larkin captures how I have been feeling lately, and as I keep moving forward in my own recovery I remember that it is okay to be angry and okay to forgive. Maybe even in the same breath.

    Philip Larkin’s “This Be the Verse”

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

    Bibliography:

    Larkin, Phillip. (1971).  This Be the Verse. Retrieved from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48419/this-be-the-verse.

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