Walking Opens Your Mind

I woke up confused this morning thinking it was Thursday and scolding myself for not walking yesterday. What a relief to discover that it’s Wednesday and I’m not losing my mind.

At the end of the driveway, I turned left instead of right, this time. It’s a little longer and a lot tougher with the hills and all. We live in a pasture. Well, a once-upon-a-time pasture with houses now instead of critters. Some farmers kept their land, though; the ones with the cows, horses, and goats. Pigs, too. But they don’t smell as bad as some of the seeping sewage around here.

See that house on the hill? Hubby and I toured it after it was built. I loved the sunroom, and the basement, and the garage, and the kitchen, and the fireplace in the great room. It even had running water and inside toilets. Not that our house doesn’t have those bare necessities. They just felt more luxurious in a big brand spanking new house.

Trudging up the steep hill, my back whining now, a man with a Santa Clause beard swaying in the wind was unloading a bicycle from the truck parked in the driveway. The kid pacing back and forth excitedly must be his grandson, I mused.

I hollered, “Good morning! I love your beard. My son would be jealous!”

Beaming from ear to ear he chuckled, “Thank you! My grand-kids like it, too. Won’t let me cut it off!”

I’m walking slower by the second, now. Somehow the hill seemed bigger than the last time I walked it; like a Mount Everest kind of bigger.

Taking my mind off my grumbling hips and legs, I spied a tree I wanted to take home with me. It had huge branches perfect for a swing I’ve been pestering hubby to death for years to put up. But none of our trees have branches big enough to hold even my great-grandkids so I guess that leaves me freezing stark naked in a blinding blizzard.

Passing another house, I heard voices drifting from the driveway, a great relief knowing I’m not alone in case I pass out in the middle of the road. Wait. They weren’t just in my head were they?

I’m on the homestretch, now, feeling ecstatic considering the steep hills I just conquered. I wasn’t crawling anyhow. At least I didn’t think I was until a snail passed me, laughing his fool head off. Smart-aleck!

Suddenly, a bug smacked me on the arm. But I didn’t throw a conniption fit. Didn’t want the neighbors peeking out their windows and thinking they have a crazy person living near them.

Trudging up the long, narrow tree-lined driveway now, I didn’t realize it had so many cracks in it; more cracks than we have money to repair them. Then I got this great idea. I’m going to sit at the end of the driveway holding a cardboard sign that reads:

PAVE MY DRIVEWAY AND I WILL FEED YOU

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Do It!

I went for a walk this morning. A big deal since I barely remember the last time I laced up my walking shoes. But, this morning I decided to stop making stupid excuses and just get out there and do it.

I usually walk Pepper, our little black dachshund lab mix. Unlike our greyhound mix, Bella, jerking and pulling me around like a team of wild horses, Pepper’s a joy to walk. But, this morning I just wanted to walk doggie-free.

After feeding the dogs and putting on a pot of coffee I scrambled out the door and down the steps before changing my mind. For a split second, I was tempted to take the car instead. But since my eye surgery eight years ago, I don’t have a license. I don’t have a watch either. Pepper chewed it up. Along with some pens and pencils and probably other stuff I have yet to discover. But I know what twenty minutes looks and feels like, so I don’t need a watch today.

The last time I got serious about walking I was knocked out of commission for weeks. Ruptured disc. Pain that only a sledgehammer to the head would have relieved. Fearing I might end up like that again, I kept it at a turtle’s pace.

It was cooler than I expected; almost too cool for my favorite yellow jersey capris and faded short-sleeved shirt. But, the clean fresh air felt good washing over me, so I continued down the long, tree-lined driveway and across the road.

When we first moved here from the city, I didn’t like living in the country. I thought we had made the biggest mistake of our lives. I cried for weeks. Since we aren’t rich we couldn’t sell and move again. So I was stuck here to tough it out. Eventually, I did stop crying, but it would be years before I surrendered my heart and soul to country living.

Maybe that’s why the grass seemed so much greener today, and the sun beamed down so much brighter from the cloudless Carolina blue sky. I even smiled at the cows grazing on the hillside thinking what lovely, bawling neighbors they’ve become.

Looking down I saw a pulverized frog on the road. Poor thing. I hate when that happens. I wanted to scrape him up and give him a decent burial.

My girlfriend and I held a funeral for a dead bug once. Of course, we were only ten. We even put mercurochrome and a band-aid on a frog’s belly. I had accidentally run over him with the push reel lawnmower. I thought a rock had gotten stuck between the blades. To my horror, it was a frog instead.  After gently doctoring him up we laid him belly up on a clean white napkin in the cool grass praying for his recovery. Sadly, he didn’t make it.

Walking does that to me; takes me to places I haven’t been in a long time. Happy places that only a child can relate to and understand. It clears my head. It helps me to get in touch with my feelings and to see things from a different perspective.

It was a short but invigorating walk. The wind threatened to yank off my orange, smiley face cap a few times, but I didn’t freeze to death. I even came across a critter in the road that wasn’t dead. A black bug the size of an elephant. I hate bugs. But I hate killing them even worse, so I made a wide circle around him and headed home.

The dogs met me at the front door, barking and jumping up and down like a pair of frenzied kangaroos, their tails waving frantically as if I’d been gone a week.

And where was hubby?

Still in bed. Hadn’t even moved. Snoring louder than a locomotive.

Silly man.

 

 

 

 

Does God Really Care?

My mother was a mess. A real neurotic, paranoid, yelling and screaming broken mess, striking out at me as if her abusive childhood was my fault. My fault that her mother dumped her in an orphanage. My fault that she had a foster-mother from Hell. My fault that my dad didn’t work, that they were behind in the bills and my youngest brother was getting into trouble every time he blinked.

And I believed it.

I should have been there and punched that wicked foster-mother in the face. I should have been there when her sadistic son molested her in the barn.  I should have beat him up, hung him from the highest tree stark naked in the blazing sun and let the buzzards finish him off.

That’s what I should have done.

And I felt smugly justified in my feelings seeing how broken my mother was. How the fury inside her erupted time and again. How none of us knew how to help her or cope with the hopelessness and devastation her brokenness caused.

I don’t know why I felt so responsible for my mother’s tragic childhood. I don’t know why I thought I had the power to make her all better. Maybe I thought if she could just one time see and feel my love it would be enough.

It wasn’t.  All the love, wealth and happiness in the world wouldn’t have been enough.

But, I never stopped trying to be her “enough”. Trying and failing again and again till I had nothing left to give but a heart boiling with rage.

Carelessly, she used my tender, sensitive emotions to control me; to feel a sense of power she never felt growing up. Oh, how she loved un-zipping her soul revealing the wounded inner child, whimpering how she was beaten till she bled. How she walked a mile to school in snow up to her elbows. How she’d find rocks in her lunch bag instead of food. How her foster-mother hung her pee-stained sheets out her bedroom window for every passerby to see. If I resisted her mad ploy for control, She’d hammer me to the ground with her lengthy crypt-like silence till I finally caved in.

My mother had a china-doll-Incredible Hulk syndrome. Delicate and fragile one minute and a raging, roaring monster the next. My bedroom became my haven, but not for my poor Barbie dolls that were slammed repeatedly on the bed by a raging lunatic. Sometimes I’d even chop off their long, beautiful hair.

I admit I was a hellcat of uncontrollable fury against my mother at times, especially when I entered my teens and began pulling tighter on the reigns. I was a good kid; a Christian kid. I took to heart the morals she pounded into my head. I didn’t chase after boys, or lie, cheat or steal. I hung around wholesome kids and always checked in to let her know where I was. I earned my freedom and trust, didn’t I?

Nope! Nope! Nope!

Finally, the battle of the wills turned into a full-blown war neither of us would ever win.  And the very one who tried her darndest to save her is now drowning in a cesspool of grief, crying for help. But help never came.

No human hand reached out and touched me. No human arms held me tightly as I cried. No human voice whispered in the darkness everything will be okay.

But God did.

For years I ran from Him, though, blaming Him for everything that went wrong. My life was one big question mark of why’s. Why did you let it happen? Why didn’t you rescue my mother? Why didn’t you rescue me? Why? Why? Why?

He didn’t answer all my why’s, but He understood all my pain. He understood my raging fury. He cared that I was a shattered mess. And to prove it, He opened my eyes and I saw His beaming face. He touched my wild, rebellious heart. He held me in His arms like my father never did. He whispered to me in the darkness, “I’ve got this. I’ve got you. I’ll never let you go.”

It’s been a long bumpy ride. At times, it was like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. But, although we never had a perfect relationship, after six years of no contact, we finally had a few civil years before she passed away.

There’s still that empty longing that only a mother can fill. My heart still cries for her. And I can’t help but wonder what a peaceful, loving home life would have felt like. Then, I look at my son and his happy, growing family and I know.

And I feel deeply blessed. Deeply rewarded when I did nothing to deserve it. And I can’t thank God enough for all that He has done for me even when I thought He didn’t care. I see now that through the darkest dungeon of despair, He was there, giving me strength, nudging me forward, teaching me, encouraging me, sending people to love me, picking up the pieces of my life as if they were priceless jewels. He never once left my side. Not even for a second.

I will never leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:5).

 

 

 

 

 

Voice of a Strong-willed Child

I was born this way. I don’t come with instructions. So, listen very carefully.

I will fight you. I will run from you. I will scream and yell at you. I will make the neighbors think you’re killing me. I will drive you utterly insane.

Love me anyway.

Don’t try to change me, break me, tame me; I will not be ridden. I am wild. I am strong. I am a free spirit. I will do things my way, in my time no matter how hard you push and tug and pull me.

Love me anyway.

I know I’m difficult. I know I don’t fit in. I know I will never be that prized child you hoped for. But don’t compare me. Don’t judge and criticize me. Don’t shut me out. That only enrages the beast within.

I will say and do things; mean things that neither of us understands. I will hate myself, hurt myself, hurt others if you’re not strong enough or love me enough to guide me down this troublesome path. Ignite your fuse of exasperation and I will blow up in your face. I won’t trust you. I won’t talk to you. I will move completely away from you and you may never get me back.

Love me. Respect me. Praise me . . . again and again. Talk to me. Protect me. Make me feel safe. Beneath this rock-hard fortress of stubbornness, I am a shattered mess of fears and emotions I don’t understand.

Value my honesty. Listen to my concerns. Laugh at my silly antics. Don’t get so worked up over everything I do and say that you think is so ghastly wrong. I’m just a kid with a different view of the world; searching for truth, honor, and strength. So, when you feel like knocking my brains out, hug me instead. If I resist, hug me tighter. Make me believe that you mean it. Make me feel your tender strength. Make me feel I’m not alone in this crazy, mixed up place.

If you don’t, my life will be a living hell of guilt and shame, forever feeling I should never have been born. Forever kicking and screaming against the world. Forever ravaged by the roaring beast within.

So, don’t make raising me more difficult than it already is. If I’m too much for you to handle, get help . . . PLEASE! And when you do, I will show you that I was worth it.

 

 

Deadly Addictions

I loved him. He was my brother. But there were times I wanted to kill him. Like when he was fourteen and burned down the vacant house up the street. When he broke into schools to steal pencils and erasers. When the cops came knocking on our door. When he made my mother cry. When he cussed me on the phone at three in the morning. When he stole from my husband. When he’d abandon his wife and kids for days. When his promises went up in smoke. When he shook his fist in my dad’s face and called him an old man; the same old man who bailed him out of trouble a million times over; the same old man that he never saw again after that. Didn’t even go to the funeral.

Drugs were his food. Alcohol was his water. Prison was his home.

Addicted to a life of thrills and chills, he was a living, breathing hurricane of total destruction in the lives he touched. Truth was a foreign language. Denial was a constant companion. Honesty was as fake as a two-headed dragon.

Why? Why was he so bent on self-destruction? What was so enthralling about running from the cops or living in the woods or spinning tails that even the devil couldn’t believe? Why did he think he was so entitled to do whatever he pleased regardless of the cost to society, to his family, to himself?

Why didn’t he do something constructive with his art, his poetry, and writing? He was brilliant. He could have flown as high as an eagle but chose to wallow in the mud like a pig. Why?

I don’t know. I just know that while he was high on drugs and living a life of crime I was wishing I had a brother I could depend on. A brother I could talk to. A brother I could trust. I was wishing he would straighten up before it was too late. I was wishing he would remove the blindfolds and see how much I loved him.

A few days before Thanksgiving 2014 we had a screaming match over the phone. I hung up on him, wishing he was in front of me so I could smack him upside the head. A few days later he called back. As always, I accepted his apology. The day after Thanksgiving, he was found dead in his apartment.

He was sixty-three.

It still hurts. I still miss him. I still wish he had chosen a sensible life. And regardless of the things he had done, the people he had hurt, the destruction he caused, I loved him. I loved him then. I love him now. I’ll love him till I die. He was my little brother and now he’s gone.

So I sit here, barely able to see the screen through my tears, wishing I could hear his voice once more. Wishing I could tell him I’m praying for him once more. Wishing I could convince him to change his ways before it’s too late . . . once more. Now, I can only hope that he did.

 

 

 

I Want More of This and Less of That

I got a makeover today. I asked the makeup artist to make my eyes look bigger, my nose to look smaller, and my lips to look fuller.

Yeah, I’m just clowning around. But how many of us are never satisfied with our looks? As a kid, I used to sit for hours drawing before and after pictures of myself because I never liked what I saw in the mirror: freckles splattered all over my face, eyebrows and eyelashes you couldn’t see with the naked eye, and straight, stubborn red hair. And I was skinny. Like, Olive Oyl skinny. My clothes looked better on the coat hanger than they looked on me.

But, I wasn’t alone in my self-loathing world. My best friend was so self-conscious of her weight that it was like coaxing a mule to get her to poke her head out the door. Another friend hated her feet and nose and said they were the two ugliest body parts ever. And then there was the boob thing. They were either too big, too little, or non-existent. Guess where I fit in.

It’s a shame that many of us go through life feeling “less than” for whatever reason. Why do we do that? What is so awful about that body part we don’t like? So awful that we feel we belong in a zoo; or even worse, a freak show. So awful that many have spent thousands of dollars to fix only to end up broke and just as dissatisfied as ever.

Ken and Barbie didn’t help much. And neither did models and movie stars with their dazzling eyes, flawless skin, and perfect bodies. The unspoken message was and still is, what you see is what you should look like. And if you don’t, you might as well wear a bag over your head.

And we believe it!

I fell into that deep dark hole of believing that people didn’t like me because I was ugly. The truth is, I didn’t like myself because I believed I was ugly. I believed that from head to toe something was really wrong with me. I mean, really! Other girls my age had boobs. Why couldn’t I?

According to guys, boobs were way better than brains. I grew up with brothers, I know. They would laugh and tell me I was a pirates dream because I had a sunken chest. And they hid Playboy books under their mattresses and google-eyed every girl who bounced like a pair of basketballs when she walked.

So yeah. I got the message loud and clear. If you don’t have boobs you might as well be dead.

While laying in the sun one day, my bathing suit stuffed with toilet paper, I felt completely hopeless of ever looking like a real girl. But I believed in prayer. I even believed in miracles. So I prayed, “Lord. Please give me some boobs!”

Today, I’m so thankful God didn’t give me what I asked for. And I’m thankful that I learned to love myself as I am. If we can’t love and accept ourselves, how can we possibly love and accept others? If all we see when we look at someone is their physical appearance then we’re not seeing that person at all. There’s so much more to a book than its cover. You have to open it. You have to read it. Only then can you know and appreciate what it’s all about.

So I don’t care what you look like. I don’t care what color your skin is. I don’t care if you walk with a limp, stutter when you talk if you’re gay or straight or have tattoos and piercings from head to toe. I care about your heart. And I judge whether I want you as my friend by what’s in your heart.

It’s been a long, hard journey, this self-discovery thing. A journey that most of us have traveled. And until we can realize that there is no “perfect” in this world we’ll never end that torturous journey. We’ll never be happy with ourselves. We’ll never dig deep inside ourselves to see what really makes us tick. We’ll die wishing we could be like someone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A House Without a Dog is Not a Home

When Rascal, our handsome, Australian Shepard mix of eight years died, he took part of us with him. The grief was so unbearable that I never wanted another dog to wrap my heart around only to have it ripped apart.

But hubby couldn’t stop grieving and I couldn’t stand seeing him suffer. So, for his birthday, we paid a visit to the animal shelter, and there she was, curled up in a big cage on a skimpy blanket on that cold cement floor frightened and all alone.

Hubby fell in love.

I didn’t. She wasn’t Rascal.

So we kept looking.

No Rascal anywhere.

But hubby wasn’t looking for Rascal and kept dragging me back to that pitiful, scrawny, long-legged Greyhound mix curled up in that dreary cage. I guess I’m a sucker for pitiful, so we adopted her.

That was three years ago. Yep! Three years of wanting to wring her neck for chewing up her bed, and my pillows, and my couch; things Rascal NEVER did. Three years of her hyperactive personality, her jumping and jerking around when we tried petting her. Three years of trying to stop comparing her to Rascal.

Then a year ago Pepper came into our lives. Sweet, dainty, loving little Pepper. She was more dead than alive after being abandoned along with fifteen other dogs. She was so skinny I could barely feel her when she jumped on my lap. Then she licked my face, pierced my soul with those big brown eyes, and that did it. We bundled her up and took her home, hoping and praying Bella would approve.

It was love at first sight. Kindred spirits.

Having two dogs at one time in the house is more than challenging. It’s insane! Pepper loves jumping on the table, and countertops. Heck, she just loves jumping! The higher the better. Now Bella thinks she can jump that high, too. And Pepper is a chewer. Bella stopped until Pepper came along. And she was potty trained till Pepper came along. She was getting more settled till Pepper came along. We had to potty train her all over again. And Bella poops and pees like a cow. So yeah. I was tempted to haul them both off to the animal shelter. But, you already know what a sucker I am for pitiful.

In spite of all their frustrating antics, they are beautiful, loving dogs. They love each other and can hardly stand to be apart. And they love us and children and whoever comes to visit. Most of all, they bring us joy and happiness and a ton of laughter. And when I think where they might be today had we not rescued them, I want to cry

Oh, What a Tangled Mess We’ve Made

I’ve been many things throughout my life, but I’ve never been old. I don’t know how to do old. It’s like learning to ride a bike, or even worse, driving a car. It’s scary. I want to clean my house like I used to, work in my yard like I used to, jump out of bed like I used to. But I can’t. And I get mad at myself. I get depressed. I whine and complain like it’s my husband’s fault, and he’s no young bull, either.

So forgetting (a major drawback to getting old) that old age crept in somewhere between holding down jobs, raising a kid and retirement we, I mean I decided to paint the inside of our house. Yep! Every room. Every door. Every window and baseboard.

Piece of cake.

Well, that piece of cake turned into a cement block the moment we sank our teeth (a few things I still have left) into such an overwhelming undertaking. We forgot, that before we could begin painting we had to take down pictures and shelves and clocks and curtains and window blinds. We had to pull out nails and screws, putty and sand, and sweep the cobwebs. Then I actually had to clean!

By now we’re ready for a nap. But, wait! We still have furniture to move. So finishing our third cup of coffee, we drag our butts off the couch and take out dresser drawers, remove a ton of books from bookshelves, and pile everything in another room.

How wonderful! Now we’ve made a big fat mess in every room of the house, the dogs are confused and we want to wrap our scrawny, withered fingers around each other’s throat.

I wish I could say I acted my age during the ordeal. I wish I could say I was kind and understanding when my husband wasn’t moving fast enough to suit me. And I sure wish I could say that if anyone came to the door they wouldn’t hear me yelling like a blooming idiot. But I can’t.

Oh, how I wanted to leave everything behind, move to a brand new house and start over. Even the nursing home was beginning to look good.

And as if painting the rooms weren’t a big enough job, I decided to paint furniture, too! Who told me I could do all that without going mouth-foaming mad?

My house is like walking through a maze of stuff I forgot I even had, forget where it came from and don’t know where to begin to put it all back. I’m thinking of calling the Salvation Army to come and haul it all away.

Ten weeks. Fifty million coffee breaks. Two and a half-dead bodies. That’s how long it’s been. Only God knows how much longer it’s going to be before we’re finally done.

Have I learned anything through this craziness? Well, let me think. I’ve learned that life doesn’t make sense sometimes, especially getting old. I learned that old age has me by the throat and ain’t gonna let go no matter how hard I kick and scream. I learned that I push myself and others too hard; especially my husband. I learned that what matters to me doesn’t always matter to hubby, especially having everything in its place . . . all the time. I learned that I’m geared to jump in and do whatever it takes to get the job done. I learned that I’m still trying to live up to someone else’s expectations and not my own. I learned that I need to pull back the reigns hitched to my brain and allow my body to catch up . . . if it ever does. I learned that no matter how hard I try to be normal it’s impossible for me to be less than perfect.

Now I just need to learn how to grow old gracefully, if there is such a thing.

No, we’re not done. I finally realize that I can’t do it all in one day anymore and I need a break. A very long break. Hubby strained his arm and I feel like a wrung out dish rag. So much to my husband’s delight, we’re quitting till after Christmas. I didn’t say which Christmas but, hopefully, this Christmas. And maybe this time next year, this gut-wrenching nightmare will be as faded as a worn out pair of blue jeans. We’ll curl up on the couch with our lovely dogs and a hot cup of brew, gaze at our freshly painted walls and try to remember who was so kind to paint them for us . . .

 

 

 

Three Baby Skunks and a Birthday Party

I smelled it as soon as I walked through the front door. That one-of-a-kind-forget-me-not smell. That worse than the worse ever smell that fumigates your car nearly chokes you to death and lingers for miles and miles down the road. So, yeah. I knew there was a skunk in the house.

Like a bloodhound, I searched for the culprit. And there, sitting on the couch giggling like two mischievous imps were my brothers playing with, not one but three, bushy-tailed baby skunks.

I like wild animals; even wanted a raccoon once. But never a skunk! But they were so cute. So, after much whining and pleading my parents said we could keep them for a little while in a box outside.

Oh, the plans that we made for our baby critters. We’d name them and care for them and show them to our friends. We’d be the envy of the neighborhood. The talk of the town. The kids with the baby skunks.

The next day, however, the charm of owning a skunk soon wore off. So I decided to give mine to my best friend, Florence who was older and more experienced at caring for animals. After all, she took in every stray dog in the neighborhood. And besides, it was her birthday.

But, for some odd reason, Florence wasn’t as thrilled about receiving the cute little guy as I was giving it to her. And her mother was even less thrilled. I could tell by the way the house shook and the windows rattled when she yelled, “Get that thing out of my house!”

Mrs. Morgenstern served four years in the Waves, had tattoos on both of her muscular arms, and was as intimidating as a Grizzly Bear. Not even the Godfather would have had the guts to question her authority.

“I just wanted to give it to Florence for her birthday,” I whimpered. “Besides, he doesn’t have a stink bag yet.”

“GET THAT THING OUT OF MY HOUSE!”

She must have scared the little guy cause on the way home, he bit me.

Then he bit me again.

And again.

This time, he wasn’t fooling. I jerked my hand away and landing safely on all fours he raised his bushy tail and fired!

Suddenly, like a mud-wallowing pig, I was saturated from head to toe with an indescribable, eye-watering, breathtaking stench of awful that I never want to smell up close again!

A normal kid would have left it there.

But I wasn’t a normal kid.

Covering my mouth and nose with one hand and grabbing the back of the skunk’s neck with the other, I ran home. No, I flew home!

Confused and nearly blinded by the ghastly fumes, I staggered into the kitchen where my dad sat eating a bowl of cereal.

He was a Clint Eastwood kinda guy; fearless, quiet and reserved. Even now, standing before him, feeling like an idiot smelling worse than a cesspool with a baby skunk dangling from my hand, he never flinched. Barely batted an eye. Motionless as a corpse. And as if he needed the slightest explanation, I whimpered, “He sprayed me, daddy.”

Calmly, he took a bite of cereal and said, “You need to take it outside.”

Mom stripped me down and nearly threw me into the tub of hot, soapy water where I scrubbed and sniffed till my skin was blood-red and my nose was burning. But like a tick on a dog, the stink had latched on and was there to stay for who knows how long.

That evening I went to Florence’s birthday party.

Everyone kept their distance but was nice enough not to tell me I stunk like a skunk.

I was back in Mrs. Morgenstern’s graces and never took another skunk to her house again.

My brothers and I set the skunks free.

And if someone ever tells you baby skunks don’t have a stink bag . . . don’t believe it!

~ Sandi

Diggin’ Up Bones

While letting the dogs out this morning I frowned at the holes Bella, our greyhound mix, has dug in the backyard. I don’t know what she’s digging for, bugs, probably, but I don’t like it, especially when I nearly break my neck stepping in one of them.

It got me to thinking, though, about my digging adventure. Not in the backyard, although that would have been much easier, less time-consuming, and a lot less painful. No, I picked up my shovel of determination and began digging up bones buried deep beneath a ton of hurt, anger, and confusion. Of course, God orchestrated the ordeal, otherwise, I never would have done it. But first, He had to do something to open my eyes real wide.

I’ll never forget the day I got zapped; sanctified, the preacher called it. Doesn’t matter to me what it’s called, I got a bath. Well, my heart and mind did. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all religious on you. I’m just going to try my darndest to show my deepest feelings and my personal experience with God. It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. It happened. I felt it. It changed my life.

My heart was as battered and broken as a fatal car wreck. My mind was a cesspool of depression, anger, rage, panic attacks, social anxiety disorder, noise phobia, mood swings, all adding up to Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Of course, I didn’t have a clue what all that stinking garbage was called, I just knew the hellish torment it was causing in my life and I wanted to know why. That’s when I became a digger. And that’s when everything got much worse before it got better.

Mom didn’t like the idea of my digging up the past because she didn’t want to face or feel responsible for the role she played in it. Daddy didn’t care one way or the other and my sister and brothers chose a destructive path to deal with their pain. So, that left me, the crazy one in the family to go digging for the painful truth for my sanity. And because mom was the fuse that lit the dynamite inside me, I severed all ties with her for six, long years. Did I feel guilty? Did I care what people thought? Did I cry my eyes out? Did I agonize over whether I was doing the right thing? YES! But that was my first, gut-wrenching giant step toward freedom.

With the sole support of my husband and my son, I began psychological therapy sessions once a week for two years as well as months of counseling sessions with my pastor. But, my number one Hero in teaching and leading me to the truth, is God. He is the only One who knew and completely understood my unbearable pain. He’s been there every step of the way. And I have to tell you, I’ve never known such love from anyone on this earth. And it’s His steadfast love and encouragement, His longing to set me free, that kept me digging up those ugly, dry bones buried in the darkest recesses of my mind, heart, and soul.

In the end, instead of casting blame on him and her and this and that, I took full responsibility for my lack of understanding, my anger, and rage, my unforgiveness, my stupidity, my choices. It was no longer about what happened to me but how I responded to it. It was no longer about the unfairness of being controlled and manipulated by guilt and shame and being my mother’s scapegoat and feeling emotionally raped. It was no longer about making excuses, getting revenge, seeking justice, but about healing and forgiveness. I wanted to break the chains of the past, to be free, to think for myself, to decide my fate, to be happy in spite of my brokenness. I wanted to learn more about God, about myself, about what having an abundant life means that God promises His children (John 10:10b).

There were times I wanted to give up. There were times I did give up. There were times I wished I had never been born. But I always got back up and kept going. And like a loving father rewarding his child, God turned my tears to joy. He never left me stranded. Through the darkest, scariest tunnel, He never left my side.

Am I there yet? NOPE! The journey will never end for me this side of Heaven. But I will never stop moving forward in my quest for freedom, knowledge, and understanding.

I still struggle with depression, anger, and rage. I still have a ton of anxieties; some days worse than other days. I still wish that I could know what normal feels like for five minutes. But I’m a better me today than I ever was before. I finally know, without a shadow of a doubt that God loves me . . . He really loves me! I am His precious daughter, the apple of His eye, and He always wants what’s best for me. I didn’t do anything nor could I ever do anything to deserve it, that’s just the way God is.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him (Psalms 34:8).