Living With BPD

So, I’m sitting quietly in a swivel chair in the lobby at the VA, feeling anxious as usual but nothing to cause the sleeping lion inside me alarm. Hubby was already in his room waiting for the colonoscopy. Neither of us wanted to be there, but since cancer invaded his colon several years ago and he only has a foot of it left, he must keep close tabs on it. Doctor’s orders. And mine.

The mall-like lobby was like a ghost town of vacant chairs except for one all the way across the room. There was no one breathing on me and I wasn’t breathing on anyone else, so I removed my mask and sat minding my own business checking my emails and texting my son.

About twenty minutes into my solitude a young woman from out of nowhere leaned over one of the marked off couches fifty yards away, her face covered with a stark white mask, and scolds, “Ma’am. You’re required to wear a mask.”

Maybe it was due to the stress of our refrigerator conking out and having to buy a new one, or that we had to toss a weeks worth of groceries, or had to use a cooler and being without a fridge for a week. Maybe it was due to Bella, our four-legged greyhound-mix waking me up every thirty minutes barking. Whatever the reasons were, the sleeping lion woke up.

Lions don’t take kindly to being harassed; especially old, irritable ones with anxiety disorders. My hackles raised to the ceiling. I said it didn’t make sense why I had to wear a mask when there was no one around and I’m just sitting here waiting for my husband to come out of his procedure.

Suddenly, her sweetness melted away like cotton candy on a child’s slobbering tongue and scorned, “Either you wear the mask or you will be escorted from the building!”

All right all right, I snorted to myself. I’ll put on the stupid mask! But when she strutted out of sight down the long corridor, her heels kicking up enough dust to choke an elephant, the mask came to life and jumped back in my lap.

A whole ten minutes later, she came back more huffy than when she strutted off and even had the audacity to threaten me with calling security.

That did it! The lion jumps on all fours ready to pounce! Who does she think she is telling a woman three times her age what to do? Determined to win the battle of the wills, the lion, roared, “Go ahead! call the whole army! I don’t care!”

I nearly felt sorry for her struggling to keep her balance in her paten leather stilettoes as she stormed off. Great! Now a platoon of security guards are coming to put me in a straight jacket and haul my sassy butt to jail.

I grabbed my pocketbook and hustled to the ladies room; a room colder than Alaska with one toilet, a sink, and a lock on the door. Good! She can’t come in here and drag me out by the hair and in front of a firing squad.

Not wanting anyone to think I died in there, I took some deep breaths, blew my nose, and flushed the toilet a few times before finally opening the door and finding another place to sit hoping she wouldn’t recognize me in my mask.

About fifteen minutes later, a stocky, ruddy-faced security guard invaded my space and planted himself six feet in front of me. At least he was practicing social distancing or I might have been tempted to report him.

Like a stern-faced Gorilla he stared down at me, his navy blues and stripes and badges and patriotic mask as intimating as a pointed gun to my head.

But, he couldn’t arrest me. He couldn’t tar and feather me. He couldn’t even drag me to the gallows because the mask jumped back on my face!

Hubby came through his colonoscopy. The inner lion went back to sleep and the three of us made it out of there alive!

Walking Clears My Mind

Straight from the Heart

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 somebody’s sewage around here. I hope it’s not ours.

See that house on the hill? Hubby and I toured it after it was built. I loved the sunroom, and basement, and garage, and kitchen, and fireplace in the great room. It even had running water and inside toilets. Not that our house doesn’t have…

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Stand by Your Man

Ephesians 5:22
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

The first time I heard Tammy Wynette sing, Stand by Your Man, I crossed her off my Christmas list.

My marriage had just ended. He was mean and abusive. I was a strong-willed wildcat. He stayed out all night drinking with his buddies. I paced the floors while our three-month-old slept. He told me I was no good. I believed him and cried. A lot. He threatened to leave again and again. I didn’t care anymore. While he was at work I packed his bags, set them outside the door and changed the locks. When he came home his key didn’t work so he busted through the door. The wildcat in me hissed and growled for him to leave. He kissed his son and left. End of story.

So, the lyrics of Tammy’s number one country hit raised my hackles sky high. What woman in her right mind is going to stand by her man when he treats her worse than the neighbor’s dog? What woman is going to spit shine her man’s shoes, wash and iron his lipstick-stained shirts, singing “Oh Happy Day” after he stayed out all night just being a man? And what woman is going to forgive and forget over and over and over again till death do us part?

Not this woman!

If my man wants me to love and trust and respect him plus fulfill his every desire then he better give me plenty of good reasons. Love and commitment is a two way street. At least that’s what I thought I heard when we exchanged our wedding vows.

I tell people that it took a real man to love me. And that man is the man I’ve been married to for the past forty-nine years. With his stubborn love he tore down the barbed wire fence tangled around my bleeding, unbelieving heart. With his patience he broke through the fortress of fear and distrust. With his integrity, he pried my eyes open and helped me to see that his love for me is as real as the sky above. He adopted my son and raised him as his own. He taught him how to become a real man. And finally, because of his unconditional love for me, I surrender my heart and soul to him. Even through the ups and down’s he keeps loving me with a Christ-like love. He doesn’t always like the strong-willed wildcat in me, but he’s the only man on God’s green earth who could ever make it purr.

He’s a real man.

A real man protects his woman, fights for his woman, loves and encourages and respects his woman. A real man never ever beats his woman into submission or forces his will on her because he’s bigger and stronger. Only weak, insecure little boys in a man’s body does that to a woman.

It angers me when I hear of preachers expecting women to stay with their man no matter what. That she should be the stronger Christian because after all, her man is just a man. Baloney! Preachers that preach that lie need to go back and read the rest of the scripture where the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.”

It also angers me when a woman allows a man to beat her. And The more she allows it the harder it becomes to take back the power she fearfully gave away. And the beatings go on and on and on till someone ends up dead.

Yes, I’m a fighter for people’s rights, and especially for women’s rights. We’ve been through hell and high water to be recognized as human beings with brains as well as arms and legs and other stuff to allow any man to kick us around. So yes, I take offense when my kindred sisters are being abused and if I’m anywhere near, I will unleash the wildcat in me and it won’t be pretty!

Man-Time

Matthew 18:20
For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.

My son wrote this article for a news letter and gave me permission to post it.

I can’t wait for Thursday nights. Like a child on Christmas eve, I’m excited, I’m antsy. All day long I’m watching the clock hands move at a snail’s pace, inching their way ever so slowly towards 7:30 PM.

Finally 7:30 arrives and my home is invaded by warriors. Like a dynamic entry, flashbangs of noise and commotion fill my entire home. No, it’s not my tactical team; warriors of another kind, Another breed. Another tribe has flooded my home.

These warriors are my three sons, my son-in-love, my dad, my dad-in-love and soon- to-be part of this tribe, my seven grandsons. And the occasion? What’s all the excitement about?

Man-time!

Every Thursday we gather around the firepit, light up a cigar, and unfold our thoughts into conversations that drift deep into and out of our souls. Organic conversations free from judgement, condemnation and shame. We laugh, we cry, we share, we confess.

Our conversations are laid upon the anvil of transparency intentionally making ourselves vulnerable to one another. Rather than feeling the hammer of judgement, we feel the power of acceptance, love, and the value of belonging to a tribe of real manly men . . . warriors who grow stronger through the willingness to share sins, flaws, struggles, temptations, weaknesses, victories, and successes. We feel safe amongst our tribe. We belong to a brotherhood of real. authentic, manly men. This is my tribe.

How different would our world be and look like if men were living out of who they were meant to be through Christ, rather than the flesh? I believe as a Christian man it is my role and duty to follow Godly men and to lead other men. How many men long to be free from destructive behaviors but don’t feel they can share their struggles without being condemned? So many men who belong to a church family feel alone. They have some dark things they struggle with, but there’s no safe firepit for them to gather around, pull up a chair and unfold the depths of their souls with other men.

They are tribeless.

Man-Time. That sacred time together has the power to rescue and restore a man. And when men are rescued and restored, women and children will be protected.

Man-time can save lives!

https://www.google.com/search?q=joy%20international#:~:text=JOY%20International-,www.joy.org,-JOY%20International%20is

Deadly Addictions

Straight from the Heart

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…

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Fallen Angels in Disguise

Straight from the Heart

The scariest part about the pain shooting from my butt all the way down my leg was the long, bumpy ride to the hospital. Hubby wanted to drive me, but my pea brain thought I’d get quicker and better service if I was taken by ambulance.

Twenty long, agonizing minutes later, we arrived at the ER.

And there they were. My loving, compassionate angels of mercy waiting to cover me with warm, fuzzy blankets and whisk me away to a happy, sunshiny room and pump me full of painkillers. No waiting for my number to be called. No crying and begging and pleading for help.

And there’s my room. My sad, cold and lonely little room where I was wheeled on a bed of nails and left writhing in pain to freeze to death.

Where are my people? My angels of mercy? My warm blankets? My painkillers?

The only comfort…

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Just Lock Me Up and Throw Away the Key!

Straight from the Heart

I sat on the edge of the sterile, paper-lined examining table, laughing at my husband’s silly jokes, my mind racing like a team of runaway horses. My husband accuses me of never being able to sit still for five minutes without jumping up and doing something.

A brief knock at the door and the doctor walks in, shaking his head and rolling his eyes playfully. Laughing nervously, I said, “Yeah, I know. Just cut off my head and be done with it!”

He sits in the chair across the room, crosses his long legs and patiently begins his interrogation. I look at my husband for comfort, wishing we were at the beach or the Bahamas; anyplace but here.

Finally, satisfied that I had answered all his perplexing questions accurately, he has a diagnosis: Borderline Personality Disorder.

Great! Not only do I feel crazy, I am crazy!

Suddenly, it all started…

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Happy Father’s Day, Daddy

Straight from the Heart

Okay, daddy. Since we never went on a coffee date before or even shared an intimate moment anywhere together for that matter, I’m taking you out. Just in my mind of course; you’d never come any other way.

So where’s it going to be, Starbuck’s? I forgot. Instant Nescafe’. Hot water straight from the spigot with creamer and sugar in that coffee-stained cup you yelled at me for washing one day. Okay then, let’s just have coffee in the kitchen in the old house where we used to live a long time ago. Doesn’t matter to me, I just want to talk to you.

I’m sorry for rebelling against you in those troublesome, adolescent years. I was just a kid and didn’t understand your cryptic silence. And on those rare occasions when you arose from the tomb, I didn’t understand your dry wit. I thought you were laughing at me…

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The Day Christmas Died

It was December 25, 1963; the weirdest, most disturbing Christmas day ever. Rather than jolly St. Nick coming down the chimney, the Grinch came down instead. There were no stockings for him to steal or presents or even a tree. Yet, he stole something from me that Christmas morning. He stole the magic, the awe, and wonder, the anticipation of a rosy-cheeked, wide-eyed child that couldn’t wait for Christmas to get here. He even turned the weather upside down raising the temperature from below freezing to seventy degrees . . . very strange weather for Delaware in December.

Mom went on strike that year. She stopped doing all the mom things like cooking and cleaning and laundry. She crawled into a make-shift bedroom in the attic and lived there for weeks, only coming down to empty the slop jar and re-stock her food and water supply.

I was seventeen, old enough to fend for myself. But, like the rest of the family, I depended on mom to always be there. To always cook our favorite meals. To always keep us in line. To always be a mom.

It wasn’t the first time the Grinch snuck into our house and stole from the family. He never seemed to get his fill of tormenting us with mom’s mental illness. Her brokenness. Her inability to handle the stress of my dad’s lack of communication, and getting a real job, and bill collectors pounding on the door, and my youngest brother getting into trouble with every blink of an eye.

She tried to be strong in spite of her illness. But, she was just a mere child herself when her mother placed her in an orphanage and the orphanage placed her in a foster home where she was severely abused. All she ever wanted was a real family to love and accept her. By the time she finally got that family, her heart was too scarred and fearful to trust and believe that anyone could ever love her. Sadly for all of us, she lived and died a victim of the dire circumstances of her abusive past.

Many Christmas’s have come and gone since that warm, Christmas day when my mother shoved a cardboard box in my hands and said, “Here! I got you and your brothers a pair of ice skates.”

Christmas is like snowflakes; there are no two alike. But, somewhere along the way, we get the notion that every Christmas should be merry and bright and that all our expectations be fulfilled. Instead of feeling peace and joy, we feel guilt and shame for spending too much money or not enough, or that we let people down because we can’t meet their expectations, or that Christmas is completely ruined if families can’t all get together on Christmas day. And worst of all, we get so wrapped up in everything we think Christmas should be that we forget the reason we even celebrate.

Every year I have to remind myself that Christmas isn’t about me and my flimsy efforts to make it perfect for everyone. It’s not about presents under the tree and stockings hung by the chimney with care. It’s not about Santa Baby hurrying down the chimney with a bag full of trinkets. It’s about celebrating the birth of the Christ Child, God’s only Son who came down from Heaven to save the world from sin. It’s about His peace for the anxious, His hope for the hopeless; His healing for the wounded. It’s about families sticking together through thick and thin.

So, here it is, December 25, 2020. Our house is finally back in order after a long, harrowing DIY renovation, but we were too exhausted to decorate. We did, however, sprinkle a few decorations here and there adding a dab of Christmas cheer.

Because our family keeps growing we try to divide Christmas with one another fairly. Our immediate family planned to get together the day after Christmas. Then, COVID-19 changed all that when infecting several family members, so, we postponed getting together until that following Saturday.

And guess what? It couldn’t have been more perfect had we celebrated it on Christmas day. The food was just as good, the kids were just as happy, and the adults were just as exhausted by the time it was all over. And what made this Christmas even more special was having another addition to the family; two-month-old, Micahia Louis Staton, great-grandbaby number seven, and first redhead in four generations.

Yes, things change from year to year. People change. Circumstances change. But one thing that never changes is the endless gift of God’s love and mercy in every second of every passing year. Therein lies the magic of Christmas!