Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sometimes it's just wrong to go to bed without saying something

It's been a wearying week.  I think a lot of it is my entire system falling apart in relief that Brad's surgery went well and that he is home and even working a little ...


Today was not a good day.  There's been a bit of mental illness ramp-up on my part, and while this is no longer new to me, and I do have coping skills, it's still exhausting.  And I picked B up from school after studying myself into a stupour over "Chapter Three:  The Brain" and Brad was a little bit down and I just couldn't stand the thought of leaving my house again tonight, but it was our turn to do the pickup half of the hockey driving, and I was just really really really done, you know?

So I asked God for courage.

And then B texted me "M's Dad is bringing us home."  Are you sure? I asked, and he was sure, and just to be safe, I looked up M's Dad's cell number and guess what?  I didn't have to do any hockey driving tonight, which freed up some time to make a nice dinner for my recovering husband. 

And then just for icing on the cake, one of the OTHER parents in the hockey car pool called and offered to do my driving for me tonight.

And the phone rang and it was Brad's buddy and they had a good talk, and there is the promise of a visit soon. (He doesn't live in the same city as we do).

And the doorbell rang and there was a cookie bouquet from Brad's employer.

And a few minutes later the doorbell rang again, and then was an ex-co-worker of Brad's and he came in and sat down and the three of us had a really nice visit, and when he left he handed Brad a card, and did I mention I've been praying desperately that I manage to get all our bills paid this month?  and inside the card was a most generous gift, enough to take the edge off, and that's when I started to cry and cry and cry because:

Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail.

A succession of small things, but one after the other, all evening long.  I'm still tired, and the mental illness issue is still there, but over there, in the corner, gleaming a tiny, mighty light?  That's hope.  Thank you to all of you who were the hands and feet of Jesus for us tonight.

Monday, September 01, 2014


In the light of Brad's recurrence of cancer, and his remarkable open-ness about it, I have been getting private messages.  "How are you?"  "You must be so ..." "I can't imagine how ..."

So I thought I'd talk about myself a bit, for those kind enough to have asked, even though it is Brad who is sick.  (although you'd never know it.  One evening last week he cycled 22 km for the fun of it.  Not on purpose - he just kept going until it was dark, and then thought maybe he should turn around and come home.)

Last Sunday in church, the pastor talked about manna, the bread that covered the ground six out of seven mornings for the forty years the children of Israel wandered in the desert. (check out Numbers 11:7-9)  There was a catch though - if the Israelites gathered more manna than they needed for just that day, it would grow moldy and maggoty and have to be thrown out.   (Except for the day before the Sabbath - that day they could collect twice as much).

Enough for just that day.

I've decided that if there's a chance I'm going to be a single mother in my mid-50s, it might be beneficial to gather up the transcripts from my scattered attempts at post-secondary education, take them to a university and see what it would take to get a degree.  There's jobs out there I could do that I can't even apply for because I don't have a Bachelor's degree, jobs where they don't even really care what kind of degree you have, just that you have one.

So spending the last week and a half talking to various universities and settling on two University courses for the fall (one by correspondence.  I don't always have to knit!) - that's enough for today, wheras trying to figure out what job I'll get when I'm done, thereby proving to myself ahead of time that this is a good idea?  That's bread I don't need to gather yet.

Staying in bed fifteen minutes longer in the morning to stroke my sleeping husband's back because he is still there with me, allowing sorrow to move through me?  Manna.  Looking forward to the gut-slicing wrench of losing him on this earth?  More than I need for today.

Please pray that for all of us.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review(s)

One fiction, one non-fiction.

I don't read a lot of non-fiction.  I have to be deeply, passionately interested in the subject before I will be able to force myself to read non-fiction, and even more interested than that to read it sequentially, from one end to the other.  (I don't read in order much.  I hate suspense.  If, in Chapter One I have fallen in love with Twinkle, and then the author starts hinting that Twinkle will come to a Terrible End, I have to find out what happens before I can continue finding out what happens.  I tried to stop reading like this when I started writing, because I was aware of just how much agony and angst went into what order to put things in, and how to build a story but - I just can't.  I'm sorry, all my writer friends.  Comfort yourself with the fact that I dearly love Twinkle, who you created out of pixels and wine in the wee small hours.)

1.  The Sum Of My Parts, by Olga Trujillo

This was not an easy read, especially the first six chapters.  It is the author's own first person account of recovering repressed memories of physical and sexual abuse, and her journey to wholeness.  She spends the first six chapters talking about the abuse, and how she, as a very young child, dissociated in order to deal with trauma.

The rest of the book talks about diagnosis and recovery, delving into her being diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder and what that looked like for her during the process of healing.

The book is accessible and relatable without subsiding into sensationalism, and a valuable resource for anyone seeking to understand more about the effects, both immediate and long-term, of severe, sustained trauma on very young children, or anyone seeking to understand more about Dissociative Identity Disorder and how that might manifest itself in a healing adult.

2.  Set This House In Order, by Matt Ruff

One of the things that is true about Dissociative Identity Disorder is that there are as many ways of doing it as there are brains that are doing it.  This engaging, well-written novel is written from two points of view, both people who have D.I.D. - one who has been diagnosed and is well on the way to establishing a workable system, and one who has no idea what her issues are.  I appreciated both the diversity and the lack of sensationalism- again, an accessible read, with characters I cared about, and although it is fiction, another good resource for anyone seeking to understand more about D.I.D.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Because Heather asked

Over at my sister-in-law's blog, she weighed in on the suicide topic that is so prevalent on the Internet these days.  You can read her post here:

I wanted to answer her question.  "Tell us how to love you." Actually, I didn't want to answer her question because all I know is what has helped me, and I'm just one person, and I'd hate for anyone to think that there was something wrong with them if what works, or worked, or might work again in the future for me didn't work for them.

Here's the thing.  I have a mental illness.  I've probably had it most of my life, if I understand the way this particular illness works, but I've only known about it for a year and a half or so.  It's been quite the ride, learning how to live with who I now know myself to be. 

Mental illness is isolating.

The particular brand of mental illness that I live with is even more isolating. 

There have been many days when I am convinced the world would be a much better place without me in it.

I have learned to sit with the feeling.  There have been days where I sit in one spot for literally hours because I know beyond the shadow of a doubt, if I move from where I am, I will hurt myself.  But here's the thing:  EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS CHANGING.  I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that if  I sit with the despair long enough, it will lift.

1.   I need to be reminded of that, on the worst days. Everything is always changing.  A really bad day doesn't mean the good days are all gone.  A really bad week doesn't mean the good days are all over with for the rest of my life.  It's just a bad week.  And it doesn't negate the good that came before, and will come after.  (The flip side of this is that I need to remember that a good day doesn't mean the bad days are all gone, either.  There's going to be a combination of both good and bad for the rest of my life.)

2.  I have a list of people to call when things are bad.  I signed a contract with my psychologist agreeing to ask for help if I need it, and to call the people on my list until I get a live voice, or the crisis passes.
One of the nicest things anyone has done for me, in recent memory, is to put herself on my list of people to call.  It's one thing to have a list - it's quite another to have the courage to use it, especially when I'm already sure everyone I've ever met is tired of my issues.  Having someone on the list who has volunteered to be there is such a blessing.

3. Force me interact with you, especially if you think or suspect things are hard, or if God is nagging you to call me.  Don't ask me what I need - I probably don't know.   Just hang out in my space., all matter of fact and stuff.  Having you sitting on my couch staring at me just might derail the train of thought that is currently winning the battle in my brain.

So those are my answers.  They won't work for everyone, but one of the things that I am learning is that I am far less unique (and therefore alone) than I think am, and there just might be something here that benefits someone else.

And now, because today is a good day, I'm going to go read in bed until I fall asleep.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sometimes you just have to say thank you

I had a different post percolating in my head, one that was going to be a bit difficult to write, and might be saved in "Drafts" for a really long time while I prayed about whether or not to publish but then ...

I cashed out at the end of my shift and everything balanced, and someone smiled at me, a deeply genuine smile, and then I walked out into the cool night air, the breeze a caress on my skin, and I realized I hadn't been triggered all day and I came home and Brad's greeting was so upbeat and the dog was delighted to see me and the thistles I sprayed with Round Up seem to be dying like they're supposed to ...

And I thought maybe I should just sit down and say Thank you, God, for this life, this here and now life, full of all these small goodnesses.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Current favourite song

From her CD "Travelers", Carolyn Arends

It Has To Be You

I don't know quite who I am anymore
I don't know if that's normal or not
I don't know if I know You at all anymore
At least not in the way that I thought
But I know there are canyons in Utah
Red as fire, high as the sky
And they make me cry
'Cause I don't know one living soul
Who could carve out of stone such a view
So I know -- it has to be You
It has to be You

There are days all of my faith slips away
There are days that I don't even care
There are days I find myself desperately praying
And still cannot feel that You're there
But the sun, it comes up every morning
Blazing glory, consuming the night
And it's quite a sight
'Cause I can't find one human mind
Who could make the sun shine ever new
So I know -- it has to be You
It has to be You

Well if I've built my hopes on mirrors and smoke
If it's all been a dream from the start
Why then can't I deny the yearning inside
More real than the beat of my heart

There's a voice I cannot hear with my ears
There's a voice I can hear all the same
There's a voice that speaks
In my dreams and my fears
It is endlessly calling my name
And on warm summer breezes it whispers
Rivers carry its soft lullaby
And it makes me cry
'Cause I don't know one other love
That would go to such lengths to break through
So I know -- it has to be You
It has to be You

Monday, July 14, 2014

so here's a thing I was thinking about

Facebook statuses, let's take one of the latest ones, for instance, where I said something along the lines of "I would just like to take this moment to publicly thank God for the song of the redwinged blackbird."

Isn't that lovely?  I'm apparently having a gentle summer morning, listening to the birds, and being thankful to God for His creation.  Such a peaceful life I'm living.

Someone else recently posted a picture of herself doing some great summer holiday thing.  A friend who I know has struggled with depression, and I look at the picture and think, "Oh, she's doing well."  Well, I don't really know that, do I?  All I really know is that she had the emotional energy, in that particular moment, to post something cheerful.  Which - go her.  I know how hard it can be to find that energy some days.

This is IN NO WAY a criticism.

I've just been thinking that maybe, just maybe, it might be more honest to write about why I was so thankful for the redwinged blackbirds that particular morning.

It was Friday, 8 am.  I'd just dropped Amy off, and the morning was free.  I thought I'd go home a different way from how I  usually go, even though I'd had another sleepless, nightmare-laden night.  I started driving rather aimlessly, taking random turns, and just generally not paying attention.  I ended up on a dirt road at the back of beyond, somewhere north of Calgary, parked by the side of the road, overcome in the aftermath of yet another flashback, unable to formulate a plan to get home.  I was pretty sure I could get home - after all, I'd gotten myself *there*, I just couldn't quite work out how. 

I have a list of people to call when I need help.  The deal is to call until I get someone, and if I don't get anyone on the list, I go back to the top and try again.  I didn't have the list with me, but I called the people I could remember - no answers.  No replies to my texts.  Just me and God and a black cloud of despair, on a gravel road in rural Alberta.

I was pointed towards the mountains.  I liked the view, so I reasoned that driving west couldn't hurt anything, and would be nice scenery, at least.  I started driving, slowly, rather hoping the phone would ring or someone would text me, and just a few hundred metres from where I'd been parked, I came upon a huge flock of both redwinged and yellow headed blackbirds.  I love birds.  I do not remember ever seeing yellow headed blackbirds before last summer, and they delight me.  There was also a mudhen mama with several fuzzy babies in the ditch beside me, and I turned off the van and rolled down the windows and listened to birdsong, and watched birds being birds, and lifted "my eyes to the hills"* and thanked God for, once again, having my back when I just couldn't go forward.

I watched birds, and remembered to breathe, and remembered I had a GPS on my phone, and then someone answered a text, and then I drove home, awash in gratitude.

*(Psalm 121:1-2 "I will lift my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help.  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.)