Friday, May 20, 2011

A Quiet Goodbye

We’ve all heard of, perhaps even known someone who quietly killed themselves. I’m not referring to a peaceful death, rather one that leaves the survivors baffled because there was no note left behind, no final farewell in which the reasons for such finality are explained.
Why would someone do this?  I can’t answer for everyone, only myself, someone who overcame a deep desire for death.
The majority of my life has been spent in a pattern of self destruction, finding ways to ensure the shortest survival possible.  Unhappiness has a way of breeding negativity in every area of your life. Even during the rare moment of an uplifted outlook you still hide a feeling of impending doom behind the smile the world sees, waiting for the rare glimpse into serenity to pass so you can once again find yourself cloaked in a world of gray.
It wasn’t depression I suffered from, rather, low self-worth, a feeling of not belonging or even being wanted.  I’m sure a psychiatrist would have prescribed medications to mask the moods, but at what cost? Losing the essence of who I am? It wasn’t medicine that was needed, it was fulfillment.
Before I found the answer to happiness, I sought an escape. As a teen I would take ½ a bottle of pain medicine before going to bed, kind of bargain with myself; if I wake up, I’m meant to live one more day, if not, then I wasn’t.  I would compose long goodbye letters in my head, filled with a message meant to hurt those who were left behind.  I would tell my mother how weak she was, how much I resented her for not protecting me. My brother would know how much his touches sickened me, how dirty I felt every time I looked at him. There were no words for my father, I never composed his letter there simply weren’t enough angry words to pacify my thoughts.
I never put the words on paper because under all the hurt, the anger and shame, there was still a love for these people in my heart, buried somewhere under the pain was a kernel of hope that maybe, just maybe they actually loved me too, and for that reason I couldn’t find it in myself to hurt them with words, just in case I didn’t wake up.
There were other times, other notes, other people who were the mental recipients of my wrath, but in the end, goodness overcame the dark.  God’s love was invited into my heart and He poured it willingly.
 I stopped wishing for the end a year ago. It’s amazing how much a life can be transformed once your eyes are opened to the light, the Life. There are so many hurting people out there, crippled by their pain, seeking solace in suicide because no one took the time to pour love into them, to show them it’s not the worlds approval they need to seek, rather the purest most amazing love available, their Fathers.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The day I hated God

A life spent lacking in love’s knowledge led me to a desperate search for the elusive secret others seemed to be whispering about, sharing with each other, and leaving me out of.
I kept thinking the heat would smother me before my shift at the shoe store ended that day. I had worn an oversized sweater to hide a middle that had yet to begin thickening.  I was in a hurry for things to happen, the little bump, the first flutter, labor, and then the ultimate gift, holding my baby. I was 18, and completely adoring the idea of finally being able to love and be loved; a child to call my own.
It wasn’t a secret, not really, I had no one to answer to; yet for those blessed 8 weeks I kept the news of my pregnancy to myself. This was all mine, it was my baby, my life, my love.  I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I knew everyone’s secret, I felt it growing day by day, but instead held the knowledge close to my heart. If I told, that meant sharing and I was greedy right then, drinking in and becoming drunk on this newfound feeling inside of me.
The first pain hit as I bent down to stuff another woman’s foot into an overpriced shoe meant for fashion, not comfort.  It wasn’t alarming, not yet, just an unexpected cramp which I decided to blame on all of the stretching for boxes on high shelves, the pressure of trying to please unpleasant customers, and the constant ups and downs of shoes on, shoes off.  
I don’t remember when the waves of pain hit, only the panic, the immediate feeling of loss over something I had waited so long to find. I was young, na├»ve, but not stupid. I knew what was happening. Although I know I rushed to the employee bathroom, it now seems to have taken forever to reach.  I’m sure it was only a few seconds, but my mental sojourn to the past takes long minutes to locate the door when wandering down that corridor of memory. Perhaps it’s my way of holding onto that little life that was inside of me for just a bit longer. A way of remembering the joy just a moment more before I turn the handle, open the door and get hit once again with overwhelming loss.
I tried to pretend the sticky feeling wasn’t there, coating my undergarments with little pieces of life; tried telling myself the pain was normal, just my body growing, stretching and making room for the baby I wanted so badly. I even stooped so low as to pray to a God I had no belief in to save this little gift inside of me.  The pretending was over the moment I sat down and watched the bowls water become tinted with the blood flowing freely from my body. The pain was intense, the loneliness of loss overwhelming, but I turned it off, choosing instead to shield myself once again in numbness, feeling punished for ever wanting to feel life, and know love.
Forgetting I had been pregnant just a breath ago, I reached for the community box of tampons and went through the steps I had taken each month for years prior, refusing to acknowledge  that this was no normal period. It was the “plop” of falling cotton that brought me back to reality. Looking down, I saw the tampon I had just inserted floating in the water, becoming bloated with fluid, reminding me that my body was going through the birthing process, dilating in order to expel the life I wanted so badly. I hated God, I hated life, I shut down, almost completely. Going into auto-pilot I found a pad, made sure there were no tell tale remnants of the horror I had just gone through, opened the door and went back to work. 
My expression must have made it obvious that something monumental had just happened, something life changing and painful, but no one asked. I had kept a distance all these months from my co-workers and they had no desire to get close now, especially now when my face must have been stuck in a silent scream of “stay away!”
I was in the bathroom every 30 minutes, bleeding, changing, bleeding, changing, but still the numbness remained. It was near the end of my work day when the fog finally cleared long enough for me to wonder at a minute splash as I sat there once again. Looking down, it didn’t take long for me to realize what was in that porcelain bowl of water; My life, my essence, my baby, floating in waste, waiting to be flushed and mixed with life’s garbage. The numbness receded, replaced by a wave of hopeless emotion as I stood there trying to find the courage to push the handle and watch this little piece of me swirl down the drain, leaving me forever.
It was a knock on the door that told me I had spent too long looking, too long trying to conjure non-existent courage.  I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t, I couldn’t, I could not do it!
My hands shook as I held the little Dixie cup and gently scooped this little piece of flesh, my heart, my blood, from its watery grave. I didn’t look at it, couldn’t bring myself to look closely at this tiny, tiny creature. Yes, that’s what it had become. All feelings of love had flowed out of me with this lost life. A moment later I left the bathroom, my little burden wrapped in paper towels and put it in my hand bag.
My purse became my own elephant in that little break room. I could hear it crying out to me from the sales floor. Reaching out, grabbing hold of my heart each time I perused the stock shelves for a box of shoes. By the time I clocked out, my mind was screaming for freedom from the chains that were wrapping around it, tying me to the burden of a life lost, cradled in a little cup, a paper coffin.
The weight of my purse was like a brick as I walked out of the mall that night. I couldn’t stand the thought of what was inside, could no longer bear the thought of having my tiny dead baby with me a moment longer. I had to let go. I didn’t look as I reached into my bag, grabbing hold of this little piece of me one last time. Walking past the community dumpster, I tossed it in, no goodbyes, no tears, only blessed numbness.
It’s been almost 24 years and there are still days I wonder what might have been, what could have been had I done things differently. Could a doctor have saved my baby? Should I have flushed and never looked at what had once been growing in me, depending on me for life? Was I wrong in what I did that night?
I have never shared this tale before now, choosing instead to hold it close as a personal burden to be carried, another choice gone wrong. Every decision we make sends ripples throughout our life’s ocean and I now realize that there is only one way in which to calm the waves, bring peace to our waters.
I blamed God, denied Him in my need to find reasons for all of the pain my life piled upon me. I now know it wasn’t God’s hand that caused so much hurt, rather the world’s evil, Satan himself that brings destruction.  I may not have known it at the time, but Jesus was with me that day. He cried with me, took the pain with me and lay in bed with me for the days after as I contemplated ending it all. He was my strength when I had none left of my own.
I don’t have the answers for why I lost something I so desperately wanted, I no longer need them. I do know though, had I known God’s love at that time, I wouldn’t have sought so hard to find it in all the wrong places.
 Thank you Jesus for showing me what true love really is.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ugly on Purpose

The chirping of newly hatched birds coupled with a warm spring breeze wafting through the open window belied what was happening in my teenage bedroom. A fragrant burst of fresh cut grass being carried along that same gust of wind did nothing to cover the smell of burning flesh.  Not for the first time I wished for the bravado to slice rather than burn my skin, but, the risk of dripping blood onto my mother’s pristine carpet kept that wish at bay.
Turning my thoughts back to the task at hand, I deftly flicked the lighters thumbwheel, watching in morbid fascination as the spark became flame allowing me a means in which to light the needle to a red-hot state.  The lingering moment of anticipation before contact afforded me an opportunity to turn back, set the needle down and walk away, but I knew I wouldn’t do that, couldn’t possibly turn away from a moment of pain, a moment to feel something, anything.  
Life, even at its most painful was still life, so much better than walking around in a state of constant numbness, feeling nothing, but hearing everything. The taunts of my classmates as they ridiculed my never changing wardrobe, frizzy hair and all around weaknesses bounced through my head as I set the heated needle to my arms flesh, biting my tongue to keep from crying out in pain. But oh, what a blessed pain it was. To be able to feel alive, even for that brief instant in time was worth a moment’s agony.
Savoring the throbbing ache, I silently walked to my closet, inspecting its meager contents with disinterested eyes. Yes, they were right, I did wear the same ugly clothes every day, but what they didn’t understand was why. Being ugly on purpose had more benefits than downfalls in my lonely world. It was a means of defense, a way to keep people distanced. I learned at a young age that keeping people at arms length was the only way to safeguard secrets that must be kept.  An open heart becomes an easy target for pain, and I simply couldn’t squeeze another drop of hurt inside; numbness, nothingness, a blissful drifting on still waters was by far the better choice in my young mind.
I am now a grown woman, slowly learning that my secrets were never meant to be carried alone. Walking a path of self destruction for too many years has opened my eyes to the pain of others. Knowing that God never “allowed” my brother and father to molest me, but instead cried right along with me, and felt the same pain I did has given me the strength to want to share His love with others, those who feel as though secrets must be kept and carried close. The only way to set your mind free is to allow your heart to be opened and the love of Jesus to shine in. He is waiting to carry your life’s burdens for you and walk its path together.
The journey isn’t always easy, there are still days I trip and stumble, but the good news is that He catches me before I fall.
Please keep in mind, if you see someone being ugly on purpose, whether it’s the way they dress, the way they act, or just because you label them “different”, there is a reason behind those actions. Treat them with love, not scorn or a look of disgust which has the potential to send them burrowing further within themselves. The deeper we dig inside, the harder it is to come back out.
God Bless