The work of healing. What happens when you want to give up……

Earlier this week I was in full melt down mode. Like if my mom were here she would have put me in time out or sat me on the stairs for a “come to Jesus” moment. As a child I am sure that I through monumental tantrums. I was what some may call a spirited child, so it is no surprise that as an adult I continue to feel emotions big.

I texted my husband that morning by 9am and said I was done. I was winning the award for the worst homeschool mom ever. If there was an award for failure, I was the Michael Phelps of that Olympics. I said that I could no longer do this. Everyone was in tears and I was a person I never wanted to be. I was anxious and overwhelmed. No one was learning anything except that mommy may have fallen off the crazy wagon again and they all had front row seats to the show.

And because my husband is who he is, and because we are sitting our butts on a therapists couch every week, he texts back, “where is your list?”

You see he didn’t give me advice or agree with me. Or better yet bring a medal home.

He just heard me.

As women, as humans, we need to hear each other more. To ask before we give our opinion. To lead towards the answer, not give it.

My list. The list.

This summer I made a long list of what healing looks like.

What my heart ached and prayed for over my family. What would come alongside Jesus and help the healing process of our family that evil has torn apart. Because we know that Jesus can heal. He will heal. But we also know that we actually have to do the work. The work of healing. The work of believing. The work of inhaling and exhaling. The work of showing up and feeling.

So I put the phone down and went to look for the list.

I went to my room, sat on my bed and let the tears come as I read aloud…..

Water

Woods

Sunshine

Yoga

Reading

Writing

Exercise

Safe people

Music

Breathing

Crying

Therapy

Whole foods

Sleep

Exhaling

Quiet

Listening

Laughter

Space

Medication

Jesus…..

And most of all Jesus.

Nowhere on the list did it say Math. Or lesson plans. Or science experiments. Or Common Core. Nowhere did it say that my children needed to sit in a classroom and have seven hours of education to be healed. Or at the dining room table being drilled about the industrial revolution.

So why was I trying to push in that which was aching to be freed?

Please hear me. I believe in education. The husband is a public school teacher. I adore teachers. I love our elementary school we came from. I miss it every day.

But this year. Our now. Our reality is that healing and connection are far more important than anything they will gain being away from each other in school.

The condition of their heart and souls is of more importance to me than any grade they could ever bring home. More than any championship they could win. Or worth they gain from win on the court.

Present and healed are more important than schedules and rules.

I want my children to move forth from this year knowing that they were heard and understood.

That to heal you need to do the work.

And the work of healing cannot be found in a classroom right now.

And yet somehow by the first week in October I had already forgotten.

I forget all the time.

Just yesterday I was on my way to my therapist and I could feel the tears already making their way down my cheeks as I drove. I was miles away and already I was crying.

My body knew.

Knew where I was going and was preparing me to release it all.

My therapist tells me that this in itself is growth. That when we acknowledge the truth of what is going on, that this is a sign of courage.

So I go back to the list. One time this morning. Four times this afternoon. I go back and I read and pray through the list.

Remembering what my heart already knows.

Inhaling the truth of brokenness is painful.

Yet exhaling is the healing.

Grieving the high chair.

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I bought the high chair at a rummage sale. It was wooden with chipped, white paint flaking the sides. I had known from the moment I saw it that I wanted it to be mine. It reminded me of high chairs I would see in vintage black and white photos. It had no safety precautions, yet I am sure it had stories it could tell. Stories of the families and children it had served.

At the time that I purchased it for ten dollars,  I was not even pregnant. We had just started the process of filling out the paperwork for our adoption. And as we all know that high chair did not get used for a very long time. What we expected to take months took years. Years of waiting. Years of praying. Years of hoping. Years of anxiety, anger, frustration, signatures, home studies, finger prints, and did I mention paper work?

Yet after three years we were sitting across from our sweet little boy.

That high chair became the place where my little one ate his first meal as a family of seven.

It became the place where he clearly showed us that broccoli was never going to be one of his foods.

It became the place where he fell asleep when days were just too long for him and he couldn’t make it through dinner.

It became the place where he discovered pasta for the first time and decided the walls needed it too.

It became the place where his personality began to emerge and he entertained us all.

What I didn’t expect is that it would become a symbol of grief for me.

After little one clearly could not fit in the high chair any longer I scrubbed it all down and left it in the corner of the room for months. I would walk by it and think about what was next for our family. I would dream of my belly expanding and getting to wear cute maternity jeans. I would rationalize that I was keeping it for my grandchildren some day. Knowing full well that any mother would not let their infant sit in a chair with zero safety features.

And breathing in that I knew why I was really keeping it.

I was keeping it because I wasn’t ready to face my truth.

My truth, that I would never carry another child in my belly again.

Seven years before I lay on a hospital bed, sobbing as I signed on the dotted line. I wanted someone to save me. To save me from the choice. I needed someone else to make the decision for me.

I knew that the level of depression that I had suffered after each of the four children I birthed, had only gotten worse. I knew that I needed to make a permanent decision that I later would come to grieve. I knew at the time that I was scared of who I was after each child. And although I firmly believe in medication and that God created Prozac on the eighth day,  I could not function as a human.I knew that depression would swallow me if I chose to continue to grow our family through childbirth.

I remember the day I sold that white high chair in the corner. It went to a woman who loved to refurbish furniture. To make things new.

My truth, is that I grieve every moment when a friend or loved one is struggling with infertility or a miscarriage. The truth is, that I feel like I was so selfish to take that choice away from my family.

But I know this.

I know God uses everything. He opened my eyes to adoption, to safe families, to foster care and to taking in those around me. He shows me daily how I am that high chair. Chipped, tired, and covered with messes. But in His grace and mercy He is making me new. He is filling me with joy and wonderment. He is letting me heal and rest in in Him.

Where ever you are sweet one. Worn. Tired. Lonely. Grieving. Searching. Empty. Anxious. Fearful.

He is there.

He is binding Himself to you.

Making you new.

 

“Let us then approach God’s Throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

 

I’ve looked suicide in the face. And other secrets of the good church girl.

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This post was originally posted September 2013.

I have been asked recently to tell part of my story again If for the only reason for one person to know they are not alone. You see when we start live in truth others don’t feel so isolated. When we live in truth we stop placing people on pedestals and expect them to remain there. It’s exhausting to live there. To know within your soul that you will never be the image other need you to be. When we live in truth we get messy and real. Let’s be messy women. Truth telling women.

*I understand that this topic and subject are very sensitive. Everyone’s story is different with many different outcomes. I completely respect differing opinions and value your story. I just ask that you respect my story for what it is as well.-sheli

Today is Suicide Prevention Day. Which if you think about it may seem a bit bent. Why would we want to have a day that recognizes suicide? Others might argue that we should not draw more attention to it. I actually feel the complete opposite. I believe that we should draw attention to it. I believe that we need to quit saying that people we love died of “unknown causes” because we ourselves cannot look in the mirror and say the word suicide. I believe we do need to talk about it. We need to quit being silent about it, looking the other way, keeping it in the whispers. Because do you know what that does? It gives it more power. It gives the darkness more control over our lives. Over their lives. Over all of us.

I wish I could say I have no experience with suicide. That no one I loved and adored took their own life. But this is just not true. I remember at a very young age watching as my parents grieved the death of close friends. And the aftermath that ensued for years. I have lost those I have worked with, worshipped with, been in school with and even called family.

But the hard reality of it is that suicide itself has looked me in the face.

I have battled depression since I was a teenager. Using any chemical I could get into my body to make it go away. The demons have at times seem to have a tighter grip on me than not. When I became a mother I was sure that it would all go away. Yet as I soon discovered that postpartum depression and even psychosis is an ugliness that invaded my soul and mind. There were many times that I dreamt of running away. Far away and starting over. I begged God to take me in the middle of the night because I could no longer take the darkness that had assaulted my mind. I was hopeless. I wish I could say that when I became a Christian I never had to deal with this. Yet it was even more when I became a Christian. I knew that the spiritual battle for my soul was real. I feel like it still is. It is and always will be a battle. This is not a war we are fighting here on earth; it is in the spiritual realms.

This is what I know from my situation. Talk to each other. Be real with each other. Get in each other’s business .If you know of a friend or even an acquaintance that is withdrawing. Go to them. Now. Don’t worry about invading their space or being politically correct. Go now. Be the voice for them. So many times we don’t know what to say. We don’t want to ask for help. We don’t know how to ask for help. We think that no one will understand. We think that we will be called a freak. We don’t want to bring shame to our family. We think that no one will ever forgive us. We think that this will make it easier on everyone else. So this is my plea to you. Be invasive. Open the door and walk in. Get them help. We will many times deny it. We think it’s not that bad. We are scared. We don’t want to get locked up. We think it will ruin us for life. We are embarrassed. We think no one will believe that we are really sick. Do it anyways. I beg of you. Open the door.

I have been on the journey of healing for years. Months at times I can carry the darkness and no one can see it. I learn to hide well. I have learned to ask for help. I have learned that I am nothing without clinging to Jesus’ feet every day. I have learned that medication and therapy are a must-have for my well-being. I have learned that exercise and calm need to be a part of my every day. I have learned that my family and friends will get me help, hold my hand, and give me grace. I know that they and we have all messed up. It is messy and painful but they are not giving up on me.

I know the pain of loss and I know the pain of darkness. I pray that wherever you are on the journey, that you know you are not alone.

blue walls and other things of going off the deep end.

This is a portion of a journal entries written over six months ago. It is only a fraction of what God has been doing in my life these past five years. He is changing me. Renewing me. And it is His story of healing that I am in the process of putting into a memoir of redemption and the unexpected struggles of depression and anxiety. Grace.

She stared at the walls. Blue. Light blue. Not light robin egg blue. Or you’re near an ocean blue. More like you have just been locked up blue. You have just officially hit rock bottom blue. Your dignity and pride are stripped away blue. Your soul is naked blue. The no one who can protect you now blue. She sat. Staring. Tears running down her cheeks, raw from the tears that had been shed in the last 24 hours. Hours filled with question after question. Name? Date of birth? Medications? Next of kin? Children? Where are they? Insurance? Are you going to harm yourself?

That is the question that got her here. That landed her in this hallway. That brought her to this dejected place. A place where she was just a shell of who she used to be. Frail and exposed. When she looked at the nurse with some sort of cheery scrub on, something that a toddler would find delight in and vacantly said “I don’t know”.

She wanted to disappear. She wanted it all to just stop. She wanted her heart to stop beating so fast. She wanted it to just end. To wake up far away from where she was. With no responsibility. No decisions to make. No one to ask her anything anymore. She wanted to hide. She wanted the voices in her head to cease. The voices that told her things she would never utter out loud. The voices that took control of who she was of who she never wanted to be. The voices that told her she wasn’t safe. She wasn’t safe to be in her own skin. She wasn’t safe to be around.

This is where it had all landed her. The months of anguish she had endured all boiled over her that Sunday morning. And by Sunday evening she was being watched by a police officer. Monitored one on one so that she wouldn’t harm herself. Her purse was taken away. Her clothes gone. She was left laying with a paper gown trying to plead with the doctor to not lock her up .She hadn’t shaved her legs or worn pretty underwear. Her mother always told her to do these things. Although I am sure her mother never thought her daughter would be laid out on a gurney being evaluated by a psychiatrist that December. She wanted to melt into the bed. She wanted to disappear. She wanted to wake up from this nightmare. “Please” she is pleading with him just don’t lock me up. She knows what it’s like. She does . She knows how they over medicate. She knows that people at church will find out. They say that they will look past this and forgive her. But they won’t. She knows.They say grace. But judge by the law. She knows that she will be looked at as the “crazy mom who had to be locked up” “ The mom who couldn’t handle it” “ The one who fell off the deep end” She knows how she will never be the same. She will never be who she was meant to be.

She sat staring at the blue wall pleading with God to show up. Begging Him to be real. In this moment of all moments in her life she needed to feel Him. To hear His voice. To feel His arms wrap around her. She pictured herself at His feet barely able to lift her head clinging to His ankles. Begging for mercy to be tangible. For this one moment all she ached for was hope.