;Life

life__s_highway_by_alancross

i want to Live…

Yet,

i want to die.

Can i live somewhere in between?

i want to feel, yet,  i desire to be numb

Why can’t i just accept that life isn’t perfect, whether I’m numb or present?

Evil thrives in the presence of facades, yet, Grace illuminates through my Truth.

i like to keep my poison private, my beguiling friend, who binds and gags me.

Trying so hard to convince me to take darkness by the hand and pour another.

I want to Live because He died.  And oh what a waste it would be for me to exist hidden behind the mascarade of my lies.

The Truth has already set me free.

Through death, He Overcame

So that I may live my Life in the Light

;

My Life goes on, past the darkness and into Eternity.

Moonlit Dreams

The stars were brighter than usual and my fingers hurt as they bridged the pencil in my hand onto paper.  Shining in the room the moon was giving me just enough light to place my heart from my hand to paper. My six-year-old mind was alive and my stubble of a pencil couldn’t keep up with my mind wild with stories that vented through my being like the bright moon that radiated outside my window.

It began there.  

A singular dream.

Catching fire from within, I wrote and wrote and broke through my fear that my grandma would find me up way past my bedtime.  Breathing heavily, I stopped mid-sentence that I was writing; “I will be an author someday.” I declared into the starlight bedroom.  “Someday, I will write books and people will read my words.” My six-year-old little self declared into the tremble of my heart’s desire and followed me throughout my days.

Dreams are so powerful.  They propel us, drive us, make us dig deeper than we know we can go.  They give us a rhythm we feel deep inside our souls, wanting to fill up our empty spaces so that we play the part we know we can become if we work hard enough. I wrote and wrote, poetry, stories, paradise on a writer’s white sanded beach.  I lived a painful journey that sometimes broke the hearts of counselors who would read my young words. I danced my life out on paper, through the heartache and devastation of a young life that produced things that children shouldn’t know to write about.  

Teenage heartbreak for me was missing my mother, her soft whisper in my ear was an illusion~and it brought forth some of my greatest poetry to date.  I dug deep into my sorrow of loss and it bled from my fingers as they burned through the tree that sacrificed its life for my craft. Writing found the light in me that I feared I couldn’t find.  The first time I was recognized for my turmoil in the form of poetry trying to write my story out, I was shocked. My English teacher told me that this part of me will never die. That our poetry is forever and is ever relatable, that I had talent thus having the ability to touch lives.

That day I realized that my childhood fantasy could be a reality some day.  I wanted so badly to have my words enriched in the minds and hearts of those that were lovely enough to read what I had to say.  It might be raw, painful and dark at times but I longed for my words to be in the world.

Dreaming is hard.  Fulfilling that goal is next to impossible at times.  Rejection a part of dreams but can face us as a shallow yet deep grave. Experiencing that is any author’s epitaph, it is a reality that we all face, but in a lot of ways, I feel along my journey the most rejection I’ve experienced has been the voices inside my own head.  Am I good enough? Who will really want to read my words? The messy parts that I am spitting into the world, who really want to summon my stories? Who will read what I have to say? Am I talented enough to have people read my words?

Is my tempo full enough that people I don’t know will want to read what I have to say? I swear it was such an upward battle overcoming my own fear of courage and lacking the skill of summoning hearts that would take in what I had to say.

The first book of mine fell in the form of a Romance Novel telling the story of two strong and broken people who found each other, fell in love and longed for change. Looking back, I wish I could have said what I really wanted to say the first time I published a book, but I wasn’t with God at the time and even though it isn’t anything I’d write again, it did open doors of great opportunity.  A readership that wanted to read my words when I was ready to say what I really wanted to write. That I have lived an extraordinary life of loss, love, and beauty in the form of an emotional epiphany; Sunset Vibrations gave me that. People were actually hungry for my words. Across the world, those I didn’t even know wanted to hear what I had to say. I gave my heart away to strangers, new friends that I needed to need me and in that we bonded into a place that made us intertwined forever. That day in February of 2015 I made my dream come true through blood, sweat, plenary of tears, I made it happen.  I did it. I was a published author.

Months later, I broke my heart into a million microcosmic pieces writing of my experience of infant and pregnancy loss, telling my heartbreaking tale of overcoming the most of impossible odds.  To rise above the devastation of losing two infant baby boys back to back, to write the conclusion that I could not only fall into the ocean of deep grief but that I could rise above the drowning of my own spirit as a mother.  That God could lift me out of the deep sea and give me my joy back as a gift in an offering of something only He can give. My book wasn’t about replacing a lost baby with a baby, but as miracles happen, that is what transpired.  After the two losses my family had to endure, we were given a gift, a prize, a gem in the sky so bright that we still all look at her in awe each and every day. A little girl we coin as our lifting out of a grave of pain and into the skylit dreams of God’s promise.

My second book, The Return to Happiness hit bestsellers lists shortly after publication, which meant so many women were reading my story!   I fell to my knees. My six-year-old self wept as she peered out into the moonlit room where her fingers bleed from the harsh pencil she kept writing her heart out with.  The teenage girl took a leap off the deep end of possibility as she crashed into the ability to write vulnerability that won her awards for poetry about the longing of a daughter for her mother.  My adult self met the author she was really meant to be, one who wrote from her pain, her struggle and her ability to dig out of that torrent to become something greater than the seemingly grim calling on her life.  

I saw it.  I kept it, and I ran with it into the sunset of my dreams.  Past the vibrations life seemed to constantly give me. I dove in.  I cried out to my dreams and made them my reality.

Seek out the secret place inside yourself that cries for more.  Find it, take hold of it and make it yours. Never give up on the dreams that call to you deep in the night.  Fight hard, train yourself in your craft whatever it may be. Dreams are made to come true, you are meant for greatness, I was and so are you.  In all the good times you have a voice, the darkness that meets you can be your catapult to make you crash harder into the surface you are meant to breakthrough and make your own.  Four years ago my little girl dream became my bigger reality and so can yours. Dig deep and go further. If I can do it, a girl born to struggle, but destined to overcome, you can too! Cling to it, claim it and make it happen.  I’m a living testament that you can make all your dreams come to pass. Four years later, people still read my words and I’m so humbled by that as it was always my ultimate longing, my seemingly impossible dream. Change the dialogue that tells you that you aren’t good enough, talented enough, strong or able and make it into endless possibilities.

The moon is shining on you tonight, dreams are meant to come true. The bad times can be what you fear the most, but those can produce your greatest belief in yourself, in your ability to reach the hearts of thousands, hundreds, or beautifully just one heart who needs to hear your story.  Never give up friends, never stop believing in what talent God has given you. Make it your moonlight, make it your destiny.

Walk On

I’m not saying this isn’t where you are now.
Past the dark into the question.
I could lose my mind
If I hold on now…
Because I’m not saying this is where you’ll stay.
But this is where you’ll walk on
Past the moments that bring you past the dark nights.
This is how you walk on
I’m not saying this is where you’ll stay…
I’m just singing this is where you’ll walk on.
I’m not saying this is where you’ll stay
I’m just singing this is where you’ll walk on.
Dark comes
Depression sees you that you are in now.
You’re greater than all you see
Faster than regret that bangs at your door.
I’m not saying that this is where you’ll stay
I’m just singing this is where you’ll walk on.

Generational Love

The sun was shining so bright it hurt my eyes.  Blue enveloped my prisms as I laid in the grass that tickled my cheeks as my hands reached down and pulled out the long blades as fast as I could grab.  A wind blew through the large oak tree fast and strong, the sound bringing me out of my trance. My face slowly turned to the left to make sure that it wasn’t a ghost haunting me like they did in the night.  Heart racing, blood pumping I brought my hand to my heart to try to push it back into a place where it belonged. My lungs filled, let go, filled, let go, filled…and then that is where it began. I could no longer breathe…

I am going to die.  I’m nine years old and I’m going to leave this place, leave the oak tree.  I saw my grandma, my grandpa, my mom. Oh, my mom. I missed her so. Her soft song in my ear, her sweet scent on my skin as I tried to fall asleep but never could.  My dad’s strong arm around me crying in the night wasn’t enough to save me as my lungs filled with not air, but the absence of it.

…I raced up, ran to the oak tree in front of my grandma’s small cottage style house and begged it to take me far up unto its branches where I’d be high enough to catch my air.  I fell to the ground as the tree abandoned me of such wishes.

I…can’t…breathe.  

The warm air came, took me away to a castle in the sky made out of beautiful white clouds that somehow saved me that day.  From the demons inside my mind.

My first anxiety attack, I would learn later in life, followed me throughout…

Sixteen years old met me with worry and fear deeper than the sea and faster than a hurricane.  I’d pace in my room until I could somehow wage peace with the fear that told me to take it all away.  I remember walking past a Bible in my living room and thinking, “what if God ended it for me, then I wouldn’t have to.”  I ran to my room in fear that the thought would hunt me down again, unable to escape the thoughts that raged inside me, I picked up a pen and wrote.  Faster than words could flow from mind to pen, I scribbled them down.

Take me away

Find me death.

No more

Find me life.

No more pain…

Seek me out greater strength.  Please.

I don’t want to fight

I can’t fight Anymore….Ami Beth George 1988

Journals followed me through my life, giving me a window into my fight with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts through my days as I felt way too deeply.  I read back in my life, penmanship sometimes smeared with tears deep into the night of the anguish I was in. Sonnets of pain filtered the paper and dug deep into the sacrificed tree meeting ink that screamed for help.  At times I found that solace, I acted out trying to find a peace that comes in the ways of the world. Love that isn’t love, and hope that is fleeting in ways of horrible choices that made me hate myself even more.

Thirty years old came and it was apparent I needed help.  At five foot seven, I weighed 100 pounds, my face sunken, my body barely covering my bones.  It got so dark that I knew I needed light~if not for me, for my two sons. Beautiful lives that needed me more than I felt like I needed myself.  I saw someone. She helped. I took the pill they told me to take, even though I absolutely knew that made me the weakest of weak, the lowest of shallow, the most pathetic person alive. I sunk the pink and white pills into my body, secretly not caring anymore if I was as low as the world tells us we are when we have to take such pills. I simply wanted to feel better.

And I did, four painful weeks later, I did.  Miraculously, I did feel better. I came to life and found the sun shining on my face again, felt the blades of grass under my feet and smelled the flowers in my garden, and then it happened, I smiled.  

Carole.  Her name was Carole and she helped me, she dug deep into my past…divorce, abandonment, abuse, eating disorders and a need to be accepted at any cost, she opened up all my wounds.  Carole, I’ll never forget her because about that time I took to the ice for the first time. The cold frozen water beneath my blade sounded like heaven the first time I lifted myself off the sheet of cold and leaped into the sky and landed on a quarter inch piece of steel.  She encouraged me to seek the cool air and blue ice and keep skating until I could create poetry on ice, a story of my life, of fighting, of running, of seeking and of finding peace.

Finally, I found myself under the spotlight for the first time, I was terrified yet electrified.  In front of a thousand people, I told them the story of my life as I lifted my hands far above my body, pushed my legs faster and harder and leaped, soared and met myself landing on one foot.  In a bounty of grace, God had me, He kept me and called me His own, giving me the gift of dance. On ice.

Depression and anxiety have been a part of my existence since I can recall.  Through writing, skating and speaking to others about my pain, I have found peace and even a bit of joy.  I have come full circle with my struggle, accepting it, even embracing it a little. But then it all came crumbling down…

On a Thursday.  In February. During the cold dark winter.  It all came to a threshold of pain that no mother ever wants to feel.  I received a knock on my bedroom door. Panicked he called for me. Pacing, grabbing his hair, ripping off his shirt in a bounty to get away from the darkness that was coming for him, the black that already had him, the wet dew of tears that had fallen down his face and that had stained his heart.  

My child.

Oh, God.  No. Not him.

Not my baby boy.  No!!!

I stumbled from my sleep and met him in the comfort of my writing room.  Falling into my arms, his eighteen old body wept. And then it happened. The words uttered, they fell into the earth with such thunder that I quaked.  Bile rose up inside my lungs like it did so many years as a little girl, as he uttered the words that would forever change my life. “I don’t want to be here anymore.”

The spinning wouldn’t stop as I paced with him, pulling at my own hair, falling apart at that moment, I knew I had to pull it together.  He needed me.

Back and forth I rocked him like I did when he was small enough to fit into one of my arms.  Shhhhh….No. Go back to being innocent, my darling. Let’s go back, to where you and I exist, where the world doesn’t beat you down.  To where only you and I reside, when you were safe inside me. Disappear pain. I begged to God, float away from his sorrow, lift your clenches on him~take me instead, but it already had.  This was his.

He collapsed in my arms like he did when he was a baby.

But this time he wasn’t an infant, he was a young man, feeling it all.  Each and every note of the song that is so sad he couldn’t drag himself from the depth of the sea.  “Mom, I’m so scared. I’m so dark.” His voice mixed with excruciating anguish. He struggled to breathe.  I made him, forced him to look me in the eyes and fight. Battle like he never had before. I’ll wage this war for you.  But, deep inside, I know I can’t, all I can do is let him fall into me. All I can do is jump off the deep end and pray I don’t hit the bottom so I can be enough to bring him back to the surface.

The song sang, the band played and I heard a symphony in my ears as I listened to his pain.  Words after painful poetry in the form of life, he told me how life had done him wrong. Going back in my life~staying right where I still am~I heard him like he was speaking my truth.  That our brains struggle to find balance. The sky was falling and we only hope we can catch it before it closed in on us. My hand in his, he slowly found himself back with me not caught in the whirlwind of darkness that swirled between us.

“It’s not your fault mom.”

He said that.  

But yes, it is.  I gave him this. It played over and over again in my brain the days that followed that night.  Thursday. Thursday night. Forever embedded in my mind forever, the night my child came to me and said to me that he didn’t want to be here anymore, that the pain was too great, the black was too dark when it became my child’s pain too.

A ringing in my ears screamed at a pitch so high I could hardly move. Life told me, this is a generational curse. ‘This is your fault.  You gave him this.’

Sunday.  The smokey bright lights sang loud as the singers at my church took to the stage.  The song played on and I begged God for saving grace, I came forward trying to climb my way out of the darkness for my child.  My body shook, my heart caved and then I found arms wrapped around me, telling me that it isn’t my fault. She prayed, hugged me tight and pleaded with me on my son’s behalf.  “It’s not your fault.” She sang. I pleaded for it to be true. It’s not my fault.

Mental illness is like no other.  You don’t feel weak in the mind if you have a diagnosis in the body.  You accept it and take the medicine they give you to allow your flesh to heal.  But the pain in the mind isn’t treated like it is in the body, it’s a weakness viewed by the world as incomprehensible.

Sunday.  Sweet Sunday, the pastor took to the stage and his message was on, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. God is real, He is there and His timing is magnificent.  Embraced in my husband’s grasp we listened to each and every word like it was the last we had to hear. I wept. I listened. I prayed. I cried deeply out to God to heal my son, to give me strength on my own voyage at sea where I have such thoughts from time to time.

My story is simple, yet complex as I’ve ridden out the falling force of my own mind and now I do so with my own flesh and blood.  I’m off the deep in as I pray to reach the ground, afraid I won’t find the shore, but I have. Time and time again I find it~a large oak tree that whispers in the wind that I am ok and now that my flesh and blood will be too.  Because we meet the ground, where God has us even when we feel our minds leaving our body, we find our way back again. To the surface where we can breathe again, where we can exhale the pain and find our way past the depression and weight on our hearts.  

It’s not a generational curse, it’s not my fault.  It’s called life, bad times fearing ourselves, that we aren’t enough.  God is our enough, our complete in pain, our call for change when our brains can’t back away from the deep end.  

I take his hand and we go down the path of healing; together.  Knowing one another has been there, far from sanity, yet closer than we’ll ever know.  I dive in knowing I can help him, testify my truth and how I found my way to the light in the face of bleakness.  His smile will reach his eyes again just as mine did. We are in this together, darkness meets light, depression finds laughter, anxiety blending with calm~feelings of not wanting to be here, making us want to fight that much harder to be here.

Longing for change, we take this journey together.  It’s not a generational curse, it’s a family blessing that he knew he could come to me, knowing he’d fall into my arms and I’d know how he felt.  That I could, with God’s love, bring him back from the deep water, that we can crash back to the surface together.

I hold him, love him and tell him that it will be okay because as I didn’t give this curse to him, I know that he can overcome it.  For, words spoken over my life are, Overcoming Odds, Fulfilling Destinies. And that destiny today is my own boy who needs to know he is heard like a young girl who ran to an oak tree for comfort can calm the wage at sea inside because my generational love and knowledge of this pain can be love only I can give him. Not a curse, a blessing to bring him out of the disparage of darkness.  The light will come, we will embrace it together and I thank God for the past I have so now I can be there for my future facing the same struggle I did. My generational love will be the light I cling to as we wage the war against the shadows of darkness, together.

Hero

Hero

Take me past this pain.

Submerge me in your water

So I can stay above the ground.

Deep end meet me there where only we exist.

Hero

Take my hand.

As we walk together

Past the pain.

You called me out of the night.

And Cried with me…

Hero

Take me past this pain.

Cover me with your blanket because

The addiction of love fills my lungs so deep

I can’t breathe…

I crash to the surface and see only blurry blanks in my eyes.

Oh~

Take me away~

Hero

Past the pain

Back to the surface.

Fill the void.

Hero

Take my hand and hold it tight

As we cry into the night.

Together lost in the deep.

Crash into the water~

Floating above the ground.

Hero

You see me.

You saved my last cry

~took my hand,

And saw the bleakness in my eyes and fed me light.

Hero

Save me tonight.

Hero

You saved me tonight.

My Upward Spiral

2018 was a year of light shining on my face that ignited sparks that brought my bones to life and my heart to heights it never has seen before.  I said “I do” again to the love of my life, but this time with God at the center of our union. In the pristine green of our backyard, flowers abound, we recited vows in the form of poetry.  Our eyes melted into one another as our beloved Pastor declared us once again one, made new by the promise of not only our words uniting us deep beyond the throws of this life but by the name of the One we chose to serve now.  White blended with light and we called ourselves into each other again, never feeling more close.

Then the wave hit.  Tsunami is more like it, a tidal wave of anxiety, fear, and false prophecies fell all over me like the like the storm that kills has the ability to do.  I feared for my health, our future and my sanity as bad thing after bad thing came to shore. I took it on, felt the weight of it on me like a million pounds crushing me in the darkness I chose to lie in.  I knew we’d be hit hard by the enemy in taking the steps in our marriage to make it all good at the foot of the streets of gold, but this kind of war I didn’t see coming. It hit hard and fast and made me feel like I was drowning in my own blood.  I was lost in fear and couldn’t sleep or be awake for that matter. It was a dark and scary spiral downwards that happened slowly but swift all in the same breath. I was slowly losing myself again, a road I have traveled more than I’d like to admit.  Spiritual warfare at its most terrifying and vivid readiness was knocking on my door and I welcomed in without asking who was at the door first.

The end of 2018 kept me wanting to find my way back to the light and a healing prayer at church on the last Sunday of the year called me up for that very thing, hope.  I walked up after the altar call and found myself standing in front of a Pastor who knew my deep struggles the least. I hated that it wasn’t one of the ones who knew my dark fight within and that I had to repeat it out loud.  I despised that I had to be bare in front of him, for I knew that he respected me and thought I was someone who loves to serve her church and cares deeply and writes fluidly. He had no idea. Of the dark fight within myself. With tears in my throat barely allowing me to speak, I let him in.  I told him I was fighting a war that I didn’t want to fight again. That I was a scared little girl who had a hard go at life and still is waging such a battle. My demons were back and are in full force waging their war against me, his eyes shifted, my hands trembled and then we closed our eyes to pray.

Words flew from his mouth as fast as tears poured from my eyes.  My body slumped over as a tree branch does in late fall when it has no more fight in it to give up all its leaves to the dead cold ground calling them its own.  I navigated humility and left it all there in this Pastors ability to touch the foot of God and allowed myself to hear what I needed to hear. That I lack belief in myself that I fear accepting grace, that I need to not wear myself thin on generational curses of depression, anxiety, and addiction.  He cited words that I knew didn’t come from him, ones that came from a Light so bright I had to close my eyes so deep to not fall, yet opened them wide just so I could meet a glance at it. Awkwardly, we breathed in the same air, yet perfectly a message was given to me because he was allowing God to move through the darkness deep into my soul.  It didn’t matter that there were a hundred people behind me in line for prayer for healing. The rest of the world didn’t exist as we waited on God to break extremely strong chains of darkness that I had let myself succumb to.

I am a figure skater.  I am an author. I’m a lover of God, light, my husband and my children.  I breathe in love like it is my last air to suck deep into my soul and late in 2018 I had allowed black dark anxiety to overtake it all.  Faith was replaced with fear and I was slipping back into habits I have fought so hard to overcome. My darling husband stands by me through all of life’s joys and tribulations and not even him could lift me from the demise of myself.  The sweet voices of my four beloved children couldn’t protect me from the inner fear that my life had no way of working out because of my choices. But in that moment I realized that I do have a choice to give in or to fly free from the bondage of my inner struggles. To heal those parts inside of me that tells me I’m not worthy or good enough.  I can choose to be set free if I believe if I allow God in and let the blinding storms to flee from me like a spring storm that gives in to summers soft winds.

I’ve been teaching my two younger children to skate, a sport near and so dear to my soul and in that, I’ve been back on the ice myself for the first time in six years.  Figure skating has given me in the past the ability to glide into the possibility and fly into the unknown. In this sport I fall, it hurts so bad as my body finds itself on the cold splintering ice, but has the ability to make me soar as I lift my body up and try again.  Glade backward then forwards swiftly into an elegance that perfects mind, body, and soul. This past weekend I attempted my best move that I always showcased in the ice shows. It’s called a spiral where I glide on one leg while perfectly lifting my other leg far above my head, holding it there as I make my way across the crystal clear ice.  My leg wasn’t as high, my mind wasn’t as clear but my body found itself there again in a bounty so purely put there by God that it felt like I was flying. Far above the pain, the regret and the fear that was plaguing me back there again to that place that steals my joy. Skating gives me back my strength and reminds me of God’s grace. That I don’t deserve to be able to glide on one foot and make beautiful music with my body on ice that one usually falls on.  That is life. We aren’t always able to make beauty out of what should be faceplanted, but when we train hard, equip ourselves to glide we can grasp what God wants for our lives. A beautiful spiral upward far beyond what we could ever imagine. I jump into 2019 expectant of the veil being torn, the bleakness being lifted and a return to Joy that I’ve been chasing for months now.

Upward I go, into the unknown, I fly knowing that life will be hard again and I will falter, but that God has plans for this girl and those plans involve me knowing He is there deeper than I can ever see.  He wants me to breathe in His forgiveness and presence in my life deep into the edge I make on the ice with my blade, with my life.

My Diamond Mountaintop

The brilliant sun is rising over the snow capped mountains that I create in my minds eye.  On this day, I feel nothing but total and complete immaculate joy. A new day is mine to keep.  The brilliant morning is a hope for me where I know I am a queen sitting on the throne of possibility, of rejoice and peace. My sunlit bedroom is filled with promise and purpose as I rise with magnificence for the day that is ahead of me. I grab my crown and flood the door to awake the newness of this amazing day that I will indeed seize.

The sun is setting over the sparkling mountains I create in my minds eye and it looks like a shadow over the land that makes me shiver in fear that it is hunting me down to drown me out in its darkness.  My heart races and my body is overcome with a heat that burns deep bleakness into my soul. How can I escape this fear, this doom? Frantically, I look in nature and it seems like the naked trees are reaching out to steal my soul, my joy.  They pierce my flesh like a sword through my heart leaving me bleeding all over the pristine white snow. Feeling like a bloody dark mess I try to pick up the broken pieces of my heart ruining all of the beauty the day first possessed.

I stammer through the door of my safe home and gasp at the black that invites me into its own.  My beautiful family must not be home yet as I sit alone in my large house that seems to envelop me into its own.  I gasp as I drag myself to the soft couch that catches my fall. My breath catches its cadence and calms as I count to ten.  Lifting my hand to harness my heart I remind myself that the fear inside my head isn’t real, it’s simply a facade, a lie. But the truth that I feel screams inside my body that it has no other truth to believe that what I’m feeling is fact my truth.

A soft voice lifts me from my own nightmare saying, “Hi Mommy!  I missed you today.” His tender ten year old face appears as I open my eyes from the confines of the death I’ve feel I‘ve just experienced. He touches my cheek with fear in his eyes that mirror my own.  I calm myself and hug him deep letting him know that I am in fact okay. For him, I tell myself that I am as hopeful as the day began. Seconds later she runs into my arms screaming that she learned how to read a new book today.  My spirit lifts taking her into my breast, holding her tighter than she’d like. “I love you baby.” I whisper into her ear. For in that moment the world stops spinning and I’m brought back to reality. The sun comes back and the diamonds on the mountains return from the sun that has left, but I make myself see.  The day is new again and I am lifted up knowing that my young children need me as I escape my own mind and get up to start it all over again.

I’ve been told it’s called what I would tag as the ugliest, most sickening term known to man.  Mental illness. Isn’t that what they call people who shoot up schools or are locked up in dark caverns of steel gray rooms with no hope for a future?  How can they give me that title when I smile most of the time and have lived one of the most charismatic lives known? I’ve made my dreams come true, I’ve written words I had no idea existed inside me.  I’ve skated on crystal clear ice that met my skates blade like a canvas welcomes an artist. I have lived an extraordinary life that so many people have told me to embrace and forget the past. Yet, the darkness and the demons that chase me despite the Power I have also asked to take me past the chasms of defeat into the body of grace still haunt me still hunt me down.

Peace and Love have blanketed me as I gave my life to God.  He silenced my fear, and made me new despite my darkest moments.  I have literally lied in a deathbed and have seen a bleakness that lights up black, and a light that forgets all pain and has silenced all my inner villains.  So, why. Why, do I still have the rage inside me that gives in to the moments when I feel like I can’t breathe and have no power over my impulses to give in to it?  I often feel like I give it all up because I’m too weak to not be mentally ill. That statement makes me want to fall into a forever sleep on its own. I mean, if I’m “that” than what am I, the weakest of the most pathetic of terms?  I’m told I’m strong, yet, I tell myself I’m weak. Faces smile when they see me and I want to yell back, you have no idea what lives deep inside my head. I want to say you all have no clue the demons that I face on a daily basis. I am wrecked beyond repair and apparently according to professionals I will fight this war for however I’m left on this stunning yet dark world.

I smile, I cry.  I rejoice and I bellow at the sight of another day.  The sunlight awakens me and I sit in a deep sea of the regret of my choices.  I swallow hard the vapors into my lungs that tell me that I’m not enough and choke on the truth that I am.  I swallow potions that only make me feel okay in the moment and those that tell I can’t take another dull moment of truth that I am in fact sick.  I try to accept hugs around my neck that tell me I’m beautiful when all I see reflecting back at me is the truth; that I am an ugly portrait of a beautiful woman who could be all I’m called to be if only…I believed.  If I prayed more, I wept less and shook with fear that I am dissolving into the fact that I am in fact a term that makes the cringe with rage and sorrow.

I wake up and smell in the cold winters rage, yet beauty calls out to its power to freeze the land inside my own mind that makes me turn away from my own beauty.  To run towards the Power that can take away my fear, oh winter’s morn make me lift up my own eyes and realize that heaven is closer than I know. With all its beauty I hope for a newness that a fresh day brings that I won’t feel the next emotion that enters my mind that can take it away into a world of darkness.  Can’t I just overcome it all? I tremble at the fact that I am stuck here, in this mind that has no clue what will come next. The sun dissipates and darkness fades into blackness and I hope today will not bring the shadows that make me want to disappear. I beg for the soft voice in my ear of my child who sees only the best version of me.  A husband who feeds my soul with love, hope and more happiness that I can always return to after a particularly bad day.

The stigma has to die.  Peace has to overcome the odds that I face and the words that I just need to get over it have to cease if I’m going to find my true purpose.  I have to embrace a God who has beautifully made me into a woman worth believing I am much more than a clinical term that screams a lifelong term that I hate.  Breathing in His life and taking my strength back I have to know that those days are going to come where I question if I’m going to be able to stand in the face of the disease I guess I have to accept.  

Your name is light forever lifted high.

Jesus, Jesus You make the darkness tremble.

Your name is life that the shadows can’t deny.

Peace bring it all to peace.  Still, call the sea to still, the rage in me to still.

~The words to a song I cling to, words that I bury deep in my soul.  

Call me sick.  Put on me a stigma that apparently is mine to own, but I will not allow the fear in me to win, to wage its victory over me that I am left for dead when I already feel it creeping in toward me like a battle that is in the history books.  One that I can chose to lose, one that I can overwhelmingly defeat.. Because, I deeply believe that despite the name I have plastered all over my medical history book, I am a victory story. I am a living hope that no matter how hard it is, no matter how dizzying emotions can leave me breathless, that I am an odds that are destined to overcome.  For me, for my family, but mostly for me I have to scream from the crystal covered snow capped mountain tops that I declare a goodness of humanity~the ownership that we all have inside us that we can be a living hope.

I will wake up tomorrow and refuse to grapple with the depth of darkness that this fight can bring.  It can be an uphill battle, but I’ve never backed away from a challenge in my life, never ran away from a monster that calls me a name that I despise; a bully that wants to see me reduced to fear and trepidation.  I am strong, I am capable and no matter how many times I hear it and don’t believe it, I am a child of God who forgives, and am reaching for the mountains that seem impossible to climb. The battle is won and I am on top of the ultimate hill, sitting in the sun on diamond sparkles that blanket me with a life not a stigma that is mine to keep~a champion of all things that stigmas make you not want to believe about yourself.  I am chosen to overcome. Called into a belief that life is hard, but not defeated and that I am a shining piece of gold that embraces the presence of victory over a defeat I am told to embrace. A diagnosis that makes me crumble has to be my greater ability within myself to withstand darkness in the presence of a sun that declares that I am precious. That I am unstoppable despite words spoken over me, I am a newness just like the light of day.

I wake up and see the mountain top glistening in the sun, and I am on top of it all shining a light that will shine everyday even though I have demons, ups and downs and oversights that make me want to sleep.  I will overcome, I will climb to the top and make those crystal diamonds my own shining glory all over all the depths of darkness I may face.

The Heart Muscle

Nine years ago this month I found out a baby that was growing so powerfully inside me was dying.  The room I was lying in the crisp fall day the doctor delivered the devastating news to Alan and me, it was a pale color of bone white and mustard yellow.  An unforgiving ceiling had tiles with stains on them from cries I’m sure of women who had such verdicts read to them. Their tears had nowhere else to go but to try and climb away up to heaven so God could embrace them and take a bit of the gut-wrenching sorrow away.  But they never reached that far and they were now forever splattered one on top of another, like a handkerchief drained with lament after cry, bellow after the plea for a pardon that wasn’t ours to keep. Thousands of tear stains lined the ceiling tiles and mine joined them, wet, raw and unapologetically drenched with ache.

We named him Zachary and buried him next to his brother Jaden who we had said goodbye to only a year and a half earlier under a similar plot line.  I got pregnant, peace and joy surrounded us -love-hope-gifts abound. Tragedy stroke as the magic wand of life showed its power across my stomach. ‘Your baby is too sick for life.’  The light turned dark, perfection tainted, and joy flipped into the emotional counterpoint of the most intense part of the human heart we have to face. Loss.

The cold earth enveloped him and took him as its own.  A dark grey sky that day told me I’d have to wage again to somehow piece back again the fragmented puzzle my heart had become after losing Jaden only a year earlier.  Anger found me as the small amount of sunlight couldn’t even begin to try to thaw out bitter questions as to WHY? I would have taken such good care of those babies, I had proven before with my three sons that went before them that I am a mother who can and will give them more of myself than actually exists.  My soul is the sum total of all it’s ever carried within itself. My children are mine and I am them. So why would they be taken away from me?

When Zac breathed his last breath in a way so did I.  Or so it felt that way on that night where his delicate body was expelled from mine.  Having no idea how I’d breath again, I begged God for an answer as to how I could make amends to both myself and Him again. I was angry, spite ridden and determined to somehow forge a way out of bed into the life I knew I had to live.

I took up the intense sport and art of figure skating at the age of thirty-years-old. Dreaming of being a skater my whole life, I finally was given the opportunity as the Pleasant Prairie Iceplex formed in September of 2004.  I watched with anticipation as it was built from the ground up and trained hard so when the final sheets of ice were solidified that I’d learn a child’s sport as a woman.

My muscles ached and my pride was run over by a bulldozer as I couldn’t even skate forward or backward, but I didn’t give up not once.  I didn’t cave when I looked completely ridiculous to the world-class skaters who used the cutting edge rink to train for the elite competitions in our area, the nation and eventually the Olympic Games in 2018.  I stayed, I trained and I ended up making it! I was invited to skate in ice show after ice show as my forward moment transpired into spins, then jumps and finally into these things called dances across the ice that I put to music making my heart play out in front of thousands of people.

When Jaden died I skated a program that was a goodbye that healed my mind body and soul.  When Zac passed I knew I needed to do the same, but this time my poetic expression seemed more forced and angry.  I yelled out to my husband, “I don’t want to be doing this again! Skating a tribute to another dead baby. I don’t want this for my life again!”  Yet, I knew it was deeply important for me to allow my heartache to flow from me onto the fertile ice that had the ability to grow me back together again.

In my pursuit to catch the wind of that healing at record speed, I found myself pushing deeper and more muscular than I should have ever been doing.  I was producing 50 military style pushups in less than a minute. I wanted my arms to help me fly off the ice into such a height jump I could soar to heaven to drop off all the tears I just knew God wanted to take from me. My body followed, my arms chased and then it all came crashing down.

A pectoral muscle tear on the left side.  You know the muscle that covers your heart, the one that holds it all in so you don’t bleed your big beating heart all over the place.  That one. I had ripped right through it in my pursuit to not waste a moment to fight hard for my survival. To heal. To make myself feel awake and alive-an emotion that seemed to have a strong return on investment compared to the gut-wrenching grief that was overlooking my every waking moment.  Terrorizing through the protection of my heart through that muscle, I left the room to my heart with an open view to the world that it was unequivocally broken.

After charging through the strong heart covering muscle I sat in the ER convinced I was having a heart attack, going over in my mind my eulogy. A powerful goodbye to my kids.  It was without a shadow of a doubt that I was next to be buried under the tree with my babies in the frozen dirt, the pain was that intense.  Making eye contact with my husband Alan, I told him I loved him and that I was so so sorry. That I couldn’t bring him our two boys we lost, but moreover that I was going to join them. He needed me-the ones on earth needed me-but I was chasing on the curtails of death. I’d be with them soon.

Quickly the doctor dispelled my believe I was dying as she simply stated I had a chest wall strain and although it felt like I was dying, I was in fact not and would have many more days to fight through the grief of losing two infant babies. But more importantly, years later, to come into eventual joy in welcoming a healthy baby girl into our lives who would forever change the course of what we knew of life and mold all of our brokenness back together again.

This past week an injury I’ve been battling for over 9 years now reared its ugly head in my life again, bringing me to my knees with its torture that is like a soaring hot iron on my pectoral muscle.  The searing ache has brought me back to not only the physical pain of where this originated from but also the emotional wreckage of saying goodbye to another child I wasn’t meant to keep. I can’t sleep, I can’t breathe, I can’t eat. I only crawl up into a little ball knowing that just like it has in the past it will let up and I will be able to cover my heart again with my hand and couple it to cradle a different kind of ache.  The ache of loss that the anniversary of losing Zachary can bring year after year.

My physical manifestation of an emotional pain has followed me now for short of a decade.  When the leaves begin to fall and the crisp cool air of seasons changing reminds me of a time in my life where my whole world seemed like it was crumbling apart and couldn’t be put back together again, sometimes I can’t help but reside here.  Living in the brilliance of the shadows of light for so long now, I know this seeming death sentence isn’t mine to keep. My lost babies are in heaven and they are dancing with Jesus. My pec muscle will heal, soon the unbearable pain will turn to a dull ache as the barrier of my heart will become stronger and it will hurt less.

Life will often give us these reminders that the things in our past that once seemed as if they were going to wreck us… didn’t!  The loss that seemed inconceivable eventually dissipated into a beautiful story I can now share as a memory, share as a part of my beautiful life story.

Today, I guard my heart muscle that hurts with the ache of yesterday, I hold it deep in the expectation that it will heal soon.  As have many different areas of my soul since that cool fall day I knew I didn’t get to keep my sweet Zachary Joseph, just like I didn’t get to keep my darling Jaden Hope, it all eventually healed.  I now ride on the tides of my sights on what I do have. Four AMAZING children, the most loving and supportive husband I could have ever conjured up and a God beautiful life that has fulfilled so many promises to me that I can’t even count them all.

Tonight, I sit with a physical pain that has plagued me for almost a decade. But I reside in a place that despite great discomfort, I have more love and God-given joy that blankets all of life’s trials. It forms a magnificent heart muscle around my vulnerable parts that exist but doesn’t own me, that doesn’t define me, yet gives me the will to fight the good fight to find my way back into a sea of gratitude that is more vast than any pain life may bring my way.