Grief without drugs and other things that can kill me

I didn’t expect the pain to radiate from the depths of my memories to the core of every fiber in my body.   I’m now stuck in a time where my beloved Grandma has taken her last breath. This loss leaves me stuck between a chasm of feelings, as if my history is twisting like a tornado; grasping parts of me to take with her as she moves to the next space in time.  

Laughter comes in between swallows of sorrowful ballads escaping my mouth in the form of a symphony of debilitating pain.

 Man, she was funny without trying to be funny.  The memories of  hearing the words that she made up (don’t argue, you will not win) brings me a reprieve of sunshine.  Her use of the English language was a puzzle you just couldn’t put together.  My personal favorite Grandma George proclamation was:

It ain’t no good for nothing no how.

Because, sometimes, it just ain’t.

The smile that placates my face, reaches my eyes and pours out of my heart so loud the ocean waves can hear it.

 Joy. 

Gratitude.

 Love….for the opportunity to be touched so deeply by a woman of such simple depth and truth.

Earth shattering loss has been a large part of my journey in this life.  Some people taste it through out their lives, yet, I have had to drink it.  Its ripe nectar has been my feeding ground more times than I can count.  I’ve choked on grief; I’ve swallowed it whole just to regurgitate it long enough for it to come and find me again.  The difference with this particular guttural growl of emotions- the contrast this time– is that now I’m experiencing grief without drugs and other things that can kill me.

The darkness blares that the euphoria of drugs and alcohol could take it all away.  I could find myself floating above it, not sitting in it. 

Yesterday, I laid on my bed reaching out to anyone I knew, pleading through my text messages and voicemails, screaming into the universe that someone would hear me. 

Help!  I’m suffocating, please come save me; I haven’t done grief like this before.  The raw torture I feel from the loss of her presence on this earth is literally drowning me in my own ache and pain.  

She is gone.  

Grandpa and Grandma are now both gone. 

The Great generation of my lineage has dissipated into the muggy hot Arkansas’s air.  

The Great generation of love and comfort and family is gone.  All I have left is a bone crushing sense of loss that I have to actually – feel – cope – sit with-and all of this has to happen minus the great escape. All without the self destructive ways I’ve used to punishment myself; simply for being the one who feels. 

The magnificence of Recovery bellows loud enough for the vibrations to blare into my broken ear drums that – I don’t live there anymore!

Alcohol and drugs are dead to me now…being that…

I am strong.

I am capable.

I am woman.

If temptation comes and I begin the walk towards quitting quitting, I won’t waver. No matter the cost of feelings that explode deep inside me…

I won’t waver.

 No matter how bad it gets, I have rewritten the horrible things my head says to me that used to define me.

My made new self knows that she is, beautifully filled with feelings that touch the deepest sad parts and the lightest sun beams.  I own that. 

Right now, at this very moment, it is my time to rise.

I lift my hands in surrender and triumph.  I can and am doing this grief and loss thing without the crutch of addiction that eventually leads me down the road of passive suicide, slowly killing myself with the wreckage that addiction offers.

I throw stones in the face of the very thing that I said goodbye to 3 years ago.

Actively participating in raw unfiltered grief, is what I’ve trained for, worked hard to face, and have built my foundation of sobriety on.

I can say goodbye with clarity in my eyes and raw emotion at my flank to the woman who helped make me a better version of myself. 

Through my choices I am claiming the power of the Next Great Generation. The rite of passage Grandma always knew that I was capable of achieving.

Surrender Believe Faith

They say getting sober is all about surrender

They are right

Pouring the amber liquid down the drain…

The fight

The Fear

Acquiesce or die…

….Year one is Release

It is said staying sober is all about Believing

They are right

Imprinted in our brokenness…

The struggle

The creed

Loss of euphoria’s lies…

…Year Two is learning to Trust

I say living a sober life is all about Faith

I am right.

The Light asked me to leap…

The Turquoise 

The Sea

Free fall where I am destined to be…

…Year Three is my Hope

Castle

Photo by Elizaveta Dushechkina on Pexels.com

I wonder what
Supersedes sanity
And carries me off to
Foreign lands with lust
In a Princess Castle?
The sea mist in the air
That forwards all truth and
Turns it into sweet Dreamlands
Made for two.
Our world is perfect
The air is tender and frantic.
You take my hair and brush
It out of my ice blue eyes
Pull me to you
And take my air away.
I feel myself melt
In your fairyland
With the sun warming my naked skin.
The air brushes my back and I fall into
A blanket of gardenias.  
You fall on me
And nothing can stop us
As we partake in the movement that makes our frantic breath collide.
I gasp for air as I cling to your back over me
I dig my nails into your skin and pierce your flesh
But you don’t mind.
You sigh deep into me and
I summon sounds that creates our love song.
Petals of silk massage my skin
I give way to an explosion binding my hands above my head
As my body stretches to the point of ache
Pain and pleasure collide as you are deep and I accept.
Take me to this Castle again and again.
Once and again.
And again…

The Pain I can Control

images (2)

With an array of stunning colors exploding from the small of her wrist to the top of her shoulder I was left staring at a random stranger’s arm in the grocery store.  

Vivid blues met a stunning red sunset, with the peak of a storm followed by a grey outbreak of a lightning blaze.  After gawking for far too long, she met my eyes and silently asked me, why are you staring at me?

Breaking the uncomfortable silence, I proclaimed, “I love your ink.”  

A smile overtook her once strained face and then she responded, “why thank you.”

The tension subsided and all that is left is two middle-aged women in the produce department chuckling.  I proceeded, “tell me the story of your tattoo.”

She glistened with pride and love as she drifted off in a deeply moving memory.  

“It is the story of my life, my loss, and the fact that I eventually will prevail, thanks to God’s grace.”

Amen, sister.  

“Indeed, you will.”  Is all I had to say.

Engaged to the point I didn’t even realize there were annoyed people trying to get by us in route to the perfect broccoli head, we moved out of the way of the busy supermarket.

She continued, “I live with chronic pain.  Every day I ache all over no matter what medicine I am given, it doesn’t touch the pain.”

I’m brought to my knees by her words, as I have also experienced pain in my life. Although, my pain was embodied deep inside the fibers of my being. A Celtic knot hosting itself inside my heart muscle.

I pointed to the inner part of her upper arm, where a bright orange and yellow monarch butterfly transcend time, and yes, pain.  “I love this.”  I touched the butterfly and goosebumps immediately encompassed my entire body.  “Yet, I’ve heard that this part is the most painful to tattoo.” I smiled at her and stared deeply into her stunning green eyes.

“I don’t mind because it is a pain that I can control.”  Her magnificent glance drifted as her hand reached the inner part of her arm where the butterfly was in flight.  “My pain I didn’t choose.  But the burning of the tattoo gun is something that produces beauty when it’s all said and done.  And that I can control.”

My chance meeting with this woman greeted me with a revelation that truly shook me to my core.  Although I do not live with chronic physical pain, I do live with chronic emotional agony, that haunts me from my past.

Dreams when I’m sleeping often leave me shaking, terrified, and restless.  
They identify as a horror film replaying in my mind as my body tries to sleep.  Vivid recreations of hands on me and lashes carried out that I did not deserve.  There are times I wake up in the morning depleted; never wanting to fall into the trances of sleep for fear of what nightmare may await me.  So in my waking hours, it seems fitting to give myself what I think I deserve to be punished for.  Yes, I inflict pain on myself, much like the burning of the tattoo gun, I try to engrave on my being a picture of something that can make sense of it all.  A pain, that I, in fact, can control.

But why do we do this to ourselves?

  • We cut our own flesh with a razor blade
  • Force a finger down our throats to vomit up the food we just ate
  • We drink too much
  • Take drugs
  • We lie, steal, and cheat
  • Spend money we don’t have
  • We smoke
  • Starve our bodies of food in fear we are fat
  • We blow up in anger when a trigger point is pushed
  • Commit adultery
  • We run ourselves ragged trying to prove that we are in fact good enough

We are broken inside so the immediate response is to inflict on our bodies and minds, the pain we think we can control.  

In my personal journey, I know these coping mechanism all too well.  It is hard to give myself love and grace when I fail daily to love and embrace me. It feels all too ordinary to punch myself in the face, instead of accepting that as a human I will fail, and God loves me NO MATTER WHAT.  He doesn’t desire pain for me, all he wants is me.

All God wants is all of us, encompassing our turmoil and the spinning thoughts of failure that blare through our hearts and minds.  As a matter of fact, He actually tells us that He will take those failures and pain from us and turn it into Gold.  He will release the burden of it all, and allow us to transform into the monarch that we were predestined to become. Broken, bleeding, depleted, drugged, drunk, too skinny, too fat, He doesn’t care.  He says in His Word that He has written our names in the palm of His hand and calls us beloved.

For, in inflicting a self-deprecating way of dealing with our demons, we push the love of Jesus further and further away. We allow the enemy to perpetuate our painful memories, as he tries to belittle our self-worth.  If we hurt our bodies and minds, due to past trauma, then the serpent wins and God’s love is left at the back door.

Fight the good fight and accept love. Give the pain you cannot control to our God who begs us to release it all into the black of night, for He is willing to take it on so we don’t have to.  That my friends is the gift of true and exquisite love. Breathe it in like incense.  Free yourself into the beauty that I experienced gazing upon the tattoo that day in the grocery store.  A story told with magnificent storm clouds transforming into the butterfly fluttering off into the alive and awe inspiring sunset.

No Shame Sunday

~Them~

Four, five or six months ago I got angry. At church. A kind of fury that made me run, punch, and eloquently and scathingly preach; hurt. My angst took me away, on a journey apart from the Heavenly Water and back into the blinding Sahara. 

Feeling abandoned is my thing, when it blankets me in the Light not just the dark all I know is shame, guilt, and anxiety. 

Am I not lovable enough? 

I feel deeply left behind by my church. My people, my community, I love them and hate them in tandem. Where are they when I need them the most?  Do they not recognize me as lost as I slowly vanish into a whisper that no one can hear? Where is my church, my people?

~You~

My God, You declare that You do not care about this hurt and anger I feel towards You.

You care about me. 

You whisper soft winds blowing the sheer curtains in the wind wide open with Your Love. 

I still yell out my anger,  my fury, and my scathing words…because it feels like abandonment and abandonment is my thing. But Not by You~

Never by You

The sun cascades in, warming my face forcing the dichotomy to sync; that Love and hurt can co-exist. Immediately I don’t care if they are not perfect.  I am far from perfect, so an unfair expectation has turned my heart into stone and my blood frozen as February.

I realize that they are broken and bonded by a desperate desire to be wanted; just like me. 

~Reconciliation~

 My body fights back. My Mind slips into the Reckoning. My Heart shakes with fervor to rise above. Because even when the dark loses its light, there You are. In that, I choose to keep my eyes on the Prize. My Prize. 

You. 

I get ready on a sunny Sunday morning to come running past the doors of anger and into the loving arms of my church.

Stopping in my tracks, I feel a flicker ignite into a raging flame of a dormant fire inside me; my shame explodes.   It holds me still, stuck in an avalanche of guilt and fear of the loss of love, because abandonment is my thing.  I breathe deep screaming out that I am here, in my own time because I needed a minute to be lonely and angry.  

I stare down my reflection in the mirror, push back my head and grow myself tall; forcing shame out because I did leave~ but today I come home. 

Joy is miraculously replacing shame.  A reunion is on the horizon accompanied by a magnificent celebration in the heavens, as I run back into the loving arms of…my family. I hold my head high as I burst through the doors back into the loving arms of my family, my community; my bridge to You

The earth shivers in delight, You hold my hand, embrace my journey back as I declare it to be a… A No shame Sunday. 

Ami Beth Cross 2.12.22

My Silent Lullaby

Where have you gone?

I feel you deep inside me as if you were still there.

But now as the wind blows through the trees

There is no whistle. There is no sound.

Where have you gone?

Why were you taken so quickly?

Were you here only to say goodbye? Only to kiss the sky?

I lift my hands to the heavens to give you back,

Before I was even able to kiss your newborn skin.

There is no song. There is no sound.

I hold my hands to my heart in ache

Where are you now?

How will I ever be the same without ever hearing your laughter?

The giggles of innocence silenced.

Without a heartbeat without a breath.

There is no laugh. There is no sound.

Are you lost?

… have you found someone to rock you to sleep at night?

I hope you are taken care of, I pray you are not fearful…

Hush baby… don’t be scared,

For I am always here and will never forget you.

I whisper in your ear as you cry and kiss away our tears.

…I will always sing to you

My Silent Lullaby.

~Ami Beth Cross~July 2009

It is What we Make It

Alan house

 

Absolutely hating the saying, “it is what it is”, has lead me to really digest the phrase. To me, this popular saying is wildly repetitive. I mean, come on now, of course, “it is what it is.” Let’s put a little more thought into it, why is it what it is? Stuff happens I get it, but in this life, especially as Christians, we are called to turn the “yuck” of what life throws our way into His master plan. Introspectively I contemplate that “is it really what it is?” Or is it an eternal opportunity for us to make it into something that may impact our inner ability to grow and prosper into what God has intended for us in the most magnificent way?
My tire blew out.

“It is what it is.”

I was late for work…again.

“Oh well, it is what it is.,”

My life sucks, I lost my keys…AGAIN!

“Who cares ’cause, it is what it is.”

My wife left me because I’m an addict and can’t stop feeding my want for the numbness drugs bring me.”

“It is what it is.”

I’m back at Rogers Memorial Hospital after promising I’d never have to go back to this place.”

“It is what it is.”

No!!! Stop this complacent way of justifying our situations.  It isn’t what it is, it is what we make it!!!  

Can I get an “Amen” people?

Life throws many curve balls. The best way to make God laugh is to tell Him you’ve got this great plan for your life, that you’ve got your life figured out.

Reason being: We can’t predict what is going to come our way, the struggle, the torrent, the joy, love, acceptance, rejection etc… None of it is in our hands.  All of it is far out of our reach, as far away as the stars we watch on a warm July night holding our loved ones close.

So…it is what it is…right?  Let’s take a look at the last week of my life and see.
I recently spent four days at Rogers Memorial Hospital Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  I saw people of each gender and every race struggling with mental illness and substance abuse. Let me tell you, I saw it all, from depression, anxiety disorder, heroin, cocaine, opioid, ecstasy withdrawals, alcohol dependence, Bipolar Disorder, and Schizophrenia. I met the most extraordinary people fighting to combat the darkest and deepest places in which had created their own living hell.

On my journey, I met…
A homeless man whose love and hope resided in Jesus as he spent a long winter in Wisconsin… homeless.  Living under bridges and one meal a day at the local food bank, somehow he managed to find drugs.  He was there with me recovering from heroin use to help dispel the fact that he had been raped. I asked him once, “How did you survive being homeless in Wisconsin in winter?” His answer, “Jesus of Nazareth. I continued, “How on earth did you survive being raped.  The very worst of the worst.  I get it.?” His answer, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Through squinted eyes and messy hair, his hand covered his mouth, as in a showmanship of trying so hard to not vomit up the turmoil he had been through. My hand reached out to meet his quivering broken self. “I admire you more than you’ll ever know,” I whisper. His response…
“It is what you make it.”
A lawyer from Houston, Texas who carried with him sorrowful stunning crystal blue eyes,  going through a painful, yet, necessary divorce.  On Sunday I asked, “Being it’s Father’s Day how hard is it to be away from your newborn son?” He responded, “that is part of why I’m here. My Bipolar went completely out of control at the thought of my son growing up with me as a part time dad.” My words seemed to echo through the commons area where we spent our free time, “I can’t even imagine.” Bowing my head in introspection and sorrow for this wonderful man who had reached out for help, I smiled at him with tears in my eyes. “So, my friend what are you going to do?”
“It is what I choose to make it.”
I met an addict deep in the trenches of withdrawal symptoms displaying profuse sweating while feeling cold, body aches, tremors, and his nose bleeding out all the poison.  Come to find out he had been using heroin for ten years straight, I asked him one night, “Why now, why are you here here in this moment, after many attempts at rehab?”

After a long pause, he stuttered, “My addiction has taken over every aspect of my life. I have overdosed five times in the past week, man. I’m so lucky to be alive. My last OD was at work, my boss found me passed out in the bathroom. I’m most likely going to lose my job where I was making crazy money.” Responding with my eyes wide with the wonder of what can happen to a life I also stutter out, “Why now, what about this time after two stints in rehab is going to make you clean?” He ran his worn construction hands through his dark thick hair. “Because I can’t be buried next to my twin brother. He died when we were 16, I just can’t do that to my mom, my dad, to me.” Tears dripping down my placid face I ask him, “How? How do we do this, never turning back, giving up our crutch?
“Our sobriety is what we make it, man. We just have to Ami, you don’t want to be buried next to your babies, do you? Of course, you don’t.

Let’s chose to make it what we have the ability to make it; which is something so much…better.”

I had these amazing and deeply strong and courageous people surrounding me as I went through one of the most difficult trials in my life.  We poured into one another for hours on end. Talking, crying, withdrawing from the poison that we filled our veins with. We played silly games that the counselors made us, after rolling our eyes at the sight of “Loaded Questions”, we all laughed and felt authentic empathy for one another. Our stories were all different, our past, our pain, abandonment, abuse, and total destruction of our hearts. We were united in a common joining of pain yet hope to make it what we had chosen to make it by having the will to seek out help.
I’ll never forget the people I met the four days I was in the hospital. Never ever ever. They were one of the many reasons I had to fight because in fighting we were in the battle together. Cheering one another on toward victory over the enemy’s playground we had chosen to play on.  Death was searching for us, each and every one of us, yet by crying out for help we fought the fire of an inevitable end. We battled the turmoil inside us that we had invited into our inner will to fight. Fight. Fight. Fight.
Eventually, seeking the ability to overcome, I am currently in a four-week partial hospitalization program where I spend six hours a day with intense medical observation, coping skills, weekly drug and alcohol testing for accountability. Which is perfect, as God designed such capable people to care for the “us” who have such battles inside our minds.
It is what it is.
I have a mental illness.
It is what it is.
I struggle with alcohol abuse.
It is what it is.
I have had a really rough go of life, facing struggle after struggle since I was two years old.
Oh heck no, it isn’t what it is…it is what I make it!
And I chose to make it perfectly where He needs me to be, ministering to others.
Make it well with my soul. To follow Christ, giving Him all the pain, addiction, sickness and my past turmoil that has an imperative reason as to why I’m here, right now in this place, facing this struggle.
Ultimately, it is what I make it
I chose to make my life the stunning bright light of beautiful glory that God intended for me before I was even me. And that is the true definition of, “it is what it is.” God’s grace tells us that we are perfectly and wonderfully made, and it sure helps get us there when we make it what He desires for us to make it.

Sinking Sand, Lifting Praise

I’m stuck in a pit of mud, the dark thick kind that keeps sucking me in deeper and fuller into its abyss.  My hands can’t move, my legs can’t kick.  My mind is racing for a rational way out, to race to the top and surge my way up.  I’m sucked in like a storm surrounding me without a name, no prediction of its force, only a gale force wind and black clouds closing in faster, my breath is gasping.

I move without motion.

Emancipated in a silenced fear that races through my inner mind that rages with a blank stare, I lie in silence.

I see her.

Her long blonde hair and gypsy green eyes tell me it’s ok.  A small hand reaches out to my sinking appendage that can’t move from the blackness I’m covered in.  “Help me!”  My voice is but a sound of no accord as my throat is parched past the shadows that are covering my shoulders now.

Light will come, just hold on.  Her song sings, loud and like honey to my ears.

Yet, I can’t.

I’m sinking fast and far, dark and smothered by the stretch my body is capable but that isn’t there.  My muscles tense as I wage the war against the black smoldering slithering mess I’m in yet again.

I turn my eyes down as the love is undone.  I’m not worthy, my life has surely become what it deserves to be-swallowed. 

Light will come, just hold on!  Her voice is getting more panicked.  I know she needs me and my teeth push together making a sound that growls with the wind.  Howling is coming as the breath of the sky shakes the leaves and makes ripples in the mud bath I’m lying in.

I’m sinking deeper into me.  Faster into the demons of my past and the fear of my future that the weakness will always hunt me down and eat me up, piece by bitter piece.

My mouth is close to the murky substance that collides with me every night.  The sick taste fills my buds before I can even feel it touch my palate.

You’re closer than you know.  Her voice is a shrill now.  Calling to the wind, begging for my mercy.

Closer than you know, she cries.  Fight your way out!

My lower lip feels the cold taste of the earth as it starts its wage against me slowly etching its way toward my lungs, to fill them deep so I can no longer taste air and slowly drown in my own demise.

Fight, fight FIGHT!  She is screaming now which is coming out in a singalong sonnet of her hope.  Her voice rises with each octave that raises its plea.  FIGHT, Mommy, FIGHT!  

My lids close, my lips are covered and I dip my face in head first.  I open my mouth and let it all in, the sin, the darkness, the feel of the rocks and debris fill my senses as the last thing I see before my eyes fill completely with the mud of my life is her long hair and gypsy eyes.

Lift up your eyes and see, Heaven is closer than you know!  I hear in a symphony before my ears are filled with the murky death that is calling me to fall into.  It’s not just a singular sweet honey voice anymore, it’s the orchestra of many.  Five voices sing out in unison.

Come back!  Fight!  You’re closer than you know!

I succumb to it, fall forward and backward and wayward and deeply into what the demons in my head say I deserve.  The last thing my ears penetrate is all of them; singing praises and a plea to God.

I know you’re there, come back!  They bellow to the storm above, the shadows that are taking me away.

My lungs collapse.  My body shakes with the faint air that’s left in me.  My mind goes blank and all I see is the mud I’m encased in.

God are you here, I calmly ask?  I let the mud in and then I’m nothing but motionless.

It’s dark here, silent.  The fear is gone and the sleep is deep.  Peace is on me and I’m walking on the mud now, yet it is a sea of blue not brown disparaging bleakness.  I am still.  And I am quiet.

But He is there reaching out to touch my hand and He grabs my heart to heal it from all my pain.

I’m there, where I thought I wanted to be.  To be rid of it all, the torture, the fear, the sinking sand I was falling deeper into every night, even as I smiled and tucked them into bed, wasn’t this what I fell asleep to after night fall?  The thought of it all ending here, me in quicksand, them okay without me being the burden I know I am.

LIFT UP!  LIFT UP, LIFT UP.

I hear her, him and him and him and him.  My head turns and my eyes open in the black of death and I shake with a fervor I haven’t felt in months.  For, I don’t really want to be in this sinking mud, this really isn’t what I desire, for them to be at the top and me at the bottom of a deep grave I’ve dug myself into.

I’ve got to find a way out.  To lift up.

By your spirit I will rise, from the ashes of defeat.

In your name I come alive.  The resurrecting King, is resurrecting me.

By your spirit I will rise. 

They are all signing praise songs.  In my imminent death, they are closer now to what God needs of them, singing out a symphony of a pardon for my life.

My arms find their lift and I fight with every muscle in my body to find a way to the top, to fill my lungs with the air that He gave me forty four years ago.  My legs kick, my torsor begs to rob my grave and give me another chance at Victory.

It’s always going to be a struggle for me, to find my way out of the sinking sand, but relying on the wrong crutches to help me walk is never going to bring me back to the top.  I have to hold on to my King, who can defeat the ashes of depression and suicidal thoughts.  He declares that as the mud doesn’t quite touch the fullness of my soul, it only delights in my demise.  Loves me giving up, cheers me on as I give up.

Yet..God hears the voices of my army.

They are signing now.

And somehow I can hear them.  Their tearstained echos find their way into the pit.  I can hear them now.

I fight.  I climb my way out and my head emerges from the pit, filled with debris and sticky mud that covers my milky white face.

She’s going to be okay! I see her long hair and gypsy eyes come dancing towards me.

His and his and his strong presence come running behind her.  “Yes she is, baby, yes she is.”  He says; my husband and the love that needs me

I grab their hands as they slowly lift me out with all of their might, pulling me from the trenches of a thousand pounds of mud.

Mommy! 

Darling!  My voice dances with hers as I know I belong with her and him and him and him.

It’s all I hear as I lift my voice in praise for a God who doesn’t want me to hide my face from Him as he has surely come for me-sent my family-my friends-and the sounds of Heaven to Praise a God that wants me here.  Even when I cried out to fall into the sinking sand, He was lifting their voices in praise because I couldn’t.

They dry me clean and I hug her, and him and him and him over and over again, promising that I won’t fall so deep again.  I may struggle, I may succumb to pain and call out in the depths of the night where I only hear their rhythmic breathing, but I vow to never fall into the quicksand again, but to lift my praise in times of despair.

Just as they have done for me, I will do for Him, for He loves me and needs me here to lift up the heavens and tell my tale of being an overcomer.  A fighter, even when the quicksand of life beckons me to fall into it, I won’t for I have seen the cost is deep and my life is worth light and praising even in the despair of quicksand.

 

 

 

 

 

His Body, My Choice

Nine years ago I found out that I was twenty three weeks pregnant with a sick and dying baby.

“Not compatible with life.”

“Even if you  make it to term, he won’t survive the trauma of labor.”

“Your baby is going to die.”

The echoes of voices breathed into my bones as I laid on the hospital table shortly after having the level two ultrasound that followed an amniocentesis confirming that my baby boy had a chromosomal abnormality called Trisomy 18.

A hole in his heart.

Thick tumors on his brain.

Sick, deformed hands.

My child who I had dreams and hopes for, a life growing deep within me that I wanted more than my life itself was given a death sentence.  My heart was plunged into a grave that at times I still believe resides in with him.  Dark, deep and barren.

“What do you want to do?”  The White Coat asked me.

My head spun, my muscles tensed and my baby kicked.

“What do you mean, what do I want to do?”  Perplexed by his question I sat holding the hole in my stomach where they had just pierced out fluid to tell me the fate of my life growing inside me, I sat tearstained wondering what in the world did I want to do?  Die.  Yes, in that moment I wanted to die.  For him.  Let him have my life.  Oh, by the way, his name is Zachary and I wanted Zachary to have my life.  A soul for a soul.  I’d easily jump off that cliff for him.

“I want this nightmare to be over.”  I gasped staring deeply into the deadpanned doctors eyes.

“Ami, do you want to interrupt the pregnancy, or carry him to term where he won’t survive?  Where you risk your own health.  What do you want to do?”

Immediately my husband bellowed into the darkness of the blinding room, “We want to interrupt.  I can’t lose her too.”

I gasped.  Lose me too?  The doctors in a synonymous state shook their heads up and down.  Yes, lose me too.

Pro-life my whole existence, I agreed.  Besides, the doctor didn’t say “abortion”.  He clearly said “interrupt.”  A much nicer term. Something I could live with, right?  The overhead dim lights took the brightness away of the gravity of the words of it all, the smell of hospital made knew by hope that I wouldn’t have to live another moment with gushing women wanting to touch my swelling belly with a non-thriving baby that was sentenced to death.  Interrupt.  We prelude our thoughts all the time, the shadows in our mind that overcome them with what we think they should be.  I blocked out the convictions of my youth and stared blankly into my sonographers eyes that crystalised the ocean, that brought life in the face of death.  Her head moved up and down in a synchronized dance telling me no matter what I chose it was okay.  In my mind’s eyes I interrupted her and trembled out the words; “I just can’t.”

“Well, some people don’t want their babies if they aren’t perfect.”  The main White Coat Doctor said and hastily left the dark yet bright small, stale, sickly smelling room.  Brutal.  You have never lived this moment, I thought.  You arrogant, judgemental man.

…I want him…Yet can’t have him…I yelled out with a voice that had no voice.  Yet, at that time I did.  Abortion still existed in my state after 20 weeks at this time and the choice was in my hands, in my heart and completely up to me.  It was my body after all.  My choice, his sick broken body to do what with I willed it so.

Nights turned into days, appointments confirmed the amnio over and over.  Pictures on the screen echoed the tumors, holes in his heart and his hands, over and over we saw the pictures that justified it all.  The bad hands were what made our doctors in Kenosha worried enough to send us to the big city hospital in the first place.

Zachary was dying.  He really was.  Nothing was bringing him into the perfection that we dreamed he’d live in.  A child that can run, play and actually thrive in.  Not one that will die any day in my body, or in my arms shortly after birth.  I thought in my youth I was one of those women who could do so, but at 34 I realized I wasn’t that woman.  I just couldn’t.  I needed interruption of this torment, this flood of grief and a longing to be free of being pregnant with a dying child who was in fact suffering inside me, not thriving and growing, one who was waiting for the moment.  The breath of non existence.

I was resolved, after doctor after doctor told me that I risked my own health.  Hypertension, heart failure; the list went on and on.  Alan’s skin paled when the risks were made aware again and again and I held Zachary in my arms through my stomach, coupling him with my love as my body was the cavern he lived within.  He would die, but today he was alive, kicking inside me.  His existence at that moment was life, yet,  his terptidude was death.  But isn’t that the case of us all?  Who are we to decide when that time comes?  That thought still haunts me today.

I wasn’t a Christian then, but I was raised one.  Deeply demonstrative in my youth about my faith, especially when it came to abortion.  I breathed pro-life and argued the right to a babies life no matter the circumstances, well maybe not in rape or incest, but I was pretty dead set on babies getting to live.  I even told a friend of mine once who thought she was pregnant that I would take her baby so she wouldn’t have an abortion.  We were sixteen.

My husband and I decided to interrupt Zachary’s life.  For me, for them, Caleb, Cameron and Trasen, our three other children who needed me to be here.  I mean, Zachary was going to die any way and they couldn’t lose me too while I carried a sick baby that could suck the life right out of me as he continued his voyage towards what I somehow hoped would be the gates of heaven.  Hoped.

I had lost a baby 17 months earlier who had died in my stomach, no choice to make, no idea of interruption, just a death.  It was much, much easier.  I promise you this, it was much easier.  At least they’d have each other, dancing as brothers should in the sunlit clouds in the sky, overlooking the oceans I’m sure that there are in Heaven.

The day of interruption came and I slowly throughout the day became encased in labor without interruption.  Contractions cradled my stomach so tight I felt it so deep that I had no choice but to give into the fortune in the stars that a God I didn’t believe in was giving me a piece of heaven.  My heart beating in the throws of labor as a form of upward falling.  The gift of freedom I was being given was a trade of decision versus fate.  My spirit accepted the gift, my body caved and I ventured into a force of producing a lifeless body fast and hard.

Zachary was born still at 8:04 am on a Tuesday morning in a form of surrender in a sweep of love that God gave me, knowing that the youth of my belief and truth would always be there and the future me couldn’t live with the reality that I chose interruption even if it was the best choice for me and my family in that moment.  That time stamp on my life slowly began my voyage back to my love of God again.  Of Forever, of Truth.  My knees hit the ground that day as my baby slithered out of me, sick, dead and with all the presentations the doctors told me he had, of Trisomy 18, a sickness not compatible with life.

When God placed it on my heart to write this blog in the climate we live in now with new abortion laws, I have lived with tremendous guilt.  Even though I didn’t have to do it,  empires of reflection have caught me half way between grace and guilt.  9 years later, I wouldn’t have that choice as the laws changed.  After 20 weeks gestation a woman has no choice to interrupt now.  But would that have saved me the blinding ravage I still face each and every day that I was going to do it?  I think so.  If I didn’t have a choice but to wait for Zachary to come on his own, the choice would have not been on me, the decision of interruption wouldn’t reside and I could live guilt free.  I have fallen back into my Savior’s arms, entrenched in my faith once again but with much more fervor than ever.  Since then, with the thought that I  had decided to do it, I have faced depression, addiction and severe anxiety.

It is a huge issue in our nation at this time.  Laws are being made that call to the truth of life.  No matter your stance, it isn’t just your body.  It is her’s and his and your partner’s who really has no say as they say it is your body, your choice.  If it were today I wouldn’t have been given the choice I had then.  I would have given birth to a broken baby who had died in childbirth, I would have had no choice to do so.  And is that such a bad thing?  Society and famous people say yes.  But, I would have held him with no guilt that held a crown of thorns in my head so deep  and bloody I’d have to dig them out for the rest of my life.

This isn’t a political blog.  I’ve never been a controversial author, this is just my story.  I realize I may lose friends and family over it but it is my story to tell.  Zachary was mine, life was in my hands and I know that it was his body, yet my choice.  And the echo was made for me by the God that loves me and knew I just couldn’t have lived with it all, yet I still have a hard time to this day existing in a world where I thought I could.  I love you all and understand we have different views on this one, but this is my tale.  My  Zachary is in heaven with his brother and I’m on a earth that I have found a place I can live in because the choice of it all was taken away from me, because God took him before I could.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ego-Me=God

I had a dream.  Of telling my story in front of Journey Church.  I would pour my soul out about losing my two babies and many women would relate and run up to me and say “me too!”  I would hug them and say, “I know.  It’s so sad.”  We would cry, I would hug them and the story goes on.  I wrote a book, I told my story in front of hundreds and I would feel better at the end of the day.

The dream seemed to have come true.  I was asked to speak in front of Journey Church to tell my story of losing my two babies, Jaden and Zac.  But I couldn’t meet the requirements of the venue, I was going on vacation and wouldn’t be able to speak in front of who I thought needed to hear my story.  I was devastated.  I cried.  My ego was called out by God, He said, you aren’t on the course I want you on.  I called back, “but God, I want to tell my story.”  He said, “You already have, you wrote a book.”  I yelled back, “but I want to speak!”  He cried, “Your ego is too big.  I am bigger.”

It broke me, my heart, my story seemed insignificant.  I wanted to tell it at Journey Women, because I was certain that women needed to hear my story, that they would befriend my story and take my loss into their hearts as their own.  I knew I needed to tell it on a stage.  But God had another plan and I was too wrapped up in my own idea of how He wanted my story to be told.  I buried my need and held my dream in my heart.  I would tell my story on a stage…someday, right?

I lead a table at Journey Women Gather and only two women showed up.  They disappeared before I had a chance to gather them up and take them into the stadium where the other women were telling their stories, the ones I was supposed to be with.  I wandered into the sanctuary and found a single woman.  Alone, sitting by herself.  I asked if I could sit by her and she said yes.  I said ok.  We sat alone, together, listening to the ladies talk and the Lord work.  God nudged me and said, “ask her if she’s a mother.”  Um, ok. I don’t know this girl but ok.  “Are you a mother?”  I whispered in her ear.

“Yes.”

Then He brushed against my ear hard, “ask her if she’s had a miscarriage.”  WHAT?????  Are you sure God?  I don’t know this woman!  Are you SURE?  Yes, He said in my minds eye louder than I’ve ever heard Him.

“Have you ever had a miscarriage?”  I obey.

Eyes meet.  Tears collide.  She holds up two fingers.  Yeah well, me too, I think.  Me too, side by side burials.  Two.  Me too.

God says, ask her if she wants to talk outside.  The volume of the speakers blare, the sound of their words override what I’m afraid to ask.  But somehow I do.  “Do you want to talk?”  She nods.  We walk hand in hand outside to the vestibule that God had waiting for us from the moment she walked into Journey Church tonight.

We sat, we cried, we listened, we wept.  For our babies.  For our loss.  God didn’t want me to speak to a huge audience that my ego would have loved.  God needed me to speak to a singular person who I had no idea existed.  He needed me to tell my story to allow another to cry, to hear her tears that the world tells her that are not good enough.  For a world that says that miscarriage isn’t a loss that needs to be heard.  It’s a silent loss.  It’s a secret for us to keep. 

God told us that we are not alone.  That the anniversary I celebrate yet mourn on Sunday, the 10 year loss of my Jaden Hope, is a forever loss that needs to be heard.  But God wanted it to be intimate, to be between me and a stranger this year.  I listened, she told me her story, I cried, she spoke and we are forever bonded together.

Ego is strong, I am a victim of it, but God had other plans for me tonight.  He had a picture of me sitting with a grieving mother who has suffered as I have, one who needed to be heard, one who needed to tell her story more than I needed to be up on a stage beaming my story as I pridefully told my tale.  God said, “No”!  I have other plans.  I have a single person who needs you and you need her.

Because, God plus me equals trust.  God plus me equals truth.  God plus me equals a story that was meant for one  not many.  Because ego is strong, but God is Truth if we listen.  If we follow, if we hear the story we are meant to tell, to whom we are meant to tell it to in the moment it is meant to be told.  In that we are met with the breath of God, the Holy Spirit and the truth that is meant for us to live in the moment we are meant to live in it.