The Pain I can Control

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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 subsides 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 me, 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 en 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 experienced pain in my life, but not to that degree.  Not like the nagging, anticipating, debilitating torturous pain she had spoken of.  

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.  My husband has a full sleeve and he said that the underarm is the most painful.”  I smiled at her and stared into her stunning green-blue 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 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, yet was made to believe that I did play out.  There are times I wake up in the morning depleted never wanting to fall into “Dreamland” again 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 this coping mechanism all too well.  It is hard to give myself love and grace when I fail daily because, in the past, the pain was given when I “messed up.” 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, what He designed in His image is ours for the taking. But we have accepted His healing principle into our hearts, memories, and inner child.  

Broken, bleeding, depleted, drugged, drunk, too fat, too skinny, He doesn’t care.  He says in His Word that He has written our names in the palm of His hand and calls us His.  

God screams that He wants our pain, and He will control it.  All He wants for us is to accept His grace, love, and forgiveness.  If we are able to wrap our minds around that fact we will be able to stretch our butterfly wings out and fly as far into the sunset that we dream of.  

For, in inflicting a self-deprecating way of dealing with our demons, we push the love of Jesus further and further away, as the enemy perpetuates our painful memories, and 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, accept love, and 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 unconditional love.

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The Vulnarabulity Fire

Who knew that hands placed upon me in a magnitude of grace that I could find so much peace… because when hands have been given in violence the abuse is always expected. But not today…there was only room for love! Join me in finding the acceptance we all desire to let go of the demons that haunt us to our core…

Hands upon hands were placed strategically upon me today at church as Pastor Kevin asked for those who are suffering any kind of turmoil to allow him to pray over them.  After I found the courage to stand up, which is of course somewhat embarrassing in its own right, I mean, who wants to say to the world, I totally suck at life?  No one.  But in admitting that we are in a place of need is when those in our army can truly go to battle for us.  So, I stood, my husband immediately followed as he always does to support and lead me, and then so did all the people around me in a beautiful echo of communion fortifying a will to pray against the forces that want to see me fail on the worst possible world stage possible.

As our pastor’s anointed prayer began I felt a community of touch all over me.  Now not many people know this about me, but if I’m not prepared to be touched I kinda freak out.  For a sparkly-pink loving girl, I knock out punch and a mean handshake.  Basically, I can mess you up, and I wish the reasons were simply because I am totally bad to the bone.  It actually comes from a place of deep sorrow that no person should ever have to endure.  It is a defense mechanism.  It is my survival tool to combat the evil touches that have precluded my youth.  But in this tender moment when the fighters around me took to battle, in prayer and laid hands on me, all I felt was overwhelming peace and love.  This being one of the great moments of my life.

I am a Christian.  A wife.  A mother, An author, A lover of compassion and uprising. I am deeper than most and speak what I feel when I can’t hold back.  I am also, a survivor.  Of sexual assault.

Like all too many women, I’ve been objectified, judged, and received unfair treatment due to my outer appearance.  I also know what it is like to be groped without consent.  Hands on me when I wanted to run, scream, and bellow for a savior from the depths of torrent this kind of situation poses. But…I didn’t.  I just stood still, not sure how to react, contemplate, to retaliate.  Mostly because, it was someone who I trusted, valued and loved deeply.

That is the core horror of my situation.  I trusted, loved and adored someone, and he stripped me of my innate belief principle because of a physical urge that my predictor could not control. Which ultimately drove me, the victim to seek control over my own life in extremely destructive ways.  I have literally lived in a cold, gray, prison for all the life I have memories of.  Despite achieving many astute and lovely things, my abuse has always been there, nagging, digging its claws into my self-esteem and pain point throughout my whole life.

I have starved myself in order to beg to the powers that be that I simply disappear.  For being thin and non-existent felt much better than real, honest and facing the truth of an unthinkable nightmare I was forced to live.

I have stuck a finger down my throat to regurgitate food I forced into my body feeling powerful and filled in a fleeting breeze of pleasure.  Then at the moment of the purge, I felt free of the physical delight of having food.  Free of a burden of plenties I believed that I did not deserve.  

I have drank too much and taken prescription pills to forget the moment I was in.  If I didn’t have to live in the “now” that usually produced images of black and white-hot and cold- with a vivid vision of safety and then ultimately, hell.

I have strived for success at any avenue.  If I commit to something, not only will I win, but I will prevail in the wildest of ways.  Winning, yes I know this well. For if I am perfect I am loved, right?  If i tell you I’m a best-selling author, you smile, If I tell you I’m a figure skater that performed in eight ice shows your eyes glisten, if I share that I’m an award winning public speaker, you accept me even more.  The horror of my core is pushed deeper, and I navigate through pain, lack of sleep, physical torture, so I can prove to you all.  That I am here successfully standing, but mostly that I am not deplorable.  

Because that is really how I feel deep inside.

I tell myself that I deserve the torture that I sentence myself to because ultimately I feel dirty, taken, and abused.  Worthless.  Innocence was taken without being asked and then tossed to the side without a second gaze. Abuse potentates self-harm, which produces insecurity and lofty images of distancing from all the things inside me that cry that I am worthy, loved and bountiful in His image.  God calls me by my name and reaches inside my darkness proclaiming a stake on lightness.  Yet all I see is bleak, darkness, that tells me I should hide my face, body, and reality of abuse.

I was reminded of a funny yet powerful expression of wanting to throw in the towel in the midst of the worst pain imaginable today talking to one of my girlfriends.  When I was in labor with my first son, having never experienced the threshold of pain in the form of every single fiber of my body being squeezed outside of itself, I was a bit despondent.  Unable to feed off of the numbing potion of an epidural due to a rapid first delivery, I was left to feel every single contraction of my introduction of Caleb into the world.  As my body seamlessly engaged what we know as “transitional labor” better known as the fire ring of the worst pain possible, I decided that I was done, I quit, love y’all but I’m out!  I wanted nothing of the impossible expectations of strength that was being expected of my body, spirit, and mind.  After a particularly horrid contraction that I was sure expelled my liver, spleen, and for sure bowels, I gathered my bag and walked out the door.  I was done.  Goodbye, I yelled as i waddled down the hallway of the labor and delivery floor.  “Where are you going?” My husband and the nurses chased after me in a panic.  I dropped to the floor with another one of those earthquake level contractions that cracks the world in half.  Picking myself up off the floor I declare to my audience, “I changed my  mind.  I’m good, I’m going home.  This isn’t at all what I thought it was going to be, and simply I cannot do it.”  I got about two steps down the hall and another blow took my breath away forcing me to realize, too late, sweetie.  You’re committed.  You have to deal.  Minutes later I gave birth to one of the greatest loves I could have ever fathomed possible.  God is so Good!  After we go through the fire we deem impossible is when we reap the greatest possible result.

An ah-ha moment came when I was describing in the throws of my counseling session how I had no idea how difficult it was for me at this time to fight the good fight.  I told counselor dude how I am a WINNER!  I overcome! It’s simply what I do.  But in this season of my life I find it next to impossible to set aside the crutches I’ve utilized my whole adult life, and as much as I am ready to accept the calling that God has CLEARLY placed on my life, I am stuck in the abyss of struggle.

He dug.

I went with him.

He asked me what my process, dealing with my inner child being abused has been like. And I stated what seemingly felt to be the obvious,

First I was in denial. …Nope, this didn’t happen.  It was just a bad dream.  It wasn’t THAT horrible.  I mean, girls have it way worse than me, right???

Then anger met me at her doorstep with hurricane force winds and power.  …I’M SO HOT WITH ANGER THAT I WILL BREAK YOUR HANDS IF YOU COME NEAR ME.  Okay, I still have a little bit of that in me, but the rage brewed, swelled and came out in the worst of times on the ones I love the most.

Now, I’m in the stage of vulnerability.  The denial has been dismissed the anger controlled and now I’m stuck in this boiling pot of reality, memories, and feelings.  No wonder I’m completely and totally stuck in a huge hot mess of yuck, struggle, and agony.

Because, in all reality, who truly wants to be left naked and open to the feelings and memories that haunt us in the deepest caverns in our heart?  Yeah, um, no one.

God will win, He will take the pain and use it to further the kingdom and minister to the countless women and men who have suffered as I, but first I have been called to go through the fire of vulnerability.  The chastise of truth, and the bellows of “why me, take me, free me from this torturous place, this barren land, and bleak future.  God, just come, PLEASE NOW!” That is the inferno justice of honoring our true self and feelings, where we have nowhere to run but into the arms of our Lord and Savior.  For none other has any kind of a shot at healing the brokenness, anger, denial, and raw pain of such an invasion.  Through it all I’m embracing the truth that He knew me before I breathed my first breath, and will take my last.  He has my purpose in the palm of His hand, and all I have to do is take it and run like mad to fulfill it.  

But first my friends, beforehand, I have to fight the fire of my vulnerability, heal, and prosper to the other side.   

I honor and pledge that I will overcome odds, to fulfill His greater destiny for my life, and I encourage you to join me in the same venture.  Because that is truly living, loving, and ministering to the highest of soaring levels.  Healing is imminent we simply have to go through His process to provide His greater purpose on our journey toward complete healing while growing us into the everything He has promised for us to be.

Please be inspired by the song that inspired this blog:

https://open.spotify.com/track/4ajsTrCAjWtUPLU6xCy4u4