Led down a church path

^ If you experienced church abuse then this is a tw. No talk of abuse included
Once a week I go for a short drive in my car. It has actually become easier to drive a short distance than to walk it. Because walking involves both of my legs, and my left leg does not cooperate. It gets weak depending on the terrain and then extremely painful at night. So, I do my 10 minute drive, and come home. It makes me feel independent. It gives me a feeling of freedom. I had not driven in 12 years, since my muscle disease diagnosis, until a few months ago. I started with just the driveway. Then the neighborhood. Then the next neighborhood over. I was so sore it took 2 weeks to recover when I first started. Now, I am able to go out once a week with minimal recovery time UNLESS I make a stop. 

This drive I decided to accomplish something, so I parked in the disabled parking right in front of CVS. Figured out the distance to the lotion, which was about the length of my house, which I can do, so I went for it. I did not take into account waiting in line to pay. So I sat on the floor of the CVS. Then had a hard time getting up! Then I hobbled out to the car, thankful for right leg that keeps me going strong. My right shoulder and left leg are predominantly affected although some days my entire body is (like today, where it hurts to even turn my head or lift my foot). I reclined the seat and rested in the car for 30 minutes. It takes exactly 7 minutes to get home from CVS. On cruise control it is easily done. There is no light. I just cross a road and then the road to my house is a long 5 mile stretch of pasture and sky. 

As I pulled across the main road onto our road, I saw the church. I felt led. I had to pull in. I grew up in church but I had not been to church in 12 years, due to my inability to get there. In that 12 years I have prayed anywhere, any time, any place. I definitely did not require a church to connect to God, which was a good thing, because. I had no way to get to church anyway. 

I pulled into the back dirt parking lot of the church. I left the car running and the door open. I took my camera because I wanted to take a picture of the steeple. It just seemed calming to me. As I walked up I saw that there was this small garden sanctuary next to the church. It was beautiuful. There was a bench to sit on, a waterfall. And perfectly placed stones on the ground where I felt myself led to kneel and pray. Something was missing though. I don’t know what. I didn’t “feel” connected to God at all. But it certainly was beautiful. 

I limped back to my still running car, the door was chiming because I had left it open. As I was about to get in I looked to my left and there was a little path. I had to go down it. It looked like art work as stepping stones that maybe the congregation or the children had made to add to the path. And there it was. My “ahhhh.” There were flowers everywhere. Since it had just rained there were water droplets on every one of them. I gasped and oooohed and aaaahed for awhile as I took pictures of the purple, yellow, pink, white, gorgeous flowers. Some of these flowers I have never even seen before. It really was a magical place. 


Then I saw what led me there. A huge white cross with an angel right next to it. I fell right down on my knees and started sobbing. I felt so safe there. I was all alone in the garden down a back path behind a church and I felt completely safe. I felt like I had angels surrounding me telling me that I would be ok. That I was not alone. That I could cry there. A few times I glanced over my shoulder to see if I really was alone. I was. My car door still chiming in the background that I’d left it open. But not a person in sight. I cried at the cross for a long time. I humbled myself. I prayed for my daughter’s healing. I prayed for my healing. I prayed for forgiveness for anything and everything. 

When I stood to finally go I felt cleansed. I felt renewed. I felt I had shed this tainted darkness that had been following me and haunting me. The residue of living with chronic illness, a daughter with a chronic illness, a life of struggle and pain. I made it back to my car and took one more look at the little path to make sure it was real. It felt very surreal. I’m glad I took some pictures to prove to me it did exist. I sat in the car and thought about the times I have pleaded wtih God, talked with God, communicated with God, on walks, in my bedroom, I have prayed just about everywhere. 

This place felt sacred to me. 

I barely, and I mean barely made it home. Then I realized it was easier to drive than to walk. My left leg was almost what I call “dead leg” because it stops functioning all together.  Hence my need for an accessible car with a wheelchair lift. So, I crawled to the front door and got into my wheelchair. I came back outside because I heard none other than my owl. She was high up in a tree. You can barely see her. She turned her head around backwards to say hello.


I told her about my trip to the church and how I felt close to God, not alone, safe. And at that VERY moment, as I was talking to my sweet owl, I noticed I felt exactly the same way. So I started crying all over again, telling the owl about my experience and how peace and safety can be found in the most unlikely places. Like, talking to an owl in the middle of the street. Or while holding someone’s hand while they are about to go to heaven, in a hospital room. Or while looking out over the waves in an ocean. Or, finding a path behind a church that you didn’t know existed. 

The rest of the night and the next day my left leg was very weak and very painful. It was ok though. Finding that white cross and that angel were just what I needed at that moment. I was in the presence of something so amazing that I will not soon forget.

A watched flower does not bring butterflies.

You know the old saying, ” A watched pot never boils ?” The same saying applies to this flower. 

I glance out my living room window everytime I pass it. I always watch for the birds who use the bird bath. Today all of the focus was on this one flower. I planted it years ago and this year it decided it was going to come back spontaneously. This morning, on that flower, there was a hummingbird and plethora of butterflies. So at 3pm I decided I would go sit next to it and wait to get a picture of a butterfly. And here is the final picture:


A dark pink flower with absolutely nothing on it but the sunshine. Not one butterfly came as I was sitting there waiting. I waited an hour and finally got too hot. Most Floridians don’t lounge in the sun at 3pm unless they are sunbathing next to some water source. OR hoping a butterfly will pass by a flower!

So the personal lesson for me could be many. I chose, “Sometimes the sunshine has to be enough.” And so it is. 

The Fear, Anxiety, and Panic of Parenting a Medically Complex Child

Beautifully written post about how it feels to have a medically fragile child. It is the part of my life I do not share on my blog but a part that takes up 99% of my time, breaks 99% of my heart, and leaves me 99% alone

Without a Crystal Ball

Chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-chug. I can hear the click of the wheels on the steel tracks, and the horn is starting to get louder and louder. The wind is picking up in my hair, and I can feel the speed I hold on for dear life to the seat on my side. Suddenly, there is a large crash, a jolt forward, and I fall to the ground as everything around me falls and collapses. There is dust, debris, and carnage all around me. The smoke is thick, and it stinks like something is burning. I look everywhere to find the flame and find a way out. Yet, I realize there is no way out, I am stuck in this car that has derailed from the track. The exit doors are jammed tightly closed. The panic completely consumes me, and I find it hard to breathe. My flight or fight response is kicking in…

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Wheelchair walks in search of flowers. 

Today’s flower discoveries were just so beautiful. I was riding by someone’s house and say OOOHHHH I need a picture of that. I took my time and looked at the flower and every aspect of it. How the sun shined on it and if it has raindrops still resting on it. Today I decided to have a few friends help me with describing, if you needed to describe this flower and color with a feeling, what would it be? This is what we came up with. 

Side note: every picture and video on my entire blog was taken by me. 


This bright orange/yellow flower is : content, a deep breath, a soaring bird. 


This white flower is with streamers coming out of it is : celebration, whimsical


This yellow/orange flower reaching towards the sky: hope, fairies, perseverance, determination


This white flower with a yellow center: safety, a hug, relaxation, bliss


This pink double petal flower with a yellow starred center: vibrant, joy, strength, powerful, hope, wild abandonment


This yellow flower with a tall dark center: the warmth of the sun on your face


This pale pink flower: innocence


This pale pink flower packed full of petals so dense: inner child, rebirth, new starts, a gentle kiss on the cheek from a loved one


These pink flowers mixed wtih yellow flowers, pale pink and dark pink: children playing in a sprinkler laughing


These two pink flowers: pure unconditional love


I admired this flower for as long as my legs would allow me to stand. There was one raindrop hanging off the huge clumps of white flowers. They were all weighted down by the rain yet still reaching towards the sky. I can only say that this makes me feel like the air smells after it rains: fresh and renewed. 

My last flower I found growing out of a stone. I am always overwhelmed with emotion when I find a flower growing out of a rock or a stone. The stones are all covered in green moss. And there coming right from a crack in the stone is a bright orange flower that can only make me feel: hope. 

Jess

One year ago I lost my dog Jess to cancer. He was not a trained service dog. But he was SO much a service dog. He opened the oven for me. He alerted me of seizures. He was also conveniently always there when I fell and broke my fall and helped me to get up. He was my constant companion. I’ve never loved an animal like I loved Jess. I have a feeling I never will again. 

Two months before he passed away, an owl came. The owl would fly to a branch that is over our deck when I would let Jess out at night. He was very sick every night. We had to take him out a lot. The owl came and would look at Jess, then at me, and she was do her owl call. I talked to her every single night for at least an hour. After Jess passed away she still stayed with me for a few months and then I didn’t see her again. Here is a picture of her. 


This year another owl family has come. I wonder if it is her family. There is a mother and two siblings. The female baby became attached to me, and I her, just like the owl from last year. Here is a picture of my owl this year. 


I see no real resemblance but I have a feeling that last year’s owl is the mother of this baby owl. Either way I have had two summers of owls. Not just a random owl in my back yard. An owl that communicates with me. An owl who calls to me when I open the door. An owl who will fly past my face and land right in front of me as I go for my walks. She is and has been an incredible sight. 

I took this picture of her last night. It had just rained and it was so humid that the lens kept fogging up. 


She has grown a lot since her sibling and I first met. 


This is a clip of her flying next to me.


With the owl comes the comfort that I felt from Jess. Jess was with me for almost 14 years. His loss will be forever on my heart. I am so thankful the owl has brought back some of that love. 

Last chapter of “The girl” series.

Trigger warning on talk of suicide. 

The girl was just a little girl when she took a bottle of her mother’s pills. Ones in the back of the drawer that would never be missed. They weren’t…ever missed. She was young. She didn’t know that a bottle of those pills wouldn’t accomplish what she thought. She waited but nothing happened. The little girl went to school and promptly after eating a corn dog for lunch started vomiting. Her mother was called and it was determined she had a stomach bug. She never ate another corndog for the rest of her life. I don’t know why the little girl wanted to end her life at 10 years old. I just know it is horribly sad that she felt that was her only option. Maybe one day she will remember why she wanted to die, but I’m guessing she hopes that stays blocked out forever. Whatever it was is the root of her trauma though. It is where it all began.

The girl was a teenager when she took her next bottle of pills. This time she knew what pills to take and I can tell you exactly why she took them. She knew there was no way out. There was no one to save her. There was no rescue mission planned for her. The teenage girl felt helpless and hopeless and could not live another day. She told. She asked to be saved. She begged for things to change. But nothing did. She got the keys to her mother’s white car. Why it matters that it was white I don’t know but it seemed important to the girl for you to know it was white. She drove it to the side of the road where she looked up at the sky and closed her eyes. Then she thought she didn’t want to die alone. She drove to her friend’s house. He welcomed her in. She lay her head on his chest and his voice lulled her to sleep. He was kind. He was another sprinkle of light in her life. The next thing she knew she was dancing. He was dancing with her. “Dance with me, stay awake.” He knew. He called 911. She looked into his eyes and they were full of compassion for the teenage girl. He wanted her to live. He danced with her limp body until the paramedics arrived and took her to the hospital. The nurse told her, “I hope you enjoy all the throwing up you will be doing. Maybe that will keep you from doing something this stupid again.” It didn’t.

The girl was still stuck. She felt that she was ruined. She felt tainted. She couldn’t get away from the pain and she couldn’t get away from the people. She was surrounded by perpetrators and their minions. Again, she didn’t want to live this way. She saw no way out. She had failed twice in her attempts to end her life. This time she was more determined. The girl drove her car at a high rate of speed. It was a blue car. Why the color of the car is important I don’t know but the girl felt it was. She ran her blue car off the road into a ditch, into a tree, and the car flipped. Nothing happened to the girl. She was perfectly fine. On the outside. 

Death was not the answer. She had not succeeded on her third attempt to end her life. 

She never told anyone about what she did when she was 10, or what she did when she drove her car into a tree. She only told me. It wouldn’t have mattered who she told. It didn’t change one thing after she attempted suicide and everyone knew. It was just a “cry for attention,” they said. They didn’t understand that the girl really did not want to live anymore. She was so sad. She was so alone. She felt there was no escape from the life she was trapped in. 

The girl felt the only solution was her death. 

How incredibly sad. How many people could have saved the girl from her circumstances? Many. How many chose to look the other way? Many. 

The 10 year old girl needed someone to listen to her. She needed someone to hold her hand and rescue her from what was happening. But no one noticed. 

The teenage girl needed someone to listen to her. She needed someone to hold her hand and rescue her from what was happening. After that, she knew no one was coming. There was going to be no hand. 

The girl had to rescue herself. 

The girl had to break free from the chains that were binding her. 

It took a great deal of strength to find safety on her own, but she did it. 

It took years for the girl to understand that her life meant something and shouldn’t just be thrown away. It took until now for the girl to understand that death is not the only option when a person is trapped and alone. 

I asked the girl, “ Do you ever feel like harming yourself now?” She replied, “ When my 10 year old self is brought forth by a trigger and I forget that I am an old woman now. When my teenage self comes out in an emotion that was long buried, by a trigger that makes me forget I am no longer, that girl.”

I asked the girl, “ How do you keep yourself from going back to that dark place when you have triggers?” Her reply, “I go to that dark place all the time. It is a struggle that PTSD has left me with. Dissociation takes me to my 10 year old self. I just have to find my way back. I always find my way back. My core self wants to live. Finding my way back to my core self is not always easy. I’ve just chosen not to give up on myself like others did. I’ve chosen to love that 10 year old child and that teenage girl so that those parts of me can heal.”

Understanding the girl has changed my life. Loving her has changed my life. Everything is in perspective because of what I have allowed myself to learn from the girl. 

Finally, I have found, all of me. 

I am the girl.

Boundaries for recovery

When I had no boundaries, I had no self-worth. I did not value myself. Creating boundaries means telling people no. It means holding someone accountable for hurting me and not letting them do it again. I have found that people prefer the Bethany that had no boundaries. The one that just let anyone say anything. The one that turned into mush when someone cut her down because that is what she was programmed to do. I’m not that person anymore. So I get judged for not allowing anyone to judge me. I’ve “changed.” With a negative connotation, those people wil say. Those who would crush me any chance they got, and I allowed for my lifetime. If I stand up for myself, and if I place worth on myself and demand that worth be upheld by others, they don’t like it. At least not the people who are used to me being a doormat. 
Boundaries are critical for recovery. Those who cannot respect them and be proud of you for having them are not worthy of being in your life anyway. Boundaries will weed out individuals that are hindering the healing process. Boundaries will lead to empowerment. Those who love you will want you to be empowered. They will encourage and commend these new boundaries.

They will see the growth, hear your voice, and stand with you as you shout it to the world. 

Is this person helping or hindering? Building or breaking down? Questioning or validating? Take stock. Evaluate. Be mindful of the people that surround you. That is what I am working on so I thought I would share it. 

Weeding out the bad has allowed room for the good. 

I met a friend for dinner last night that I’ve only seen once in person in the last 2 years. I met a new neighbor who left me such a kind gift. I know that others have struggles and another’s struggle has no bearing on if I keep them in my life or not. How they treat me is. I can sit with a friend and we can unload our burdens and feel uplifted and heard. If I sit with someone and walk away feel exhausted, frustrated, and just used then this is not part of my healing plan. 

Yesterday I went for a walk. I met someone that has lived down the road from me for 12 years, for the first time. I only spoke to her for 5 minutes. I walked away from her feeling rejuvenated, happy, and with a warmth in my heart. There was a comfortable feeling just talking with her, and when I left, I felt at ease. I ran into someone else in the neighborhood that I spoke to for 5 minutes. I walked away from her feeling drained, agitated, and judged. Two separate 5 minute conversations left me feeling two completely different ways. What if those two people were in my daily life. One would zap me, one would uplift me. I am aware now in ways I was not before of how another person makes me feel. Whether it is their intention or not, I choose to be around people who do not make me feel bad about myself after I am around them. You actually get to choose. I get to choose. I never thought I could. I thought I had to stay friends with one person if she had been in my life for 10 years, or I had to be in constant contact with a cousin that I made me feel awful. It was an obligation directly related to my lack of boundaries. 

Being mindful has opened my eyes to what boundaries can bring. In those boundaries have come growth, strength, and empowerment. But like I said, not everyone likes someone who has boundaries. I used to be the one EVERYBODY loved. I don’t need to be loved by unkind people just to have the outward satisfaction of being able to say those words, that everyone loves me. I think it is pretty safe to say some people downright dislike me now. They don’t like that I have broken free of the rules put upon me decades ago. They don’t like what I reveal about myself and how others have impacted me through their abuse. But that is just not my problem. Someone else’s lack of being accountable is not my problem. 

I would rather have boundaries and have a handful of wonderful loving people in my life, than have no boundaries and have a thousand. Those thousand are just a number that when it came down to the depth of despair one can go through would jump ship in two minutes. 

My cousin told me the other day that, in a nutshell,  I was going to lose the last few family members I have left by pushing them away with my boundaries. If telling someone I will not allow them to hurt me means I will lose another family member then that is perfectly fine with me. What she does not know is that I do not just have a few family members left. I have my father’s entire side of the family that have given me unconditional love, as I have them. And, as I have been told by those who love me, family is not always what you are born in to. I have fellow bloggers as friends who I love immensely. I have friends in my neighborhood who I feel genuinely loved by. I have a handful of friends who would walk through fire for me, and have. So I don’t need threats of loss. I know loss. Real loss. The loss of my cousin Randy who loved me like he was my father. The loss of my Nana who loved me like her own daughter. The loss of my dog who was my constant companion. I don’t consider it loss if it is someone who is just waiting to hurt me anyway. I don’t consider it loss if it is someone is ready to bait and pounce and get their two cents in with no regard to the pain it causes me. I don’t consider those people a loss. I consider that…a gain! It puts things in perspective when a person walks out of your life and you consider it a gain instead of a loss. 

So yes, boundaries do have consequences. Hopefully those consequences will lead to new friendships, a space that feels safe, and empowerment. You may lose a few people on the way, but they weren’t worth it anyway. 

The gift given to my by the neighbor was this little stuffed animal owl that I will cherish forever.