bayoubunch

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

My decayed soul.
Its broken cry still heard.
the hounds of heaven
tore at my ankles
but I wept surrender
because He came back for me;
I am Homeward bound.

How on earth did I get here? My poor parents. They have endured a lot having me as a daughter. I’ve heard that we all have a story and I’ve always wondered when to begin mine. There always seems to be more – events and tragedies cascading like dominoes. I realize that it is still happening. It is not done because I am not done. Maybe when I am lying on my deathbed I will see the final shape of things. But for now, I will begin with how I got here. To the Church. Every domino is manageable now that I am here. I guess this is my journey home.

This part of the story begins on a strange Friday night. In my small cozy bedroom, with family and friends huddled together in the living room, I gave birth to my firstborn. I was wondrously proud of myself and I mothered him with my entire soul. He was unwell but I got to enjoy him for almost a year. He passed away in my arms, out on the balcony. It was as lovely as a death can be. I am not sad. I grieve but I am not sad. He had a wonderful life and he was awarded the opportunity to pass away peacefully in his mother’s arms. He knew nothing but his mother’s embrace and what more could a I ask for than to know that my child had a life of only love and comfort?

His life is like a flash of light. The intensity so strong, it lights up the rest of my life. His life is the beacon that I return to for perspective and comfort.

A year after his death, I got sick. I was 23.

NOS stands for Not Otherwise Specified. Psychosis NOS. The doctor said that I was NOT schizophrenic. It could be that my mind was unable to handle the loss and it just broke. A little. “Many people can be prone to psychotic breaks.” he said. I looked at the package insert for the medication: “Geodon is for the treatment of schizophrenia.” This was not going to work. I begged myself not to feel better. I was certain I would be back, in a week, saying that I still didn’t feel right.

But it did work. The fog lifted. The voices stopped. I regained my body. I was free and better and relieved because I had my life back. Fine, I thought, I’ll take this medicine but I am not sick like “sick sick” just slightly…. off. Most people take medicine, right? I planned on telling others that I was depressed.

Then it stopped working. I felt strange again. I had returned to work and I could barely make it through the day. The doctor increased my dose and added another medication.

“The world’s thy ship and not thy home.” – St. Therese

I had four people within “me.” A woman, around forty, who hung out to my upper right. Another, about 16, to the left of me (she was a terrible influence) and a boy, maybe four, behind me. The boy had a sweet tooth and persuaded candy out of me. The older woman was mostly kind, she tried to take care of things. That girl was an asshole.

I started to wonder if people could read my mind. I was afraid that they could tell I was falling apart. I knew all of it wasn’t real and I knew it all made no sense but I couldn’t stop the strange thoughts and ideas. The medicine helped me to know that it was just my mind turning on me but it had stopped alleviating my symptoms. My body often felt foreign.

I have been in five mental hospitals. People ask why I converted to Catholicism. This is why: because I was sick. Really sick. Now I am better. I will go to where ever my healer tells me to go. He pointed me to the Catholic church, so I went.

“We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.”   -Saint Paul

At my sickest, I could not stop the endless tormenting, the flood of voices within me and feeling like other people were occupying my mind. Schizophrenia has two components, positive symptoms like delusions and negative ones. Sometimes the negative symptoms were the most difficult. I can handle the voices and I continue to experience them now and again. It is no different than trying to read or do something in a crowded place. It is only bothersome if I let it be. The negative symptoms were things like severe depression or lack of any emotion at all. It felt like I was in a constant out of body experience. I didn’t know who I was. I knew that I was me but it was like trying to remember a sound heard long ago. I couldn’t reach it. I have been on almost every anti-psychotic medication as well as mood stabilizers, epilepsy medications and ant-depressants. I went nowhere but to my doctor and the pharmacy for a long time. Most of the time, I didn’t want to live.

“If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” – John 15:19

After a diagnosis made it all official, my case worker applied for Social Security. For years, I did strange things and couldn’t figure out who I was. Things would get overwhelming and I would end up with another hospital stay. I lost a lot of friends. I never thought I would be able to be a wife. I never thought I’d ever have another child. I kept mostly to myself.  People, change, being busy all made things worse. I eventually moved in with my dad. I was getting used to the idea of being alone. I was going to be just fine. The days were long and burdensome but I managed to go a year without a hospitalization.

Then a man on the internet fixed my computer.

I casually asked him where he was located. He said the New Orleans area. I asked about Katrina. I didn’t know anyone from New Orleans and I had only heard about the infamous hurricane from TV and newspaper. He began to tell me about how he lost his grandfather who climbed into the attic to escape the flood waters. He had a story, he said, just like everyone else did. No one was exempt. The conversations moved from instant messenger to the phone. He found out that it was my son’s birthday and he asked “do you want me to call you?”

I was dating a man named David at the time. He was an attorney who worked long hours and he didn’t think he would ever want children. He knew about my illness and he liked me anyway. He was a kind and generous man. He liked giving me gifts and trying to cheer me up with my favorite things. I think he enjoyed taking care of me. After I spoke to the man in New Orleans, also a David, I broke it off with the attorney. I knew that if I felt a spark for someone else that I would probably never meet, this man was not right for me. He deserved someone who could fully reciprocate his affections. I was beginning to think I may be able to get married someday. I hoped I’d meet another man that was okay with me. Some days were better than others. Some days I could do what an average person does on a slow day. Other days I stayed in bed, curled up tight, waiting for it all to go away.

New Orleans David and I talked a lot. He was healing his life. I was healing mine. He said he loved me before he even knew what I looked like. “Don’t worry, I am not superficial.” He said. David is the most humble man I have ever met. I finally sent a picture so he could recognize me at the airport. “She’s hot! She’s actually HOT!” When he tells the story of when he first saw my picture, his face lights up. “I felt like I had won the lottery!” He has always said that he knew that he loved me no matter what but when he found out I was “as beautiful on the outside as the inside, it was like icing on the cake.” I don’t feel beautiful but I am thankful that he thinks so because he’s the only one that matters.

Things moved quickly. He came to Denver and stayed at this disgusting cheap motel. I asked how long he thought the relationship would last. He said “I don’t know. Probably forever.” I went to New Orleans and we decided to marry. My parents were nervous. We all met with my doctor. David was different because he never tried to fix me. He let me be. When I was unwell, he would sit with me and stroke my hair for a little while and then he would get up and go do his own thing. I liked that. He never made me feel like I had to be any different and he never seemed to wish that I was different. He wanted no glory for taking care of me because he thought there was nothing to take care of. It was just me. My parents noticed that I seemed better than usual around him. They supported the marriage.

We got married in his parent’s back yard. He wanted a Catholic wedding because he thought it would have made his grandparents proud. Most of his family had fallen away from the church after his grandfather’s death. I was unwilling to be Catholic. I thought that Catholics were stiff, unloving, unwelcoming and ant-women, anti-gay, anti-any-one-different-and-not-perfect. I thought the Vatican was corrupted and I thought that Catholicism was more of a culture and not about one’s relationship with Christ. I didn’t understand the obsession with Mary and mostly, I just had a bad impression. At the time, I thought I was too smart for God. I was an idiot and I had done some very awful things.

“Christ does not force our will, He takes only what we give Him. But He does not give himself entirely until He sees that we yield ourselves entirely to Him.” -St. Theresa of Avila

I got pregnant on our honeymoon while taking birth control. I prayed. I had to stop all medication immediately. I prayed. And prayed and prayed. For nine months, I could hardly function. I barely ate. I rarely left the room. I stayed in bed and my joints and bones ached with the lack of movement. I had to wait for the storm to pass. I had no choice. I read the bible. I begged God to help me. I told Him that I was sorry. I wanted to be less alone. I was just so sorry. I could not parent this child without help. I did not know how or if I could do it.

“So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” -John 7:47

I sat in the bedroom, kneeling in prayer. My newborn baby was asleep. I folded down onto my knees and I felt my back begin to warm up. A soft sensation ran through me. I cannot describe what happened exactly except to say simply that heaven opened up to me. In an instant, Christ became real, God the Father, Mary and the saints, all of heaven. I could sense it and feel it and I knew it in the depths of my being. For so long, I had fought with the part of me that longed for my Lord and tried to stifle the desire with other things. Before, I didn’t know if Jesus was real or not, I had heard of Him but He might has well have been someone’s uncle. I didn’t have a relationship. All of that disappeared in that instant. I didn’t want to move a muscle. The haze of my illness disappeared and I felt myself return completely. I knew that this was some sort of healing experience. I begged the Blessed Virgin to be patient with me. To help me with all of this. I didn’t know her. Yet.

“Oh Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there thy cheerful beams.” – St. Augustine

My relationship with the Holy Trinity began with the Holy Spirit. He became my medication. The idea was to nurse my new baby for a month and then I would return to medication. After that moment on the floor of my bedroom, I had no need for it and as the weeks passed without any problems, I praised God and swore I would do whatever I could for Him. I don’t go a day without realizing that I owe Him my life. I ended up nursing my son until he weened himself at 15 months and have continued on, medication-free.

I prayed for spiritual guidance. When we wanted to baptize our son and my husband insisted it be a Catholic baptism. We met with a deacon and he quickly scoped us up and placed us in RCIA and Catholic marriage preparation. I knew this was the person I had prayed for. I owed my life to Christ, I was going to go where He led.

I devoured the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It was like a puzzle with pieces that fit all together, each piece fitting perfectly. I read St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine and other Catholic saints. I believe that the Church is divine but it is made up of mortals. I am heartbroken for those who have misconceptions due to human error because they have no idea what they were missing out on.

Whenever I struggled with a Catholic idea or doctrine, the Lord quickly showed me what it was I needed. I had come to transubstantiation (that the bread actually becomes the body of Christ, the wine His blood) and I decided that I would have to have faith. If He led me here, and this is what they say, I would believe it. He rewarded my faith with a text message. My dear friend’s mother-in-law witnessed a Eucharistic miracle. A host (bread that had become Christ) had fallen on the floor during Mass. Because it IS Christ, rather than throwing it away, it was put into a dish with water to dissolve and later, the water would be put into the garden. The next morning, the dish contained watered-down blood. Father simply said “Well, it is Christ. Put it in the garden.” She took a photo and did as Father asked. My friend sent me the picture with no knowledge of my recent thoughts. I don’t blame a fallen-away Catholic because I know that if only they knew what was available to them, they would go to Mass every chance they could get.

“The saints are like the stars. In his providence Christ conceals them in a hidden place that they may not shine before others when they might wish to do so. Yet they are always ready to exchange the quiet of contemplation for the works of mercy as soon as they perceive in their heart the invitation of Christ.” -Saint Anthony of Padua

For a long time, I did not wanted to share my healing with anyone because it was so real, so unbelievable and it was MY experience. I think that I was too fragile, too new and I was scared that I would be doubted, disliked and judged. Few people know me in all of my entirety. I understand I can be awkward, and that I will never be any sort of social butterfly because people overwhelm me. I also understand that I will experience what I call “ordinary persecution” for the rest of my life. Many people have little understanding of mental illness. Schizophrenia is topic of jokes and insults. It is the most feared of mental disorders. I once was open about my condition and someone worried that I might “snap.” Some people think that I have depression and when I smile and act cheerful, they question my “disability.” When I am nervous or tired or overwhelmed, my mind has a hard time discerning things and I can have a difficult time reading hints and subtle cues during interactions. God has allowed me this ordinary persecution among my own family. I am not alone. In some ways, everyone experiences ordinary persecution from time to time. There are subtleties in every interaction and every time we think someone is “odd,” don’t give a person our full attention, or when we gossip or vent, we are persecuting. When we embrace persecution against ourselves, we increase in humility. I have finally come to the point where I want God to have His rightful glory. I am nothing without Him. I know I would not have had the strength to have a strong faith if I wasn’t snatched up at the last minute and healed of my afflictions. I am weak, impatient and insecure. If I hadn’t been healed, I doubt I would be adamant about doing God’s will. I understand that I do not deserve any of my current health. At all. I will never be able to repay Him but I can try. I can try every second in my own little ways. I am ready now to tell the story. I am ready to minimize myself so that the only thing that others can see, if they really look, is Him.

I have not had an issue with my illness for over four years. Most people don’t even know that anything is wrong with me at all. I might be a little strange, but I figure people go with “socially awkward”, not “schizophrenic.” After my second little boy, I suffered two miscarriages. Then, another boy. When I am pregnant, I am reminded of my illness and things are difficult. The heavy air weighs me down and it is hard to move around. My mind can haunt me again but only for short, manageable moments. I am okay with that, though. It helps me to know just how thankful I am and it reminds me of how hard I must work. I remind myself that I don’t deserve any of this. His grace is astounding.

Being a Catholic has not made my life easier, but it has made it far richer.  I can’t help but feel swelled up with gratitude and a desire to offer everything I have to the one who saved me in this life and the next.

ABOUT LOVE:

“Oh Jesus, my love. At last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love.” – St. Therese

I don’t think everyone should be Catholic. I believe that God calls each of us to a community that will help us and that we can help in return. That may not be a Catholic community. I do not believe that Catholicism is the only way to heaven. I believe strongly in “baptism of desire” and that the epitome of the faith is love. When one loves, one knows God. Love is the way we obtain eternal life and when we chose love over all else and do everything with love, we are united with God.

Love, I have learned, is not always what it seems. I’ve realized that true love is a great paradox. For one thing, its power lies in the smallest of actions. Love requires surrender but does not require passivity. It requires constant attention and discernment. I cannot see the path ahead, and to this I have to surrender, but it is up to me to put one foot in front of another with deliberate love.

True love is strong and noble and fierce. It is not glamorous and it is not always popular but it has the ultimate power to transform. The truth, when said with abundant love, is hard to resist.

I’ve realized that what looks like love isn’t always the most loving. Love is sacrifice of self. How many times had I given what I wanted to give and not what was needed? How easy it is to give in order to feel wanted or appreciated! To love purely is the most difficult thing that I have ever done.  To love is to know God and to know God is to love.  Knowing God, then, has been the most difficult thing I have ever done.   Being known by God is the most amazing thing I have experienced.

“For you see, in the end it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” -Blessed Theresa of Calcutta (Mother Theresa)

People.  We are all inherently selfish.  It is part of our human condition.  Why on earth would anyone love another person? Real love asks us to see beyond ourselves. It asks us to put aside our false sense of security and allow another person to be fully themselves. Broken and desperate. It asks us to see all of the imperfections and to love anyway.

“You cannot please both God and the world at the same time.  They are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions.” -Saint John Vianney

Love in the form of servitude is something I find particularly difficult.  To serve those who may not notice, who may not appreciate, and who may not even care.  To serve honestly, and without an agenda is tricky and requires constant evaluation.  Serving is exhausting and giving can deplete one’s resolve.  I have served in the wrong way and I have not served enough.  I have been overzealous and prideful and I have desired praise, or maybe even admiration.  This is not to serve with love.  To serve with love is to serve through Christ and to desire nothing out of it.  I must learn to serve for the sake of Christ and to not look too carefully at it.  I must serve others first and then myself.  This is what is difficult about love and what is difficult about knowing God.

“Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.” – St. Augustine

I have told this one story about my husband to a few people: I had baked some oatmeal cookies with steel cut oats rather than the usual rolled oats. I packed them in a bag with some other stuff for my husband to take to a doctor’s appointment in New Orleans. When he got home, I asked him what he thought of the cookies. “Huh?” he said. I told him I packed him cookies in the lunch sack. “Oh, I didn’t try them. I gave the lunch to this lady on the corner. I’m sorry, babe. I’m sure they were good.” I feel like that story summarizes him completely. Had I not asked him about the cookies, I would have never known that he often gives his lunch away. My husband is full of good and humble deeds that he never shares. He accepts others for who they are completely and has never felt “too good” for anyone. Few people know him in his entirety. He is Superman and I’m glad I know that especially when so many others see Clark. He is my model for true humility.

“The saints did not all begin well. But they all ended well.” -St. John Vianney

The Dream

The dream began, I think, in the woods. No, on a mountain top? I have flashes of a group of people all lined up on top of a mountain pass at the ready. But the mission began in the woods? I am not sure of the details. They are hazy and unclear like dreams are. I remember dancing in a circle with this group and there was a snake watching. I saw him and tried to avoid him but I didn’t tell the group to watch out or move. I think they already knew of him and didn’t care? How strange. I remember when the mission became about the graveyard at the top of the hill. Someone in the group saw a man carry flowers up the trail and later, empty handed, walking down in tears. I don’t know how that made sense to the woman, but she exclaimed “there is a graveyard up there!” and we all stopped looking for whatever we were looking for and followed. We went up the hill. Inside a house, up a staircase. Up many stairs. Past tombs. Finally, at the top, a man, the leader, says we have made it to the final part of the test. He takes down these wooden planks that are covering the entry into a large tomb. He warns us of the smell. He takes the covering off and there is a cool, dry somewhat sweet smell. The rest of the group cover their noses in disgust. I don’t because it is a nice smell? I wonder why it is supposed to be awful and realize it reminds me of my dead son. I wonder if I should leave the mission. I figure it is too emotional. I go down the stairs. Blue carpeted stairs. It is dark and I get a little nervous. At the bottom, I wait and the group that finished the test return. A woman says the body was awful. They had to move it. He had decomposed and was dripping remains. It sloshed around and she said I should be happy that I missed it. Later, in the van ride home another woman held a baby and had that awful snake from before. It was slithering all over the baby. She said “How sweet. They like each other.”

The smell from the dream is profound. I am surprised that I remember that smell. It must have been stored in my mind someplace deep down and secret. It is the mortuary’s refrigerator. It kept my son’s body from rotting while we waited for the his tiny child-sized casket to arrive. That cool, dry smell. They must have had air freshener. That was the sweet part. I asked to be the one to move him from the temporary casket to the permanent one. We had to order a casket from a magazine because they don’t keep little one’s there. I picked out a simple wooden one. The mortician must have been used to strange requests from the deeply bereaved. She said she’d look at his body to see if it was okay first and she allowed me to move it myself. I was his mother, I said, and wanted to be the last person to touch his body. I wanted to set up the casket, arrange him, and know I had finished out my post as the mother of his living body. I had no idea how I would mother a dead child, but I wanted to be there for the final pieces of this part of the job.

I told my husband about the dream. He is used to my morbid and disturbing recollections. I told him about how I noticed the fingers. How they were blue and withered like an old woman.  I told my husband that I loved staring at our infant son’s chubby fat baby fingers and this must be why. I remembered that Rigor mortis made it easy to lift and move the tiny body. Like a statue, it kept its position: hand by the head, under the cheek, the other draped over the chest, legs tucked under.

I didn’t tell my husband about how I was surprised that Rigor mortis had set in so quickly. I kept that to myself. After his final breath, I took him, empty and dead, to the bedroom and fell asleep. I had been up for many days and nights, tending to his final needs and I was tired. It was over. I woke up and his eyes, they were sunken and his body stiff. Also the skin. There was no moving blood to keep it all up and gravity was finally allowed to exert its force. This was a small and vacant body. I woke up to a nightmare that I had to live through because there was no escape. I kept that part to myself. It’s disturbing. I realize that it is all disturbing when you are talking about a dead baby. In high school, before any of this happened, I had a classmate who told dead baby jokes for shock value. He had no idea, of course. I imagine that he regrets some of the things he said before he knew anything about life.

At this point, I need to get started on the day. It is 10:00 and I haven’t had any coffee yet. My husband has the boys in the kitchen, playing. I try to shake the dream but I can’t. The air feels thick and I am slow going. There are Legos all over the dining room table and the four year old is perched in the middle of it all in his underwear. The baby is crawling around in a diaper that is so full it is almost off. I watch and marvel at my children: “They are alive. Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord, they are alive.” I kiss and smother and inhale my children. I thank my firstborn for his short life. I tell him what his sacrifice has given me. The mundane has become glorious and I am living a dream.

Mom likes to….

Yesterday a giant cockroach slowly crept over the plastic bin that held my four year old’s building blocks in his closet, his long feelers wiggling and his spindly legs slowly climbing over the box’s lid one at a time. Totally disgusting. I had to do something. I closed the door.

I am not good with bugs. Or dirt. Or mess. My mother is neat freak and I have many memories of staying out of her way while she wielded that vacuum hose like a weapon. She was usually pissed off when she cleaned. Even now, when I hear a vacuum, my heart beat quickens. The vrooooo vroooooo vroooo of a vacuum may soothe an infant, but it does the opposite for me. It is my stress noise.

I am an obsessive neat freak in a messy person’s body. I desperately want my home clean and tidy but I also find myself pulling out art supplies and papers and crafts, fabrics and buttons and stickers and stamps with great fervor whenever a creative idea strikes. This stresses me out and I get upset with everyone, mostly myself, for allowing things to get this way. Like my mother, I’m usually pissed when I clean.

This is my misfortune: I found myself always cleaning. From the time I was married six years ago, I have spent most of my time cleaning up and sorting through closets and reorganizing spaces. This was because of many different reasons. For one thing, when we got married, we never moved into our own space to start fresh. My husband decided to get his college degree and his parents, who owned a large four bedroom home with a small seperate space attached, wanted us to live there. We would take care of the house and be around for my mother-in-law who had undergone numerous failed back surgeries and they would help us with a place to live while my husband went to school. Although we had three bedrooms off to the back of the house, we had to clear out junk from closet to closet in order to fit our new junk which came in steadily from our expanding family and growing needs. I moved the furniture from one room to another as our needs changed and we added children. In addition to the stuff we had already had, we were blessed with friends who gave us tons of toys and clothing and art supplies. If someone wanted to get rid of it, it came here. Because my husband was finishing his college degree and we were living on student loans and odd jobs, we knew that we were now beggars and therefore couldn’t be choosers so whatever was dropped off, we used,  saved or stored for when we would need it later.

I will fully admit that I have an unhealthy attachment to things. For me, they represent a memory or a feeling. I should probably add that I love interior design. If I were rich, I’d be a terrible person. I am thankful for my financial woes because it keeps me grounded and not too materialistic. I love to decorate and I find comfort relaxing in a room that looks like it could be in a magazine. I like my spaces to be a pleasant mix of the sentimental and stylish. I (unfortunately) appreciate good design, color and scale which means that I have been known to “need” a large, yellow item to go in a corner or a small metallic item to offset the wood tones some place else. My husband doesn’t understand but has said “It looks good in here. I don’t know why, but it looks nice.” I consider those comments very affirming. Because of our strict budget, I get my designer fill by scoring remarkable discounts and making whatever else I needed to complete a space.

This would all be okay if I didn’t have the tendency to hoard. This is an unfortunate character flaw. I return home to my parent’s house each Christmas and overstuff my suitcase with memories. I managed to pack rugs, lamps, small shelves, an ornate mirror and various nick knacks. I have even brought furniture home in my suitcase (it was a small wooden chair with removable legs).

I had always bought into the notion that a disorganized space represented a disorganized mind. I wanted an organized space. I needed it. I drooled over organizational tips from the internet and magazines. I googled “how to organize small spaces” and “home office organization tips” an embarrassing amount of times. I couldn’t live like this anymore, I told my husband. There was just so much stuff! It bothered me because it did represent my mind and I was going crazy. When I married my husband, we were young and immature and when I got pregnant on our honeymoon, I was shocked. We were forced to grow up fast. We both entered the marriage with a lot of emotional baggage. We didn’t want to be like our parents and wanted to know and discover who we were, as people and as parents. As we sifted through our emotional junk, we continued to sift through our actual junk.

Over the years, the piles piled and one day I wept, pathetic and overwhelmed. I recalled a conversation I had with my husband once. He told me that as a little boy he had an assignment to fill in the blanks: “My mom likes to_____. My dad likes to ______.” His answers were “My mom likes to clean. My dad likes to watch TV.” He remembered that his parents weren’t exactly happy. I realized that that was exactly what my son would say about me.

As I hunched over and scrambled around to pick up a zillion crayons, I realized that all this upkeep around the home wasn’t for anyone but myself and was a result of my own emotional baggage. I was doing a disservice to my children by showing them that the majority of my time was spent cleaning and sorting and organizing stuff. Even if I told them that liked art and reading and making cookies, it wouldn’t matter if they didn’t see me doing those things. And doing them often.

I knew that I wanted a life of real joy, peace and passion, art and creativity and wonder. I wanted my boys to find me to be a mother who inspired them to be bold and to put themselves out there. I valued people who were true to themselves, not true to the expectations of the world. And I really didn’t care all that much about stuff. Especially when all this stuff was taking over.

So I sat with the clutter and I decided to take a different approach. Peace. Acceptance. I was done. Done with this expectation that things had to be magazine ready at all times. I was done with the idea that all good moms keep a neat home. Mostly, I was done with the idea that I had it so bad because I had so much stuff. I was blessed! I had everything that I needed and more! I wanted to soak it all in. This mess was pure bliss and it would get sorted, cleared and boxed and organized in due time. In the meantime, I was going to enjoy myself. Good moms do good things.

This morning I sat at the computer and saw something moving out of the corner of my eye. That roach. He was slowly meandering his way across the floor with those same feelers wiggling and those same nasty little legs one by one creeping around. I froze. Then I noticed that he was wandering, not scurrying. The light had not fazed him. I wondered if roaches got dementia. My heart softened as I watched him limp along very slowly in no particular direction. Was he so big because he was a grandfather cockroach on his last leg? One last journey around this house for old time’s sack? My mental musings marked a great milestone for me. Normally I yelp and wake up everyone in the house. I stood quietly. I could do this. My husband told me a friend of his sweeps up bugs and puts them outside. This new zen-like acceptance of mine for things I hate, how would it play out today? I’d like to say I let the roach be and die of old age on his own but I whacked it with a book. I’m just not there yet with bugs. Totally disgusting.

I have asked my son a few times what he thought his mom liked to do. His responses so far: dress up pretty, read books, use clay and make silly faces while dancing. Not exactly what I was expecting, but it will do.

Loneliness.  The weight and burden of it.  It lingers and reminds.  “You are alone.”  “You are alone.”  Loneliness is my greatest blessing.  Thank you, Lord.  Yes, I am alone here and no one will ever understand me.  That’s alright.  When I feel its pull, I turn towards the face of my lovely Lord and fill up on His kindness.  He understands, He smiles, He comforts.  This wonderful loneliness empties me so that I can be filled with His affection.  I know that He is all I will ever need.  He is my best friend and my constant companion.  Lord, why do I forget you?  I beg for forgiveness.  I am awkward and shy and confused down here.  I can become engulfed by social interactions or the absence of them.  Silence worries me and I fret.  What does it mean?  What did I do?  The loneliness pushes down hard.  But then I remember who I please.  I love to please Him!  My heart fills up beyond its capacity when I remember Him and His sweetness.  I am offered all of Him, His dear mother and everyone close to Him.  I don’t understand why I am so lucky and it breaks my heart.  I don’t deserve this!  I just don’t understand.  I can not get over His endless mercy.  What did I do before I knew Him?  I was miserable!  I tried to fill myself up with any and everything.  Sin and rot.  Horror and disgust.  Grabbing and wailing and clinging to whatever I could find.  How did I escape that?  Lord, why did you save me?  I just don’t understand.  “To those who much is forgiven, there is much love.”  Oh my God how much I love you!!  I did not know I could feel this way and my small and little heart can barely contain it!  I will never understand and I dare not try.  I cannot sit with this for too long; it is too much.  His grace allows me to see my sin and His face is glorified in it’s reflection.  My sin haunts me but only to remind me of His glory.  He is God.  My God.  And I am His loved one.  He missed me and scooped me up and held me close and will not let me go.  I am the most undeserving of His flock.  I don’t understand but I am so much more than thankful.  Oh my sweet Lord Jesus, I owe you my life.  I am empty and lonely, craving your affection.

Sainthood


It feels too proud and disrespectful to compare myself to a saint.  There is a tremendous tug and pull towards a boastful disposition.  I wonder if this comparison is a result of my dreadful insecurity.  I beg God for forgiveness and remember that it is everyone’s duty to aspire to sainthood.  I remember that it is a holy endeavor to move towards sainthood as long as it comes from a desire for unification with the trinity and not for “fame.”  Sainthood is the Catholic Hollywood.  I wonder how many of Christ’s loved one’s are unknown? Oh Lord, I beg you: please give the tremendous desire to be unknown.  To walk among the others unnoticed and pleasing only to you.

Uncertainty

I’ve been thinking about how I don’t know what it is like to feel secure. To be in a run of the mill relationship or to go day after day knowing what to expect. Some of this chaos is my fault. I didn’t go about life in the correct order. I jumped the gun, got married too fast. Twice. I had to do things the hard way and didn’t take the advice of my parents. Some of this insecurity is my penance. Other things are not my fault. The death of my firstborn, the miscarriages. My illness. I’ve never been able to depend on much. Things are usually unpredictable and uncertain and I’ve never known any other way. I have always gone from one crisis to another. I see my friends and wonder what it would be like to be them. It seems so easy. I wonder what it would be like to not worry about where I will be living or whether my husband will be able to support us. Thinking about the future terrifies me. This is not new. Even when the years came and went and our lives seemed normal, we had two miscarriages. Even in the steadiness, there was uncontrollable hardship. Yet I rest easy. I am cut from a different cloth. I don’t like this way of life and long for the day that I don’t worry. Oh the constant worry! I am aching for relief from the unending fatigue of struggle. Yet, all is well with my soul. I think about the saints and how they were never popular or well-liked – real outcasts. They suffered and were tormented. Yet they rested easy. This joy in suffering is something I understand. I cannot be of this earth and I must surrender. When I feel myself being pulled into the world’s charm, I am yanked back out and up.  When I give in to the allure of fitting in, I am reminded that I do not.  I have never been so happy – floating around in this state of trust and surrender.  I am reminded of my worry, but in fleeting moments that I allow to pass by.  And some days are worse than others.  But for the most part, I am content. I might never understand these graces.

 

Lord, I screwed up.  As usual.  I didn’t do things the right way.  The way that I’m supposed to and I know that there is a reason to do them the right way.  So I am sitting here crying because I feel bad.  I messed up, again.  “To those who were forgiven much, there is much love.”  It’s alright.  It’s alright.

love poem

My lonely love,
a balled potato bug
under the heavy log,

if only I had a mouse
to drop in
and watch
him make his way around,
teaching me the way
of your labyrinthine mind.

My besieged beloved,
what came before this
is permanent and
trespasses like flies,

yet we sleep
like the oak and the lime
with our boughs intertwined.

My dour darling.
Breathing your thick scent
where cheek meets beard,
and touching your downy wings,

I acquaint myself with the gatekeeper.

Finding
you are worry dolls,
a fleeting white rabbit,
and moonstone.

Finding
you are the shower’s water
that pushes down my hair
and passes over my unwashed face.

Finding
you are not store-bought coleslaw,
television re-runs
nor old tennis shoes.

You are as moody as memory,
and as virtuous as the oyster’s center.

Sadness Continued

But it is not all sweetness in this sadness.  I decide that He is the sweetness.  The other one, the awful one keeps me here in the sadness.  The sadness makes me selfish.  I cannot see beyond myself.  I cannot feel the connections to others.  To my own children sometimes.  The disconnect empties me and I want to die.  There is a push and pull.  He says I must die to the world and I will be filled up with only Him. With only goodness.  The other: I must die.  Just die.  To make it go away.  The Lord beckons in the darkness.  Softly.  I want Him so badly.  But I must not panic.  I can’t look down.  Like Peter on the stormy sea, I must keep my eyes fixed on Christ.  It is my mission.  This minute.  This next minute.  And so on.  He calls over gently while the storm screams from all directions.  Or worse, the screams subside and the darkness and silence engulf me.  Over.  It’s all over.  I’m out, I think.  But: Up!  I am always pulled up.  Choking and spitting.  Tired and weepy.  Steady now.  Steady.  Steady.  Oh my Lord.  My lovely Lord.  You are too good to me.  How I love Thee!!

Sadness

I slipped again into a dark and deep sadness. I pushed and pulled and waved my hands in protest. Again, I made a fool of myself as I fought. Please! Please! I cried out. Oh please no! I can’t! Please! Then…the silence. The sweetness. The familiarity of it all and the comfort. Floating and far away. I am afraid because I like this sweet sadness. Why is it so tender? I feel ashamed. I wonder if I am dysfunctional. Not right. I am too used to this so I try again to fight my way out. No. It holds me closer and I am safe here. The sadness should not be this gentle and I don’t understand. Lord, are you here? In this sweetness of sadness? Is this You? Yes. It is Him. It was always Him. He was always ready for me. His grace has allowed me this. Surrender. Surrender.