Adjusting to Home
“Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
Today is the two-week mark of me having moved back home to Mississippi. The timing of the move was to ensure that I was home for the holidays and that’s exactly what I did. I came home and was soon greeted by my little boys making the first week filled with love and happiness. Anytime you move from one place to another there is an adjustment period usually filled with frustrations and my time back has had those times as well.
For me there has been a mixture of emotions that I was somewhat prepared for but have also been surprised by. With my dark past in this small town and trying to get settled the stress of it all has brought tears to my eyes. The stress of being back in a town where there are some difficult memories to face mixed with the stress of getting new doctors, reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances, developing new routines and the death of a family member has left me emotional and a bit edgy. All-in-all I would consider the experience thus far normal.
In the best of circumstances, the stress would be a noticeable factor. But coming back to the place where all my trauma occurred with still very vivid memories has made the transition a little more difficult. The difficulties where they are uncomfortable are not impossible to overcome. My initial thoughts about moving back where that I would face a lot of judgment and harsh criticisms as I had in my younger years. What I have found is that I instead have faced people who still are supportive and who love me even knowing my past. And those who send their judgmental stares and comments my way have been drowned out by hugs and words of support and compassion. Me and old friends have sat while we all laughed and cried together with stories of difficult days from the past and the near future. And my aching heart is always soothed by the words of my children saying, “Momma D, we’re glad you moved back because we missed you.”
My spiritual life which has held a lot of contentment for many years has been met by people who just want to love and support me while I find my way here in small town living of the Deep South. And thanks to coach before leaving Texas I was already learning how to let people love me again. Likewise, I continue to be supported by my friends from Texas who only want to see me succeed as they saw me in the days of barely putting one foot in front of the other to keep surviving. The best advice I was ever given as a child and an athlete that’s kept me going was, “Never ever give up.” And the words I always tell coach is, “Don’t ever give up on me.”
Two of my hardest but most rewarding years of my life were spent healing in Texas. And it’s where I feel like I got my second wind in life. I love being able to smile a genuine smile today. I love feeling like I now have the capability to be a mother to my children. I love knowing going forward that my relationships with people will be ones that are genuine instead of superficial. And that they can be relationships that are healthy. I love knowing that my hard work has bought me something more rewarding than a degree could ever give to me……LIFE. And I love knowing that no matter how many times I wanted to nor how far down I got physically and mentally…. I NEVER GAVE UP. The miracle happened and I’m alive today to enjoy it.
Happy Birthday To Me
“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why. “
Today is my birthday and a day that I haven’t really celebrated since I was young. My birthday has always been representative to me of the day that I was put up for adoption and given away because I was unwanted. And after meeting my birth mom several years ago the fear of being unwanted at birth became a reality. That was exactly what she told me. I didn’t receive the explanation from her that she was young and couldn’t take care of me. She very coldly told me, “You were an inconvenience in my life and you still are.” I don’t know how cold the chill was that went over me the day she spoke those words. But it was cold enough to chill my soul.
I’m not afraid to admit that this has been a very painful part of my life for a very long time. And in many ways, I have allowed her reality to control my thoughts and actions about myself for many years. And then I met Coach who through unwavering compassion has taught me differently. She saw the open wounds of those awful words and graciously began helping to promote healing.
What coach has taught me is that I wasn’t an inconvenience to anyone but her. The beauty of living in a free nation is that not all our realities have to match, nor do we all have to agree. She also taught me that my self-worth should never be determined by a woman who didn’t have the capability to love me anyway. I have two wonderful parents who love me and have done nothing but support me my entire life.
Today, I’m happy to say that December 4th is a day that should be celebrated. I am a good person who loves people and loves to be love by both family and friends. Life has not been easy, but the trauma doesn’t control me any longer. My birthday means that God was gracious enough to breathe life into me for me to make my mark on this earth the best way that I can. I have a family and two beautiful little boys that call me mom that love me. And I also have friends spread across the country that love me and want nothing but the best for me. And I have a “system” that does their best to help keep me functioning in new ways that we’ve learned the last two years. They are a special group that I depend on to help keep me going and loving me enough to keep me safe in every single way.
Now December the 4th isn’t a day where people are prevented but rather embraced for wishing me a happy birthday. Today I smile instead of frowning and staying locked behind doors. There’s nothing like getting to share birthday time with my oldest son Marshall. And, today is a day where God is thanked for the breath of life that made me. And for my birth mom, she is silently thanked for being the vehicle by which I enter the world. These days of being grateful have changed my view on many things. I am grateful to God, the universe, friends, family and others I’ve not yet met for being a part of my journey. Because the day that someone is born is a day when life changes for anyone, they meet in ways we may never know. I say with all the happiness in my heart…” Happy Birthday to ME!!!!!”
The Angry Addict
Sometimes I find things that I’ve written but haven’t published on my blog. This is one of those writings….
There was a day when an angry addict walked through a treatment center door. A break from a harsh life and there would be many more. The addict was still a person, but we would prove to be one heck of a chore. Compassion was what she was craving, and her heart screamed, “More, more, more!”
This professional she was different and left judgement at the door. The patient she was also different, but she was never a bore. The pain was written all over that addict’s face. Turn her inside out and trapped inside was a very hurt child that simply needed some grace.
The addict asked, “What do you want? And why do you care?” With confidence, dark eyes and long black hair she answered, “Because you’re talking to someone who has already been there. I can tell someone has hurt you and I want you to tell me about it.” Like a puppy this grown child followed behind that confident swagger.
This one she was different, and the addict could tell. Talk about mean people from her past and present? Why did it even matter? Because when you walked in, I could recognize that war fought tattered look. He made off with your sanity like a cold and heartless crook. Wheat he showed was not love and I’m telling you the truth. You were at the mercy of a dark man and when he’s done is called abuse. I want to know the things they all did to you. Look into my eyes and know that love lives here not abuse.
We’re going to be serious for a moment so put the jokes, smiles and laughter away. My heart and stomach seemed to find that familiar sting that no one could make go away. I can see in your eyes that you’ve be battling for years. Drip, drip, drip and the grief poured out in a flood of uncontrollable tears. Gently she said, “Let me and others love you until you can love yourself.” Know that not all people hurt you like you’ve done to yourself. She saw the addict’s heart was as raw as her arms. And told her, “You can trust me because I love, and I will not hurt you.”
The 90 days in treatment had come and gone. And now she would return to her abusive home. But someone cared about what she had been through. As she made her way to the exit she heard, “Take care of yourself. You know I think you’re different.” And then the quick reply, “And so are you.”
Five years later the addict was a student and doing exactly what she said she would do. And one day she called that professional out of the blue. Months went by and their relationship grew from a “random connection” that was true. She finally got the courage to tell that husband, “We’re through.”
Days and nights where she would learn from her compassionate teacher. Yoda was teaching her now “open-hearted” adult kid because she knew how to reach her. A visitor to their house was confused about who I was, and I said, “I’m just a close friend.” The professional known as Sarah being as serious as she could be. She looked at the visitor and said, “No she’s our daughter.” I thought wait that’s me.
She told me one day, “Dana, remember this about how he treated you……
“Not everyone can see the good in a person because they’re always looking for their faults. He missed seeing the reasons we love you and that was his fault. If you see past cuts and scrapes on your skin and can look through all the bones and into your chest and hurting heart and under the thick layers of material that help to encapsulate your that fragile heart is a secret space and in that space is some material that’s growing and bubbling over and saturating your chest cavity with something called personal beauty. And that’s what we see and love you for every day.”
Our mother/daughter relationship grew into one that survived off promises, goals, loyalty, love and mutual respect. She was my personal definition of safety. But the day would come when she would be ripped from my protective grip. By an unforgiving disease that could careless who’s heart it would strip. My heart that was wide open began sounding the retreat back behind those protective walls never again to repeat.
But my heart never lets me forget that horrible day. I went when I was called home to the hospital because of promises we both made. And when it was time, I sat at her feet knowing that soon her maker she would meet. With my heart breaking and tears rolling down my cheeks. I took one big final gasp of air with her not knowing how I could just be.
She was my everything and I was her adult kid. How lucky I was to be with her when I felt her leave. “Dana if you ever get stuck not knowing what to do. Do the next right thing and hit your knees if you choose.” Her words still guide me with her presence gone. And I would give anything for her to pick up that phone. I want her approval either right or wrong.
A year and a half later when more bad things happened and the continual hemorrhaging of a once loveable heart. And a mind and body that had continued in a war. We entered the doors of another treatment center and dragging the leftovers of what used to be a human behind me. And a day later we would meet our new professional and something internally would change.
Angry at people for being hurtful and hating this lonely life without Sarah, I began striking out at everyone and everything even those that loved me. I wanted someone or something to pay for taking her away. Relationships began falling like the twin towers. I swore that no on would get close to me for very long without me destroying the relationship just so I wouldn’t have to feel that bad and scared ever again. Sarah was still somewhere close, but I was fighting mad. But this new professional we met with fire and venom never flinched. I tried everything I could to push her away. But the next time I felt Sarah this is what she would say, “Dana leave her alone because she is one that will stay. I picked her out for you and she’s who you need starting today. She’s the one you need. So, make it happen and move there.” That wasn’t what I wanted to hear because I wanted to prove my point that she would leave like everyone else. Mad I was and madder I got because I didn’t want anyone else to love me and leave.
So, I called up Texas and again found the one that would stay. Whatever I do I just can’t let her get away. She is the last gift I felt my Sarah give. And now she’s working with this angry and very hurt adult kid. The kid screams and silently cries about what others did. For she isn’t bad she’s lost and confused. And wanting her Sarah to hold her while she’s lost and confused. That angry teenage heart that still cries tears of blood. But again, she ran into a wall of pure love.
The pain of losing Sarah has been more than I could bare. But move to Texas I did because she’s never led me astray. I don’t want people to love me so why did I move here? Because I’m that same kid that despite knowing the harsh reality of life that has hurt me so bad. Texas is still better than the desert no matter what “things” I don’t have.
Texas hasn’t been easy, and no one said it would. But we’ve been pulled along by the little engine that could. No one knew what compassion and love can do. But to heal you must expose the bad and the good stuff too. And just for taking time to listen as you always do. Coach this angry kid wants to personally thank you.