When I look back at all the chaos in my mother’s life, I have asked myself the important question, “Where was God in all of the mess?”
I awoke this morning with the answer. He was in the morning glories I saw every day. He was there in the home of a new friend. He was there when I heard my sister sing, “He can turn the tides and calm the angry sea.”
I searched for Him. I found Him. He gave me hope through dark waters – through midnights.
For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NIV)
When I heard the Good News, my life changed. Of course, the waters continued to be turbulent, but there was an anchor. There was a balm in Gilead.
I found whom my soul loveth.
Song of Solomon 3:4
I found music. I found the tones of the cello reassuring and life affirming.
She says something really deep and something I’ve known about myself. We have to incorporate play into our lives. Brene said in her recent broadcast on “Unlocking Us” that she is not giving up pickle ball when things get tough. I hear you, girl.
I was so fortunate that while I was going through traumatic events in my childhood, I had a bicycle and rode around my safe neighborhood. The kids in the area played softball in the street. We played Red Light, Green Light. We stayed out till dark and just played. We had fun. That may have been part of what saved me.
Even today, I make time for play. I play cards, penny poker, liverpool, gin rummy, joker….you get the idea, anything fun! As crazy as it sounds, I know this about me. I need to focus on fun things that have absolutely nothing to do with writing, trauma or deep stuff. I suspect research shows that we need it.
I love the Christmas season, but I know that it can be stressful. Expectations are high. “Must find the perfect gift,” your brain has probably told you a 1,000 times. No, really, you don’t. Sit with that thought. You do NOT have to purchase the perfect gift. In fact, I would argue there is no perfect gift.
“And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
My favorite gifts are ones that money cannot buy. Reading with a child, sharing a butterfly kiss, spending time with friends and family, sharing your faith and what keeps you going…..these are treasures. I hope you find them during this season. I hope you play.
Here’s a paradox: I have little money but enough to get by; however, I’m as rich as I’ve ever been.
I would not be alive today if not for my faith in God. He sustains me. He holds me up when I cannot stand. He wraps His loving arms of hope around me.
I recently wrote about my mother running down the street with only a slip on. It felt very freeing to share that. Isn’t it amazing when we share our secrets, and the world doesn’t come to an end. We share our uttermost thoughts, and God loves us through it.
As a child and later as a teenager, I turned to the Bible for answers. I could have turned to drugs and other destructive addictions.
I walked a different path, and it has made all the difference.
At this writing, I will soon be 65. I was probably 8 years old and in the 3rd grade when the following happened, I’ve never written it down, nor have I told anyone. Strange because I think of it often.
I am not certain if I wanted to stay home from school on this particular day, or if I came home from lunch and Mother agreed I could stay home. I was not physically harmed in any way, but what I witnessed has left scars of a different kind. It revolves around hangers and since I see them in my closet every day, they are reminders, some would call them triggers.
On this particular school day, Mother and I were reading children’s books in bed. I remember she had her slip on. My school clothes were on. The phone rang a few times. Mother did not answer. Since I wasn’t at school and should have been, they must have called my father who taught 6th grade at a school about 30 minutes away.
While we were reading a book, my father came in the door shouting. “Where is Nancy?!!!” It alarmed my mother so much that she jumped out of bed and began screaming. There were wire hangers on the bed, and in the melee, one of them caused a very small amount of blood on her back. My father yelled, but he was never, ever violent. He never physically assaulted my mother who had paranoid schizophrenia.
I remember my mother exiting through the front door with her slip on. She went screaming down the street, “He’s going to kill me! He’s going to kill me!” She was shouting so that all the neighbors could hear. My father hollered and waved at me, “Go back to school!!”
How could I leave this intense scene? I’m sure I stayed to see what would happen next. Again, my father screamed, “Go back to school!!” I left and walked myself back to my classroom. My classmates and teacher were curious about where I had been. I most likely did not hear anything the teacher said the rest of the day. I was probably in shock. Later that day, I was called to the principal’s office where my father was seated. I’m sure he told him about the events that had happened. Mr. Goodman, the principal, probably didn’t want to know. I’m not sure I would have if I were the principal.
I don’t remember what happened next. I suspect my mother had to go to the local psych ward, and my father and I marched through the following days as best we could. I don’t remember ever discussing it with anyone, including my parents.
Although my stories are sometimes filled with traumatic events, they are also stories of faith, survival, healing, friendship and most importantly, love.
It is my hope that people will have a glimpse behind the curtain of a horrible illness called paranoid schizophrenia. There is no cure. There is little help, so the people who suffer with it and their families cling to any hope they can find.
I could not write any of my stories in any format without the support and kindness of my friends and family.
Brene Brown has been an inspiration in so many ways. “Tell your Story. Be strong and brave.”
I’m trying, Brene. I’m trying.
Many of my stories have never been told, the very definition of secrets.
It pulls from a well that is filled with strength, hope, faith and love for my parents.
I was fortunate to have very stable and determined role models in my extended family. The research I have done on Ancestry has contributed to my well of strength. My ancestors came mostly from northern Europe and Wales. On my mother’s side, they arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in the 1700s. They were honorable, hardworking people. Their stories coincide with the story of our country. They fought for a better life. Sometimes they lost loved ones, cattle and money, but they endured and passed down a hearty, resilient lot. Their descendants became educators, principals, superintendents, parents who loved and raised numerous children.
Given my mother’s history, I wasn’t sure what I would find in the annals of time, but fortunately, it added courage and faith to my well and helped me finally sit down and begin my book, “It Runs Deep”. It is written by a woman who qualifies as a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.