Category Archives: Love

It’s Hard for Me to Say

It’s hard for me to say that I am pretty, even though I’ve been told that I am by people who I trust and love.

It’s hard for me to say that I am a fierce warrior, even though I know my story and know I’ve overcome.

It’s hard for me to say that I am a strong leader, even though the power reflected in my employees would clearly point in that direction.

It’s hard for me to say that I am a good wife, even though my husband constantly reminds me that I am.

It’s hard for me to say that I am a good mother, even though if you met my son’s you would see how awesome they are.

It is also hard for me to say that I am an addict, a liar, a thief, a cheat, a prostitute, a crackhead, a sexually abused child, even though if I am being honest about my past those words are there.

It’s becoming increasingly hard for me to say I’m a Christian, even though my love for Jesus and my faith in God grow substantially with each passing day.

These things, these words, these labels are what society has chosen for me and some of these, I have made for myself.  I cannot deny the hard truth that I almost killed myself and everyone I love with my addiction. I cannot deny it, because it happened and to deny it would mean to deny that I am not only a survivor, I am also redeemed in the eyes of my creator. I am saved, loved, forgiven.

So, although these things may be hard for me to say, I can look you in the eyes today and own these things, all of them, the good and the bad.  I can say that I am a beautiful woman of God, who has sold her body and soul for crack. I can say that I am a good mother who left her child alone or in the care of others to go get high. I can say that I have excelled at the art of marriage, even though I once failed miserably at it.

I am new, and that, is not hard for me to say.

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“I’m Never Writing Again!”

cross this out“I’m never writing again!” I cried out with tears in my eyes and a whimper in my voice. “I also deleted Facebook off my phone and I’m done getting on it!”

My husband is rarely surprised by my dramatics, but still always actively participates in helping me come to a quick resolution.  He has learned that listening with a sympathetic ear, then quickly redirecting whatever lie it is that I’m believing, is the best approach to the circus I drag to town on the crazy train.

“She’s better than me.  Her writing is so raw. She quoted scripture and cussed in the same paragraph. I’ll never be this good and I can’t take the embarrassment of it all. I quit!”

Ronnie wrapped his arms around me and let me cry it out.  He assured me that my writing is good, that people can relate to it and that I’ve just got to keep writing. I wiped away my tears and nodded my head, but damnit…I was done.

I thought about this all day, wondering if I should announce my departure from the podium, no, that’s so dramatic and attention seeking.  Maybe I would just go silent, no, that’s not what God called me to do. Ahhh! I should take a class and read material from more writers that I want to sound like! Wait!  That’s inauthentic.

I was spinning my wheels…did you hear it too? was spinning MY wheels, as if this calling was somehow meant for me. As if I was in control. As if I had a say in the whole thing.I had made this thing all about me and, quite frankly, it was mostly made up. All the thoughts in my head were swimming around, festering, giving each other high fives, breeding, pumping each other up, all the while sending me off the emotional cliff, headed for writer suicide!  I was doomed!

It’s a really bad place up there.  Exhausting. Lonely. Dark. There is very little truth conceived there and the demons that lurk there are evil ones, waiting for their hot bed, waiting to destroy me, ready to kill. It’s moldy and seething.  It’s the rotting flesh of my own pity. The place my confidence goes to die. It’s God-less there…or is it?

I believe that no place is God-less. I believe that the fear we live in is simply the privacy fence that we look through, seeing the green pastures ahead, but too afraid of the barbed wire we imagine is lining the top. I KNOW that God exists in crack houses and dirty motel rooms.  I know he follows his people into war. I know that he sits bed side during failed suicide attempts. I know.

So how in the hell could I deny that he was here, in this the ugliest of sins, envy? I couldn’t. He was there and I intended to seek his counseling, because I was dangling my feet right over that ledge, posted and ready to jump head first into the abyss.

“God. Help. Save me from this. I don’t want to be jealous.  I don’t want to be self-loathing. I don’t want to toss-away the passion you have given me. Help.”

He heard me.  I knew what I needed to do.

I picked up the phone and dialed her number.  What the world was I thinking? Was I really about to do this? Hopefully she won’t answer. She answered. I confessed. I was free.

The truth we shared was beautiful. I confessed my jealousy. I told her about my emotional breakdown. I murdered the demon that I had carried with me all day long. And you’d never guess, but she had felt the same way. Turns out, she isn’t super confident about her writing. She’s a little embarrassed each time she hits Post. We also talked about how rare it is that people are vulnerable enough to call and talk about what ails them, usually resorting to something far less attractive and far more damaging.

At the end of our conversation she thanked me for calling and told me I was a great writer. She reminded me that God used TWELVE disciples and a messiah to deliver one message. I and she are just two of the voices carrying the same message. The message that there is hope, that God does save and that although every voice is different, each is valuable.

“I’m never writing again!” quickly evolved into, “I think I’ll write about this!” And I’m glad I did. Today that monster didn’t win!

The Fear and Freedom of Taking the Plunge

cliff jumping

These last couple of weeks have been crazy ’round these parts.  There are a lot of changes going on in my business.  All good ones, but changes none-the-less, and change, even when it is good, can be scary.

On Sunday I went to Tonkawa Falls with a group of friends. We were quite the crew. My husband, my AA sponsor, one of my employees and a girl who I’ve been helping while she’s transitioning out of the strip clubs into a healthier lifestyle. All very different.  All very much alike.

At one point, all of us ladies made the climb to the top of the falls to check things out. We had noticed a group of boys sliding down the waterfall, then climbing back up and we needed to investigate further, so we did.  When we got up there we got the 411. If you sat in just the right spot, the current would usher you down the slippery rocks and into the icy, bubbling brew below. We all kind of laughed and talked about the dangers of it all and how, surely, we would hit our heads if we dared, so we watched, one, then two, then eventually several teenage boys tumble over, unharmed.

“Kinda looks like fun!” My employee remarked.

And it did!  After a few minutes of encouragement from the rest of us, she sat down, shivering and scared and she launched off!  feet first, screaming the whole way, into the water below, alive!  It. Was. Glorious!!!

One by one I watched my girlfriends fly that day!  After the falls, they mustered up the courage to leap from the highest peak.

It dawned on me that over the last couple of weeks I had witnessed so pretty awesome plunges.  We had a wonderful young lady staying with us through her final month of college and just the day before she walked the stage with a degree in business.  The once homeless, exotic dancer decided to finally turn in those stilettos and glitter body lotion and left today for a year-long program that helps women who have been sexually exploited. I jumped in with both feet and bought a $12,ooo juicer for my juice bar (that was scary) and my husband left his job to pursue something more fitting for him.

These actions were all different, and yet the fear and intimidation felt as we crossed the platform to that degree, got in the car to go get help, turned in that 2 week notice and entered in that credit card information, THAT was all the same. And for that we had each other.

The other similarity is the freedom we each felt as we realized that making those decisions and running full speed ahead, even though we were sweating bullets the whole way, was totally worth it.  We had done it and it was good!

Whatever cliff you are facing today or may be looking at tomorrow, because the cliffs will always rise, just know that you are not alone. Whether it is the hypothetical plunge or the 20 foot drop, be still and know.

These Servant Hands

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The picture you see here is not of dirty hands.  As a matter of fact, I wash my hands over 50 times a day, most recently with textured soap, the same kind that mechanics use.  Look closely.  Can you see the cracks?  See the stains? See the toil and strain?

I recently became more aware of the way my hands looked.  I went into a nail salon 2 weeks ago in preparation for a huge event that, not only was I attending, but was also sharing my testimony at. When the beautiful young girl picked up my hand to paint my nails she wrinkled her nose & made a comment about how badly I needed a manicure, but that there wasn’t much she could do at that point.

My hands are not dirty, they are stained from processing beets and other colorful fruits at my juice bar.  I try and I try to get them clean and uncracked, but nothing seems to work.  I think I’d have to take 2 weeks off to heal them completely. They are ugly, and gross (looking) and I have become increasingly aware of these facts.

This morning as I got ready for church I noticed them again. UGH…I was a greeter this morning.  It’s something that I take great pride in because I can’t offer much to my church body in the way of money or time, but by golly, I can wish them a helluva fine “Good morning!” But this morning as I got ready, all I could think about was how disgusting my hands looked.

I went into the bathroom, again, to give them one more good scrubbing, to no avail, then headed off to church, where I was sure that everyone who took a bulletin from me would notice.

Greeting went as it always does.  Lots of chit chatting with my greeting partner for the day, hugs and smiles from other church members, comments on hair and dresses and bow ties. Standing in the sunlight of the Spirit both figuratively and literally. Seeing my peeps.  My church family.  Serving them in the best way I know how, with a warm greeting!

As I snuck into church after the opening prayer and took my place next to my dad and my husband, I looked down.  There they were, those old tattered hands.  I had only just then thought of them again!  I had been sure that morning that I would have a hard time focusing on what I was doing because of the state my awful hands were in, but no, I hadn’t thought of them at all.

What a concept!  My service to others; people I love, people I hardly know, my friends, my family, total strangers, had completely taken all the fear, self loathing, embarrassment and inner voices away.  I had been healed, if even briefly by that simple act of selfless service to my fellows.

For the rest of the day I wore these battle scars with pride.  I work hard for these deep cracks and stains.  I love my life, dirty hands and all.  Most importantly, when I was feeling low, it wasn’t self-care that helped, it was helping others that healed.

Daddy/Daughter Date

It’s that time of year!  All the super sweet pictures of little girls dressed to the nines, being whisked away by their prince charming; Dad! To a lavish ball, filled with other dad’s and their daughters.  It’s magical and memorable.

I didn’t grow up in an environment that fostered a daddy/daughter relationship.  My biological father was abusive towards my mother and I feared him.  I loved him, but I feared him.  We didn’t go on dates, he didn’t teach me how a man is supposed to treat a woman, we weren’t buddies.  He was dad and what he said was rule.

He and my mother divorced when I was 9-ish and my mom met my step-father.  He was kind, loving towards my mother and genuine, something I had never experienced before.  He was so different and I did everything I could to run him off.  I have no clue, other than Divine intervention, how he stayed through my teenage years, but he did.  His dedication and love are the temperature by which I gauge most of my relationships today.

So when I see these adorable posts of fathers treating their little girls like princesses, my heart tugs and I think back to the last “date” I had with my real dad; my step-father!

As you probably already know, I am a recovered addict and alcoholic.  To say that I dragged my parents through the fire, would be an understatement.  I was nothing short of the death of them. On my last bender my mom started making funeral arrangements. Of course, I was convinced, and would have convinced you, that I was only hurting myself and that the pain and suffering my parents were feeling was sidebar.  It was not.  It was more real, confusing and conflicting to them than almost anyone.  They were definitely in the top 5 victims of my addiction.

I called my step-dad up one afternoon and asked him out on a date.

“Well…ok.  What will we be doing?” He asked.

“I was thinking that we could go for coffee and then to an AA meeting.”

He chuckled and agreed.

The next day I put on my all blue Chucks, a pair of blue jeans and a faded concert “t” and we were off! To a meeting. To a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was glorious!

He listened with intent, soaking up all that he could gather, hanging on the next words of each person in the room, hoping, maybe, for an answer to my affliction. One of his former bosses and close friends was an alcoholic in recovery and my step-father was privy to this lingo, but still captured by it all.

When we left, I thanked him.  I felt so loved and honored that this daddy/daughter date went so well.

Our relationship has changed over the last few years.  I have gone from being the phone call they dreaded to the receive to the daughter they can now relate to.  We don’t always see eye-to-eye…after all, he hates these tattoos, but we can find common ground in the relationship that we’ve built over the years.

I didn’t wear a ballgown or fix my hair.  He didn’t ring my doorbell or bring flowers.  But the best daddy/daughter date was had, our style, our speed, our God orchestrated.

 

Awkward Silence

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Silence is golden…or so they say.  It can be a coveted luxury for a new mom, the sacred place for a worshiping soul, the blank canvas for a studious learner.  It can also be death for an abused lover, pain for a suffering addict, the dark and lonely place of a mind that feels alone.

Almost 3 years ago I embarked on this sober journey…again.  I was known as a chronic relapser.  Someone who comes in and out of the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, staying sober until life looks good, then tearing the whole thing down, only to scratch and claw their way back into AA, repeating the cycle. It is embarrassingly awkward, filled with judgment of people who don’t understand and lonely because clearly, you just can’t “get it.”

I ALWAYS wanted to be sober.  I longed for it to come easy to me.  I saw people, knew people, who had come in, dragged up from the depths of hell, much like myself, and they “got it.” Whatever “it” was, they got it.  I wanted that illusive “IT!”

Lack of desire was not the issue.  If you knew me when I was using, you know that I am not even a shadow of the person I was created to be.  God made me in His image to be loving towards people who are hard to love, kind & generous, creative.  When I am using, it’s as if the candle is blown out.  I can think of nothing more than of myself, justifying my poor behavior as acceptable, greedy & dried up in a desert of shame & pity.

When I washed ashore in September of 2013, in my own version of Nineveh, Victoria, TX, I felt the call to be creative.  I come from a family that fosters creation on one side and encourages hard work on the other, with little time for creativity.  I fell somewhere in between, loving both hard work and writing.  I needed and outlet for the time because I was given the chore of sitting still, being quiet and listening to God.  Not the easiest thing for a girl like me, but I knew my will had been broken, I was going to do whatever I was told to do, so I did.

I began this blog.  You can look back over those posts and see that my journey had just begun, but there was still a powerful story of redemption beginning to surface.  I was awakening, slowly but surely.  I received a phone call on afternoon, from someone I greatly admired who told me that I should put the brakes on this writing thing, that being so “out there” with my early recovery could be detrimental to my case in point.  I heard & listened & shut it down. I also got a comment from a person from my dark past, who did not have my best interest in mind.  These two incidents drove me to this 2 year awkward silence.

Recently, listening to God and not my fear of being “found out,” I started sharing my story.  I was given the green light from my husband to be candid, open, honest…even when it is ugly, about what I went through.  You see, this story is not just mine, it is his too.  He suffered on the other side of my addiction for 2 years, mostly silent, dying in his own way.  So to get his blessing to move forward was all the push I needed.

Here I am.  Back. With an incredible story of redemption, light, love that defied all obstacles, hope.  This isn’t just my story.  It is the story of many women, who sit in silence, wishing they too had an outlet.

Stay tuned.  This is just the first of many posts.  I can’t wait to tell you of all that has happened.  A love story that only God could’ve written. A business that was built in His hands.  A family stitched together with the Almighty thread of peace.  A life you would hardly recognize as the one violently tossed from the belly of the whale.

This story is ours.  Join me. Break the silence.