Narcissism: The House, My Boys, Our Hearts

The House.

My Boys.

Our hearts.

There are places in my heart that my mind has allowed me to forget. Trauma. If you’ve ever lived through it, you understand how your mind has a way of protecting your being so you don’t  have to relive the pain over and over and over. Yet, somehow. your body remembers. This is where the PTSD pours through one’s veins. Where triggers seem to come from nowhere, yet your body remembers. A moment. In time.

This. Is the place. I haven’t wanted to write from. The darkest places of my heart involve my boys’ hearts. The treasure I couldn’t protect. I wasn’t able to protect my boys’ hearts from the one person who was suppose to keep them safe. And teach them about a Father’s heart. This is where the codependency rears it’s ugly head. The part of my story I want to hide and protect and run from and never touch…

This. Is the part. I hate with every fiber of my being. 

This is the chapter of my story where I’m learning to place my children’s hearts in the palm of the Father’s hand and trust that His heart is reaching into their own heart space. Today. And hope that one day, they’ll discover the wonder of how the Father’s heart beats in sync with their own. The same thing I had to discover. This is the codependent part where I have to let go of the burden. It’s not mine to carry… I know…

I sat in front of the house.

It was very early, perhaps, 6 a.m.

Thanksgiving morning.

I’m not the same person, Christelle. This time it’s different.

I’ve heard this all before. How is it different. This time. I asked. Again. As I’d asked so many times before.

It just is. This time God has changed me. I graduated from my addiction recovery program. They told me they’d never had someone work so hard at the program and I was able to graduate early. My peers in the class all told me that I’m an incredible listener. We supported each other through. You just have to trust me. I know it’s hard. I know I’ve made mistakes. But this time is different. I promise. I want to reconcile, Christelle. I know God wants us in ministry together. We will travel the world and tell our story. God gives second chances. This time. It’s different. But you just need to trust me.

The words he spoke only a month before.

October 17th,

Our 21st wedding anniversary.

He was insistant on celebrating with me. Ironically, I had stopped celebrating that date several years prior. After a betrayal that nearly killed me. A betrayal that led to our vow renewal. The vow renewal where I later found out, he was already having another affair as he declared promises to me and my boys and in front of a handful of my closest friends and family. This time, with a waitress, we had both come to know, at a restaurant he visited every night after work. And on weekends. Instead of coming home to his own boys.

Their words still haunt my soul, “Mom, where’s dad? How is he still at work?” He had us all convinced that we couldn’t possibly understand how hard he works and the long hours it takes to teach. and coach. and be a father figure to students, the same ages as my boys. “Mom, where’s dad?” My youngest would ask. He waited for hours for his dad to come home. To read to him. To tuck him in bed. To. Spend. TIME with him.

This. is the part.

Dear God…

I’m going to digress.

because this is the story, no child should have to live. 

A Father is supposed to protect his children.

AND THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE HIS NUMBER ONE FUCKING PRIORITY.

This is the part

THAT fucking breaks my heart.

BECAUSE HE FUCKING broke THEIR HEARTS!

This is the part that hurts so bad, the heart part, where my whole body trembles.

I want to puke.

Does he still have his job, Christelle? His parents would ask when I’d beg them for help.

Be careful who you tell Christelle. He needs his job.

You better not go to my job, Christelle.

No one at my job will believe you, Christelle.

They all know you are crazy.

The words that held me hostage.

The job that held his identity.

And all I could think was. Is. WHO FUCKING CARES ABOUT HIS JOB? When at the end of his life his own boys will declare: We NEVER had a DAD!!! So while he’s living a lie at his religious institution, spending time with students his own boys age. Living in the status of a leader, mentor, coach, father figure… HE’S failing his OWN children! Neglecting them. Abandoning them.

THIS is the part.

Where I was held hostage.

And bound to silence.

This is the part where, my own boys have given me permission to talk.

And so I sat in front of the house. On Thanksgiving day. And watched.

There are no more women in my life Christelle. I only hang around my roommates. They are all males. No females come to visit. I’m a changed man Christelle. This time it’s different. I want my family back. I just want to be a good dad. You need to trust me.

Thanksgiving Day. 

We made plans for him to spend a portion of the day with our boys.

But something whispered through my soul… I couldn’t ignore… lingering whispers…

Something isn’t right…

The house. The very house my sister in law had beautifully prepared for us to help create a new life after the affair that nearly killed me. Both my brother and sister in law  decorated, painted, built. For US. Our family. Prepared with love as we made steps to. Begin. Again.

YOU STOPPED BEING MY DAD WHEN YOU HAD AN AFFAIR WITH MY BEST FRIEND’s MOM. My oldest son screamed at him. From inside that house. Only months prior. My son bolted from his room to protect ME from his father’s drunkin’ state. He had lunged at me and pushed a couch into my body as he tried to take my phone. I was recording his words to me because I knew. Noone. Would believe me.

The house. The place of new beginnings and very dark endings.

“I Hate you Christelle! You always assume the worst. And I wont let you! I believe in a God of second chances!”

The language of a narcissist. To make you feel crazy. To second guess yourself. To shift blame. To use YOU as a scapegoat. WHEN in fact… the assumptions are minor compared to the truth. Every single time I made an assumption about His actions, I would find out later the truth was something I could never have imagined nor thought possible. He spoke the words. He knew the words to use. To keep me bound. For 20 years. And I truly believed he could change and that God would change him. Until. One day. I no longer believed him. And just like that. I knew. Our life together was over.

Thanksgiving. 

I arrived at the house. The boys were set to meet with him at the house. To celebrate the holiday with him. But I couldn’t shake the feeling. Something wasn’t right.

And so I sat there. And I watched. The porch my boys had once played on. The porch where I had taken pictures of my boys on their first days of school. Captured photos of them wearing their Halloween costumes. Watched them play with friends. The house where I stopped allowing their friends to come over. Because in the end. It became so incredibly dark.

Thanksgiving Day. 

From across the street. I watched as two females, about the same age as my oldest… relaxed on the porch. Smoking cigarettes. Drinking. Something. Dressed in their pajamas. It was clear they felt comfortable there. It was clear by their appearance, they had spent the night there. After several minutes, they stood up, opened the door, and let themselves back inside.

She means nothing to me Christelle. She’s crazy, Christelle. I met her in my drug and alcohol rehab program. She needed a place to stay. I was helping out a friend. She needed a way to get to work. I needed to drive her there. She doesn’t have a car. She had no where to live. I couldn’t let her go back to the streets. I let her sleep in my bed because she wanted to. She came into the bedroom and told me she had been raped. I needed to comfort her. We only snuggled, Christelle. Nothing happened, Christelle. We are only friends.

My bed. My house. My boys.

Our.

Hearts.

 

 

Talk to God: My Secret Prayer about Love and Forgiveness

So, I’m beginning to write, God.

God: Yeah, we’ve been working through this for quite awhile. It’s time.

I don’t know what the heart of my story is supposed to be.

Christelle

God: We’ve been working through this too. You tell them who I was for you, who I became for you, and who I am for you now. You tell them about the Father’s heart.

I remember that vision, God, where we sat together and talked about your heart and you showed me how to go about forgiving my own father. And I remember how, for the first time, I was able to see you as a Father. I remember I didn’t want to leave that moment.

God: That’s a good memory we shared together, Christelle.

I’m still in process, God.

God: Yes, I know.

I’m having a hard time forgiving.

God: Yes, I know. 

Silence. Thinking. Pondering.

God, what’s your favorite memory of us?

God: Oh, I have several, but, one of my favorite was the day you were born. You know, Jesus was there. Sitting at the foot of your mom’s bed. I gave your dad your name.

I always wondered, God. Cuz it’s not like the others.

God: I wanted your name to always hold within it who you are and who’s you are. I wanted it written on your birth certificate because I knew there would be dark moments and lies spoken around you telling you who you are not. I whispered your name to your dad… a prophetic expression of your life and destiny.

Silence. Processing. Thinking.

How do I forgive them, God?

God: You know the answer, Christelle. You need to see them through my eyes. I gave you three sons. The way you see your sons is exactly how I see all of my children. When you see them through my eyes, you will be able to forgive them. You’ve been hanging onto hurt for too long. Step by step, moment by moment, we are going to walk through it and let it go. Remember the day I showed you myself as a Lion, and together we forgave your father? I love you child, and I love them too, exactly the way you love your boys.

I’ve prayed my entire life to be more like you, God. To love like you.

God: (chuckling) I know. You’re become more love daily. I see you as I made you. A living expression of my love for you and all your brothers and sisters.

That’s alot of love.

God: (smiles)

God: You know, to be like me, you’re going to need to answer your phone.

Silence. Pondering.

Well, I got a job where I need to do that very thing. You always do that, God. That thing where I learn something profound about you in some abstract way. How do you do that?

God: I speak your language, Christelle. Love speaks your language.

Well, if the phone call is mean or abusive, I’m  hanging up. Just letting you know.

God: That’s your choice. You can make any choice you want.

Silence.

God: Remember the times when you were really angry at me? So angry that you were cussing at me and yelling?

You’re doing it again.

God: I didn’t turn away.

You didn’t hang up and you listened. I remember, God. This love thing takes a lot of practice. Sometimes, I think I don’t want to be like you anymore. It’s too hard. But ultimately, I do. I want to be love.  I want to be like you.

Silence. Pondering.

You did it again. Showing me the heart of a father and  heart of a son and daughter. Every child wants to be just like their parent. Every sons admires and adore their father. A healthy father relationship on earth is a living breathing prophetic expression of your heart.

That’s wild…

 

Trauma: How do we progress forward?

Another school shooting.

Today.

School shootings hit close to home because I have boys close to the shooters ages.

Shooters. Because there have been too many.

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Recently, my middle son joined his high school on a walk out to stand against school shootings.

My alma mater was featured on the news as students protested school shootings.

Yet,

Today,

We have another.

9 deaths.

One shooter.

An entire school traumatized.

Families forever changed.

Loss.

So much loss.

Too much loss.

Too much sorrow.

And grieving.

Fear.

So much fear.

Students wondering,

Will our school be next?

And this mama’s heart wants to hug her own boys and keep them sheltered from the horrors of the world. They’ve already experienced personal trauma, in their own lives.

Trauma.

Lives forever changed by trauma.

TRAUMA.

One word that will keep us stuck

OR

kick us forward.

We’ve discussed mental health, gun control

We’ve prayed, we’ve cried, we’ve screamed at God

But what if there is something else we can do?

This is not to negate the very real grief and loss associated with horrific traumatic events. 

However, the truth remains, our children and youth and US ADULTS TOO have forgotten who we are. We are unsure of our purpose!

Life is short. and WE need a solution!

What if we start declaring to our children who they are and WHO’S they are?

What if we stop focusing our prayers on the problem and

Start declaring solutions!

OUT LOUD

For too long we’ve been scared into silence

I’ve been scared to speak my mind

BUT FRIENDS,

It’s time to make declarations over ourselves

our FAMILIES

Our FRIENDS

Our SCHOOLS

Our COMMUNITIES

Because THE TRUTH IS

WE HAVE THE SOLUTION

HIS NAME IS LOVE

AND WE are LOVE

And our CHILDREN are LOVE

AND we need to remind our children

EVERY TIME THEY LEAVE THE HOUSE

“Your name is LOVE!”

“Do you know who you are?!”

“Child of God. Speaker of Life. Believer in TRUTH. LIGHT. LAUGHTER. HEALER. JOY.”

Do YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE?!

Declare it with me!

I AM A Child of GOD.

I AM FAVORED.

I AM LOVE.

I AM Life.

I am my Father’s best idea!

I am creative, innovative, adored, honored.

I AM a mover and a shaker and I will use my influence to shake myself, my family, and my sphere of influence.

Do YOU know who YOU are?!

I AM called to declare life, love, freedom, healing to myself and my world.

Our words are powerful!

Let’s do this thang

Together.

 

*Today, lives are forever changed. My heart grieves for the parents and families hurting today and I am so very sorry for their loss.

 

I Screamed at God and He Listened

I screamed at God.

Tears streamed down my eyes as I entered into full-blown panic attack mode.

I swore at God too.

I screamed at God and He listened

I drove my car toward the beach, sat at a red light and wondered if others could see my tears. I wondered if the driver next to me had also sat at red lights while screaming at God, tears streaming down their face. I wondered if this would be my life forever. I felt stuck. Alone. Devastated. Hurt. Emotions that can only be deeply felt and never accurately described.

“I CAN’T  $%#@**$ DO THIS ANYMORE!!! I can’t do this. Why aren’t you listening?! God, I need your help! WHY are you allowing this to happen?!!! I CAN’T %$#&* DO THIS ANYMORE!!!”

I screamed between breaths, beating on my steering wheel, broken, beat down, and ready to run away.

I wanted God to immediately intervene and fix my situation. Right then and there.

The truth is, God wanted more from me. He wanted all of me.

He wanted my full surrender.

The truth is, I wasn’t there yet.

The truth is, God created me to be his greatest work and he saw me at the finished line as his most spectacular master piece.

The truth is, he wanted my story to be a glory story, not a victim story.

The truth is, I heard a whisper in my ear that night,

“One day your story for my glory.”

And that would take some gardening in my heart and soul.

Pruning, watering, sunshine, growth.

The truth is a glory story leaves no room for blame, finger-pointing, offense, nor defense.

God’s glory story is about love, redemption, surrender.

God’s glory story is always a happily every after for every character written on every page within every chapter of our hearts.

It begins the moment we turn the page of our ugly chapters and declare:

My story for your glory. God, I’m ready for you to do your work in me.

Today, I’m gardening with God. And it’s the most beautiful adventure of discovering holy spirit treasure, hidden deep within the confines of my heart, soul, and mind. It’s a journey and a daily surrender. The truth is, growth hurts and I’m experiencing growing pains. NOW! In THIS season!

The truth is, I’m still in process.

What are you discovering in this season? Have you uncovered your treasure? Have you discovered the treasure in others? Are you in the process of gardening? Together, we learn. Together, we grow. Together, we are getting better at love.

The truth is, he wanted my story to be a glory story, not a victim story.

Politics Schmolitics: Where’s the Love?

Are we so intent on being right, that we are willing to hurt the hearts of others?

I don’t want to be right if being right takes the place of showing love, forgiveness, grace.

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Are we so determined to win at all costs, that we are willing to destroy our own peace of mind?

At what point to we put down the dagger and determine to win with love?

True Love.

The truth is: love wins.

Love always wins.

But I think that too often, we forget what love is.

Love is gentle, kind, keeps no records of wrong.

Love is not jealous or boastful.

Love seeks to honor everybody.

Love is not easily angered.

Love perseveres, gently.

I am still learning this love thing. It’s a process. But I’ll choose love over and over and over again. And I do believe our souls recognize beautiful love. Authentic love. True love. We see it, feel it, hear it, seek it.

What is love to you? Are you actively pursuing it? Are you allowing love to pursue you?

Look up. Look around you. Look at the child beside you. The butterflies that fly by you. The birds that sing to you and the ocean that roars to a harmonious beat. Do you feels love’s embrace? Smile with me, love’s got you.

Love wins. Love always wins.

Child of God: Come OUT of THAT Cave!

In the past, when I didn’t feel safe, I hid. Serious Elijah style: In a cave! No, I’m not coming out. It’s safe here. Gossip. Talking behind my back. Assumptions. Betrayals. All things that make me feel Unsafe. I find Elijah’s story rather humorous, simply because I can relate. Elijah had a cave. I have my house, room, bed: Places where no one will find me.

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“What are you doing here, Elijah?” The Lord asked.

If that was me, I would have given my own excuses, blame, victim story. But it all boils down to feeling unsafe. Fear. Forgetting that God is the great I AM. He knows all. He sees all. He cares for each of his children the same. EXACTLY, the SAME. And regardless of our humanity, choices, actions, mistakes, good intentions: Creator God loves us. He is near to us. He waits for us. Arms wide open. Always.

I know this, because He is a father.

The soul desire of a father’s heart is to be near his children. To delight in them. To celebrate them. To laugh with and to listen to them. And while we are in our own hidden caves, he bends down and whispers to us: I love you. I see you. I know you. Take my hand and come out of that cave!

Psalm 91:4

He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Have you ever had an Elijah moment or season? How did God bring you out? This is healing season! Together we learn. Together we grow!

9/11 Taught us to Love

Mommy: Why are those people jumping from the building?

Those words stand out to me more than any others from that day. My 3 year old seeing horrors, affliction, suffering, sadness. All caused from hate.

That day our lives changed. All of our lives changed. And we were each given the opportunity to choose whether we would cave into our fears. Or learn and grow towards love. 9/11 was scary. Incredibly scary. And THAT is exactly the point of terror. Terror is devised to terrorize others into submission. Terrorize others until they give into their fears. Freeze people into a state of nothingness. Fear wants us to remain voiceless. Fear wants us to hide and to remain invisible. Fear works to divide, destroy, and conquer.

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Love and fear cannot co-exist.

9/11 caused me to stop, reflect, and to feel (all the feels). Further, I made a vow to myself. I would NOT teach my children to fear, hate, nor stay away from those culturally, religiously, financially, nor humanly labeled different than us. And I would teach my children to make a conscious decision to get to know those our culture may have taught us to fear. We would listen to the stories of the “others”. We would seek to understand.

Most important, we would seek to grow into a mindset that does not label humanity as US vs THEM. We are good. THEY are evil. We would NOT fall into the trap of believing THAT political label is evil. OURS is the one claimed by God. God loves US more than THEM. WE are God’s children. THEY are not. We would seek to see people NOT as ‘others’, but as family.

9/11 catapulted me into a mindset in which I would raise my children to choose love.

As human beings, we have not loved perfectly. In fact, we have failed at love often. It has been in our failures that God has shown us HIS perfect love.

Do you know what happens when you get to know: THE OTHERS. THOSE PEOPLE. The ones you are told to stay away from? Do you know what happens when you listen to the stories of ‘the others’? You find out that we are all more alike than we are different. You find out that at the end of the day we all want love and we all want to love.

But of course. We are all children of God.

A God who loves perfectly. We are created in his image. The image of love. And as soon as we all begin to see US and THEM as brothers and sisters:  ALL his children, exactly the same. THEN! We will begin to be world shakers. Love warriors. Truth tellers. Believers in the good of humanity. Because inherently, humanity was created to be love personified.

WE. Are. All. God’s. Children.
Children of God.
ALL.

Terror did not win.

Terror did not win that day. Fear will not win.
God is love. God will win. and in the end,
God’s love is a win for
ALL…

WE will not forget the lives lost that day.

Nor will we forget the lives lost in the days that followed. Not American lives nor the lives of the others. ALL the others. WE will not forget. WE will learn. WE will grow.

Love. WILL. WIN.