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.

 

 

Grief: I Grant You Permission to Be Fully Human

Grief.

There is not a wrong way nor a right way to fully grieve.

I do believe, however, that many of us were taught that it’s not okay to grieve.

Not truly.

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Years ago, I attended a group therapy workshop. The goal: to fully grieve a loss. Each person in attendance was dealing with loss. Some death. Others, health. Divorce. Job.

The loss of a dream.

Each of us will deal with loss throughout our lifetime.

Each of us will grieve in our own way.

Some public. Some private.

The workshop taught me the importance of fully grieving loss. For the first time, I was granted permission to feel loss deeply, profoundly.

To breath it in and let it go.

Grief has many stages. There are no rules one must follow in order to grieve. It is, however, important to feel each stage deeply.

Fully.

Entirely.

If we don’t allow ourselves to fully grieve loss, pieces of our heart and soul will become stuck in process. Perhaps anger will take root or bitterness will plant itself ever so slightly into our being.

Grief. 

We must feel it,

live it,

embrace it.

Breath it in and let it go.

Each stage, thoroughly acknowledged and worked through.

Anger. Denial. Isolation. Bargaining. Deep Sorrow and Depression. Acceptance.

There is no right or wrong order to the grieving process. Yet, each feeling that corresponds is entirely okay. Some will describe their process as a roller coaster. Others, a circle. Most will feel the stages several times through, perhaps backtracking through certain stages again and again.

I’m not sure we entirely heal from loss. I think loss leaves a forever scar. And at the most unexpected moment, the pain will rise again.

I’ve experienced grief.

Unexpectedly.

In the grocery store. In my car. While listening to a song that evokes a memory.

My initial response is to hide my grief behind sunglasses. Or to run to the nearest restroom until the tears stop flowing.

What would happen if we allowed each other to grieve fully?

No restrictions, nor rules.

What would happen if we stop making grief awkward while embracing each other’s process?

What if in the midst of grief, we hold each other’s hearts near?

What if we allow each other space to grieve uniquely and without judgement?

A smile. A touch. A whisper of, “I’m sorry, I’m here. If you need me.”

No words trying to make grief better, but rather, hearts that become a safe space.

For grief.

Can we do this for each other?

Can we allow each other to be fully human?

To feel.

I think this. Might be love. Amplified.

Grief.

Let’s allow it. Embrace it. Breath it in. Feel it thoroughly. Let it go.

And grant permission to each other to fully grieve as well.

I’m still working through my own loss. Losses.

Breathing it in. Letting it go.

Granting myself permission to thoroughly experience the entire process. Granting others permission and a safe space to do the same.

Grief: A process that reminds us, we are human.

We are all more alike than different.

In the midst, to the core, somehow… I see love.

 

 

 

Abuse will not be Silent

I am going to keep sharing. I have to.

Because I am now free.

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But there are many women who cannot break free from abuse they face on a daily basis.

I know the hopelessness, the loss of dreams, the inability to move from one’s bed, couch, home.

I’ve known the deep dark pit of despair, the cave I was unable to crawl away from.

I speak because I’ve been told to stay silent.

And I’ve learned that abuse is enabled through the silence.

I’ve learned despair grows through the enabling of those who do not want the hard stories shared.

I speak into a church system that has enabled abusers while silencing victims.

I can no longer sit by and watch.

I speak, to bring healing to my own soul and for the women who cannot yet leave. So they will know, they are not alone. And perhaps, within my own story, someone might catch a glimpse of hope.

I’m lucky, I have a brother and sister in law, who I now live with, who remind me daily of who I am and who’s I am. Not everyone has this. I have looked my brother and sister in law in the eyes, crying heartbroken words such as, “Why does he want her and not me?” and “Why does he hate me?” through many seasons. Words no wife should every have to whisper.

Understand, friends, losing toxic thoughts after leaving an abusive situation takes days, months, sometimes years of detoxing. I am blessed to have a support system. But, I have sat in therapy sessions with women who have been isolated and have nooone.

By the time one escapes a toxic marriage, they have lost themselves.

Completely.

The glimmer of life once known in their eyes has disappeared.

So now, I speak because there are women who cannot.

We are beautiful women, created by a God who loves us, cries with us, sits beside us. He is love and as his daughters, we are also love. Powerful. Glorious. AMAZING LOVE.

Women in despair: I see you. I hear your cries.

I will keep speaking for myself.

And for you.

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.