Coping with PTSD and the Larry Nassar Case

I frequently check the news. I like to stay up to date on national and international news. Lately, sexual assault has been a common news topic. The #metoo movement and now #timesup have brought attention to this once taboo subject and new stories of abuse seem to arrive each day. This is good, but it can be difficult for those of us who are survivors. Sometimes, a story may be a little too much like our own story. Finding people who understand can be healing, but reading about similar abuse can also be triggering and difficult.

I decided to listen to the Larry Nassar accuser, Rachael DenHollander. She gave a very passionate and detailed speech. I could only listen to the first five minutes before I was overwhelmed with a sickening feeling in my gut. I am proud of DenHollander for her bravery, but it was impossible for me to hear her entire speech. She did the right thing in bringing Nassar to justice, and I am thankful that he had to listen to her and all of his victims share their pain (and their strength). But, as a victim myself, I just couldn’t handle it.

It is important for survivors to be in touch with how they are feeling when these news stories abound. I want to be knowledgeable of current events, and I want to support the brave women who are speaking out; but I also need to keep my own mental health in mind. I feel anxious and upset. I wish that I had not attempted to watch the video. Sometimes, I can go from feeling just fine to very anxious when triggered. PTSD is unpredictable at times.

I am glad that Larry Nassar is going behind bars, where he belongs, for the rest of his life. But I know that recovery is not over for many of his victims, and it is not over for me.

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6 Awesome Things About Homeschooling

So, it is January 2018, and with the start of a new year comes renewed focus on our homeschooling goals. Although grade levels are basically irrelevant to us, I am currently schooling a 1st grader, kindergartner, and preschooler. Here are some of the awesome things that homeschooling has given to us this week.

1.) Bowling with friends counts as school-

We had some Hump Day fun with other homeschooling families at the local bowling ally. It was the first time my daughters played an entire game without loosing interest. If they went to public school/private school, we would not have been together in the early afternoon. I loved watching their excitement at hitting the pins, and it was nice to take a little break together. (The moms also had time together!)

2.) This is the age for art-

One of my beliefs about early childhood education is that art is just as important as any traditional subject. Children learn so much when given materials to create and explore with color. Imagination is important in our home! I think it’s awesome that I get to watch them create their masterpieces, rather than have them handed to me at the end of the school day.

3.) Dance like nobody is watching-

Similar to my conviction that art is extremely important for learning, I love taking my younger two daughters to dance class. It gives me time to hang out with my 1st grader and baby, while the middle two learn some new moves!

4.) Learning at their own pace-

My almost-7 yr old and my 5yr old girls are on the same reading level, but it really does not matter. At home, neither is behind or ahead, they are simply where they need to be. We can go further in some subjects, and take longer in others, according to their individual needs. Nobody gets left behind in homeschool, and nobody gets bored either!

5.) Sibling love-

I think it is really awesome that my children get to spend so much time together. They have a deep love for one another. Yes, they do fight sometimes! But, they are also best friends. One of my greatest desires as a mother is to see them maintain close friendships as they get older. I believe homeschooling helps foster that!

6. Freedom!

As a homeschooling family, we have a lot of freedom when it comes to how we learn, when we “do school”, and what tools to use to get there. I love being able to shape what our weeks, months, and years look like without being tied to a schedule that I did not create. I relish the educational and time freedom that homeschooling gives our family.

New Faith after Shavout

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Our Creator calls us to a life that is not always comfortable. It can be risky. It requires relinquishing a certain amount of control and doing what you know is right instead of what feels safe.

You could lose friends. You could cause family members to question your decisions, responsibility, and even your sanity.

Because living a life of faith doesn’t makes sense in this world.

The Apostle Paul tells us that faith in Messiah Yahushua (Jesus Christ) is foolishness to the gentiles. They think we are fools. We are pilgrims on this earth, yearning for our heavenly home.

Recently, Yahweh has been turning my world upside-down again. You see, I was baptized in a sparkling lake at the age of 21 and my life changed. I passed from death to new life. I became a child of the Most High. But I was still in many ways broken. I have had a walk that isn’t a straight line. I have had years of obedience pocketed by weeks or months of rebellion and confusion. But I am His, therefore he comes for me. I am that 100th sheep who went astray, but I was carried back on His shoulders.

The year of 2015 was a nightmare for me. My little life blew into pieces. My husband became very seriously mentally ill. There was so much pain. Abuse. Devastating loss. And then…

my relapse.

I relapsed mentally. I relapsed with addiction. I relapsed with my faith.

I was terrified. I went into PTSD mode. I lost control.

But in December of this year my husband and I came back to one another, after our own separate painful journey through relapse. My walls were up high. I was determined to take care of myself, and never allow myself to trust him again. I would do it all alone.

I went from a stay-at-home “quiverfull mom” to going to school 5 days a week while my children were in daycare. I missed them badly, and I gave up on my dream of homeschooling. I abandoned my faith community and set out by myself. I made money through my body like I did as a teenager. I convinced myself it was okay. I convinced myself I had to do this for the greater good of finical security. I had to provide for my children. I had to be strong and do it all myself. I told myself that it wasn’t wrong because I was doing what I had to do, given my circumstances.

But not of this was true. Not with Yahweh. I had other options, he always provides another way out. There is always the faithful and obedient choice. I was too scared. I was too damaged. I turned away.

Yet, slowly but surely those walls started to crack.

One day, I allowed myself to open myself up to new life. My husband and I have three little girls, and despite my mind yelling at me all the reasons why it would be horrible to get pregnant. Think of school! Money! Don’t trust anyone! I surrendered to that primal longing for life in my womb, a babe at my breast. And right away, a tiny being buried itself inside of my womb like a seed and blossomed.

Then, daycare didn’t work out my next semester because my work hours were not enough for financial help. I reluctantly and with great trepidation permitted my husband to watch the kids for me instead. I had to trust him. It was really hard.

I worked so hard during that semester, with my dream of becoming an R.N in sight. I did very well, but it cost a lot of time with my children. I could no longer take care of my home.

The Bible has many words of wisdom and commandment for mothers and wives. Many modern women bristle at the idea, but the Bible says we should be “keepers at home”. The famous Psalm 31 describes the wife whose worth is above rubies, and she cares for her home and family diligently.

I wasn’t at home very often, so I certainly couldn’t take care of it or my beloved family within its walls.

That hurt my heart, but still I heard that voice telling me “just push through school” and “you have to do it” and especially “don’t trust your husband, don’t trust Yahweh, trust only yourself”.

Yet, I completed that semester and I was in awe at how joyful it was to be home on break. I started to remember. I remembered what it felt like to take time and put all that effort into making our house and home. Teaching the children. Changing my focus from outside to right here, with my husband and children.

My heart began to soften. Those walls began to really crumble down.

Shavout/Pentacost came, and that longing inside of me grew to epic proportions. Unbeknownst to me my husband was also feeling called back to the walk of faith. We came together, and marveled at how Yahweh had been speaking the same things to us separately.

My husband had a terrible falling out with another man in our faith community while he was sick in 2015. I felt strongly that my husband should talk to him and fix that relationship. I never thought he would do it, because he was still so angry about what he perceived as this brother overstepping his boundaries of his friendship with me while he was gone. Nothing ever happened, but all of the pain from different experiences was put onto this brother.

Amazingly, my husband told me on the very day that I was considering these things that he wanted to call this brother and ask his forgiveness. I was in shock. I was blown away. This was such a major step of faith and we both thought of it at the same exact time. My husband called this brother and they immediately reconciled. All was forgiven. Love prevailed and they could move on.

I cried because it was so beautiful. I was such a revealing moment to me. I could trust Yahweh. He was speaking to us. He was making us into the people we are supposed to be.
Shavout/Pentacost is a time to remember, among other things, how the Israelites agreed to follow Torah and join in covenant relationship with Yahweh. It was when they heard all he had to say and they said “YES”.

YES, we believe.

Yes, we will follow you.

Yes, make us your people,

and you will be our God.

I said that along with them. I decided to let go of the pain. I let go of the FEAR. I let go of the mistrust. I am opening myself again. It is so freeing. The truth sets us free.

Freedom and safety doesn’t come through money, education, or saving for the future. Those things are not wrong or bad, but they can be if they cause us to sacrifice the most important thing; faith and the life we are called for.

I will be a mother of 4 in October of 2016. I will continue to dedicate myself to husband. I will be a better wife. I will stay clean and sober. I will leave fear and mistrust behind. I will live that foolish and peculiar life, in freedom and the shalom/peace that passes all understanding.

Shalom to you all.

Related Scripture Verses

Exodus 19:8 And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the YHWH has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the YHWH.

Titus 2:4,5 …and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled

The Saving Grace of Motherhood

1 Tim 2:15 But women will be saved through childbearing….

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My children remind me of my long-lost innocence. Sometimes, I imagine that I emerged from the womb knowing. I believe I was born with this weight on my shoulders, and blood on my hands. But the truth is that my eyes were clear and pure just like theirs are.

And their trust reminds me that mine was broken. Like a thief comes to steal, except it wasn’t quiet and stealthy. It was a screaming, burning, explosion. Destroyed, like the bombed-out homes of war torn countries. I was ripped open from end to end, from here to forever. Trust? Something I never heard of, yet my children extend it to me like a heavenly gift.

My arms wrap around them, keep them safe. My daughter frowns in frustration when I won’t allow her to go online. I’m protecting you. There are bad men out there, who could hurt you. She holds my warnings suspect in her mind; she can’t imagine an evil like that.

How do I protect them? How do I save them from this burden I carry? How do I teach them to love themselves, and hit back when someone touches them after “no”?

I see them clearly; beautiful like an angel’s song, pure like streams of water flowing from the tree of life. They don’t understand, how heaven opened up and love descended upon me like a dove the moment I held them in my arms. I have been trusted with something beautiful, and it made me beautiful again.

My heart, once laid to waste like a desolate city, became alive again with singing and dancing and good wine. The smell of their hair, the sparkle in their eyes, the light of their smile; it’s all a prayer to me. The fragrance of God. When they hug me, it’s the holiest of holies in my soul. They don’t even know it, but they redeemed me. They lead me to the water of forgiveness. I was born, when they were born.

Perservence, When You Haven’t “Made it” Yet..

Sometimes I let my mind imagine 5 years from now. I have finished my nursing degree, my personal businesses are thriving, and we own our own home with plenty of land for the children to get dirty on. My heart fills with gratitude and happiness. Then, I open my eyes and I’m back in our apartment. I’m starting at a spreadsheet where I have meticulously recorded our budget for the coming month. My heart feels deflated, and my spirit is heavy.

How do we avoid feeling totally defeated, when life is taking longer to get where we want to be?  Especially, those of us who spent years of our lives in addiction and battling mental illness. 

It is hard not to think “if only I had never used drugs” or “its not fair I had mental illness”. We did the hard work of getting clean and we do the hard work of recovery, but now we may wake up and realize that years were wasted. We have friends and family who have long since graduated and built their lives; all while we were fighting for our lives. 

We survived! But, now what do we want our life to be? This is a question many of us never even asked, because we assumed we would be dead and gone. We didn’t have the time to consider questions like that, we were waking up hungry and sick and spend every moment looking for drugs and using. When I was sleeping on sidewalks, I never imagined I could create a life of my dreams.

But it is real. I made it out of that pain and suffering, but now I want to “make it” in life! I don’t want to struggle with paying for Basic necessities. I want financial freedom. I want a home to call my family’s own. I want my business to give me satisfaction and opportunities. 

There is NO easy way to get to your dream. Nobody “makes it” overnight. Addicts tend to want everything fast and easy. We aren’t used to waiting, we don’t have experience in strategic patience. 

But here’s the thing; one day at a time. One step at a time. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Never, under any circumstance, give up. The only option is to find a way. When one door closes, you don’t pack your bags and leave! You find another door, and if none exists then you make one yourself! 

We once used our resourcefulness for our addiction, now use those survival skills to make it in the real world. We got this 🙂

My Unassisted Baby Turns 1 Years Old Today!

One year ago today, at exactly this time, I was in intense labor. I held my husbands hands, as he sat in front of me. I leaned my sweaty head into his chest and moaned “oooooOOOOOOOooooo”. I breathed, I swayed, I moved around. I cried. I was brave. And then, he was here. I can close my eyes and smell his birth, and feel his wet head against my chest. I was elated! My son! My only son! My fourth baby.My husband and I were in awe over this tiny being we made and brought into the world together. His three big sisters came with Nana to meet him the next day, and he has been their loved baby brother every since. We became a family of six! 86220161013_191005

 

We went through 2 difficult months of colic, then he blossomed into a baby who wanted to see the world around him. He always wanted to be held facing outward, never wanting to miss any action.

He learned to roll over, and crawl with his sisters encouragement. He started playing with toys and interacting with his sisters.

Now, he is 1 and his two front teeth on the top and bottom popped out just this week after months of teething! He starting to take steps on his own, and will soon be walking (then, I am sure, RUNNING) after his sisters.

Markos Lorenzo, my first freebirth and my first baby boy; you are so loved! I cherish you with my whole heart, and so does Daddy and your sisters. I look forward to our many adventures and learning together as you grow.

Love,

Momma

Busy Moms Still NEED to Focus on Recovery

I am sitting at my laptop, it’s almost midnight. I have my Anatomy and Physiology text books to my left, my homeschooling planner for my 3 kids to my right, and I just swallowed a handful of chocolate like medicine. My 3 daughters are sleeping (for now), and baby brother is finally asleep after I nursed him and left the bed like a ninja.

I just finished planning the rest of this week; with all the kid’s activities (dance, cheer, music..), my schedule for college, and my husband’s schedule for college and work. I have half finished crochet and sewing projects that I don’t touch for weeks. But despite all of this—I am STILL in recovery and that means I have to make time for recovery.

Motherhood is very self-sacrificial. Of course it is worth it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require a lot from us. I give from myself every day; my body through breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, holding, playing, my mind through planning, hoping, thinking, worrying, and my emotions through love and dedication. I do it because I want to invest in this little tribe of mine, but I also need to invest in ME.

Why? If I don’t invest in myself, my children lose me. If I forget about my recovery needs, my children lose me.

I read an article recently about the lives of men and women who are in active addiction, mostly with heroin. They had pictures of people at their worst. I recognized that look. I looked like that at one time in my life, before my babies were born. That bone-tired, devastated, hurt-beyond-words look. That junkie life that sucks the spirit from the people it possesses. The streets are hard living, and I remember it well.

It is good for me to remember. This addiction kills people. There is no way for me to exaggerate or employ hyperbole in this discussion. It is a war against addiction, and there are many, many causalities. In fact, the heroin epidemic has only gotten substantially worse since I was a user a decade ago. I have buried friends too.

I was at deaths door when I put down the needle and the stem. Emaciated. In such a depression that I was nearly comatose. Sore all over my body from the constant picking. And my heart and soul were in much worse shape. I was broken so badly, hurt by so many. It is NOT life I ever want to go back to.

So, I fight. Thankfully, most days don’t feel like a war anymore. When I first got clean, I hide myself from the world because I knew I was too weak to refuse drugs if it was offered. I had cravings so bad, my body would shake and I would vomit. I had intense physical reactions to my psychological addiction to crack cocaine. It was absolutely horrendous. But I survived.

And, my first baby was born not too long after. She was a beautiful light from God. She changed me. Motherhood changed me. From the moment she entered this world, I knew I would never be the same. I am a better person, a thousand times better, because of her and my other children.

So, please, if you a mother in recovery—focus on it. You know what you need to stay clean! Everyone’s recovery is different. It could be meetings, or church, or meditation, or prayer, or community, or exercise or all of the above. Just do what you know you need to do. Even if it means you have to ask for help with babysitting, or work a

little less, or go to school part-time. It is needs to be your priority.

If you don’t have your recovery, you don’t have your life.

If I don’t have recovery, I don’t have my life.

I do it for myself. I do it for my children.

Shalom.

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Baby Boy with his RECOVERING Momma