Mountain – A Poem

20170406_182751Our love is a gentle breeze

I am a mountain, tall and solid

From my soil grows all types of fruit,

Warm and ripe from the summers sun

From my ground—sharp rocks, jagged edges

You cut your feet when you try to climb me

Your hands reach for the delicious fruit

Hanging there on branches like slender arms

Your blood soaks into the earth of me,

Wet and dark

The ground is fertile like the lining of a womb

The rocks are a boundary raised from

Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes; things that injure

And kill

And our love floats up to me,

Where the white snow covers my highest peaks

It sings to me, asks me to allow you inside

Every crevice and cave

Allow you to pick any fruit you desire

Taste its sweetness

But I shake my earth like a quivering woman

In rage, in shame, in storm clouds and rain

Red fire engulfs the trees, the birds, all things

Alive and beautiful

I am covered in ashes, black as onyx stone

I cannot accept your bleeding feet, your outstretched arm,

Your longing song you sang to me

And yet, beneath the ashes of my rage and pain

The tiniest of sprigs pushes itself stubbornly

Through the hot earth

Its leaves are the newest green, soft and supple

Like the breasts of a young woman

And then it stands taller, grows wider, takes up more space

Soon I am covered in these proud plants

Then trees, and their strong branches

Where birds come to nest and raise their young

I am alive again

The mountain breathing

My lover comes again, here you are

Your feet have healed and my rocks

Don’t

Cut you

You are patient in your climbing,

Holding onto earth and tree

You find me in the quiet solace of

My highest peaks

We rest together in the comforting snow

I hear the song you sing to me

And I begin to sing it too

We live together

And the blood-soil you gave me

Has become a sign for

New things

To come and grow here

 

Trauma and Memory Recall

Memory is a strange thing for the traumatized mind. Some memories are nothing more than apparitions of smell, emotion, and touch; try as I might to put flesh on these ghosts, they remain as formless as mist rising in the morning. Other memories are clear on the big picture yet lack details. I remember his size, the tenor of his voice, the time of year; but his face is an empty and blurred image, as if I can only recall the outline of what happened and who he was. And still others, more strangely, are incredibly vivid and detailed. I can recall the color of my shirt and the exact size of his member on me. I remember the lunch I ate, and the cigarettes I smoked. I remember his face; he isn’t a blurry image I struggle to recall. I can still see the lines on his forehead and the way his lips drew together in rage against me.

Sometimes I have to close my eyes and think “ok…I was very cold and wearing a jacket so it must have been Fall or Winter….yes, it was because the soup kitchen gave us Christmas dinner…” and that is how I put some things together. It is like tracing lines, connecting dots, until I can place a certain event in the timeline of my life. “Was I 18 or 20 when this happened? Well… didn’t meet my husband yet so I wasn’t 20…” and on it goes.

Why are some memories so detailed, and others so far away? They were all traumatic. I was high during some, and sober during others; but it makes no difference in my ability to remember. Why, oh mind, do you insist that I remember the drug dealing pimp from Harlem who raped me but will not reveal the face of a similar man from East Orange? Why, oh mind, do you allow me excruciating memory of shame and secrecy during childhood but will not permit me his name? What is this game of ours we are playing?

There has got to be some reason, no? I just cannot figure it out. This memory puzzle, this strange collection of blurry and clear snapshots in time.

That man from Harlem, I don’t want to remember him. I want to forget. Yet, my mind insists on not forgetting him. But then, I wonder why on earth I am trying to coax details from the misty memories of my mind. Surely they must be worse? But are they? I don’t know.

I am my own puzzle, and my brain has stored the pieces in various places in different ways.

I suppose the most important thing is to resolve the feelings. That is what I focus on now.

If I cannot recall what I want to at will, then I will focus on healing the wounds they left behind. I will work with what I have available to me, and trust in my mind’s way of storing these events long left behind.

As long as one day, I am whole again. Free again. Me again.

Trigger, Trigger. (PTSD)

Where does this despair hide itself from the rest of me when life is going smoothly? Does it seep into the corners of my mouth when I smile? Does it retreat into the shadows of my insides? How can it escape notice from the very person it inhabits? Until—a nightmare during sleep opens me up and the despair that was hidden comes squarely before my face.

And it laughs at me. Taunts me. Turns my gut into twisted pieces.

Causes me to doubt everything that I am, believe, and wish to be.

I carry this endlessly deep space of despair around, it suffocates my heart and fills my belly. I force my body to move the way it is supposed to. I make myself walk around like a human being, like the person I was before the latest trigger. I can’t cry. I can’t think. I feel as if I am being stalked by this shadow enemy.

Just. Leave. Me. Alone!

I don’t want you here anymore. I don’t want to face whatever horrors of my past your trying to foist upon me. I have a present, and a future that I love living; stop dragging me down with those claws. Those claws of despair that pierce me, cut into me, slash my heart in two.

I question everything. And I know this is all a show. I know how it ends if I follow you down this rabbit hole. I have never been able to survive it. I have never been able to be strong. I always fall apart into a thousand pieces and then after you leave, put myself back together (yet never quite as together as before).

Is there a way to swim through this ocean without choking on the pain? I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I feel emptied out. Terrified, again.

The sick thing is, as soon as this storm passes…all I see are clear blue skies. And then I wonder, what was I scared of? Why was I so lost in this emotional war? It all seems so..obvious and simple.

But then these triggers come and cut me open again, exposing that hidden despair. The same old cycle. I just have to hold on and let it tear through me. I have to be inert and unmoving. I have to allow it to run its course without choosing any actions, without thinking any thoughts. Then, I survive it without destroying myself. Then, I stand under the clear blue skies and realize the insanity of the storm.

But, is this the only way? Is there a way to stop these emotional tempests and finally have lasting peace and calm? I don’t know. I only know how to survive. But survival gets exhausting sometimes. I want to have that peace. Please, let me have that lasting peace.

And the storm is rolling over me….

The Lies of the Enemy vs. The Glorious Truth

I have been very busy lately with the end of this semester fast approaching, along with life’s other obligations. I’ve been able to spend some time praying though, and it has brought up a theme for me; resisting temptation and the lies of the enemy.

This is in stark contrast to the promises of Yahweh, and what he can offer us to sooth our weary souls.

For those us with mental illness and/or addiction, we tend to experience emotions in a BIG way. Often we are just overwhelmed by them, and hence we seek out a way to ease that pain. The enemy tells us “I have these drugs, all kinds of drugs, pick one…it will sooth your suffering and take it all away”. Or maybe it’s sex, gambling, taking big risks; anything that takes us out of the pain and brings us a rush.

But as we know, this never lasts. In fact, when the high wears off we are much worse off than when we first started. Not to mention the trauma, the family rifts, and many other consequences of our using that we now have to deal with. The enemy lies to us, and by the time we realize we are trapped in this cycle of addiction and pain, we face a huge struggle to climb back out.

But we don’t have to do it alone. The entire time we were searching, searching, searching for that fix—that high—that thrill, He was waiting with his arms outstretched to us with real hope.

The enemy tells us, “Go ahead, indulge yourself and feel better”

“Go ahead, follow your own desires and thrills”

“Go ahead, I can make you feel better than you ever imagined.”

When this fails, when we end up doing nothing and sacrificing everything for that fix/that false cure—we end up often considering suicide. Imagine how the enemy feels when he tricks us into following his way, and then takes our very life from us? That is exactly what he wants to do; steal, kill, and destroy.

You know how horrible it feels when a young person dies, because that had to feed that addiction? Or a middle ages person dies and leaves their children and spouse, questioning and devastated?

It is as if we can see how things could have been. In an alternate universe, in a world where their life had a difference ending; we can see how much was lost for this addiction. It is so breathtakingly sad. It was almost my fate as well.

This is a song by R.E.M called “Country Feedback”, and I listened to it a lot as teen. Part of the refrain goes like this;

“It’s crazy what you could have,
Crazy what you could have had,
I need this…I need this…”

I used to cry so hard at that, because it cut to my soul. I knew I could have another life. I saw a future that could have been mine; college, love, children, etc. but I needed my high so badly that I just couldn’t have it. I could feel that other future, and its loss (and my inability to stop myself) was so gut wrenching.

Of course, my future is not what I believed it would be but ONLY because I have resisted and fought and clawed my way out of that abyss.

Yahushua (Jesus) tells us that we must hate even our very own life to be his disciple. What he means by that is, we must put him first and follow him no matter what.

We used to put drugs first, which leads to death…

We used to put risk taking first, which leads to death….

We used to put sex first, which leads to death….

We used to put cutting/self-injury first, which leads to death…

But now,

Oh now we have something glorious!

We put HIM first, which leads to LIFE!

HalleuYah. Amen.

We all struggle, if you are being tempted please remember that no temptation will overtake you that you cannot overcome with HIM. He always gives us a way out, he always shows us the narrow path that leads to life and bids us to walk in in—with Him.

I wish healing for you all.

Shalom.

A Time of Trials

I feel pressed in on every side. In each direction a heavy stone wall leans menacingly against me. My hands are frantically pushing back against them each in turn but I lack enough strength to hold them all up, so in a panic I realize that they are all going to crush me.

This has been my month so far. March 2016, not joyful like it should be. It is the Biblical New Year, Passover is fast approaching, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and last but not least my first child’s 5th birthday is on March 31st. Yet, it has been one crisis after the other and my hands are shakily holding up these walls; but they keep pressing and pressing in.

First, it was the months and months of unpaid utility bills. Although I more than qualify for help, the mountains of paperwork, dealing with two separate government agencies (neither very willing to assist) and red tape and after red tape left me with shut off notices and no help in sight.

Second, my insurance company has found something wrong with the multiple pre-auth’s my suboxone/subutex doctor has given them. This means that during a month where I am struggling to keep gas and electric on I now have an essential medication NOT being paid for, while pregnant! I have been taking suboxone because of my previous heroin addiction for 8 long years (this will be addressed in future blogs dedicated solely to buprenorphine treatment and subutex in pregnancy). It is essential for my health both physically and mentally/emotionally, and it is just as important for my unborn baby because withdrawal can induce a miscarriage.

I am up against these big companies, these government agencies, these unjust bureaucracies and I can’t take it anymore. My emotional energy is run dry. My strength is just as depleted as my pathetic bank account and meager savings I am losing over this.

How can I get through? Why is this happening?

In the past I would run to my old ways. I know how to make money illegally, that is how I survived for many years before I met my husband and had my children and got clean. I briefly went back to some of my old ways when I encountered serious problems in my martial life last year and I never want to do that again (and I won’t). But the enemy does whisper “you know how to make those hundreds of dollars you need”.

Yes, with my body. The only currency I had. It was taken first, and then I learned how to sell myself. But is that the way? Are my morals worth sacrificing? Is my marriage worth destroying? Is it the message I want to send to my THREE beautiful GIRLS? That whenever life gets really, really difficult they can always sell their bodies to the highest bidder and move on? No. No. NO!

My Father in Heaven wants me to trust him. I just don’t know how. That is the truth. I do not know how!

How do I look at this mess, where I see no way out and trust that my Savior can actually rescue me?

Am I really worth more than many sparrows? Do you actually number the hairs on my head? Do you? How can I know, really know?

Also, if I am honest, this issue with my medication drags up so many buried painful memories of addiction and detoxing. I am SO scared to get sick, not only because of the horrendous physical consequences (my body has not functioned off opiates for even a single day in over 10 years) but also I am scared down to my bones over relapsing.

A relapse equals death to me. I was literally dying when I stopped using dope (heroin) and smoking crack (my true drug of choice). I suffered a heart attack, spent four days in the hospital, and I still got high after they released me. I was so sick my body was unable to keep ANY food down. I carried plastic bags with me everywhere to vomit in any time I consumed food or water. I was dying physically, and I was dying emotionally and spiritually.

It is this sick, evil, black shadow at my back; addiction. The threat of not having my medication that, for all its drawbacks, HAS indeed helped to save my life is absolutely terrifying on a level that I cannot describe to you. It is my life that I fear losing to this beast. I cannot pretend that I “would never”. That is the scariest part.

I cannot say that I “would never”
Leave my precious babies
Leave my husband
Steal from my loved ones
Lie to everyone
Go back to prostitution
Live on the streets
Etc etc etc all of the hellish things that come with active addiction.

This beast is on my back, breathing down my neck and it scares me to the core; and I am not even having cravings! I feel okay in that regard, as I typically do thanks to my medication and the other supports I have for my recovery, and my faith. But the idea, the mere thought or suggestion that it is possible to go down that road keeps me awake at night.

I hold my children just that much tighter. I feel like I built this life and this beast could come and devour it. I want to protect my life with all that I have within me, and this insurance issue drags all this up for me.

So is there nothing positive to report? Is there no good news? Is there nothing faithful and true to say?

Of course there is. In fact, I had originally planned on writing some much more uplifting blog posts on the joy of watching my oldest grow, and I still plan to do so. There has been spiritual growth in this trial, but I am yet a babe and I know that there is much I need to learn. However, this post is venting over the troubles of this month. I had to purge it out of me.

Remember, saying what you fear and saying what your struggling with, making it public exposes it all and keeps the enemy from digging in his claws.

I wish peace to you all. Shalom.

*Relevant Bible Verses*

Ephesians 5:13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that is illuminated becomes a light itself

Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

Mark 4:17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

Matthew 10:29-31 29“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31“So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

Broken, but with Hope! (First Blog Post)

I come to you in my late 20s, a mother of many, and in some ways; broken. When something breaks, typically we inspect it to determine if it can be fixed- if so, we must decide if it’s worth fixing. I may not want to fix a broken glass jar if I only paid 5 dollars for it and fixing it would require 10. However, when it comes to a person being broken, there is no price too high for them to be “fixed”.

The funny thing about people though, is that once we fix the most noticeable cracks we see a thousand more than need fixing! In other words, this is a lifelong process of healing those fractured lines. The first step is to acknowledge that we do indeed have cracks that must be fixed, and some of us are more broken than others.

When I was a preteen, I decided that I didn’t want to live anymore. I stood on my wooden balcony in my two story rented home and wondered if jumping onto the concrete below would suffice. Images of broken bones and still surviving kept me from that jump. I had many daydreams of tying rope onto my ceiling fan and hanging myself there, I pictured the reactions and my funeral. I thought to myself, then they will know my pain.

As a young teenager, barely past 14, I gave up all pretenses and let it all go. My mother spent the next several years desperately trying to keep her only child alive. The despair is not something that words can ever adequately express; something akin to drowning daily, but hopelessness is the what drives the thoughts of suicide.

Hopelessness. Think about it for a moment! What gives a laboring woman the strength to go on in the midst of her worst pain? Hope! She is fighting for that baby, the hope of holding him in her arms and cradling him against her skin. The pain is overwhelming for many of us, but yet we dig deep and find the strength to push our baby into this world and into our arms.

Hope keeps her strong. Hopelessness is what drives the severely depressed person to finally end it all. They cannot see a way out of the suffering. Maybe they have tried, almost certainly they have. They have probably tried many, many times; because people do not give up on life easily. Death is not the first choice in one who suffers, it is only the last act of one who has abandoned all hope.

I know. I didn’t try it as a preteen, but when I was 19 and in the military (a horrible attempt at stability) I went into a bathroom stall and methodically swallowed an enormous bottle of pills. There were only a few remaining, my stomach could not bear a single one more. I wrote a quick note about how sorry I was inside my pocket bible they gave to us all before boot camp, and then I made my way to my bunk for my forever sleep—only I didn’t make it. My bunk-mates noticed my woozy behavior due to the pills shutting down my ability to speak or walk properly, and urgently called one of our drill sergeants. He picked me up and put me over his shoulder. I remember seeing ambulance lights before the world went black.

I assume they pumped my stomach but I have no recollection of it. I woke up attached to a lot of tubes and machines. I didn’t feel relief, nor did I feel sadness or anger. I felt only indifference.

My story is too big to be told in this single blog post, but my brokenness was a constant battle for me. The simplest things in life caused my strength to go falling down like a house of cards. I just could not endure- until I could!

Slowly. Very slowly.

Painfully. Very painfully.

In spurts and sputters and stops, I started to make my way down this long journey called recovery.

Along the way, I have gathered more beauty to myself than I ever imagined in even my wildest dreams. How does a dead woman feel when she comes back to life? This is me, every day that I breath; every day that I live this life with these beautiful children and husband.

Nothing is perfect. There have been more falls, more mistakes, more backsliding than I wish to admit were true. I wish I could say that at the age of 21 I was baptized in the water of redemption, in a magnificent lake surrounded by wonderful people, and I never messed up again. Those old broken lines never showed up, and new ones never formed. But that would be a lie, and I am not here to lie to you.

I will be honest, even brutally so. The truth will set us free, and what is said in the light the darkness cannot grab a hold of. So, here I am. A mother. In recovery. Living. Alive! Open my heart and see if anything reflects your experiences. Take what is helpful, and leave the rest. Forgive me if I lack insight, or the ability to say the right thing. All I offer is my story, which has not even begun to end; and my hand open to your hand, so we can pull one another up as we walk this road of recovery and motherhood together.

I wish you peace today. Shalom.

*Related Scripture*

 

Psalm 143:7 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
(My second child, Liora, and I two years ago)