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
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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

 

Spiritual Journey with a Personality Disorder (Part 1)

(This is the first in a non chronological series on my religious journey and experiences as a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder)

This is a hard post to write. How do I express in words the sighing of my heart? How do I explain the winding roads, narrow paths, mountain tops, and valleys of belief? David writes in the Pslams “as the deer pants for water, so does my soul thirst for you O God”; and for most of my life I have thirsted for God. Yet, after spending my 20s steeped in a Christian faith, I am now in a place of uncertainty.

Uncertain. One of the most uncomfortable feelings for me. Faith kept me from the unstable waters of my personality disorder. Faith gave me the answers. Faith told me who I was, and what to do. Faith grounded me as a young adult, when previously I was totally unmoored.

 

I remember moments of panic when doubts would arise. I felt as if my feet were on shifting ground, and my identity was a house of cards. Doubt was the strong wind threatening to blow it all down. And then, what? Back to uncertainty. Confused. Lost. Even worse; addiction. Death.

I couldn’t handle it. I went back to the Bible, back to prayer, back to the safety of belief. Yet, when my husbands bipolar reared its ugly head and burned my life-as-I-knew-it to the ground, my faith was also a victim of its flame. And that hurt. After years of striving for righteousness, I failed the test. I went back to old behaviors. Went after men who would hurt me like I knew I deserved to be hurt. I even, for a brief moment, dabbled in drugs.

 

I was able to recover myself quickly, but the damage to my faith was done. I couldn’t think of Jesus without crying. I left my Bible shut. My Borderline Personality Disorder was in full effect, swinging me wildly in every direction.

Then, my husband came back. I was scared to take him in again. I guarded my heart. But, our love is too strong to resist, and soon I was carrying our 4th child; our first boy.

And then, my faith was returning. I open the Bible. I released my anger and pain. I asked for forgiveness. I came back.

But, it just wasn’t the same. I tried to get that devotion that I once had back again. I tried so hard, but something wasn’t right anymore. I felt like an actor. I felt unsure again.

I was feeling tempted and confused over my attraction to women. My faith told me this was wrong, but I missed that female connection so badly. I wanted to be with a woman, and I started to drift from my husband. My PTSD was really bad, so sexual contact with my husband was triggering to me. I felt like I would be safe with a woman instead.

This conflict between my desire for a same sex relationship and my beliefs that said it was a sin became too much for me to bear. One night, I poured out my feelings and desires to my husband and I allowed myself to go deeper into that desire. I spoke about my doubts, and they grew. My faith was tested once again; I failed the test.

I woke up the next morning feeling like I was hung over. Was last night real? Did I really let go of my convictions so quickly again? I felt a heavy sadness, and I felt lost again. I tried to revel in my newfound freedom to be with women. I sought someone to be with, but at the same time I felt my Borderline confusion getting worse.

Who am I? What do I want? What do I believe? Borderline Personality Disorder. It really hurts to be so confused over such basic aspects of identity. Am I gay? Bisexual? Am I a believer? Agnostic?

It was August 2015 and I was planning on getting baptized at a Hebrew Roots congregation, but instead, I was deconverting again. It all felt rushed, and disorienting. I didn’t leave the faith for a really discernible reason, which made it even more difficult to understand.

This year, I have tried to find my footing again, this time without religion. I have tried to find myself. I am focused on my children, and my passion for midwifery and as a doula. But ever since childhood I have had a yearning for the divine, and I can only suppress it for so long. I feel unfulfilled, yet I do not know how to fill this need.

I can only keep going, and trust I will find I answers I need.

(The next post will go over my childhood atheist upbringing, and my search for God as a preteen and teenager in Hinduism, Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity) 

 

 

37 weeks Unassisted Pregnancy

Well, here I am at (almost) 37 weeks pregnant. This is my second unassisted pregnancy but I transferred to the hospital with my first unassisted birth attempt (due to my own unfounded fears, we were fine!). A UP is when a woman receives no professional care during her pregnancy, with a OB or a midwife. This doesn’t mean that the pregnant woman does not take very good and diligent care of herself, often times we who make this choice pay far more attention to the details of our pregnancies and health than do women seeing traditional birth professionals.

I stopped seeing my OB practice around 18 weeks. I knew that I had zero interest in taking the tests they wanted me to take. I felt stressed and pressured after each appointment. Then, I realized that I was doing this to myself for no reason. Yes, I am pregnant but pregnancy is not an illness! I am healthy. I do not see a doctor on a regular basis when I am not ill, so why would I do that while pregnant? I went over all the painful memories of my first baby’s birth due to the cruel manner of my old OB. I thought back to my midwife hospital birth with my second baby and understood that although it was significantly better, I was still not given full control over my own body and had to fight to keep my baby with me after she was born. I thought about how I had never, ever been helped in any way, shape or form by any medical professional during any of my births or pregnancies! I realized how absurd it was for me to continue doing something for the fourth time that stressed me out and had never proven beneficial to my health or my baby’s health! I left and never made another appointment.

This is has been a time for to regain my power and voice. Pregnant women in American are treated like children who cannot make their own choices. We are told what we are “allowed” to do, and we are bullied and shamed into major medical decisions like c sections when we disagree or push back. They want us drugged up, numb, laying down and quiet. They want us to be “good” and obey their orders. They chastise us for not being happy our baby is healthy after we endure all manner of physical and emotional abuse in labor and birth. I, for one, have had it.

This pregnancy has been a time for learning how to trust myself and honor my body. I have paid attention to what my body needs in regards to food, rest, hydration, sex. I have chosen to believe that my body knows how to grow this baby and birth this baby. I have taken steps to connect to my body in a way that I never have before. As a survivor of sexual abuse and rape, it is incredibly freeing to connect to and honor my body as I grow this precious baby.

I have learned that many times you simply cannot please other people with your choices. I will be maligned and spoken badly of due to my choice to UP/UC (unassisted childbirth), but I will let it roll off my back. I have only told my husband and my mother, but I do not allow my mother to speak negatively about it to me. She can have her feelings about it, but I do not have to listen to it. After the baby is born and has been seen healthy for months, I might make my choice to UC public. I have really enjoyed connecting with other women over the internet who are making this same journey as I am.

Pregnancy is a spiritual time. I am connected to my child in a way that is unique; because pregnancy is unlike any other human experience. It is a creative time and a sensitive time. I am emotional, but not in that negative stereotypical way. Women are mocked for our emotions during this time, but it is good for the heart to open and grow and be shaped by deep empathy.

I think this baby will be born soon. I am ready to welcome him, and I am ready to wait for him in peace; either way. I am at peace.

 

 

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.

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.

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