Jesus, Wine, and Chocolate (because jail is real)

Y’all, it has been a day of discovery.

I learned today that I have not yet arrived to the point in my salvation where I can cover everyone with perfect grace/mercy.

Well, it was reiterated. It’s a journey, folks, and I know my truth.

I also learned today what it means when people say things like, “Mama Bear came out of hibernation,” or, “She went all Mama Bear on ’em,” or, “You better watch yourself or I will straight up go Mama Bear on you!”

People, when someone says that, what it apparently means is that the desire to do violence is so great that it can only be compared to a Grizzly bear on rampage. Fun fact: the bite of a Grizzly is thought to be able to crush a bowling ball, easily. Grizzlies will also approach other predators to steal their prey for dinner, and they do it in the open with no apologies.

And I hit that point today in less than 3 seconds flat, and I have no regrets. That’s probably a bad sign.

Another fun fact: you have never known true rage until you’ve held your grown child while they weep because someone else hurt them and they did it via phone/text because they were too cowardly to have an adult conversation. (Don’t ask me what happened – I won’t expatiate.)

I hate violence. I am so sensitive to it that I can’t watch it on television, I hate the noise of a violent show or video game, and because of that (much to my husband’s dismay) I will never be a fan of Game of Thrones. (I know, I know – just get over it. Never gonna happen for me.) I come from a long line of hunters who have passed down the Cherokee ways – hunting is for food, not for sport, and nothing gets wasted. In a zombie apocalypse, we’ve already decided which remote location we would move to and that I would be responsible for providing food for the family with the added bonus that I know how to tan leather the old fashioned way, make weapons, and knit (we can’t wear only leather – it would be a horrible fashion statement). I can do it if I have to, but my heart is tender, especially toward animals, and I would not love it. I cry when I hit butterflies with my car, for pity’s sake. I cried once after hitting a kamikaze squirrel on the way to take our youngest to elementary school, and it was so alarming to him that he patted my hand for the next 7 minutes and asked me if I was okay twice before he was willing to get out of the car and leave me alone. And he’s the one who doesn’t read or process emotions like other people do, so I must have been a train wreck for him to be that worried.

Food is food, though, so I could get past it. Or I would openly weep while providing dinner for the family and we would have a rule that no one talks to me for 24 hours after the hunt. Whatever.

I have been subjected to violence and never once has it inspired me to retaliate in kind. Don’t mistake what I’m saying; I will protect my family at all costs and I’m a crack shot, but the threat has to be real.

I am a delicate flower.

shallow focus photo of pink ceramic roses
Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush on Pexels.com

Until today.

Today, my tenderhearted spirit temporarily and gladly vacated my body to be replaced with the rage of a thousand Grizzly bears, and I wanted blood. I wanted violence. I wanted to rip someone’s face off then rip out their entrails while they writhed with the pain of their demise, to hear the snap and crack of vertebrae separating from vertebrae, and I would have done it with a smile on my face.

Whoa. Yeah. It was real. It is not a Christian attitude. It is not something that would come up as an optional answer (for a child of the 90s) if asked, “What would Jesus do?”

Not that, okay?

Would I ever do that? Probably not. I say “probably” because I hope not. I’ve never been given the option and wasn’t close enough today to worry about it. The moment was fleeting, albeit intense. Also, I have the actual upper-body strength of an overcooked spaghetti noodle, so… yeah.

But oh, I wanted it with every neuron and muscle fiber in my body. I wanted to crush heads like a Grizzly biting a bowling ball, use my claws to shred skin like it was paper then throw it as confetti, bathing in blood all the while. (Okay, now I’m feeling a little ashamed, but I’m trying to be transparent, here.)

The worst part about it is that I don’t hate this person. I know that our kids will have to go through hurt, and disappointment, and that it is going to be awful and scary and sometimes humiliating and they will not know how to handle it and they will fall apart and there is nothing I can do about it. I know that. I hate it. But I know it. I even know it’s necessary for them to learn how to human correctly, with compassion and empathy.

The rage is not because one of my own is hurting – I mean, okay, fine, it is absolutely because one of my own is hurting and I want retribution. Happy?

It’s also because of two other reasons: the first is that the idiot didn’t even have the cojones to inflict the wound face-to-face, like a real adult should. He did it via text message, and there is no universe where a mature adult will ever do that. Let me be clear: a mature adult who actually has their $%*# together will give bad news face to face no matter how uncomfortable it is. So if said idiot gets ahold of this somehow – WRITE THAT DOWN. YOU HAVE FAILED AT ADULTING. BE BETTER. You can do it; I know enough about you to know that. 

The second reason, though, is far deeper and speaks to wounds we have all felt and that I do not want to perpetuate in the next generation. It is a wound that creeps in during childhood when we fail at parenting (we all do it, sometimes – no one is perfect), gets reinforced when things at school aren’t exactly as expected, when friends suddenly become enemies and there’s no explanation, and when we’ve left childhood behind and face disappointments as adults (a job we wanted but didn’t get, a relationship that goes sour, a negative checking account when we forgot to subtract that $5 at the gas pump, the disappointment from our parents if we don’t have the same dreams and strengths they wanted us to have, the list is innumerable).

It’s a nonspecific viral illness, striking when least expected and without a clear, definitive diagnosis in most cases, a festering sore that gets more and more infected the older we get if left unchecked. It poisons our lives, and while the symptoms are sometimes there, we might never know the true source of the infection. It’s that little voice that whispers in the dark when we’re at our lowest, and you know what it says?

It says we’re not enough.

I cannot prevent the hurt I know my loved ones will feel. I cannot shield our children from pain, wouldn’t even know how to in most cases, and I will never have that kind of super-power (or, thank God, responsibility). I know that the hurt is necessary for learning and growth, and that it is uncomfortable. My hope is that I can help make it temporary and that what doesn’t kill them really does make them stronger – not in a false way, where they surround themselves with a shell of impenetrable ice, but in a way that they are still just as soft and vulnerable as ever, but proud and confident because they’ve survived the wound.

I want them to understand that it is 100,000% okay to fall apart, even if they need to fall apart multiple times. I want to be a safe place for them to do that. I want them to be so okay with who they are as a human and so secure in our love for them that they can ugly cry in public or sitting in our bathroom floor, and I want them to know that it is in that exact moment when their beauty and their strength shines through. I want them to know that when someone hurts them I want to tear that other person into a gazillion pieces and then tell God they died, but instead I’ll probably ask what kind of ice cream they want. I want them to know that if they truly need me to, I will step in and handle it, but that there are few instances in which they truly need me to step in to do that.

I hate the pain, but what I hate the most – what inspires the rage – is the thought that they might ever feel like they are not enough.

There is nothing on this earth that will make me go Old-Testament-reckoning on someone like anyone making someone I love feel that way.

I will end them.

(I will want to, even if I don’t do it. Jail is real, y’all. Jail is real. That’s why we have Jesus, friends, ice cream, chocolate, and sometimes even wine – in moderation.)

If you have ever felt that wound, if you feel it now, let me go ahead and tell you what someone should have said to you long ago.

You. Are. Enough.

You are not too much, you don’t fall short, you are plenty.

Sometimes, there are people who need to make an exit to make our lives better. Sometimes, we want things to work out that don’t, and it is devastating. Often, we have no idea what really happened or why, and usually, closure does not exist, but in Hemingway’s words, “isn’t it pretty to think” it does? (Go read The Sun Also Rises if you don’t know that reference. Educate yourself.) All of those things are hard lessons learned from hurt.

But you are enough.

I am still dealing with the rage. I cried while holding the crying child, and in the aftermath I’m still feeling a bit Red-Weddingish. (Just because I can’t watch it doesn’t mean my husband doesn’t keep me up to date.) This is what they mean when they say the struggle is real. I’m experiencing a raging moral dilemma, heavy on the rage.

I will get over it. Mercy is one of my gifts. Sometimes it takes a little longer, but we’ll get there in 12 steps or less.

Pray for me, y’all. I’ll be here eating chocolate while you do. Then go hug somebody and let them know they’re totally and completely enough.

*Thanks.*

close up photo of chocolate cupcake
Photo by Tina Nord on Pexels.com

 

 

My Anti-resolution

I have a confession.

I hate New Year’s resolutions. I hate them for me, I hate other people’s, and I think we should unite as a society and rise against them.

Also, it has taken me way too long to realize how fun it is to post a blog and hear my husband’s resultant sigh as his phone pings with a Twitter notification (this blog is attached to a Twitter account). He tolerates me. We like to bother each other. It keeps our marriage strong.

Back to the resolutions, though. Why do we pretend that the New Year is the best time to reinvent ourselves? Other than the fact that I am off work today and lounging in bed with my dogs, I don’t feel any different than I did yesterday. It is Tuesday. I am still 35. I still woke up to the smell of dog breath because our pug/boxer mix weaseled his way into becoming the little spoon. (His name is Duke, he is a shameless hussy, and for a dog we picked up out of the dust under a tobacco wagon, he has acclimated a little too well to blankets and pillows.)

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What I wake up to in the mornings: Duke, as little spoon.

 

I am the same person I was yesterday with the same job I had yesterday, the same issues, same quirks, and same foundational belief that separate bathrooms save marriages and that no matter what people may tell me, beets are gross and taste like dirt regardless of how they are prepared.

I guess I hate resolutions because part of my job is to teach people how to set goals for themselves and then how to reach them, what it takes to stick with one and realize that motivation is a myth, achieving anything worthwhile is going to take a lot of baby steps and failures, will suck at some point, and is often completely un-fun, and because the veneer of most resolutions is chintzy.

Resolutions are gold-plated lug nuts sold as diamond rings. They require work, dedication, purpose, and the assistance of several other pieces of hardware that tend to go unnoticed in order to perform the function for which they were created. But people toss them around like confetti, then hope that by the third week of January the book will have written itself, the relationship will transform into a true-love story for the ages after three whole ‘dates’ without the kids, said kids would altruistically wash the dishes without being asked, and that kale will magically taste like cotton-candy drizzled with chocolate.

It sounds fantastic.

I’m sure this year everything will be different and by January 21st, or February 1st, or even by July everyone’s resolutions will still be in full swing, new habits will have been formed, and 2019 will be the year everyone’s life will be transformed. The chrysalis spun on January 1, 2019, will have helped everyone metamorphose into the butterfly they were created to be.

Cool.

I have another confession: I doubt it.

I think kale will still taste like kale by January 21st, the idea of the resolution will still be a good one but the execution will have been too difficult (read: inconvenient) to be sustainable. The shiny gold plating on the lug nut will have started to flake off under the torque of guilt resulting from not being able to make it more than a week or two without backsliding.

I could spend another 364 blog posts on how to set goals and actually achieve them, which takes not just resolve but also grit, accountability partners, feedback, self-discipline. Those, in turn, take the courage needed to ask for help, the humility necessary for admitting we need help and that we are not Disney princesses or super-heroes regardless of what we post on social media, the fortitude to be honest and transparent even when it hurts like hell, and the grace and kindness – for ourselves and those around us – to admit out loud that we do not appreciate some of the feedback given but we can respect the person and the heart giving it. Then it takes the deliberateness of choice to move forward with that same person or persons and maintain accountability and relationship with them. All of that relies on a vulnerability that is not comfortable and on having good people in our lives who, though flawed themselves, love us enough to tell the truth with kindness.

Very few people know how to do the latter. Very few resolutions succeed because of it.

Instead of dedicating 2019 to writing something that the self-help gurus have already done (and whose editors made sure they did it quite well), I’m going in a different direction.

What if, instead of resolutions – rather than building a better beach bod, forcing ourselves to write for at least 30 minutes every day, drinking a gallon of warm flower water every morning, solving the world hunger problem, or inventing something that can warn us every time we’re getting ready to step on a lego that shouldn’t be in the floor – what if we spent more time being grateful for right now?

For example, I write quite a bit about my issues, which frustrate me, but I am incredibly spoiled. I am loved. I have experienced hardship, but less so than several of my employees, my friends, even my husband (we lost his dad in September). Our dog is a shameless hussy and he has to be walked for at lease two miles every day in order to prevent him from becoming spastic – also because he refuses to poop in our yard or within a 500-yard radius – but he keeps us healthier than we would be without him and he is always happy to see us. How special is it that there is a creature on this planet who is fulfilled simply because I exist?

What if we spent more time dwelling on thoughts like that? What if, rather than a resolution based on who we want to be, we appreciate who we are and what we already bring to the table?

It took me over a decade to get here, but I realized recently that I have arrived at a place in my life where I love me some me. I don’t mean my ego is out of control – I try not to tell people how much I like me. I mean I’m pretty comfortable with who I am. I can admit my faults. I have started to get to know other women and stay out of the trap of comparison (a trap every girl and woman falls into and one that is almost impossible to stay out of) and instead appreciate that they offer something as a human that maybe I don’t, and rather than feeling the guilt of not measuring up to an imaginary standard I created for myself, I think it’s awesome! I am confident. I am less worried about appearances and what other people think of me than I’ve ever been, because I have learned over time that (a) it is none of my business what other people think of me and that (b) I have no control over it, anyway.

There is freedom in that place like I’ve never known.

What if we spent 2019 focused on what’s good about now? What would that look like?

I resolve not to set a resolution, then. Instead, I want to throw myself shamelessly at life the way Duke throws himself at the nearest human if he thinks he can get a belly rub. I want to wallow in it the way he wallows in the bed.

It’s good to have goals.

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Shameless hussy.
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Yes, that is my pillow, my blankets, my bed. He does this all the time when we’re not looking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(As a side note, I do want to write more and see what I can do with this blog. I already have a notebook or journal – or ten – in most of the rooms in the house. It won’t be a stretch. Plus, it posts to my husband’s Twitter feed. I think he secretly loves the notification.)

 

The Best of Both Diets – a New Year’s Post

It is New Year’s Eve, 2018. If the idiots people down the road would stop setting off fireworks 48 minutes before midnight, I would be asleep right now. Hey, it’s been a new year in several other countries for well over 24 hours, already, so I don’t need any judgment. *Thanks.*

I’m ringing in 2019 with mysterious, full-body hives, allergies that decided to hulk up and overpower the prescription-strength meds I have to take twice a day – year-round – for them, muscle cramps in my arms, back, and legs that feel like someone hooked the electrodes of a contraction simulator to me when I wasn’t looking (then turned it up full blast) and bone pain. There isn’t much more to say about bone pain. Anyone who has felt it knows there is nothing like it – in a bad way – and anyone who hasn’t would think I was exaggerating.

All of this is, sadly, normal for me. I don’t mean all of my symptoms are constant and unchanging. No; that would be too easy. The symptoms are rarely ever the same from day to day unless I’ve let things get so bad that I’m in a full-on flare up, and the only thing that can stop that is Jesus and a hefty dose of steroids. (Please don’t message me and tell me about how your cousin’s sister-in-law’s brother’s girlfriend’s dad’s best friend’s godson cured his GI disease with a mixture of probiotics and platypus extract enhanced with the DNA of 17 different dinosaur species and that the first month of the subscription to the product is half off the original price – or any other variation of that. Just don’t.)

It is normal for my system to get so out of whack after the holidays. Basically, it becomes toxic.

I don’t mean like when a person goes septic, although if I pretended I didn’t notice any changes in my body and went on about life I could get to that point pretty easily.

I mean toxic. My red and white blood cells are living in a smoggy atmosphere that rivals India’s most polluted cities or the sludge of the Ganges River. My guts have never been the kind I could trust. And one of our dogs keeps sniffing my right eye, then licking it and growling, then backing away. That’s probably not good.

When I get to this point, I do what any trendy American would do – I detox via herbal teas and a new, raw/organic, cost-inefficient diet. There are those who ask, “If you can change your diet to get better, why don’t you just eat that way all the time so you don’t feel bad to begin with?”

That is a great question.

I like to counter it with one of my own: have you ever tried feeding a healthy, mostly raw, organic diet to a high functioning child on the spectrum whose sensory indicators manifest themselves not only tactilely and visually but also gastronomically, and who loves tomatoes and peas but no other vegetables, considers dessert an emotionally non-negotiable and non-optional staple, Little Debbie cakes well-rounded breakfast food, refuses to eat protein unless it’s a $25 New York Strip or country-style ribs – and occasionally chicken but only if it is literally covered in bread/pasta or at least served with a surplus of it – while also feeding two other grown adults, three dogs with special dietary needs (because we can’t just have a normal dog who eats the Ol Roy from TSC), and occasionally an 18-year-old girl claiming to be your eldest even though she shows up only once or twice per month, all while sticking to a strict grocery budget of preferably less than $1,000 for the month even though nothing is in season because it has been one of the wettest years to date in the area so winter produce suffered, and oh I forgot to mention it but for a family of four who tends to be on-the-go 24/7, all while juggling the exhaustion that comes from working a full-time job, parenting, and battling the fatigue of auto-immune issues? No? Huh. Weird. It is super fun, especially when the groceries still have to be made into actual, edible dinners. If you love adventure, hate having money in your bank account, if the good Lord needs to sand off some of those “rough edges” your church family talks about, or if you’re simply a masochist bent on seeing how much frustration you can handle before you become obsessed with total self-annihilation, well – have I got a deal for you! And as Effie Trinket likes to say, may the odds be ever in your favor.

Here’s the other reason why I don’t eat that way all the time, and it’s even better!

I have chronic diverticulitis and I have Crohn’s disease, which means my immune system is trash and my body can’t figure out the difference between good stuff and bad stuff so it likes to wage war upon itself in a “kill ’em all” kind of way. Apparently, having the two together is fairly rare. I am either a unicorn or a chupacabra. Or a chupacorn, or a unicabra. Or it fluctuates. I haven’t decided.

The diets for those two conditions are completely different. One is high-fiber, with large quantities of whole grains, seeds, and nuts thrown into it, while the other is low- to no-fiber with zero whole grains, seeds, or nuts.

Here’s the catch: if I eat either one of those diets, it exacerbates the other condition. It is lose-lose. Basically, food is trying to kill me.

potatoes fun knife fork
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

That is melodramatic. I won’t actually die because of the food.

Probably.

I did get so malnourished once that I had to have IV nutrition, all the important vitamins/minerals, when I was in college. My mom drove me several hours one way so I could get the treatments, and we went multiple times. They could only do one or two per day. I would not give it five stars or recommend to a friend. It is more boring than trying to read an encyclopedia backwards, and liquid magnesium makes you feel like you’ve peed your pants, but the nurses don’t like it when the patients walk around the family waiting room with the IV stands attached to them and ask people where the bathroom is. Who knew?

I have to do something to cleanse my system but still have the energy to function. That means a full-on water fast is out of the question for the immediate future. So today, as my final act of 2018 related to my health, I decided to pull up the approved shopping/food lists for both diets and circle the items they both had in common. I received both lists from a GI specialist and I figure, if I eliminate the foods that are unique to one of the afore-mentioned lists but not both, and buy only what’s left after I have cross-referenced them, I’ll have a list of safe foods my defective GI tract can tolerate that are also healthy and will help me rebalance my PH levels and immune system. I. Am. Genius.

So far, I’m down to the following:

  • raw, organic, unsweetened peanut butter (creamy – no actual pieces of peanuts)
  • an occasional serving of poultry – twice a week is plenty
  • air.

Also, I hate peanuts and only tolerate the butter form, so I’m happy to live without the peanut butter.

What I’m saying is, I was able to narrow the lists down into one to make shopping manageable. (I’m working on being more positive… pray for me.)

On a good note, I am allowed to have some herbal teas and coffee is not considered blasphemous to the healthy lifestyle as long as I drink it black and have no more than one serving per day, which is not an actual serving in my world, but whatever. We have a new detox tea to give me some beverage options and I tried it this morning. My incredibly supportive and tolerant husband is even drinking it to help his body detox, too, in a sign of solidarity, and we came up with a nickname for it – a pet name, as it were.

We call it…

…wait for it…

…warm flower water.

white ceramic teacup on white surface
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Yes, it tastes exactly like it sounds.

So today, to wrap up 2018, I sat at my desk with my warm flower water, my healthy grocery list consisting of chicken and air, and a modem that wears a women’s US Size 7 ballet flat on the front so I don’t have to watch the blue and white lights blinking in chaotic anti-rhythm. It is leopard print, in case anyone is wondering. It’s a chic yet trendy modem. I don’t know if the sense of satisfaction I got from my decision was real or if it was the product of my hydrocortisone cream starting to kick in, but I feel new resolve about my health. I’m optimistic. I bet there are even more flavor combinations of warm flower water out there that I don’t even know about. My possibilities are endless!

And now, the fireworks have finally stopped, so I can sleep. May 2019 be the best year, yet, filled with enough flower water for everyone and copious everyday adventures!

toast party ball cheers
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