Emotional Thaw – From Sorrow to Strength

The goal is not just to feel better it’s also to get better at feeling! It really is OK to admit I’m not always fine all the time. When you ask me how I am, I may not always say OK. If you cannot bear my honest answer…I guess I hope that you won’t actually ask. I have no pat answer for you. I may however give you my best one, “In this moment, I am well!” I also may turn quickly away to hide my tears at the fact that someone actually asked that truly acted like they cared if you did. I met a man yesterday who had back surgery awhile ago. He still had an obvious limp. He does however feel a whole lot better right now than he did before and right after his surgery. It’s OK that he still shows some discomfort as he moves. We know he’s faced tremendous obstacles and pain. It may even be an amazing triumph that he is walking today here and now. For that I’m really grateful. Sometimes I wish others who seem impatient with me would think on this level about us. Facing a homicide especially with five little sons in tow is no easy thing. We had to learn to walk and talk and even at times breathe again. The anxiety sometimes that we have faced has been a roller coaster of emotions. There’s a lot of retraining my brain in daily situations to convince myself that normal people are safe. That people don’t mean ill even if they act like it. So I look constantly to God….I at least know for sure He is safe. Today God took me to Psalm 84 and I loved it. It so describes where I’m at right now in my journey. I’ll write more about that in a bit.

I continue to learn that feeling; honestly feeling is really vital to my good healthy existence. Post trauma in my healing and growing process being honest and willing to feel emotions as they come is at times gut wrenching and painful and also often involves deep compassion for my children, myself and for others. I face triggers I would have never guessed would assault me and am ignored by humans I never dreamt could do so. My pain is often to deep for tears or words, groans are all I can muster. When a mother has to watch children suffer…emotions rise that are hard to explain. I’d love to repress and fall back to old coping mechanisms of disassociation and flight. My need to be ultra responsible for my young tribe of sons keeps my guard up. Sometimes I long for the time and place to fall apart. Can I admit I’d like that? Would it do me any good? I don’t really know. Its something I fantasize about. Forget cars, fancy things, or a dream house…I just want a few hours or days of blissful freedom to fall apart completely. I think that would do me some good. Maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe it would be a turning point in my healing. Like vomiting out the toxic crud. Somebody little is always an audience here. While I love being their role model, it’s tough to always be on display…my children are my first priority and I don’t let them down. They see me hurting, but never totally fall apart. They know I cry. Not often, but we all get reminders of our dear Daddy at times. Watching children go through grief is really tough at times and each of mine present it so very differently.

Today over two years after my husbands death my second oldest and I placed flowers on my husbands grave and he saw me weep. I asked him what he missed most, he said he didn’t know. Together we both said being a family. Interesting that we both don’t feel that lack of a family element but how much more solid he made our actual family. I leaned down and brushed the pine needles off his handsome headstone and took some branches off his ‘area’. I said aloud, I felt like I needed to make his bed. Its sort of odd but true. I truly miss my husband. His empty chair, his empty bed, his empty clothes, his absent smiles and laughter. The feel of my hands through his beard. Today I picked pine needles off his bed and wanted to find a rag to shine the rock that bears his name. The most solid thing of his I have to touch. It’s really not fair and I don’t like it at all. Its OK to not like it. Its OK to be sad or even angry at times. What happened to us never should have. I’m OK with being off kilter some days that is part of my sorrow. I find the better I embrace my pain the more I grow and can go forward. It’s OK to kneel at a headstone now and then to cry my tears and get wet dirty knees. When my forehead has a dent in it from the front edge of the stone and my belly hurts from sobbing I use a funky plant stand nearby to rise to my feet and go on with my day. Remarkably I also feel so much better for letting it out. God gave us tears for a reason…the release is powerful.

The other day I was driving down the road and I saw a couch on the curb. It look just like the couch he owned when I met him. We didn’t get much time alone, he and I. Our ‘true dates’ without my three boys from previous were always around which was fine with both of us. We’d spent quite a bit of time together at the coffee shop but not really alone per se. When we did get a couple of times on our own though we met at his place and enjoyed a meal and the fireplace and there we sat leg to leg on his couch. A couch that looked just like the one I was passing on the side of the road. Wow! It got me. It got me so much I had to pull over and weep. I wept at the loving bond we had created there in those moments, that led to a family growing and a Daddy’s legacy today. I purposefully sat and let my mind travel back through the memories. I had been quite timid on the dating scene and he knew it on my first visit to his home. We chose seats across from each other chatting quietly and happily, then vibrantly with growing enthusiasm of topics we shared. We played musical chairs in my nervousness. I was bewildered with how to connect without connecting which really made no sense. As the evening air grew chill and after supper had been cleared away and dishes done my someday to be husband sat down almost on the same cushion as I on the couch and I didn’t move away. I think he was surprised. Maybe it was the restful glow of the fireplace and the warmth and kindness of his presence radiating all around. Somehow I let it happen and we were leg to leg and shoulder to shoulder. For the next couple of dates we sat just like that right there on his couch and our love grew. Couches go away in time…love goes on. I’m thankful for all the love he left behind. I’m thankful even for the painful memory to ponder the treasures of everything we shared. So I wept over the pain of it and I wept over the joy of what we’d had. From sorrow to sorrow they say because that really is just part of grieving. The beautiful thing though is that sorrow to sorrow has led me to plant my feet more deeply on the solid ground of faith which as I found today becomes strength to strength. Ironically that made me cry too.

When I was led to Psalm 84 today I was amazed at how it parallels my life right now. I’m in the middle of a 40 day prayer journey a commitment I made to meet my Father God intentionally daily to learn and grow in a specific area. Oh, how much I have benefited from doing this. I will absolutely be starting another such journey as soon as this one ends. It is just like my 7 day prayer march just multiplied in length and wow are the results intensified and multiplied also. I’m so grateful that God comes in close and individual and meets with us. Oh, how he shows His love!! When I sat down today and pulled up both of our seats, both God’s and mine, He asked me to read Him a Psalm and so I reached for my Bible and paged open directly to #84 I asked, “this one?” “Yes.” God said.

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord…My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home where she may give her young a place near your altar. (Oh, my heart)my babies) Blessed are those who find their strength in You, whose hearts are on a pilgrimage as they pass through the valley of weeping…(sob)they go from strength to strength(fist punch air) til they reach God in Zion. Look on me with favor oh, God. Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;(absolutely) the Lord bestows favor and honor on His anointed one and no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty! Blessed is the one who trusts in YOU!! (My highlights)

How special it is to be in Gods presence, I never want to leave. I climb out of bed every morning delighted to go meet with Him. Sometimes I feel like I ought to rush or I tidy some things on the way or prep some work things…and His voice woos me…come here let me love you. Those things will wait. “What?” He asks, “Do you love coffee more than me?” When I go sit in His presence and be still He speaks and my heart settles and I weep and I laugh and I am challenged and changed. I rise every day different, new, fresh and refreshed. I am not loved any more than before…I just know it now more than ever before. I am on a pilgrimage through a valley of weeping. I am in sorrow, but I am not really all that sad. I am changing, a new path is being laid out before me and I have strength to meet each days demands. I have the favor of the Lord and I am so very blessed! I’m so glad I get to trust Him through this valley.

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