and then he punched me.

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I remember one time standing in the shower with my head against the wall, the tears streaming down. I was broken in half, the months upon months of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, constant diarrhea because my body was screaming to get out. The two images stuck in my brain where the tiny mole on your pinky finger and how I hated to think of another woman loving it as much as I did...the other image flickering through my mind was when you punched me so hard I couldn’t close my mouth for a week. That hand with the sweet pinky mole brought me frozen peas and broccoli to try and bring the swelling down and I don’t know how to process the dichotomy of those two extremes in one human being. The two extremes of how you loved me so gently, and also tore my soul to shreds so easily. How could you be both those things in one man – and how could I love someone who healed me, and hurt me, all in the same movements.

 

It’s hard to put into words how difficult it was to learn why so many people don’t leave when the two images in your brain are such polar opposites that it rips your heart out of your body and also shames your heart out of your own being. I’m a strong, confident, established woman, yet here I am, under blankets, with ice on my face being held by the man I was going to marry. One thing so beautiful, one thing so frightening. The choice isn’t as easy as you may think it is. I wish I could say I left right away – but I didn’t. Those profound bonds that make you cry in the shower months later over another person possibly loving the human attached to a pinky finger, are the same bonds that make you call your best friend on the floor of your closet, crying, saying, “He swears he won’t do it again. He’s broken over this. I deserved it. It’s okay. My jaw isn’t bruised that bad. I’m sure a liquid diet will be good for me… right?” That bond is scary. You hate the abuse. But you hope… endlessly, recklessly, that the man you love, will wake up one day, changed. And that hope can be powerful in staying. Even when your friends, your family, your therapist, even your body and the physical signs of back pain, a horrible digestive system, and no desire for sex with that person, tell you to get out. That smoke and mirrors hope, distorts it all.

 

That same pinky finger that I had such a soft spot for was also the one that came together with four other fingers and made itself into a fist that left my jaw bruised and never quite the same. I was never quite the same. I wrestled with myself more than I did with him. He didn’t mean it. I made him angry. He had been drinking. He was stressed. I stayed... But, love isn’t supposed to hurt I thought. I stayed for months after, waiting for another blow. Waiting for him to be gentle, and kind, and safe.

Neither came. And it didn’t take another blow for me to wake up one day, and realize the hope I’d had for him, for us, was nothing but a delusion. I was sitting at work, reading through 500 pages of training to start volunteering at a domestic violence shelter. And I could feel the tears coming. I could feel my face reddening. I felt exposed.

This is me. These are the lies I’ve told myself. These are the cycles. These…women…. are me. So, I left. And stumbled out. I saw him again. I kissed him again. I picked up his calls and his texts and tried to forgive him. It wasn’t a clean break, I didn’t know how to do it any other way. But I slowly, walked myself out, and picked up the pieces of love and anger and all the juxtaposition inside of myself regarding what love, and being hurt, and abused looked like. And I sifted it like sand. Terrified. Screaming. Crying out for what had been stolen in my love and my confusion of hope for him. Strong women held me together as I felt like I was being ripped apart. They showed me gentleness, and that sometimes rage was necessary. They kissed my jaw, and head and didn’t judge. They listened, and even when they didn’t understand, gave me more compassion than I deserved.

 

It’s so easy to judge until you’re there. So easy to misunderstand until you’re there. I remember hearing women’s stories of domestic violence and being like, ‘Come on! I’d leave SO FAST.’ And then it was me, with cold packs, and peas, and a straw to drink from. Then it wasn’t quite so easy as I thought it would be, from before my jaw was unhinged. It’s easy to have an opinion until its real life standing in front of you. It’s easy to know what you’d do, until you actually have to make that choice.

 

I work with domestic violence victims now, I see my own reflection in their eyes far too well. I know the desperation for peace, the desperation to simply be loved easily by their significant other. I have had that ache. I remember that place of crying out in the shower, clawing down your own skin wishing you could tear yourself out of your own body of confusion.  And I have lived through what it feels like to leave, and rebuild, and still once in a while, feel that jaw pain, that’s never quite healed.

 

Be tender with each other. Have grace for the ones whose journeys don’t make sense to you. It probably doesn’t make sense to them either. We all need more love than we even know how to admit. I hope this experience has softened me, maybe that’s the most beautiful piece that’s available to you to take for your own after something unjust and painful and unfair – a deeper level of softness, towards yourself, and others.

I struggled to write this. Feeling like my story wasn’t bad enough/traumatic enough/violent enough to warrant my voice towards it. But I also know that there is room for all stories at the table. No matter what, it changed me, awakened me, scarred me and softened me. Your story is yours – with its horror, with its sadness and beauty and redemption and softening – don’t exclude yourself from telling it. It needs to be heard, even if you wrestle with its value the way I did. Maybe, just maybe, one person will hear it and not feel quite so alone.

(This story originally appeared at Love What Matters. Here is the link to their posted article: https://www.lovewhatmatters.com/he-swears-he-wont-do-it-again-hes-broken-over-this-i-deserved-it-its-okay-my-jaw-isnt-bruised-that-bad/?fbclid=IwAR2Vji1j6PvQmO1vJufvL2AslqaGhcYK6fwMrs3c3jKcimQd3xQ7y2EGeM4 )

remember this.

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i am not a stop on the way to something greater

i am not the quick doctor visit to bandage your open wounds

or the witch in the woods with magic in her blood.

i am not the aftermath

--from the great love

i am not second best or second thought,

i am not a vacation

or holiday

or hiding place

i am the final destination

the home you’ve always been searching for.

the safe place to land.

i am the journey you are on

not just a quick chapter.

i am not an escape,

an illusion,

a fantasy

i am all that is breakingly vulnerable, achingly magnetic, magnificently tender,

Real.

depression in spain

Spain! The most beautiful place. Sea all around me, wine flowing, the language I love, my sweet mother; not a care in the world. Yet… I couldn’t get out of bed some of the days. I’d cry on and off, all day somedays. From walking down the streets, to laying on the couch, trying to hold back tears as I ordered a tea or said hello to the guard. I get it. I get the feeling of ‘what the heck is wrong with me! Why am I so overwhelmingly sad?! I shouldn’t be sad. I shouldn’t feel this way. Why am I even sad? What the fuck is wrong with me?’

To the man I almost loved

For once, I am picking me. I am tearing my softness away from you, from the warmth of your arms, in order to find someone else who will put me above their ache. 

I am leaving so I can find someone who will search my eyes for the questions. 

Who will find my laugh lines and ask the stories behind them. 

control

Maybe instead I should replace the grasping and grabbing with tenderness. Actual tenderness. Tenderness that calms me. Instead of being so stressed that I’m running late for work and taking it out on the coffee lady (who has no control over my life either) maybe I should just breathe and be kind to her. Maybe instead of taking out all my annoyance on my roommate because I’m stressed over a school project, I should ask her how she really is. 

Tenderness

My yoga instructor always says, at the end of each class, “The light in me honors the light in you. We are here on this earth to heal ourselves and then help heal each other.” We are all so connected. We need each other so desperately. If I actually realized how deeply I’m connected to the lady who makes my coffee, or my bartender, or sister, or the black kid who was recently shot, or the cop that just died in Alaska, it would change everything. 

depression and fainting

But somehow I haven't quite learned how to do that when the dark, cinema screen of depression closes in, just as fast and twice as painfully. Why can’t I seem to learn it and outsmart it the way I can when the darkness starts in on me physically? I haven't learned how to emotionally put my head between my legs and let the oxygen get back to my heart. Instead I sit in the darkness as it closes in and instead of fainting, I’m fully aware of the sadness that sits like a rock on my chest. Instead of losing consciousness, I don’t sleep at all.

She

Sometimes we need letters and reminders when we left. What we believe in, and what we believe we deserve. This is for you, sister, friend, daughter, mother. You are not alone. Rise up, and fight for the love that awaits you. 

CUBA!

SO YOU WANNA GO TO CUBA? I thought I'd write up a little how to/tips and tricks/pics and experiences from my recent Havana excursion! Feel free to message me on my 'contact' page with any questions! AND GO TO CUBA! It's really THAT amazing! 

Hineni.

Here I am to the pain,
to the beauty, 
to the change and transition. 
Here I am to what may come next, though I do not know or understand. 
Here I am to encountering the divine. 
Here I am to joy and sorrow. 
I will be fully present. 
I will be fully here in this moment, in a stance of full vulnerability and access. 

sing, my little canary soul.

If you're like me, and you live your life at a higher emotional frequency, a higher level of intimacy and vulnerability, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re the brave one in this story – not the foolish one (though I know you constantly feel like one.)

terrifying. messy. holy. healing.

I'm so over trying to pretend life isn't breaking all our bones and still causing us to find beauty and laughter and contentment. I'm over the game of 'I'm fine. It's fine.'

I want the real. I'm utterly convinced that the thing...the ONLY thing that will save our hearts, save our minds and souls and spirits and bring us into the kinship and 'knowing' that our hearts were created for, is vulnerability. 

6 months after the accident

My body still hurts tremendously some days. I still white-knuckle the car door when anyone else is driving. I still cry before bed sometimes thinking about it. The scar is still very prominent across my entire right collarbone. I still think, “what if?” But at the end of the day, I am alive. With a testimony. God’s goodness is real, and tangible, and true, and beautiful. And I still wrestle with my faith on my bad days, but I fall asleep knowing the beauty of God is real and deeper than any of my fears or failures or doubts.

listen to your gut.

I held the hammer, and then I had to hold the glue. Both the devastator and the healer, in my own body – in my own soul. I left my heart behind in the ruthless search for love and compromise. I silenced a part of myself I never want silenced again. It’s funny how you can destroy yourself so quickly; the process is almost instantaneous…yet piecing yourself back together is a painstakingly long process

plan b. plan me.

But along the way somehow, choosing plan B and, in a way, holding it against my heart and saying, "I WILL choose you. I WILL be thankful for you. I WILL make you plan A in my heart, even though I'm still grieving the real plan A. There HAS to be reason for this. Maybe Plan B will save my life."

broken bones. broken hearts.

The problem is there are no x-rays for your heart. You can’t just say, “Well, I think that may be broken. Lets check for sure. Oh yeah! See that little cut on the x-ray? That means its broken in half.” If only we had that for our hearts. How simple it would be to simply look at a picture of our hearts and see all the little fractures and breaks and know exactly the area that needs to be cared for. But there are no x-rays for our souls, for our hearts, for the tenderness of our spirits.

Everyone wants to be Batman....

But really, there would be no Batman without Alfred. Some of the comic books refer to Alfred as, “Batman’s batman”. Every outward hero needs someone else to be their hero behind closed doors. Batman wouldn’t be Batman, without his own Batman – his own hero and savior – Alfred.

Raising Your Dreams From the Dead

I know God is good, He is always faithful, even when we see no hope, even when it is just death lying in front of us. I will not move from this place of belief until my dreams arise from the grave. I will lie on top of them, arms stretched out, covering every inch of them as my tears, and breath and being cover them.

Love is Vulnerable: The Little People

I watch them come back to life.
Time after time after time after time.
They don’t want the medicine, or doctors, or food.
They want tenderness, and kindness, and gentleness.
They want joy and excitement and laughter.
It’s so vulnerable.
To lay it all down and say… the only thing left is love, and it is the most important thing of all.

When Your Heart Has 3rd Degree Burns

We all want to avoid pain; avoid it at all costs. And once we’ve been hurt, the last thing we want to do is go in and examine the hurt. NO THANKS. But. We have to. I was talking to a friend the other day and we were discussing how vulnerable the process of working through pain is. She said, ‘it feels like a burn victim. The nurses and doctors have to literally scrub the burned skin off the person. Scrubbing the dead flesh off. Sometimes I feel like that