Monday, October 24, 2011

The me I don't want to be

Where once I felt shattered, I don't anymore. Where once I felt broken, I'm not.
And yet, I don't feel whole either.

How is that possible? How does that even make sense?
How is it that I can feel so much healing has taken place, so much recovery, and still feel the way I do?

For a week or two I sailed on golden seas. Everything was possible, anything could be done. I felt great, and it felt so good to feel good.

And then, I stepped into a deep hole. I climbed out, and kept walking forward, but every few steps, I drop back down a deep, deep hole. And just by admitting it, I feel guilty and fall down again. Because I who have been given so much, so much love, so many friends, so much healing, I should not feel this way. I should not be as low as I have ever been.

But I do. And it hurts.

I know part of what I'm struggling with are the food allergies I have and the way that is affecting my life. Each time I eat, I get sick. Painfully sick. Or, I can't breathe, which as you can imagine, isn't any fun either.

That is only part of the picture though, and I know that I can't blame everything on that. Through a lot of work and effort on my part, and some kind and helpful friends, I have learned to dig deeper and find the root of my lows. There is always an emotion triggering a relapse, and usually if I can identify and name the emotion and the cause of it, I can work through it and pull myself back together.

That was so much easier to write than it is to actually do, especially when there is more than one emotion and more than one source involved.

Still, I have to boil it down. .I have to unravel it. If I don't, it chokes me. And I'm tired of choking.

The past week or so has been exceptionally difficult. Yes, dealing with the food allergies has definitely been part of it. After several severe reactions lately, and getting sick after every time I eat, Ryan made me an appointment to go in and see an allergist.  Turns out I am allergic to more than I thought I was and everything that didn't show up on the skin prick test is still making me painfully sick every time I eat.

I'm angry. I'm tired of being sick. I just want to feel good. What is so wrong with that?

I just want butter and sour cream on my potatoes. I want to eat a bite or two of sinfully delicious ice cream. I want to enjoy a mouthful of chewy sourdough bread. I want to take the buttermilk in the fridge and make some fluffy pancakes or tender, flaky biscuits shaped into hearts for my kids. I want to make some tangy Orange Chicken for Amanda and then sit and enjoy eating it with her. I want to dip strawberries in Val's homemade chocolate ganache and in every bite, find more love.

I want to make gingerbread cookies with my kids, and sour cream cookies for the neighbors. I want to make omelets and crepes and have friends over for breakfast. I want to help Mercy make Monkey Bread like we do every year for Thanksgiving, and sit and share the first loaf with her and Ryan when it comes out of the oven.  I want the Reeses Peanut Butter cookies Mom Mel made growing up. I want to be able to bake a birthday cake for my kids without dying.

I'm angry. And I'm grieving. And I'm empty and hollow.  And I feel like I've lost a part of me.

Food isn't just about eating. Not for me. It's the joy of making something good and sharing it with someone I love. It's the memories for my kids as I make a dinner they love and then draw pictures on their plate with sour cream. It's the time I spend in the kitchen unravelling my thoughts as I do something so comforting and assuring as melting butter, whipping cream, folding egg whites, or measuring flour.

Like it or not, my memories are often tied to food. The rye sandwich my brother and I shared in Disneyland, and the hamburger he bought me after they got back from the theatre. It was my first time on a plane, first trip to the ocean, times I'll always remember, food I'll never forget.  The french fries and frosty shakes I shared with Ryan after the dance. The barbecue sauce on the ribs - our first date. The spaghetti that was for dinner the night we first kissed. The steak at Carver's, the lobster dipped in butter while we were in Boston, trying to make things work in our failing marriage.  The loaded potato skins, baked potato soup, caramel apple crisp and heavenly cheesecake we'd share as we repaired our relationship.

Candy sticks from Harmon's with Dad, and sometimes ice cream cones while we shopped for Sunday morning cereal. The dinner he complained about after I made it especially for him. The chicken fried steak I refused to eat after he bought it for me (because I thought it looked like worms). The pineapple shake I hated that he bought in anger because he couldn't hear me as I requested another flavor.

Basil and swedish meatballs are joined at the hip with memories of Danielle. Without her, I wouldn't know what a tomato concasse is, or how to properly blanch broccoli. Paring knives, pomegranates, and orange rolls immediately make me think of Mom Mel, not to mention Pot Pie, warm white bread, and slumgolium. Brenda is tied to peaches, and Debbie - twice baked potatoes and cabbage salad. Jason is forever tied to Banana Bread, and yellow Zingers to Barb, Jared, and Hossie. I know in a pinch, Eliza will always love a well made Homemade Hostess Cupcake. And because I make them, Mercy is proud.

Cooking is love to me. If I bake, you know I love you. If I make something you like, It's almost a hug.

It's not just what I can give to others, or what I remember others for, it's for me too. It's something with constants in a constantly changing world. It's something I can count on when I can't even count on myself.  It's something I know I do well when I feel like I fail at most everything else.

Why can't I just keep this one good part of me?

But, that's not all. I know it's not. Food and all it represents both in eating and being taken away from me is not all I'm struggling with. It's not the real reason I'm falling into holes with each step I take. It's an extension of the root of what I feel.

It's rejection. Rejection by those I love most. Rejection of what I have to offer. Rejection because I'm not good enough. Rejection because I mess up.

Loss. Of friendship. Of trust. Of hope.

And fear. Fear that I won't be accepted. Fear that I'll be rejected again. Fear I can't even verbalize.

Somehow my heart or brain is saying that since I'm not shattered, I should be whole. Since I'm not drowning, I should be good. I should be able. I should be likeable, at least to myself. But what I see is someone who although not shattered still holds the same hurtful heart within her chest. The one that never sees her mistakes until it's too late because she's messed up again. Hurt someone again. Or ruined something again.

How can I fix it all? How can I get past the me I see? How can I believe that it will ever feel right? That I'll ever get it right? That I'll ever be good enough?

I guess you could say, I'm rejecting me. And everyone I see.
Because I see in them a reflection of myself.

The me I don't want to be.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

True Friends...

I can't begin to tell you how healing the past month has been for me, or how good it feels to feel good.  Somehow, some way, I know that I have turned a corner. My soul has been touched, and some of the gaping wounds in my heart have been closed up. Sometimes I just sit and reflect in wonder and amazement at the difference, at why there has been such a difference, and at the difference one person can make.

True, some things still hurt. Some parts of my heart still feel new and tender... but I think that there is nothing wrong with remembering the pain, for it makes us appreciate the love and healing more fully.

I have truly been blessed, not once, but many times, with the "cream of the crop" as friends in my life. You have each taught me something... but some of you have been there for me and helped me in more ways than you could ever know, and more ways than I ever could have dreamed or asked for.

To my particular friend from years ago, you know who you are... thank you for believing in me more than I believed in myself. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction. Thank you for loving me, and through that, helping me see the things I needed to see. I miss you.

To my brother Joe, his wives and children. You are the ones who have never left my side. Thank you for loving me fully and truly. Thank you for your encouragement, your love, and your help. I am so proud of you, and also still a bit incredulous that you count me as a close friend in your life.

To the friend I never expected to have. You deserve more love than you could ever imagine, and more than you could ever hope for. The people in your life that don't know that, just don't know you - and they have missed out on so much.  Thank you for helping me to forgive.  Thank you for helping me feel, for the first time in what seems like forever, that I wasn't broken anymore. You are truly a gift and one I treasure.
 
And last but not least, to Ryan, my best friend, the one who knows me inside and out ... and yet loves me still. Thank you for choosing me again. Thank you for making sure I know I matter, for making sure I know you care.  You've held me together when I've been shattered to pieces. Your heart has wrapped around mine and kept it beating more times than one. You've never given up on me and I don't understand why - but I'm grateful. Father in Heaven knew what he was doing when he blessed me with you, you are exactly what I need. I only hope I can be as much to you and more, because you deserve it.   I love you without end, and just when I think I love you as much as I could ever love anyone, I fall in love with you all over again.  Thank you Ryan. LYM.

Rachel

Friday, October 7, 2011

Random Bits

Torn
When once I open up my heart and thrice it's ripped and torn
No wonder that I hide myself to keep it from the thorns.
And though I cannot say just how or why I try again
I seem to ask for punishment as blessings in the end.



Barbs
The bitter barbs I throw about
Eventually find their way
Although, I think I'm off the mark,
...they're landing on my face.



Anthems of the Heart
And though the notes swoon to and fro
And pierce my laden breast
How is it that you cannot hear
The anthems as they crest?


The Fool
The jesters hat I shun to wear
The crown of grace I plea...
And still when all is said and done
The fool I seem to be.

 

 


 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Missing you...

What hope once bound with love anew 
Is crushed and bleeding, love withdrew.
Yet a glimmer of hope still beckons true, 
Indeed, this story is not yet through.
For when we walk with courageous steps, forward, upward, from our depths, 
We'll find an energy renewed from conscious effort aft review.
And when friendship's fragile hand no longer reaches to our land, the memory of its tender touch 
Will either hurt, or lift us up, to greater heights than previous knew.
Will we walk with steadfast faith, 
That love's great labor, once engaged, will find our heart again, and true.
For still, my heart is missing you.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The heart of the matter...

All I want is to matter.
What's the matter with that?
Why does it matter?
How can I make it not matter?
Do I want it to not matter?
Why does not mattering make me madder?
Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist.
And when I don't matter, I don't exist.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Holes

I had a realization today that is still settling in, still tossing and turning around in my head.

I could feel it before I could say it.

I realized that sometimes having holes in a heart allows it to stretch farther and wider than it ever could before. I was amazed really, when I stopped and considered how one heart can wrap around and reach so many places... so many people. And thankful.

And once I began to think about it, I was left with tears streaming down my face. Tears, because for all the holes my heart has, it is still worth something. And for all the pain I watch in others, there is still good that comes of it.

It is God's gift really, and it made me think that the holes in our Saviors hands and feet, and the wound in his side are just one one of the many ways he loves us, and heals us. It is a showing of the many gifts He gave us. Love. Repentance. Faith. Hope.

Who am I to be angry at the holes in my heart, when the Savior bore the suffering and pain of the world and everyone in it?

Something else occurred to me, too. I suddenly realized that because there are holes in my heart, they allow the pain to drain out. I could plug up the holes... but then I wouldn't be able to release the pain.

For once... I'm not angry that the holes are there, and the hurt isn't quite so great.

I am more able to forgive the ones who put so many of those holes there. I am more able to let go of the anger and rage at myself for not being complete, and perfectly without holes.

It feels good to let go.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Unloading...

Do you ever get to the point where you have so much rolling around in your heart and brain that none of them have an outlet? You try to write and you end up erasing your sentences and changing your topics as fast as you can type and delete?  I went to write a Facebook status update and ended up typing and deleting about 8 of them before I finally gave up.

It's not a matter of things being to difficult to process... or even xtreme in their need for processing, but more just the sheer number of things going on in my head at once. All of them important. All of them evoking emotion. All of them, all at once.

I'm trying to narrow it down to just one at a time so I can think it through, identify, process and resolve.

Easier said than done.

But I've got to do it... and all of cyberspace doesn't need or especially want to hear about every detail.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Slowly

Slowly, I am learning to be enough, to be okay with me.

Slowly, I am able to smile as I watch my boys alternately fight and play, scream and laugh.

Slowly, I am find myself being okay with just watching them, knowing I am here for them if they need or want to run to me, instead of filling myself with anxiety at how much they fight and how bad of a Mom I am.

Slowly, I am forgiving myself for drowning in postpartum depression after Jonnie was born.

Slowly, I am forgiving myself for not being able to give Braelin the one on one attention he neeeded as he had to learn to adjust to the new baby that took his place.

I am recognizing that they already have forgiven me. They still run to me and hug me, smiling, after I come home from a day at work.

They still want to sit on my lap and read stories in the rocking chair, still want to walk with me to the park.

Slowly, I am able to see the love my older kids still have for me. They have traded in that tiny child relationship for a pre-adult relationship, and while they may not run to hug me when I come home from work... they still smile when I make them dinner.

Slowly, I am able to see that even though my relationship with them is not the picture I had painted in my head... it is a good relationship still. 

I am recognizing that my daughter will still ask for help with homework when she needs it, and still hugs me tightly each morning and night... even if I was a little hard on her that day.

My son still, occasionally, talks for 20 minutes straight about one subject, even though I can only get one or two word answers from him any other time.

He'll still connects, albeit on his own terms, and I am slowly becoming okay with that.

Slowly, I am allowing me to see myself as something besides a horrible mom.

Slowly, I am able to see that the things I see myself lacking in have actually broadened their abilities and independence.

Slowly, I am seeing that the important thing isn't for me to have already done it right -- but for me to keep doing my best.

Slowly, I am finding an acceptance for me.

I like it. I am enough.


Be Enough Me

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Retreat

Retreat
Retreat

Retreat from it all
You're not throwing in the towel
Or leavin before

You're strong and courageous
You've weathered the storm
You're trying to hang on but
You've been here before

Retreat
Retreat

Give yourself room
You can't hold it inside
Those tears need to flow

You're more than the feelings
You've got locked inside
Look up and you'll make it
Give yourself room to cry

Retreat
Retreat

Take time to assess
A moment to breathe
A moment to rest

You're strong and courageous
You've weathered the storm
You're trying to hold on but
You've been here before

Retreat
Retreat


You don't have to be strong
It's okay to ask
For a moment alone

You're stronger for taking
A step back, to the side
Recharge and recover
Reflect and decide

Retreat



Monday, August 22, 2011

Perspective

Perspective
It changes your
View of the heartbreaks
The mirrors and pieces
And fragments, rearranges
The clouds in the sky
Filled with grey
Seem
So strange when you
Open your eyes and
The rain soaks the ground
And the crowds
Pass you by
'Cause your heart
Isn't weighed anymore
'Cause the rain
Washed the tears
From your face
When you 
Looked up
And saw the clouds
Race with the wind
And the storms
Out of place
When the trees never bend and
Perspective it changes
Your view
Of the tempest
The waves crashing 'round
Don't seem loud when the water
Surrounds
And the ocean of life
Catches you unawares with its
Beauty and grace
When the sun finds its place
With the waves
And the ocean, the breeze
And the trees
Turning gold as the
Sun starts to sink
And your pieces and
Fragments and heartbreak and storms
Turn to blue
Your perspective is fresh
And its clean and its new
And your eyes fill with tears
Of contentment and years
Seem to fade and to wash
With the love that was given
Perspective
It changes within.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Things I Can't Say...

Tears fall and I can't help it. My heart aches and it hurts to remember, to feel, and yet 
I can't stop feeling. 
I've tried over the years to not let this part of my heart hurt, or remember... 
but how could I ever expect it to forget?

And so, when it is three days after my own daughter's birthday...
five days after Ryan's...
the 20th of July, October 6th, each January, every August...
always when it is the week of Thanksgiving... 
and with every Cowboy Christmas Tree I see...
and again tonight, and so many nights, when I have just looked through pictures of her boys with their grins and girlfriends and new fiancee, and her daughters with their beautiful faces, beautiful hair and beautiful eyes...
I cry. 

I cry, I cry, and I cry.

You see...
many years ago I had a friend, a beautiful friend. She was good, and strong. She was determined, and worked hard to do what she felt was right. She was a good mommy and fiercely protective of her babies. She put up with me because I married her husband's best friend... and then as time went on, there came a time when she actually loved me for me, and was a friend as friends should be. 

And then, 
her heart broke.
How could it not? Her babies went to heaven and part of her heart went with them. 
But what she didn't know was that my heart was broken too. 
I loved her babies, I loved her children. I loved her, and didn't know how to help her, didn't know how to take away her pain. How could I? How could anyone? 
Nobody can understand the pain a mother feels who has lost a child until one of their own returns home to heaven's arms. And nobody could understand my friend's pain, for she lost three. 

And so, as much as I tried, I didn't help her. I couldn't help her. And the more I tried, the more I hurt her. The more I reminded her that her babies were gone, and mine were still here. The more I reminded her that she was hurt, and that there was no way I could know, could understand, or could ever be enough of a friend.

She had been there for me through some of my own tough times, and now she needed a friend and 
I wasn't enough. I couldn't be.
In fact by trying, I pushed her farther and farther away. 

Her memories are different than mine. She remembers I put my baby down in front of her, hurting her more, twisting the knife that was already slicing through her heart, searing her with pain. 

I remember I left my baby home, even arguing with my husband because I refused to bring the baby with us. He didn't think it would matter, but I knew it would. 
I didn't want to hurt her, and so I wouldn't bring the baby. 
But in her memory, my baby was there anyway. 

She remembers that I left dishes in the sink, laundry on the floor, and folded the towels wrong. 
I remember that I cleaned the kitchen counters, folded the baskets of clothes, and cleaned up after 
her baby was born.

She remembers that I upset her kids, ruined her mop, and was tempted to leave my marriage, my love.
I remember that I babysat so she could have a break. I held her little boy while he whimpered in pain with a tube in his belly, praying for Jesus to help him know how much he was loved and to ease the pain. I remember that I worked hard to mop the floors and have her house clean when she came home, so that she could rest some more before their family came over to barbecue.
I remember that I didn't leave, that I learned to love more, and that 
I never once gave her reason to be ashamed.

I can't change her mind. She never thought to ask what I remembered, why, or what I was thinking. 
It doesn't matter.
But it does hurt. Still. 

How can I change her memory?
How can I take away that pain?
How can I take heal those hurts? They are bigger than me.

I tried. Believe me I tried. I tried everything from talking to her, to not talking to her, to reaching out to her, to staying out of her way, and everything I could think of in between. 

And that seemed to work the best. To stay away. To just stop coming around. To say hi from a distance, if we happened to meet. To stay away from her memories, away from her pain. To leave her to her hurts, her healing, and her new friends. 

And she has healed. She is still healing. 
She still loves, she still aches, but she is happy.
She enjoys life. 
She enjoys her kids.
She is still a good mommy.
And still fiercely protective. 
She is healthy, and beautiful, and loved.

Jesus brought her peace. He rocks her babies, and holds her heart in His hands when it feels like shattering. At least, that's what I believe.

She still doesn't understand me, and still doesn't believe that I didn't bring my baby to the viewing. 
In her memory, I still taunt. 
I still represent pain. 

I would suppose seeing me brings back waves of emotion, but I know better. 
She is past me. Past my friendship, however weak and meager it may have been. 

But there is one thing I cherish. A card she gave me with a floral wreath 
made into the shape of a heart, before her babies went to live in Heaven. 
Before I caused her so much pain.

Inside, it simply says, "Just because I love you. Thanks for being my best friend."

And if there is one thing I could say to her still, it would be this...

"I love you too. 
Thanks for teaching me so much.
I am glad you are happy. I am glad you found peace, and smiles, and joy. 
 I miss you."


With love,
Your Friend



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Princess Party

It's been a long month without Ry being home... and we sure are missing him.  He was sad he had to miss this birthday. Daisy was excited that his gift arrived in the mail right before the party started.  
We enjoyed having her friends helped her celebrate her birthday -- princess style. 

PS... A big Thank You to Cinderella for making her party awesome!







The roses were made from sticks of bubble gum. The beads were Strawberry Whoppers. 




Saturday, July 16, 2011

I could possibly be okay with this

Warning -- this is a bit long, and possibly boring. But -- it's my new reality. Just don't say I didn't forewarn you...

So you may or may not know that I have severe wheat and egg allergies. Kinda sucks. As in the "I-have-been-super-angry-about-this-for-months" kind of way. You see, I haven't always had these allergies. There are few things I like better than homemade bread straight out of the oven, slathered with butter. The crisp crust is delicious and the soft middle is heavenly. I love going to the grocery store right as they pull the french bread out of the oven. Just inhaling the aroma is a little bit of a high for me. I would get a loaf of it and eat the whole thing by myself. I love bread so much, I would pass up a platter of brownies just to enjoy a loaf of chewy sourdough bread, no jam or butter needed.

The problems started after baby #6.  Every time I ate something with whole wheat flour, my throat and belly would hurt, as though I had swallowed shards of glass, and it would become slightly swollen, as though I had a sore throat. The more whole wheat was involved, the worse the reaction, and as time went on, the reaction went from a sore throat to my throat closing off completely. Umm, scary! Until I figured out what was causing it, I just carried liquid Benadryl with me everywhere I went.

For a very long time, I could get away with white flour. White bread didn't bother my throat, but I soon found the next day my joints would ache and be very inflamed. I soon eliminated bread altogether and rarely ate baked goods, but you know me, I love to bake -- plus I was still in denial of how bad off the reaction really was. I would bake something up, have one little piece, and give the rest away to neighbors or friends so that it wouldn't be tempting me around the house. After a while, even that little bit was bothering me. I could take just one bite and feel my lips, tongue, and throat swelling immediately.  Once, Amanda ground some wheat in preparation to make some homemade wheat bread. I walked out in the kitchen and immediately my throat began to close off simply from the flour in the air. By the time I got back into my bedroom, I was laboring so hard to get enough air in that I couldn't even talk. Benadryl to the rescue.

If I had eggs, the reaction was also severe, which is sad since Eggs Benedict on toasted English Muffins with fresh tomatoes from the garden and creamy Hollandaise sauce is possibly one of my favorite meals ever.  For a long time I was still able to eat eggs in baked goods. The makeup of the protein in the eggs changes when heated, plus it was a small amount compared to eating a fried egg. Whether it's the flour or the eggs now, I don't know... but the combination of them both in baked goods is now deadly.

It is to the point that as tempting as that brownie looks, I cannot eat a single bite. My throat closes immediately, my lungs seize up, I get very light headed and dizzy. I am afraid the next time I eat something I will go into anaphylactic shock. Bad idea without an epi-pen handy.


Some have suggested I have celiac disease -- and I may. Typically, celiac disease will not produce such an immediate life threatening reaction. There is a big difference between the auto-immune response of celiac disease (a gluten intolerance) and the immunogloben iEg response from an actual allergy. Both are dangerous, both will wreck your life, but celiac disease doesn't usually swell your throat and tongue or give you itchy hives immediately. I'd like to know for sure what it is -- but that is going to have to wait til I have money to throw at blood tests and skin prick tests.  Especially because there are still a few other things I am suspecting as allergens as well. (Whey, for example.)

Either way - I have one answer. Don't eat it. Don't breathe it. Don't get it on your skin, and if you do - wash it off in a hurry.

Take a look at any of your baking recipes, or pantry staple ingredients. Remove the ones with flour and eggs. What do you get?  A whole lot of rice and beans.

Can you see why I am NOT excited about baking or cooking lately?

Well... there is hope. For the first time EVER I am excited about baking a wheat free, egg free cake.

 (Pause and shout for joy with me!!!)

I was in the health food store yesterday picking up some Alfalfa tablets, and noticed some incredible wheat free-egg free-soy free-everything free coconut macaroons and fudge truffle cake.  It looked so silky and smooth and delicious! One problem, - they wanted $7.49 for one tiny piece of cake!  (Prices are apparently lower if you buy direct from  www.rawmelissa.com)

But it got the wheels in my brain turning.  I have slowly been letting go of the anger about what I can't eat, and trying to accept the things I can eat. I've read blogs and I know there are alternative flours to use, and egg replacers. Eliza was even kind enough to go buy some egg replacer... but there was a major mental block that said "This is hard! This is unfair! I hate this! I am not okay with this!"

Besides, something about making french bread with rice flour just seems so wrong.  And how am I supposed to get a perfectly moist, perfectly flavored Homemade Hostess Cupcake without flour or eggs?  Moist layered cakes with amazing flavor combinations are one of my favorite things to make!

Well... get ready for a whole new revolution of what a layered cake looks like. I looked at the ingredients for Raw Melissa's truffle cake, and remembered the "raw cake" a friend makes using almonds and cocoa. I looked online for some other recipes, and the more I look... the more excited I get.

Watch out world, because I have some baking to do.

Take a look at this...

Blueberry Cake Balls  (You'll have to scroll past the pink poodle part.)

Peppermint Chocolate Cake 

And this Raspberry Chocolate Mousse Cake.



The party's just started people. This is going to be fun :)

 - Rachel
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