All posts filed under: Experience

Choice as a Superpower

Three months ago, my therapist Jill and I began a ritual of combing through my past relationships and choices. Every single date I’ve ever been on and boyfriend I’ve ever had would be examined and analyzed by her from all angles. “We’re seeking to identify any unhealthy patterns that might be present so that we can create new, healthier ones,” she explained. It was a terrifying level of vulnerability. As the pattern started to reveal itself, I couldn’t help but feel incredible shame. The choices I’d made throughout my past were unquestionably naive and reckless. Seeing it laid out in front of me was terrifying. Most of my bad choices were bad men. Seeing that admittance written out on the page feels dramatic, but it’s the unfortunate truth. My history doesn’t lie. In looking back at Rob*, the boyfriend who abused me, I used to have a tendency to view myself as a victim and in a sense, I was one; he must be held responsible for his own actions. Anything less would be reckless, …

What No One Tells You About Going Into the Hospital

After two and a half decades on this earth, I found myself strapped to a stretcher, my legs pinned down to keep me from kicking the cute EMT.  Maybe an hour before that, I was in the emergency room, hurling my guts into a trashcan while precious Nurse Marco wrapped me in warm blankets and filled my IV with the medicine I so desperately need.  Maybe four hours after the stretcher incident, I awoke to find one of my oldest Florida friends right by my side, tagging in for another friend who had previous obligations.  For the first time in my life, I was admitted into a hospital. And my family was states away.  But in those hours that are all now blurred together, I came out on the other side, incredibly grateful for surprising things, things no one ever told me about being in the hospital.  1. Make sure your undergarments are comfy and breathable. I once heard you should always wear cute underwear because you never know when a firefighter will have to …

What Rob and Harry Taught Me About the Power of my Words

Every relationship I’ve ever been in grew from a seed of curiosity. An irresistible, dangerous curiosity that calls you to it like siren song. I think too much and often find myself turning past romantic encounters over and over in my mind. Just as river currents smooth out the rough edges of a rock as it turns it in its midst, it’s as if I think that if I reflect on them enough, perhaps the power of my mind can smooth out the unforgiving, snagging edges of my memories and make them into something neat and digestible. I reflect on them and think and think and then think some more, but I rarely speak about them out loud. My therapist Jill once told me that healthy doesn’t attract unhealthy, only unhealthy does. “Hurting, broken people attract others just like them,” was the way she put it. I saw in my mind a parade of broken, passionate albeit responsible men I’ve loved throughout my story and wondered what it meant. In the past few weeks, I’ve …

Loving Amidst the Wildness

A few years ago, if you’d asked me about the kind of love I dreamed about, I’d have told you about a love that was all-consuming. The kind that shattered the world I inhabited. “We will be very passionate,” I’d say to you, describing the dynamic my soulmate and I would share, “Our connection will intersect on multiple levels — physical, intellectual, and spiritual. He will be deep and wild, and the love we share will change me.” I found exactly that with Andy. Our connection was intense. Emily Bronte once wrote, “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same,” and in our way of relating, I saw that play out. A romantic fling-turned-best friend, Finn, told me last month that I was the wildest girl he’s ever known. “Not in the personality sense that people often think of, but you have a wild spirit,” he said, “There’s a restlessness you have that seems to often threaten to overtake you.” He summed it up by labeling it a “quiet wildness,” yet all I could …

The Discipline of Forgiveness

“Tonight, I pray for those who have wronged me, used me, abused me — whether knowingly or unknowingly,” I wrote while a flood of emotions began to rise up within me as I came to a resolution. “I’ve decided that it’s between them and God.” *** I had just gotten home from our weekly Saturday night prayer meeting at my church. My heart weighed so heavy, I just had to pour out my every thought into my prayer journal as soon as I got home. You see, that night after prayer, my Bishop had challenged our church to do something I honestly feel we as Christians don’t do enough. He asked us to pray for our enemies. He referenced Job 42:10 where Job prayed for his friends and the Lord gave Job twice of what he had before. “We all know those ‘friends’ were really Job’s enemies,” Bishop Huntley continued, “The only thing keeping us from our double blessing is not praying for our enemies.” Then, he had us do something that changed the way I …

3 Signs of Spiritual Abuse in Dating

I recently counseled a young woman about a romantic relationship she was in. She’s told me over time many red flags that all led me to believe that she was in an emotionally abusive relationship yet she wouldn’t have exactly described it that way. What she said was, “He just cares so much about my walk that he doesn’t want to see me stumble.” Many sin-driven Christian guys twist God’s design for romantic relationships before then using it to justify controlling, emotionally abusive behavior.  “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24  Because of all the confusion about what these verses mean, Christian women I meet with who are in these situations find themselves feeling confused about what’s abuse and what’s not. A young woman can become convinced that an abusive …

I Want To Talk About Mourning Your Story

I cried at work. The ugly kind of cry that makes it hard to breathe and sends mascara running in black rivers down your face.  My boss described it as sudden, almost manifesting out of thin air. “I understand you’ve been going through a challenging time,” he said, his green eyes bright and shimmering with concern, “but it’s like it suddenly came to the surface all at once.” He then gave me time to compose myself in the women’s bathroom. “I can’t have you crying all over the Warhol,” he said. He was half-joking, yet entirely serious. A few weeks ago, Andrew told me he was worried, “You’ve always felt things deeply and had this sense of sadness around you, but I’ve never seen you with this much of it.” He’s known me for almost ten years and within that decade, he’s been witness to all the times I dropped a plate because I was suddenly overtaken by sobbing while doing the dishes. He knows all of the restless nights spent staring at the ceiling; …

Faith Can Be Scary

“Why would you share something so personal with complete strangers?” This is what the voice inside my head was saying as I contemplated writing my book. I was 41 years old and not who people thought I was. I had a secret and was about to go public; and even though I had a sick feeling every time I thought about it, I knew that God wanted me to do this. I had been called. It all started about a year and a half earlier… I was struggling with the guilt, shame, and doubt that accompanied a life of abuse. I was an only child and had survived a life with an alcoholic mother and sexually abusive father. After being estranged from my parents for many years, I began to worry. I would be unable to sleep at night thinking about what I would do if something happened to my dad. My mom was a stroke victim and he took care of her. As much as I tried to ignore my conscience, the thoughts wouldn’t …

Leaning Into the Triggers

I outlined the Girl Code for Rachel over white hot cocoa and a slice of berry-lavender pie, “FYI, my most-trusted girlfriends don’t talk to him. So, since you are one of them, you should follow suit.” In her complete lack of tolerance for stupidity, she smirked. “I can’t talk to him?” she clarified. I knew how it sounded, but my conviction was stubborn and unwavering, “Of course not. That’d be awkward. And he never cared much about bothering to remember my friends anyway, so whatever.” I guess you could say that I haven’t exactly been killing it in the emotional maturity thing in this particular area. I’ve recently started to feel like my broken pieces from last summer are starting to fit back together. There’s still a lot of tender spots felt around the parts of my heart and ego that got hit the hardest, but I’m starting to move into a quiet resignation. A few days ago I told Lyosha, “Now that I’m past the situation and examining it from the outside-in, I can …

Life Changes, But God Doesn’t

I have lived a very blessed and privileged life. Don’t get me wrong I have worked hard to get to where I am, but my parents were always very supportive in giving me many opportunities to grow. Some might even say I’ve been spoiled. I grew up going to church and I attended a Christian university. Some might even push to say that I’ve been sheltered. In all honesty, I can’t say I disagree. On the day of my college graduation, as per usual, many pictures were taken to document the important day. I hate every single one of those photos because, at the time, there was severe swelling in my face that contorted my smile into something unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. My friends kept telling me to smile normally, even though I felt like I was. My boyfriend at the time was always by my side to remind me of how “different” my smile looked. In other words, I no longer had the smile that he had fallen in love with. I …