Opening Up The Wounds

I have been putting off this post for a VERY long time. And the original reason it started bothering me infuriates me even more but I really can’t get into that very much. So if it seems like some of this post is a little disconnected….well, it will be.

I have continued to ignore it but I think I’m just gonna feel better if I just say it and get it out of my head so I can move on. Who knows – I may type it all and end up not even posting it. A lot of people will be happy about that one.

About 18 months ago – after 3 years of being on Facebook – I suddenly disappeared. I was gone for a year. If you know anything about me at all you know that I am a transparent person. I deal with invisible illnesses but I feel my ministry is to bring them to the light to provide support and information for education. I live with Chronic Depression and Fibromyalgia. Those conditions may be easy for some people to hide but they aren’t for everyone. That comes into play in the reason for a lot of what I share in the realm of social media. Am I TOO open? Maybe for some people. Should that be MY problem? NO! I am ME! If you don’t like what I do or say – that is not my problem. It really doesn’t have to be ANYONE’S problem. A better explanation is that it’s probably just none of your business if it bothers you. I don’t make your business MY business so please grant me the same courtesy.

There are people in my life who have personalities completely different than mine who would prefer I wasn’t so transparent but they have graciously not expected me to abide according to their personality. I really can’t explain how much I appreciate that. I am a stay at home mom. I started out being a SAHM because it was the right thing for our family. However, since becoming ill, it has become a necessity because of my medical problems. So the online world has become, for the most part, my only contact or influence with the outside world. It has not been an easy transition. But I have now settled into a routine with it. I have this blog (which is a place I can, for the most part, be open and honest). I have Twitter. I HAD Facebook. That’s when the problem began.

Someone stepped up and voiced to those around me that THEY thought I was TOO OPEN on Facebook. This person (who has NEVER had a FB) told me, to my face, that they have looked at my Facebook and “it seems to all be all about you”. Honestly, my blood pressure went through the roof, my chin hit the floor and I was speechless (for a few seconds). EXCUSE ME? THAT’S WHAT FACEBOOK IS!!!!! It’s MY profile with MY information with MY thoughts with MY likes/dislikes. I’m not sure where this person, who had never had a FB got off telling ME how to run my FB profile! And 18 months later I, honestly, still don’t get it. I was infuriated. I don’t think I have ever been madder in my life. And the pace of my heartbeat right now tells me that it still really makes me mad. So, to keep the peace, I deactivated my account. Some of you may know when that happened and I disappeared.

I took a year to rethink the entire thing. I refocused some of my priorities. I spent some time away from social media. It was hard in the beginning. Then I began feeling like it was time to go back. I really missed the contact I had with people thru my accounts. I missed the ministry I had. I realized I needed that outlet in my walk thru my illness and the seclusion it brings. So, I stripped down my friends list to a group of people I knew I could trust to not judge me. In actuality if you search for me you won’t even be able to find me. I have certain accounts blocked from spying eyes who look for opportunities to find fault.. I find myself thinking twice before saying things, which is probably a good idea. I have just maintained more control over those who I let into my circle. I do confirm some people who send me friend requests. However, 90% of the people who send me a request I do not confirm. It may not be because of them personally but because of who I might find myself opened up to by “being their friend” on FB.

So I suppose that person did me a favor in a round about way. And I suppose I still have a lot of anger toward them – which I need to deal with. My relationship with them will never be what it was before. But I think this confrontation did teach me to be even less judgmental than I was before. I’ve never thought of myself as being a judgmental person because I don’t like to be judged. I’ve become more sensitive to it in other people – especially those around me. I snap my mouth shut a lot more. And believe it or not I am not easily offended. I kind of think this situation was an exception to that because I believe it was MEANT to be offensive. I must say I find myself even more guarded about what I say and share. I suppose that’s not a bad thing. I’m struggling with finding the balance between being transparent and over sharing. I’ve learned a number of lessons thru this experience. I know some people have wondered about why I’ve not friended them or let them in. Who knows – I may in time. But right now I’m a little tentative. And I’m still very raw. My spirit is bruised. My heart is wounded but healing over.

Well, thank you for reading if you made it this far. I expect some  hand slapping in the comments. But I hope you’ll understand if your comment doesn’t get approved. Sometimes a person just needs to protect themselves. Thank you for your patience with me.

Are You Really YOU or Are You Who THEY Want You To Be?

Are you truly YOU? Do you have anyplace that you can really be who you are? Or have you been “faking” you for so long that you aren’t really sure who YOU are? Do any of us really know who we are? Have you discovered your true identity? Are you hiding who that is in order to please other people?

As you can see I’ve been doing some deep thinking while I’ve been quiet the last couple of weeks. I’m not even sure I could answer any of the questions I asked you above. I’m not sure I’ve ever really explored who I am. I feel like I’ve always had to live a life being who everyone else wanted me to be. When I was little I grew up in the home of a minister who was well known in our denominational state ministry. I remember being told one time “remember whose daughter you are” before going on a church trip. At church I was Mike Stokes’ daughter. My mother worked at my school when I was in elementary school. So, there I was Mrs. Stokes’ daughter. Then when Ron and I got married and started pastoring I was always the Pastor’s Wife. For the last 17 years I’ve been MIchael and Lauren’s Mom. Now my husband is a director in one of our denominational departments so I am the Director’s Wife.

I’m 44 years old but have somehow reached this far into my life without really knowing who PAM is..inside! You know? Above all things I am a Christian so I am a Daughter of the King. But somehow along the way that title has fallen down on the list below all of those other titles. I think that’s who I’m working at discovering now. That’s who I’ve been truly trying to find a slot for in the hierarchy of who I am. That really is the title above all titles. And you know what – that should be the most important one. We should all want to be known as being a Child of the King. But somehow we put more stock into being what people around us expect us to be. I suppose we assume that because we are a Christian then God will understand that we have to please everyone around us. I mean that’s how the world works. We try to live up to everyone else’s expectations of who we are so much that we lose sight of who God wants us to be. And when we search for our identity apart from our Creator then we lose sight of our real self.

As I look back on my life at this point I see 40 years of trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be – always trying to prove I was good enough to carry those titles – when in actuality here I sit 40 years later even more confused and STILL searching for the real me. I’m learning that the real me is not the one I see in the mirror or the one reflected in the eyes of other people around me. The real me is who I see when I open the Bible. Do I see the reflection of Christ? Do others see the reflection of Christ?

**Gonna link this up at Shell’s place for Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday. Come join us.

Sometimes I Wanna Punch It In The Gut

I have spent most of the last week in bed. Tropical Storm Lee came through here the last few days and it gave me a mind numbing headache. Oh my word! The pain!! Thankfully though I woke up this morning and the pain was much better. I did notice about 1:00 it was coming back though. So, I took some pain medicine and went back to bed. I didn’t want to make it worse again. If I thought it would do any good I would punch a hole in the wall of something. This mess makes me so mad sometimes I can’t see straight. It interferes with everything! What I especially despise is when it starts interfering with those outside of my family. A couple of weeks ago a childhood friend of mine was in town visiting with his family. We were supposed to get together. Did we? NO! Why? Because of my Fibro. Yesterday I was supposed to go to lunch with a friend. Did we go? NO! Why? Because of my Fibro. I feel like it has cost me so many important things and people in my life. And you know what’s even more aggravating? The self-imposed guilt I deal with. Everyone always says they understand and that I shouldn’t worry about it. I’m sure they really do. But I don’t! So I pile on my guilt. I feel like guilt and Fibro hold the steering wheel to my  life and the rest of me just has to go where they lead.

Well, I didn’t intend for this to come out all negative and angry. But sometimes it just really makes me feel that way. It infuriates me. This illness has stolen my life. Most of the time I do pretty well with it and plug along doing what I can when I can. But then sometimes I just need to sound off about how angry it makes me. I’m sorry you had to read all of that. But this is real life. Life isn’t all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes it is thunder, lightening and skunks. That’s the truth! Today I’d like to punch it in the gut and kick it while it’s down!

Just pouring my heart out here. Sometimes that happens. I think I’ll head over to Shell’s blog and link this up and then read some other blogs where people Pour their Heart Out. Then I won’t feel like I’m the only one.

Success and Failure – Which Do I Choose Today?

I think this post is gonna be a mix of good news and bad news. Don’t worry – it’s not good news or bad news for you. It’s about me. Isn’t it always? I was thinking of trying to be funny today. But my mood is kind of dark and cloudy so I don’t know how funny my sense of humor would actually be. And sense I have no idea what I’m gonna write until the letters appear on the page…well, we’ll just have to see. I much prefer when I’m funny. Well, all of that has absolutely nothing to do with either the good news or the bad news. I won’t charge you extra for those few sentences!

Ok – let me give you some hints…I’m a middle age woman (I’m secure enough to admit that)…I live a sedentary life…I am addicted to junk food…I hate to exercise. Have you guessed it yet? Yes, this post is gonna be about my weight. I know that all of you have been wondering every single day if today will be the day I write about my weight. Well, congratulations!!! That day has arrived. But if you have NOT been wondering that then that tells me that you don’t read my blog regularly. We’ll have to address THAT matter at a later time. (Don’t you hate when someone says “we’ll talk about that later”?)

One day in May of 2009 I woke up and decided THAT was the day I was gonna start losing weight. Seriously, that’s how it happened. It’s never happened to me before. I was quite shocked actually. It did help that everyone in Ron’s office was beginning a weight loss challenge that day. I competed along with them. My progress just didn’t actually count with theirs. (Although I should say here that if my numbers HAD counted I would have come in SECOND place! SO THERE!!) I am not a competitive person by nature. To tell you the truth if it comes to me competing with someone else I’m happy to just go ahead and declare you the winner before we even start. (However if it’s my kids in a soccer game THEN you better watch out!) So I was a little surprised that I got into the competition so seriously with everyone at work.

I had allowed myself to get to the highest weight I had ever weighed. And I was extremely disappointed in myself. So I changed my eating habits and started exercising (walking and floor exercises at home). By December 9, 2009 I had lost 35 pounds. I could see a milestone number just ahead. I could have gotten there so simply. I was doing so good. I felt good about myself. I thought I looked good. My clothes had smaller numbers in them then I had seen since before I had Michael 15 years before. But somehow in those months of exercising I had damaged a tendon in my right foot which required surgery to be removed. Uhhhhhh, the tendon….not my foot.

Think with me here…I had been exercising every day. I had just started running. I had foot surgery. At the same time my dad was having serious medical problems which later turned out to be cancer. What do you think happened? I”m sure you can guess it. I couldn’t exercise. I was under the most stress I had ever been under in my entire life. What had always gotten me through tough times before? Food! There you have it. I tried my best to keep control over my food intake. But with all that stress that became too difficult. It took about as long to put back on as it had taken to take off.

As the numbers edged back up on the scale I became discouraged and pretty much gave up. I did try getting back in the exercise mode by working with a personal trainer at a local gym. But that proved to be too much for my Fibromyalgia. It wasn’t until this past June that I decided to start paying attention to the scale again. When the scale got right back to that number it was on the day I started in May 2009 I told myself NO WAY!! I have not recommitted to the point I was at in 2009. But slowly but surely the weight is coming back off. Since June I have lost 13 pounds. That milestone I could have reached out and touched two years ago is still pretty much out of reach but at least I am headed the right direction.

I’ve discovered that I no longer have a taste for all those foods I gave up before. That is a huge blessing. I am able to say no to sodas, extra helpings, most junk food. They just don’t taste good anymore. The thing I still need to do is get outside and walk. That’s really the missing piece of the puzzle. I had set myself a goal to lost 10 more pounds by the time we go to a conference mid September. I’m not quite gonna meet that goal but I”m gonna get really close to it.

So there you have it. The ugly truth about my failure and the good news about my successes. That’s been on my heart a lot lately. I wonder if putting it into words and putting it out there for all to read will do anything for my willpower. I hope so! I’m gonna zip over to Things I Can’t Say and link this up for Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday. I could use the support!

Dear Mommy…

I know I have been very quiet for the last week. I’ve been sick and in Ohio and now back home and still sick. I’m dressed and ready now to go to the doctor. I had a little bit of time left so I thought I would share something special my mail carrier brought me yesterday.

As you know, Lauren has been away at JH Ranch. I will write much more about that after she gets home Friday and starts telling us about it. But yesterday I got a letter in the mail from her. I’m sure that part of the program is to write a letter to your parents about how much you love and appreciate them. I am grateful for that as well because this letter she wrote me was just exactly what I needed to hear from her. Here is her letter:

Dear Mommy,

I don’t know a more selfless, loving mom. YOu just strive over and beyond to comfort me. I don’t always let you in or give back to you, but I’m gonna try my best to change that. You deserve so much. I know on your bad days you’re so easily discouraged and you know what? God is strength. When we call on Him, He will show up. YOu’re not alone. You don’t have to be anyone except yourself because God made you perfectly. When God created all the mountains and animals and even man, He said “this isn’t enough” and created woman also. You are so special and He loves you. So do I. I’m so glad you’re my mom and on your good days it makes them so so special to me. I want you to know that I appreciate you. I miss you so much! I can’t wait to hug you and to smell you. There’s that one smell you have that I love so much and I never want to forget it. YOu’re such a strong woman, Leigh Anne Tuohy. YOu stand up for what is right. That’s very admirable. I can’t wait to see you and know that I love you. – Lauren

(Readers: The Leigh Anne Tuohy reference is an inside joke. She and her friends tell me I am just like Leigh Anne Tuohy from the movie The Blind Side.)

Oh my heavens! Does that soften a mama’s heart. She hit every insecurity I have. She spoke to every broken part of my heart and healed it with her sweet words. There are so many times I feel inadequate – racked with guilt and frustration. So often I feel forgotten, unappreciated and ignored. To know that there is any time in her life that she recognizes and speaks to that begins to heal the wounds. My girl is sweet and under that rough and tough shell there is my little girl who loves and recognizes the sacrifices made for her. How I love her! From the second she was born she held a piece of my heart with a death grip. There have been times in the last few years that I’ve felt her letting go trying to venture farther from me. I’ve had to just stand in the same place and help her see that I will always be here – standing and waiting – reserving that piece of my heart. This letter has shown me that she knows that and even remembers where that heart piece still is. She may be hundreds and hundreds of miles away from me till Friday night. But really she is right here with me – in my heart.


All I See Is Two Black Holes

I’m worried! Ok I’m more than worried – I’m scare to death! God is really doing a number of my faith ability. I know in my heart that I need to just let go and stop letting it consume me. God has seen us through so much in the last 24 years. I know in my logical mind that He will see us through this and provide for our every need. I HATE worry! It’s completely useless. It serves no positive purpose. Most of the time I able NOT to worry. Most of the time I am able to trust God. But the one area I’m having a hard time doing that in is COLLEGE. The numbers don’t add up. I think I’m most concerned about it because we had a plan. We had it all figured out. And our plan has fallen through. The plan was for me to go back to work about now and work through college using my income to pay for two college tuitions at once for four years. Well, fibro has negated that plan. Right now when I look ahead I can see my kids enjoying their senior year of high school. I can see them walking the stage and graduating. But when I get to the part where they move into their college dorms all I see are two black holes. I just don’t see how that is gonna happen.

So when thinking about what to share for Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday this week it seemed obvious that the only thing to pour our is my worry and fear about how we are ever gonna come up with the money to pay for EIGHT years of college in FOUR years. How does that happen? It makes no sense to me. I know from past experience that God is gonna take care of it. I know that He doesn’t see two big black holes. I know He sees the college bills stamped PAID IN FULL. But all I see in my heart is PAST DUE! He has NEVER (and I do mean NEVER) let us down. He’s never let any of the four of us down. We have battled along and stuck together and come out holding hands on the other side. But this time I feel like a failure. I feel like this is all my fault because I can’t do my part. I can’t hold up my end of the bargain. I feel like I am holding us back because my part of the plan flopped. That’s what I feel in my heart. My heart feels bruised and broken. My heart feels like the black hole because that’s what worry does to you. I’ve never felt this unsure about the future. What a huge lesson God is trying to teach me! Will I pass it or will I fail?

I’m Not An Idiot But Apparently I Play One On My Blog

Today is Wednesday. That means today is Pour Your Heart Out day over at Shell’s blog. Most of what is on my heart today are things that are really ticking me off. Lucky for you I am only going to pick ONE of those things today. You’re welcome!

I have known for a while that my blog appears cluttered. I have been wanting to fix that so I have been perusing blog themes to find one that I think would help me have a simpler more streamlined look. The problem is that the previews for each of them only give you a very small picture of ONE option. Sure the writing underneath the example says you can do X, Y, Z, XX, YY, ZZ, XXX, YYY, ZZZ….with the theme. However, I have no creativity whatsoever. So, while I’m sure that telling a user they can do this, that, the other, the foreign, the obscure and put that here and this there and make this that and make that this may be helpful to your average joe (or jane) with a single spot of creativity in their mind it may help. But for people like me who can’t see beyond what is laid out right before me that scares me. What that means to me is if I don’t want my blog to look just like the preview then that theme is not the one I want – never mind all the things it SAYS I can do. I NEED TO SEE IT DO THOSE THINGS!

So, I decided that I would go to my Twitter friends for help. I tweeted about my dilemma one day. However, most of my tweeps utilize blogger or have a self-hosted blog. A self-hosted blog is what I REALLY want. However that costs money. PAYING for a HOBBY is a mortal sin apparently. So, the best I can hope to do is to find out answers to my questions. Those in WP land on twitter suggested I “browse the themes page to find what best suits me”. SERIOUSLY? Did they think I hadn’t done that? What did they think I had been doing? Praying to the WP gods for a vision? Yeah, I got nothing there! So, then I went to the WP feedback option and sent a message explaining exactly what I was wanting to do with my blog and asked for a suggestion for the best theme that would allow me to recreate that. There reply was a link taking me to the “theme pages to find a theme that would best suit my needs”. PEOPLE!!! SERIOUSLY?????? I am not a teenager (or a man) who asks mom (or wife) where something is before I have even looked for it myself. I’m not ignorant.

All I want is someone who is familiar enough with the various themes who could make a recommendation of a theme that would give me one main column, one sidebar, a footer where I can place my friends’ blog buttons and a header where I can keep my regular blog heading. I’m just a blogger sitting in front of the screen begging for some WP help. I don’t have the brain of infant. I just don’t have the brain of a creative artistic type who can see a finished product with a few basic pieces laid out in front of me.

Perhaps I’m not making myself clear about what I’m looking for. My ultimate goal is to make my blog simple and appealing to sponsors so that I can eventually begin making money on blogging. Right now I feel like if a business came to look at my blog they would see a crowded mess. I want to streamline and clean it up. But I don’t want to lose the essence of who I am either. I like supporting my fellow bloggers. I like participating in blog hops and supporting them by posting the buttons in my sidebar. I blog about everything. But I want them to know that I can make room for them too. This happens to be one of my 3 in 30 goals for the month – making changing and exploring ways to make money on my blog.

Who knew my heart was so full of aggravation? Thankfully today is Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday or else I’d have to keep this all bottled up inside. And if you believe that I have a tropical island in Alaska to sell you!