Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Black Barrel

Sometimes, for no real fault of our own, we find ourselves stuck in a barrel. 
We look up, see the light, and think "Yeah, I can get back out, I just need to figure out how to climb."

Next, we look around.  "Oh, that's right" we think.  "I don't know how to climb.  And, I also have nothing to climb with.  And, also I can't climb a straight solid wall." 
We stand at the bottom of that barrel, suddenly realizing we don't have a way out. 

We look up, and remember what the light felt like on our skin, but we can't feel it.  We just hold the memory of it.  We can see the sun, and the blue sky, and the clouds.  We also watch the seasons change, and know when the temperature rises and falls.  Yet, there we are.  In the barrel.  A little barrel with a dirt bottom, watching life move by us, wondering what it means to actively participate in it again.

Sometimes we sit down in the barrel, and start playing with the dirt.  We pick up rocks, and throw them at the sides, thinking maybe we can break through that way.  Other times we just lay on the dirt, and stare upwards.  Watching.  Wondering.  Waiting.

The hardest days are the days we face plant in the dirt.  Our face buries in it, and the dirt changes from dirt to mud as it soaks up the tears we can't stop.  Sometimes we understand the tears.  Other times they have no meaning.  Maybe something happened outside the barrel, and we can sense it, but we don't understand it.  Life is happening all around us, but we are removed from it.  The barrel is both our prison guard, and our protector.  Sometimes we think, "Maybe it's better in the barrel."
Then we wonder if anyone realizes we are in there.

Living with any kind of mental illness is like living in a little black barrel.  It's isolating.  It's terrifying, and every avenue to freedom literally looks and feels like a solid, straight wall.
If you're in a barrel?  Just breathe.  Sometimes it takes awhile for someone to throw a rope.  Sometimes, the rope is already waiting and it takes some time to see it. 
Just as it takes time for eyes to adjust to the dark, so must they readjust to the light. 
Try to live as much as you can in the mean time.

Even if you're just observing, you won't be in the barrel forever. 
I know.

I've been there.

So when your barrel feels like the only friend you've ever known, look to your side. 
I'll lay down with you in the dirt until you can see the rope.

And we will both climb out when you're ready.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Breathe Already

Hello world.
Guess what?

I'm tired of you.

For real, though.  You're irritating.  You're a downer.  You're negative SO much of the time, I just can't seem to show you that your entire life (literally) actually REVOLVES around the sun.  Yeah, the sun.  The brightest thing in this universe, you revolve around it.  Granted, one part of you remains in the dark, while another sees the light, but as a whole?
You are always in the light.

That's right I said it.  As a whole, the light is always shining on you.  The dual nature of your existence means you can't always see it, or feel it, but it's always there.  So just let it be, will you?  When you feel that sun, really feel it.  Soak it in for all it is worth.  Then when the darkness comes, remember what the light feels like.  Why?  Because life is cyclical, and you will be in the dark as often as you are in the light. 
That's why.

So world, listen here.  Stop criticizing.  Stop looking at all those other planets, and wishing you had what they have.  You don't need to be like them.
You know what you have that they don't?

You have life.

So breathe it in.  Remember that existence, will you?  Remember that although you may not be the closest thing to the sun, you can still see it.  It's still there, shining on you.  Remember that your existence is yours to claim.  You are a part of this universe too. 

You just listen, world.  Calm down, already.  Those earthquakes you feel inside?  Those torrential downpours, and floods that threaten to drown you?  Even the desert winds, with their merciless heat. 
It's all a part of you.
It gives you life.

So breathe it in world.  Look to the stars when the light of the sun sets on you.
Remember the beauty of your existence.
Not the criticism.
Not the judgement.
Don't you let those other planets tell you how to be, or why.
They didn't make you.

You just be.
And I mean, really.
Just be.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I'm the Wheat; I'm the Tare

I have been wrestling with this for the last eight months.  What to say.  Do I say anything?  Does it matter?  Why does it matter, and who does it matter to?
Those answers vary. 
The biggest thing is that I never wanted to hurt anyone.  I've kept silent because of this.  People are hurt when they hear what I am about to say.  The reasons vary, and the emotions jump from sadness, or anger, to confusion and inner conflict.  The sadness and anger and confusion have their reasons.  It's a cultural thing.  It's a spiritual thing.  Above everything, the biggest question people ask?
The answer to that cannot be contained in one little blog post.

I guess the question I will answer is "why now?"  Why now.  Why now, well, because there are so many people out there that just need someone else to talk to.  There are so many people out there that need to discuss things, and work things out.  But they are afraid to.
Why are they afraid to?
Because there's these "camps."  The sides.
Us vs them.
Us vs them.

So, here it is.  I'm no longer a modern Mormon.  I've left the LDS church as it stands today.  I would say I'm no longer Mormon, but it's deeper than that.  History would say I'm an "1830" Mormon.
Confused?  We can talk about that later.
Because before you stop reading, or you move to lynch my character, please wait. 
Read on.

Everyone travels a road.  A road that leads them to a truth in God they desperately need in their life.  Some argue that this truth is in Mormonism.  Some argue it's out of it.  I'm in the middle of those arguments.  Mormonism has some truth; so does everything else in the world.  I've heard all kinds of things about the "wheat and the tares" lately.  Us vs them.  According to Mormons, I'm the tare.  I'm deceived, and broken.  According to other religions, I'm the wheat.  I'm enlightened and whole.
According to me? 
According to me I will simply declare as the publican does in Luke,
"God be merciful to me, a sinner."

Why now, well because I am so tired of the us vs them.  I am so tired of the "yea here" and "lo there" of what is truth.  God is truth.  God is light.

Now I recognize by putting this out there I am opening a door.  A door for judgment, or ridicule.  A door for the whispers in corners.  But I've stood behind the door for too long.  I need to open it.  I need to live, to go outside.  And with opening this door, I hope others will open their doors.  I hope that by opening my heart, others will do the same.  I hope that the accusations of who is this, or that, will end, and we can simply share in all our stories, and be a part of each others souls. 

In the end we are all human.  In the end, we are all in this together. 
And in the end?
In the end God will decide who I was, and who I am.

I leave that to Him. 


Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Label

Everyone has a different title.  Something they label themselves as.  Some self label with "single, and waiting for life, and maybe marriage."  Others as "married, and waiting for life, maybe kids."  Still, even more, might label themselves with "career oriented, family, life is good" or "no family, love life, job is fabulous, not waiting for anything."
I have a title.  It's called "married, life happened, waiting for who knows what."

The "who knows what" changes almost daily.  Sometimes the "waiting for" portion of the phrase gets omitted all together.  Why am I writing today?  Well, because "who knows what" became a whole lot of "what the" in the span of about two months.

But right now?  This very moment?
I just want one thing.
To be alone.

My kids all woke up rather grumpy.  One was very upset because he was hungry and isn't very good at making his own eggs yet, the other was yelling because he had to go to the bathroom so bad he couldn't get his pants off fast enough, and the third needed a diaper change.  One person.  That's me.  The one.  The ONE person to solve all three of those problems, as fast as possible, has only two hands.  So you prioritize right?  Bathroom first.  Or?  Well, pee.
Lots of pee.

The second?  Diaper.  No one likes soggy anything.  Third?  Food.  We can always wait for food, even though our "hangry" voices might say otherwise.  And that was just the first 20 minutes of the morning.  That doesn't include the following 9 hours between then and now.

To be completely honest, I shouldn't complain.
But let's just throw that out the window.


Sometimes I can't help it.  Some days I just wasn't built for this label of mine.  The married, mom, one.  Life holds a lot of choices, and I made mine.  It's true.  But?  Heaven knows.  Some days I envy those single people.  Or those married with no kids people.  Or those job people.  I envy their routine.  I envy their ability to CHOOSE when they want to go to the bathroom, instead of holding it for 2 hours because it's impossible to do anything else BUT hold it.
Or?  Just going to the bathroom without an audience  Seriously.  Why?
Just let me pee in peace.
I envy the time they have to completely focus.  I envy that they can actually get things done in a normal time frame.  And oh.... Oh how I envy their silence.  Their ability to eat a meal when it's still warm.  Their ability to sit.  To think.  To dream and wonder.  I do.  I'll admit it.  I envy other labels.
There are days, like right now, where I would like to reach out, take someone else's label, and slap it on my own chest.

But?  Well.  Life happens.  Life happens, and sometimes we just have to wear our label proudly, like a triathlon number.  We swim, we pedal, and we run.  We think we are going to drown, we crash our bikes into trees, and we trip on rocks, but we keep going.  We keep swimming, and pedaling, and running.  Whatever life we happen to live, whatever part of the race we happen to be in, we are in it to the finish.
So we go.
Then?  Then when it's over and we are all sweaty, and covered in dirt we can throw up our hands in victory and say "We did it!"

Now for the shower.
Can that one be alone at least?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Dark Warrior

Let's talk about this.  Please.  Let's get this out there.  Open it.  Bring it up.

There are dark warriors among us.  Maybe it's you.  Maybe it's someone you know.  The fight isn't as a physical illness.  We don't see social media posts about how the battle is progressing, or how they are faring on a day to day basis.
The struggle.
The internal nature of it is invisible in almost every way.

They act out; even lash out.  They act strangely and we place them on a shelf of "well, that's just the way they are."  Then tragedy strikes, and suddenly all the signs make sense.
But the pain is unbearable.

Let's talk about this.  Please.

I am a survivor of suicide.  I never talk about it.  I never bring it up.  I don't.  Why?  Because those I love can't imagine what it is they did or didn't do for me to believe my life wasn't worth it.  The truth is?  It wasn't them.  It isn't them.

It wasn't because they didn't love me, or because they weren't there.  Most of the time I didn't see it.  I couldn't see it.  And in that blindness I simply felt nothing.  To myself?  I was worthless.  I saw the pain I caused others.  I saw how they reacted to my stupid decisions.  I wanted to change, to be different than I was, but I didn't know how.  I was sad for no reason.  I can't explain it.  But there were days where simply breathing took everything I had.  There were days I fought the thoughts; the desire to escape it all lured me.  It called me.  I would cry for hours, then I wouldn't cry for days; I was a shell.  It was as though my will to live escaped with my tears.  My smiles were empty.  I was empty.  Every day the next life tempted me with its option of being pain free.  Whatever that next life held, it had to be better than where I was.
To myself?  I was a burden.  I was useless.
I was worthless.

People were there.  They were there often.  I was told all the time "you know I'm here, right?"  Yes, I knew.  But I didn't.  Why didn't I?  I can't explain it.  I knew I was loved.  I knew I had purpose, but I didn't feel it.  In fact, I often didn't feel at all.  I felt nothing so often I believed I was nothing, and in my nothingness I could just drift away and no one would notice.

I am a survivor of suicide.  I walked the line many times.  The details don't matter.  What matters is that it happened.  What matters is that I am here now.  What matters is that my next life became this life, and all my tomorrow's were directly linked to my today.  What matters is that this invisible battle requires openness.  It requires speaking.  What matters is that we say "Please help me" with words, not actions.  Then others can act to help.
We have to speak in order for others to listen.

To the Dark Warriors;
Do not be afraid to admit it.  It isn't weakness.  You are among the greatest, and the strongest.  Do not be afraid to reach for a hand to lift you when you have fallen, and seek for those hands in every way you can.  I know you feel nothing.  Empty.  But others don't feel empty about you.  They will be empty without you.  Do not let this life defeat you.  You are a warrior.  You can see in the shadows, and you have experienced the deepest secrets of the night.  Do not relent when the black begins to cave in on you.  Fight.  Fight for yourself.  Fight for your tomorrow.
Clarity will come with the dawn.  
The light.

You needn't fight alone.  You needn't be alone.  It is time to speak, Dark Warrior.  Be heard, and the night won't be as painful.  The numbness will fade.  Life will begin to fill you again.  Light will dispel the shadows.  Eventually, you will win.  Eventually, the night will be where you go to save those fighting.  They will see you, and they will know you as you know them.  As I know you.  Let me fight beside you.  Let me carry your sword when you are too weak to stand.  Let me be the night watchman when you have nothing left to give.  I know these shadows well, and I know they can be defeated.
Let your heart be calm, Dark Warrior.  Your day of sun is coming.

It's coming.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Secrets Bite

Something happened this weekend that deserves to have a blog post dedicated to it.

We were out on a hike in Arches, and since it wasn't a long one, we were walking slow.  The slower hikes are the hikes that Jack and James become little chatter boxes.  We literally cannot get a word in, even if we want to.  Since they aren't out of breath, they think, "Hey!  I'll just talk! And talk.  And talk.  And talk and talk and talk and talk."
And I love it.

As we were looping back from the "destination" of the hike to the trail head, James got into a very serious conversation with Cole.
It was all about a secret.
Now.  Let me tell you a little about this three year old of mine.  One?  He has an incredible imagination.  He will play for hours in all kinds of worlds, entirely of his own invention, and even his food becomes an actor in this game of life.  As we walked along the trail, James proceeded to paint a very vivid picture of what a secret was like.
"Secrets hide."  He pointed along the darker parts of the trail, under trees, or behind bushes.
"Secrets" he said, "are monsters."
"Sometimes secrets bite people."

As the conversation continued, it became evident that James is in fact just three, as the secrets also attacked unsuspecting cars, and even flew around with the wind.  To him, the world is nothing but a beautiful place filled with endless wonder.
But those secrets became something tangible.
Something to be reckoned with, and something to avoid.
And those words burned themselves into my mind.
Secrets bite people.

I'm not real big with personal details, usually.  Life changes.  It flows, and moves, and has an elegance to it that can be rivaled with nothing else.  If one were to look at my life, I cannot confess to how they might describe me.  Nor do I know how I am spoken of by others.  Truth be told, I don't speak to, or treat, myself with the dignity I should on occasion.  Thankfully, my boys continually grant me introspection.  With this one?
I grabbed a torch, and walked to my shadows.

Whenever I say or do anything, if I act with the intention of keeping it a secret in any way, should I have done so at all?  Maybe once those words or deeds fly into the wind, they hide in dark places, and wait.  They wait until a moment arises, then they attack.  Do we speak, or act, at times without any intention of truly owning it?  Do we silently hope that our moment will keep itself hidden?  After all, these are the shadows.  Our secrets take cover under trees, and behind bushes.  But the truth doesn't lend itself to the dark, does it.  We tread on a thin line thinking what we say or do will tend no harm to those who don't know any better.
Sometimes it is something harmless.
Sometimes it is not.
And secrets bite.

We need small reminders from the most innocent members of this world to realize what we should change, and how.  I don't have many words of wisdom here, for I feel the words speak for themselves.
Go on your own journey with it.
Just remember.
Sometimes secrets bite people.



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

When the World Sucks You Dry

Guys.  I read the news.  I shouldn't have, but I did, and it's done.  I played the comparing game.  One story was about this little family travelling the world.  "Ohhh, I want to do that!"  Another story was about turmoil in other parts of the country.  How can I help?  Can I help?  I feel helpless.
Then the stories throughout the world, both good and bad; they're endless!

I got overwhelmed.  My anxiety started rising.  "What am I doing with my life?!  So and so is chasing their dreams, this person is doing wonderful things to change the world, this other family always just 'has it together' and I'm sitting here with gum in my hair."

What is success, really?
Some would say any success that is associated with where God wants you to be is success.
Well, okay.
So what are dreams?
Some will tell you to "wait for your dreams."  God's timetable, etc.
More often than not, we attribute things to God that aren't necessarily his fault, or his doing.
Bad things happen.  "Where is God?"
Good things happen.  "This came from God!"
He's the bad guy, the good guy, and every guy in between in many cases.

I'm a big believer in agency.  I'm a big believer in putting your big person pants on, throwing your pack on your back and stepping into the darkness.  Sometimes you get lost in it.  Sometimes you find light.  I can tell you that when we decided to move to a smaller town, God was very quiet.  I prayed about everything.  I asked about everything.  Is this right?  Should we go here?  What about our next step?

There have also been times in my life where I have yelled at God for his apparent lack of caring.  "Where are you!?  Why won't you answer me?!  Why is life so hard all the time, and why aren't you helping me do anything about it??"

It's in those silent moments that I think, could it really be my choice?
Is God really waiting on me, not the other way around?

God has taught me something very, very important.
Sometimes?  The world will suck you dry.
Sometimes the world will take everything you think you know, and burn it.
Sometimes God won't do a darned thing.
And it's the deepest lesson we could ever learn.
We are supposed to experience this life.  We are supposed to lift each other, and be good for the sake of being good.  We shouldn't need to be told who we need to be, we should be for the sake of being, and love for the sake of loving.  Sometimes, God lets the world go.  He lets it spin, he lets your world spin, and he sits back and says, "Now, what are YOU going to DO about it?"
It's not that he doesn't care.
It is, in fact, quite the opposite.

So to the news.  To those stories of other people living a dream; your dream.
To the horrors you read about, and the sorrow you feel inside.
Maybe we shouldn't be saying "Oh, God, please do something about this."
He might be saying the same thing to you.