Friday, May 20, 2011
“How long O Lord? Will you forget me forever?”
Today, I turned down a contract to write a book for a great publishing company. The contract needed revisions, there were some things I didn't feel comfortable with. But what it boiled down to was that I always fail at everything I do, I always run away. I can't enter a legally binding contract and not finish, not succeed. I am held accountable and I know, I wont succeed. I never succeed. By accepting good I am inviting bad to happen. By having hope, I am opening the door for pain. I can't do that.
And writing is my release. Writing is where I go to when I cant go anywhere else. Writing is what drives me, it is the only thing I have that is mine. The only thing. It is the only thing I control, the only thing that gives me release, the only thing that has never been taken away from me or forced upon me. To be under contract and have someone else control, when, where and what I write… I'm unsure.
I know Id run. Id fail and Id fall. So I turned it down.
And then I tried to take a nap. Didn't work. Tried to do housework. Didn't work. I kept being called back to the computer, back to opening word. I was told, "write." When the write command pops in my brain I just do it. I sit down, vedge out and I write. Sometimes, I have ideas in my head about what to write, like I want to write a specific story today, sometimes I just sit and I let the pure emotion flow out of me and hit the page like a summer gully storm in Arizona. That is what happened. Below here is what I wrote. I tried to go back and reread it and edit it for grammar and spelling and content, but I couldn't get past the first few paragraphs without getting choked up. Somehow, reading it in "edit mode" as I call it, takes myself outside of the writing and makes me look at things objectively. I do this for my professional articles. So, I am reading it as if someone else wrote it, and for some reason, right now, I cant do that. I apologize in advance for the grammatical and spelling errors that I am sure are riddled through here.
I think I am afraid to go back to church because I am afraid of what it will move in me. I think that every time I get closer to God it just feels like I just get peace in my soul when a billion things fall around me. It is always the praise and worship that gets me most, I listen to the message and soak in the words, but the spirit seems to move most in me in the music. And that is the case whether Im sitting in church or listening to praise music at home. It is like it urges my soul to speak with God.
Today a friend posted ultrasound photos of her pregnancy at thirteen weeks. I immediately felt joy for her, what a blessing. Then, I started crying. Crying for me is unique, personal, and intimate. I was taught at a very young age that crying was showing weakness. Seeing the baby waving on the ultrasound, and knowing that some people think that babies in the womb are just fetuses… and having miscarried at that point, and beyond, and seeing clearly, just like on our ultrasounds, what a perfectly formed and visible confirmation of human life… and once again it concretes the fact that it was not a fetus, or just a miscarriage, it was a loss of life. A loss of a beautiful, innocent soul, that went off to home in heaven… a home I, have in recent months, started doubting even existed.
I think about the trials of my life. I overcame the child abuse. I overcame the foster care system. I over came the loss of a boyfriend, a best friend, and then the three I had left slipped away to Heaven as well. In a few short years all my closest friends died. I ran away. I ran to a new State, a new job, a new place. I had nothing to lose and no one to care about where I was. No one to notice I was missing. I rebuilt. It took me time to allow myself to let anyone in again, and even then it was always at an arm's length. Keep them disposable. I attended church during these times but it was always just a few weeks here and then switch, never get attached to the people, go only for the message. I never intended in falling in love, but I did that too. And it was hard, very hard, to recognize that I was setting myself up for loss again, and worst, marriage to a soldier, whose job was war; death and destruction.
The first few years I made many friends, but again, kept them at arm's length. A few emails here or there, a phone call once a year, keeps us in contact, nothing deep, nothing hard. I continued to pray, the only certainty I had in this life was that God would always be there.
Something happened along the path. The first miscarriage was a test of faith, but I got right up and went back, and the next, and the next. A stillbirth, crushed my soul, crushed my heart, crushed my hope. But I got up, I returned to church, but more importantly throughout the entire ordeal I never stopped praying. Prayed everyday of the pregnancy, and learned to pray for His will to be done, not what I wanted, but what He wanted. It was hard, but I was faithful. Falling from that was hard. But, I let myself get back up, I moved forward.
I figured, like the lyrics, "Better Hands" by Natalie Grant, that through it all it was ok, I was in better hands, God would move the mountains. I could be still in his faith. I was safe in his hands.
And we moved again, and this time I let myself branch out and make friends, beyond the surface, a couple, it was a huge step for me to let anyone in, even the little bit, that I had them. I was so worried about losing them, but even now four years later, we are still as close as sisters, yet I still haven't taken down all my walls… I had sisters before, best friends, who I would do anything for, and they had been there for years and then they were taken away. Always taken away. So even now, though I love them dearly, I keep my walls up so that when something happens I am not as broken, I don't let anyone in past the first walls, no one gets to the inner bailey. No one gets to the core. That's protected.
Our miscarriage in November 2009, angered me, it outright pissed me off. I had prayed and prayed, my soul was certain this was going to be the child that lived. I attended church regularly, I was prayed for by thousands of people on pray lists around the world. We had the best doctors, followed every order and were there for each other. Yet, the baby stopped growing and died. Another surgery. Another operation to remove another baby from my womb, they might as well have removed my heart.
I put on a brave stance for everyone, acted like I was fine. But in reality I was dying a little bit each day. Lord, hadn't I gone through enough? I asked him over and over. My husband and I have never ever been given anything easy in this life. We have fought tooth and nail for even the things we deserved. We built a life and a home literally from nothing. I would ask God isn't it enough that I was a tortured youth? Isnt it enough that I was adopted into a loveless and abusive family? Isnt it enough that my best friend, my brother, one of the strongest Christians I knew took his life right after telling me he would always be there for me? Isnt it enough to watch my mother die of Aids? Wasn't it enough to take the lives of my best friends and then not allow me to say goodbye? He had brought me through each of those obstacles and after each one I would pray and let him do the healing.
The healing started inside out. The healing started by falling into my Fathers arms and trusting in his love for me.
And each time I said, "Lord the bible tells me you will not give me more then I can handle. I am getting close to that point, so please no more." I would barely be healed from one when another would strike. I didn't understand. Why? Why so much? Why couldn't I have a break in the struggles? Is there no mercy? I would try to focus on what I did have, but each time I did it came back to superficial. I have been homeless, I have been hungry, but compared to the heartbreak of watching the only family you ever had, the one made of friends, die… and then for each baby you grow inside of you to perish… to be grateful for the food, the clothes, the house, it seemed so small. Grateful, I am, but I feel sad, cheapened, broken, and cheated. I feel crushed. Why?
Why did I not deserve parents to love me? Why did I not deserve to be told I was good, I was pretty, I made someone proud? What was so wrong with me? Why was I so bad? What was wrong with me? Why did I not deserve to have love in my life? I don't know. But I didn't deserve it. Yet, I grew in spite of it all. In spite of the treatment, in spite of the anger and the abandonment, I grew. And I flourished. I hadn't been given what so many others take for granted, I didn't have unconditional love in my life, I didn't know a mothers touch or a fathers pride, but that was ok. I had God's love.
After childhood I moved into adult hood. This is where everything would change. I would make a family of my own. I would have children I would love, cherish, and give the life I never had to. I would have a child that I could love unconditionally, tell them how much I loved them, how proud I was of them, how special and unique they were. We couldn't do much about providing them loving, supportive grandparents, or an extended family, but we could at least give them the love and support of parents. I didn't have anything normal growing up, ever, and this was the one normal thing I was going to do. I was going to have a family.
And then… life was not sustained in my womb. Once again the world told me no, once again I am pushed down and held down, for a reason no one can figure out. There was no reason behind being raped as a two year old, and there is no reason behind miscarrying children in the third trimester. No one can tell me why. None of the hundreds of medical tests have been able to find a single physical reason for what is happening.
After my miscarriages I always found myself searching more to be in God's presence. No one else could bring me the comfort I desperately needed. I found a lot of that comfort in music. One of the songs that had always helped me was the song, "Held" by Natalie Grant. The lyrics,
To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling
Who told us we'd be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We're asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it's unfair
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held
Always made me cry. They helped me get to the broken, sobbing mess that I needed to be to be able to heal. It was always a private matter, done alone. Literally a balled up heap on the floor, or kneeling at the couch, begging God to heal me, begging him to show me the good that comes out of the loss of a baby, begging… and then I'd play the playlist that I had made and I would sit, listening or singing the words, emptying my heartache and soul to the Lord and asking him to take it all from me. And miraculously it always worked. I didn't walk away with the pain completely gone; I walked away with it manageable because God was holding it on his shoulders, not allowing it to weigh down mine. Faithful. I would be faithful and I would be healed.
My miscarriage in 2008 was a private one. I didn't broadcast the pregnancy or the loss. When I miscarried I asked for prayer from a woman at church. She sent me a song, called "Perfect Peace" by Laura Story. Once again the lyrics rang true, once again the spirit moved in song. It was exactly what I needed, when I needed it.
Stay close by My side
Keep your eyes on Me
Though this life is hard
I will give you perfect peace
In this time of trial
Pain that no one sees
Trust me when I say
That I will give you perfect peace
And you'll never walk alone
And you'll never be in need
Though I may not calm the storms around you
You can hide in Me
Burdens that you bear
Offer no relief
Let Me bear your load
'Cause I will give you perfect peace
Stay close by My side
And you'll never walk alone
Keep your eyes on Me
And you'll never be in need
Though this life is hard
Know that I will always give you perfect peace
I will give you perfect peace
Then the next miscarriage came. Another baby grew. Heard the heart beat, saw the features, felt the babies soul deep inside of me. Then, suddenly, without warning, the heart stopped, the baby stopped growing, and died. All I could think was, "It's unfair." Yes, the words are spoken in the song, Held. And then I thought, "God if this is love, you can keep it, I don't want love that is always pain, always hurt, never joy." I look back on my life and I try to find moments of joy, pure joy, the moments where things are so good and so right.
For many people two of the biggest moments of their lives are their weddings and the birth of their children. Our wedding was alone in a courthouse, no witnesses, no friends, no support. No dress, no cake, no cards, or presents. No, prayers or religion. A legality, nothing more nothing less, an empty legality. There was no sharing in the joy with loved ones, because lets be brutally honest, what loved ones did we have in our lives at that time who would have given a damn? Right. And the birth of a baby, we all know where that comes.
How about graduation? The one where I was told I was failure, and I owed her money for the time I lived there where she didn't collect her checks, where I was hurried out of the building, because God forbid I take up another moment of her precious time? My graduation was a joke, and I spent the night crying myself to sleep. How about the day I received a full scholarship to college and there was a ceremony, and at the last minute she decided she wasn't going to take me? So I drove to Chicago alone, and sat a table with seven empty chairs, the table that had "Rebekah and family" written on the seat holder. And when I was called up to receive the award, and he asked for "Rebekah and parents" to take the stage and he asked if I wanted to wait and I said, no, no one's coming. I smiled, I accepted, I sat back at the empty table and I made myself look busy reading over the booklet so that the looks of shock, curiosity and sympathy wouldn't get to me and I wouldn't cry. Or the time that I got the lead in a community play that sold out and I expected friends or family to attend. I had invited everyone I knew and opening night, I was backstage, taking off the makeup and no one came. I went searching, no one.
Or how about waking up in the hospital, finding out your friends are dead, and there's no one there. Getting discharged and having to call your old college roommate to drive two hours out of her way to come get you, they wouldn't let you leave alone but you had no one to call. Going home to an empty apartment, sitting on the floor and wondering what next. Thinking about taking your life, thinking, debating, planning it. Because you had no one left to call. The ones you would call were ripped out of your life, and you were truly alone. A bag full of medication, to heal your broken body and nothing to comfort your broken soul.
I can talk about countless Christmas's spent alone, in an apartment, or when I became homeless in my two door Chevy Cavelier. Making yourself not think about what day it is, or what anyone else was doing, just concentrate on getting though that one more day. I can talk about working double shifts on Thanksgiving just to not have to think about the family you didn't have to spend it with.
You know I never cried over those things. I didn't cry on Christmas or Thanksgiving, I didn't cry. You know, I didn't even blame God. I blamed myself. Myself for being a failure. Myself for not adapting into the foster care system, myself for testifying against my parents, myself for standing up to my adopted mother and not allowing her to abuse me anymore. I blamed myself for being born this way. Unlovable. But it never occurred to me that I was unlovable to God, just to humans.
With everything I went through and all the times I was completely alone, the conclusion was always the same: If they loved me they would be here. And the emptiness showed me the truth. It concreted what I had heard starting at six years old, in my first foster home;
"No one will ever love you." She said, matter of factly.
"Why?" A six year olds question, the same one Id ask about the color of the sky. Why?
"Because you are broken, people don't love broken things, they have no use."
And in a six year olds brain broken things could be fixed. Right? Everything can be fixed. And I tried. Home to home. I promised to be good, I promised to be better, to get good grades, to do what I was told, if they would only love me I would do anything they wanted. Anything. But, I couldn't terminate my parents rights, I couldn't make the court system go faster. I couldn't make myself stop aging, couldn't make myself adoptable, couldn't make myself permenant. I couldn't stay cute. I couldn't be loved. I could be tossed aside. I ended up in home after home where I was nothing more than a paycheck. Homes where I wasn't even allowed to eat dinner at the same table as the "real" family, or where I spent Christmas in my room until their "family" left and I could come out.
I was such an optimistic child. Thinking, the next home would love me, I would show them. I would show them the good girl inside of me and they wouldn't help it they WOULD love me. But years went by and I didn't have that forever home, all I had was a decade of horrible experiences and a loss of a childhood that I could never get back.
I became the queen of acting. Acting like everything was ok. Acting like I wasn't dying inside every single day, like I wasn't being told on a daily basis that I was ugly, that I was stupid, that I was fat, that I was broken, that I was… never good enough, never bright enough. That I was being spit on, hit, screamed at, hair pulled all behind closed doors. That every second I was reminded of what a hassle I was, what a chore, what a pain. That I was nothing but a waste of air. My adopted mother constantly called me a holey bucket. That it was not worth putting anything into me because it would fall right back out. That's why I didn't deserve clothes that fit, or were new, that's why I didn't deserve happiness, why I didn't deserve love, because I was too stupid/ugly/fat/worthless to ever maintain it anyway, it would fall out.
This is what it means to be held.
Yet, I tried my best just to survive, just to make it one more day; just to not give in and end the life that I was constantly told wasn't worth anything. Constant thoughts in high school, not that anyone knew, was how I could simply end it all. I didn't want to go to school, I didn't want to go home. I just survived on the thought that someday, someone would love me. I was foolish and optimistic.
I didn't do drugs. I didn't drink alcohol. I didn't have sex. I passed all my classes. I tried hard but I didn't know how to act. I didn't know what a normal relationship in any situation looked at. I tried teaching myself but it never worked. I just wanted attention, just wanted to be loved. I didn't care where it came from. But the harder I looked, the harder I tried, the more I was told I was bad. I talked too much. I was weird. I was pushy. I was an attention whore. I was stupid. I was fat. I was ugly. I was clingy. I didn't know how to wear makeup. Why was I eating that? Where did I get THOSE shoes? What is wrong with you? We don't like you. Go away. You don't fit in. What are you doing here? I don't want her in our group for prom. The words echoed around me.
Show me. Show me what you want and I'll be it. I don't know what to do. I don't understand why you hate me. I don't get it. Please just show me. Give me a chance. I don't know! I don't know the answers to your questions. I don't know why Im stupid. I don't know why I do these things, say these things, act this way… Please show me what good is, show me what love is, please… but it didn't happen. There was nowhere to run and hide so I graduated early and moved on with my life.
And I learned. I observed. I figured it out. First, I was homeless, then I moved in with a friend, then I struggled my first year of college to figure out it out, like I do often I ran. I transferred schools.
For the first time in my life I was doing something right. Good grades, great friends, a sorority, elected to Student Government, involved in campus ministries, wow, I was normal. For five minutes in the span of my life. I knew what it was like to be like everyone else, even if it was built on the perception that I had a family back home and I was normal to begin with, no one asked, so I didn't mention it. Then, the one person who showed my Christ love above everyone else, the one person who I finally lowered the walls for, the one person who showed me in actions, not words, what life was about… the ones person no one would ever suspect to, kills himself… five minutes after having a conversation with me where he tells me he will never leave, he will be the one constant safe place I have to go to in my life, and says I love you.
The beautiful house I had built around myself comes crumbling down. I recognized it. I would never be normal. I would never be that person. I would never be loved. It sealed my fate. I ran away again, switched schools, this time I didn't give a damn what happened to me, or who accepted or didn't accept me. I just was there because I had nowhere else to be… it was better than being homeless again.
When a few short months later I am in Chicago burying my mother who died from AIDS, and then to have the people I was closest too snatched up in a sudden moment, in a day that was full of life and a night that was full of death, and I was left, alone again, completely alone, like I had always been to, where was I to turn?
I turned to God. In each one of those moments. In each one of those times, when the sacred was torn from my life and I survived, I turned to God. Because, I was never really alone. At that table, I was not alone, God sat there with me. At the play, God watched in the front row. In my car, cold and miserable on Christmas night, waking every few minutes to make sure a cop wasn't going to ask me to move, God was there with me. I had faith in that. I had faith he was always there. I was unlovable, but not to God. That is what I was supposed to believe, and for a short while, I did, with all of my heart believe that.
I was saved by the blood of Christ. No matter what I do, what I say, how I feel, that certainty never disappears. Even when I try to deny him, like Peter, how can you deny someone you know exists? You do nothing but lie to yourself. I've tried to run and hide behind, hide from the fact that there is no where I can go that he can't I see. And I would be a liar to say I don't find myself praying, from time to time, for Him to show Himself to me again, and I see him… and I find myself saying, "Thank you Lord" in random moments, beautiful mountains with the setting gold of the sun highlighting it, a car spinning out of control that randomly comes to a stop without harm to anyone or anything, a healing dog, a moment of being able to breathe when my husband was safe on American soul again. Even now, I find myself thanking God. In the small and the big things.
Recently, I walked amongst the ruins of a tornado's path, and I saw the fallen power lines, the crushed homes and lives, the utter destruction of a community in Missouri… and then finding out that there were no causalities, no lives taken, even amongst the skeleton remains of property, a sigh of, "Thank God" comes raining out.
When I came out of surgery from our November miscarriage, I didn't feel like God was there anymore. I felt like they took Him when they took my baby. When I tried praying, I couldn't get past the first few words. When I tried healing, I couldn't get past the bricks that surrounded my heart and my soul. The music, no longer meant anything to me. I could hear Held fifteen times and I couldn't, I wouldn't cry.
I resolved myself and I have kept that resolve up for a year and a half now. I figured it out that day, I had been stupid all along. Because, if you are unlovable you are truly unlovable. That means to God as well. I have come to the conclusion that people think they love me. They convince themselves, it's not hard for that to happen, people convince themselves of "truth" all the time (is the world flat?). They think they love me and then one day they wake up and see they didn't. Like the foster parents I had, like the friends who wouldn't leave me and then take their own lives, in the span of a breath, as sure as I am of the mountains that surround me is as sure as I am that love, for me, in this lifetime, does not exist.
That is the explanation I came to. That is the meaning of it all. I wasn't held, I had talked myself into believing I was. I wasn't loved… you see, the promise is when everything fell we'd be held. But I am not. I am not. I can't fool myself into thinking that tomorrow things will be better. I have been thinking that my whole life. God has a plan for me. I survived. Something good will come from this. Tomorrow. Today my life will change. I will change it and tomorrow things will be better. It's been a cycle. I had faith through all of it. Faith before, during and after the storms that life has dealt me. Faith, bad thing happens, faith, grow and heal, faith, bad thing happens, faith, grow and heal, faith, bad thing happens. Stop. Stop it here. I don't want the cycle anymore. It is bullshit. Before I have time to heal, before I have time to take the next breath more topples over onto me. I have had faith. I have looked towards the future. I have found bad in good. I have done everything right.
I have done that. I have changed my life. I have sought help. I have opened my heart and let people in. I have been optimistic. I have searched and sought his plan. I had done everything right. I had healed, I had grown, I had determination. And each time, each and every time, I was slapped in the face. Each time I got up, each time I built something, each time I turned to God I was crushed down. I don't deserve happiness. I know now that happiness brings sorrow. Every time. I have faith in people, and then I am abused, abandoned, hurt. I build meaningful relationships and a semi truck driver, a disease, a drunk driver, their own hand, or God comes and takes them from my life.
You can only stand up so many times after falling down. If your house gets destroyed by a hurricane every year, after the second or third time people start looking at you and wondering why you keep rebuilding in the same spot, are you stupid?
How do I feel? How do I honestly feel? I was told once by a woman that if she was a child inside my womb she would kill herself too, rather than be born to me.
And the words ring true.
Right now I feel many things. I feel broken. I feel worthless. I feel dirty. I feel ashamed. I feel ugly. I hate looking at myself, I hate looking at pictures of myself, and I see failure. I feel hopeless. I feel guilty. I feel cheated. I feel useless. I feel torn. I feel like my best is never good enough. I feel hurt. I feel let down. I feel stupid. I feel angry. I feel selfish. I feel confused. I feel lost. But mainly I feel empty. I have rebuilt the walls that should have never come down and want nothing more than to hide behind them until it is my turn to go.
So I merely survive this life, one day at a time, until it is my turn to die. Where will I go? I am not sure. I believe in Christ, I believe his blood was shed for my sins, and in that I believe in Heaven. But can a person who is unloved, by God himself, get in? I have no answers. I trudge on, I wake up, I go to bed, and I endure this life that is not worth living.
Will I ever truly live again?
Empty, broken, a holey bucket… building up the armor so that the next time a building falls on me I wont be shattered, because I wont give a damn to have let my walls down enough for it to hurt.
at 4:26 PM