KICKING MY WAY OUT!!!

…I’m still fighting…grabbing everything…to stay afloat!!!

Don’t Ever forget how FAR you have Come!!!!

I’m still fighting, grabbing every thing in sight to stay afloat!!! It hasn’t been an easy 2 weeks… I have major stomach/liver issues trying to blindside me. I refuse to crumble. More bland foods, less fat, no Coffee, no heavy, greasy meals. I CAN DO THIS.

Push Push Push Thru the pain…. Drive Drive Drive in the Positive vibes! IT IS AWFUL TO HAVE AN UPSET STOMACH EVERY DAY FOR THE PAST 2 WEEKS! I think I turned the corner today… I had made hot sausage and peppers at the onset of symptoms, then the neighbors bought me a pizza THE NEXT DAY!! It’s their way to pay for my lawn work on their yard. I am NEVER going to eat tomato sauce , hot sausage, pepperoni, cheese, peppers EVER AGAIN!! Bluk bluk!

So, if you think I have given up on my SHAKE UP, I HAVE NOT! I am just regrouping!!

These images are hard to look at. I remember how ugly I felt at this time. I had been away from my abusive husband for about 4 years, but the low self esteem, the disgust at how he had cheated on me and yet wanted me to risk my life for him to get a reduced sentence…all these feelings had sunk in so deep. Even though I had turned my life over to God, gotten clean and sober, and was doing all the right things, I had traded drug addiction for sugar addiction. Anything to ease the pain…I was on some serious psych meds too, they obviously weren’t the right ones…yet.

Life is a journey, we hit bumps, detours, switchbacks and sometimes we lose control and crash. Those are all opportunities to learn, to climb out of the wreckage, to learn to walk again, run again, then one day….to soar with the eagles!!!! (or the albatross!)

Hating who we are in the present totally contrary to self improvement. Why would we want to care for, nurture, work hard for, give our all for someone we don’t like?

We must love and cherish the person we are NOW, to be able to devote ourself to the Future person we will surely be! So ROCK ON Suezeecue!!

RED HOT and Climbing Up!

ENERGY! GREAT BURST OF ENERGY!

visualizing my goals has been HUGELY beneficail!

AMAZING!! I really have felt exhilarated , even in just this first week of “future me” thinking!

That’s just wonderful, I neeed this;

After all we have been thru this past year, and my isolation, my thinking had become sluggish, self-centered and negative. Too much couch potato activity, not enough oxygen getting into the ole noggin. I needed a jolt, a wake up, a SHAKE UP! And I received just what I needed, just in time.

(as a side note: I am EXTREMELY SPIRITUAL, so I credit God with leading me in the right direction, because I prayed to be able to serve him more fully. I believe the Bible where it says that when we request in our prayers the things that help us do his will, he Always answers us. Not like asking for a car, or a million bucks…)

Suggestions for refocusing have inspired me and are easy for me as an artist, because I am naturally a very visual person. I used my handmade visual prompts to great success when I lost 70 pounds in 2013-2014. I AM MAKING A BUNCH OF LITTLE POSITIVE NOTES, AND POSTING THEM ALL AROUND MY HOUSE! As has been suggested, I write some goals on them, a little doodle of what that looks like to me, and encouragement ; the kind of motivating encouragement I would offer a dear friend, or loved one. Notes like I used to stick everywhere for my Mom to cheer her. NOTES LIKE THESE:

A LITTLE THING LIKE THIS DOES WONDERS FOR MY MOTIVATION!!

This method of visual perks has helped me heal from Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and years of Emotional Abuse! I first was introduced to “ART Therapy” as an adolescent in a Psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. To get at the ‘real’ problem, this method allowed us to let out the pain, albeit subconsciously , by use of color, shape, pressure of marks, etc. The aim wasn’t to create a thing of beauty, it was to allow the anguish(or anger, etc.)to vent.

(For myself, this was insightful, and extremely freeing. I have uses this technique in my art practice to this day, very intense, more focused version of it. )

***I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL!!!*** ATTENTION!! IF YOU FEEL LIKE HARMING YOURSELF GET PROFESSIONAL HELP IMMEDIATELY!***

visualizing my goals has been HUGELY beneficial! as someone who had to depend on herself for positive confirmation and encouragement, I feel this small action has been pivotal in my motivation now!

One thing is crucial for me as someone with Bipolar Disorder, I have to constantly gauge my level of Mania when I feel so “UP”. If it is a Manic Episode I must reach out to my doctor before it escalates. For someone with this illness, mania can lead to devestating extremes of behavior. I ALWAYS take my illness seriously, TAKE MY MEDICATION, AND FOLLOW MY WELLNESS PLAN!!

I love my life today, and now that I pried myself away from Poptarts, Ice Cream and endless Film Noir, and my woman-eating Couch, I am feeling that love again!

Here is another therapeutic tool that has been Life Altering for me: Forgiving the Past Me.

I will discuss that in my next post!

The Discomfort of Disbelief

“The feeling of being doubted…is an ever-present background noise…”

Did you ever wonder if people believe you? Is that only the mental stomping ground of the addict? The alcoholic?

The feeling of being doubted, of my integrity being questioned, is an ever present background noise…especially when I am sick. I was even afraid, just now, to write the word ‘sick’. (wouldn’t it be better to minimize?)

One very HUGE contributing factor to this constant was the years upon years of describing extreme pain to a plethora of physicians who could find no ‘easy’ or ‘obvious’ condition to label me with. There were no broken bones, I had a history of drug abuse, I had a history of a mental illness diagnosis, and I am a woman. I was also very strong, working difficult physical jobs normally held by men, which may or may not have been a factor.

My experience has not been an isolated one when it comes to women who have Fibromyalgia and/or similar diagnosis. During the years before the medical profession widely recognized this condition I was one of a multitude who went thru years of mental anguish and physical agony before finally being given a smidgen of relief.

Finally a Diagnosis !

It took real determination (and very real disability and pain) to keep pushing on towards a diagnosis. I was told it was all in my head, that I was just overweight and needed exercise and that what I was experiencing was just a consequence of aging. At this point I was crying every night from the burning in my joints, in my muscles and in my spine. My best description for that time was as if I were wearing a dense heavy coat that was soaking wet, all the time. A coat that weighed about 100 pounds and was crushing me.

At this point my work was suffering, a kind boss had taken me aside after noticing my wincing, and suggested a Rheumatologist. Initially even he was sceptical until he got back the results of the CT Scans and MRI’s. (He was the first to order these types of tests!) I distinctly remember the initial shock at him gently taking my hand and apologizing, so sincerely, for not believing the severity of my discomfort. He went on to ask me if I had been in a car accident, the images showed that level of damage to my spine.

There were a myriad of issues the films brought to light, and from that point on my care finally addressed them. The physical relief was matched and even surpassed by the rush of validation! I was taken seriously!! I was, finally, believed!

Built Up in Love

…Know that you are loved…

I just attended one of my meetings on Zoom, for Worship. It amazes me how much these 2 meetings per week have become my greatest source of comfort, by seeing all my loving friends. It’s wonderful to feel the warmth-it even comes in loud and clear thru the computer!!

Isolation can be a killer for the mentally ill. There have been times when the only thing pinning me to this fabric of life was contact with another human being. The worst part of being so deeply depressed and out of hope, for me as a Bipolar person who used to have suicidal ideations, was that all I could see, ALL I COULD SEE, was the abyss. I had absolutely no ability on my own at that point to make a decision to reach out of the blackness for help. When you are in the dark, it is difficult to see a friend. The emptyness seems to stretch endlessly away, I had no thought of how I would hurt my loved ones.

I thank my God that someone saw my despair, and made a move, even though I said I was fine. Over and over and over…I would paste on a smile, because we of the depressed masses are SO GOOD AT ACTING, and repeat the phrase, “Oh no, I’m really fine, just a little tired…”, or “Nothings wrong, seriously, I’m fine.” Especially as a teen, I knew just how to shut my Mom down with a roll of my eyes and an exaggerated sigh of frustration. A slammed door worked well too.

At the time in my life when I was suicidal, I was not yet diagnosed with any mental illness. I was a teenager, had been sexually abused routinely, had been drinking and taking drugs for years, and felt so sick inside, mainly with self-loathing. Up to that point, say around age 13, I was starving for love and attention at home. I know now that it was largely in part due to my parents’ exhaustion at working constantly. But there was more. My Dad was tired, constantly, and angry, and he was very grouchy. I was SO sensitive that every word he said was rejection. I was not at all at fault, but I was acting out my need for love in promiscuity. Of course , having been sexually abused by trusted adults beginning at age 8, I’m sure I needed serious counselling even that early, but those were the years before it was ok to talk about such things.

I had many experiences where I heard my best friend and I being blamed for causing the abuse, even at the ages of 8 and 9, by the abusers co-conspiring wife, in the courtroom!!!! Also, the old-fashioned Protestant attitudes exhibited by Grandparents and Aunts and other family members told me in no uncertain terms that these abuses were never to be mentioned again. Nice girls didn’t talk about such things! Nobody will ever want to marry you!! You are “spoiled”now!!

These lies and the ensuing actions of not being cuddled, or hugged, or even being allowed to accompany my beloved little cousin to gymnastics class seared my little heart and mind. How does a child process rejection? She doesn’t know that her family is perpetuating the trauma, or that they are sick too, or just plain mean. She believes the lie that she is unlovable . Imagine for a minute: An eight year old believing it is HER FAULT that she was violated . That Daddy and Grandma don’t love her anymore…

Sin’s Web ©STMartin

So clear to me now, how wrong they were. And it also so WONDERFUL THAT I understand now. I hope so much that someone out there sees this who has a loved in a similar situation, and reaches out to the child, or teenager, or adult…Tell them IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT !!! You are LOVED, AND CHERISHED, AND NOT TO BLAME!!!

The circumstances that the abuse happened under were not caused by you. You absolutely DID NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN, NOR DID YOU MAKE THIS HAPPEN!! Repeat these truths over and over, until you can truly believe them. You must try, even though it may seem to be the hardest thing in the world, to find someone safe to talk to. For me, this was a Doctor at the emergency room, where I wound up after jumping out of a moving car. He really cared, even though I refused to talk initially. He did not judge me, or act shocked, or even run and get my Mom. Today, after years of treating sexual assault the fault of the victim, I would hope that ALL Doctors would give help and comfort to assault victims. This most likely is not the case, so don’t give up in seeking help. There are suicide prevention hotlines you can call, also 911 and 211 in the US. In the front of the phone book, if they still make these, there are lists of helpful organization, also safe places to go.

I know how hard it is to reach out, but you can do it. If you don’t feel up to talking to a human, there is still the BEST FRIEND you will ever have, who you can talk to, Anytime, Anywhere, out loud, or silently from your hurting heart… This person is God. Jehovah is his name, and he is Jesus’ Father. He knows you are hurting, and he wants you to call on him…

I did not believe that God could love me, and I suffered on my own for 20 more years. You don’t have to suffer that long!

Psalm 34:18 says, ” Jehovah is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 94:19 reads,”When anxieties overwhelmed me, you comforted and soothed me.”

Psalm 27:10 also says, “Even if my own father and mother abandon me, Jehovah himself will take me in.”

For me, praying to God has been my lifeline. Even though I live alone now, I know He hears my prayers anytime and every time. I say, “in Jesus name.”at the end of all my prayers because Jesus tells us at John 14:6 , “No one comes to the Father except thru me.” Thus is because God made Jesus High Priest and God requires that we acknowledge this when we pray! So Jesus also states this truth in the Bible at John 16:3,

” If you ask the Father for anything, he will give it to you in my name.”

One of my favorite verses in the Bible offers me so much insight into God’s love for us . It is in Isaiah 41:10, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be anxious, for I am your God. I will fortify you, yes I will help you, I will really hold onto you with my right hand of righteousness.”

I hope this brings you comfort and hope. Know that you are loved…

PARTY GIRL!

“PARTY GIRL”, A Brand New, Fresh off the Easel, 12″x 12″ on Canvas Painting by Susan T. Martin. Ready to be Purchased and hung with pride in your home!

The SLOG of Joy

Grumble. Growl. Grunt.

.   Swear. Sweat. Stomp.

. Punch. Pound. Pant.

.  Breathe. Binge. Boss.

.  Shout. Scream, Smear.

.  Fall in a heap, exhausted. Then get up, clean up, and do it all over again.

.  There is joy in this. This “living” we do. No matter how sweaty, or dirty, or ugly, this “living” is a beautiful thing.

.   There is no ‘give up’ here, no ‘quit’ , no ‘over it, no ‘packing it in’.

This is where every. breath. matters.

.    DO YOU HEAR ME?

EVERY BREATH MATTERS.

Right now, in my little trailer in the middle of down, down, way down and out USA, I am deciding to care. I am deciding that my sufferings will amount to something, that all this silence and fear and worry  in my heart will be done away with, that with this breath of life my Creator blessed me with will be used to help someone else live, too.

.  I know I’m a rag-tag mess. I can’t think straight most of the time, and there are days I can’t leave my house. I am oppressed by an illness that tells me I don’t have it, and that feeling like I’m sick is a sin. I’m not exhausted, it tells me, I’m lazy. I’m not in excruciating pain, I’m a dope seeker. I was not abused, assaulted and raped, I was promiscuous.

.  I am here, I am now, and with my God’s help, I will reach out to someone else. And with my God’s help, I will not believe the lies. Instead I believe the Bible, God’s own letter to me, and to all his children. I want to live.

SUSAN IS HERE! NEVER FEAR!!!

…there is no “wait until” time to be beautiful…

Everyone want’s to be pretty, or beautiful, I think. I know I was obsessed with the thought my whole life, and deprived myself of much happiness for what I thought was a severe lack of it. I had no sense of my own “looks” till about 8 or so, my parents told me I was pretty before that, and my Sicilian Grandma would pinch my cheek and say , “Bella, bella!!”

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Baby me in my favorite coat

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the artist, poet, writer, and survivor: S. T. Martin

Then, one summer day, my Mom decided to enter me in a local child’s beauty contest…She started by fussing with my hair. I was busy digging up bugs or something in the yard, so her newfound interest in me was a bit unsettling. I was an obedient child, so I let her fuss and fiddle. I remember it being spring, and the yard was full of bird’s chirping and golden light. Mom was in a good mood initially, then she asked me to sit a certain way on the back porch, and she whipped out a camera. Well, that seemed fine, and I asked her what the occasion was. Oooh, a little contest, and you are going to win! This made me more agreeable, initially.flower girl Susiejpg_LI

.  The session took quite a while, and Mom wasn’t satisfied with the efforts, so we kept pressing on. I think I must have gotten too fussy, because I don’t have any warm fuzzy feelings attached to this memory. I just know we got thru it somehow, and I went back to my scientific bug experiments.

Weeks passed, then excitedly the local gazzette prints the photos for review. All the other girls had their hair in pigtails with ribbons, lacy ruffled collars, some even had little dot earrings, or a pretty necklace. We raced thru the names to my photo…oh…my photo. Here was a ‘new’ look! With half of my little face in shadow, you could see right away that Mom hadn’t had the right lighting. Or maybe it was the bipolar side showing up even then!!! More than that, though, I was wearing just my favorite tee shirt, and my short “pageboy” haircut was in stark contrast to the other, pretty, girls. No necklace, no cute little dot earrings. And no prize.WIN_20200710_02_13_14_Pro_LI (4)…Sigh… Mom was more upset than I was initially, I had never compared myself to other girls before that, as I recall. I do remember Dad criticizing her photo-taking ability, as he conitinued to do for the rest of her life, and thereafter for a good portion of mine(till his death!). There were rumblings inside the jealous side of my psyche, the newspaper had it all there in black and white : Susie is different. You would think that would be a good thing for a little tomboy like me, but I did not like the way it felt.

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The Way I See Sue©STMartin

.  And I really hated having my photo taken, for a long time since. But now that I am past childhood, even the one that lasted till I was 40 or so, and now that I have a wonderful electronic device to photograph myself, I like to. From time to time I get really down on myself, and I am afraid I may turn into my Mom, who would gaze at herself in the mirror and say, “I’m so ugly.”  When I found her doing that it made me cry , for her, and get angry, for me, because I am her identical twin!!!  We are all beautiful.

.  Make sure you hear me: we are all beautiful. All of us, all the time.

There is no “wait until” time to be beautiful…until I lose weight, until I get a tan, until I grow up, until I get some body changing, unnatural surgical procedure. And you don’t lose your beauty when you age, either, so don’t fall in that rut. Or try not to.

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My New Braveheart Girl Hairdo (remember Mel Gibson’s Mullet?)

.  Be gentle in your assessment of your appearance, don’t judge yourself by peering at your reflection from 2 inches away. Everybody has enlarged pores from that distance! And scars? Honey, I have scars if you wan’t to compare them sometime. From acne, to road rash due to jumping out of a moving car, to adult chicken pox that were even in my mouth and on my bottom as a 40 year old….to all my surgery scars and beatings I received, chipped teeth and all, even the scar where my husband stabbed me, or the ones on my neck when he strangled me unconscious. Yes, I have scars.But it is really true: What is on the outside is of no importance. Some may say, that’s easy to say if you are beautiful, but what if you are disfigured? I watch alot of documentaries, and one of the recent ones was about the Young woman some years ago who had her face torn off by her friend’s pet chimpanzee. This woman was nearly dead when help arrivived, and her story is a traumatic one.

.  But her daughter just says it all when she says that she used to not believe those sayings that “what is on the inside is what makes someone beautiful”, until she was with her Mom again after the accident. Her Mom is so beautiful, without a face, or hands, her inner strength and love prove the old saying true. If you are strong and can watch stories like that she really is an amazing and wonderful example to all.

.  So, finally, when I was bumming out on my looks the other day, I kicked myself off the couch, put on some colorful makeup and clothes and had a silly photo shoot. It really was nice, in this isolation, to just have a play day. And the fun wasn’t over after the pictures were taken, then I had more fun editing them until I really thought , ” I amWIN_20200710_02_12_37_Pro_LI (3) pretty!”

P.S. I did mention the make-up and photo-editing, didn’t I?

Secrets…Many Secrets

 

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So many Secrets©STMartin

WIN_20191108_04_51_11_Pro (3)    Should we tell our secrets? Burden our loved one’s with them? Jeopardize our relationships with society, our peers? Risk our reputations?

.     Many people choose not to. Instead they carry that burning bucket of nastiness hidden away deep inside. Letting it rot away all their prospects for joy, searing their potential away under the scars of a guilty conscience. And , in the end, it’s all for naught. They really didn’t fool anyone, most of all they did not fool God.

.    I had secrets, many, many dark ones. In my abused child’s mind a darkness festered, and I have hidden it desperately for so many years. I thought I had it hidden so well that it could never hurt anyone, least of all me. But it has Hurt me. For a long and terrible time. I thought that the God of the Bible would never forgive me, could never love me, I was that dirty and sinful and twisted. I was determined to keep my secret to the grave, and I was even working on helping that day come sooner, putting myself in the grave sooner.

Oh, I tried, but it seemed like I was indestructible , at least physically, but I was succeeding in killing me inside. The longer I held onto, the deeper I buried, the harder I punished myself …my secret was like a squirrel in a pillow case, fighting it’s squirmy way our while ripping my sanity to shreds.

The pain just got too great, and after 30+years I finally bent my knees and poured out my heart to God. It took a very long prayer, and I had to keep praying and spilling my guts to Him, purging all that blackness out of me. All those years of bottled up guilt had become a well of poison, shot from arrows from Satan, telling me I was worthless, unlovable, beyond redemption and without hope. Lies. Lies upon lies upon lies, made to keep me far away from my Creator and His Son.

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When the pain of keeping my secrets became unbearable, I had found a tiny old woman, a long time student of the Bible, who took me in and saw my agony. She saw that I was full to bursting of the ugly secrets that kept me from God. She recognized my suffering and showed me in God’s word where a man named Saul who was a persecuter of Jesus followers, who chased Christians down and dragged them back to be killed, who stood by and watched while Jesus followers were stoned…This man was forgiven by God. This man was used by God to write books of the Bible under inspiration. This murderous villain was forgiven of all his sins, all his awful dirty secrets. This man became the apostle Paul.

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Pink Dusk©STMartin

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Oh, the cleansing tears I cried, tears of gratitude and joy, tears of freedom from a horrible heavy burden. Suddenly I felt as if a Boulder had rolled off my back, I was lighter, the air was clearer, my vision better, my legs stronger. But most of all I felt a light come shining inside my darkest places, where the nasty secrets had been buried, and this light , in it’s cleansing brightness has stayed in my heart down to this day. Because God saw fit to sacrifice his perfect Son so that sinner’s like Saul, and like me, could be forgiven and have a clean conscience before Him. By Jesus ransom sacrifice I have been washed clean of all my secrets, and God has thrown all my sins behind his back, never to be remembered again.

.  Oh, there is so much more to this life than I ever thought possible. I do not cower in fear anymore when darkness falls, because the light of God’s truth shines on those who repent, turn around and put faith in Jesus, and then take steps to learn about the will of the God of the Bible and do it to the best of their ability .

.  You can feel this glorious unburdening too. I hope you can. I go to the website JW.org for free Bible education materials. It is totally free, and I love to look at the videos and listen to the music. It brings joy to me in these difficult times. I hope so much for you, dear readers, to feel this love and be relieved of whatever burden you carry. Thanks for reading!

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A Little Better/Thanks to Friends

I must not complain. I MUST NOT COMPLAIN. I MUST NOT COMPLAIN! I MUST NOT COMPLAIN!!!!!

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breathlessly blue

I hope I am getting better about that. When so many have, and are, suffering SO MUCH. I shudder to think how it must sound to people who had to say their last goodbye via cell phone. My own little issues are so insignificant in the face of the reality of Covid-19. I suppose I’m like the rest of humanity in the face of enormous grief, enormous death… all we can really see is our own little corner, our own miniscule lives…???????????????????????????????????????

.  That’s the thing that is SO remarkable to me about God. How can he love us so much? How can He care about a selfish little worm such as I. It is because He Is Love. Not “He has love.” Not “He feels love.”

.   He IS love. He IS LOVE.

.  Some people have been fed the lie that it is God who causes suffering. In reality, the Bible teaches that it is the evil one who caused death and suffering, by lying to the first human pair in the garden of Eden. That one caused them to die by his lie that they could eat the forbidden fruit and not die. “You surely will not die.”, he claimed.

” Then death spread to all men”

.  But God made a way out for us immediately. Immediately, right there in Eden. He spoke about Jesus, about how His Son would ultimately kill off the devil, do away with death forever, and by his willing sacrifice would give humans a way to forgiveness and a clean conscience before God.

. Even little worms like me! Isn’t that amazing. Yes. It really is.

.  So, don’t ever doubt God’s love, or that HE IS LOVE. He did not cause this pandemic, nor will he allow such things to continue forever. There will be an end to all human suffering very soon…you can count on it. Don’t give up, keep on seeking…

.   I will meditate on these things today, and stay upbuilt, and focus my mind on helping others…and I wish you all peace. We will give a great shout of praise to our God, all of us together, in the not too distant future…