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!

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?

The CLEAN Effect!

      Yessssssss….Deep inhale….Yessssss….

.  There is often some bright speck, a teeny-weeny glint, in the midst of devastation. Often this tiny glimmer of good goes unseen for years, decades, even centuries. I’m sure there have been major disasters where no bright side was ever found, the loss being only that. A loss. Losses. Deaths. Dying.

.  We could only see that, if we got tunnel vision with this Covid Pandemic. Only the disease, the fear, the grief, the bodies stacked up like cord wood. It could just open it’s huge great-white-shark-sized mouth with it’s blood-covered-razor-sharp giant teeth and swallow us whole. Then our lives will have ended, with a dark shroud of sadness enveloping our memory. Is this how you are feeling? Are you frightened?

.         It certainly is a normal reaction to this situation. But there IS a silver lining… Have you heard about the animals? They are coming out of the woods, out of the forests, out of the bushes, out of the darkest recesses and back into the sunlight! With humans staying quiet, staying out of their cars, letting the Earth rest from it’s gasping, the animals are out!!! It thrills me, it brings joy to my weary heart to see images of river otters playing in a grassy median, rolling and romping, and laughing!(I’m sure they are laughing, they have to be!)

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My Izzy, 2005-2017

.  I see cardinals again , and osprey flying low. I hear owls, and see ‘coons and possum. Oh, I know, I’m talking about “less desirable”wildlife, but let me tell you, it fills my heart near to bursting. As a child I would read “Born Free”and Miss Anderson’s Cheetah stories, gobbling up the word images of animals running free across African Savannahs. I dreamed nightly about my wild Stallion that I would ride someday, and about Bambi becoming a Stag.WIN_20191128_03_49_42_Pro (2)

.  My Mom’s Bible Study books had images of happy people hugging lions and petting tigers, and I physically yearned for those images to come true. As I learned about God and thought about His love in creating puppies and kittens, I found Bible passages that promised a paradise one day. And as the years have past my faith has become brighter, and the day for me to hug a white tiger, or play with a wolf pup has gotten closer ,too.Picture 005

.  Yes, there is much sadness, sickness and death. There is injustice and corruption and pollution. And , sadly, there are worse things to come in the future, no matter where you live on this planet. But it all is bringing us closer each day to God’s fulfilled promises, such as the end of wickedness, pain, crime and hatred. To days of joyful work for humans, building houses, planting gardens. Many people think that God is causing this horrible pandemic, and that He is a God who throws people into Firey Hell.

.  I have studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses for many years, and was baptized in 2003…but I had many things that I changed, only with God’s help. I was a  full blown drug addict and alcoholic for 23 years, beginning at age 13. I only knew abusive and violent relationships, having my nose broken twice, being tied to a tree, stabbed and shot at, being choked unconscious more than once, and more. All this by my own husband. By the time I was 33, I looked like a 50 year old, and I felt 100. I had so many health problems, pain was my constant companion and still is. I smoked Crack, Pot, snorted coke, meth and used drugs intravenously for years. I drank my first beer most days by 9am, and lit my first cigarette before my eyes were open in the morning. I now have PTSD, and COPD. I had Hep C . I was dying and wished I was dead. Finally, before my husband killed me, he was arrested by the ATF and was convicted as a habitual offender, 15 years to life.Picture 419

.  Oh, how I cried. I thought my world had ended. I really went wild. He wanted me to work with the law to get his sentence reduced, I thought ATF agents were behind every tree. I refused to work with the Feds, because I thought I was smarter than them. I hooked up with a member of a MC club, and planned to tell the FBI about it… After all the humiliation and abuse they told me they would never use any info I gave them…I wanted to die… But I didn’t.

.  I called my Mom, and begged to come home. She let me. I was the proverbial daughter. Near death and bankrupt in every way I moved back to my parent’s house.

Lots of things happened that I could go on about. Bad things. And worse things.

.  But there was a glimmer, a glint of good in all that mire I was in…

.  I got on my knees before I took the last step to suicide, and I begged, pleaded, beseeched, cried and screamed my anguish and remorse out to God.

.  He heard. And He helped.

. I was able to get clean and sober, 21 years ago this September. I quit smoking the next year. And then, after calling God my “Higher Power”in AA for another year I learned that God , Jehovah God, could and would and did forgive me.

.  Yesssssss….deep inhale…..Yessssss!!!

.    You can feel this forgiveness too. I hope you do. Then I can meet you, in paradise on earth when all this badness is finished, for good.

(if you want to learn like I did, JW.org is where to go… You’ll  be able to read and study the Bible, watch videos and learn precious truths…and you will learn how God sent His Son, Jesus to sacrifice his life for ALL humans…yep, me…and YOU TOO !!!)

We Are Going To Make It

Is anyone out there as old as I am? I grew up to the Mary Tyler Moore show, on every week as I recall. When I was 10 or so, she was beautiful to me, not just as a pretty woman (which she was and is, if she is still alive, is she?…)but as a woman in “the workplace”. I was too young to understand the dynamics of discrimination against women, I was buying into the whole “be a good girl, speak when you are spoken to” misogynist mantra.

That is where the slogan “We’re going to make it after all” first made me feel warm and fuzzy. My folks both worked long, hard hours to feed my brother and I. We saw them briefly each morning. Mom on her way to bed after all night at a local “old folks” hospital, and Dad on his way to the Speciality  Steel Mill. The only thing “special” about the steel mill that I could see was the fact that Dad was “‘specially”angry when he got home.

.  We didn’t want for anything that I ever knew, except that I never got designer jeans like my best friend, with the rich dad. No, my belly was full, and I was as happy as a chubby pre-teen with thick glasses and a mouth full of braces could be in the late 70’s. The only thing lacking was joy, any kind of joy, at home. Even “The Holidays”, when I still celebrated them, were joyless, because there was always disappointment lurking under the tree. Family gatherings were nice before I got old enough to feel the undercurrents of dislike and tension that flowed thru the affairs, like the lambrusco in the fancy glasses.

.  We are going to make it. After all.

.  I’m in the ” after all” phase of life now. And I have made it, thus far . All the family drama is distant history, now that my parents are dead they don’t fight as much.(chuckle). I have learned to live without them here, and I have gleefully learned to live without my abusive ex and now deceased husband. (No, I’m not gleeful at his being deceased.)

.  I have lived on my own for 4 years now, Dad died on 3/7/16, and Mom on 3/21/10. The grief did not stab me like a bayonet to the stomach this year, no, it was a dull, ongoing ache that I thought I didn’t feel, until this very moment. A heaviness inside my heart, a gray, damp blanket on my view. But I have made it, after all…

.  I want to share happy tidings, tho’, not the fear mongering that is flying all around the internet and all the airwaves. Yes, this Pandemic is a very, very bad thing. Many of our loved ones, friends and neighbors will get very sick, and many will die. More people will die than usually do in a “regular” time period. It will be very difficult to work, to shop, to meet with friends and family. However, we must endure these difficulties with a hopeful demeanor, and share our hope with  Everyone we can!!! We All need to support our fellow humans, and we CAN!!!!!

You may ask why, and I understand how hard it is not to have a pity party when one has no access to TP or Oreos. I am not immune to this situation, especially the Oreo thing. But as a person who has lived with chronic intractable pain all over my body for the last 20years, I do have experience with the power of positivity shared. This will be a HUGE HELP TO ALL OF US: BE UPBEAT AND POSITIVE WHEN SPEAKING TO OTHERS! DO NOT BOG OTHERS DOWN BY SHARING NEGATIVITY SUCH AS WHAT WE CAN’T DO, BUT FOCUS ON STEPS WE CAN TAKE. 

One thing we must do to help is STAY POSITIVE when we talk to others. Just as you would not talk to a Child about negative outcomes of a storm, we all, ALL need comfort from our fellow humans right now. Just as we would not want our Mom to be overly anxious about a situation, think of your friends and neighbors who are anxious also!

.   We want to help the people we love, and hopefully we want to help our fellow man who we don’t even know. I am going to work on this, and I already know it helps, because people who cared for me when I was incapacitated did it for me. And I made it thru to better days. Picture 346

. I hope you are doing well, that you can see the sky today, wherever you are. One thing that helps me so much is prayer because I know God is close to me when I pray to him in his Son, Jesus name. Reading the Bible books of Psalms and brings me peace, and talking on the phone to others about God’s promises soon to be fulfilled.  If I can just smile at someone, it lifts my mood and hopefully theirs as well. I send out my warm hugs and smiles to all of you.

.  We’re going to make it, after all!

Jehovah created a paradise...
frannie-pannie…

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

What this means to me :

I hope that it means that some where, in this great big world, a child won’t be violated tonight…because someone talked to a parent, a trusted adult, a mental health professional, a trusted member of law enforcement, a dear friend, and told them what had happened. And that the child in need was protected, held fast and kept safe, warm, and loved.

I hope that this year a young person remembers the warnings their elders give them about safety, about drinking, drugging and having sex, about going out with strangers, or getting into dangerous situations. That by remembering he/she sees the warning signs, feels the prickle of fear and runs home just as fast as their legs can carry them. I hope they tell their friends to leave too, to be brave enough NOT TO CARE WHAT THEIR FRIENDS THINK!  (I can tell you that, for me, those friends sided with my abusers the next day, and I was all alone in my shame and embarrassment and pain. My girlfriends laughed right along with the men at my torn undies hanging from a tree branch… )

Be AWARE !!!  BE aware of your surroundings, be aware of where the streetlights are, be aware and stay away from dark alleys, dense shrubbery and people who make you feel uncomfortable. Don’t tell yourself that you are just “being silly”.  I never thought ill of anyone when I was a kid,  I liked to be around older guys, and I thought they liked me…I never thought that I could be the one they raped- The other girls were pretty, and “sexy”.  I never thought a couple beers could hurt, or some weed-a few tokes, right? I was no match for an adults strength, especially not with my guard down and buzzed.

What I want you to know is that if I could turn back time, I would listen to people who told me to take care, but I know this is such a tough world. We get lonely, we want to grow up so we can have “fun”, and no one at home seems to give us attention. That’s how I felt. All my friends had “boyfriends”, they all had “boobs”, they giggled at all the boys. And my folks were always working, or sleeping or watching t.v. I couldn’t wait to hit the night air, pull my jean jacket on and take a long swig out of a bottle…

My life changed forever. I see kids I knew with beautiful families, homes, and feeling good about themselves…I have spent the last 45 years recovering , healing my broken mind, my beaten body, and my crushed spirit… Please, please be aware that these things can happen.

My heart breaks for the families of children who just made that one error in judgement, never to be the same again.

If my experience could just get one person to think for a second before making a decision, then please, take it to heart. I am truly grateful to have survived the violence, God has seen fit to use me today. I hope you can draw close to Him too. He will never hurt or abandon you.

If something ever does happen to you, please find someone to talk to who can help. A rape/crisis center, or hotline can let you be anonymous if you want to. Please don’t carry it around inside. For me it just hurt too bad to keep in. But when I let it out and got help, I began a wonderful healing journey!

I wish you love, and peace tonight. Just be aware.Resized952019040395161126957622Resized952019040395155335959016

Re-Abused, Re-Raped, Re-Traumatized

I did something today that has me all twisted up inside like it just happened…And I thought I was SO far Over It, So Healed, So Strong, So SMART. All the years and years and years of therapy, and here I am again. Bruised, tattered, and lying on the cold floor of a dark green tent, somewhere in the woods near Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. I was a thirteen year old misfit of a girl, never had a real boyfriend, only been kissed once, a true virgin in the full sense, with a facefull of glasses and buck teeth…all I had wanted when I set out was a sleepover with my 2 best friends.

But here I was, in the wee hours of the next morning, dirty and snotty-faced from screaming and crying, bruised from the force of the 2 young men who had raped me, naked and bleeding with my underwear now flying from a tree near the bonfire. “the two young men”h Ha! Who am I kidding?  The animals, the dirty rotten dogs who stole my honor, and ruined me forever. From the shame of my friends seeing me, when they woke up and sobered up, and their stony rejection that claimed I had “stolen their boyfriends”, a rejection that lasted for years…to my father’s face when I was shoved out of the guys’ car at 7 am, when he saw my smeared face and smelled the stink of sex and Southern Comfort on me, his thirteen year old child, and when his face screwed into an ugly mask and uttered the searing, scorching words: “You’re disgusting…”and turned his back on me and slammed the door…

It all just came back, hitting me like a sledgehammer, when I looked up the rapists on Facebook, and saw found one of them, bald now and married for 25 or so “happy ” years… How dare they have happy , normal lives? I didn’t know I was still so angry, so scarred…

I will turn 55 tomorrow. I spent twenty 23 of those years as an Alcoholic and Drug Addict,Dealer, Thief , a violent, broken girl who never had a loving relationship with a man her whole adult life. Every single one was abusive, punching me, kicking me, choking, even stabbing me and shooting at me…(and that was the one I married!)

But, you know, I am someone those rapists can never claim to be. I am honest now, and clean, sober, forgiven, loved, and working hard on being whole. I am sorry for all my mistakes, and sorry for all the hurt I have caused. My God has forgiven me, by his Son’s Ransom Sacrifice. And now I will get my bearings back, I will take a deep breath, and let all that anger and shame go… I will pray for the  a calm heart and a healed mind, and I ask God to help me to help others get on the road to life… I may never be completely free of the flashbacks in this current world, but one day, when God makes this earth a paradise and does away with all wickedness, I will never think about these matters or feel that pain again.

Whew…

Many Days Since

I am here again, on lock down of my own making. Wanting the isolation while longing for company. I feel unsure, unsteady, and oh, so tired. The dialogue inside my head has slowed, and the gist of it is dire, down and miserable. I hate myself like this, and that adds to my misery because I know self loathing feeds the beast.

I was SO high, So amped up about the Chicago show, the heady whirlwind of celebrities and dazzling attention. I counselled myself about letting my ego run wild, but that didn’t stop my stream of self promotion, so now I feel the embarrassment of mediocrity . It is just so tiring, this circle of negative emotions, this seemingly endless stream of feeling worthless.

I had a feeling that I was riding too high, and that my joyful blasting energy stream was going to fizzle into a mega-void. And my therapist at SunCoast had cut me down to not seeing her every couple weeks, rather to just making appointments if I need to…So this has translated into feelings of rejection, and is keeping me immobolized from calling her for an appointment. I must hold on to the fact that this will pass… this darkness is only temporary… I have to believe this fact and own this fact, and believe that all my efforts to push thru this depression will, in the end, succeed!

This is the emotional space that can kill, when we Bipolar’s can give up and feel so powerless and alone that we embrace the darkness , in the futile hope that the fall into non existence will stop the pain. I must not go that far down the rabbit hole, because that reasoning is from the Father of the Lie, Satan. While suicide may stop the mental anguish that we ourselves are feeling, the unimaginable pain and suffering that our loved ones will feel must stay our hands. I must never believe the lie that I am worthless.

God does not think we are worthless. He loves me, and cherishes me. I have to hold that thought, and believe in God’s love with every fiber of my being. Hold on to Him with both hands and with all my strength. He won’t let us suffer endlessly. He knows our pain, and soon the relief will come.

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“The Sentinel’s Prayer”, acrylic on canvas, Susan T. Martin2017

Long Time Gone, a poem…

The wind blows, my mind slips

back into some disturbing dream.

Was it me then, or is it me now?

I can’t believe where I have been.

I yearn for escape, memories come

reminding me what I have done.

 

I chose a new way, on a hopeful day,

changed my methods and my means…

But my old ways from the old days

chase me down and make me scream..

Please hear me, God, and help me heal-

I know and trust your love is real!

Please pick me up, please keep me safe…

no more violence , hate or rape!

 

Jah hears my prayer, He keeps me strong,

He is beside me all along.

I always know just where to turn,

to be near His throne, follow His Word.

There may be times when I will fear,

” The day of reckoning is here!”

Then my faith will come and I will stand,

and see salvation by His hand .    a poem by Susan T. Martin May 18 , 2018

 

Hello from a NEW Perspective!

I have been spinning my wheels today, trying for hours to get my blogs here on WordPress all straightened out. It is very difficult to keep settings and numbers straight in my head since I sustained that TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) in a fall in 2013. Along with all the other physical and Mental challenges I have, I just did not want to accept the fact that I have more struggles now. 0

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

It is amazing, however, that the life I have now with Jehovah helping me, no matter what the challenges may be, I am more content inside than ever before in my life! I used to wish I was younger, but when I look back the only real times of loving family memories are ones that I have created in my imagination. I had buried myself under so many layers of fantasy, that I believed I was happy in the World. Happy doing drugs, happy smoking stinking cigarettes. Happy letting people use me. Beautiful in my filth.more self portraits 028

But I cried every single day, I hated the way I looked, I never felt safe, I was always jealous and insecure…I wanted to die most of the time. But I was young and pretty, right? No, I was tired and sick and overly made up, and either starving cause I was doing speed or puking cause I thought I ate too much… So beautiful… Did you ever see a stung out 20 year old who has been awake for a week so wired that she can only drink beer to try to come down. Make up all smeared and clothes stinking from sweat and alcohol and cigarettes, in skiiiinnnn tight jeans that leave red imprints on her skin, and her hair all stringy? No, you never did?

Believe me, you don’t want to.  Nothing very attractive to see there. The eyes were the worst , though. I had dead eyes. No light, no twinkle, no shine of good health and vitality. No glow of clean living on my skin.  And fear was my constant companion, though he took many forms. Fear of Judgement, fear of running out of drugs or drink, running out of love, running out of gas, losing jobs, fear of having no money for bills, for food, for gas. fear of not being able to explain where I was , what I was doing, who I was with. I feel a knot forming in my gut now, as my fingers fly over the keyboard, like the dogs are behind me now, panting, jaws dripping teeth glistening, necks straining, moving in for the kill…

STOP! STOP THE MERRY GO ROUND!in a forest like this...

I breath a deep sigh as I write this, and I feel cool rain on my skin, a cool breeze wraps around me and the wretched image disappears. Like a steaming apparition, fading away into the night. No more to chain me down, no more to lure me into dense darkness with promises of belonging, promises of fame, promises of beauty. No, I have seen the errors of my past and I have

REPENTED, TURNED AROUND, HAD MY SINS BLOTTED OUT SO THAT THE HEALING LIGHT of HIS LOVE has HEALED ME…

For the longest time after I became a baptized servant of Jah, I hated my old self. I had to create a whole new persona for myself, strict and unflinching, upright and uptight. I never wanted to look the way I had in the past, it was as if I physically cut that person out of my life and off of me like a surgeon divides Siamese Twins. Just as I cut out my ex husband who hurt me so bad, and just as I cut all my old “friends” out of my life, I also cut myself off from the music I listened to, the tv shows I watched, the clothes I wore, and the books I read.

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striped reflection

 

Was this necessary? Did I have to be so stern, so strict? Yes, at that time I did. The break from my past had to be as sure and swift as beheading a chicken with a hatchet. Like Jesus said, “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out! for it is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye then to be pitched into fiery Gehenna…”

This had to be the way for me, I was so determined to show Jehovah that I want to make Him happy, that I never, never wanted to go back to the way I was. And that is as it should be. But in my zeal, I was actually running away from myself. And I know that Jehovah does not hate me, but I hated that me. I hated her, and I blamed her for my “fall from grace”.  That person, that Me was evil, she was bad, rotten to the core. I never wanted to look at her or acknowledge her ever again. I spent the first ten years as a Witness trying to figure out who I was now, how should I look, act, speak, dress. And here was a big problem: How Should I Feel?

Any time I had bad thoughts I shut them down and cast them, out like throwing out the trash. But the self loathing would not go away, and I could not forgive myself for them. Even though I asked my true friends how they felt, and how they thought, and I tried very, very hard to mimic them, I felt cursed to always be bad. I even told people I felt like Pig Pen on Charlie Brown, carrying all the bad around me like a cloud of dirt. I blamed it all on that Me. And I was suffering.   Jehovah did not want me to feel this way, and I know now that I never have to feel that way again.

How did the situation resolve, you ask?  Let me explain…

I have been seeing a mental health professional ever since I quit using drugs and alcohol. The reason I began to was that I was still VERY depressed after being clean for a year and  when I sought help they diagnosed me as Bipolar. (more about that another day…)  On a therapy day, not long ago (maybe six months) Dave , my therapist noticed my loathing for the Me of the past. He was very intuitive and suggested a type of play acting. I had no idea what was about to happen. He placed the other chair in the room across from me, and had me turn my chair to face it. As I sat looking at the empty chair he asked me to visualize my old self.

“What does she look like?”, he asked.

“Well, she’s kind of pretty,” I saidM, “she’s got long dark hair, and a bunch of earrings, and tattoos.”

“What is she feeling?”, he asked quietly.

” I think she is very sad,” I repli ed, continuing,”She has the saddest eyes and I think she wants to die.”

“Tell her what you told me, Susan. That you hate her..”

“No! I don’t want her to know I said that!” I had tears running down my face…

” Well, what do you want to tell her?” he gently nodded at the empty chair.

As I sat there seeing old Me as clearly as I see this tablet, I began to talk to myself…

” hey there, don’t cry… You will be ok… I know you are scared right now, but God loves

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one day soon!

Picture 013you… I…I love you… poor girl.”     With  the tears just pouring down my face, he helped me to realize that old Me wasn’t evil, or someone I had to hate or shun… I did not have to cut myself in half anymore. I was seeing myself in a new light, as I would look on any other sick and sad individual who was beaten up and trodden down by Satan’s system of things.

This therapy tool had a profound and lasting effect on me, and I still can use it when I lose my focus and start berating myself for my sinful nature. Jehovah knows we are dust, as our Creator, he knows we want to be happy and He knows exactly what we need to live meaningful and purpose filled lives.

I am so grateful to be just me today, a whole person joyful serving God, under the rule of His Son, Jesus Christ, alongside millions of other faithful ones all around the world!