Depression, God, Mental Health

How to serve God

How very true this is. In order to be an effective Martha, you must first be a Mary. It looks so simple seeing it written that way, but it’s so very true. I think this may be one of my problems; I want to “do” but I’m not allowing myself the luxury to first “be”. Thank you, Evonne Tirado, for stating this important piece of the puzzle so simply.

Reblogged

Perfect Love

I sat in heavy meditation today wondering if I was a Mary or a Martha. This is a question I’ve always asked myself since first hearing about them. First my middle name is Martha so I can’t help like feel as if I was destined to be a Martha. I know my relationship with God calls to be a Mary yet , that’s super hard for me at times. Martha is a servant but grows weary and irritable she allows the actions of others to upset her. While Mary simply sits in the Lords presence and builds a relationship with him. There’s something amazing to learn from Mary who sits in the Lords presence. Sometimes we need to be still to be reminded how God works in our lives. The stillness could be uncomfortable for the Martha’s of the world yet in order to be an effective Martha we need…

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Depression, Mental Health

A Much Needed Phone Call

It is true. God does place people in your life who are full of encouragement just when you need it.  He knows what you need.  And He provides for you.  He did just that for me today.

At some point today (while I was napping/resting/sleeping), I heard Bella barking. Lord, was she barking!  But, my head was throbbing, and I chose to just lie there, like a knot on a log, and not get up to see if anyone was there. After a bit, Bella came back to bed and I asked her what she’d been barking at, but she just crawled back under the sheet and didn’t answer. So, I didn’t worry about it.

 After finally getting up, I saw that Mary Helen had sent me a message saying someone was trying to get in touch with me. Upon seeing who it was, I told MH that I’d get in touch. I sent this person my number and said to give me a call, which she did.

She began the phone call by saying that I had been on her mind and that she thought God was telling her to contact me.  We spoke for a bit about random things and then she told me how much she enjoyed reading my thoughts and wondered if I had ever thought about writing a book. I had to smile at that point. Yes, I’ve thought about it. Yes, I’ve been encouraged to do so. But, no, I don’t think I ever will. I explained that my thoughts are so random and most of them are so very personal, I cannot imagine getting them corralled into any type of meaningful book-type grouping.

I explained that I had begun my blog as a way to finally purge myself of childhood memories and experiences. As a means of therapy, the blog has been extremely successful. I was finally able to “let it all out” and that was good. I was cleansed of the secrets. But, in the same breath, it was devastating. I had spent my life keeping secrets and I had done a good job doing so. By finally putting those memories into word form for others to read, I exposed myself to judgement and criticism. I had told the world who I was and what I had done and that was, and still is, a frightening feeling. And I had done it in front of the town in which I live. I had come clean in front of the people who had been participants. Not only did I expose myself, but I exposed them, also. While I named no names, I know that people aren’t stupid. With a bit of thinking and talking to others, identities can easily be known. And that is not fair to them. At that point, the guilt began.

I’ve always been someone who can claim guilt in a hot minute.  I do it well.  In fact, I am a dad-gum expert at claiming guilt.  I have to smile at this thought because my therapist has told me a million times that I needn’t think that I was so important that I could claim to be the “best” at anything in the world, but I know that if I’m not the best guilt-claimer, I’m right up there at the top of the heap. So, with this, the cycle begins again. 

But, let’s get back to God putting people into your life at specific points.  I needed this call today.  I needed to hear words of encouragement.  I have cut myself off from most of my friends lately.  It’s safer to isolate, to not have to constantly wonder if someone is judging me.  I have a core group of friends with whom I can be totally open and they have been my salvation.  They know me; they know all my secrets and they know how these secrets have affected me.  They pass no judgment; they only give love.  But saying that is not fair to others.  I most certainly have received encouragement and love from many others.  And I know, in my heart, that judgment is not being passed.  It’s my head that gets in the way.  My head is trained to believe that I am guilty of everything and that I am not worthy, and I find it almost impossible to get rid of those thoughts of guilt and judgment.  That, my friends, is what depression does to you.  It makes you believe all those dark, ugly thoughts that swirl through your mind.  It makes you believe that you are not worthy, not deserving of anything good, not deserving of forgiveness.  No matter how many people give love, there is always that one memory of someone telling you that you are not worthy and are not loved.  And you latch onto that one thought and believe it.  And yes, at this point, I truly miss my sweet friend, Luann.  She was always quick to remind me to clean out my thought closet, to rid myself of all those dark, ugly thoughts, and to remember that I am loved. 

But today, God sent someone to remind me that I am worthy. And I needed to hear that.  He knows that I am struggling.  He knows that I am in the midst of a war with myself and that isolation has become my best friend. So he sent Elaine Hicks.  Thank you, Elaine.  I needed to hear your words today.  You will never know how much I appreciate those kind words.  Yes, I will continue to write as you have suggested.  I will use my words to help myself and perhaps to help others.  Who knows?  Maybe one day I will find a way to put them all together in book form as you suggest.  We shall see.  Until then, I will use my blog.

As I got ready to post this, I received a message from Mary Helen making sure that I had followed up on contacting Elaine.  I shared with her the encouraging words I had received from Elaine and how they had helped fill my heart.  Here’s the kicker.  Mary Helen then sent me the following message and from it you shall see why she is part of my core, part of what sustains me.   “Like Mark Twain wrote about the Mississippi, Faulkner about race and class, you write from the depths of your soul.  And often your pain is palpable.”  Mary Helen “gets” me.  With words like this, my heart is full. 

~~~ Betty

 

Depression, Mental Health

Undeserved Emotions

I’ve had an extremely hard time coming back to the blog since my last couple of posts.  I wonder if I spoke too much.  Was I too open in talking about the incidents that have compounded my depression?  Should I have just continued to deal with my feelings by myself?  I have been so confused.

And then……I reached out a couple of weeks ago to a prayer group that I’m a member of and asked for prayers for peace for my troubled mind.  I gave a brief testimony and the administrator of the group denied my post.  In talking with her later, she said that my prayer was “too big” for the group.  She said that many members of the group were “new in the Lord and might not be able to handle” my testimony and my request.   How can that be?  How can prayers be too big?  Is there a certain amount of time that you must wait before telling someone “who is new in the Lord” about a significant problem that you are having?  I guess I didn’t read that part of the “I love the Lord Handbook”.  I’m still at a loss over that.  I tried to not take it personally, but I just don’t get it.  How do you tell someone that their prayer is too big?  So, I decided to just sit back and do my talking directly to God.  And that’s where I’ve been for the past few weeks.  Stewing.  Simply stewing in emotions.  Those emotions are taking a toll on me.  My mind is in overdrive and it is so hard to focus.

Then, last week something happened in my hometown and I’m so confused about how I feel.  That’s not entirely true, though.  I know how I feel;  I am sad.  But deep-seated emotions keep rearing their ugly heads and are keeping me off balance.  There are so many things I want to say, but out of respect for others I can’t.  And that’s the tough part.  It’s almost as if my emotions are not valid.  But, how can that be?  Isn’t everyone entitled to their own feelings?  No matter what the circumstances, feelings — any feelings — are valid, aren’t they? I feel no anger.  I feel sadness.  And regrets.  And sorrow for those involved.  But I can’t speak of it.

Undeserving — that’s the word I used when speaking to a friend last night.  I was trying to explain my emotions and said that I feel as though any emotions I have are just plain underserving.  And I know that it’s not good for me to feel that way.  I’ve spent far too many years living with the assumption that my feelings don’t count and that they are underserving.  I have got to find some way to break this chain of thought.  I feel what I feel and I can’t help it.

Many of my friends, without my reaching out to them, have contacted me to relay their thoughts and prayers.  And that has meant the world to me.  They know, all too well, the conflict that is running rampant in my head and heart.   I just need a way to address these feelings.  Isolation isn’t working.  Sleeping isn’t working.  Pouring my heart out to God isn’t working.  I guess I just must be patient.  God is going to speak to me.  He is going to guide me in the right direction.  I do know this to be true.  But, in the meantime, I am struggling.  And it is so not fun.

~~~Betty 

Depression, Mental Health

Rise

I know.  I’ve said it a frillion times already.  But, I’m going to say it again — I am in absolute awe of song writers. They have the most magnificent minds.  How do they do it?  How do they know exactly what you are thinking and how you are feeling?  It’s almost as if they are living in your own mind.  And that, my friends, comes almost to the point of being spooky.

I’m sure that I’ve told you before how much I love music, right?  In order to feed that addiction, I discovered YouTube many years ago and I can honestly say that I could probably spend all day long watching YouTube videos — not only music videos, but videos on cooking, sewing, scrapping, how-to’s, just about anything. A few weeks ago while watching YouTube, one of the many ads that pop up every couple of minutes came on.  I thought it was an odd ad since it wasn’t really trying to sell anything, but was rather just showing the making of a music video.  There were parts of the video that for some reason, just kind of tugged at my heart, but since it just showed snippets from the video, I wasn’t sure what was so special about it.  Then, yesterday, I saw a post on my Facebook timeline for the completed video.  I watched it a couple of times, trying to figure out what it was about the video that totally had me enthralled.   Was it the words?  Was it the perspective that most of the video is shown from above, as though you are flying?  I couldn’t quite figure it out until I could put the actual words to it.  Since my hearing is so very, very bad, when I hear a new song I normally just go online and look up the lyrics so that I actually know what the singer is saying.  It is only once I know what words are being spoken that I can put things together.  (I sometimes wish that I had a “lyrics sheet” to Sunday sermons since my lack of hearing keeps me from actually hearing half of what the preacher says, but that’s another story.)  When I read the lyrics to Rise, I “got it”.  A couple of things about this video were speaking directly TO ME! 

Perspective — Looking down from above on the scene was all too familiar to me.  I think I’ve told y’all before about my ability to fly.  When things get too stressful for me, I have always had the ability to close my eyes, stretch out my arms, and just fly away.  I have seen much of the world while just flying around.  I have been doing this since my early childhood and feel as though I have spent much of my life looking down upon the actions of others from above, while I fly away from the situation.  If for some reason, I could not fly away, I’d disassociate by stretching out my arms and just float away on the waves of the sea. So, when this video showed things from a perspective of flying above it — it got me!  I was watching as the woman was freeing herself from all the troubles of the world.  How did the songwriter KNOW that I needed to see hear this?  How did the videographer know that his vision was what I needed to see?  That I would be able to relate?  What a blessing!

Words — There are parts of this song that speak directly to my heart. I know it was written for ME to hear and to absorb.  And absorb it, I have.  I immediately went to iTunes to download it to my computer and have it on repeat as I sit here.

I’ve been sleepin‘ in my mind
But now my heart is risin’
Risin’ with the tide
Floating on a wave
Buoyed by the sea
Carry me away ‘cause the world is not for me  

I have spent many years “sleepin’ in my mind”.  It has always been so much safer to “sleep” through the many stressful times of my life, rather than actually “live” them.  But, I have reached a point where my heart is learning how to deal with those times I’ve slept through.  My feelings are risin’ with the tide and I am being forced to deal with them.

If I could see through different eyes
From ten thousand foot skies
I’d navigate the lies
And never fear demise
Nor be timid of the rule
How can I grow wise
If never I’m a fool?

Oh, how I have wished to “see through different eyes”.  I have prayed many times in my life to be removed from the situation so that I would not have to experience it any longer.  Isn’t this what she’s saying in the song?  By seeing the situation from different eyes, we are able to see the lies that are taking place, but not have to live those lies ourselves or perhaps to just learn that they are actually lies.  And of course, if it’s not really us living it, it’s so much easier to not be afraid. But, as we know, we only become wise by seeing or living through a situation so that we can learn what not to do or how not to act.

Oh I must be quiet
Enough to hear the sound
The song inside my soul
As it echoes in the clouds

Therapy has helped me learn to be quiet enough to hear those sounds that scream from my soul.  It has been through therapy that I have learned to listen to my heart and deal with the many cruelties and the abuse I’ve lived with.  While I haven’t mastered it yet, before therapy, I never even realized that I was capable of hearing those hurtful sounds in my soul and might possibly learn to live with them.

Raindrops ripple as I breathe
I can feel the deep blue miles from my feet
Coming up for air, conscience coming clean
I have left the past at the bottom of the sea

Those raindrops are the whispers from God that constantly come to me, telling me that He loves me.  As I learn to listen to my soul, I can feel the old hurts float up from that deep blue sea (my hole that I live it).  Those hurts do gasp for air, trying to be freed.  I am learning to clear my conscience from the guilt I have felt my whole life — guilt for not being a better daughter, sister, wife, teacher, mother, friend, servant of God, or person.  I am struggling to leave my past somewhere — whether it be at the bottom of the sea, in a fire pit, or in the garbage — just anywhere except in my heart where it currently lives.

No matter where you land or how far you may fall
You have heart, you have hands
And the highest calling of our lives
Is to find the grace in the very place we stand
And rise

And this, my heart, is the important part.  No matter what my past.  No matter what I’ve suffered.  No matter what I’ve felt — my biggest calling is to find grace right here where I am today.  And to rise.

So, to the songwriter of Rise, whoever you are — thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing these words so that I, too, can Rise! To the videographer, thank you for your perspective.  I am enjoying this “flight” through Rise.  And to Caroline Jones, as I fly high above you watching you ride your horse through the beautiful countryside and listen to you beautifully sing these meaningful words, thank you.  I am trying my best to Rise along beside you.  Absolutely a beautiful video!  It has touched my heart. Thank you and God Bless You!

Rise (Sing it Loud)  by Caroline Jones

I’ve been sleepin‘ in my mind
But now my heart is risin’
Risin’ with the tide
Floating on a wave
Buoyed by the sea
Carry me away ‘cause the world is not for me
If I could see through different eyes
From ten thousand foot skies
I’d navigate the lies
And never fear demise
Nor be timid of the rule
How can I grow wise
If never I’m a fool?
And home, home is in my heart
So why do I get lost in the crowd
Trying to be proud
Oh I must be quiet
Enough to hear the sound
The song inside my soul
As it echoes in the clouds
I’m going to sing it
Loud
I’m going to sing it
Loud
Raindrops ripple as I breathe
I can feel the deep blue miles from my feet
Coming up for air, conscience coming clean
I have left the past at the bottom of the sea
‘Cause home, home is in my heart
Why I do get lost in the crowd?
Trying to be proud
Oh, I must be quiet enough to hear the sound
The song inside my soul
I’m gonna write it down
I’m gonna sing it
Loud
I’m gonna sing it
Loud
No matter where you land or how far you may fall
You have heart, you have hands
And the highest calling of our lives
Is to find the grace in the very place we stand
And rise
I’m gonna sing it
Rise
I’m gonna sing it
Rise
We will rise.

~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I cannot get this video off my mind. I have listened to the song at least 50 times as I’ve been at my computer in the last 24 hours and am absorbing the hurt, the love, and the grace.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Slept terribly last night.  Finally got up around 3 and took half of a sleeping pill.  Was finally able to sleep, but awoke later to the realization that I’d been dreaming about Sandra.  She had been here with me.  Lord, I miss her so much!

~~~ Betty

Depression, Mental Health

Is Faith the Answer?

While reading a post today on Slay Girl Society  written by a guest contributor, Tanya Mathieu,  I came across a very interesting article about tools that Tanya uses to help her through rough times.  She speaks of Perspective, Faith, and Nutrition.  I was especially interested in her outlook on Faith.

Faith is something that I have struggled with as far as my depression goes.  I have been told by so many people to just “turn it over to God” and He will remove my depression.  I have a problem with this.  In fact, I have a problem when anyone says to turn anything totally over to God.  It is quite possible that I am totally wrong in my thoughts and in my Faith, but I just don’t believe that God will do this without any input from me.  I don’t think that He will just snap his fingers and Poof, it will be gone.  I believe that He expects ME to do some work — along with Him — in order to resolve this problem.  I just don’t know what kind of work I must do.

Eight years of psychotherapy has not resolved it. That’s a fact.  Personal study has not resolved it.  That’s another fact.  Medication has not resolved it.  Yep, another fact. Prayer hasn’t been the answer, either.  So, what is the answer?  As I have been told, I will live with this for the rest of my life.  I will have periods of time when I am able to hold my depression at bay, and there will be other times when it will rage.  It is up to me to find those coping mechanisms that will allow me to function during those raging times.

As I sit here and type these words, a thought keeps running through my mind.  That thought is that perhaps Faith IS the answer during those raging times.  Perhaps those times are when I am expected to use my Faith in the belief that while God will not remove my depression, He will give me the Peace to function.  Is that the answer?  Is that what I am lacking?  Is it that during those terrible times, I just have not “turned it over to God”?  Am I looking for some magical or Godly cure of having my depression disappear when I should be looking for Peace — that Peace that only He can give to me during those times of rage?   Perhaps the work that I think I must do is actually as simple as my choosing to put my Faith into action.  Perhaps I can simply believe that through my depression, God is showing me my worth.  Maybe this is how He is letting me see that I am here for a reason.  Maybe He is letting me use my depression to open up to others. Maybe He is using this to show me that I am truly loved.

Hmmmmm…….I have a lot to think about.

~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  Isn’t it funny when we struggle looking for some huge, deep reason as to how or why something happens when it’s really quite simple?  I think that I think far too much.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  It’s been a great weekend and I’m still riding on a high.

~~~ Betty

Depression, Mental Health, Motivational Mondays

Motivational Mondays – 2/13/2017

Well, it’s Monday again.  Time to get motivated.

In all honesty, it’s been time for me to get motivated for the last month.  It’s been a tough month.  That old Devil has been working on me.  Nightmares, living in the pit of depression, anxiety, isolation, not sleeping, feeling like crap, not liking anyone or anything, terribly tough therapy sessions, finding it exceedingly hard to pray, and just not caring about anything — all of these things have been wreaking havoc with my mind and my soul.

I wake up many mornings with high expectations and almost immediately those feelings change.  I’m not sure what happens.  Living alone, I can’t blame it on anyone else.  It has to be me.  I can’t blame anyone except myself.

Today has not been any better.  Had a tough night last night.  Kept waking up with feelings that my heart was racing and with a feeling of doom.  Seemed like each time I’d drift off, I’d start dreaming again and would immediately awaken with those same feelings.  I hate, hate, hate nights like that.  They just ought not to happen.  But, they do.  And I don’t know how to change them.

Just as I was about to sign off of Facebook this evening, I saw a post made by my Pastor’s wife.  It was a link to her granddaughter’s Facebook page, TruePurpose,  and it has truly touched me.  Thank you, Joyce Drawdy, for sharing with all.  And thank you, Ashton Drawdy, for being such an inspiration to me and to others.  May God continue to bless you.

The following comes from Ashton’s FB page.

God is not looking for your ability, He’s looking for your availability! – First5

Are you feeding yourself with the lies of the enemy? Do you agree with the lies that you are not good enough, qualified enough, or smart enough to do the things the Lord has called you to do? You see God doesn’t look at what man sees. God is looking for someone who is willing to give themselves to Him so He can equip them! Through God you are good enough, qualified enough, and smart enough!! Make yourself available to the Lord and watch Him do the most amazing things in your life!!

Hebrews 13:21- may He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ,every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever!

As I read this, I was reminded of something a friend said to me in church a few weeks ago. As usual, I was crying and wasn’t sure of the reason.  Elaine told me to just trust God and to let him lead me in what He wanted me to do.  Of course, I immediately began telling her how unqualified I was to do anything for God (my usual response when I have any thoughts of doing anything worthwhile) and began putting myself down.  I’m very good at that!   Of course, Elaine tried to support me and convince me that I was worthy of anything I attempted.  As I walked away from her, my thoughts were, “Oh, she just doesn’t understand how unqualified I am!”

As I watched the video that Joyce linked to on Ashton’s page, I was again reminded that I am unqualified.  As the video ended, I scrolled down her page and stopped at Ashton’s post from February 10th and Wham!  The first thing I saw was her line — “You see, God doesn’t look at what man sees.  God is looking for someone who is willing to give themselves to Him so He can equip them!”  That line — that reminder — that promise — that is what has gotten me motivated.  I don’t have to know what I’m doing.  I don’t have to be the best.  I don’t have to do anything except  BE WILLING.  My willingness is what can lead to better things!

I am Willing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thoughts About My Thoughts:  I had no intention of posting today.  Even though I said a month ago that I was ready to get back to blogging, I haven’t been able to do it.  No motivation, no desire, no reason.  But upon seeing the post by Joyce and finding the TruePurpose page and seeing Ashton’s post, I knew that I had to get back to the computer — I had something to say.

Today’s Feelings Barometer:  Started out bad, but am feeling much more motivated now.

~~~ Betty

 

 

Depression, Uncategorized

I Am Not Perfect

Well, I’ve been MIA for a while.  Needed to get through the holidays.  I don’t do holidays well and this holiday season has been especially tough.  But, I’m back and am ready to get back to blogging.

I had a rather interesting event to happen yesterday.  While browsing though my Facebook News Feed, I came upon a post made by an acquaintance.  It was about people you could count on.  Reading it made me think of a friend I lost during the political season.  We have been friends for many, many years and met when we were both Stampin’ Up! demonstrators.  While we have never met in person, I considered her a close friend.  I won’t go into details, but she and I differ greatly in our political beliefs and after making a rather simple comment to a post of hers one day, she actually told me to “STFU already”.  And she did so publicly.  I had reached the breaking point — tired of being called names and being told that I was stupid, so I finally unfriended her.  And it has bothered me ever since.  But, back to my original thought.  His post reminded me of losing my friend and I commented that I wish I had seen that post a couple of years earlier (thinking of the times in the future that I might be put down by her for my political beliefs.)  Next thing I knew, this friend was calling me out and accusing me of posting about HIM.  Far from the truth. However, after the fit he had, I tend to  believe that perhaps the bit dog was hollering (as we tend to say in the South).   After a couple of back-and-forth responses, he sent a private message apologizing and saying I had been right in saying that he had taken my comment out of context.  And then — he removed his comment from Facebook where he had accused me of talking about him,  leaving my response which made me look like a loon, talking to myself.  (I hate when people do that.  Grow a pair and stand behind your comments.  If you’re not going to do that, then you ought not to be making them in my opinion.)  But, that’s ok.  Some people can’t or won’t stand behind whatever they say.

And of course I thought about it all night.  Who would expect anything less?

In thinking it over, there is one thing that I have learned from this, for sure —– I am too damn old for this sort of nonsense.  And that’s exactly what it is — nonsense.  At one point, this person meant a LOT to me.  About two years ago, I realized that he was not the person I had thought he was and we decided to just remain friends.  It’s been a struggle to do so, but I’ve tried.  When he gets lonely or when he wants some information about someone, he’ll call or contact me.  He knows all the right lines to feed me to make me think he’s sincere and like some darn 16-year old girl, I believe him.  Then, the next day, he’s back to the same old crap.  It’s been a real roller-coaster and my emotions have been all over the place.  Get smart, Betty.  He’s a user.  He’s a schemer.  He is toxic.

Well, one thing led to another and the following comments are what I posted earlier today on Facebook, not only about the incident, but about me and my thoughts in general.

I am not perfect. I never have been perfect and I never will be perfect. I dare not claim to be perfect in any way, shape, form, or fashion. In reality, I am so far from perfect that it’s sad. BUT………….I try.  Lord, do I try and it’s killing me.

I am opinionated. I speak my mind. I stick up for myself. I wasn’t always this way, though. There was a huge part of my life where I was a people-pleaser. I would do anything necessary to prevent any type of disagreement. If I knew I was right, but if stating that meant there was going to be a disagreement, I would cower in the corner and just agree with you.  I would eat my feelings and convince myself that those feelings were not true feelings.  But, no more.

I no longer cower in a corner and agree with something that I don’t believe. And, at times, that causes problems. But, that’s ok, because I’m a big girl now. I have discovered the aisle at Wal-Mart that sells those big-girl panties and am quite adept at pulling those suckers up and moving on. I will no longer let anyone walk over me. I will no longer let anyone accuse me of something that I have not done without speaking up for myself. You may not like it. You may not be man or woman enough to admit that you were in the wrong, but that’s Tough. I will not purposefully do anything to hurt you, but I will not let you walk over me. That’s just the way it is. I have learned to expect and accept consequences when I am wrong. I have learned to admit when I am wrong.

If I comment on something on Facebook, you can rest assured that the comment comes from my head and my heart. I do my own research. I think before I speak (99% of the time). I very seldom (hardly ever) rely on someone else’s meme or post to allow someone to believe that I feel a certain way. If I do use a meme, I will add my own thoughts to it. I am not a puppet. I love words and I know how and when to use them. There were many years when I was not allowed to have an opinion and using my words in any way would result in a physical fight. For that reason, I just didn’t use them.   I am regaining my words and use them freely now.  I always speak from my heart and my thoughts can be believed. They may not always be right. They may not always coincide with your thoughts. But, you should always believe that words spoken by me are words that I believe.

I have a heart. That heart has known great love. That heart has also known great sorrow. That heart has been stomped on, misused, taken for granted, and pure lied to. It has had knives plunged into it and twisted. It has always given second, third, and fourth chances. This heart has finally learned that it must be closed to some people once it has become convinced that they are toxic to it. It weeps when it is taken for granted. It longs for the way things “used to be” or for the way “it ought to be”.

I have always tried my best to be loyal. If I say I’m your friend, then I’m your friend. I will do anything I can to help you. I will always have your back. I will not let someone speak badly of you without being told they are doing so. I will try to be encouraging. I will always try to help you see the good in you when you cannot see it in yourself. I will listen. I will love you. My biggest problem has been that I am not a loyal friend to myself. I am trying my best to change that.

There was a time when I trusted no one. I have worked hard to learn to trust again, sometimes to the detriment of my mental health. You taught me how to trust and then you pulled the rug out from under me and showed me why I should not blindly trust you.  I still struggle with things my head “knows” and things my heart “feels”. I am getting better at seeing and believing myself when I feel that the trust I have in you is misguided. I struggle with giving up. I always feel that you deserve one more chance and I have finally learned that there must be a cutting off point. Those times are hard because my heart says “just one more chance” and my head says “girl, you better get the hell out of here”. However, if I am your friend and lose trust in you, it is very, very, very hard for that trust to ever be regained. I can remain civil when I see you. I can be friendly if needed, but I will not trust you. It’s that simple.  I just won’t trust you.  And to me, without trust, true friendship is impossible.

There was a time when I was furious with God. I did not trust Him at all. I blamed Him for things that were not of His making. I had forgotten who He was. I had forgotten that He loved me, no matter what I did, said, or thought. I am slowly reuniting with God. I am learning to trust Him again. I am feeling loved by Him. And, THAT is a good thing.

While my past has not been an easy one, I realize that there are millions of others out there who have also not had an easy past. I am nothing special. I deserve no sympathy. I deserve no pats on the back for “being strong”. I am far from being strong. I do what I must do to get through each day. Sometimes, I make the right choices. Sometimes, I don’t. But, so far, I haven’t given up totally. I’ve been close. Oh, I’ve been so close. There was a time when it would not have mattered to me one bit if I had just gone to sleep and not awoken. I no longer feel that way, but if I’m totally truthful, it’s always in the back of my mind.

I have demons. Sometimes, those demons come out and truly haunt me. At those times, I have learned that I must forgive myself. There are things I cannot change and I can no longer torture myself over those things. I cannot forget them because they are such an integral part of me, but I simply cannot let them rule my life. If those things that haunt me can somehow come to a resolution, that would be wonderful, but that has to be put into God’s hands.

I have a wonderful family. My children and my grandchildren are true gifts from God. I have a sister I truly love. My extended family is a blessing to me. I have marvelous, loyal friends. My church family is a blessing. My “Hens” are what keep me together many times. I know how to laugh. I know how to have fun. I know how to love. But, most importantly, I have learned to stick up for myself. It know that it is up to Betty to take care of Betty. Trying to do that is quite a chore at times, but I believe I can do it. My head tells me that I am worth it.  My heart yearns to believe it.

I am who I am and that is all that I am. Take me for what I am or don’t. That is your choice. You cannot change me. You cannot misuse me. You cannot abuse me. You will no longer be allowed to lie to me.  No, I am not perfect. But I understand what love is and I’m learning about trust.  And trusting you is something I no longer do.  It’s that simple.

 

Depression, Mental Health

God Knows What Drives Me Absolutely Crazy

Is there anything in your life that you have to do that works on your mind ALL THE TIME?  The thoughts never leave you; they are constantly whispering to you, “It’s time to do it again.  You will always be reminded.  I will never let you forget.”  It’s like cold feet in the winter time – always there.

For the past decade or so, there are certain medical tests that I have had to repeat far too many times.  Far too often.   Whenever it gets to be “that time” again, I go through periods of raging anger, debilitating fear, deep depression, and a mounting desire to do harm to someone.  Then, of course, after the tests, I am just plain pissed that I’ve had to do it AGAIN.  Thus, more rage, more depression, more fear.  It has been an ongoing cycle and my mind stays in a constant state of MAD.  I never have a chance to get un-mad.  For the past couple of weeks I’ve been in the “Get ready to get pissed” mode — gearing up for another test, another reminder, another reason to be mad/hurt/depressed.  As I went to my doctor this morning for what I thought was going to be ANOTHER one, I was given some news.  It is now MY choice as to whether or not I have the test.  It seems as though these tests are doing more harm to me mentally than they are doing me good physically.  So, I was told I could choose to continue with them or say, “Enough is enough.”  At first, the fear kicked in – What if I don’t have the test?  What will happen?  Am I putting myself at risk?  You know your family history.  You are crazy if you don’t have the test.  And I said, “No.  I have to continue the tests.”  But then, my sweet, caring, loving, magnificent doctor took my hands and said, “Betty, it’s your choice.  These tests work on your mind and never let you have any rest.  You are going to be OK.”   Right then and there, I felt a type of peace that I have not felt before.  God spoke to me while I was sitting on that medical table. With tears in my eyes, I knew at that point that God had been working on my doctors.  He told them to give ME the choice.  He told them to step aside and to let me trust Him.

In addition to working on my doctors, God is talking to me through my pastor.  (I know. That’s what He’s supposed to do, right?)  Anyway, one thing that I absolutely love about my pastor is that he uses Facebook.  For the past several months, he’s been making A LOT of posts about trust and forgiveness – something that I have such a hard time with.  I don’t trust.  Just flat-out don’t trust.  And I do a terrible job at forgiving.  Each time Pastor Ron posts something about forgiveness, my toes get bruised.  As I read his posts, I can picture him looking through the keyboard saying, “Betty, I’m talking to you.  Listen.”   I do listen, Pastor Ron.  And there are periods of time when I truly think I’ve forgiven and I think I can finally move on.  And then — wham — it’s time for more tests and no matter what I do, no matter how much I pray about it, no matter how much I read the Bible, no matter how many times I see my therapist — all the anger, the hatred, and the hurt come back and I realize that I have not come close to forgiving.   Not only have I not forgiven, I have added more hatred to my heart.  And it’s killing me.  Absolutely. Killing. Me.  I know that God wants me to break this terrible cycle and all this undercover work He’s been doing is to teach me to trust and forgive.  I hear you, God.  I think I’ve gotten the point.  So, now, my choice is to trust.  I’m going to trust my doctors.  I am going to trust myself.  I am going to trust God.

This is such a foreign choice for me.  I’m not used to trusting.  I can’t remember the last time I just turned off my mind and said, “It’s OK.  I’m going to trust you, God.” Don’t get me wrong — God Bless medical doctors.  I have some fabulous doctors and I know that they have saved my life more than once.  But, I know that God is the ultimate doctor and that He is who I now have to trust.  I turn myself over to you, God.    Once I’ve gotten this “trust” thing figured out, let’s work on the forgiveness.

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I didn’t think today would ever come.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Wow!  I’m not sure how to feel.  I walked out of my doctor’s office a different person this morning.  My mind was telling me that I was going to be OK and that I had no reason to be mad today.  I need to think about this for a while and make sure I’m not dreaming.

~~~ Betty

Depression, Mental Health

Don’t Settle for Scraps!

I ran across a video on Facebook yesterday that really spoke to me.  Many of you may already know of Melissa Radke; I had never heard of her until the video showed up on my newsfeed.  She is a singer, writer, blogger, public speaker, and serves as the Worship Pastor at Lufkin First Assembly in Lufkin, TX.  And she is awesome.

In this video, Melissa speaks of a Bible Study that she is teaching — “Uninvited” by Lysa TerKeurst.  I’m slowly working my way through this online bible study that deals with depression, self-worth, feeling unloved, and rejection.  I’ll admit, I haven’t been working in the book for the past couple of weeks but I think seeing this video is another one of those “God Conspiracies” that have been popping up in my life recently.  I think it’s time to get the book back out and finish it.

If you think you may be interested in this, here’s the link to Proverbs31 Ministries where you will find the products.  Here is what Lysa says about her book, “Uninvited“.

uninvited_cover_front_large

“Rejection steals the best of who I am by reinforcing the worst of what’s been said to me.”

In Uninvited, Lysa leans in to honestly examine the roots of rejection, as well as rejection’s ability to poison relationships from the inside out, including our relationship with God.

With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa will help you:

  • Stop feeling left out by believing that even when you are overlooked by others you are handpicked by God.
  • Change your tendency to either fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process your hurt.
  • Overcome the two core fears that feed your insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging.

Uninvited reminds us we are destined for a love that can never be diminished, tarnished, shaken, or taken—a love that does not reject or uninvite.

If you are battling depression and rejection, and if you have been known to settle for scraps (I have been known to be guilty of this), this is a fabulous video and bible study.

Click the link below to see Melissa’s video about “Uninvited.”  Melissa is down-to-earth, funny, and certainly seems to be filled with the love of God.

Melissa Radke – Don’t Settle for Scraps

 

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  How excited I was to run across this video! It truly spoke to my heart.  Please take the time to watch it.  It can do nothing but fill your heart.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Been a lazy day.  Still trying to get my neck and arm to work properly for me.  Seeing the neurologist on Friday so I’m hoping for an easy fix (and that’s plumb funny because after having two fusions already, I know what the answer is, but with enough prayer, maybe I’ll be wrong.) Also have an appointment set up with ENT for Monday.  Who knows?  Within a week, I may be a moving, hearing woman again!  Woo Hoo!  For all you young chicks and guys out there, be proud that everything still works for you.  Old age ain’t for sissies!

~~~Betty

Depression, Mental Health

Don’t Wait

 

sandra

“Don’t Wait.”  How many times have I heard these two words since Thanksgiving Eve?  I can’t count the number.  If I rubbed her arm, I heard “Don’t Wait.”  If I asked her if she wanted some water, I heard “Don’t Wait.”  If I asked her if she was ready to sit in the chair, I heard “Don’t Wait.”  If I told her I loved her, I heard “Don’t Wait.”  If I kissed her on the forehead and told her I’d see her tomorrow, I heard “Don’t Wait.”  It seems as though no matter what I said or what I did, her response was always the same – “Don’t Wait.”  And it wasn’t just me that she said it to.  She said it to anyone who asked her a question.  I only wish I knew what it was that she did not want us to wait for.

I asked my daughter, Marti, if she knew what Sandra meant by “Don’t Wait.”  I thought that maybe since Marti works with stroke patients she might be able to tell me.  She gave me a clinical answer – after a stroke, the brain thought process can get stuck and although in her mind, she may be telling us different things, her response just comes out as “Don’t Wait”.  OK, I guess I understand that.  But, I’m not satisfied with that answer.  I think there’s more to it.  Why those words?  Why not “The cow is black and white” or “Jump in a Lake” or “Go away”?  Why was it always “Don’t Wait”?  I’ve thought and thought and thought about this and have come to the conclusion that Sandra knew exactly what she was saying.  Although she couldn’t communicate with us to a great extent, she was trying her best to tell us something very important to her.  I just have to pull my thoughts together.

Sandra has fought a valiant fight for the last five years.  When first diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided that she was going to fight with all her might.  And she did.  Bless her heart; Sandra has never done “sick” very well.  No matter what the medicine, if there is a side effect to it, Sandra is going to have that side effect.  If something can go wrong during a surgery, it will go wrong when that surgery concerns her.  If a child she is teaching has some communicable disease, Sandra’s going to get a case of it.  Never fails.  When she began her chemo for the breast cancer, it really kicked her butt and after about three rounds, she decided that she just couldn’t do that anymore so she quit the chemo.  Radiation was next.  Thank goodness the sickness was gone, but the radiation was no day in the park for her either.  But, she did it and the day she was told that she was cancer free was a day of rejoicing for us all.  She had overcome that nasty cancer.  What had happened to Daddy, Mama, and Sonja was NOT going to happen to her.  Everyone was so full of joy.

It wasn’t long, though, before she started complaining about her bones hurting.  After a couple of months, a PET scan was done and she was given the bad news that it had now moved to her bones.  Not again.  Please, Lord, not again.  But she weathered this bone cancer with the same determination as she had the breast cancer.  Determined to fight, determined to win this battle, she began the fight one more time.  It was another year and a half of treatments, tests, more treatments, and more tests before she heard the words “You are cancer free” again. There had been many days of sickness and tiredness and just feeling lousy, but she had fought the fight again.  There was now more rejoicing.  More thanks to God.  More believing that life would go on for her and for those who loved her.  There were good days to be had.  And through all this time, she continued to work.  After retiring with over 40 years of teaching under her belt, she took a job of doing some in-home teaching.  I used to love to hear her talk about her kids.  She truly loved these kids and only in about the last 10 months or so, did she have to give it up.  Not being able to continue to work with these children was rough on her.

But, there were not many good days to be had.  After just a few months, she told us it was back.  At first, she said they had found a few spots on her bladder, but it was on the outside so that was good.  She said that they were going to treat it with a very low dose of oral chemo and that the doctor had told her she would not get sick and would not lose her hair.  OK.  That is good, right?  Well, it should have been, but within a week of being told this, she seemed to just give up.  I went down to her house one day and she was on the couch, not wanting to talk at all.  In fact, the only thing she said to me that day was “Three Strikes and You’re Out”.  Well, I thought about that for a few minutes and then told her that as far as I knew, there wasn’t a single damn person in that house who was playing a game of baseball.  She just looked at me and closed her eyes, totally shutting me out.  I finally left and went home to think and pray.  After a week of her just lying on the couch I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I was determined that I was going to MAKE her get off the couch and fight.  Yeah, right.  Sandra and I had not had a pure fight since we had been teenagers but we had a doozy that day.  It started with me asking her to get up and go take a bath.  “Nope.  I don’t want to” was what she said to me.  I tried a couple of more times to no avail.  Zeke and I would both ask her to do something and again, “Nope.  I don’t want to.”  After several of these responses, I asked her what she did want to do.  She wouldn’t respond at all.  There is almost nothing in the world that can get to me more than to have someone totally ignore me, but I just sat there and waited.  I guess I thought I could outwait her, but, of course, I was wrong.  I tried a few more times of asking her nicely what she wanted, only to have her continue to ignore me.  Zeke continued to try to get her to get up and she would just say, “Nope.  I don’t want to.”  After at least thirty minutes of that, I finally asked her if she planned to just lay on the couch until she died.  No, that wasn’t nice.  I know it.  But, I didn’t know what else to say to her to try to convince her to get up.  She finally turned her head to look at me and said, “If I want to.”  Well, those were not the words I wanted to hear; those were fighting words and I lit into her.  I told her that I’d never known her to be a quitter and that she had to think of others and try for them even if she didn’t want to try for herself.  I gave her that old “Well, Sonja never quit.  Sonja didn’t lay on the couch and wait to die.  Sonja and Mama and Daddy would all tell you to get your ass off the couch and fight if they were here.”  The entire time I was yelling at her, she just laid there with her eyes closed.  After a few rounds of yelling, she raised her arm, pointed at the back door and said, “Get out of my house.”  I know.  I deserved it.  I had been mean and cruel and said things that I never should have said.  But I was afraid.  I was scared that if she gave up, she would die and I wasn’t ready to lose another family member to cancer.  I wasn’t ready to lose my big sister for any reason.  Afraid that I would say something else, I was the one who got up.  I walked to the back door and told her to let me know if and when she decided to fight to live.  I walked out and came home and cried and cussed and yelled at my dog and threw things around.  And then I started praying.  I didn’t go back to her house for a week.  It broke my heart to see her with this mindset.  She had always been so determined that she was going to beat it.

When I finally went back, I had no idea if she’d even let me in.  The door was locked so I had to knock.  Nobody came to the door so I got the key and let myself in.  Sandra was in the kitchen cooking.  After a little silent “Thank you, Lord,” I walked into the kitchen and asked her what she was cooking.  While the conversation was not as friendly or loving as I wanted it to be, she didn’t throw me out.  We never mentioned the fight again.  She called me the next Sunday morning and told me to come down for Sunday dinner about 4.  In my mind, things were going to be ok.  She told us that day that they had determined that the cancer was not involving the bladder, but that there were some spots on the liver.  But, she said that the doctor had repeated that the treatment would be a mild dose of chemo.  I asked her if I could drive her to her next appointment and was told no.  Each time one of us asked about going to the doctor with her, we were always told no.  She continued to say that things were going well and told us the beginning of November that Dr. L. had said that she’d have another PET scan in February and that he was going to change her treatment meds again and felt sure that things would be fine by February.  Yay!  She had done it again.  She had beaten cancer for the third time.  What a fighter.  What a winner.  Things were going well.

Sunday, November 8th, the Mains girls all decided to get together in Macon.  Sandra had been feeling poorly all week, but was excited about going.  I am SO very glad we made this trip.  Sandra, KaKa, Kalli, Shannon, Brooke, Marti, Gina, Emma, Ashley, and I had a blast at Olive Garden that afternoon.  We spent several hours just having fun.  I’m not sure how much fun it was for everyone else in the restaurant, but we really didn’t care.  We cut up, told old stories, and talked about what everyone was doing for Thanksgiving and for Christmas.   It was decided that we would do Thanksgiving at Sandra’s.  Another Mains’ family holiday was just what we all needed.  Below is a picture of Sandra and me taken that day.  I will always treasure this picture.

sandra-and-betty-11-8-2015

The morning of Thanksgiving Eve, Ashley called and asked if she could come over for the day and of course the answer was yes.  As soon as she heard that Bowen was at Sandra’s, she took off to go down there.  I talked to Sandra on the phone and told her I was heading to the grocery store and asked if she needed anything.  She assured me that everything was covered and that she was finishing up her famous “Green S*it” for our dinner the next day. (Long story about Sandra’s Green S*it, but I’ll just say it’s a Mains’ Family Dinner Must Have.)  She said that Ashley and Bowen had gone to Wal-Mart and to Zaxby’s and that she’d talk to me later.  I got busy working on the dressing for the next day.  Ashley got back about 2:30 and excitedly told me that she had watched Aunt Sandy make the Green S*it for everyone.  Pretty soon, she headed back to Milledgeville.  It was a busy afternoon for me making 6 pans of dressing for the next day and I didn’t get back to Sandra.  About 5 or so, Will knocked on my door with the news that Sandra was on her way by ambulance to Athens and that the EMTs had said that she’d had a stroke.  My heart dropped.   He said to stay home and that he’d call me when he knew something.  Oh, what an evening that was.  I knew that Sandra’s greatest fear was a stroke.  She said that she NEVER wanted to end up being dependent upon someone else for all her needs.  Please, Lord, let her be OK.

What a long night that was.  Will called and said that by the time the ambulance got her to Athens, things had changed.  She was talking; she was moving.  Thank you, Lord.  You’ve done it again.  They were told that she’d had a mild stroke, but that things looked good.

Since family was due to come in the next morning for what we thought would be dinner at Sandra’s, Gina offered for us to come to her house. Will said for us to go on to Gina’s and he’d call if there was something I needed to know.  I didn’t talk to Will or Zeke during the day, but we all prayed and thought of Sandra throughout the day.  The next morning, I went to Athens with Zeke.  He was quiet during the ride, but that was pretty much expected.  The whole way to Athens, I just kept thinking about how blessed we all were that Sandra was going to be ok.  This was not to be.

When Zeke and I walked in the door to her room I knew that something was up.  I walked over to the bed, gave Sandra a kiss and asked her how she was feeling.  She looked at me with a blank stare – one that meant she had no idea who I was or what I had just asked her.  I turned and looked at Will and he motioned for me to go outside.  He, Zeke, and deLacy came into the hall and gave me the bad news.  Sometime during the night after she had been admitted, Sandra had suffered a major stroke.  The nurses had said that she had been fine when they checked on her around 2 a.m. but by 6 she was not responding in any way.  I was devastated.  How in the world had this happened?  Why didn’t anyone call me to let me know?  What was the outlook for recovery?  I had a million questions, none of which were answered to my satisfaction.  Will said that he had started to call, but knew that all my kids were at Gina’s for Thanksgiving dinner and he didn’t want to upset us.  When I asked Zeke why he had not told me anything on the way to Athens, he said that he had thought that Will had told me.  I told him no, that the last I had heard Wednesday night was that she was doing well and was talking and moving and that it had just been a mild stroke, but that all would be well.  I just didn’t understand any of this.

A short time later, Sandra’s doctor came in to meet us.  He took us all into a conference room and pretty much laid it all out on the table.  He said that Sandra wasn’t going to get better.  He said that she would never talk or walk again.  He said that the Sandra we knew was gone.  When we asked him what would happen if she had another stroke, he said “It really won’t matter.  No further damage can be done unless it’s a stroke on the opposite side of her brain.  She has suffered massive damage at this point.”  I had never heard a doctor be so blunt.  He didn’t try to candy coat things one bit.  He told us to get ready for some rough days ahead.

After a week, we got Sandra back here in Eatonton to the local hospital.  We spent as much time as possible with her and did the best we could to keep her in good spirits.  She had many, many friends to stop by to see her and many of her classmates made daily visits.  She was always close to her classmates and loved them dearly.  During most of these visits, she slept, but occasionally she would be awake and would do her best to at least smile at them.  It was a crooked smile, but such a beautiful sight to see.  Her son and his sweet wife were amazing.  Will seemed to be the only one who could make her eat anything.  In fact, he pretty much would not let her not eat.  She wasn’t happy about it, but she did eat for him.  These days were so very tough for me.  I could not stand to see her in this condition.  And it seemed as though the harder I tried to get her to eat or do her exercises, the harder she would shut down.  I don’t think there was ever a day that I didn’t leave the hospital in tears.  And once I’d get home, I would just collapse.  Sandra never, ever wanted to be in this condition and I know that she was tired of fighting and trying.  She had fought for five years and she was done fighting.  I know that eating was the only control that she had left and she was going to use that control.  Finally, the doctors told us to stop trying so hard.  If she wanted to eat, we needed to be there to feed her, but if she turned away from us, just let her be.  Good Lord, was that hard for me to do.  I knew what the outcome would be and I couldn’t stand it.

What in the world was I going to do without Sandra?  She had been my big sister my entire life.  I had never known life without her and I knew that soon, she was going to be gone.  Another sister gone. Sonja was gone and now it would soon be Sandra gone, leaving just KaKa and me.  There were so many things I wanted to say to Sandra, and say them I did, but it was evident that she didn’t know what I was saying.  Why had I not told her all those things before now?  Why did I wait?  What if she didn’t understand just how much I loved her and how much she had meant to me?  What if I hadn’t thanked her enough for taking care of me after I got out of the hospital in Atlanta?  She opened her home to me and let me live there for two months before I moved into a house of my own.  It had been so good to be back in the house with her.  I had had so many hesitations about moving back to my hometown and she did her best to help me understand that moving home was going to be a good thing for me.

Sandra’s family doctor came over to the hospital one afternoon and spent a couple of hours with us, explaining everything.  She had been by Sandra’s side for so many years and Sandra truly loved Dr. P.  When she walked into the hospital room and spoke to Sandra, she got the biggest smile we’d seen Sandra give anyone.  My heart was full.  Sandra knew that Dr. P. was there for her.  The next day, Sandra’s oncologist came over and gave us the very bad news.  All this time that Sandra had been telling us that things were good and that there was nothing to worry about, she wasn’t being truthful.  Her oncologist told us that during one of her appointments the first week of November, he had given Sandra the news that there was nothing more they could do and that the meds he had her on were just to make her life bearable.  And we had thought she was getting better.  We asked if he could give us any idea as to how much time she had.  I’ll never forget what he said.  “Will she be here next week?  Yes.  Will she be here for Christmas?  Maybe.  Will she be here for New Year’s?  Most likely, no.”  Those words rang in my ears as I left the hospital that day.  I kept thinking that he had to be wrong.  I now understood why she would not let anyone go to her doctor appointments with her.  She knew.  And she didn’t want us to know.  I had such mixed feelings.  I was mad.  Mad that she had not trusted me enough to tell me.  Mad that she had decided to keep this news to herself.  But, after talking to my daughter about it, she reminded me that most likely, I would be the same way.  And she was right.  I understood why Sandra had not told us the truth.  She was trying to protect us.  I can’t say that I’m happy with her decision to keep us in the dark, but I do understand it.

We finally reached a point where we had to make a decision about what was going to happen when Sandra left the hospital.  We talked about a nursing home, knowing she was going to need round-the-clock care, but finally, the decision was made to take her home.  We divided up shifts and hired some sweet angels to help us and of course Hospice was there.  And the wait began.  I have to believe that Sandra knew she was home and was content being there.  She communicated very little with us, but on her very good days, when we asked her something, she’d get a very serious look on her face and say, “Don’t Wait.”  Here it was again.  Sandra was trying to tell us something and none of us knew what that message was.  Those hours of sitting by Sandra’s bed were so hard.  She was in the same room where we had had Mom as she was waiting to die.  I was sitting in the exact same place as I had been when I sat by Mom’s side.  So many times, when I’d turn my head and look at Sandra, I could have sworn it was Mom lying in that bed.  All those feelings kept rushing back to me and it was killing me to relive those days.  And in Sandra’s lucid moments, she kept telling me “Don’t Wait”.  I prayed so many times for God to tell me what I was supposed to do.  What am I not waiting for?  “Just tell me, God.  I can’t do this.”  But, He never told me.

December 30th was Hell.  I had almost reached my breaking point and was a wreck when I got home that night.  I took a sleeping pill and prayed that God would just let me sleep.  “Please, just let me sleep and not think.  Not tonight, God.  I can’t think any more tonight.”  God was good to me that night.  I slept a peaceful night and didn’t wake until early afternoon.  I got up and did a few things around the house and just never made it down to Sandra’s.  I was so very afraid to go that day.  I did everything I could to just not think about it. I couldn’t think about my big sister dying.  I just couldn’t do it.  I had to have a day for Betty to re-coup.  About 11:30 that night, New Year’s Eve, Will called to tell me that Sandra was gone.  And I hadn’t been with her.  I should have been with her and I was too selfish to have gone down that day.  Dr. L. had been right.  She would not be with us on New Year’s Day. And I had not gone down to tell her good-bye.  I had not been with her.  What kind of sister does that?

The rest of that night was torture.  But, it was over.  I had stood on the front porch and watched them place Sandra in the hearse.  Those were the same steps where I had stood and watched them as they placed Mom in the hearse.  I stood on the steps where we had always taken our family Easter pictures and the importance of those steps just kept running through my brain.  We had sat on those steps so many times as kids and watched the National Guard convoys go by.  We had sat on those steps when Mom and Dad were fighting.  I had kissed my boyfriends good-night on those steps.  Sandra had chased me out of the house one time during a fight we were having and I had cleared every one of the steps.  Looking at those steps that night brought back so many childhood memories.  But, now, the steps don’t matter because there is no more Sandra.  Her memories would always be there, but I wouldn’t be able to pick up the phone and call her.  There would be no more Sunday evening suppers at Sandra’s.  There would be no more Sandra for me to talk to when I was feeling blue.  But, Sandra’s pain and suffering was over.  There would be no more doctor appointments, no more chemo, no more radiation, no more…, no more….  No more anything.

Sandra wanted no visitation and no service of any type.  She just wanted it to be over.  We finally decided to have a visitation because there were so many people who wanted the chance to say good-bye to someone who had been their friend.  Once it was over, I came home and began a major isolation.  I spoke to nobody (except my children – I knew I had to speak to them when they called), went nowhere, and did nothing but sleep and pace.  And think.  And think some more.  My mind went into overdrive.  Big time, overdrive.  I relived every mean thing I had ever done or said to Sandra and relived every good thing she had ever done for me.  What kind of a sister was I to have not gone to see her that last day?  Did she remember that I loved her? Did she know that I was sorry for every mean thing I had said or done to her?  I was a wreck.  After a month of this, I called my therapist and said I had to see her.  I knew I was very close to the breaking point and had enough sense about me to know that I couldn’t let that happen again.  It took another month or so for me to reach the point where I could be around people again.

It’s been almost ten months now since Sandra died.  I can’t say that I’m through grieving, but I can look at things in a much better light now.  And I can’t say that I truly understand what Sandra was trying to tell us by repeating, “Don’t Wait”, but I have come to my own conclusion.

I may be totally wrong, but I think Sandra was telling me to get better, to get a grip on my depression, and to start living again.  She was telling me to forgive, to forget, and to live.  She was telling me to let go of my past.  She was telling me to somehow accept that I’d had a shitty life, but that it had not been my fault.  She was telling me that it was now time to find the good things out there.

But, most of all, Sandra was telling me to love myself.  “Betty, don’t wait any longer to realize that you are worthy, that you are loved, and that you deserve a good life.  Go find it.  Don’t wait any longer.  We don’t have forever.”

I hear you, Sandra.  I’m trying.  I’ll make you proud of your little sister.  Just watch!

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  Sigh……..I finally gave up trying to sleep last night.  I had tossed and turned, thinking about Sandra, and finally decided to get up and put my thoughts together.  Now, I’m tired of thinking.  I think I may post some kitty-cat pictures tomorrow.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Guilt, sorrow, loneliness, missing my sisters, thankful that I still have KaKa.  Mind going a frillion miles per hour.  I need to get a grip.

~~~ Betty