When THEY are watching every move…

Every now and then I get a glimpse that I am not alone in our fight here behind our front door, and it selfishly feels good and is freeing.  Then I get a little sad, because I realize someone else has a life that is hard, frustrating, heartbreaking, and more than a little overwhelming. I don’t wish that on anyone. I had a Momma break-down-without-anyone-noticing moment recently when my mask was called upon to really do a a hell of a job protecting my dignity.  I wanted to break down in tears and instead had to continue to sit and be not just mom, but a smart, intelligent parent who appeared to have a clue what was going on in my daughter’s life.  I am supposed to know those things after all. I am ashamed to say, I realized that I have misunderstood some of what my daughter has told me for 15 years of her life. I got what she said, but I never understood the severity of it.  It was during a standard question and answer portion of her medication review with her psychiatrist, and it hit me like being slammed into a brick wall at 100 miles per hour. It’s a normal monthly appointment where we check to make sure the meds she’s taking both works for her still and that there are no questions, health changes, and that all the “understoods” are actually understood.  So when the doctor said, “Do you ever feel like you are being watched,” the answer is always yes.  My daughter feels on display constantly.  Anywhere we go she feels like it’s a red carpet moment. She feels unable to blend in, instead feeling intensely that all eyes are fixed on her at all times. It can be overwhelming just running in the store to grab a gallon of milk.  Running errands is fear-facing therapy sessions for us.

By artist DLouise found at http://dlouiseart.deviantart.com

By artist DLouise found at http://dlouiseart.deviantart.com

But when she said, “yes” this time, she added an explanation that changed everything. She said that it was hard for her to simply change the wallpaper on her iPad because she was afraid what “they” would think, so she always chooses something that she thinks won’t be “judged” when seen.  I asked if she meant seen by her dad and I, or her brother and sister.  She said no… she meant by “them.”  Reality began to dawn on me, because she has no contact with anyone except us on a daily basis, and after a long question and answer session, we arrived at an understanding that she felt, though never having seen the movie, “The Truman Show,” she was Truman, and every camera possible was hidden somewhere unseen, and somehow it was even possible to look through her own eyes and see what she sees and watch her every move. It was as if she were a personal reality show that could be watched, “The life of Lindsey” show, and all of THEM were watching it all the time, day and night.  THEY were not nice either, but harsh and judgmental. THEY were always looking to pick her apart. There was never a time someone was NOT watching her. being_watched_by_entangled_minds-d5fa1qrMy brilliant daughter has to sit just so in her room where she does school tucked away, so that who ever is watching will see her working away diligently and not judge her lazy or stupid.  She has trouble just relaxing and not performing for “them” constantly. She feels their eyes like you do when you get a sense of someone staring at you and the hairs on your neck stand up. She is overwhelmed and taxed to the max somedays and she doesn’t even know why, all she knows is that the feeling of someone peeking around the corner or watching from the corner of the room, just out of sight, is so intense she is almost unable to function.  I can not imagine living under that stress. She didn’t realize everyone didn’t feel that way.  She assumed everyone did. Now many things suddenly make sense. It makes sense and I am intensely sad. you-are-being-watched-sign-k-9828I knew that once she had great trouble with worry about being watched and we put a special lock on the bathroom door, thinking this would fix it. It fixed the fear of someone coming in, but never the fear of someone watching. I thought if she knew no one could come in, then she would not feel someone was watching anymore. The fact I never truly understood the extent of her personal hell just brought me to my parenting knees. Honestly?  It brought me to my human knees. I would have been broken if it were not my own child.  The fact it is my own girl just breaks me in ways I can’t put words to. Then I came across a book I have to go find.  I want to go get it for my daughter and for me to read this summer.  Not an easy read, but one I really want to dive into.  It’s called “Remnants of a life on Paper” and is written by a mother with her daughter’s diary as they traveled through the difficult roads of growing and struggling together with Borderline Personality Disorder. Found over at http://remnantsofalife.com As is so often the case, ours overlaps with eating disorders and BiPolar Disorder, and OCD.  For whatever reason, these disorders all often come on the heels of each other.  Maybe because they all play off anxiety and fears.

Regardless, it is hard for my kid. It is hard for me, my husband, and her siblings.  It is tough for our extended families to understand our life at home. It’s hard to explain because we have all gotten good at masking up the reality, going to visit and enjoy the outing, then coming home to reality and dealing with the vast array of fears and anxieties that come with trying to live every day life.

1534301_1477731715775942_8768059514068455149_nThe hardest thing however is the complete stupidity that exists outside these walls of ours.  The lack of understanding of what mental illness is.  It’s not just a few kids who decide to go on a killing rampage.  It’s a beautiful girl with long red hair, with a mass of freckles, strikingly gorgeous green eyes, and the only thing killer about her is her smile.  She can knock you flat with her grin.  She can take your breath away with her giggle and her laugh will flat out make you wish you could do anything, instantly, to gain it one more time, to hear her laugh with abandon.  This girl is amazing, brilliant, artistic, and I’m not just being a mom here, she is precious and needed by this world.  She struggles to even put her toe out into it, because she knows how harsh it is. Mental illness is just chemistry of the brain that makes if function differently than the majority of the population.  It makes it harder to do “normal” things and harder to think clearly.  It does not mean less intelligent nor stupid. Just gonna keep plugging away at loving my girl, and you have a friend here if you need one. Know I understand how hard life can get behind that pretty exterior door you shut when life gets rough.  But being there for your kid matters.  And that is the most important thing you can do.  Just love them and be there. Day after day. We will get through this thing called life, together.


Grace changes EVERYTHING

(As appeared in the Mt Zion/Barkers Chapel UMC newsletter for May 2014)

I looked into the eyes of my friend, who had tears spilling, and listened as a question tumble out. “What is grace? You talk about it all the time. What is it?” For a moment, a split second, I had no words. I never think of grace in terms of words. For me it’s an overwhelming expression of love. It’s the biggest part of love. It can’t be separated from  love. The question came on the heels of my saying that all the worlds problems could be solved with one single thing. Just one thing…GRACE. If we all practiced it, every single thing would be different. Everything.

I sat a moment and tried to think. Grace is like nothing else. I wont try to put it in theological terms. Here is how I understand it best. To understand grace you have to first understand mercy.  Think of compassion, leniency, and kindness, as they are other ways to describe mercy.  It would be giving someone imprisonment when they deserve death, it’s giving my kid a one-day grounding when they deserve a week. It’s receiving less than you deserve to pay for something.

traditional-kids-productsGrace? Grace is like a magic eraser. God’s grace is writing all the wrongs on a chalkboard, in detail, with all the ugliness fully exposed (because God knows it all whether we confess it all or not) and God taking an eraser and wiping the board clean, so that not even left over chalk dust can expose what was written there. It’s gone.  God CAN remember, but he CHOOSES to forget.

There was a time in history when people had to go to a temple, confess their sins and wrongs, and offer up a blood sacrifice in order to be washed clean of it. It was the only way to know forgiveness. Then God said, “ENOUGH!”  He decided to give the world a gift that only HE could give.  He sent his sinless, spotless, perfect son into the world to experience our pain, our trials, our sufferings, and our temptations, so he would fully understand us. He wanted to really understand our humanness. Then he allowed His son to pay for all of our sins, our wrongs, our evil. He wanted to end the bloodshed. So He sacrificed his OWN son and said that all we had to do was to love HIM. That would be enough now. All we had to do was to love, and say yes.

Christians today often make this out to be so hard. There are things you have to do to be saved, steps to take in order to know God, to be a REAL christian. Nope. None of it is in the Bible. The only thing that is? Know that Jesus was the Son God sent to us as a gift. Tell God in your own words, wherever you are, that you want to be covered by a love that wipes clean all you have done, you do, all you WILL do, and that you really want to have a relationship with Him. Tell Him you’d like to get to know Him better. Tell Him you’d like to be a better person.

You and God can do that alone, anyplace you are, anytime of day or night. He’s awake, ready, and listening. That small warm spot that hears the voice in your head when you talk to yourself? Yeah, that’s God listening to you there if you want Him to be. Truly. It’s that easy. You don’t even have to say it out loud. He hears you if you call out to him in your heart. He’s that amazing.

My friend sat with tears streaming, understanding dawning, and a light beginning. Grace is so precious, it’s so beautiful, and it’s unbelievably hard to understand because it’s so simple.

Can you imagine a world where everyone practiced GRACE?  Giving grace to each other, to other peoples, cities, nations? Grace would change hearts and we’d care about so much more than the newest gadget we covet…when there’s someone going hungry. Yes. Grace changes EVERYTHING.

Shut the front door: and don’t let the kids in till dinner!

20140516-125449.jpgThe sound of screams and laughter echo on the breeze as it drifts in my window. Looking outside I see green grass, leaves, flowers, and playful birds and squirrels mirroring the kid’s joyful block party. Finally, we have been released from the unrelenting grasp of the cold and frozen white stuff. I dreamed of these days all winter long.

There is no less for me to do now than there was then, when the onslaught of blinding white piles seemed almost a daily occurrence. Now that they are over, and the breezes are warm and soft, it seems I can fit more into my day and my patience is a tad longer, this being a good thing since the children insist upon testing it regularly. I have already begun to remember why I was dreaming of these warm sunny days. Oh it’s not so much that they are warm, nor sunny, though that is absolutely fabulous! It is because they allow me to shove the children outside into the yard and demand they work out their energy somewhere besides upon each other and my last nerve. I can, without fear of being seen as a terrible mother, mandate that they must go outside and stay there until I call them for dinner. I can be mean and demand they play on the trampoline, swing on the swing set, ride bikes, play ball, or find some new and creative way to use the extra boxes left in the garage. I wont be worrying my pretty little brain about if I am damaging them or not by forcing them to use their imaginations.

This, my glorious front door, is what I dreamed about all winter long. I dreamed of OPENING it and sending them OUTSIDE! It is glorious! I promise you that they will come inside with skinned knees, dirty shirts, torn jeans, grass stains, and scuffed shoes. I promise you they will come inside with tall-tattle-tales and he-said-she-said stories that will be fit to make your ears bleed. I absolutely promise you that the banging of the ins and outs from the forgotten toy and one more drink will drive you batty. I do, I promise you all this.

I also promise you, however, that the exhausted little bodies, fresh from a bath and fresh air, will sleep more soundly. Their stale brains from video games and forced air heating will begin to turn once more like a well oiled machine and their schemes will become more elaborate and their tricks more tricky. You will marvel at the speed!

As I stand at my kitchen sink doing my mom chores, I watch humored as I see what’s happening around my house now happening across the street with two little girls, and echoed again down the block as a mom pushes her son outside and takes his video game back inside with her. Way to go moms! Remember, they only get one childhood in life. Make sure they experience it!

1st published in MOMS “For the Parents” ~ May/June 2014 issue in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette and News Sentinel.


I’m ANTIQUE old? Really?

So not long ago I took a day where my best friend and I ran away for a few hours. We wandered through little shops and meandered around looking at antiques that were hidden away in nooks and crannies. It was great fun for us and we were silly and goofy as we laughed our way through town.

Then, all of a sudden, I came upon an item that was grossly out of place. It did not belong. It was so wrong that my whole being revolted! It was THE exact lunchbox I carried as a child!

Strawberry Shortcake Lunchbox

Strawberry Shortcake Lunchbox

I was probably about 7 or 8 years old and in elementary school in Lynn, Indiana. I lived in a tiny little town next door called Spartenburg. The town was just a bitty little thing, just as I was, with only one stop sign in town. I can remember the place and time well. So well time stands still like photographs in my mind. I can remember moments on the bus, the playground, and playing in the sandbox in the yard. I clearly remember learning to ride my bike on the big hill and riding down the road by the house, with a ditch full of prickly stickers, so it was best not to run yourself into it. I remember the park down the street and the creek at end of our yard, the latter f which was forbidden to go off and play in alone, though my brother and I regularly did just that.

I remember so much it is just not possible that it was so long ago that it was an antique long time ago. I just CAN’T be that old!

What’s that you say? It’s painful when you get to be this age? That 39 is old enough that things can be seen as “collector’s” items regardless of whether or not I remember the days of that time well or not. I don’t think I like hearing what you have to say!

Ah well – I didn’t spend the money to relive my childhood, but I did capture the memory. It took me a long way back and it was certainly worth the shock to take the trip back to my childhood home. It was such a sweet memory.

While I enjoyed this trip, however, I do not wish to find more of my childhood anytime soon in any shops as I go exploring. Can we just pretend I’m not getting old? Just for a while?? 🙂