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Father’s Day: it’s not an easy holiday for everyone.

June 15, 2019

Father’s Day wasn’t always a difficult holiday for me. Even with my biological father being a deadbeat dad and completely out of my life, I still had my dad. I have so many great memories with my dad as a child. Camping, hunting, fishing, tubing the Frio River, lazy Saturdays, pancakes shaped like the first letter of my name, laughter, adventure, intellectual discussions, and just fun.

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But over the last two decades, especially in these last few years of acknowledging the reality of things, Father’s Day has become one of the hardest days of the year to face. Having a loving father change and morph over time because of circumstances, tragedy, and a covert and controlling stepmom is painful and heartbreaking. Seeing a once jovial, loving and involved father slowly decay and estrange himself from his daughters, mother, and grandchild is excruciating and morbidly painful.

The father I once knew has long been buried by sorrow, addiction, and a wife who slowly wedged her way between him and those whom he loved. Seeing his passivity in all of it — I once disregarded and gave excuses for– but over time as his actions became more and more of his own choosing– I became angry and deeply hurt to my core.

I long for the father I once knew to be loving, easy-going, giving, and fun. The father who once showed his love through actions and showed that he cared.

Words are sparse and empty now.

Actions are nonexistent.

He seems empty. A puppet.

He has a new family he embraces. Her family. Not us. Not those he once embraced and cared for.

It was never about “her or us” to me. But she made it that way. She forced him to choose. And he did.

I have not spoken out on this publicly until now, but hiding the dysfunction of my family is something I had to stop doing in order to create healthy boundaries and start my road to healing.

I held onto the hope that one-day things would get better and be normal. I held on to the belief that they did love me and that they only acted that way because of their past. But the older I got, the worse things became and the more I started to see through the facade. Her facade. Her control. His complacency. His cowardice.

Family vacations I wasn’t invited to. Weekends I wasn’t allowed to come home because the “house wasn’t clean.” Literally never being invited home. Canceling plans on me when I’m only home once a year. “Sorry, but can we change the dinner to another day? We have a concert to go to.” (Oh, right, because your daughter coming home from Korea who made plans with you months ago is less important than a concert you bring up two days before our dinner.) Working on the one day we visit. Never calling. Not replying to emails. Never emailing. Telling my sister, “I’m not a grandma” when meeting her step-grandson for the first time. Not coming to see me the morning of my wedding as mother’s should do.  Pretending to be getting sick so we would leave(she actually did this). Making Jason and I open Christmas gifts in a restaurant. Telling Jason and I that we have to leave the next day literally the night we arrived from Korea.

What kind of parent would treat their child like that? This is a question I think of so often… It is so unimaginable to me, and yet, this is my experience with my own parents.

I cannot pretend anymore. I cannot keep up the facade of a happy family. It hasn’t been happy for many, many years.

I hope that one day there can be restoration in our family. I have wept and cried so many tears over the loss of my dad. I cannot pretend that we have a relationship anymore. It was one-sided for far too long. With no interest in changing the way things are– only making excuses or covering for his wife who clearly did not want a united family. It makes me sick to my stomach.

I hope that one day he will wake from his stupor and false reality. I hope that one day she will acknowledge the damage she has done to our family.

I will always love my dad. But until things change, I cannot pretend that he is a dad to me anymore. He has chosen to step away from his role as a dad. Perhaps one day he will proudly take on that role again. Until then…

My heart aches, and on Father’s Day, the wound is only more irritated and aggravated.

I pray that those who have lost a father or have an estranged father will be comforted by their Heavenly Father on Father’s Day.

Father’s Day:  it’s not an easy holiday for everyone. 

Here are two articles that have helped me to better understand what happened to our family and so many aspects of the articles are spot on to my experience with my stepmom and my dad.

Narcissistic Stepmothers–Ultimate Nightmare for Stepchildren

Narcissistic Stepmothers—Taking Dad Away

**Sadly, I have met at least four other adult children who’s father has done the same thing to them due to a stepmom not willing to embrace them as her own. There is a reason for the movie Cinderella. It happens in real life.

Little One

January 13, 2019

I lay there with Jason holding my hand. His eyes still bright. Me– Vulnerable. Unsure. Waiting. She scanned and searched. Over and over again she ran the ultrasound wand. With each rotation and swish around, my heart began to sink lower. The brightness in his eyes began to dim. I wanted to curl up into a ball. This couldn’t be happening. No. Not our first child. No.

“I’m so sorry, but I cannot find a heartbeat.”

Today is a special day. Well, it was supposed to be a special day, but I believe it still is special. January 13th marks the due date of our first child.

I will never forget the gravity of her words. They weighed me down. The air was knocked out of me. I wanted to melt into my chair and hide. A wave of shame overcame me. What had I done? Why is this happening? My poor little baby! No. This can’t be happening.

Losing a child is never easy, even when your child has yet to fully develop. The sense of loss is great– so many could haves and should haves. Empty hopes and promises.

Leading up to that moment, I had started to feel an urgency to see the doctor. I woke up the morning before and felt extremely sad. Hormones maybe. But it was different. It was a heavy sadness that I could not pinpoint a reason for it. I rolled over to Jason, waking him up, “I have to see a doctor today or as soon as possible.”

We were in Victoria and had just celebrated the news with Granny, Aunt Mary, and my sister and her family. Living overseas, I do not have local doctors in Victoria and we were leaving that day for San Antonio to stay with friends before flying up to Boston. Seeing a doctor right now did not seem to fit into our plans. But the urgency would not leave me. It was as if God was whispering to me, “See a doctor, my dear child.”

Finding a doctor who would take me so soon. Impossible. I asked my friend, Sarah, if she knew any good doctors in San Antonio and divinely enough a friend of hers had just recommended a doctor to her. She recently moved to San Antonio so she was also on the lookout for a good doctor. We made a call, and a little miracle happened. They scheduled an appointment for me the following day!!!

We made our way to San Antonio where we continued to share the good news of our pregnancy and celebrated with friends. The sadness continued to sit on me, however. I had had some spotting, but everything I read said that some spotting can be normal. So I tried to stay positive. But the sadness would not lift.

The next day we went to see the doctor and heard those damning words. Those heavy, life-changing words. “I’m so sorry but I cannot find a heartbeat.”

We walked in to see the doctor after the ultrasound. My steps were weighted and slow. The door opened and I held my breath. Maybe the ultrasound technician was wrong.

The doctor stepped in and greeted us. Then she continued with delicate care, “I’m sure you know since there was no heartbeat, but your child has passed. You are having a miscarriage. I want you to know,” she looked me directly in the eyes, “this is not your fault in any way.”

Tears burst forth.

The burning feeling in my throat that I had held onto. The guilt that was simmering. The shame. Her words washed over me and were like honey to a sore throat. They coated me. They restored my dignity. They comforted me. They also broke me.

I never knew how incredibly excited and expectant one could be until I was expecting a child. Now, I felt empty.

The hollow feeling inside, knowing that a little human is in you but is not alive anymore. It’s a very horrific feeling. On the one hand I wanted to hold my baby and on the other hand, I wanted it out and out fast. The thought of something decaying inside of me was not easy to swallow.

“I know this is hard, but we need to discuss options.”

Options? Options for what? I had no idea what happens when someone has a miscarriage. I just assumed everyone passes the baby. Be informed: this is not the case. There are pills you can take to induce the miscarriage, you can have surgery, you can pass the baby naturally (which can take hours and hours and involve a lot of pain and blood which can ultimately be very traumatizing for a woman).

My baby had not grown to the proper size for his age and the doctor believed that my baby might have been dead for a few weeks. My knees weakened. My shoulders slumped. “Because your body has not passed the baby yet, I’m concerned and recommend surgery. Since you are flying to Boston tomorrow morning, I recommend that you see a doctor as soon as possible in Boston and take care of everything there.”

Once I was in Boston I was supposed to go to New York the next day for Reading and Writing Workshop training. Everything was interrupted. Everything was sad.

We flew into Boston and once we settled in we sat down with mom. This was one of the most agonizing parts. We had waited. We had waited to share the good news so we could tell our family in person. Now we do not even get the joy of celebrating our pregnancy with them and have to share the tragic news. Through tears we shared everything. Mom embraced me. I needed her hug and her love. I wept.

Thankfully I already had a doctor in Boston from former visits. She saw me right away and she, too, recommended surgery but first wanted me to get another ultrasound. When we went in for the ultrasound, the technician explained, “I recommend that you have surgery. There are pockets of blood vessels and you might have a molar pregnancy. If you have surgery then you can ensure that everything is cleaned out and tissue can be taken to a lab for testing.”

Jason and I deliberated over what to do. I really did not want surgery but we have now had three people recommend it. Due to concern for my personal health and possible dangers of what could happen, we chose surgery.

The whole process of surgery was scary, but every step of the way I was cared for and comforted by the nurses and doctors. To keep it short, the surgery went well and I had tissue sent to a lab for testing.

The following weeks, I was to treat my body as if I had had labor. No heavy lifting. No excessive activity. All the trouble of labor with nothing to show for it. Another side of miscarriage that many people do not think about. I certainly had not until then.

Not many people discuss miscarriage and I believe it is unfortunate since the number of families who experience loss is quite great. When I began sharing about our miscarriage people came out of the woodworks, “Oh I’m so sorry. So and so and I also had a miscarriage. I know how hard it is.”

I was thankful for the support and also puzzled at why more people do not talk about it. However, like any tragedy, it can be difficult to discuss. I, too, did not want to discuss our miscarriage with anyone but family and close friends or those who needed to know.

Often times miscarriage comes with feelings of shame and guilt, especially for the mother. I know for me I immediately had thoughts racing through my head, “Maybe I shouldn’t have eaten this….the flight was just too long… there must have been something that I did.” I am thankful for all of the doctors who reassured me that it was not my fault.

Weeks passed and the results came back. I had indeed had a Partial Molar Pregnancy. A what? I have never heard of this! And you probably haven’t either, so here’s a link to learn about molar pregnancy. Apparently, it is extremely rare but can be very dangerous and if not taken care of can cause cancer! Yes, you read that right. To add to the grief, there is now a concern for cancer! I had to now be monitored for three to six months to make sure that no molar tissue grows. Be put at ease– I have been cleared each month.

Why does the community not talk more about miscarriages? I did not know anything until it happened to me. This is why I am sharing my story. I want to inform others about miscarriage. I want others to know that if they are going through a miscarriage they can come to talk to me. You are not alone in your pain. Some statistics say that 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage! That is a lot of women and men out there who have experienced loss.

I am thankful for the friends who reached out to Jason and me and some friends who even sent me books and a necklace. I want to share two books that helped Jason and me walk through the grief of our loss.

Unstuck: How to Grieve Well and Find New Footing by Danette Johnson

and

Losing You Too Soon: Finding Hope After Miscarriage or the Loss of a Baby by Bernadette Keaggy

There is also a documentary that some friends made that addresses the topic of losing a child. Their story is called A Brave Lament.

I am not writing this post for pity and condolences, but rather to educate others, to join the community of those who have lost a child so they know they are not alone, as well as to celebrate this special day– the due date of our first child.

So, Happy Birthday, little one. I know that your Papa in Heaven is taking care of you. One day I will hold you.

june 2, 2018 1st sonogram 8 weeks

Stepping Over the Horizon – My Tribute to Granny

January 10, 2019

“See the line where the sea touches the sky?” she almost whispered to me.

“Yes, I see it, Granny. It’s so far. It’s so beautiful.” The waves crashed against the rock and drops of salty water splashed our feet.

She stared for a minute and then continued,

“Yes it is. That’s because that is where we walk over to step into eternity and meet God.”

My little eyes and my little heart expanded, taking it all in. I never forgot that moment and never looked at the horizon the same way after that day.

I have never wanted this day to come– the day when all that I would have left of my Granny are my memories of her. But I am so thankful for her intentionality and desire to create memories that last. She looked for those moments– the still moment to insert a bit of wisdom, a bit of humor, a bit of joy, a bit of encouragement. She looked for those moments and she savored them. She taught me how to look for them and savor them as well.

I have always been fascinated by my Granny’s ability to tell stories with such ease. My Granny’s mind was like a treasure chest of meandering thoughts, facts, poems, ideas, and stories. Somehow she remembered them all and stockpiled them for just the right time when she might need them. Granny shared her life and wisdom with everyone she came into contact with– whether they wanted it or not. She was a poet; she didn’t just like to read poetry– she lived and breathed it. To many, she was a coach, a teacher, a counselor. And to me, she was all of those things rolled up into one important title: Granny. Though, her name didn’t roll off of our tongues smoothly but rather got hung up on the “rrrr” sound, extending her name to sound something like that of a parrot trying to repeat a new word, “Gaarrrrrrrranny!” Soon she signed cards with the extra r’s in her name. I think names are important and perhaps we emphasized her name when we said it because of how important she was to us.

From the time I was a child, she taught me the ways of the ocean, how to recite poetry, how to swim, how to get dirty and sandy and be okay with it and how to love others and to love God.

“Turn that T.V. off. We have family time now,” she would demand. You’d think that as a child that would have bothered us, but it didn’t. Granny knew how to entertain in the most unconventional ways. Whether singing Kumbaya by the fire or making stuffed animals talk she found ways to enjoy family time. If we didn’t have toys she would use her imagination and turn vegetables, like okra, into toy boats for our bath time. She wrapped Christmas gifts in black trash bags, she taught us how to plot hurricanes and how to do the jive. I have never liked speaking in front of others, but she coached me to recite Shel Silverstein poetry. I found myself being eaten by a boa constrictor on more occasions than I could remember. Granny truly knew “where the sidewalk ends” and she often walked with us to the end and entered our childlike world of imagination. But she also knew when to pull out and command– because command she did–“Out of the water! A storm’s coming!”

Granny had rules for everything and she proudly wrote about them in one of her articles entitled “Granny-rules.” She wrote, “As a Granny, it is my duty to teach you the rules of the waves, to drag your feet when walking, always wear ‘rock-runners’ because of the dangerous things in the water, put on sunscreen, don’t yell ‘help’ unless you need it, don’t look up with your mouth open when feeding seagulls, and to get out when Granny yells ‘get out.’ Someday, you may have children and pass these down to them, ‘The Granny rules.’ This way I can live forever.”

And live forever she will. She will continue to live in our hearts as we hold on to the memories we have with her. I know that everyone here has a special memory with Granny, or Coach Wheat, or Ms. Wheat, or Elaine, or ‘Laine or mom. I know that she prayed for me at stoplights and thought of me often. I know how much she loved her job as an educator and her role as a Granny. She took her roles seriously and has left a legacy of love and wisdom for many.

I’ll leave you with this saying that she passed down to me from her great-grandmother, “God is on the water, the same as on the land.” I know that Granny has walked out into the horizon and stepped from this earth to heaven. She surely knows now that God is on the water. So now, I will look forward to the day that I enter heaven and she can once again squeeze my hand tight like she always did and give me a “kiss on head.” Until then, I will pass on her Granny Rules and let her memory live on forever.

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Click here for Elaine B. Wheat’s Obituary

Here is an article that someone wrote in the Victoria Advocate:

With few words, Elaine Wheat could make ripples.

For nearly 40 years, Elaine’s column, “Oceans for Emotions,” brought light, laughter and reflection into one woman’s relationship with God.

And although Elaine, 82, died Dec. 28, her memories and lessons live on through the thousands of printed words that graced newspaper pages.

We’re not alone when we say she will be sorely missed. We know our readers will miss her, too, which is why for the next year, we will run Elaine’s past columns.

You see, what made Elaine’s writing so special was that she was you – the reader.

As a teacher raising two sons, Elaine was just like many other people. We believe Elaine was able to garner the following she did because of how relatable she was. Whether she was fishing at her favorite fishing spot or talking about her most memorable catches, Elaine always managed to teach us a little bit about ourselves in her writing.

Whether you were an avid fisher like Elaine or not, one could relate to the trials and tribulations Elaine faced. Just like the rest of us, she had bad days and good days. And, just like Elaine, we all have that one place that makes us feel at peace.

That was Elaine’s takeaway. She taught us to find joy in the little things – the family visits, the quiet moments spent with our own thoughts and prayers. She taught us to ride the wave of life.

Throughout the next year, we encourage you to read Elaine’s columns. By reading, we’re sure you will learn life lessons through the teachings she leaves behind.

Our Advocate Faith section will never be the same. We’re positive Elaine is eternally fishing at her favorite fishing spot, donning her favorite fish hat.

Fish on, Elaine. Fish on.

Difficult Goodbyes in 2018

December 31, 2018

2018 has been a difficult year for Jason and me.

The year started off challenging and it is ending with sadness. Not every year can be as fun and happy as you want. Hard times and sorrow deepen your appreciation for the happier years and teach you rich and enduring life lessons.

The beginning of the year we said goodbye to our church community for many different and difficult reasons. Though it was the right choice for us, it was very painful to say goodbye.

Just in time for something new, we found out that we were pregnant, only to discover a few months later that we were having a miscarriage. It was shattering and painful to walk through the grief of losing a child.

A few months later Jason’s grandpa died from cancer. Grieving from overseas is never easy and does not allow you to truly process with family in the moment.

Shortly following his death, I learned that my biological father also passed away from cancer. Though I did not know him, it was a goodbye I had not planned and a goodbye that was empty with nothing to hold on to in place of his loss.

And now we are nearing the end of the year with another loss. It is New Year’s Eve and I am mourning the recent loss of my Granny.

I cannot find words tonight, but I am looking up to God and hoping for a better year in 2019. It is in the dark, that we find the light and feel the embrace of our Father in Heaven.

God has held me tight this year. There have been times I’ve squirmed like a child, trying to push away His embrace, and there have been other times where I have collapsed into His arms with the trust of a child knowing that He would catch me and hold me close.

Heart-wrenching. Painful. Sad. As we have journeyed through one grief and begun to enter some normalcy we would find ourselves entering another tragic loss. Wave after wave of sorrow. It has been many, many years since I have had a year with this much sadness.

I am going into 2019 with a heaviness in my heart, but I am also entering 2019 with great hope, for there is always a season for everything. A season of sorrow cannot last forever. I look forward to the morning when my sorrows will turn to joy.

Looking forward and looking up, I will enter 2019 with my Father’s embrace and hope to surround me.

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Empty Finalé

August 19, 2018

When someone dies there is something so final about it.

As a Christian I have the great hope and faith of seeing my brothers and sisters in Christ again one day. And yet, there is still something so final about death.

Today I found out that my biological father passed away.

The normal reaction to hearing that your dad passes away is shock, tears, grief and the like. But the only thing I sort of even felt was shock– but not in it’s fullest version.

I never knew him.

My tear ducts would not activate. My emotions would not emerge.

Across the table my friend looked at me, “How do you feel?”

“I….actually… have no idea.”

The story goes something like this…

I had to visit him when I was little until about age six when he gave up custody and then the last time I saw him was the day after my mom’s funeral. He came by to say sorry or something like that.

Fast forward eleven years.

Sound asleep. Adjusting to my new life in Korea, living in an officetell that always remained damp, dark and the only view was the back of another building, I found myself startling awake to the sound of my landline ringing. Who has landlines anymore? Well it was only 2008, so people still did. But in Korea!? Who could possibly be calling me? I’m not sure I even knew this phone number!

I gave the person on the other end of the phone a groggy, “Hello?”

“Hi, Dyanne. It’s your dad. Perry.”

Long pause.

“Oh, um, hi? How did you get this number? I mean hi how are you?”

It was one of the strangest conversations I have ever had in my life.

It was cordial. But nothing more than that.

He had obtained the phone number from my grandma and felt led to call me after he inherited some money. He told me he wanted to give me half when it came through.

I never saw the money. I never heard from him again.

A vanishing whisper of a moment. I did not hold his words too tightly and I am thankful  that I had not.

He probably told me that he loved me and was proud of me. Maybe. I honestly don’t remember. That’s how much weight his words carried. We had literally NO relationship. And the money? I mean it was a nice gesture but an empty one at that.

I honestly could care less about the money. It was more of the relationship that would have carried weight in my life– had it been there.

Growing up, I referred to him as the “sperm donor.” He was not my father. Being a father implies action and relationship. Neither of which existed.

Whether it was his own brokenness or sin or both, he never truly reached out. He never truly built a relationship with me.

By the time I was old enough and could have made more effort to contact him and connect with him, I honestly did not want to. I mean, why reach out to someone who clearly wants nothing to do with you? Why put yourself through the pain? Especially with someone who has never had a relationship with you?

I thought long and hard about whether I had regrets. In the end, it’s not I who should have regrets, but him. Whether he did or not, I will never know and that’s perfectly okay. I mean, as okay as it can be. Really, none of it is okay. It is what it is.

I am sad that he died so young. That he was sick for a long time. I am sad that he never experienced the joy of being selfless and loving his own blood. I am sad that he never seemed to grow up beyond his “bachelor years” so-to-speak. I am sad that there was and never will be a relationship between us.

The only memories stored away in my collection consist of feeling unsafe and unsure of what was happening.

“Why do I have to call him ‘Daddy Perry?'” my little brain would question. He’s not my dad.

———-

Why do I have to ride on the back of this motorcycle with this man who says he is my dad?

———-

“Pull my finger.” So I did and he farted. I couldn’t laugh. My child mind couldn’t understand why he thought that would be the thing to do in order to connect with me. Perhaps I would have laughed had I felt emotionally safe with this man.

———-

By the time I had my third in-grown toenail, I insisted on calling this biological father to find out if I had inherited them from him. Classic move of a curious third grader. So I did, “Hi. I want to know. Do you have in-grown toenails? Because I have horrible ones!” Such a strange thing to want to know, but I really wanted to know at the time. I suppose I wanted to blame him for them. But he didn’t.

———-

I stood there as the balloon drifted up and out of reach. My eyes getting bigger. And sadder. With on last attempt, I gave a short, six-year-old sized jump, reaching for it. But it slipped away. Big tears filled my eyes.

He didn’t know what to do. We went back to the balloon stand and he bought me another one. This time he tied it around my wrist.

Or, is that how I like to remember it? Did he buy me another balloon?

———-

And just like that balloon, this fragile fetus-like relationship, drifted out of reach and slipped away before it ever grew and took shape into something of real meaning and value.

So today, when I was informed of his death, I had very few emotions or memories to draw from. 

It felt empty. It felt final. 

It was an empty finalé. 

 


Here is a previous post I made in 2008 after our phone call.

 

 

Priority

August 18, 2018

Priority is a word that a friend brought to my attention recently.

Priority is an important word. It’s a word that we often lump with responsibility. We have to make certain things a priority in order to succeed in life, in our career, in our finances, and more.

But lately I’ve been pondering the meaning of priority in relationship to boundaries with people.

What I have been realizing over the last few years– well decade, let’s be honest– is that there are a lot of people who I have prioritized in my life, but the prioritizing of me has not been reciprocated equally or at all. This could be called a one-sided relationship.

Now, in my experience, it’s easier to discern this with friendship. You invite said person to your house, you text said person, you buy gifts for said person, you email said person. You think you are friends with said person. But then something strange happens. You realize that said person is not doing any of those things for you. Said person is not initiating anything.

At this point, you allow said person to slowly exit your life or you can have a conversation with said person about the friendship and his/her willingness to make you a priority in his/her life as well.

I’ve experienced both: let the relationship fizzle out or work through things. When working through things, it can either work out or it can die a slower death as you try to resuscitate something that was already not really living.

Priority in relationships at work exists as well. And at church. Pretty much anytime you are interacting with people, you have to make decisions about what priority the relationship is to you. This helps you create healthy boundaries with others.

For example, it would be foolish for you to buy a new acquaintance a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses or to spend all of your free time helping him/her with something (of course there are exceptions). However, you might buy your spouse a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses and there would be nothing weird about that.

So, let’s not look at friends anymore. Let’s take a look at family.

A healthy, functioning family will make family members a priority in their life– be it time, finances, energy, etcetera. It’s perfectly normal for a healthy family to text often, call often, visit each other often, exchange gifts, share vulnerable things with each other, and more.

But let’s look at an unhealthy, dysfunctional family. There are so many different types of unhealthy families out there, so for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to refer to a family where most members are self-centered and selfish (that can fit a lot of family examples out there).

It might look like this: parents never call or visit their children, silence in every way imaginable, a sibling never gives the other sibling a gift, there is little to no communication between family members, a family member might do something hurtful to another family member but is not able to recognize that the behavior was hurtful, no one takes true interest in others’ lives, when there is communication or visiting only one family member shares about their life while never asking about the other person, when someone is in the hospital they do not tell the family, family members withhold encouragement and compliments, family members talk about themselves and boast often, family members might make another feel like a burden (ie. parents complaining about having to drive to a child’s graduation), a family member expressing hurt and desire for change but finding unwillingness on the other end, family members do not share their lives openly, family members just talk at you but real connection is not happening, family members are not vulnerable, family relationships are shallow, and so on.

Priority.

How can you say you are making someone a priority if you never: call, visit, listen sincerely to the other person, ask questions, text, email, truly ask how that person is doing, give gifts, acknowledge important events or holidays, consider the other when making decisions, consider how the other person is feeling, show love, give encouragement and compliments, and more.

You can’t. You absolutely are NOT making someone a priority if normal relational interactions are not happening.

That leaves me to ask, should someone who IS doing those things in the dysfunctional family continue doing so? After all, family should be a priority.

And this is what I have been pondering for a few years now.

My conclusion– even though it might hurt– NO.

At some point, healthy boundaries have to be drawn in the relationship. It’s not about unforgiveness. It’s not about wishing ill of the other person(s). And it’s certainly not unloving. It is actually a loving thing to do. Boundaries communicate to others and to yourself. Boundaries might serve as a consequence. Boundaries can be temporary. Boundaries can be strong and soft.

Relationships are two-way. Period.

One-way relationships need to end. Boundaries need to be put in place.

It is no longer a healthy relationship if it is one-sided (one person doing all the heavy-lifting so-to-speak in the relationship).

Sometimes in order to heal or to stay healthy you have to put a strong boundary in place with family members who simply do not know how to love well. It is not easy to do. It is painful at times because you hope and pray that one day the relationship can be restored and healthy.

You cannot fix the relationship. Why? Because relationship is two-way and you cannot control the other person. Both parties must be willing to make each other a priority.

When the level of priority is off balance or is non-existent for one person then the relationship will not be healthy.

You have the option of continuing in these dysfunctional, unhealthy, life-sucking relationships. And often, we do stay in them for a long time. And some times we never put boundaries in place. But in order to stop being hurt over and over and over and over again by selfish actions of certain people, it is healthier to put some boundaries in place.

This could look a variety of ways: limiting how much you give in the relationship; discontinuing all contact altogether; lowering the level of priority that the person is in your life; changing your perspective and mindset of how you think about that person (the weight you give them in your life, emotions…) etc.

When we make healthy boundaries with those who continually hurt us, we allow space for healing to happen. We allow space for other life-giving relationships to come into our lives. We allow ourselves to be loved and we show ourselves the dignity that we deserve.

No one deserves to be treated in an unloving manner over and over and over and over again.

Perhaps one day, the person whom you drew a line with will begin to take steps to make you a priority in his/her life. At that point, you can reconsider the line you drew. But until then, that boundary serves an important purpose to help you stay healthy and protect you from getting hurt over and over and over again when you give and give and give but it is not reciprocated.

Boundaries are like gates. They are not fences. They determine what you allow in and out of your life.

So, priority. It has so much to do with how one can set healthy boundaries. 

Priority and boundaries. They go together more than I knew. 

But now I know. And now I can make necessary changes. 

Let the pruning and healing begin. 

And perhaps one day, the mending of relationships will come. But for now, it is time to make my health a priority. 

Forced Rest

February 6, 2017

This past week I sprained my back. It was stupid. I sat down to conference with a student and stood up when we were finished.

Pain. Yup, definitely pain.

Over the course of two hours my back continued to get more and more stiff and the pain intensified. In fact, I was starting to hunch like an old lady because standing straight was too painful. I could feel a knot on my lower spine where it was hurt.

With permission, I left work early and headed to doctor’s the next day. By day two, I could not walk without assistance. I needed something to lean on or someone to help me along the way. When we arrived at the hospital we most certainly got a wheel chair.

Before the diagnosis, I had a few crying spells in fear that maybe I had a ruptured disc, a herniated disc or God forbid, Spondylolisthesis (a disease that is in my family). Thankfully, I only sprained my back in the same place that I had previously been injured.

By the doctor’s orders I was to have meds and two weeks bed rest. So, here I’ve been for a week and a half.

The responsible side of me has been dying inside. What about work? What about my responsibilities? What about all the meetings I had set up with people? What about…

“Rest.” I heard HIM whisper and interrupt my melancholic rant.

Rest?

“Yes, rest.”

Okay.

So, that is what I have been doing. Resting. Working only when I need to (sub plans, etc.). Otherwise, I’ve been resting. Journaling. Reading. Catching up on politics and social media. Sleeping. Praying. Laying in bed.

And, it’s been surprisingly fulfilling. I can’t remember the last time that I have stopped. I mean truly stopped for an extended period of time. Taken time to do nothing. Not travel. Not visit family. Not do church stuff. Not do work. Not do chores around the house. Just stop. Rest.

Because I was forced to rest, I had no choice. I’ve tried to fight it. I’ve tried to speed up my healing.

I did not choose this. But in some strange way, despite the incredible pain and huge inconvenience, this has been a gift in disguise.

I’ve been able to reflect, dream, remember other passions I have, finish our wedding album (finally!!!), and take time to myself.

“Create. Renew your creativity.”

His whisper is usually faint. One must be listening to hear. But in the silence of my room, it was clear. As I laid there, subject to bed rest, I knew that He was speaking to me. He wants to lead me into a more creative season that will require some steps of faith.

I have been in a season of renewing my love for the arts and now it is more than clear. It’s time to take steps of faith. The Lord is with me in it.

I will be thankful when my back is healed and well. I will enjoy being able to go back to work and move around the house effortlessly. Maybe go into a cleaning frenzy like I do now and then.

But, for right now, I’m savoring this gift. I’m fighting cabin fever and finding the joy in forced rest. 

He is renewing my creativity.

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MY CREATIVE SPACE

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