Well…here I am, me and the sacred paper, always here, always available, always blank and clean and new…..a fresh start. It feels good to write…to reach down into my soul and pull out the feelings that have been hiding under the smile. Kind of like slipping into your favorite pair of old jeans….they are ratty, and tattered….but they always fit and they just feel right. So you haven’t thrown them out yet. Your comfort pants…. It has been so long and so much has happened to us in the last three years. I don’t even know where to start. I have been crying for four years.
I am tired of crying. Tired. I have many, many things to cry about and I am not going to spell them all out for you. They are private. But I am tired. I can tell you that. Grief is stinky…..as in, it is always there. It never takes a vacation or goes away. It never poses as happiness…though it can be masked in indifference. I have to allow myself to have it, but then I have to back away from it and take a break because it is overwhelming and exhausting. I think it is over and another tidal wave hits me. No, I am not talking about those gentle waves that tickle your toes. TIDAL wave ….SNEAKER wave….hits you OUT OF NOWHERE wave….KNOCKS YOU ON YOUR BOTTOM wave….makes it HARD TO BREATHE….that kind of a wave. I am tired of four years of those waves. More are coming. I KNOW more are coming. How many waves can one person really manage? Really?
I have made major changes. I have quit eating garbage…things my body does not really tolerate. I have increased my exercise…like to six days a week. I am drinking more water. Still not enough, but more. I am sleeping well. I am taking care of my physical health. I know that is important or I would not be even attempting to swim in this ocean of grief. I would be drowning. I am not drowning…I am swimming–even if I only dog paddle, or sometimes just float on my back.
No one really sees it.
I think that is the hard part. I look like I am functioning, and for the most part I am. I am not hugging the floor yet. That is also coming, I know. You don’t need to know how I know, I just know. Their (other people’s) expectations of me are normal for how I was functioning. But the grief I am experiencing, necessitates that I do less, so I can feel more…which is hard for them. So on top of all of the sorrow, I have to manage changing relationships and other’s expectations, and then disappointments that I do not meet their desires. And I do not have enough energy to manage their feelings about it, which is good, because those are not my responsibility anyway, but it is still annoying, and I feel the pressure.
I have increased my ability to self-nurture. I take more time out to smell the flowers, to sit in the sunshine, to walk in the rain, to listen to the crickets and the frogs. I breathe more deeply. I have even been known to indulge in a fantasy novel or a movie of no consequence. I would not do that before….I was too busy. I need to spend more time writing. That is really where I find my solace. No one interrupts my thought patterns when I am writing on the paper. No one tells me how I should feel or what I should do or what I should think. It is not about them anyway. It is about me. With the paper, I can just sort it out…all of the feelings, and all of the things going on in my head and my heart that I am struggling to identify. Writing forces me to put it to words, and then it makes more sense to me.
It is really strange to have spent your entire life taking care of others and then to suddenly realize it is OK to take time out to take care of yourself too. I watched my mother burn out, as she never took time for herself…not until she left us. I thought I had been so much more careful to take time for myself so that I did not burn out or run away from my family. I actually did do that very well. But I did not give myself enough time or space for grief. I packed it all away in an iceberg in my heart and just kept it sitting there, packing on more grief as was necessary for functioning. Now the Lord has said, Uh Carin…..it is time to melt that iceberg. If you want to be truly happy, we have to melt it. You have to look at the feelings, allow yourself to have them, work through them, and let them go. As the feelings calve into the ocean and begin to melt, here comes the wave…..and again, I cannot breathe.
It takes a long time to melt an iceberg.
Periodically, my body revolts by breaking out in shingles, or having a huge desire to sleep for no reason, or to stuff my face with carbs and sugar. Those are my clues that I am holding onto my feelings instead of learning to let them pass through me. It is really hard to unlearn behavior and to replace the negative behaviors with more positive coping mechanisms. I love talking about all of this in theory but the application is brutal and painful. I don’t think anyone is really ever prepared for the pain.
One of my boys, in their studies, called and said, Hey Mom….did you know that emotional pain follows the same nerve patterns in the brain as physical pain? Let that sink in moment. That means the emotional pain we have (for whatever reasons) is just as painful as say, breaking your leg. Those emotions HURT! If we say nasty things to one another, we are causing others pain. And the pain we have because of our own choices, or the choices of others, really does hurt us…..physically in our body, the emotion causes pain. But with emotional pain, no one sees it. If I was in an accident, and I had to relearn to walk, after my body heals, people will usually be patient with me because they can see and to a degree, they understand I cannot just bounce back to normal. But with an emotional break, or illness, they do not usually see it, unless it is also accompanied by drastic behavior. That is really unfair of us, to put that kind of pressure on each other when all we are trying to do is heal. Healing takes time. Almost as much time as melting an iceberg! It is no wonder that some of us try to just push through it and continue to work, go to school, be normal and when we cannot do that, we wonder what is wrong with us and feel like even more of a failure. But the truth is, we are rehabilitating and we cannot do what we once did when we were well. We need to be patient with ourselves and with others.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but emotional work takes time…..
If I was in a major accident and broke parts of my body, it would take a significant amount of time–depending upon the injuries–to heal my body. Once the physical parts are healed, it may take longer to rehabilitate them. I might need physical or occupational therapy and maybe some medications as I learn to work through the pain to strengthen my body and get it back in shape or even just to get it to function. Maybe it will never be ‘where it was’…. I may even emotionally resist doing the work because it is painful and I figure ‘what is the point?’. But if I want my body to heal, I have to commit to doing the work. People are fairly patient with physical injuries. They may push a little or expect one to go faster, but usually they have a general idea of the work involved.
An emotional break, trauma, difficulty, or injury also requires time and work to heal. Sometimes rehabilitation and therapy are necessary, sometimes medication.
Contrary to a physical injury, in an emotional ailment, people can’t see the work necessary or even really evaluate the progress being made. Expectations from others are typically significantly higher than the injured person’s capability. It isn’t always or even usually about personality or ability–though that is what is often identified as the problem or impediment to healing. The truth though, is it usually about pain–and each of us can only handle so much of that at one time. Thus the healing process requires a lot of time and a willingness to work — through the pain. Well meaning individuals who say, “Just get over it,” or “Let it go,” or “Move on…” do not recognize their well-meaning comments actually cause further pain and make the process more challenging, more difficult, and sometimes even make it take longer!
I have learned we have to slow life down to manage the pain.
I learned this principle from Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his address: Of Things That Matter Most. Here is an excerpt from his talk:
It’s remarkable how much we can learn about life by studying nature. For example, scientists can look at the rings of trees and make educated guesses about climate and growing conditions hundreds and even thousands of years ago. One of the things we learn from studying the growth of trees is that during seasons when conditions are ideal, trees grow at a normal rate. However, during seasons when growing conditions are not ideal, trees slow down their growth and devote their energy to the basic elements necessary for survival.
At this point some of you may be thinking, “That’s all very fine and good, but what does it have to do with flying an airplane?” Well, let me tell you.
Have you ever been in an airplane and experienced turbulence? The most common cause of turbulence is a sudden change in air movement causing the aircraft to pitch, yaw, and roll. While planes are built to withstand far greater turbulence than anything you would encounter on a regular flight, it still may be disconcerting to passengers.
What do you suppose pilots do when they encounter turbulence? A student pilot may think that increasing speed is a good strategy because it will get them through the turbulence faster. But that may be the wrong thing to do. Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed. The same principle applies also to speed bumps on a road.
Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Of Things That Matter Most.
Just like there is an optimum speed for turbulence, there is also an optimum speed for pain–physical or emotional. Our progression is based in learning our optimum speed to travel through the pain. Sometimes hugging the floor for a time period is OK. You may need to hug the floor to conserve the energy necessary to survive. This is true especially at the beginning of trauma as you are realizing the pain you are facing or the work necessary to travel through the pain. YOU will know when it is time to peel yourself up off of the floor. Trust yourself. Don’t push too fast, too hard, or too early. If you do, you will soon recognize that you are not quite ready to be off of the floor yet.
Grief and emotional pain are real. They should be recognized as such.
Our modern, western-style, fast paced society tries to tell us that grief is unnecessary, unproductive, and a problem. But just like the trees slow down their growth during times when growing conditions are not ideal, we also may need a period of winter. All of nature takes some down time….time to hibernate, and rest. And if you haven’t noticed, we are organic! No ‘ever-blooming wonder’ plants. No ‘ever-blooming wonder’ people…..not really. People need down time too–especially the emotionally injured.
Personally, I have experienced many emotional injuries. Some were people being mean on purpose, but most were done unconsciously. My wounds are deep–deeper than I had any idea. I have managed them all of these years by shoving my pain into a box, closing the lid, and pretending the box did not exist. Not a bad emotional copying strategy. It has kept me quite productive all of these years. But it was not a fool-proof method. I have learned this strategy retards my growth. I have needed to learn about the box, recognize that I have the box, open the box, look at the box, and feel what is inside the box. There is an iceberg in there—an iceberg of grief. The melting process is painful and I can only handle so much of it at one time. Sometimes giant chunks melt off and that takes a greater amount of time for crying and slower pace of life to allow for melting. If I melt too fast or too much, I am flooded with grief and non-functional.
There is resistance to the work. I do not want to feel pain, and I am very good at choosing not to feel it! I can freeze it and stick it into my iceberg before I even register that I am in pain, that an experience has injured me. It is because I have spent the last 35+ years doing it that way. I have to make a conscious choice to look for the pain, see it, and allow myself to feel it, before my iceberg melts. I can only handle so much of the pain before I choose to shut it off and manage my day to day. In this way, I can continue to move forward. I just have to find my optimum speed for turbulence (pain)–which is different at different times, and not succumb to the temptation to stop melting the iceberg and go back to my freezing strategy. It is a very difficult skill to unlearn!
I cannot believe today is Thanksgiving 2020! My heart is so full today of gratitude for so many things. I know it has been a difficult year. We have all struggled with things none of us could really have imagined would happen to us just a few years ago. My life has changed drastically in the last three years. For me, the changes have been good….HARD…..but good. I know many more people who have suffered many tragedies and losses. I have had my own. You need not think that I am exempt and that my life is happy and rosy while everyone else is suffering. That has not been the case. But the hard changes have blessed my life. We are still in the middle of our hard changes….the blessings are still coming….we still have work to do.
Through it all, up to this point, I have been able to see the Lord’s hand in my life. I have recognized that things I believed were stones and serpents really were bread and fish. I just didn’t see them that way. It has taken me time to see value in those very difficult experiences. I have needed to change my perspective, or my behavior to see the blessings, and experience the benefits. I have needed what some might refer to as ‘an attitude adjustment’.
I know the Lord gives these things to me….the difficulties as well as the blessings, because He loves me. He knows what I can become. He knows what experiences I need to get there. I don’t like His experiences. They are hard and often painful. But as I hold onto Him, I become what He sees. And after the fact, I see it. I would never see it if I didn’t choose to hold on to Him through the difficulties. I might resent having to change or leaving things or people I love. I try to keep the things I think are worth keeping, instead of trusting Him to give me greater things, and being willing to sacrifice the things I think are ‘so important’. It is fine, usually, when the objects are things…..more difficult when those things are people. I have been asked to let go of some of my people and to trust that God knows and loves them too and it is not my job or within my ability to save my people. That was always His job…..and He needs me to do other things….with other people. That has been super hard for me, because I love all of the people and I don’t want to give up any. I am just a little selfish that way.
I am learning to trust God’s love for me, and for all of the people I love and am concerned about. I cannot make other people do or choose what I want. That is hard for me. Not because I need them to do things my way, but I want them to be happy and I know happiness comes from making righteous choices. But not everyone agrees with me….so they have to be free to make the choices they want to make…which they believe will bring them the happiness they want. But that is not always the case and sometimes I have to watch them suffer because of the choices they have made. That breaks my heart.
But God knew we would make those choices…they would make some, and I would make some. And we would not be happy with the consequences of the choices we made. So He provided a way that we could changes things. He gave us His Son….because He loves us. His Son suffered unimaginable things, so we might not suffer if we would change. He did that because of His love for us….the Son’s love for us…..God’s love, and His Son’s love. He knew we would need to learn by our own experiences, and not the knowledge or understanding of another. Sometimes our mistakes would hurt the people we love, including ourselves. We would need to have enough love to trust God and His Son and make changes, changes that would be painful. But changes that would be necessary for us to become love.
I wonder how the world would change if everyone’s only motive was love…..love like Theirs.
It was all brought about because of love…..because of Their love, so we could learn to love, TRUE love….the kind of love where we put another person’s needs above our own, like They did.
Today, this Thanksgiving? I am grateful for Their love and for the experiences that are teaching me how to love…the way They do.
Ok…You are going to have to follow me on this blog post. I am going to wander for a bit, but I will tie it all together before we are finished. Today, I am grateful for Air….yes, just the basic kind that you breathe in and out every day. Let me tell you where I have been.
Yesterday, my sister-in-law had a surgery…nothing major, but surgery none the less. I didn’t realize that I had been contemplating air and my ability to breathe for awhile. But her surgery reminded me of a couple of things. A few years ago, Drew’s aunt had a routine surgery. She was in recovery, and somehow, she threw up and aspirated her vomit and died. My grandmother, when I was 13, was in an automobile accident and on life support in a coma for a month before they decided to terminate her air. I have been reading about the Brother of Jared in the book of Ether and his concern that the boats the Lord asked him to build have no light and no air. And I have known for awhile that the Lord wants me to go a certain direction and I have been trying to go there, but recently have come to a place where I recognize, if I go there, I know it will be dark and I am afraid I will not be able to breathe…..no light and no air.
I have several children with asthma. Some of the scariest times I have had with them are when their asthma is so bad that they cannot breathe and there is nothing that I can do for them, and we are in the hospital as the staff tries to manage their air.
I have been pondering about the faith it took the Brother of Jared, and all of his party, to enter the barges….where the Lord said, “Ya, you are going to be buried in the deep, as a whale in the sea, but don’t worry, I will bring you up again…..you’ll get air….it will be OK.” (rough paraphrase 🙂 And they trusted Him, not knowing how long they would be buried in the deep, or even how long their journey to the promised land would take them, and they had no ability to steer. That is some serious faith.
My sister-in-law had to trust the anesthesiologist with her air….. With my grandmother, people she didn’t even know and may not even have been aware of, stepped in and provided her with air. With Drew’s aunt, her air was managed fine during surgery. But somehow AFTER the surgery there was a problem and the Lord called her home. Accident? Negligence? Maybe. But maybe it was just the circumstances the Lord used to bring His daughter back to Him.
I am afraid. I am afraid to trust God with my Air. And yet, He is already giving it to me. It is completely His to control. He controls it today! Right now! He gives me my daily breath. If He wanted to, He could stop my air right now and I would return home to His presence. So why am I so afraid that He won’t provide air for me while I am doing what He has asked? Why can’t I seem to bridge that gap today? Why am I struggling to exercise my faith and to trust Him at that level?
I don’t know. I am working on it. But today….that is where I am and today, I am grateful for air….just the normal kind that I breathe in and out every day, every hour, every minute…usually without thinking about it. But today, I am thinking about it and grateful for it!
We have a motto in our home. I had my sister in law cross stitch it so we can have it on the wall:
In This Home, We Practice and Promote Growth and Development.
I wanted my children to know that growth isn’t an option, it is a requirement. I don’t know if you have noticed…..but growth is painful. One of my dear friends has children who experience growing pains as their bones and muscles change. They wake up in the middle of the night with leg cramps and sometimes they cry because of the pain. Just like our physical bodies grow and change, so do our spiritual bodies. We change emotionally, intellectually, and socially too. Sometimes that growth is imposed upon us. Someone in our family or a close friend dies or leaves for some reason and we have to learn to live without them. Someone moves. It can be simple or it can be complicated. But it requires us to change. Sometimes, however, we have to choose growth. We choose to take that new job, or jump back into school, or we are impressed to make a change that requires us to develop.
One of the biggest things I try to promote in our home is the choice to grow emotionally, to choose to make changes in who we are, how we think, and how we feel. I truly believe that is a large part of the purpose of this blog. Emotional growth is hard work. It is painful work. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like pain and I avoid as much as possible. But making that choice, keeps me from growing. It keeps me stuck. It doesn’t allow me to become. I don’t want to be stuck…..and I don’t want my children to be stuck either. I want us to become….to grow.
Become what exactly?
Well, that really depends upon each individual. God has blessed each of us with talents and gifts, and at my house, those are all different for each individual. Their learning curves are personally tailored because their spirits are unique and so none of their experiences are identical because each one needs something different to learn whatever it is that they are becoming. Today, I am grateful for growth, even if it is painful and it hurts and it requires me to change…..so I can become.
Today I am grateful for good friends…these are just two of the many beautiful people Heavenly Father has allowed to be a part of my life. They, and others, have changed me for the better. Shari was a part of my life when I was younger….so much younger! She was there when I was a teenager…so young! My family was falling apart. My life wasn’t a mess yet…even though my family was. Shari kept me from personally jumping off of the deep end. She kept me focused. She gave me direction and vision. I don’t know if she has any idea how profound her effect on me was. This photo was a ‘chance’ meeting. I bumped into her in a place where I usually would not be. And, at the time, I thought to myself, you know, if Shari was anywhere, I bet she would be here right now. There were thousands of people there. The venue was huge. We were on a 15 minute break and I began looking for her. After about 10 minutes of looking, I thought, what am I doing? There is no way I am going to find her in this sea of people. And I decided to hit the bathroom before I sat through the rest of the presentation. As I headed to the restroom, there she was! I saw her talking to someone else. Just so you know, it had been probably 25 years since I had seen or talked to her. And there she was!
Linzy? She was my secret friend in Eureka. 🙂 There were some other people in our lives and they did not appreciate the love we had for one another. We kept our friendship quiet…I mean, how much time we really spent together. We had reasons to interact, working together in church and things. We were both struggling with relationships, in many areas. Our hearts could just unload on one another without causing stress to the other person. (Love you Linz!!! 💕💕)
I am so grateful Heavenly Father has always given me good friends. Wherever I have lived, He has provided some amazing people who have supported me and strengthened me and listened to me and been there for me. These are just two of my people. If I posted about all of them, I could probably post for the rest of my life! Such good people! Anywhere I go…there are more people to love!
I am Mother to some amazing people! I LOVE being a mother. The opportunity to help bring to earth and grow another person, in my case 9 other people, has been my journey of a lifetime and has helped me to grow and change in really amazing ways. Has it been challenging? Understatement of the decades! So much work! Heavenly Father has known exactly how to push all of my buttons and show me my weaknesses, harness my strengths and force me to grow in very painful but productive ways. Motherhood has made me become, and required me to reach deep within my soul and call forth everything I could give and ask the Lord to make up the difference. Sometimes I have had to do what Elder Holland says, ‘come to the Lord in meekness and lowliness of heart and,…, “pounded on the doors of heaven to ask for, to plead for, to demand guidance and wisdom and help for this wondrous task,”’. I have done that more than once….probably more than once for each child. These are incredible people…and I don’t want to mess them up because of my inadequacies. I want them to reach for the stars and to soar! I want them to believe in themselves and to go after and obtain their dreams. I know they can do it with the help of their Father in Heaven! I KNOW they can! I am so very grateful for the opportunity I have to interact with them on a daily basis and have them all as a part of my life!!
Lenise 🙂 (I need more photos of you and Johnathan!)
Today, I am grateful for light. It seems like such a small thing…but it really is something we take for granted and we cannot live without. We don’t notice how important it is until it is gone and dark.
I LOVE the morning sun as it begins to illuminate the sky. I want my breakfast table basking in that morning sun. It brings me peace and hope and recognition that a it is a new day and I have new opportunities. It warms my heart and motivates my behavior.
There is another form of light, another Son, that warms my heart and motivates my behavior. It is the Son of God, our Savior Jesus Christ. His light, His life, His example helps me to see in times of spiritual and emotional darkness. As I exercise my faith, the light from His doctrines illuminates my path. I may not see the entire vision, but I usually have enough light to move forward until more light gives me greater sight.
Sometimes in order to move forward in our lives, we just need to be able to see, whether that light comes in a physical form or just a vision of the possibilities that lie before us. That knowledge can come from something we read, or see, or hear. It can come from other people, something they say or do or are.
A girlfriend and I were talking one day. We were discussing people. She said, “Some people are light givers. And some people are light suckers.” I want to be a light giver. I want to help people believe they can do it! They can be more! They can become! They can DO! I may not be able to illuminate their path or their life, but I can motivate them to look for the light, or more importantly, to look TO the LIGHT!
Well…..so much has happened in my life and it has been so long since I posted anything! But today the Prophet asked us to post about the things we are grateful for….and right now, right here, for today, that is FAITH.
I am so grateful for the concept and principle of faith. It can be as simple as going to bed every night, knowing you will wake up the next morning, to having faith that moves literal mountains. At one point, I thought, I would never have the faith to move a mountain. I mean, think about it, a MOUNTAIN!! That is HUGE! I stand on mountains. I climb them. I take photos of them and hang them on my wall. Compared to a mountain, I am an ant! And yet it is possible to have faith that moves mountains?!! Really??!! That is way more faith than I can even imagine! WAAAYYYY More!
I have been asked to exercise my faith before. I have prayed for sick children, even my very own. I have had to trust that God would take care of me, even when there was no food and no money…..I have exercised that kind of faith. I didn’t have to do it for very long, but I have had to do it. I have had to exercise faith when I didn’t know how we were going to make ends meet, when I had to leave for college without any support from parents or family, when I chose to marry my husband contrary to the wishes of my parents, when I didn’t know if my child would live or die, when I had to forgive a friend, or apologize for my behavior, or move to a new place where we knew no one….I have had to exercise that kind of faith. The Lord has never let me down. He has always been there. Food always showed up, the bills somehow got paid, my child recovered and lived, forgiveness came, and I apologized, even if it was not well received.
There have been other times where I have exercised my faith and things did not turn out as I wished…..we did not get that job, or make that move, my friend died anyway, he did not recover, life did not turn out as I envisioned or I wanted. Does that mean my faith was in vain? No. It means, though I wanted something, even if I wanted it with all of my heart, the answer from a loving Father in Heaven who knows what is best for me….the answer was “No, my Daughter. The answer is No.” I do now know why the answer is no sometimes. I do not know why the answer is Yes sometimes. But I do know this.
God loves me. He knows me. He knows where I am going and He knows what it is going to take to get me there. And if that means that sometimes the answer is No, because it is those experiences that will eventually take me to where I need to go so I can become what He knows is possible for me…..if it means THAT, then I am willing to exercise my faith, and to continue to exercise my faith in Him, even when the answer is NO.
I do not have all of the answers. To be honest, I don’t want all of the answers. That just seems a little overwhelming to me to be responsible for. He has given me enough….enough for today, enough to walk through the coming darkness, enough to believe there will be light, enough to keep going. Today, that is enough.
So Kyle sent that video a few days ago. I have been prepping and prepping for Johnathan’s wedding and have not even downloaded Kyle and Iasmin’s wedding photos off of my phone. Funny story. Yesterday Darren finally posted the wedding photos of him and Sarah because Johnathan’s wedding is less than a week away! I have been trying for days to download the video of Kyle and Iasmin’s wedding without any success. So I will keep working on that….but not until I am finished with Johnathan’s wedding. And I will post about Darren and Sarah’s wedding after Kyle and Iasmin’s posts, but before Johnathan’s and Lenise’s. So you are just going to have to wait for me to manage all of that! But in the mean time, you can enjoy these amazing photos of our May wedding with the beautiful flowers, while we are all freezing in the winter weather. Maybe I will post the snow wedding photos next spring, just to keep thing interesting! Here you go…… ENJOY!!
Aren’t they beautiful?? It was such an amazing day! I held it together most of the day, totally crying the night before and sobbing for the next three days. But their wedding day was so beautiful! I saw so many of my dear, dear friends who I really haven’t seen since I left Utah. When one of my favorite girl friends walked into the restaurant (where we were holding the reception), I walked up to her, threw my arms around her and just started sobbing. I was a blubbering mess, but I didn’t even care! It was so very good to see her!!
The first wedding of our amazing children……a family, organized for eternity. I know it took you some time Kyle, but Iasmin has certainly been worth the wait! As your mother, now you know what I have to say about your wedding!!