“Meet me at the crossroads. The edge of all my broken dreams. I feel like I’m missing something. Missing out. Missing me. An angel to my left, the devil to my right. It’s time that I made a choice. I can only do what I know feels right. It’s time that I let go. Experience. Experience it all. I found a risk worth taking. Right or wrong, it’s my line to cross. Experience. Experience it all. I found a life worth living. I want to feel alive. I want to do more than just survive. Swimming in the shallow water. They never let me get too deep. The tide will have to take me under. Pull me in. Set me free. An angel to my left, the devil to my right. It’s time that I made a choice. I can only do what I know feels right. It’s time that I let go. Experience. Experience it all. I found a life worth living. I want to feel alive. I want to do more than just survive. A dream is only a dream. A dream is only a dream until you make it real. A dream is only a dream unless it’s something you can feel. I want something I can feel.” ~ Trapt
I remember the first time I heard this song in 2013 and how much it inspired me. Zack and I had been married for a couple of years, but despite the fact that we were crazy in love and truly being each other’s “better half”, I was still getting comfortable with the healthier skin I was wearing and learning how to stretch it after years of fighting to keep my head above the water in the battle for my sanity. My feet were on the path but it was a daily battle. “An angel to my left. The devil to my right. It was time that I made a choice”. Did it take me a minute to finally put all the pieces of myself that I had finally found back together? You betcha! But guess what? That was then, and this is now …
I’m not gonna lie, the last few days (like so many others I’ve experienced lately) were pretty damn good! I hate what I’ve been through, but love where I am, and every extra day and even the unforseen trials I surely still “get to go through” are a gift. I am a very thankful human woman, hands down, no matter what, and if God forbid I have to “move along” tomorrow, which I certainly hope that I don’t, I’m all set and ready to go. I’m at peace with my past. At peace with myself. At peace with my Creator. No stones have been left unturned. Anyone who needed forgiveness from me has gotten it, whether or not they asked for or deserved it. This IS my “Brighter Side Of Grey“. This IS my “Experience”!
This one’s for my fallen king. And my son. And my daughter. And myself. And anyone in my atmosphere who is now or has ever struggled just to keep your head above the water. It’s so hard to swim when the entire weight of the world seems to be resting upon your shoulders. This is I know too well! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If I can do this? YOU CAN DO THIS! So, with that: Chin up! Knuckles out! Head held high! Fight the good fight. Just. Keep. Breathing. And remember …
I struggled this morning as to what if anything to say about “the very first social event without my husband” last night because honestly, I am just so overwhelmed and TRAUMATIZED all over again! So perhaps I’ll just lead with some friendly advice for anyone out there who unbeknownst to them struggles with “unhealthy boundaries” …
To begin, here is what Wikia.org says about “personal boundaries” (and please DO click on this link THIS VERY IMPORTANT LINK for more information when you are either extremely bored OR extremely ready to conduct a quick self-examination as to where you are on the boundaries spectrum):
“Personal boundaries are an aspect of psychological boundaries and are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him- or herself what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits. “Personal boundaries” define you as an individual. They are statements of what you will or won’t do, what you like and don’t like … how close someone can get to you.”
One last advice I’d like to offer against what again I’m sure are seemingly innocent comments and remarks from well-intended people. I appreciate being told “I’m so beautiful”. Truly, I do, and I’m not trying to sound like a self-inflated ass, but I am in fact aware of “how I look” and yes, I agree, I am clearly not unfortunate looking. I comfortable writing those words out loud here now in this space because only I know how long it finally took me to find my actual reflection in a mirror! It took a hell of a lot of work on behalf less than a handful of people to get me to finally “see me” the way other people see me on the outside. Eternal is the gratitude for my very first “Angel from Flight 438“, because all “this” started with him! Then Zack picked up where he left off and I will NEVER forget that day in his apartment he grabbed me by the arms and physically forced me in front of the mirror while he stood behind me repeating: “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! LOOK AT YOURSELF CATHERINE, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! SAY IT! I’M NOT LETTING YOU GO UNTIL YOU SAY IT!” And then I did, and here I am. Yes, I am beautiful. The irony here is the first time Zack ever saw me in January of 2009 my presentation was “yah, not so much”. If he were still here he’d be the first to admit that I looked like a freaking train wreck. I was in the worst shape of my life, hadn’t been sleeping, was physically disfigured in the most egregious way, and about five minutes away from my final nervous break down. He used to say, “Every time she showed up at the gym she looked kind of like a homeless person”. So trust me when I tell you – our love story did NOT begin with “wow you’re just so beautiful”. He loved me as I was, scars and all, for the very first time in my life, and for that precious reason my fallen King’s mirror of not only my reflection but most importantly my soul will always be the standard by which I judge anyone’s regard for my “beauty”.
There is probably not a human being on the face of this planet that doesn’t appreciate verbal affirmation from others, and yes, compliments in the right dose are an integral part of how our confidence is assimilated. But over and over and over again? “You’re so pretty. You’re so beautiful. You are such an attractive person.” Okay, so tell me once and that’s it! Anything more is not only overkill, but moreso the polar OPPOSITE of what has ever attracted me to a man. Observations, judgments and validations about “my surface” in my life before Zack were more than half of what made me sick in the very first place and nope I don’t care if someone thinks I’m beautiful (at least not on the outside). Quite frankly? THAT REPELS ME! Yes, this is a boundary issue with not only me but quite possibly many struggling people out there. Such an OLD cliche’ but true nonetheless: DON’T JUDGE THE BOOK BY IT’S COVER!
Well this was a long post. I apologize. Actually, nope again, I don’t. These things needed to be said and now that I’ve said them I feel much better. Guess I just needed to remind myself about the boundaries I’ve fought so hard to understand, respect and build in the first place. So with that I guess I’ll just have to find a way to be thankful for my re-traumitization last night. It was a lesson for me, for sure, and now maybe a lesson for some of you. There is indeed a time and place for everything – EVEN CONVERSATIONS ABOUT GRIEF! If you know someone has been through a trauma of any kind and you want to talk to them about it, just ask them first if they want to talk about it. They may want to. They may not. The choice should be theirs though, not yours.
“Take a breath. Hold it in. Start a fight. You won’t win. Had enough. Let’s begin. Never mind. I don’t care. All in all, you’re no good. You don’t cry like you should. Let it go if you could when love dies in the end. So I’ll find what lies beneath your sick twisted smile as I lay underneath your cold, jaded eyes. Now you’ve turned the tide on me ’cause you’re so unkind. I will always be here for the rest of my life. Here we go. Does it hurt? Say goodbye to this world. I will not be undone. Come to life. It gets worse. … Don’t carry me under. You’re the Devil in disguise. God sing for the hopeless. I’m the one you left behind.” ~ Breaking Benjamin
It was the second Friday of November 1996 when Jay excitedly asked me to meet him at a church in Sachse where he had been invited by one of my new Christian friends and mentors, “Abby” (who he had also befriended) to attend a Power Team Christian evangelism presentation where he would also later be baptized that as well. He said that he had “something very exciting and important” to tell me that night, and based upon the tone and context of the recent conversations we’d been having I had every reason to believe that he was actually going to propose to me! Imagine my surprise then when after the baptism I was led into a room in the back of the church, where there he was standing, beside Abby and her entire family, a couple of whom I’d really come to admire and respect. It was then that Jay told me “he was so sorry”, but over the last several months, and completely unbeknownst to me, “God had called them together”, they’d fallen madly in love and had been hiding their relationship from me. There I stood, just as I had 20 years before, numb and sick with the same stinging, disconnected pain just beneath the top layer of my skin on the day of the “Spic and Span”. I walked out of the church, heartbroken and alone and just started driving … to Oklahoma City and back.
When I got back to Dallas it was already morning and I had convinced myself that I just needed to LET IT GO! “Pull yourself together Catherine! Shrug it off! Suck it up! Don’t be weak! DON’T FALL!” I proceeded to the regularly scheduled Saturday morning meet with Christian and Him at the mall parking lot for our weekend custody switch, wrecked beyond belief but fervently trying to keep myself from coming unhinged for Christian’s sake. I needed not to let the night before breaking me down completely and at this stage in the game I was already an old pro at “stuffing all the painful things” as far down as possible and pretending they just didn’t exist. But despite my best efforts to keep it all together, I consciously decided to pick a fight with Him so that I could just run away and avoid having to mottle through my weekend visit with Christian. I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours, had just experienced the second biggest bombshell of my life, and although I didn’t know it, was less than 15 minutes away from the first of my nervous breakdowns. I went back to my parents’ house where I’d been living at the time and proceeded to swallow every single pill or capsule, I could find in my bathroom cabinets. I JUST WANTED TO “GO HOME”!
The details of that morning were never very clear, but I do remember laying there rocking back and forth and crying that I wanted to be with God. My sister heard me and quickly realized what I had done and called 911. Meanwhile, He and Christian had followed me home because He was concerned that something was “off” with me at our meeting and was worried. My parents were ballistic, and Julie had frantically pulled me out of the bed in a desperate attempt to drag me to the bathroom and make me throw up all the pills. There were flashes of light, like neurons snapping on and off, and fuzzy, swooshing sounds that I can’t really describe with words. Then my Christian, a mere five years old at the time, managed to slip through the chaos and come to me. He too was crying but had taken hold of my wrist and was patting my back as though he were the parent consoling their child. Up to that point, I had been unable to focus on anything in the room, yet I could clearly hear what my son was saying: “Mommy, God’s not ready for you to go home. He wants you to stay here and be my Mom.” It is imperative to note that, although I could see his mouth moving and hear the words he was saying, it was not Christian’s voice that I was hearing. I firmly believe and will never be convinced otherwise that God Himself was speaking to me through my son that day.
I stayed in the hospital for a few days and from there the State had committed me to Green Oaks Hospital where I went underwent intense treatment for clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and also the much needed but sorely delayed rape counseling that I had never actually gotten. My entire family, including Him, was involved in this process, which was something that by then that we were all in dire need of. Looking back, I realize that I didn’t want to die that morning, but I just couldn’t pull myself out of the black hole that I was in. I was lucky. Very lucky. I made it home in time for Christmas that year, feeling lighter and happier than I had in years, clear-headed and focused. And despite the unbelievably selfish horror I had put them all through, my entire family welcomed me home again.
As for him? He never turned back to look and see what he had done to me. It was such an easy choice for him that I should be set out on the curb as mere “unwanted baggage”. For me? He was everything, because I loved him, and I trusted him, and had given him every piece of my already broken heart that I could possibly give. His betrayal “in Jesus’ name” literally murdered my soul. It was indeed my darkest reality and I actually wanted to die.