Sunday, April 13, 2014

Diving In: A Letter To Me

...deep tonight.  Bear with me.

A way, long, (like MONTHS) ago time I saw this posted on facebook: 
I wrote up 3000 (not really- more like 6) posts, trying to come up with the most perfect set of words.  TWO words....  That's really tough.  But tonight... tonight, I think I have it.  And I'll start with two words, but Lord knows it won't stop there.


And now here's where the letter starts:
Dear Ashley,
You're about to walk into first grade and pee your pants.  It's going to be one of the most formidable moments of your life and you have no idea.  You'll stand there, unable to control your bladder (that still is dysfunctional) and pee in front of a room of your classmates and be laughed at.  Then your mom will come and change your clothes, and send you back in.  And you'll experience your first panic attack.  But trust Him.  It will be okay.  Kids forget.  Someone throws up the next week, and that's the new topic of interest.  Trust.

You're about 9.  You and a friend steal baskets of flowers and vegetables from the neighborhood.  You get caught and your dad says its time for a talk.  This is the worst.  Your dad has to talk to you about stealing.  How will we ever get over this?  Trust Him.

You're in 6th grade and 40lbs of nothing but bones, straw hair and bottle rimmed glasses.  Your self esteem is as small as the tiny freckle in the corner of your eye.  To make yourself feel better, you do the typical 6th grade stuff.  Find a team of friends, a group, a clique, and form a barrier.  You're not kind to everyone.  You tease.  You gossip.  You know this isn't right, but it creates comfort.  And more often than not, you come home from school in tears because of your lack of self esteem and the way you made others feel.  You know the next day you'll need to face the girl you sent a note to, saying "We're not friends anymore, don't talk to me, etc."   How can such a mess ever be cleaned up?  Trust Him.

You're going into high school and the equivalent to a gnat in the eyes of everyone but that kid who talks to you in Spanish.  You're bumped around in the halls, nobody looks you in the eyes and you eat alone at the lunch table for a solid 5 months.  And then you'll meet a friend named Angela.  And life will never be the same.  You'll be each others shadows.  Trust Him.

You're 15 and you're sitting in the car with the BIGGEST crush of your life, RYAN MCKENNEY, and you're sweating bullets because he wants to ask you something.  All you can do is stare out the window, trying to find your friends faces in the windows of Suzie's house, knowing they're watching the car scene as it  plays out.   "Ashley will you be my girlfriend?"  And you say yes.  And floating on air, with empty insides and a thumping heart, you burst through the front door and all your girl friends dog pile on you, squealing that you have a boyfriend.  Trust Him.

It's the summer of 2000 and you volunteered to be a counselor at a Christian camp.  You're sitting on a soccer field with a girl who wants nothing to with God or religion.  You're frustrated, and just when you're about to give up, she breaks and tells you her story.  And you're left speechless.  But somehow, your hands cover her and words come.  Later that week, you'll fully surrender, and give your whole heart to Christ.  Trust Him.

He's graduating high school and going to college and you're still stuck at Western.  You're heartbroken, thinking this is it.  He's going to meet different people, form new relationships, do new things, better things.  And I'll be the ghost of girlfriends past.  So many tears.  So many fears.  Trust Him.

It's your turn to graduate and  you have no idea what you want to do in life.  Trust Him.

You're 21 and just moved out of your parents house out of spite.  You have never felt so unsure of yourself in your entire life.  You were engaged, but you called it off and everyone thinks you're stupid for ruining the one good thing going for you.  You break up with Ryan.  You become a ghost of who you were.  You haunt the streets, inebriated and numb.  You hurt in places you didn't know you had.  You fill them with things you didn't know existed.  On a set of church steps at 2 AM, you'll watch a good friend be carried away, so intoxicated, hurt. Sobs will shake you like never before, and you'll get a reprieve; a brief understanding of life.  And you'll decide its enough.  You'll get out.  Trust Him. 

You're 22 and getting married.  And scared to death.  You know you love Ryan but you're terrified about filling the shoes of a wife  You burn dinners and you suck at cleaning.  Just keep going.  Trust Him.

You're 23 and you get a positive pregnancy test.  You sit on the floor for hours, unable to process what's about to happen.  And when the door opens, finally, after a long day of work and he comes in, you get it.  You'll snap to it, hug, cry and know that life at that moment is moving faster than you'll ever be able to calculate.  Trust Him.

You're 24 and in the emergency room, 36 weeks pregnant with a baby girl.  Your heart is racing, and you can't breathe.  You're having what they call, a "panic attack."  The doctor orders a drug that's not safe for the baby, but necessary to bring your heart rate down.  You cry, fight your body to calm down, but its not until the drug is in that your mind lets go.  Finally, its released;  You'll feel your baby's moves cease, the drug entering her blood stream.  You feel like a failure, a worthless mother.  Just TRUST Him, Ashley.

You're still 24, and now in the most intense pain you've ever been in.  It's raining and faces are a blur.  You hurt and you're angry.  You're pushing and there's no progress, just rip roaring pain.  And then there are scissors, and she's out.  You're bleeding and vomiting.  She's crying, and this is nothing like you had pictured it would be.  You're terrified out of your mind.  You love her with a love that scares you.  Trust Him.

You take your new baby girl home, and sit in the shower for hours crying.  You're afraid to hold her, or contaminate her with germs.  You're entire life revolves around keeping her alive.  You sit up, watching her inhale and exhale, making sure her chest is rising and falling as it should.  After a month, you lose your mind.  Trust Him.

You're on the floor of your new home.  The one your husband just built with his own hands; the one that you painted and decorated in anticipation of a new future filled with baby giggles and summer memories.  He's telling you its okay, but its not.  And off to the ER you go.  Your vein is pierced and medicine is flooded in, again, quieting the thoughts, numbing the feelings, fading the room.  When you wake, you're home and its two days later.  Your parents and husband say its time to get some help.  You're terrified, more than ever before.  But just trust Him.

You're unable to drive because of the medicines and thoughts.  Your husband drops you off at your first appointment.  You cry the entire length of it.  More medicine prescribed.  More shame.  More guilt.  More failure.  Trust Him.

It's around April of 2008 and you realize, you feel okay.  The fog is lifting.  For the first time in months, you feel light.  There's a window that's been opened and you're gasping for that sweet, sweet air.  And you get it.  In your lungs, it fills you and you're sparked with hope.  A spark that will turn into a flame, and eventually turn into a fire.  Trust Him.

It's June 2011, and you're pregnant with your third child. (holy!)  Your hands are full with two healthy, beautiful babies.  Your house is being taken away.  Bills are piling up, voices are being raised, stress levels are high.  Life is charging faster than you can pedal and keep up.  You're in a moving truck, with everything that would fit, headed for Florida, without a place to live.  Just a hope that things will work out.  But by this time, you've had a lot of practice in trust.  That's not to say you didn't cry through 3 states, and wanted to turn around and go "home."  But you made it to Florida.

You're here.  You've done things you didn't think were doable.  You have four kids.  And you cook dinner, and sometimes clean the house.  Your kids get sick, and you have occasional panic attacks, and the car breaks down, but you trust.  Last year you took a leap and its paid off financially, in ways that are literally unbelievable.  You never imagined yourself here.  You couldn't have, its too good to imagine.

Everyday, with your trust in Him, you gain strength.  Strength to be a better mother, wife, a better person.

Trust Him.

Love, your incredibly wild, still slightly untamed, but strong and smart, funny, innappropriate, stringy haired, short legged, 29 year old self. 

I've rambled on and on, and I'm crying and I can't really remember where I was going with this except that, I wouldn't be who I am, without having gone through each of these events and many, so, so many more.  Do I wish I would've been kinder in my middle school days?  Heck yes.   Would it have been easier to have not peed my pants in front of my entire 1st grade class? Yeah.  Could I have done without the post partum anxiety and depression?  My God, yes. 

But the learning that's taken place... the lessons in trust.  They're invaluable.  And I don't think I could have gotten them any other way.

Am I in just the most perfect, peachy place right now? HAAAAAAA no.   Life is beautiful.  It's beautifully brilliant and hard at the same time.  There are glorious days where I look at the life we've created and I think there's nothing more than this.  There can't be!  This child's laughter, her smile, his pirates lined up, ready to fight; this is what life essentially IS!.  This is as beautiful as it gets.  And then I have awful days.  I have days that I cry more than I laugh.  There are days I should be quarantined to a "grouchy room" or something.  I cuss like a sailor (thanks papa)..., and I'll grow resentful of things.   I have days where I dream of driving off to somewhere and being free of all responsibilities.  But the thing that stops me is this;  trusting Him.  Knowing beauty, peace, and hope is ahead.  Maybe not tomorrow, or the next day, but its there; HE's there, waiting. And as many times as I have felt like giving up, He's never once wavered in His decision to hold me in his hands. 

And if my world falls apart tomorrow, I'll still trust Him.  I might be clawing my way through a hole, bitter, unable to see any good at all, but I'll still stand on His truth. The security in knowing, and believing this is like having a the comfiest, coziest of quilts thrown over me.

Anyways, that's my story.  What's yours?  What TWO words would you tell your younger self if you could?  Let yourself be honest and brave.  Admit your shortcomings, and applaud what you've done.  This life is hard and there a million things I think we all wish we could have a "do over" with.  But it doesn't work that way.  Time only goes forward;  we can gather and collect our past experiences, prepare as best as we can for the coming day.  But when all is said and done, I believe this life, having joy, harvesting hope and peace, can only be achieved through having trust in Him.   

And because I feel heavy (yet happy), I'm going to end this with a nice little bullet list of things I wish I'd known when I was younger (and yeah, I'm singing that song... "I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger!")
  • First off, dangit Ashley, you should've gone to the bathroom BEFORE choir class that morning in 1st grade.
  • Don't ever get into the Sam's sized pack of cheese balls.  Was the neon orange puke for two days worth it?  No mam.
  • You really shouldn't have stolen your neighbors vegetables and flowers... (Chelsea.... do you remember this?)  
  • Tell your sisters they're beautiful.  Every day.  Because they are- and they need to know and hear that.  EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
  • You should've hugged Ibby before leaving for school that day.  Thanked her for being such a good dog.  
  • You should have never, ever told your mother you hated her.  Stab through the heart.  And I know that now.
  • If you ever go camping, be prepared for a monsoon... right Ang?
  • Long bus rides are awful.  Don't ever sign up for one again.  I'm not talking like an hour... I'm talking like 2 days on a bus across the country with 50 other kids... IYC.  There were some good times tossed in there, but mostly I just remember car sickness, and a throbbing bladder from having to pee ALL.THE.TIME. 
  • Say what you think you should say, no matter how stupid or embarrassed it might make you feel.   Unless its just downright mean... then keep it to yourself.  I can't and won't say her name, but I will never get over my silence in "that situation."  I'm more sorry than you'll ever know... you know who you are.
  • The tattoo on your foot is awesome- the price was not.  You got ripped off... should've gone to a different shop.
  •  Listen to your dad about your braces.  Duh.
  • Don't ever give alcohol or anxiety drugs the power you thought they had.  They're band aids that become covered with grime and fall off, leaving the wound open, and vulnerable again.   
  • Don't underestimate your body; You can carried and pushed out 4 babies (one whom was close 9 lbs!)
  • Always say "I love you" to those you love.  Because, why not?
  • Lastly, never leave silence silent, where words and actions should and could be.  I'm not sure if that makes sense to you at all, but its big in my mind right now.

Thanks for listening to my heart, and (hopefully) not judging.  This is one of those posts that I hesitate to push the "publish" button.  Butterflies- I know (or at least I like to think) its for the greater good.  If one person can take away something positive from this, then I'm happy.

XOXO to you all.  Have an awesome week :)   


Joy Bukowski said...

Beautiful and cathartic! Thanks for sharing. I was captivated. Two words for me... haha, wish I could say trust Him, but sadly I didn't know Him. How about seek God. Rather than waiting until late 20's!

Yvette Banner said...

You never know what others you are in school with go through, sometimes you get caught up with your life you don't notice others around you. I felt every emotion as you "rambled" on. :-)

I am glad I have been able to follow your journey through your blogs. You're not a lone.