February 19, 2015 was the day that I stood in front of a judge and corrected a mistake that I made 2.5 years earlier. A choice that I had been making for the past six years. A choice that I knew was wrong for me and wasn’t right but that I clung to with every single thing in me because I was so afraid of being unloved. My adult life has been me trying to fill an aching hole in my heart. This attempted “filling” has manifested in different ways during different times. I would beg others for acceptance, love, and attention. I would bully, manipulate, micromanage and run other people over. I would compare and worry myself sick. At one point I allowed myself to stay in an abusive relationship and then for the next several years I expected everyone close to me to treat me as a victim. It wouldn’t be a far leap to say that the last ten years of my life have been an absolute emotional shit show. Most of the time things probably appeared alright on the outside—I can promise you that I put a lot of work into that. But deep down I knew that this “coping” wasn’t sustainable—no one can try that hard to earn their worth and expect things to end well. Spoiler alert—they didn’t end well. They ended with a divorce and a lot of hurt people along the way. They ended with me putting my “stuffing” into hyper-speed. They ended with an eventual place (after a lot of fighting) of rock bottom and thankfully acceptance.
Rock bottom….a couple of things that I can tell you about rock bottom…
- You can always, always, always see it coming. You might be in complete denial but rest assured there are flags, barriers and flashing lights. There are signs that say “Go back now”. Rock bottom isn’t sneaky. I can promise you that not once has rock bottom snuck up on someone. It doesn’t come out of nowhere and you don’t take one wrong turn to get there.
- You will eventually find it. It may take you awhile but it will happen and it will not be fun. You do not want to test it and see if you can be the one to evade it.
- The people who love you when you are ugly and at rock bottom are the people you never let go of. That is family, people!
- I read somewhere (sorry—can’t remember where) that once you hit rock bottom you have two choices…you can bury yourself or you can look up. Thankfully, by no grace of my own (I am convinced I am the most hard headed person on the planet) I looked up…..
So….February 18, 2016. Without getting into too much detail (I’m a very private person—can’t you tell *insert eye roll*) a culmination of things outside of my control and within my control hit me like a freaking freight train. No—not a freight train. A jet liner or a space ship. And let me tell you what….I found rock bottom. I had seen all the warning signs. I had sped past the man with the little vest telling me to turn back. I just kept cruising. Like I mentioned, it didn’t sneak up on me. I had practically set my navigation to it. Nothing that happened on February 18, 2016 should have sent me straight to the bottom but because I already didn’t have my feet on solid ground it was a pretty short fall. So let’s get to the good part…
So you lose your mind and your people are there for you and you finally get some sleep and eat (you know, basic human things) and then look around and you think “Hmm….that was the literal worst….what now?”. For me that was starting to read the book “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown and then taking a cold hard look at how I got here. Everyone’s journey is different but my “how” I got here was simple….I had tried to play God in my life for the last ten years and provide myself with things that only He could provide. I was determined to find acceptance, love, security, and forgiveness and I was determined to find it anywhere but in Him. You see….I am a control freaking fanatic and if I could find a way to provide those things for myself and tame them then I could make sure that they looked and acted the right way and danced when I told them to. Well…it has become painfully clear that I am truly horrible at providing and manipulating those things. You wanna know why? Because we can’t provide those things (for anyone) until we have wholeheartedly accepted them for ourselves from the Lord. For free. What is it that makes me so wary of accepting something from the Lord? It shouldn’t be so complicated. I could certainly accept it if someone I loved came up to me and said “Hey, Christine—I think you are great and I love you even though you can act like a butt. I want you to have this new Lucky Brand Bag/Jeans/Top/Jewelry/Shoes (give me ALLLLL things Lucky Brand).” Did I lose you there? By no means do I think that the magnitude of the Lord’s love and grace is on the same playing field or universe as Lucky Brand—but do you get what I am saying? It is so hard for me to loosen my grip and my striving and accept from the Lord. The thing is that these things did not come free (no such thing as a free lunch, kid), they came at the highest price possible but in His kindness and grace He gives them to us as a gift. All we have to do is open our hands and hearts and accept them. We can’t earn, buy, or trick it. Honestly, no strings attached—gift of life.
Something about rock bottom makes it a lot harder to pretend we can do things on our own. We simply don’t have the energy to keep up the charade or to plan our way out of it. You either bury yourself or you look up. On February 19, 2016 I was able to look up and see how my striving and hustling was ruining my life and fully accept the gift that He had been trying to give me. None of the circumstances have changed—in fact some of them have gotten worse—but by accepting the life the Lord was offering to me I have been able to see them through a different lens.
Let me tell ya people….
- You do not have to hustle for your worth. You know, that constant tired, never good-enough feeling? That is not meant for you. Find a way to understand your worth and then stop trying to earn it (THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION! THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECION! THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION!)
- Please my sweet friends—listen to the warning signs. Do not think that rock bottom will not catch up with you, it will.
- It is my belief that you cannot do these things in your own strength. Most people know that I try not to be super “churchy” because I realize that sometimes people feel isolated (and less likely to hear your actual message) when you talk to them in a way that makes them feel on the outside BUT…there is redemption for you that you can only get from one place and that is the Lord. (Please email me if you want to chat more about that—or anything else firstname.lastname@example.org)
You do not have to manufacture your worth.
It is yours and no one can take it away.
Whoa. What a year.
January 1, 2015 was the worst day of my life. I had spent New Year’s with my two best friend singing 90s country and drinking a little too much. That next morning no one was there, I was a little bit hungover, and I knew that I was about to begin the hardest and biggest year of my life. I froze. Physically and emotionally I just couldn’t move. I didn’t want to do it and I didn’t want to go through it. I spent most of the morning crying on the bathroom floor until I called my Mom to drive two hours to come and be with me.
Turns out…unfortunately, I was right. It was so incredibly hard and had someone told me that morning just how hard it was going to be I probably would still be on that floor.
While I wish so badly that I didn’t have to go through the last 12 months of my life, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. We are now a few days away from a brand new year and as I look back I am just so thankful for the beauty that came from ashes in 2015. It certainly wasn’t pretty—that is the last way I would describe it. There was a lot of crying, cussing, and screaming. There was a lot of anger and sometimes hatred. There was a decent amount of bad decisions. There was so much fear. No, 2015 was definitely not my prettiest year. But through all of that ugly somehow I learned lessons that I have been grasping at for years. I learned how to accept the Lord’s perfect grace for me. I learned that I can be strong and do hard things. I learned how to be vulnerable and authentic with the people around me. I learned that I am deserving and worthy of love. So much learning this year. I feel like all of these things that I have been fighting were pushed into one year of accelerated growth.
When I think of everything that happened in 2015 it makes sense why I have learned and changed so much. How can you not with this winning highlight reel…
- Three homes
- Two cities (one where I didn’t know a soul)
- Two names
- Two jobs
- Got my first filling
- Spent Valentine’s day with my bestie
- Went to Birmingham a couple of times
- Spent a lot of time and money on therapy (best money I ever spent)
- Saw my Grandmother and family in Indiana
- Watched the most amazing meteor shower
- Watched an exorbitant amount of television
- Read a lot of books
- Bought a couch and kitchen table
- Was able to live across the street from the sweetest little girl the first year of her life
- Had a million different bonfires
- Started going to church again
I started this year not knowing who I was, what I believed, or where I was going. There are certainly days where those things still feel shaky. But through the grace and kindness of God, the love of so many people (it takes a village, people), and a full to the brim year of change and growth I feel like I can enter 2016 confident and at peace with at least the following things (I love lists!):
- I am a daughter of the King. I am His and because of that I need to show myself respect and love and expect the same from those around me.
- Vulnerability, hopefulness, and love are the characteristics that I want to define my life. I want to exude those things and live my life in a way that gives people permission to do the same.
- I don’t know where I am going but I am excited. With the two things I mentioned above as my framework, how can I go wrong? I don’t fear the unknown and for the first time my life is starting to feel like an adventure.
So see ya 2015.
It’s been real. It’s been fun. It sure hasn’t been real fun.
We made it people! Yes, people—all of you who literally dragged, carried, and pushed me through this shit storm of a year. We made it! I will always be thankful for the love and friendship I was given this year. I pray that one day I will able to give you back what you gave to me (can you pray and say shit storm in the same paragraph?).
Cheers to 2016!
Ever since I moved I have had people tell me how brave I am. They say things like “you don’t know anyone here—wow you are brave” or “You just started over? You must be brave—I wouldn’t want to do that” “A little girl like you—well you sure have some nerve”. These well-meaning compliments/expressions of genuine confusion have tripped me up over the last couple of months. I am not going to say what I did didn’t take some gumption but I hardly feel brave. I am caught between accepting this praise and kindly explaining “No, no, not me. I am a lot of things but brave is not one of them”.
The thing is that it is hard to feel brave when you spend a fair amount of your time feeling small. It is hard to feel footloose and fancy free with this “new life” when you cry a lot. Claiming myself as brave means that I shouldn’t need to call my Dad when I am having a hard day or a friend in the middle of the night after an unsettling dream. That would mean that I can’t cuss and scream at my too heavy bags and three flights of stairs. It means that when I can’t reach something, lift something or fix something I shouldn’t go into a Netflix/wine/chocolate spiral. The mean voice in the back of head often tells me “that’s not what brave people do”.
I have been thinking a lot about what “brave” looks like. There are undoubtedly certain things that are courageous— like fighting for our freedom or facing an illness. I would never seek to diminish the unbelievable strength and courage that those very big things require. Though, I am starting to wonder if maybe bravery doesn’t always have to come in such large heaps. Maybe it also comes in small pinches too. Maybe bravery can also look like:
- Keeping your optimism and hope in a world that is constantly trying to steal it
- Smiling when you are hurting
- Laughing instead of crying when things are disappointing
- Leaning into life—the good and the bad
- Not being afraid of things and people that are different than you are you
- Talking nicely to yourself
- Being open to love even when you have been hurt
- Grace, grace, grace!
- Accepting that sometimes you are wrong and you will do better
- Going places alone
- Forgive—yourself and others
- Boldly proclaiming and believing that stripped of all my things and relationships “I am enough”
I am five feet tall and I spook easily. I have a very long history that dates back to my early childhood with anxiety and panic attacks. It is not lost on me that I am never going to be a warrior princess or a badass but with the help of other people pointing it out I do know that I can be brave. I certainly won’t always get it right but that’s part of it! Being brave enough to fail at being brave.
I feel ridiculous writing about the subject of bravery because I am only starting to explore what this looks like for me. I am not sure how to do it yet but this is all I got so far….
I want my life to be marked with a deep courage that can only be grown within vulnerability, hope, and love for other people. If I can stay open and hopeful, I think I will have all the bravery I will ever need.
I have A LOT of favorite things. Most days I label approximately 74 things my “most favorite thing” or the “best thing ever”. Lately, my most favorite things have been:
1. Running over this breathtaking quote written in chalk on the sidewalk:
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete”
I’ll tell you what! Sometimes that Buddha knows what he is talking about!
2. The sunshine is back! I think we are going on a week of straight sunshine and it is truly amazing the difference it has made in my disposition.
3. This being the very first thing I see when I open my eyes. Literally the very first thing. I didn’t even have to move my head from the pillow.
4. These takeaways from my reading lately:
5. And most importantly my new boyfriend, Mr. Ernest Hemingway. He is a little moody, dark, and sometimes rude but he writes and says the most achingly beautiful and hilarious things. I don’t know how I have gone so long without reading and loving his writing.
This year I have had three homes. The first I moved out of during an extremely difficult and hard time. I had lived in that house for over two years. The second home was my little cottage on Glen Lake Road. I moved into my very dated and halfway functioning refuge in the middle of January and I spent nine months there until I left to move to Chattanooga.
My Glen Lake house was exactly what I needed. The house had horrible plaid wallpaper in the bathroom, the majority of the outlets didn’t work, and you could actually see light shining through the bricks by the fireplace. But it also had the most perfect porch where I would read and drink my coffee or wine. It had a great yard where Cricket could chase the squirrels and bunnies. It was quiet, safe, and it had amazing sunrises over the lake that I watched from my kitchen window. It came with built-in best friends across the street that I could run over and see or who could come over when I was scared. For nine months I putted around my house and my yard normally wearing my running shorts and my cowboy boots.
Deep parts of my heart and soul were healed in that house. During a time when everything I had ever known was questioned, uprooted, and taken away God gave me a little sanctuary. He gave me a place to heal. A place where He could love me even in the small details of my life, like sending me a part-time very pregnant roommate or Tucker the wandering neighborhood dog. A place where He could show me that I still mattered and that He hadn’t forgotten about me. It is not often that I feel like a passage of Scripture completely encompasses one of my experiences but my time on Glen Lake Road was truly Hosea 2:14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her”.
But then as much as I fought it my time in the sanctuary was up. It was time to keep moving. I hated it. I wanted to stay there. I was mad that I hadn’t gotten to experience a Fall in my cottage. I was mad that I had just gotten it set up the way that I liked it. I was mad that fire season had just rolled back around and I was going to miss it. But no matter how mad I got or how much I fought against it, it was time to leave my sanctuary. So two months ago today I packed and purged my things and I moved to my coffee loft. Most days it is okay but to say I miss my Glen Lake life is an understatement. However, I believe that just like the Lord provided everything that I needed during the hardest and scariest time of my life He will continue to do that here. Most days I wake up and remind myself that me moving to Chattanooga didn’t take God out of the details business. That’s the good thing about God’s business–it’s everywhere! So today I am thankful that I was given a place set aside solely to start healing my broken heart and I am thankful for the post I will write six months from now about how He used the coffee loft in some other area of my life.
Observations on moving:
- It sucks. Always. Moving is the absolute worst.
- Seeing my things in boxes makes me emotional.
- I have way too many cups, mugs, and glasses. I am definitely not short on drinking vessels.
- I have some really good men in my life that always come through with the muscle and tools. Some of which have moved me twice this year. That is a lot of boxes being moved and pictures being hung.
- Cricket is more resilient than I give her credit for.
- I am more resilient than I give myself credit for.
- Try to not to decorate for a particular space instead only buy things that you will always love no matter where you are.
- Internet takes forever to get installed so don’t wait until the last minute to call.
- It is unbelievably expensive.
- The kitchen is the worst room in the house to pack.
- It is worth it to buy one of those fancy tape dispenser things.
- Having a dishwasher is not overrated.
- Hire movers.
How exactly does one start a blog? Especially a blog that you don’t even know what it is about. I am not an expert in anything . I do not have adorable babies to write about, I am not traveling the world, and you will never find me explaining to someone how to clean, cook, or craft (my philosophy when it comes to most things domestic is—outsource, outsource, outsource). I feel like those are the main reasons that someone my age begins to blog. All great reasons—just not mine. Good for you, not for me! Mine are…
- Blogs are pretty and I am jelly that everyone has one but me.
- I like to write and I do it a lot anyway. Most of my journal-ing needs to never be seen by anyone—most of the time I read it and think “seriously, does that crazy person really live inside of me?”. The goal is to find some semi-appropriate portions…polish off the insanity and post those.
- I have had quite the year. More on that later (maybe).
- I love stories. I love reading them, I love telling them, and I love hearing people tell their’s. I always have. When I was little I would lay in bed and beg my Mom to read me just one more story before I went to sleep. Unlike most kids I didn’t do this to prolong my bedtime I was truly just hooked. I am a social butterfly and a bookworm. When I was young I would love to come home and tell the stories of what happened during the day. I would always make quite a show of it, taking the appropriate dramatic pauses, really building the story-line and characters, and always offering comic relief. I was even known for sometimes adding details (lying) that didn’t particularly happen not to be deceitful but to make the story even better. As an adult we call that being dramatic or an exaggerator and everyone is cool with it. I loved to entertain and engage an audience. To do this day I can’t get enough of written or spoken word. Fiction or non-fiction, I am there. Self-help, even better. Local and national news, yes please. A made up scenario about Cricket and I going to moon, perfect. Stories fill that social butterfly hole in my heart for connection while also filling the bookworm hole for self-reflection, imagination and intellect.
A couple of blog disclaimers…
- I have started a blog about 19 times. We will see if this one sticks.
- There will be roughly a thousand pictures of my puppy, Cricket. She is my BFF and quite possibly the greatest animal ever created.
- Grammar ain’t my thang. I use commas like they are going out of style. I don’t plan on worrying about it and commas will be sprinkled throughout my posts like confetti. I like commas…they remind my brain that is constantly going one thousand miles a second to breathe. If poor grammar and less than scholarly sentence structure offends you then you need to just keep moving through cyberspace. It’s not that I don’t care about grammar, I just don’t understand how it works and since I am now an adult I have opted to remain oblivious to your fancy writing. I will type the way I talk. If you have kids or you are a teacher you could print my posts out and give them to your kids to correct for homework. See? Everyone wins!
So in summary….I don’t know what my blog is actually about, the grammar will be atrocious, and there will be a lot of dog pictures. Excited? Me too.
Surprise! You really didn’t think I would end my very first blog post without a little puppy spam, did you?