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Sarah B. - Coined out Dec. '18

"One Year Letter"

Dear self,

I love driving in the car, by myself may I add, with my radio down low, just loud enough for me to hum along with the songs, and hear the radio hosts talk about all things lighthearted, well usually lighthearted. Occasionally something will come on the radio that will get my attention and I’ll turn it up a bit, allowing it to overload my sensory system momentarily. This morning it was a man’s voice. Something about his voice sounded welcoming, like the tone a father would use… strong & kind. Almost pastoral. 

As I turned the sound up I realized he was sharing with the world a personal memory from his travels to Houston, specifically about how the radio station had impacted him the last time he had been in town. My skeptic’s mind almost turned him back down but something grabbed me again- I realized this voice was a Daddy- I nailed it, I love it when I’m right, seriously, ask my husband! He began sharing about his 12 year old son, Connor, who had attended his last trip to Houston with him. This man was a public speaker and on occasion he would bring one of his kids with him on his trips, to get some one on one time with each of his kiddos. What momma doesn’t want to tune into that, so sweet, right? Ok, radio station you got me. As he continued though, he shared that two months after the trip his son, Connor, came down with an illness, and died ten days later. His strong voice broke with grief as he continued to share. He was back in Houston, listening specifically to the station he had listened to with his son because with the station came a sweet memory- a memory of Connor joyfully singing along with the familiar jingle the station played between songs throughout the day. This jingle brought the son back to life momentarily, a reel in the mind, of this man, that played along with a jingle which was probably pieced together by a marketing team, meant to stick with you in hopes that you’d come back to listen to their line ups whenever you were commuting through Houston’s infamous traffic. You could hear this man’s pain because, you know, he loved his child more than life itself. 

Gosh, listening to this man, so many thoughts fumbled through my mind. I needed to tell my kids I loved them more, I needed to kiss them as much as I could, my thoughts then went to what kind of illness could possibly take his child away- a thought stored away for the next time my own babies would run fever. For Heaven’s sakes, how could I let them know how much their Momma loves them! 

Then my own memories found their way in, just as they usually do. What came to the forefront of my mind was a letter I wrote a year ago; a desperate love letter. Driving down the road I pushed the memory away. There was absolutely no time to let this one tumble or fumble its way around in my already to-do focused mind. It was a bit heavy for grocery shopping. So instead I played a game with myself, one I learned soon after I wrote that letter. What did I see? A tree, a red car, the school, a street light, a street sign. What did I feel? The car seat touching my back, the steering wheel in my hands, the a/c blowing my hair, the breath coming through my nose and filling my chest up, the warmth from the sun through the window. Awe, I’m back, focused on my day, focused on what is present, on the store, and fruit roll-ups. 

As the day slowed down a bit, the man’s voice sounded again in my mind. As I thought about it, I felt empathy for him- I could feel his grief, his pain, his love, and I could feel his joy. There is nothing sweeter than watching your babies enjoy life. 

I let my desperate love letter come back to my thoughts. You see… a year ago I wrote a suicide letter to my husband. I was prepared and ready to take my own life. You ask, what kind of love is that, right? My sweet, sweet life full of joyful moments of watching my own children sing; except I couldn’t feel the joy. It was all passive for me.  It was as if, over time, someone just turned that off inside of me. “Fake it, until I make it.” I had so much to live for and yet I felt like it was a rational decision to leave it all. My husband was great at this parenting thing, he could do it without me. I’d ruin my boys anyway- they’d grow up to hate me, everyone would be ok, they’d move on once I was at rest. “Rest… I just needed rest, please God, I just need to fall into your arms, and rest!” I would call out to Him in desperate pleas.

 In my letter I confessed my love for my family, for my God-given husband and beautiful, blond, blue-eyed boys, but I was done, my pain was too great, and the thought of going on just seemed too much despite what was in front of me. I was absent to the realization of what the truth really was. You know, they say there is a liar out there fighting for your attention. Whew, he was fighting hard for mine.

A year later, I realized, listening to the man on radio, the difference between life and death. I had already been dead because I had believed the lies, the pain I felt had become pervasive. These feelings of empathy for this man on the radio and the overwhelming feeling of wanting to run to my children in these moments, out of love, out of found freedom, no longer passive, in fact, was life.

I can only imagine the love God had for Jesus, and the kind of love he has for me, knowing that His Son had to die on that cross, in order for me to fully live. If it is anything like a mother’s love for her children then it’s unbearable. In those dark moments, by myself, in the middle of night, while my family slept a strength that I can only explain as God, himself, came over me. I “fell into His arms”. I got off the couch and walked to the bathroom where I flushed what would have ended my life down into the sewers of Oklahoma City. I proceeded to wake my husband from his sleep so we, together, could keep me safe; and just a few days later I was on a plane to “The Center-A Place of Hope,” in Edmonds, Washington. I knew this was what was right even though my body and mind was in pain, I was sick to my stomach, my heart ached overwhelmingly, and I was scared- no, I was terrified, terrified that this wouldn’t work, and the money spent to get me there would be wasted, that I wouldn’t be able to live the life God gave me, and worst of all I would now be labeled because my secret was out- like a billboard that said, “HEY GUYS! SHE’S STRUGGLING- LIKE THE CRAZY KIND OF STRUGGLING!” 

My husband would probably say, he’s never felt so many emotions then he did that day he dropped me off. This was life or death for his wife. The woman he promised his own life to, the Momma of his babies. She was sick and this had to help. There was no coming back to pick her up if the distance got too difficult. She would stay in this foreign place until she could safely return home and by the grace of God she had to.

I had been running a race, I would never win, against confusion, created by all forms of abuse, which resulted in low self-worth, self-hate, lack of boundaries, lack of trust, and a broken will. I had to unravel the knot that had been winding itself up in me over my lifetime. I had to gain understanding of what forgiveness could look like, how to let go of the anger; and I had to allow my savior to rescue me, to rescue me from the den I had been living in for far too long. Through therapy, the right specialists, and self-care I was able to truly forgive myself and forgive those who were conduits to the lies. I accepted my diagnoses: Chronic-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD), Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), and Bulimia Nervosa (BN). “Ok, God, this is what it is, and that is ok, I can deal, I can do this.” I repeated this statement to myself throughout treatment, in hopes that acceptance would find me, and it did. My make believe billboard would now read, “It’s going to be okay.”

The last year, by no means, has been a cake walk. I learned that recovery wouldn’t be linear in therapy, and it isn’t. Every day is easier than the last and then there are days that aren’t easier than the last but I accept that. I sometimes have to practice forgiveness all over again, I sometimes have to ask for forgiveness all over again. I sometimes can’t do the things I want to do because of the fight, but it is ok, because I know who I am and where I am going, that the sun will go down and come up again. I have an incredible partner who lets me rest when I need it, who understands when the trauma has reared its ugly head and I need to back off a bit, who provides a means to gain help when my coping strategies aren’t quite as crisp as they were the day before. Above all, I have a Savior. I am His creation, perfectly made by Him and for Him. 

He has taught me how to be at peace, in the midst of chaos, how to love truly and dearly, how to trust. There is so much more than what is right in front of us, and if we allow him to shape our will, we can overcome absolutely anything, ANYTHING, through Him. Through the renewal of our minds daily, the protection of our hearts, and forgiveness. Oh, sweet forgiveness. I may not know today what this is all for but I know He is good, and His will is good, that when I am weak- He’ll let me fall into his arms. He is good to that man on the radio, and he is good to me. 

I want to live here, on this earth, for however many days I’m intended to live. I get to make my kids their lunches for school, I get to kiss them goodnight, hold them tight when they need it, and I get to go on dates with my husband, look into his brown eyes, and know that I am loved, just as Christ loves me. 

I get to live this life and I am so thankful. I am an overcomer, I am a survivor, and I am a child of God; rescued from the den, free indeed.