I took this picture on a beautiful night on a beach in Ventura, California. It was the only long trip I took with my husband. This is the cover of my book. It’s breathtaking. But I cannot look at it without wanting to throw up. Why? He left. Suddenly. Had a baby with someone else.
Betrayal by someone you intimately, ultimately trusted (bio Dad, exes, friends who violently assaulted me) makes you question your worth, your decision making skill set, your whole life. It can cause you to dissociate from yourself. To cling to anyone who appears to love you while pushing them away with your actions. It causes you to feel unsafe in every single relationship you have. It’s cost me real love, and time, and closeness with people I adore.
It shuts you down, forces you to cope one way or the other. For me, I drank to numb the pain. I couldn’t handle it.
Sixteen years later I’m finally feeling it. All of it. Without the aid of any pain killers. And it’s excruciatingly hard. I’m putting in the hard work of letting myself feel and heal.
I’m realizing that every time I walk away from God, or yell at the sky “why?” and “where were you?” I’m accusing him of being guilty of what my ex, and the monsters who attacked me and the ex bf who emotionally abused me, (and even myself for staying so long) are actually guilty of. That’s also betrayal. God understands betrayal. I’ve done it to him so many times. He hates that they did this to me. He hates that I allowed it for so long. It’s scary letting God into my wounds. But he’s not a man. I can trust him. He’s safe.
So if my eyes leak when we talk, you’ll know why. I’m learning and growing and healing. It’s the bravest, hardest thing I’m doing. It will take time and tears and effort to learn to trust and love and live fully. But in the end I’ll be better.
If I have opened up with you over coffee or messenger and shared my heart, perhaps this gives you some insight into how scary that has been for me. You’ve probably wondered why I cling or put up a wall and then cling again. This is why. I have a beautiful broken heart.
Why am I being so vulnerable? Because somewhere someone is numbing their pain instead of facing it. So this is me, finally facing more trauma than I’ll EVER share on social media, saying to YOU – if I can, you can too.
If this is you, message me. I promise I’ll pray for you.
I love you. Yes, YOU. You’re so worthy of love. You’re too precious to walk through life with a wounded heart. Be brave with me. Let Jesus heal your heart.
Fireworks are exploding over my North Texas town right now. This is one of my favorite holidays, but I skipped it this year. Oh, I had to work some, but the real work I did was on my heart.
I let it heal.
Sometimes it takes a long moment.
My long moment lasted 8 years. I’m finally ready to tell my story tonight…mostly because if I get it out, it’ll bring me closure.
July 2nd, 2011 was going to be one of the best days of my life.
I had been dating someone for a while and he was flying here from Ohio, where he lives, to spend the July 4th weekend with me and meet my family.
My kids were 3, 10, and 14. Stephi was especially excited to meet him – they talked on the phone when he would call me and he was all she could talk about.
Long distance relationships are difficult, at best. But every single weekday morning at 7:15am I would hear my phone ring and it would be him. He could not wait to say good morning and that he loves me. Then he’d text throughout the day just because he was thinking about me – until he texted to say goodnight – always at 9:30pm.
I’d driven up to meet him 2 months prior and the weekend was amazing. It ended oddly, but I was in love. Finally.
At this point I’d been a single mom for 8 years. I was in graduate school. I was teaching a summer technical writing course at the local university that summer, but school was out for this long holiday weekend and I was beyond excited.
His plane was to arrive late in the morning. I waited and waited for his call – well past the usual 7:15 timeslot. He finally called from the airport, said his flight was cancelled but he had been placed on another flight. He’d call with which airline/gate so I could know where to pick him up. So I waited. 2pm. 4pm. Nothing. I called the airline. I called the hospitals. I watched the news. Nothing.
His phone ringer was off. I left a third text message.
I had a massive panic attack. I just remember that my mom sat beside me the entire day. It’s one of my favorite moments with her, actually. I just remember her being close to me that day. Sometimes, even as an adult, you just need your mom.
How could I explain this to the kids? What would I say? Where was he? What was happening?
I finally slept. It was that sleep you have in the middle of an exhausting crying spell where you wake up, wonder where you are, remember, and start again where you left off.
The next day was a blur. No word. No arrival. Nothing.
The day after that was July 4th. I found myself pushing my kiddo in his stroller at the town parade. The parade is my favorite. I’d described it in detail to my boyfriend and he laughed at the Texas small town of it all. It was 9am. My phone rang just as the parade started coming down the street. It was him.
I shouted over the band. “Are you okay? Where are you?”
He said he’d had a medical emergency at the airport and he was at the hospital. He said which one. I knew he wasn’t. I’d already called them.
Short ending to a longer story: he was married.
I’d been waiting. Panicking. Crying over someone who I thought I might spend forever with, but things just were not what they seemed.
This blog is called “What Are You Waiting For?”
I told my story to say this: sometimes you’re waiting on the wrong thing.
Then again…sometimes you’re waiting on the right thing. Recently I waited almost 6 months to find a good job. My waiting and persistence paid off. I now have a great job.
Sometimes you need to wait.
Sometimes you just need to move forward.
I have friends right now who are waiting on healing – for themselves or others. Some who are waiting for spouses to come back. Some waiting on divorce proceedings to proceed. Some for a child to come home. I know two people this past week who have said they are just waiting around to die, and they hope it comes sooner than later.
I’m suggesting we stop waiting and start living in the pauses between the good things.
The sun slowed down and
Took one last look over the horizon.
It had had a long productive day and
Could finally meander on to
The other side.
That’s what my car did –
Steady and slow like the sun.
“I’ve been… feeling really quiet.”
My text whispered through the screen as I
Wiped an unbidden tear.
“You can be quiet it’s okay,”
Came the reply.
I laughed out loud.
I needed to laugh in that moment.
I knew what they meant:
It’s okay to have a quiet moment.
But I’m a word girl and always quickly assess
Multiple meanings words can have
If taken out of context.
Perhaps I need to be quiet more often. Lol.
I’m glad my friends get my
Even via text.
The truth is
I have not shut up lately.
Not with my friends.
For context I’m naturally
Around people I don’t know.
But when I trust you
I lay my soul bare.
And do so often.
But the truth is –
I need to be quiet.
I need to take a step back and
See things as they truly are.
The truth is:
I’ve been walking in
A daydream for far too long.
I need to regroup and refocus.
This blog is meant to meander.
Like the sun.
Like my car.
Like my thoughts.
To make you, reader,
And in the quiet – be still
And in the stillness – rest
And in the rest – listen.”
That is wisdom from one of my favorite pastors.
Quiet doesn’t always happen
In the dark, or
In fact, the best quiet times I have
Are in the light of a brand new day when I
Sit outside with a cup of morning
And a copy of my favorite book
And just breathe it in.
Meander. Be quiet. Breathe.
Thanks for letting me be transparent and vulnerable
While my thoughts find their
Rest on this page.
My mind wandered this morning to John 4 and the woman Jesus spoke with at the well. I’m often reminded of her when I mentor single moms. Why had she come to this well to draw water alone? That was an activity the women did together. For safety. For social interaction.
I’ll guess why: shame.
She was hiding.
From other women. From society. From her shame.
That’s when she met Jesus – the man who would alter the course of her life.
Jesus was sitting there alone, waiting on his disciples to get back from town with food. He asked her to draw him some water and you can almost hear her audible gasp.
“Who, me? I’m detestable.” (Paraphrasing here.)
She actually said:
“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
Let’s stop a sec.
Single momma, how many times have you been asked to go get your husband? By a salesman? By a snarky married woman who knows you don’t have one? By a mean girl? You know what this feels like. I know what this feels like.
And the answer stammers it’s way out of your trembling mouth. Your eyes glance down, or away.
“I, I… have no husband.”
Then Jesus spoke a truth that walked right through the solid, heretofore impenetrable walls around her heart:
“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”
Ouch. Yep. There it is.
But let’s be real. I’ve often wondered if there was a more shameful truth exposed here. I’d be willing to bet more than one of the 5 wasn’t her own husband, but someone else’s husband. Just keeping it real.
But Jesus knows everything and chooses to forgive anyway and offer a second chance at life. He did for me when I was that woman.
Forgiveness heals. You. The other person. It heals.
I know this hits more than single moms, but that’s who is on my mind today.
Girl, lift up your face.
I’ve done worse than you. Don’t believe me? Sit down for coffee with me one day. I’m not afraid to tell you about my past anymore because it does not own me. But hearing about it might just set you free.
Because if God can know my heart the way it was, forgive me anyway, give me a new heart, and offer me forgiveness and fill me up with love, He can and will for you too.
The Samaritan woman in this story had looked for love all her life, but was handed counterfeited love. I’m not sure what happened. Like me, did her husband leave unexpectedly and take her hope and strength and dignity with him?
Jesus wants to give you back your hope and strength and dignity.
Drink deeply of His Word.
You keep going back to the places you know will give you the love you want so badly, but you get thirsty again and just have to keep going back. And truth be told, you do the walk of shame all the way there and all the way home. Because it’s not love.
He’s waiting to meet you and give you all the love you’ll ever want. Trust me. I know what you might be saying. “But I want a husband’s arms to hold me and love me.”
I’ve cried myself to sleep more nights than I care to admit because I want that kind of love, have it to give, yet have no one to share it with.
Oh, I know.
But each morning I choose to meet Jesus and allow His love to restore my hope, strength, and dignity and THAT is why I walk in joy and peace.
Do I want a husband?
Yes I do.
Oh, but not if it costs me even one precious drop of the love Jesus gives. I’m not giving that up. No way.
Now a man who loves Jesus and drinks deeply from His love, I’ll walk with THAT guy forever and five days.
Seriously: drink up, sister.
You’ll never thirst for love again once you’ve had the real thing.
If you’ve come here under the guise of an incognito web search on addiction and single moms or single dads or single parents, it’s okay. You’re welcome here. In fact, I was thinking about you when I was sitting at the coffee shop starting this blog.
I didn’t come into this single parent world 16 years ago quietly. When my husband of 8 years left me (for his pregnant girlfriend, now wife) I cried for a month. Seriously – a month. I wandered around muttering things like – “divorced? me? how did this even happen?”
Looking for Love In All the Wrong MySpaces
And then I quietly began the first addiction – the internet and online dating. I was looking for love in all the wrong MySpaces. (Now if you didn’t laugh…)
Back in the early days of social media, of Yahoo 360 and Multiply (aka: pre-WordPress meets pre-Facebook) and way too many chat rooms, I began writing out my feelings. I couldn’t sleep at all that first month, so I was online – a lot. It wasn’t long before men began to charm me and to sweet talk me with words that sounded scrumptious to my starving soul. It wasn’t long after that until I began meeting them. This may sound innocent or non-addiction-sounding. Let me clarify:
I once chatted online for 24 hours straight. My heart was so empty that any contact would suffice.
A person who is full tramples on a honeycomb, but to a hungry person, any bitter thing is sweet.
That summer I was sexually assaulted – twice – by men I didn’t have any business meeting online. The first time was the day I was going to file for divorce. He seemed like a great Christian businessman and father. I’ve never really discussed the particulars of what happened next with anyone. The next time was at a party you can read about in a previous blog.
I’m not suggesting the internet is only populated with creepy people, on the contrary, I have some amazing friends (men and women) I’ve met online. But please hear my heart: Just because we’re divorced, widowed, or are single parents for whatever reason, we are not that desperate. We do not need to fill the void in our hearts with anyone. Period. Whether they treat us well or not, we have kids that need us to be safe. We have kids who need our time and attention. And when we start trying to fill the void in our lives with anyone instead of asking God to come fill that void for us, then we are destined for more heartache. My best advice here, if I may: fill your heart with good, trustworthy off-line friends. Find yourself in the Psalms or a good book. Get a hobby. Be full; otherwise, even what is bitter will begin to taste sweet.
Friends in Low Places
When I realized that filling my life with men I met online had completely wrecked my life (literally – texting and driving on the way to meet someone caused me to total my car), I turned to something else to fill the void. I turned to alcohol. Please don’t stop reading yet, I’m not condemning a glass of wine with dinner or a cocktail with friends once a month.
I was already in the middle of this addiction before I knew it had begun. When the kids would go to their Dad’s every other weekend, I would go to my old high-school boyfriend’s apartment on those Friday nights for a glass of wine, his amazing lasagna, and to watch boxing. I still absolutely love boxing. But adding wine to the sauce led to sipping while making dinner, with a glass after, then three. And one night, when I was sitting at the band girlfriends’ table at the club while the guys rocked out on stage, I found myself surrounded by 4 empty glasses and a bunch of extremely offended women. I still have no clue what I said, but it was offensive. Binge drinking had completely taken over these weekends. I had only wanted to relax, unwind, and forget my kids weren’t there with me that weekend. But it had totally taken over.
What stopped me? Well, I had my son. My son doesn’t go back and forth to another parent. He is all mine. I had to be home. I stopped drinking so much for the best reason. My son is amazing.
Again, from my heart here: instead of filling your life with meaningless, or dangerous fillers, fill your life with great things. Intentionally lose the reasons you need to go where your addiction runs rampant. If it’s alcohol, try a craft night with friends instead. If it’s drugs, flush them and lose your contact’s number. Find an AA or NA or CR meeting and work on the things that are out of control in your life.
Celebrate Recovery helped me with all of the issues I’ve faced in my life. But I had to take the first step. If you’re local and need to find a meeting or need someone to go with, just ask me. I’ll rearrange my life to walk into that first or fifteenth meeting with you. If you’re not local, ask a friend or just be brave and walk into a meeting. You’ll find you aren’t alone. Remember: if I can, you can.
“Stressed” Spelled Backwards is “Desserts”
My last addiction was food. I think I grew up with a buttermilk biscuit in one hand and a piece of home-fried chicken in the other. And my bottle was probably full of homemade gravy. By the way, I make the absolute best cream gravy. But I digress.
All my life I have been an emotional stress-eater, but food addiction actually started providing a mask for me. I decided I didn’t want to be seen anymore, because being seen = being hurt. So I just ate what I wanted to eat. And I didn’t really care what other people thought, because I didn’t care either.
Here’s the thing, though – I found myself in 2015 topped out at 352 pounds. I realized I needed to stop when I went to see The ICE in Grapevine, TX and I couldn’t walk even halfway across the hotel without stopping to rest. My heart, my joints, my lungs hurt. My life literally hung in the balance. I had gastric sleeve surgery in April 2015 – just before my 40th birthday. I lost 93 pounds. But since I hadn’t sorted out the real reason I had gotten so heavy in the first place, my weight slowly crept back up. I regained 50 pounds. Through counseling for past sexual abuse, I finally figured out what the issue was for me. It may be different for you, but I highly recommend getting a professional and a really good friend who will keep you accountable.
In October 2017 I started having major female issues which led to my having a hysterectomy in May 2018. My doctor said that the extra fat I was carrying was causing me to have estrogen overload, which had caused Endometrial Cancer. My addiction could have cost me my life. The surgery was long and costly. Ultimately, they got all the Cancer. As I recovered, I realized just how much my emotional starvation had consumed my life. As a result, I’ve been working on that, and have lost 51 pounds since my hysterectomy.
If you were sitting across from me right now and were struggling with food addiction, I would say this to you: “I see you, and you are stunningly beautiful.” And then I would say, “let’s walk through this together.”
The Next Step Forward
I’m asking you today to do one thing. Just one. I want you to identify that thing you are using to fill a void in your life. I want you to take the next step forward toward healing in that area.
I handle life with prayer. Before I hit “Publish” I prayed that if you needed to read these words, that you would somehow find this post. If you’re reading these words and have been looking for a “sign” or an “answer” – consider that you’ve found it. You got this. You are brave, bold, and beautiful (or handsome). You may stumble through this next step, but I’m telling you, you have what it takes to step over this obstacle, away from this addiction, and step through to a better life.