A few months ago. I had a bad day. Not your typical bad day, when everything you touch goes wrong, not the typical bad day when you are being pulled in a thousand directions at once. No, this day was more staggering; a punch to the gut, change who you are forever kind of day.
The circumstances around that particular day aren’t important anymore. Getting to this calming place I have finally arrived at has taken great strength, fortitude, and deliberateness. You see, the truth is, anytime we deal with humans, and Lord knows we are all human, there is bound to be drama, hurt feelings, words spoken in anger, and insults tossed like a knife to the heart.
Wherever we are today, we didn’t get here on our own. All the love, peace, anger, frustration, sadness, and happiness we embody come from all the experiences we have had, all the experiences we have witnessed, and all the experiences we have participated in. Not to mention the influences from all the people, good and bad, who have crossed out paths along our earthly journey.
We indeed become what we believe we are, or what we feed ourselves to believe we are. If the people we love or look up to constantly tell us that we are wrong, stupid, hated, or not worthy, or that we will never amount to anything, shame will fuel our interactions with everyone we communicate with. What ends up happening is, we will spend most of our life trying to find our safe place. Our comfort zone, trying to predict what will happen next, when will the vault door close on us, or when will the other shoe drop. We watch, for someone to hang us out to dry. You see, it’s harder for us to believe there is genuine good out there, and subsequently, our minds are always in “flight” mode. Making sure there is a readily available escape route.
We want adventure, but life has shown us that if we reach out too far, or step out from beneath the shadows, someone or something will be waiting there with a large stick to beat us back beneath the trees. We never get to soar, to know who we are, or more importantly, what we MIGHT have been because our wings were clipped, and removed before we knew we had wings.
While others lived bright and happy, thinking of everyday things, we were the ones who were afraid to breathe, afraid to try, afraid of NOT being good enough, not worthy, and without value as a person. Afraid of always being the last one picked for the team in gym class, the last one standing against the wall at recess when they picked teams. That “last person standing” feeling becomes tattooed in our minds and on our hearts.
RISING UP, OUT OF THE ASHES, THAT WE HAVE BEEN BURNED INTO IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. It takes sheer grit and determination to come over what has been fed into our brains from the past. That old adage, “Garbage in, Garbage out,” is true. If we are only fed garbage, nasty thoughts, or crude remarks about ourselves, that is all we will accept about ourselves. We will never believe in ourselves or love ourselves.
On this day, I was completely broken. My heart was torn from my chest, and thrown onto the ground. I stood there, and it felt like I should have been pumping blood from a main artery all over my shoes. I couldn’t breathe or talk, I was stunned, and I hurt clear down to the bottom of my feet. I have been diagnosed with cancer, and recently, a disease that is working hard to kick my behind, but this was different..a deeper cut, a hollowing out of my whole insides. Perhaps it was because from whence it came. Either way…. My mind would not accept the FIGHT mode. I only felt like fleeing. Due to circumstances beyond my control that afternoon, I couldn’t just get up and leave my home. I couldn’t just jump in my truck and drive north. I had to stay put and stand in the deep waters of pain that had already risen above my mouth and just below my nose. It felt like I could not catch my breath or a break.
I have been journaling since I was ten years old. As a young girl, the journals consisted of almost anything that was happening in my young life, but mostly I kept every little drawing my little brother Jim did, as he was seven years younger and felt more like my son than my brother. I also kept anything from my Dad, his old driver’s licenses, and notes that he scribbled on paper. Anything by him.
I wrote a lot of poetry in those days and copied down any songs that the words were good, or spoke to my soul. As I grew up, dated, fell in love, and married, the writings were full of my new life, with independence, and soon just six months after we were married, we were expecting. My journals from then on became full of dr appointments, creating a nursery out of nothing. We lived so poor, it is hard for young couples today, to really know how poor some were at the very start. With that poverty came a lot of character-building and strength, and as the years passed, we soon found out what we were made of. We endured many struggles and somehow STILL made it through each week, month, and year. All of that was recorded in my journals.
With the addition of each new baby, as they grew and started school, their friends, and celebrations, the years continued to go by, and soon it was graduations and then weddings. Life kept getting older, as did we. These journals were the recordings of all those moments, all my thoughts and feelings, and all the celebrations of my life and heart.
I have five decades of journaling beneath my belt. Thats Fifty years. We had four beautiful babies and were blessed to raise three of them. For years, I schooled myself not to count the lost twin from our third pregnancy. For the past several years, I have allowed myself to count our baby number 4. Our Cate’s twin. The baby that didn’t survive past the first six months in my belly lay decaying while the other grew. Cate, our last baby, was born six weeks early because by then, the other baby had begun to cause such a horrendous infection that an emergency c-section was scheduled to save Cate. No one knew about her twin until they had me cut open on the table.
We bought a 178-acre farm in 1994, (that in itself is a beautiful story I recorded and wrote about on this blog site), and we have spent almost thirty years bringing it back to its stately, historic site. Our three children are married, and we have been blessed with twelve beautiful grandchildren. I was present for nine out of the twelve deliveries. I was able to sing Happy Birthday to those babies for the very first time in their new lives. Monumental Moments. My journals were full of life, their sonograms, their deliveries, their walking and talking. Their funny stories, little scribbles, school programs, their first day of school, their first dentist appt, birthdays, first teeth, first lost tooth, etc. The journals were full and overflowing with everything that I was sure one day, when I was older, I would grab them up on a cold winter’s day and enjoy reading about the “OUR OLD begotten golden days.”
But, on this one BAD DAY, I was so beyond help, so out of my own safety zone, so broken that I walked inside, and pulled all of my journals out of a large gun safe, (I had finally just purchased months before to keep them safe in the event of a fire…(silly me). I tossed them all into a laundry basket and sobbing and broken, I walked them out to the big outdoor Central Boiler and tossed them in. I even took pictures. Why? I can’t say. Validation for myself I guess, and it sure wasn’t going to hurt anyone else but me. Right?
By the end of the day, I was even more broken by what I had done, than by the bad day itself. All the driver’s licenses that were my Dad’s from when I was a kid, my great grandma Aena’s driver’s license, letters written from special people. Events that happened all throughout my life into my adult life. I had just burned it all.
I JUST BURNED UP MY WHOLE LIFE.
I Tossed away every memory. Only later, when I was talking to my dear sweet, HEAVEN-SENT friend Cheryl, I began to feel deep-rooted remorse. First of all, she cried. She almost sobbed over the phone, said she couldn’t believe it, and wished I had reached out to her. She kept repeating how much she hated that I had done that. How special all those books were to her, and she wasn’t the writer or the reader. Her love and caring helped me to begin healing that morning. (She was just down the road from me on this day, burying her sister. I would have never called her during such a sad day for her. I loved her sister Marva, and her sister Arling. Great Gals.)
Cheryl knew THE VALUE OF ALL THOSE JOURNALS AND ALL THEY CONTAINED. When we cry for ourselves, that’s nothing new. We have known since birth how to cry for ourselves, but to cry FOR SOMEONE ELSE is true empathy and the sweetest kind of love. My dear friend listened for a long time, and then she tried to console me because, by now, I was mourning what a stupid, terrible thing I had done. I couldn’t escape the deep, slicing pain in my heart. Cheryl knows me well enough to know, she heard what I was saying between my words but wasn’t speaking out loud. THAT IS A FRIEND STRAIGHT FROM THE LORD.
At the moment this all went down, all I could think about was taking God’s most precious gift to me and ending it that day. Literally taking a permanent exit from this world, for a temporary problem. Yes, I realize how serious that statement is. I have had a lifetime, not a few short days or a few bad years, I have had an entire lifetime of being told I wasn’t loved, wasn’t wanted, treated as if I was nothing, without value, told that I wasn’t needed over and over again.
Cheryl Understood and gently explained that I had done the only thing I could do that afternoon. Since I wasn’t alone, I couldn’t take action on my “exit plan”, I BURNED up my life, my whole existence, and INSTEAD of taking myself out, I took out the most personal part of me I could.
A few weeks later, it was time to clean the ashes from the central boiler wood-burning stove, as we do periodically. That day, the ashes were dumped in my garden instead of being taken back to the wood line or on the fields. I walked outside and took pictures of the ashes lying on the ground, and it suddenly struck me, that those ashes were full of over fifty years of writing. There were thousands and thousands of pages filled with my words, artwork, and children’s artwork, all scattered in front of me on the ground. I was at peace, though, and as I reached down, I held some of the ashes in my hand and offered a silent prayer upward. Perhaps these ashes, all those words, all those writings would fertilize my garden, and I would have tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes as I have never seen before. I had to believe that some good would come from something so sad. I had to walk through the ashes of my gut-wrenching mistake. Maybe, I could change my thinking, accept this monumental mistake I had made in haste, and perhaps something good could come from it all.
The tomatoes and potatoes seemed to enjoy the lime the ashes and rain created for them.
I cannot honestly say, that I still don’t regret what I did. Those journals were such a part of me, the deepest portions of my heart and soul. All the good times, all the bad ones, the sad ones, the happy times. Pieces of hair from when I gave Granddaughter Allyson her first haircut, and the poem I wrote about it. Pieces of my Dad’s hair every time I cut it, and others. (Yes, I am odd). It will always be one of the saddest, self-inflicted wounds I have given myself……but on the other hand, if I left this world tomorrow, I often wondered who was going to care to read my silly ramblings anyway, so I guess that worry has not been removed and I can check that one off the list.
I believe that beauty can still rise from these ashes, and that because of this act, I will be stronger and wiser in the future. At least, I hope I am. It took me a long time to buy a new journal. I couldn’t find one that I liked or felt good to me, so I bought two. I had a very precious, kind-hearted friend offer to buy me a new one, and at the time, I wasn’t ready to begin journaling again. I wasn’t sure I ever would be. I have filled a couple of pages in the new journal, but I don’t write like I used to. I am finishing the sequel to my first novel, WHISPERS OF WINTER, released two years ago, written under my great-grandmother’s name Eva Orilla.
Novel Number #2, WHISPERS OF AUTUMN due to be released fall of 2023
Perhaps this winter, after harvest, when the snow is knee-high, I will find my way back to filling up a journal, and maybe I never will. Who knows. What I do know, is the more I think about it and the more I study it……Those silly journals saved MY LIFE, and my sanity for years more times than I could count. I poured my feelings into those things. The day I burned them, I destroyed a part of myself that will never live again. I felt alone, empty, and so not myself for months. As in life, through all the good and the sad, I continued taking one step in front of the other. I survived, I made it through the pain, the wound was deep, and the scar is jagged and ugly…but I am still here, so perhaps my dear friend was correct. I spared life but committed a “journal suicide” instead.