Walking with baby Logan

His chubby little hands clench up into fists and he begins to rub his eyes.

“You getting sleepy,” I say to him.

He responds with a tiny whine. His body curls up and his head, suddenly way to heavy for his body, drops on my shoulder.

I grab my well-worn baby carrier and strap him in. I can feel the tension release immediately. He knows what is coming.

Stepping into my shoes we head outside. It’s fairly crisp and the air smells like logs burning. I cradle his head with one hand and we begin to walk.

We stop under my neighbor’s tree and both look up. A bird is chirping loudly, but I can’t find him in the tangle of yellow and brown leaves. After a moment, my sweet little baby nephew begins to whimper. He looks away from the tree and rubs his face against my chest.

Time to walk on.

I used to know every tree, bush, flower and house in my neighborhood. It was as familiar to me as my own backyard.

The enormous plum-tree that exploded pink flowers all over the sidewalk in the spring followed by loads of squishy plums that my kids loved to collect.

The tiny stone turtle that could only be seen under the rose bushes in the winter after the neighbors cut them back.

The crazy, barking dog that would run at the fence if you didn’t remember to cross to the other side of the street.

The grove of twisty trees that dropped plenty of sticks and little red balls just right for children’s hands and imaginations.

The giant black bees that favored the climbing morning-glory that grew along the fence of the house with the giant trampoline in the backyard.

The house with an abundance of pomegranates growing so far over the fence that you’d be able to pick some in the fall without them noticing.

The brick house that grows giant sunflowers in the summer that we just had to stop and measure ourselves against every time.

The house with several towering pine trees that always provided us with pinecones for our nature table.

As I walk around my neighborhood now, with my nephew sleeping soundly on my chest, I suddenly feel lost.

It all looks so foreign and bizarre.

It’s all so different.

Where did that grove of palm trees come from?

When did that retaining wall go in?

Where are all my memories?

It seems that my neighborhood has continued to grow, just like my kids. While I stay tucked inside, living with sadness and longing for the past, time just keeps moving forward.

It’s all so different.

My babies are giant kids who no longer enjoy walks in the neighborhood with their mother, certainly not strapped to my chest. They are smart, creative, intelligent children who love to play board games, read books, create art and make things out of string. They spend hours away at school each day and hardly seem to need me when I pick them up.

It’s all so different.

photoAs I walk home, I am suddenly struck by everything.

The beauty of the clouds and the vastness of the sky above.

A mass of deep, dark purple flowers growing next to a small ceramic snail.

An arch covered in a rich green tangle of ivy.

A lawn of dark, thick grass that is dotted with five baby pine trees in a star pattern.

A square garden box made of redwood that is growing pumpkins, squash and kale.

I feel like a small child out on my walk in the big, wide world.

I’m amazed at everything.

I pick up a golden leaf that I can’t bare to leave behind; stuck by how soft and cool it feels as I trace the vein pattern with my finger.

I stop and watch a group of blue jays fight in a bird bath and laugh at them.

I see sparks in my neighbor’s garage as he solders something together and I’m excited by what it might be.

When I get home I lay my nephew down to finish his nap and I pick up my Bible. I’m finding my way back to God and I can feel him speaking to me.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

I pray for peace and for God to open my eyes to the beauty around me every day. I pray for forgiveness and strength.

Before I know it, little baby Logan awakes. He stirs sweetly and I quickly go to him. He smiles up at me with his entire body.

I return the smile with mine.

Hello? Anybody out there?

You are not alone.

At this very moment someone else is going through something just like you.

They may be sitting in their car blaring Johnny Cash and bawling their eyes out.

Just like you.

They may be fighting the urge to have a drink at 9 a.m.

Just like you.

They may wish to just keep driving until the world seems right.

Just like you.

Then why do we feel so alone?

Depression. Abuse. Marriage problems. Parenting. Addiction. Death. Health struggles. It’s all hard and so many are struggling with similar things.

Yet…

We feel so alone.

Our society is sick. Just keep marching forward with that smile. Don’t you dare show weak eyes. Distraction, distraction, distraction. I am not sure, but maybe its always been this way. Maybe that’s just the nature of life. Keep your pain inside. Suck it up. If you give into the pain then it will only serve to make you feel it more. That cannot be good for anyone.

I know that religion is the answer for many. They turn to God and church. They find a community to support them, friends who lift them up and God to pray to for answers and guidance.

I have not had luck on that front in my life. I have found churches to be filled with judgement, fake smiles and hate. They speak the right words and dress the part, but it’s empty. Sunday morning faith. You put someone broken in front of them and you get judgement and pity.

They will “pray for you,” but at a distance. Please do not muddy up their “perfect” lives with your imperfections and questioning. Your lack of faith is ugly.

There are the exceptions. I have met a few people lately that have shown me what real faith and love look like. They show kindness and understanding. Positivity and light pours from them and you can feel hope just being around them. They do not minimize struggle or try to fix you. They recognize that faith and love are personal struggles and that all you want is someone to say, “I’m here. You are not alone.”

I’m here.

You are not alone.

This weekend I went to a nightclub to dance. I wanted to be surrounded by people. Strangers. We did not talk. We just danced. I could feel a connection to those around me. Something about the music, darkness and allowing myself to let go felt real. I felt alive.

Don’t freak dear friends and readers, I don’t plan on becoming a clubber who leaves her family for that feeling. It just struck me hard that what I crave is contact and real connection. Yet, something about dancing with strangers met my needs in ways other things have not.

There was something about being vulnerable, looking like a fool and then just accepting that. Not caring what these people thought about me. Seeing how free others were to just be.

I want some of that.

I spent a fair amount of time over the long weekend staring at the sky. The clouds have been just amazing, filled with shapes and movement. Then the sky opened up and poured yesterday. I filled my house with candles and tried to focus on the light.

I have no idea where I’m going with all this. There are no answers or wisdom to be found here. I’m just fumbling through another day and spilling myself out here.

But I’m spilling all this out in public because I want you to know I’m here. I’m here and YOU are not alone. WE are not alone.

So struggle on friends. We will make it.

I love you.

Waving the white flag

I want off.

This summer has been the craziest of my life. Up. Down. Up. Down. Happy. Sad. Love. Death.

I want off.

Yesterday I almost gave up. As I curled up and cried I wished for an escape pod. Just push the button and it all ends. I surrender. Stop the pain. I’m done.

Even my beautiful children’s faces were not enough. I still wanted out.

As I type those words my gut clenches at the ugly reality of that. I’m weak and broken. It’s embarrassing, self-imposed and a result of choices I’ve made.

I am a free person. Every choice I have made in my life has been my own. That is something that I’m ungrateful for. Not worthy of.

That’s the gift of God right? Free will. The ability to walk our own path. And I live in a country where I have that right afforded to me by law. Nobody is forcing anything on me. It’s all me.

My faith is shaken so much that I have been doubting that God is even real. I’ve been feeling ignored, unloved and forgotten.

How can we all just keep doing this? How can we walk around in pain with our fake smiles? What am I missing?

I keep having moments of clarity where I think I’ve made progress. I find the puzzle piece that will make it all fit together. These moments are happening more and more. Its like God is gently whispering truth into my ear, but I’m not listening.

I’m making the choice to be unhappy.

It keeps coming back to my core belief that I am unworthy of happiness and not deserving of love.

I’ve been combating that belief, but it’s still holding on. It’s controlling my behavior and thoughts.

I am craving attention. I’m like a toddler begging for everyone to hold me. I want to be looked at, touched, admired and loved. I want to be thought of as someone fun to be around. I want to make others smile. I want to take all my friends pain away and make them happy.

My cup has giant holes in it and it’s never going to be filled up.

It has to come back to faith. To God. To surrendering and allowing myself to believe again. I don’t have the answers and never will. Happiness is not something I can get or understand. There is no magic formula.

All summer I have been dancing on the rim of a cliff. I teeter and then catch myself. Yesterday I fell. Hard. It’s time to surrender and put things in His hands. Stop trying to make my own choices or even understand.

So I will pray. I will be silent and sit still. I will listen and stop questioning.

I have no illusions of it being easy. Rebuilding faith, one that was never really strong, is not going to be easy. But it is the only way for me.

I need love. Please be generous with it when you see me and I will repay you with all I have. I will pray for us all.

May God help me, for I cannot do this alone anymore.