Listen

I had a heart attack last October. Obviously a very scary event (understatement). Since then, I’ve been bent on figuring out why. I am a WHY person. I want to figure out why, seek to remedy the problem and move on with my life. I understand that I may never know why it happened;  however, this does not stop me.

A week after the event, I jokingly said my theme song is now Listen to Your Heart by Roxette. I began to notice that other women who’d had a similar event (SCAD), had eerily similar circumstances leading up to the heart attack. Basically, deep emotional stress from relational issues. This describes 2018 in a nutshell, minus the cursing.

What struck me is that while I knew it was a deeply painful year, I never felt particularly stressed. I processed my grief, anger and loss to the best of my ability, I practiced Sabbath regularly, I journaled the BLEEP out of the year, worked on my codependency and leaned on the amazing faithfulness of the Lord and my awesome community. Yet,  my body definitely knew I was under stress.

Listen

Not long ago, I read an amazing book called When the Body Says No by Gabor Maté. My basic takeaway is humans often repress emotions, particularly anger. Repressing emotions wreaks havoc on our physiology and can cause disease. It takes a toll. I started paying attention. I started listening; mainly to my body, my heart, my intuition, my spirit, my stress level.

Two quick testimonies: just this morning, I felt stress bubbling up inside me. I took a moment and just noticed the feeling. I then put my hand on where I felt the stress and spoke reassuringly to myself. “I am listening. I understand you are stressed. I hear you. I will take care of you.” Voila! In a matter of minutes, I felt the stress subside.

Another testimony is that when I start getting sick, I immediately get a sore throat. I then go into FIGHT mode to try and beat it. I usually fail, am sick for a week or more and generally feel angry with myself for having the audacity to get sick. Recently, I felt a sore throat coming on. I heard a still, small voice say “STRESS”.  Aha! I listened. I once again took a moment to listen to my throat telling me my body is stressed. I spoke gently to my throat. I rested. None of my usual gyrations because I suddenly realized all my gyrations made the sore throat worse! Guess what? I’ve beaten sickness four different times, just by listening and attending to my body. It really really works, people.

Slowly,  I am recovering the art of listening. Listening to my body, my mind, my spirit, my emotions, my heart and my intuition.  They communicate! It’s such a beautiful thing.

 

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Fifty & Nifty

I have a birthday hangover in the best sense. By hangover I mean a LOVE hangover. I’ve been celebrating for a few week’s now. I have one more celebration today, and life can return to normal. However, I’ll personally be celebrating all year because it’s my JUBILEE year. I’ll write about jubilee in another post. As I look back on my year, my hangover makes sense.

Oh the difference a year can make! As I turn fifty, I notice some radical changes in myself. Namely, I know I am deeply loved. I no longer look to people as my source of love, I turn to the true Source of Love. His love is FREAKING AMAZING.

That’s it. That’s all she wrote. What more is there to add? Fifty is nifty solely because Jesus loves me, saved my life (in more ways than one) and is WITH ME each and every moment of my life.

May you know you are truly and deeply loved today right where you are.

This is How We Do It

I just received difficult news about my heart/health. I’ll be honest, it’s knocked me. The past few months, I’ve been recovering, trying to get used to my new normal, visiting cardiologists, wearing heart monitors and generally processing all that’s happened. I’ve always wondered how I’d handle the shit hitting the fan regarding my health. Would it shake my faith? Would I get angry with God? Would I walk away?

Ever since my heart attack in October, I’ve seen my foundation withstand the shaking. Oh, circumstances try and shake the shit out of my foundation. Brokenness, pain, betrayal, loss, health issues-the list goes on and on. Circumstances come and go; what never changes is that God is with me in the mess, fear, pain and shit that life throws at me. This doesn’t mean I am not scared, fearful, freaking my freak and all that. I am. Believe me, I am. I am currently sitting in sackcloth and ashes, mourning (figuratively, that is).

God never promised me an easy life; He did promise He’d never leave me on my own.

How can I remain so firm in my foundation? I have a Biblical heritage. Those who’ve gone before, those who’ve withstood. Those who despite being scared out of their minds, trusted in their God. I really really need those people right now, because THIS IS HOW WE DO IT (cue Montell). Those who are in covenant with God do life this way, regardless of circumstances.

I think of Hezekiah, facing down the deadly Assyrians. Hezekiah trusted;  God came through. I think of the three dudes about to be tossed into the fiery furnace for not bowing down to a foreign idol.  Their response? It’s freaking priceless.

“If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king, but if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:1-18)

#boom    THIS IS HOW WE DO IT.

I think of Job, David,  Mary, Jesus, Paul, Peter,  many countless people who stood their ground and trusted in the God of the Universe, despite the circumstances. Do I want to be healed? Heck yeah. But even if I am not healed, I trust and love my God. Because THIS IS HOW WE DO IT  in God’s family.

 

 

For reference, if  younger than thirty, here is the song that prompted this post: This is how we do it. 

Warning: video is a little risqué. After all, it was the ’90’s.

 

 

H E A R T attack

Last week, I had quite the adventure. An adventure I didn’t plan for nor expect in the least. I’m a healthy, forty-nine year old woman training for a marathon to celebrate her fiftieth birthday because #fiftyisnifty, right?

As I was cleaning out my fridge, I felt a strange click in my chest, then immediately felt all kinds of pressure/pain in my chest and neck. I called a nurse advice line to ask for advice, thinking it was nothing serious. The woman calmly told me to hang up, take an aspirin and call 911. WHAT THE ? Well, that escalated! The pain persisted so off I went to the ER (we drove…yes, I know what you are thinking).

ER did every test imaginable and found…nothing. All my vitals were perfect. My pain/pressure subsided so they sent me home. Weird. I felt terrible the next day but nothing like the previous night. However, I quickly felt back to normal so went about my business, thinking the pain/pressure was a fluke.

I took a few days to recover then decided to go back to my normal running routine. Bean and I woke up early to head out for our run. I felt great! I felt alive! I had a huge smile on my face and then, WHAM. I felt all kinds of pressure and pain again in my chest and neck. I called Bean and immediately, he knew. I was in bad shape. I’ll spare you the traumatic details but we drove straight to the ER again. Yes, I know. CALL 911. I’ve learned my lesson, let me tell you.

Once again, my vitals were perfect, EKG good and blood test showed nothing abnormal. I began to think I was going crazy! The pain subsided again (seriously?) yet I knew something wasn’t right. Thankfully, the ER suggested a stress test. As I arrived at the hospital, they did one more blood test (this is hours later, by the way). Voila, something was indeed going on. My troponin levels were elevated indicating cardiac issues.  Wait, what? Cardiac issues? I am healthy, relatively young (ha!) woman to have cardiac issues. This is probably why ER sent me home the first time. I didn’t fit the stereotypical patient with cardiac issues.

Lo and behold, I had a SCAD. A Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. Yeah, that. Next thing I know, I am in a cath lab getting a stent. I KNOW, I AM IN SHOCK AS WELL! My artery somehow tore, healed itself with a blood clot and blocked the blood flow to my heart. As in 99% blocked. My cardiologist repaired the artery which was quite the feat as it was a “tricky” one (direct quote). Suffice to say, I had several  scary moments before the angiogram where I wondered if I was going to make it through this.

This phenomena happens to healthy women between the ages 30-50 years of age. They usually find it post-mortem. I’ll repeat that last line. THEY USUALLY FIND IT POST-MORTEM. I am lucky to be alive. In fact, I am so effing grateful to be alive, I can’t even express.

This is post-angiogram

I’ve been home one week now. I’m getting used to my new normal which is what, I don’t even know. I’m struggling with PTSD, fatigue, intermittent pain and fear of the unknown. I’m writing about this experience because I find writing to be a therapy for me. I am also writing because awareness is important. I’m writing because I am a survivor.

I’m grateful. The Lord is present with me, carrying me and meeting me. He is good no matter what happens to me.

Fall Apart or Become Whole

I’m reading a beautiful book right now called Barking to the Choir by Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries. Homeboy is the largest gang rehabilitation program in the world. It’s smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles.

If you visit Homeboy, there’s a good chance you’ll be ushered into Father G’s office for a visit. He’s that kind of soul. The homies call him “G” and they love him deeply.

I came across a quote that arrested me.

 

“Now could be the moment when we fall apart or we become whole.”

 

Over this past year, I had many moments where I wanted to fall apart. Sometimes, I did! There has been much “death” and loss as I pursue health, wholeness, and face my freaking dysfunction, aka codependency. Yet, there is an OR. “Or we become whole.” There is a choice.

I choose to become whole, whatever it takes. It’ll take a lifetime, I am sure. There is hope for change.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

 

The Drama Triangle

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend in which she asked me if I had ever heard of the Victim Triangle.  I didn’t think I had. She proceeded to outline it for me and WHAM! light bulb. Over the next few days, I proceeded to do some research. I found that this cycle is called the Karpman Drama Triangle. I can’t tell you how much this triangle describes my life. #classiccodependent

attribution pending

I realized that throughout my life, I have moved through each role. However, I have one particular role that I play pretty much every single day. Can you guess?

If you chose Rescuer, you are correct! The Rescuer rescues the Victim from the Persecutor. The Persecutor can be a person, an organization, or anything that “persecutes” the victim. The Rescuer rescues the Victim from said Persecutor. Annnnndddd, IF the Rescuer doesn’t rescue in the correct way, they can shift to the role of the Persecutor (in the eyes of the Victim) lickety-split. As I said earlier, I have moved through each of these roles throughout my life. I always seem to land right back at Rescuer, unless I become the Persecutor due to not playing my Rescuer role correctly.

This past year, the DRAMA triangle has played out more tellingly than I can even describe in my life. I’ve moved from Rescuer to Persecutor to Victim back to Rescuer in one single day or event. Now I am beginning the process of figuring out why I am always the Rescuer. It’s just so fun to delve deep into the pain and chaos, right?

For some reason, I find comfort in knowing this is an actual thing.  Knowing is half the battle. I do not want to live in denial. I’m excited for the day when I can permanently move out of the role of Rescuer and just be me.