🎶 Help me want the Healer, More than the healing 🎶
It seems like a natural progression to me now, but it didn’t back then.
My taste in music is generally pretty edgy. I like some depth. Some raw, live acoustic music. Throw in a raspy voice or deep inflection, some passionate lyrics, and you’ve got me in my happy place. But sometimes even I need a feel good song.
This is that song; ‘More than Anything’. I can hear it coming from a place of desperation, a place I’ve been before. Back in my totally clichè ‘Jesus take the Wheel’ days (translated, thats the “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here God, but I sure have messed things up on my own steam, PLEASE please help me.”)
That was the single Mom living paycheck to paycheck who’d just been laid off unexpectedly and bawled my eyes out when HR walked in and coldly gave us all our pink slips a week or so before Thanksgiving. I remember thinking “What the hell am I gonna do?!”
I remember later that night in a fit of chest seizing anxiety, drinking a glass of wine, looking into the mirror at my tear stained cheeks just feeling so defeated. I had been plugging along telling myself if I could just pay my bills, my rent, my car payment, buy food for my kids, I’d be fine. And then it just felt like someone pulled the rug out from under me. In that moment I prayed the desperate prayer “Lord why is this happening? PLEASE HELP ME!”
🎶 I know if You wanted to, You could wave Your hand Spare me this heartache, and change Your plan. And I know any second You could take my pain away. But even if You don’t, I pray…🎶
I’d mentioned before about how I’d once been turned off by religion, but I know now it was the people that falsely represented it that actually turned me off. There in that very workspace a couple of years before, I’d encountered a coworker who walked it out differently. She saw my down trodden attitude and somehow identified a deep and hurting soul. Did she come to me and tell me I needed Jesus, or make me feel judged? Nope. She handed me a book entitled “Letters” of Mother Teresa. I remember looking at it and thinking “Hmmm, I vaguely know who that is, I think I heard about her on the news or something.” I thanked my coworker and said I’d take a look at it.
I opened up the book and started reading about a woman who surprisingly reminded me a little of myself. She had a deep need to help humanity but she felt so much emptiness inside her that it was nearly overwhelming. And she liked to write! Her letters reminded me of the poems I wrote as a teenager, where emotion filled every word. Compassion and Christian in the same sentence? I shook my head. This equation hadn’t been one that equated for me in the past.
That this happened was one of those things only God could have orchestrated, my coworker (now my best friend) refused to take credit, stating only that she was an instrument of God. Talk about goosebumps!
🎶You know more than anyone that my flesh is weak And You know I’d give anything for a remedy And I’ll ask a thousand more times to set me free today Oh, but even if You don’t, I pray 🎶
Amazingly less than six months prior to the layoff I had begun therapy. And the only reason I had an ounce of hope that a therapist would show me compassion was due to one person showing me what that looked like. I would go on to find a community of others who thought and acted the same. And it just so happens that the therapist was a graduate of the Grad School I would go on to get my Masters in Counseling degree from.
I couldn’t see it that day nor could I see it for a few months afterwards, but that layoff would change my whole trajectory. I’d go on to have a job that not only paid my bills but also gave me an opportunity to do something I’d always wanted to do but didn’t think that I could. Most importantly I had internalized the sentiment mentioned in this verse.
From “LORD HELP ME” to “I’m so glad I have my faith, and a loving Father.” You don’t even know how much that’s helped me since Covid hit!
You know it’s really funny how I got so used to not leaving the house without a tampon or a serious stash of them in my purse. Most of the time actually having a tampon in, even though it technically wasn’t supposed to be my period because, inevitably, I’d be out in public somewhere and have “that feeling” (I don’t have to tell you other ladies what feeling I’m talking about) and be nowhere near a bathroom. Potential disaster. Especially with a toddler in tow. So frustrating. Like why didn’t I buy stock in the Tampax company? At times I’ve felt like I singlehandedly kept them in business.
I guess I just got too used to going and seeing doctors that told me my heavy bleeding was “normal for someone like you” or being told by a female practitioner “it’s just something we all deal with” or being over 40 and hearing “it’s just the age you’re at” because they don’t want to do the work to figure out what’s really wrong with me when I’m coming in with questions they can’t answer.￼ But then I started noticing how many tampons I was buying and that I kept needing to find a box with super. Then ultra. Then super ultra. And a period that last 21 days with only a week of no bleeding. Severe bloating. Horrible cramp and pain. After enduring it for 3 years after the birth of my daughter I was finally like “Something’s gotta give.”
I was tired, REALLY tired (not figuratively) of all the bleeding and pain. I was tired of hearing doctors tell me I just needed a higher dosage of estrogen. I’m not a doctor but I know my body, and who wants all the side effects that come with a high level of estrogen not to mention the cancer risk? Then I got a new (female) doctor who, after hearing my history, said “YES” to my request to get an ablation. For those who don’t know, Endometrialablationis aprocedurethat surgically destroys (ablates) the liningofyour uterus. The goalofendometrialablationis to reduce menstrual flow, or stop it completely. I was ALL IN about doing this. “Heck yeah” I thought, this will be the solution to all my problems! It’s a simple procedure with little recovery time. Even better!
Just to be safe, she mentioned that she’d like to get an ultrasound and do an endometrial biopsy. If you’ve never had an endometrial biopsy it’s pretty uncomfortable but not horrible. They do that to make sure you don’t have endometrial cancer. Unfortunately for me, the ultrasound showed a defect in my uterus that was contraindicated to an ablation.
With a potential hole in my uterus (and me thinking “Why on early had I been seeing doctors for 3 years about this, and no one else thought to do an ultrasound?!”) my only option was a hysterectomy. With 8 weeks of down time for recovery, I wasn’t thrilled, but just ready to be done.
I scheduled my surgery for about a month out and thought about how I’d handle the situation. I decided that I wasn’t going to mourn the loss of an organ that had enabled me to become the mother of 3 precious children. With no desire to have any more children, I was ready to move on to a pain free life. So I did something that might seem unorthodox but seemed perfectly natural to me. I sent invitations to my girl friends to join me in celebrating this stage of my lifestyle at my favorite sushi restaurant with killer ambiance. Kind of a ‘Sex And The City’ style girl party, if you will. I even dressed up like my alter ego Carrie Bradshaw to celebrate the occasion.
My bestie mentioned she was bringing a cake but gave no details. Let me tell you how excited I was when I saw it! It couldn’t have been more perfect; “BYE FELICIA”!
So, with the party over and the reality of the actual surgery approaching, I wondered if it would be an easier recovery than my C-sections. The Doctor assured me it would; she was doing a robot assisted hysterectomy done laparoscopically, where I could retain my ovaries and, only if there were complications, would she potentially have to cut me open. We knew from the ultrasound that there was likely scar tissue gluing my bladder to my uterus, they wouldn’t be able to tell til they got in there if I’d have the risk of a perforated bladder.
Next, I asked all my friends and family to PRAY. 🙏 Pray for a positive outcome and to guide the hands of those performing the procedure as well as to ease my anxiety about this robot she was going to be using.
I went into surgery feeling no fear and emerged with no complications. Praises were sent up all around. I stayed the night in the hospital and went home about 24 hours after my procedure. I’m not going to lie. I took a picture of my belly as soon as I got home and thought I would never have a normal belly button again. As you can see I was extremely bloated and a bit bruised around my incisions. This was all quite painful and sore. I was very happy for my pain meds and the ability to rest.
The major pain I had initially was wincing pain upon sitting. I was quite nauseous. So much in fact that the doctor called in a prescription for me to have Zofran. It really helped so I could get my pain meds down. Going to the bathroom was painful too. Definitely thankful someone explained to me how important it is to take Colace when you’re on opioid pain meds. Trust me, you’ll want to make sure you don’t forget!
Fast forward two weeks later, my tummy looked like this:
My belly button looked a lot better, the bloating was gone and most of the bruising. By this time I was just taking my serious pain meds at night and Motrin during the day. I got my biopsy results back from the procedure and discovered the reason I’d been having heavy 3 week a month long bleeding for 3 years. I had a condition known as adenomyosis. You can read more about it here: Adenomyosis
Basically part of the endometrial tissue inside my uterus had migrated into my abdominal wall causing extreme pain and bleeding. I’m so glad I had the hysterectomy because an ablation wouldn’t have solved that problem! I’d done my own research after I started having heavy bleeding and asked my OB/GYN if he thought I could have Adenomyosis and he quoted me statistics about how rare it was and that it was unlikely. Just goes to show that your gut feeling can be way more accurate than a statistic yielding doctor.
Something noticeable 2 weeks post hysterectomy was a lot of night sweats. We’re talking getting up in the middle of the night with so much sweat I had to change my shirt. It was probably due to the fact I stopped taking estrogen, but rather annoying, none the less.
I think that this hormonal drop off also triggered some emotions I wasn’t expecting to have. I had a day of feeling pretty sad that even though I had my 3 wonderful children and had no desire for more, that this phase of my life was over. No more pregnancies or carrying babies. I took some time to grieve that and talked about it with some close girlfriends. Then I celebrated by putting all my extra tampons and pads in a box to run by and donate to the shelter.
I actually went to two job interviews after week 2 and I didn’t feel horrible. Well, that was until I got a stomach bug. It definitely isn’t any fun having to vomit 2 weeks after surgery and boy was I glad I had that Zofran prescription!
I was feeling pretty good about 3 weeks out, but I got a little carried away around Thanksgiving and had a little scare. You aren’t supposed to lift more than 10 pounds, but I’m guessing that frozen turkey might have been a bit bigger. I hadn’t had much bleeding at all, but then suddenly I had some fairly heavy bleeding and something that looked like a little blood clot. I was almost ready to head in to the ER when I was able to talk to a post surgical nurse who eased my mind, and told me to relax and stop overdoing it. Luckily this was likely due to the superficial healing around my internal stitches, and after taking it easy for about 4 days I felt much better with no further bleeding.
At my 6 week follow up I had to endure a vaginal exam, but got the green light that I could start some light exercise like elliptical training, but still no weight over 10 pounds for another 2 weeks.
By 8 weeks, the bruising is gone, my belly button looks quite a bit better, and I’ve lost 2 inches off my waist mostly due to no more bloating! Talk about a win! I was feeling very much like my regular self, and was amazed at how awesome it was not to have to worry about having feminine products with me 24/7.
Even better, since having kids I’d literally have to go pee like every 30 minutes or so or my bladder was in serious pain. I just thought I had a small bladder. Apparently it had something to do with the uterus putting all that weight on my bladder and the scar tissue. Now I can sit through a session at work, watch a movie, or go to church without missing something important because I have to keep getting up to go to the bathroom.
Besides the 8 week recovery time being a bit inconvenient I have zero regrets about my hysterectomy. I am no longer in constant pain. I have a new level of freedom I can’t even remember having. Feel free to post a comment or question!
Since it’s been a little over a year since I first launched my blog tRUTHfulonline.com (Copyright 2017) I thought it might be fun to highlight some of my “top hits”. You may have noticed many of the titles of my blog posts are titles to songs. I don’t know if you can relate, but I often have what I like to call “the soundtrack of my life” on loop in my head. Plus I LOVE music! If I’m sad I listen to music, if I’m pumped I listen to music. I sing to my daughter daily at bedtime and during daily routines. I definitely sing in the car. I mean who can resist a jam session with three adorable back up singers? Of course now that my soon to be 12 year old likes to play DJ, I don’t always know the words!
Disclaimer: this blog is not about my “Mama”. “Mama” is referring to a generation of women.
Miranda Lambert’s song compares her reaction to a broken heart with that of her mother’s. Recently, with the astounding number of “Me too’s” that I saw and am still seeing on my Facebook feed, I couldn’t help but think about this concept. So as the song goes, Mama is telling her daughter how she “should” act in response to something that has left her emotionally charged. It really struck a chord with me, and I tied the two together when I read a quote from Reese Witherspoon, from her introduction speech at Elle’s Women in Hollywood event. She acknowledged that she had been sexually assaulted more than once, and then said this, “For the young women sitting in the room, life is going to be different for you because we have you, we have your back. And that makes me feel better because, Gosh, its about time.”
It got me thinking about how on the surface maybe “Mama” might appear to be able to keep it together when everything falls apart, sitting there looking demur with a powdered nose, crossed legs and her mouth closed, but where did that get Mama? “Mama” is the voice of “just sweep it under the rug and don’t talk about it”. Say what you will about the way female expression has changed, but women just took a HUGE STEP towards finally getting the respect that we saw Jesus identify way back in biblical times! How sad also that the Bible outlines the way women should be cherished by men but generations of women have felt like they had to put up with it or fear the consequences.
Anyway, I had a sad moment or two recalling the times that I have experienced sexual assault or harassment. So many women are talking about assault experiences they were never able to tell anyone about! All the trauma and secrets are coming out and its sad but at the same time I know its providing so much healing. Not only that but women are coming together to make a commitment to change things. I challenge those of you who fall into the “Mama” category mentioned in this song, that its not too late. As long as you’ve got breath in your lungs then we can change and encourage women to definitely speak out when they’ve been taken advantage of, teach them its not something to be ashamed of, that men don’t have the right to treat women without dignity and that rape culture IS a thing. If you’re not familiar with what rape culture is, its an environment where sexual violence against women is prevalent and its normalized and excused by the media or pop culture. A common example of this would be the objectifying of women’s bodies, using mysoginistic language and glamorizing sexual violence. Maybe “Mama”can recognize that its wrong and its been going on for far too many generations. I don’t even blame “Mama” for being that way, I’m sure her “Mama” must have taught her the same thing. Meanwhile I feel like it has allowed some men to take advantage of women – and get away with it. When I think about my daughter and what I’ll teach her, one thing is certain, I hope to share a legacy that endures through ALL generations!
So, if you’re like me you maybe spent longer than you’d like to admit trying to fit into someone else’s image of what beautiful is. Or maybe every time you looked in the mirror you saw something different from what was actually there, because of what you thought society’s expectations were. Or maybe it wasn’t that obvious but you just felt inferior and couldn’t put a finger on why.
The realization that so many of my life’s strivings, so many of the things I anguished over and spent a RIDICULOUS amount of money and time on, don’t even matter. I wish I could go on a tour around the country and somehow reach (mostly) young girls who are already being unconsciously conditioned to think their looks define them. If it wouldn’t be scary as all get out, I’d like to go up to each of them and tell them “Don’t spend your life comparing yourself to those figures you see on the TV screen and in magazines. In the end, looks don’t matter!” Maybe I feel that way because I wish someone would have done that for me.
If you understand what it means to be authentic, you know that it goes much deeper than what you see in the mirror. However the superficial mask that I wore started with my self-image. You see, somehow I got the idea that one of the worst things I could be would be to be ugly or over-weight. It was an idea that was reinforced in my environment and consequently I found myself staring into a mirror and hating any fat I saw on my body. I grew up in an era where fat was “out” from super models like Kate Moss, to Diet Coke and Rice Cakes! Being a short girl and a late bloomer at that, I rarely remember looking in the mirror and ever being satisfied with what I saw.
I remember I dated a guy who was pretty open about the fact that the reason he looked at magazines like Penthouse or Playboy was because “I’ll never have a chance to be with a woman LIKE THAT.” I wish I would have been raised to have enough self-esteem or self-worth to be able to hear a comment like that and not compare myself to the subject and come back with the understanding that I was less than. But I did. When I look back now at pictures of me when I was younger, I can now see a beautiful young woman, but at the time I was just trying to be something “better” or “more”, and of course a lot of it came down to being that way so that I could please others, not myself.
I never understood the concept of worth. I didn’t have anyone sit me down and tell me that worth is far more than what you see when you look in the mirror. I remember styling my hair or choosing clothes to please people I was with. I am so happy now when I hear people saying things like “I really want to get an undercut and fade cut in my hair but ‘Im afraid so and so wont like it” and the response is “But you would like it, right? Then who cares what so and so thinks anyway because its your hair”. I mean if “so and so” doesn’t like you because you shave off part of your hair, then they clearly don’t like you for the right reasons. Imagine if all your hair just fell out, would you be able to know without a doubt that that person would be right there beside you and going with you to your Drs appointments, even if you were cranky and in a bad mood and not any fun to be around?
Because at the end of the day THAT IS WHAT MATTERS. Those people that compare you to the airbrushed photos they see or tell you that wearing makeup is “false advertising” or who call you names, maybe even bully you for being different than what they have been conditioned to desire – those people aren’t going to define you. Their cruel words or behavior do however define THEM. Why would you want to bend over backwards to please someone who would probably never treat you the way you deserve to be treated even if you somehow did fit their mold of perfection? Because you don’t deserve that kind of conditional love. You are beautiful exactly the way God created you, you are worthy and you deserve to be loved just like you are!
So, Moms especially, if you have boys, hear this. Its our job to teach boys that women are not just beautiful when they are airbrushed and Photoshopped. Start talking to boys about the true meaning of beauty. See that expectant mom due any day standing in line at the supermarket? She’s beautiful. The matriarch out for a walk on a cool morning with laugh lines and a glimmer in her eye that can only come from wisdom and living a full life: she’s beautiful. Maybe I’m doing something right because when my 11-year-old sees me applying makeup he tells me I’m wasting my time because I don’t need it, and I’m beautiful without it. Love that kid!
But don’t stop there! As women we have the unique ability to teach what beauty is in a more subtle way, by showing others that we love ourselves. If you are critiquing your figure or hair in front of your daughter, she may decide to do the same thing to herself. But if you say ” I feel so amazingly beautiful today’ (and do it when you are wearing yoga pants with your hair in a pony tail as often as when you are dressed up and have makeup on), then she will learn that beauty is not defined by what you are wearing or the size you fit into. Try VERY VERY hard to not teach a girl her worth is in her beauty. Society is already teaching her that. It taught you that. Why else would you be spending all that money on face cream and makeup primer? As a girl her first compliment will likely be “You’re so pretty” or “Your dress is so pretty”. Start to point out to her the things that make her beautiful that don’t depend on her looks.
It is said: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV http://bible.com/111/1pe.3.3-4.niv
As much as I’d like to protect my daughter from the world that thinks differently, I know the best thing I can do is teach her that she is “Not of This World” and do my best to surround her and point her towards other woman and people who are like-minded.
So, in tRUTHful style, I have found a way to weave the words of a song into a message I hope you will consider the next time you look in the mirror. “So close, no matter how far, couldn’t be much more from the heart, forever trust in who we are, and nothing else matters!” You are a beautiful child of God. God is right there with you, no matter how far away He may seem at times; trust that you are His masterpiece and perfect EXACTLY the way you are! NOTHING.ELSE.MATTERS!
I was shopping at Mardel the other day. It’s typically a place I go to for some much needed solitude in my chaotic life. It’s like when I walk in the door I just feel peace. I can almost hear the “Ahhhh” resonate within me as I enter. And oddly enough I often hear a song over the loud speakers in there that feels like a direct connection to Heaven; it’s kind of surreal when that happens! During a difficult period of my life after my divorce, the song Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United (check it out here: https://youtu.be/dy9nwe9_xzw ) would play at just the right time, not just at Mardel, but on the radio and when I visited a church over a thousand miles from my home! I figured God was trying to tell me something, and it turns out he was! I got through that rough patch in my life not by my own strength, but by persistently holding on to my Faith.
Anyway, when I walked in yesterday I realize the store was under renovation and it wasn’t the usual quiet place I go to for solitude. Jack hammers and pounding replaced the usual calm atmosphere. The total layout of the store seemed to have changed also. How strange that even amidst all that construction noise I still begin to feel the same feeling of peace that I treasure when I go there!
So I was looking around trying to find gifts to put in my daughter’s time capsule for her first birthday, thinking about things that when she is 18 years old will speak to her about her future.
I really got very introspective about the woman that she will become and how I’m going to help her develop her spirituality and identity as a woman.
I thought about the innocence of a child and how adults expose children to faith.
Then, I thought about my own experiences with learning what religion was all about.
Then I saw it….
The entire verse of Psalm 34:8 reads: Taste and See that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him (NIV).
When I saw this bag I thought “how perfect?!” I mean, isn’t that exactly what we do? We give our kids a taste of what religion is. Depending on how we present it to them, that taste can be sweet, sour maybe even bitter depending on the flavor we add. I mean, will they even want to taste it if it’s presented to them in such a way? Or are we figuratively or literally cramming it down their throats while screaming “Do as I say but not as I do?”Maybe, just maybe it can be something they savor and want to taste again and again and achieve what this verse suggests, taking refuge in the kingdom of God because we know its going to be soooo good!
If you are just joining my blog, here’s the back story. tRUTHful is a blog inspired by the biblical character Ruth, being one of only 2 woman who have books named after them in the old testament. My desire is to inspire and connect with other people interested in cultivating authenticity and character by the way we lead our lives.
I’m SO not a morning person but this week ‘Im taking my kids to vacation Bible school, so I’m getting up much earlier than I normally do and you know what? Although I don’t think I’ll ever be a morning person, there’s something kind of refreshing about the cool morning air; you can still have your windows down when you’re driving since it’s not hot yet. It took me back to the years I lived on the beach in Florida when I was stationed there. There’s something about driving with the windows down feeling the wind in your hair that just makes you feel alive! It reminds me that I’m not just in survival mode, God put me here to enjoy life. I can hear the birds tweeting. I actually got to stop and get a cup of coffee alone which was nice.
Well, this morning I was driving around a town I used to live in, but no longer do because I moved to my hubbie’s hometown.With the windows down and the music flowing, no kids in the car so I wasnt limited to my usual “kid appropriate” group of songs I’ve heard a million times. You know, the ones I find myself singing even when my kids AREN’T around. Gotta love having “The wheels of the bus go round and round” stuck in your head!
So, on my random playlist the song Poker Face by Lady Gaga came on. That’s a song that took me back to being divorced and all the rawness of it just came back, being in this place I knew so well and a place that represents my singleness and overcoming of many of my personal issues; a place where I found myself.
I got to thinking about how I SO DON’T have a poker face. I mean, I can’t even look at my self in the mirror and keep a straight face, let alone not totally wear my heart on my sleeve, and all over my face. Apparently instead of having a poker face, I’ve got something that looks a little more like Michelle Obama’s face at the 2017 inauguration! If I feel something its going to be written all over my face. And you know, I used to really hate that about myself. I wished I could slap on the old poker face and not let things bother me. I still sometimes wish I could just let things roll off me with out them sinking in but the truth is my ability to deeply feel and connect with the people around me is really more of a gift than I once thought.
I mean, I can romance the idea of being comfortable numb, because feeling big emotions are painful. But I’m so thankful God gave me the courage to step up to the plate and really get to play ball in life because I’m not just sitting on the bench watching the game of life play out. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 40ish years on this planet is that the worse think I’ve experienced is not feeling things so much, its REGRET. I’ve been bold and put myself out there and it wasn’t always appreciated or reciprocated but I didn’t regret it.
What I have regretted is not putting my self out there, not saying the thing or telling the person how I felt and they never knew and I never got a chance /:
The tRUTH is being real is being courageous. It’s being brave. It’s doing the hard things. I might not win big at poker, but I can rest assured knowing that I am being true to ME.
In case you are reading my blog for the first time, the back story is that tRUTHful is a blog about my quest for authenticity, through truth and inspired by the biblical character RUTH, whose name you see embedded in my blog title.
Who was RUTH? What amazing TRUTH can we learn from her? Stay tuned to read and share about my quest to live authentically as a woman in today’s world and to empower other girls and women to do the same!