Sunday, November 15, 2015

a story with light about a friend/"sister"

I've shared some darker parts of my story. While I believe it's important to share them, I also think it's important to share some of the better moments. The "healing moments" form my story as well. I wrote this to a friend, then decided to post it here. Lori is one of many friends who don't really know how much they have been a part of my healing process. I'm not sure this even captures it.
Think of it as a chapter in my story....
The Story of Lori
[the making of a sister]
You know a lot of my story. Because of the deep betrayal of my [abuser], I don't trust people very well or easily. I moved to York, against my will & fervent prayers.
"God, what can you do in York that you can't do in Lititz?"
Many years later he told me his answer: "Nothing. I didn't want to do it in Lititz. I wanted to do it in York..... trust me, child. I've been writing stories longer than you."
Mom prayed for a "good Christian friend". I met Doug. He told me about a local youth group called YAF Fishnet. [despite the various jokes, YAF = Young Adult Fellowship] I moved to York on the very last day of school my 7th grade year. I had already had my final showdown with my abuser. I was 13 by this time. So we had to wait till high school to go to Fishnet. When we did, I had no idea what I was in for. [on so many levels] I began to hear stories. Horror stories from other teens. The one I remember most vividly, I heard at summer camp. I, a friend/ Fishnet leader, & a young, beautiful girl talked. It was late at night, almost "lights out" when the conversation got deeper. She looked me strait in the eye & simply said: "My Mom died 4 days before I turned 16.... it was the best present she ever gave me." ouch. She was one of several kids who began to ask me: "How come our horror stories don't 'undo' you like they do others? How come you can so calmly hear them? ...what are you hiding?"
enter Lori.....
I came to Fishnet one Thursday evening. [probably one of my first times] A young, short, blonde girl came up to me & she said: "Hi. I'm Lori. I'm a hugger."
me: "My condolences. Don't they have a pill for that?"
She hugged me, & laughed. She. hugged. me. I, did not reciprocate.  She would do this every week.  Every week, I would just stand there. At first I asked her: "how long do these things last?" She laughed, "I don't know. I've never timed one." Me: "Things to consider." after a while I said: "People are staring at us." To which she replied: "Try hugging me back & they won't stare as much. ...see that doesn't hurt now, does it?" "A little." I joked. I got used to it. Yet there would come times when I'd quietly try to sneak in to Fishnet. She'd come toward me & I'd back away & say "Please don't. Not tonight, ok?" She would have a painful look on her face as she complied. Standing close to me. "What did I do wrong?" She'd ask. "Nothing, Lori. It's not you... I just... I can't do that tonight. I need to not be touched tonight, ok?" Usually after a visit from Grandpa. [Mom's Dad.] One time she said to me: "If I EVER get my hands on who hurt you... they WILL pay."
Eventually Lori, the twins [Jenny & Linda], the twins older sister & a Fishnet leader named Cindy, came to me. Only Cindy spoke: "You need to tell us who's hurting you."
Me: "Why? What would you be able to do?"
Cindy: "If someone is hurting you I have a legal responsibility to report it. I have to protect you."
I couldn't wrap my mind around the last sentence. "You're too late to 'protect' me. I'm damaged & that's all there is to it. Where were you years ago? I protect myself. I don't need you."
Cindy: "We have ways of making you talk."
Me: "No. You don't. If you want this info from me you'll have to crack my skull open & get it yourself. That doesn't work on me. Threats are useless to me. You know how most people are afraid to die? I don't have that. There's nothing you can do to me that hasn't already been done. Don't threaten me again... I don't want to hurt anyone... but I will if I have to."
After this Lori began to watch over me. She would stay by my side on the nights I didn't want to be touched. She wouldn't touch me, physically. She'd just be there. Kind of follow me around. If I pulled away from other friends at Fishnet she would talk to them for me. "It's not you, Linda. You didn't do anything wrong. He's not mad. He just needs more space than usual, ok? Give him some time." This was REALLY helpful to me. I had someone to buffer my darker times. I've had them at growth group. Brad can tell you. I'll just say to him: "Not tonight." or "I can't tonight." & Brad or Gabe will say "ok. If you want to talk about it, I'll listen." Yet I eventually... both with Lori, & with Brad & Gabe I would seek them out & give them a hug. Which, at first was weird. They really noticed. They would say something. Which, of course made me back away at first. "No. No. It's not wrong of you. It's just not normally you to come & give one." [a hug]
Touch has always been "louder" for me than most people. Which is why I sometimes pull away from it. It feels too loud. If my fight response is too hyper, I fear I'll hit someone without thinking. I almost hit Pastor Aaron once. He put his hand on my back &, without thinking, I spun around knocked his hand away & drew my fist. Then I came back to the present.  He, of course, backed away & said: "woah. I'm sorry." Holding his hands up in surrender. "No. It's not you Pastor Aaron. It has nothing to do with you. I'm sorry. Did I hurt you?" "No." he replied, thankfully. I told him: "I can be that way when people come up behind me & touch me. It isn't something you, specifically, did. I'm not even reacting to you."
Anyway. As I kept hearing stories from other kids about abuse & what not. As they kept asking me why it didn't seem to "phase" me. I began to ask God why that was. Suddenly it all came rushing back. All the years of abuse. I didn't know what to do with it or how to handle it. I didn't want people to know how damaged, broken, worthless I was. I thought they'd hate me. Kick me out for fear I'd ruin them. I thought I was a disease. I was afraid I'd hurt them. I still hadn't... I still, even now, struggle with the fact that I could & wanted to kill him. It's really hard to forgive yourself. I'd have times when I'd have flashbacks. Or when I'd suddenly drift back to memories of the abuse. Once at McDonald's after fishnet, I had that. Lori reached over & put her hand on my wrist. Which, unbeknown to her, he'd often turn to begin abusing me by reaching for & wrapping his hand around my wrist. So, instinctively, I twisted my hand around, grabbed her wrist, yanked her into the table & said: "Don't you EVER do that to me again. You understand?!"  Lori: "Sorry. Where did you go?" Me: "What? No where. I've been right here the whole time." Lori: " weren't. A second ago. Where did you go? What did someone DO to you? Please tell me." Me: "No." Her: "why not?" Me: "Because I don't hate you that much."
One night at fishnet, at one of our usual host houses, Lori came up to me & said: "I'm not going to let you out of my sight."
Me: "What brought this on?"
Lori: "I think you have a fear of abandonment.... I won't abandon you."
Me: "......ooooo k? Look. This really won't be necessary. I'm not worried about being alone. I'm an only child. I've ALWAYS been alone."
Lori: "Well, now you have me."
Me: [sarcastically] "Lucky me. What did I do to deserve this? Can I take whatever it was back?"
She laughed. And said no. This didn't bug me too much.....
until I headed to the bathroom. I stopped. A few steps from the door to it. "You know, Lori, I'm sure you're used to guys being willing to 'whip it out' for you 'n all... I'm not like that. This was cute. HOWEVER, no matter how many people go into that bathroom with me.... only I will be coming back out. Got it?"
Lori: [laughed, then with an uncontrollable grin] "I'm pretty sure you can hold it yourself. So, no, I will not be going in there with you. You're a 'big boy'.....Just know this. I WILL be the first face you see when you come back out."
Me: "Whatever, Lori."
Sure enough. As soon as I opened the door she stood across the hall, smiling at me, as she listened to another girl. Mouthing the words "told ya", as she listened. I quickly took the chance to "loose her" & after passing her in the hall calmly. I bolted to the living room. To take a seat ready for Fishnet to begin. She wasn't far behind me. Sat down right next to me. "Is this seat taken?" [Smiling. Faking innocence loudly.]
Me: "Sadly, no."
Her: "Am I sitting too close for you?"
Me: "Yeah, kinda."
She ruched over about a "cheek's worth". "Better?"
Me: "Better." [not completely convincingly]
She moved a little further. "How 'bout now?"
Me: "Better."
Her: "I'm not moving outside!" [smiling at my veiled joke]
Me: "A boy can dream, can't he?"
[These are the jokes. We could really joke cruel with each other. Yet we both knew just how far we could take these jokes.] Lori was such a great sister & friend.

For those of you who pray. I am going to do something for the first time on Wed night. [ok, I'm going to try to have enough nerve to do it, anyway]
I'm going to share a kind of "cliff notes" version of my story with my group. I'll have roughly 7 minutes. So I have never done either of these. Told a group of people at once or done it with a time limit. I am VERY nervous. 
So pray & think of me Wed night, if you would....
May His grace drip from your fingers,

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is....yourself. [do it anyway]

I haven't been online very much this week. 
It's been "a week". One of those oh-my-gosh-can-this-end-soon-please weeks. 
I often refer to them as: "Waiter, check please." times.
[you know, I'm ready to leave now. That feeling that makes you say: "it's not 'getting old''s no longer new enough. It's fossilized."]
I just need to make it through tomorrow.
With all of it's "your not fast enough" "you're not doing it right" "what IS your problem?"
I had something that happens to me from time to time. A "pull" if you will, to see a movie.
Not as an escape.... for a "deeper reason".
The movie this time was: INSURGENT.
I'm nervous to post a link to a clip from it. Wondering if someone involved with the film will be offended & have it pulled. I can't help it. ...for another thing. Today, World Suicide Prevention Day, seems like as good a day as any to post it. So I think I'm going to post it everywhere. 
It's an example of why I really like sci-fi. Because sci-fi & fantasy films can find a way to let us see things that don't happen in the physical/ visible world, in a visual way. 
I don't know if you've ever actually beat yourself up inside your imagination. ...I have. 
The clip I'm going to post shows what it might look like if you could see such a thing happen. 
I like the clip for how the clip ends. 

Ok, so... ready?
Here it is: Tris fights herself

....I still remember the cruelest thing I ever said about my negativity toward myself. 
In high school, in a peer counseling group I was in, we had a meeting. It was a horrible day. So I just kept wishing I could disappear off the face of the Earth. A fellow peer counselor was there. Joking with me. I would always have a snappy come back. Till she finally ran out of ammo. While she didn't mean what she said...[she was just frustrated at running out of witty things to say] I, unfortunately, meant my answer.
Her: "I hate you, B"
Me: "get to the back of the line, honey....I was here first."
I cannot adequately describe her look. 10 min later she came back to me. "Do you really feel that way?" The first of many questions. I just, slowly, got real with her about it. [my feelings, not any kind of why I had them] So it became "her question" to me whenever she saw me.  "Do you feel 'that way' today?" Along with ones like: "How can I help? What can I do to make you feel differently about yourself? Is there anything you do to feel differently about yourself?"
I've been blessed to have good friends..... family..... "brothers" & "sisters".....
I'm thankful for each & every one of them. 
I'm thankful for those who know my story. For those who don't. For those who know there IS a story....& each group doesn't care that there's a story. only matters that I'm still living it.

To Write Love On Her Arms has been giving out cards that begin with:
"let me count the ways" [in no order whatsoever]
1. a message I keep on my phone. It's from a friend I told my story to. He's telling me it was good to tell him, he's still my friend, & he's glad I got help. [he didn't think his message was all that great or helpful. I still have it & listen to it..... 10 yrs later.]
2. Another friend. Who keeps taking photo hikes with me. We love taking nature photos. I end up feeling like I'm 5 yrs old again. [& it feels good. it feels alive]
3. Long walks [hikes] & conversations with my Dad. His voice is an ocean of calm, in a sea of crazy.
4. being in nature alone with God. The one I've given every reason not to look at me or speak my name, let alone love me. There are no words for how he makes me feel.
5. TWLOHA who prove that there are people all over the world who want to see others live to see a lot of tomorrows. [I hope each of you who is a part of this organization is blessed so much you can't sit still]
6. Writing. Some of the most helpful screaming/ bleeding I have EVER done. The freedom to put the awful on paper. If for no other reason than to close the journal. Get up. And walk away from it.  [it's how I feel... not who I am.] 
Writing poems. To give others concrete proof that they aren't alone. [& i'm not either] To write encouragements to... us. [you & me]
7. drawing. because I can. 
8. music. [I could write a few books on this, easy] Cheep therapy. A way to remember how to feel. Remember THAT I feel. To express my feelings... to let them out. so I can move on. 
and, of course, someone else had to feel the way I feel in order for there to be a song about it. [hallelujah, praise God & pass the ammunition]
9. painting [thank you Infused Arts. for letting me try. And encouraging me when I felt totally stupid for trying. ....and then you hung it up in the coffee bar. they say I'm crazy]
10. A friend who.... what can I really say? [I know you'll read this, too] I'm not sure who's getting the better end of ..."us". I love that we a native tongue. That we can .....
[let's call it what it really is] I love us helping us keep going. You helping me helping you. Our emails, our talks, seem to heal us both. Only God could be so clever, eh?
11. singing solo [as in: by. my. self.]
12. Because who makes you laugh like me? no. seriously. Who else? That's right, nobody.
Someone has to do it. Someone has to be "this weird". ...ok, if I have to...[sigh. pretending it's hard.]

ok. Well... I should try to relax, unwind, & prepare for tomorrow. 
...I'm going to throw this out there. 
Since TWLOHA's slogan for today is: "We'll See You Tomorrow". 
Can I ask a favor? If you're on any social media, post a pic of yourself tomorrow. with: #'s of: WSPW15, TWLOHA, Tomorrow15.. maybe even: ImeantIt. thanks.
by the way, if you want, you can donate to them here
May His grace drip from your fingers,

In case the clip gets pulled from youtube, here it is from an email I sent to someone in the hopes of encouraging them. [oh, & I seem like I'm making fun of the plot. For all the parts you "see coming" there ARE some nice twists in the film]
Saw a good movie. A bit "sci-fi". Based on a book series.
The first film was: Divergent. It's a Dystopian future. People are divided by "factions". In a post-apocalyptic Chicago, survivors were divided into five factions based on their dispositions: Abnegation, for the selfless; Amity, for the peaceful; Candor, for the honest; Dauntless, for the brave; and Erudite, for the intellectual. Then... there are the ones who "must be eliminated". They are more than one or two factions. They are called, the divergent. They are being hunted. The second film is called: Insurgent. This is what I watched last night. As it progresses, The woman in charge of humanity "behind the wall" finds an ancient artifact. ...wait for it...wait for it..... only a divergent can open it. So... "the hunt is on" for "The One". Many divergents die trying to open it. Only the female lead can do it. [didn't see that coming, right?] "What percentage is she?"
[computer voice answers] "100% divergent"....
"of course it's you." So they put her in the simulation. She has to pass all of the cast/faction tests in order to open the box. [here's where it becomes worth me telling you all of this.]
She has Amity to pass. [her very last test before opening the box] So the test is an antagonist bent on making her fight to the death. Inside a simulation. [a computer generated world] At first she sees the woman in charge......
Jenine: "Back again are we? Your an even bigger fool than your Mother."
Tris: "Say whatever you want to me, Jenine, but I'm not going to fight you."
Jenine: "How very Amity of you."
Tris: "I mean it. ...not going to fight you." 
Jenine: "Of course your not. Your going to fight HER..... 
the one you REALLY hate." 
She stares across the room at..... herself. 
The "all too familiar negative self" with ALL of the negative self talk that goes with it.
Tris: [staring at a "copy" of herself] "What ARE you?"
Simulated Tris: "I'm you, Tris.... I'm the REAL you."
Real Tris: "I'm not going to fight you."
Sim Tris [hitting her]: "I'll MAKE YOU FIGHT ME!"
RT: "You're not me!"
ST: "I am. I'm what they see when they look at you......
You killed Will... & your parents. Your deadly.....
No one's gonna love you, Tris.
They're never even gonna miss you.
This world will be better off without you.
One less divergent, ruining everything....
and NO one...
will EVER, EVER forgive you for what you've done."
RT: "You're wrong....
[slowly opening her fists & lowering her hands]
...[almost breathing the words] cause...I.....
[whispering, slightly louder] cause, I will."
The False, simulated Tris, runs full on at Tris. When she hits the Real Tris..... she shatters into pieces.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

a sort of "P.S."

As a sort of footnote to the last post....
Even when you tell your story, that isn't always the end of it.
Often there will still be times when ..."new wrinkles" of or from it will surface.
When they do, you are again at the crossroads of  tell? or no, or not this time.
If you notice something "new" from someone you know, who has a dark chapter or two from their story. You may be inclined to wonder if "this new thing" has to do with "that part" of their story.
I'd say you can ask. Their answer can range from the one word: "yeah." to a full on explanation. Or... they may ask you to "just let it" or "can we NOT talk about that?"
This might not mean, not ever talking about it. Sometimes I, personally, need distance from my story. To feel accepted both in & out of my story. My current life does not revolve around my story.
Telling my story is emotionally draining most times. As well as bringing darkness to the surface at times. Sometimes it's better to walk away from it for a while. You know, "we need to agree to see other people" kind of thing. Put another, perhaps simpler way: Abuse is part of my story... not the story unto itself. My story is always a partial story anyway. I am still here. Chapters are still unfolding. Chapters have yet to be written.
I have so much more I could say.
I will, however, leave this post short.....

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Sunday, August 9, 2015

About Dark Stories [telling them, or listening to them]

This could go really well........ or it could really end up being a sad attempt at something "to big for a blog post".
The last question on the TWLOHA movie discussion questions is:
"How do you make sure you are sharing your story in a healthy way?"
...why IS it that bad examples are so much easier to find than good ones?
It's not quite what my next example is...
TWLOHA movie [it's at about 47 minutes in] Renee goes to the church where the funeral was held for her friend's mother.[Jessie] Sitting down with Jessie & Dylan, proceeds to share her story with them.
No yelling, or pushing... just calm, somewhat quiet talking.
This is a favorite moment of the film. They mend fences, get real, & honest with each other. [Jessie & Renee]

In my own life, I've pushed back against telling my own story.
There are a lot of questions to think about. Honestly, there are questions no matter which side of the "telling a dark story" you happen to find yourself on. The one telling the story..... or the one listening to the story.
Here is a brief idea of some of them.
Telling your story.
How much can I tell them? [meaning: a, Do I have the strength, comfort, safety to "tell all"? If not, how much can I tell? b, how much can one person take of my story?] How hurt will they be? Can I trust them?  What will they do with such knowledge? What will this do to our relationship? Will it be over? Will they walk out? Am I willing to loose them, just to see if they can handle "the real me"?
Not fun....
The one being told the story.
What happened to them? What awful experience would make a person hide part of themselves from everyone? Did they make some horrible mistake? What did someone do to them? How does this story make them feel about themselves?  How do I help them? What should I say? Is there anything to say? How vulnerable do they feel right now? How do I show love in a way that seems real to them? How do I behave in such a way that I am a safe person? How do I act so that I am not triggering?

I'm not sure you can be prepared for a story you know nothing about.  You can watch someone's actions, try to piece together, from their behavior, what you might be in for.... however, without details you're still blind. You're still walking into an emotional mine field. Unsure what move will end up biting you.
You will probably apologize. "I'm sorry." will feel like handing a band aide to someone who lost a leg. [can you say "pointless"? I knew you could.]

This is probably not a complete list by any means. Just a little taste of the concerns on both sides of it.

For the rest of this little... whatever you want to call it..... I'm going to tell a story. A time when someone got me to tell them my story. I'm not sure it was shared in the best way. It started off pretty rough, anyway. It's why I mention the idea of willingly walking into a mine field. Which is pretty much what he did, at least at first.
Sadly, this story happened at church.
So... "on with it" then......
I used to work 2nd shift. So, on Wed. I'd help out at church. They needed "tech people". You know, people who could work with electronics & do non-linear video editing, make copies of tapes & discs, setting up the stage, tearing down the stage.
Things were good.
Then, one day, I went in. I sat on the couch in Dave's office. He says to me: "Hey, I need to have a serious conversation." I was fine with that.[not realizing he was wanting to talk to me] I don't need to eves drop on it. So, making for the door I reply: "Ok, well, tell me what you want me to work on & I'll get to it & be out of your hair."
"Um, no, I mean I need to have a conversation with you."
I stopped dead. Turned & looked at him. He asked me to close the door. He didn't realize what he was asking. I slowly walked toward the door. Now, for the first time, I began to take a different look around his office. Bookshelf by the door. That'll do. I can knock it over, thus making it hard for him to come closer to me. If that doesn't work the bookshelf is pretty full of books. I only need to have a firm grip on one of them.... to kill him with it. I'm moving toward the door. The handle is metal. The door is solid. If I have to, I can hurt or kill him with either one.
See... what he didn't know was that being locked in a room for hours, is how the abuse started. I HATE being trapped. I "threw" my arm into a window of my overturned car once. Just so I could crawl out of the car. Kill me. Don't trap me. I cannot tell you graphically enough, how I hate being trapped. He didn't know this. How could he? I never told him.
Worse... "B, can you lock it please?"
I never let go of the door handle. I did lock it. I'm sorry for what I'm going to write..... it is what I said, though.
Turning to face him. "LOOK. If you're firing me -though how you fire someone from a volunteer job I have no idea- Just say so. I'll be gone. You will NEVER see me again. ok?"
"I'm not firing you. You seem -"
"I HATE being trapped, David. So, you have 5 minutes to tell me what the ___ this is. GOT IT? 5 minutes. During which time you need to keep your ___ in that chair. If you touch me, I WILL kill you. I know you were a cop. I know your bigger than me, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE. I can fix that. I can make you any size you want. Do NOT touch me. I don't want to hurt you. David. But I will if I have to."
He smiled. [an uneasy, nervous smile. tinged with sadness. So much for making me feel safe] Folded his hands across his stomach. "I'll stay right here. I won't come out from behind my desk. What I wanted to say was that several people feel you have something that is eating at you. Like you are going to explode. I want you to feel free to tell me whatever it is. I may not know how to help you. Yet you can say anything. I wanted the door shut & locked, so no one would walk in on us while you are sharing it. That's all. So you are sharing only with me..... can you please tell me what happened to you? Why you feel threatened by being here?"
"I don't think I should."
"Why not?"
"Because I don't hate you that much."
Somehow, he got me to start telling him. It just fell out of my mouth.
A great deal of it. Then, when I was done, he said: "So.... is that it?"
Unfortunately, I heard it as: "oh, is that all."
Me in total sarcasm mode: "Oh, I'm sorry. Was that not graphic enough for you? Cause I can give you the blow by blow, bloody version, if that'll make you feel better."
"No, no, no. That's not what I meant at all. I mean, you've kept this to yourself for all these years. Are you sure that you've told me all of it?"
"Let's just say it this way, Dave..... I think I've told you all I can suffer through telling in one sitting. Ok? There probably is more. just don't know how hard it is to tell this stuff. It's like bleeding... it's like taking all of your clothes off just because you can. I'm not used to sharing all this. It hurts. It makes me feel..... I'm not sure I can say how it feels in words..... I'd rather be dipped, naked, in rubbing alcohol, & drug slowly across a yard of razor blades., do you still want me here? I understand if you want me to leave & never come back."
"No. I want you here. I'm glad you could tell me. I cannot imagine how hard it was to tell me all of that. It hurts me to know that you had to live though that. I'm glad you're still alive. I don't have any experience with any of that. Thank you for telling me, though. I want you to know, you can come in here. Shut the door & say anything you want. I want you to feel like we can talk about anything. I'm here for you. No matter what."
He eventually suggested I go to therapy. Mostly because a therapist is qualified to really help process such things. Yet he made t clean that it "in no way" meant he wasn't interested in listening. He just wanted me to heal. I went all sarcasm on that, too. I told him years later that I finally went to one. I apologized to him for not going sooner. He was great about it.
This conversation began this... "code" between us. If I needed to rant. To verbally throw up [or "word vomit" as Renee Yohe calls it] I would walk into his office, push the door shut, & say: "Ok... the gloves are OFF!" Then I would launch into whatever was ticking me off at that moment.
...truthfully, everyone should have a person like this. I've a few people that I can be really... "descriptive" with. [MAN that sounds so polite & benign, for what it really was/is]
Maybe someday I'll give you some example of my "way with words" in this regard. ...perhaps I don't really need to? ouch.
I began with some questions. Maybe I can finish with a few feeble answers.
In telling your story.
How much can you tell?
A. Only you know when you reach your limit of sharing. If you can't tell all of it. Maybe just say so. "Look, this is really hard for me. I don't think I can say more right now. I think I hit my limit."
As for how much can someone take of my story. If you feel comfortable enough to share with them... they will probably hear all you have to say. It WILL hurt them. This means they care.
If you don't know if you can trust them, I hope you keep looking till you find someone you can trust.
What will they do with such knowledge?
In my own experience, most of those people will be the ones you will feel most comfortable with. They will learn better how to respond to you. How to help you. They will understand your behavior better. Most people at my church don't touch me much. Though some have done the slow process of ..."replacing bad memories". They have learned how to make touching me easier for me to handle. Some of them I go to & hug them, now. Which took them by surprise the first few times.
So it can grow your relationship with someone. Not always, yet it can happen.
I haven't lost many relationships because of sharing my story.
The one being told the story.
Once you know what happened, you may have some idea how to be a better friend. You will probably have a few "ah ha" moments about things that didn't make sense to you before. I have a friend who told me this.
"B, there were always behaviors I didn't understand about you. Now I understand all of them perfectly. Everything about you makes sense now." Telling me that was a bit jarring at first. Yet I'm glad he did. I don't know if I can say how that helped me.
How the story effects the way they see themselves? You'll only know if A. they feel comfortable telling you... &/or B. You feel comfortable asking them.
How vulnerable do they feel right now? Again, asking is the best way to know for sure. To hear it in their own words.
What should I say? Is there anything to say?
For me, at least, the single best thing you can "say" after the telling of a story like mine... [if told "in person"] Just stay with them for a while. Communicate that you are still there for them. As soon as you can. If they tell you in an email, for whatever reason, email them back as soon as possible & just tell them you are still their friend. You still want them in your life. After a few days seek them out. Call, email, some form of "thinking of you",
"wondering how you are", "are you ok?" It'll mean a lot.
How do I behave in such a way that I am a safe person? How do I act so that I am not triggering?
These will depend on what happened in the story. If you aren't sure, ask them. How can I be a safe haven for you? Is there anything I do [or have done] that would trigger a memory for you?
Ask how [if/when/where] you can help.
I hope this ends up being helpful to someone out there.....

ok... I think I need some songs on here. 
"...Come surrender your hidden scars
Leave your weapons where they are
You’ve been hiding
But I know your wounded heart
And you don’t know how beautiful you are..."
Danny Leggett - The Valley [love how this tune builds] "'re not alone, on this dark day, sharing your wounds will be your strength..."
Both songs from the TWLOHA movie soundtrack.

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I'll be here

Last night I ran out. I just didn't want..... anything. Didn't want to eat. So I didn't. I don't let myself skip meals often. Last night, I did. Yesterday had a few "hiccups" yet nothing to make me feel the way I felt. I told a friend in an email about it. They were so very kind:
"... write whenever you want to ... I’ll be here..." 
I really needed to hear..... just that. Just to be told: It's ok. I feel that way too sometimes. I'm not going to think less of you. I love you as you are. 
So beautiful. So necessary. All of us need people like this in our life. 
Anyway, in my Wed night group we talked a bit about the Apostle Paul. Specifically his writings on "the thorn" in his life. We never learn any other name for it. So we don't know what "it" was. 
I think it's a wonderful thing that we don't know what Paul's thorn was. 
Why? Because then we can substitute a struggle of our own in it's place. 
With this in mind, I give you a poem that I wrote. 
I'm kind of scared to share it because I wrote it about a "thorn" in my own life. 
I never name it, of course. I just hate it. Hate that I have to fight it. Hate that I loose. 
However, I keep fighting..... 
so here is the poem,
may it encourage you.....

I want you to feel that good
I just don’t want that to be how you get there
You are worth more than that
Mean something to people
Are important
Your story
Is too beautiful
To have even a sentence wasted on that
So please
As fast & as far
Away from that as you possibly can
Please stop thinking you don’t matter
You do
Not kidding
No exaggeration
You need to have joy
That is just the wrong way to get there
So please step away from there
Move into where you are loved
You are loved
You need to be loved
Are beautiful
Your story
Is better than that
Your story
Is wonderful
You have amazing characters
In your story
There are amazing chapters
In your story
Don’t let them be ruined
There’s too much at stake
You are too beautiful
To be soiled
Like that
So don’t let that
Be the end
Don’t let that
Put a shadow
On you
On your story
Too many people
Are invested
In you
In your story
Walk away from that
Don’t walk away
Your too much fun
To do that
live into a better story....

b.e. noll

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

me too

ok... first off, I wanted to post very soon after my post on suicide. I just didn't want that to be the last, most recent thing from me for a very long time. Yet, that's how it played out. Tonight, a friend posted a writing from Anne Lamott on facebook. I really liked it. 2 things hit me from it. the title: "Grace bats last"..... & "me too". So, I haven't posted a poem on here for a while. [don't know if this is a "stellar" one or not, yet here we go...]

Me too
I know
I know that you feel it too
that feeling of being
"the only one"
The only one:
who feels broken
this much
The only one
who struggles
with this
No one else
could be this weird
this broken
this twisted
"just me"
only me
you feel
like a category
of one
No one could understand
my life is a story no one would believe
you say these things
guess what?
me too
I've said them
I've felt them
felt alone
even though
I wasn't
I had just pushed
the people who care
I couldn't help it
you weren't there "then"
so why should I believe that
you'd be here now?
You didn't know about "then"
so how could you?
you know
you are here
You believe me
Even though
if I named my story
it would be called:
"I don't believe it either [& I was there]"
are here
I'm not alone
You feel this too
you aren't alone in this
I feel this too
by b.e. noll

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Friday, June 26, 2015

for Mark

[this is a post I'm writing to a friend. He just found out about my blog. And we had a rather heavy conversation the other day. It was about suicide. As I've heard from various people, recently, about suicides, & a person who I rarely worked with tried to kill himself on Tues.]

I'm sorry I seemed to "go heavy" on you strait out of the gate.
I told you I've been suicidal. I'm sorry for talking about it in such a way that you might think I still am. I'm not. I'm 44 years old... for 39 of those years, off & on, I felt like dieing. I felt like a waste of space. A waste of matter, atoms, molecules. I could see value in everyone.......else. It is sad. The further from it I get. The more it hurts. Which is where I was/am with hearing of suicides & attempts at suicide. It helps me to know there are people like those from To Write Love On Her Arms. People who are shouting "you matter. Your story is worth finishing. Please stay. Wake up, your alive, we're on your side." That last sentence is actually one of their many cool t-shirts.
When I hear about suicide. One of THE first things that comes to mind, is the list people I would have walked out on if I had killed myself. Then there's people like you. If I had killed myself, we would never have met. I enjoy you. I would have robbed us.....of us. Like I said on the phone... I wouldn't have met Mick [Mickey, my wife of almost 20 years.], I wouldn't have met & enjoyed her 3 sisters. Who are my sisters. I love them. I need them. I wish they could understand how much. I now have 2 brothers-in-law. They are cool, too. [they don't know it either] I have 2 nieces. There are no words adequate for the task of describing the feeling of being "Uncle Brian". I NEVER thought about that. Never thought about what it would feel like to be called that by 2 little girls. They will run across a crowded room, screaming it when they see me. It is the ONLY fame worth having. Nothing is so beautiful, or scary, as being recklessly loved. I'm glad to have that. I'm sorry I almost gave up on getting it. I'm sorry I've scared people. Knowing that there is a "dark part or chapter" to my story.
I have people to call. As I told you, people who will only ask 2 things if I called & said "I need you" right now. "B, where are you? Should I bring anything?". Parents, family, LW family, friends.
I take NONE of it lightly.
I have music...
King Crimson makes me want to be creative. They remind me that I AM creative. They remind me that there are people who call me an artist, a poet, a musician, a valuable person, a friend, a cook...
I have a TWLOHA playlist. I call it that because it's code for: Songs of Hope.
There are songs by Switchfoot, King's X, The Call, The Fray, Plumb, U2, PFR, BEARCAT, Rush, Dustin Kensrue, ..... on it
I have movies....
the TWLOHA movie, among others.
I have books.....
The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J.M. Nowen
A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sitzer
Purpose for the Pain by Renee Yohe
If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski

These are my emergency med kit for when I feel dark. I have pieces of it that go everywhere with me. "just in case". Do I still feel worthless at times? You betcha. The feelings, the thoughts.....yeah, they keep trying. However, I don't plan.....I don't write notes to those who would be left behind. No.
I do write, though..... I write notes to the ones who want to leave, asking, begging them to stay.
I sometimes read something & for me, it relates to suicide. 
like this:
[from Eugene Peterson's Devotional book: Living the Message. pg 64. Feb 28th]
"When we read a novel we have an analogous experience. We begin the first chapter knowing there is a last chapter. One of the satisfying things about just picking up a book is the sure knowledge that it will end. In the course of reading we are often puzzled, sometimes in suspense, usually wrong in our expectations, frequently mistaken in our assessment of a character. But when we don't understand or agree or feel satisfied, we don't ordinarily quit. We assume meaning & connection & design even when we don't experience it. The last chapter, we are confidant, will demonstrate the meaning that was continuous through the novel. We believe the story will satisfyingly end, not arbitrarily stop."  

Dear friend, I have lived through some nightmarish stuff. 
do you hear what I've been saying? Do you "hear between the lines"?
I HAVE LIVED THROUGH IT. meaning I'm still alive AFTER it. 
In the beginning of this post I wrote: 
"I'm 44 years old... for 39 of those years, off & on, I felt like dieing."
That's 5 years difference. Those 5 years....mean something. They mean something changed.
Something ended. Something else began. 
"I am a story still going" - TWLOHA 
I loved Star Wars. Enjoyed it since I was a kid. The sub-title of the first one...fits here.
"A New Hope"
Though, perhaps it isn't new. Perhaps it's very old. Perhaps.... at some point, I just woke up to it. Realized, yeah...this IS for me. 
I hope you know this. 
I hope that you've never deeply felt like giving up on your story.
I hope you never do.
I hope that you'll reach out to me if you ever get there. 
So I could help you leave.....the feeling,
not us. 

I hope these words find you. I hope they comfort you. 
mostly, I hope you live.
as long as you can.....

May His grace drip from your fingers,