Month: November 2016

Brokenness


After five days of being down with the flu and bingeing on Netflix, I have come to an unusual conclusion. I adore broken people.  Dean (Supernatural), Martin Riggs (Lethal Weapon), Raylan Givens (Justified), Walt (Longmire) and Dexter to name a few.  I got to thinking about why these characters have intrigued and fascinated me over the years, some even to obsession.  

The common denominator is that each one is broken in one way or another.  Life has dealt them some really hard knocks and they are all missing pieces of themselves due to their situations.  Yet each one of these fictional characters uses the brokenness to right the wrongs of the world. These men get into our hearts because of their pain and because of the compassion gained from their pain.  Each one is hardened, yet tender.  They are tough on the surface, the face they show the world but ache and cry when away from prying eyes.

I absolutely love the contradictions and the complexities of each broken psyche.  I find myself rooting for them like some underdog.  I admire their ability to get out of bed in the morning when it would be easier to just stay tucked away.  I long to see their vulnerabilities and share their pain.  

We, as humans, all experience life changing shocks; Whether it be loss, illness, and/or any difficult situation.  Those things change us. I have talked a lot about this in previous posts because I feel it is essentially important. I have vacillated between trying to show the world how fine I was and being a total basket case.  I denied my own brokenness for years with a facade of normalcy.  But it is not in the normalcy one finds growth, it’s in the brokenness. Not much in life is harder than smiling on the outside and breaking down on the inside.

I have not really discussed my years of struggle with infertility. I tried through two marriages and over 20 years to get pregnant and it never happened.  A few people know that at the age of 17, I did have a child that I gave up for adoption. I was not going to be a very fit mother at that time and I did what I thought was best.  Little did I know it would be my last chance at having a child.  The years of trying and testing, the years of hope and crushing disappointment took its toll on me.  I believe many of my odd behaviors were channeled through the monthly loss of a dream.  

I tried to put on a brave face to the outside world, but those closest to me had to deal with my brokenness.  I watched friends, family and strangers have children.  Many, to me, seemed to get pregnant effortlessly.  I cried, begged God,  bargained with God and got mad at God.  Nothing changed the situation. I was completely helpless. I could not will myself pregnant and it really made me angry.  I had to be just horrible to live with.

After the last thirty years, I have finally found peace in the situation and realize it really was for the better.  The twinge did hit me once again as my friends and family started having grandchildren. Another experience I would never know.  The peace has come but the brokenness is still there.  That experience has led me to understand the importance of compassion, for understanding brokenness; to see below the surface, under the exterior into the place where people really live.

The pain I feel at times is epic and is normal at other times.  I have finally quit trying to bury it and have accepted it as a part of me, like my hair or eye color.  Once the acceptance appeared I was able to finally move past it and learn lessons from it.  No more running from the pain.  I hope I can finally use the experience to help others somehow.  That door is yet to open. 

That’s why I love my broken boys.  They show me it is ok to be broken, there is no shame in it.  Asking for help is not a sin and giving help is the best medicine there is.  We all have our brokenness and once we realize that, maybe we can start being kinder to each other, more forgiving.  Imagine the concept of being broken as a way to heal the world.  It’s worth a try.

A Loss of Words

You may have noticed a quiet time on my blog.  It has been a while since I have written anything. I strangely have been at a loss for words.  I am not sure how that can happen but it did.  I spent last month working very hard on the train, serving and entertaining customers for nine or ten hours a day with little time off. It was grueling for me but I made it through. Then when it was over, I found I had nothing much to say.  I tried to write but the words didn’t come and when they did they fell flat.  That’s a real problem for a person who likes to write.

I guess it could be writer’s block but it manifested itself in my speech also.  I simply didn’t have anything to say.  I was unusually quiet. At this point in the blog, I have no idea where this is going so it ought to be interesting to see how it cones to fruition.

I have spent most of my life in this deep introspective mode where I analyze my actions, to compulsion, and I am constantly plotting my next move.  Always coming up with a plan which is guaranteed to bring me that mysterious thing I’m always searching for. Obviously, I have fallen short more times than not as, here I am today, still in search of my personal Holy Grail.  But yet today, I cannot seem to foster any images of a greater plan or a scheme of any kind.  It’s as if my mind is tired of all the  lists and excessive planning. My soul seems oddly at ease not worrying about every little thing.  The constant banter inside my head has disappeared. I tried to worry about the radio silence inside me but the worry left me like morning dew on a hot summer day, it just evaporated away.  

When I started the grueling schedule last month, I knew it was going to be one of the biggest challenges I have had to face in a long time. I knew myself and my many weaknesses and knew this schedule was going to test me not only physically but emotionally.  I had a few minor breakdowns and one major one but I got through it as best I could. I must have learned a lesson along the way about just giving up the worry about a situation and just plowing through, doing the task at hand and not caring about the rest. That’s so unlike me.

I had spent many weeks prior worrying about it, then when the time came to actually do what needed done, I went into auto pilot mode and focused on just the work and what I needed to do for myself to accomplish the goal.  I was, quite honestly, too tired to keep worrying. By the time I finished my 13 hour shift, I only had time to wash my uniform, eat and go to sleep before I had to get up and do it again and again.  Life was suddenly very simple, I only had time to worry about the essentials.

Life is so full of static and white noise.  Our attentions are constantly pulled in several directions at a time.  The mental lists we all have inside us include all the things we have to do, all the things we don’t want to do but must in order to be responsible adults and all the things we want to do.  Our internal lists are overwhelming. Some people can thrive on that kind of chaos but I don’t think we were meant to because there is no peace in the never ending chase of things to do.  Peace is gone from our world and has been replaced by activities and obligations.

Don’t get me wrong, we all have obligations that need filled and things we need to accomplish. But what if you can shave off a thing or two from the list?  There has to be something extraneous that can be removed. Scratch it off, don’t care if it’s not complete, and quit worrying about it.  Would that simple act make life more peaceful?  Probably not, but what if you could eventually scratch off several non-important things off the list and were able to focus just on the essentials; would that bring peace?  I think it might.

For one month, my focus became very clear with very little room for variation.  I did not have time or energy to worry about the myriad of things that probably would never happen.  As part of my own self-preservation I tuned out anything that was not important and in doing so I found an odd peace inside me that I have never known before.  Today as I sit here analyzing it, I realize that I can’t because I don’t want to go back to being that old person I was. I finally know what silence sounds like. I finally know what it’s like to not bite my nails to the quick for worrying. I finally feel what it’s like to be still.

It took something very difficult for me to find this place. I see now that I have been searching and looking when all I needed was to see focus in my life, to live with the essentials and forego the rest.  Maybe now that I understand what has happened the words will come back to me.  Not just any words, but words with meaning and clarity.  Maybe my life was the writer’s block and now the words and ideas free to come forth and multiply.  I don’t know for sure. This is still weird for me but I can feel the quiet and I like it. Maybe this is an example of losing something in order to gain something better.  Again, per usual, I don’t have the answers but I’m starting to truly understand the question.

A Recipe for Getting Through The Tough Times


Mix one part determination (AKA stubbornness) with one part wide-eyed innocence.  Then add heathy doses of help from your friends and lots of prayer.  This recipe helped me through a very difficult time.

The month of October kicked my butt. The train I worked on went to double shifts (12-13 hour days) with multiple days in a row and we lost some valuable co-workers so we were short handed. I’m older and not in the best physical condition so the workload proved to be difficult but I did get through it. Here is how:

I like to call it determination but it is really that I am very stubborn. I hate to admit defeat so I kept going long after I should have admitted I was done. In my alone times, I threaten to quit but that stubborn side of me just kept going.

Not fully understanding what is happening, or wide-eyed innocence, also helps.  I believed it could never get as bad as everyone told me it would, that helped me move forward. I did not believe the stories of Octobers past.  My innocence told me that my experience was going to be totally different. It wasn’t but I didn’t realize it until much later.

I got so exhausted that one night I forgot how to open my car door to go home.  I had times where I felt like I was the walking dead.  I cried uncontrollably for days.  Then came the big meltdown. With one week to go I went into work and completely lost my composure. I started to hyperventilate, spewed a continual line of “f” bombs and went straight into panic attack mode.  I was exhausted and completely overwhelmed. The thought of standing up in front of another group of 44 strangers and acting like everything was fine was more than I could bear.  

I never worked 70+ hour weeks before. To some people that may not be a big deal but I was crushed. That’s when the last parts of the recipe kicked in.  Having always considered myself a loner, I learned the absolute, unwavering truth about being part of a group.  My co-workers, now my friends, got me through the hard times.  They freely showered me with encouraging words, an abundance of hugs, a helping hand when I could not perform a task and many shoulders to cry on.  It was because of them I made it through to November in one piece. 

I find myself remembering that when I got to Bryson City and to this job, I knew no one here. I was starting a whole new life completely different from the last one I had.  These people welcomed me freely and completely.  Over the last several months we went from co-workers to friends to family. I know now that is what gets you through the tough times and makes the good times even better.  

The last part of the recipe, which should really be the first part, is prayer.  Prayer for strength and guidance gave me the tools I needed to successfully accomplish getting through the dark nights. The hope that the sun will rise on a new day becomes the expectation. 

I know people who have gone through much worse things and I am not saying this challenge is the worst thing that could ever happen.  I have had harder personal challenges than this myself but this challenge changed me. Just like most of my journey of late, I’m coming out the other side a different person. I have learned the value of a strong belief system and the power of human contact. My life is forever changed because of the people I have met either casually or long term.  I will never again consider myself a loner able to move through life untouched and unaffected by others. It is those handprints on my soul that have made me grow, change and learn to love life. I’m just sorry it took me so long to find out the truth.