Suicide still hurts

dadToday is an anniversary I wish I didn’t have to remember.  It has been 3 years since I walked up to my dads door, waited for him to answer, but he never did.  3 years since my sweet husband bravely walked inside to find him.  3 years since he walked outside to tell me the heartbreaking news.  “He’s gone.  He took his life.”

It is still crushing to even think about it all.  To remember the pain of the day and wonder what happened.  Suicide leaves questions that will never be answered.  I can’t wrap my mind around it.  I am someone who always looks for answers.  I want to understand everything.  But this one, no matter how much information I seek, I will never fully understand it.

Suicide leaves behind so much.  It leaves pain and what if’s for all of those left here.  It leaves grief and tears.  Sometimes it leaves anger, hurt, or frustration.  3 years later, and although I have done so much healing, there is still healing to be done.  I don’t get anxiety when I drive past the community where he lived any more.  I don’t cry about my dads death every day.  But there are days that the grief just comes out of no where.  Days where I am just sad he isn’t here.

This topic is still something that not everyone is comfortable talking about, but it is one we need to talk about.  I have learned of 2 suicides this week and even though I din’t know either person, I have mourned over them.  My heart is broken for them.  For the pain they were in.  For the hurt they felt.  For the fight they fought.  My heart hurst for the their friends and family as they wrestle with all of the emotions that come with suicide.  My prayers for them are pleas with God to hold them together as they process.

Friends, our country needs support, encouragement and love for those who are hurting.  Depression is real.  Emotional pain is real.  Lets search our hearts and find compassion to see others.  To really see them.  We are all human and we all struggle!  If your struggles don’t look like someone else’s, thank God, then ask Him to help guide you as you reach out to those in your life who you know are hurting.

Be a friend.  Ask questions.  Offer your shoulder to cry on.  Don’t judge.  Just love.

And if you need a friend, let me know.  If you are looking for community to love you through your pain, Celebrate Recovery is the most incredible place to find people who truly love and accept folks just as they are!  I would love to help connect you!

1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Call them if you need them.

Other posts on this topic:

My Truths about Suicide & Depression

When God Fulfills His Promises

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You, me, & coffee- just invite her

IMG_5226A busy mom with several children is sitting at home struggling.  She is lonely and would love more than anything to connect to others who share common interest and who are in the same season of life.  Reality is, she would love to connect with anyone.  She feels a little forgotten.  She starts evaluating herself and looking for reasons why it seems like no one reaches out to her.  She finds herself unsure why, but realizes she is feeling self conscious wishing she could figure it out.

In a house across town, another busy mom has been invited to a luncheon but has no one to go with.  She wants more than anything to put on makeup, fix her hair, wear that new dress, and have a kid free lunch with friends.  She scans the contacts in her phone.  She concludes that most everyone she knows is far too busy to go.  This friend probably can’t get a babysitter.  This one seems to have so many friends and always busy, I doubt she has time for me.  One by one she answers for them, without asking.  Before she knows it, her excitement about the luncheon has turned into sadness and she decides she won’t go because she doesn’t want to go alone.

Have you ever been either women?  In this season of Motherhood I can find myself being both women at times.  I have been the lonely mom, wishing someone would invite, call, or text me.  I have longed for meaningful relationships and wondered why I don’t have them.  I have also been the woman who didn’t even ask because I  thought they were too busy or I feared feeling rejected if they said no.

Through talking to other women, trying to figure out a solution to loneliness in Motherhood, I have heard over and over again that a lot of moms don’t invite out of fear OR they don’t invite because they assume someone is busy.  I have also heard moms saying they just feel overwhelmed by all that they have going on and truly feel too busy to reach out.

If you are the overwhelmed mom, but long for some girl pal time, here is a question for you- What would it look like to determine a set amount of time for this?  Do you feel that even with your full plate, carving out some time to hang with other moms might actually help you be less overwhelmed?  I know that taking time out of my normal crazy to drink coffee and chat with other moms it helps me feel human again!

If you are like me and often assume other moms are too busy OR fear rejection, lets ask anyway!  You never know when another mom may need the invite, just as bad as you want them to say yes!  And lets remember that a no isn’t personal.

Just invite.  Reach out.  Make new friends.  Love on old ones.  Have coffee, lunch, dinner.  Go play at the park.  Find ways to connect and don’t let things stop you.  Relationships are far too important to allow fear or busyness get in the way!

I do not have a full proof solution for the lonely mom, but I do know if we don’t ever take a chance and just invite, we will miss out on so many opportunities!

Happy Monday Friends!  I hope it is fabulous!

 

My Truths About Suicide & Depression

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On October 4, 2014 my world was shaken, broken.  We went to pick my dad up to take him with us to our son’s soccer game, but my dad didn’t come to the door.  Fear filled my body and I rushed to the car to tell my husband he had to go in and check on him.  As I waited outside I will never forget the anxious, awful feelings I felt, but they can’t even compare to the feelings that came next when my sweet husband had to tell me that my dad had passed away.  In the split second before I knew how, I thought heart attack? It had to be a heart attack! It wasn’t.  My dad chose to end his own life.  The heartbreak, confusion, anxiety, the questions, it all came flooding in.  Like a rush of lies at first.  I laid on the grass making noise but not sure I made sense.  I was in disbelief and shock.  I wanted to cry but no tears came because my body hadn’t processed the fact that this was real.  The days that followed were full of tears.  Planning a funeral, cleaning out an apartment, and visiting with an overwhelming number of people was truly an emotional experience. 

I love to write and share my life.  It is a great joy of mine.  I have wrestled multiple times in the last 11 months about writing this but could never bring myself to do it.  See suicide is a touchy subject.  Not everyone can talk about it.  Not everyone wants to talk about it.  It is difficult to know what to say.  How much is too much?  Will I offend anyone?  Will I offend my family by telling this story?  But I feel now, more than ever that now is the time to share this story.  You see, in the last week I have learned of 4 suicides in our community.  One of which was the 2nd student in our town to take their life this year.  To add to this, in the past year, 2 students have taken their lives in the very tiny community where I grew up.  I am devastated, heartbroken, and just plain sad over this.  The day my dad died I was praying and telling God I wanted to wake up from this.  I did not want this to be part of my story.  I wanted nothing to do with suicide.  I wanted it to just go away.  But I felt peace after I was done praying and I felt as though God said to me “You will be better equipped for the purpose I have for you on the other side of this.  I will not waste an ounce of this pain.”

In the midst of all this tragedy, I want to share a few truths.  They are truths to me anyway.  I am not an expert on suicide or depression, in fact until my dad died I knew very little about suicide.  All I really knew was it seemed very sad and confusing.  My prayer is that these words, this story, could at least touch a few lives and help people see things a little different. 

Depression is real. It may not always look “text book”.  It doesn’t always play out like you see in a movie. People who are depressed often continue to live life normally on the outside.  A lot of times, depression is  an inward struggle. I have experienced it, felt it, endured it.  It is not fun and there were times where it felt like the world was just caving in around me. I wondered if I could go on.  I wondered if I just left if the people in my life would be better off.  I was in darkness.  It was all I could do to just take care of the absolute things.  I was not functioning like I use to or knew I could.  I battled hard everyday.  I cried a lot.  But everyone else outside of my house, they thought I was fine.  I smiled, I kept my responsibilities, I tried to be happy.  I even told several friends I wasn’t ok but they dismissed it.  “You are fine, you are just in a rough season” but it was more then that.  I was hurting, in darkness.  Sometimes when you are there in the darkness you can’t see any hope for the light. 

If someone asks for your help, please offer it.  Don’t try to down play their feelings or tell them they are not valid or real.  I promise, even if you can see the truth, they might not be able to.  Be supportive and loving.  Don’t stop letting them know how much they are cared for and needed.

If you need help, set your pride aside and get it.  I have been in counseling since my dad died and it has been a huge help.  I did a year at Celebrate Recovery to overcome self esteem issues, codependency, and lots of other things.  (Learn more about my Celebrate Recovery journey here) Getting help is hard.  Going to the difficult places it takes to get better are emotionally are hard, but you know what?  Hurting is just as hard.  The difference is  the outcome!  You CAN be healthy.  You CAN overcome things.  It won’t happen over night, but you can do it! 

Suicide is the most painful thing I have ever had to deal with.  I don’t understand why my dad chose to leave us and I never will.  If you are reading this and feel like suicide is an option for you, I beg you to please take that option off the table.  Check yourself into a rehabilitation facility.  Go see a counselor.  Just get help.  I promise that leaving those in your life behind will hurt them deeply.  It will create a hole in their soul.  It will leave them with guilt.  They will never stop questioning why.  Your loved ones need you. 

This is a plea for everyone to look around you.  This world is full of hurting people.  You may not see it, but the person you pass at the grocery store may be living in darkness even though no one knows.  The lady who greeted you at church on Sunday, may be dealing with struggles that she keeps to herself.  Your boss at work, his life may be a mess on the inside.  We are all human.  We all need to feel loved, wanted, needed.  Start looking around and seeing people.  Start giving out hugs, high fives, or even just flashing a smile.  Slow down, look people in the eyes, and be genuine.  I don’t know how to end this tragic thing called suicide, but all I know is, I want to do whatever I can to help and I ask that you join me.   

The Perfection Infection

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No more perfect Mom, Chapter 1 (These are my thoughts on the book “No More Perfect Mom by Jill Savage” along with quotes from the book)

I was introduced to this book after doing a 7 day devotional on YouVersion (bible app).  I loved every day of the devotional and wanted more when the 7 days was over and that is when I discovered there was a book.  The more I researched the book the more I knew I needed it and felt it was so timely for this season in my life.

Chapter 1, The Perfection Infection, hit home with me.  What I found was, a lot of what she was saying I already knew, but still struggle with.  I know that I can’t compare my life to ANYTHING I see on social media, but I still do it.  I know the “highlight reel vs. blooper reel” thing.  BUT, knowing doesn’t always make it easier.  It makes me more aware but it doesn’t solve the problem.  I am still tempted (and fall into the trap often) to compare myself- my appearance, my kids, my house, my craftiness, my pictures, and so on, to everyone else’s.  Social media really makes that easy doesn’t it?  I know we all wear masks that hide what we don’t want others to see and I know we generally only let out the pretty parts.

But, then there were a few things I had to break out my highlighter for and really think about.  “The thing about masks is that they never bring us closer to who we were created to be. Masks always make shallow what God has intended to be deep.”  This took me back and I had to stop there and read it again.  Wow- I don’t know that I have ever viewed it in that light.  She goes on to list Friendships, Marriages, Families, and Churches.  What would happen if all of those relationships were deep, like God intended them to be instead of sheltered and shadowed by the masks that we put on?  I can only imagine!

When she puts it in the context of “me” I really had to stop again and contemplate all I had read.  Cheating myself in my relationships by wearing a mask?  We live in a world that not only makes wearing a mask easy, but also makes it very normal.  It is easy to say “Oh I am fine, thank you!” and move on when really we are hurting on the inside.  For me, I fear that others don’t really want to hear what I have to say or that they really won’t care how I am doing, so I politely respond and leave it at that. But masks hide the truth.  They allow us to stay alone in our pain, frustration, sadness, brokenness, sorrow. Wearing a mask keeps us from having the opportunity to be encouraged, loved, and held up by one another.  It also keeps us from sharing our story with someone who may need to hear it.  Who may be feeling just like we are but they feel so alone.  “Not only that, but wearing masks breeds judgment.  It keeps us judging ourselves and others instead of living in and loving through grace” That line right there- the judgment that comes from wearing a mask is real.  I realize I do this and it makes me sad to think about.  I wear a mask to protect myself but wearing that mask causes me to look at others different.  That mask is a lie, and as long as I am wearing it I cant see the heart of anyone else.

Our world screams YOU MUST BE PERFECT IN EVERY WAY.  I know I strive for it even though I don’t like to admit it and I am getting better at letting some areas of my life be just fine wherever they are.  What happens when we let what others have, become who we think we should be? We may become discontent with our real lives. “Most of the time we don’t even realize that is what we are doing. It’s a subtle erosion of our satisfaction.  If we don’t recognize it, the discontentment can turn into disappointment, and then the disappointment can eventually turn into disillusionment.”  I have found myself in that place before.  Where it seems like all I am ever saying is “I wish….. my house was, my kids were, my marriage was” Instead of looking at all the things I do have, I end up focused on the disappointments.  There is no happiness in this. 

I don’t have anything figured out but one thing I do know is we are not alone.  Being a mom is hard.  There are days that I say more then once “I don’t think I can do this any more”.  I dream of being on the beach alone often.  My kids don’t always do what they are suppose to.  I yell at them and then have to apologize.  There are times when I am so tired I can’t seem to function properly and I feel so guilty that I can’t shake the exhaustion.  I have lost it over missing shoes, sippy cups, brushing teeth, and so many other things that seem so silly.  My house does not stay clean and I can’t seem to keep it organized like I use to.  The laundry falls behind.  I haven’t successfully meal planned in months or gone to the grocery store with a solid list. We eat out more then we should because I fail to plan.  But I bet that I am not alone.  Moms- we need each other.  We need to be able to say “I am having a horrible day” and not fear judgment.  We need to be able to stick together.  To love each other with grace.

I am so excited about this book!  The next Chapter is The Antidote.  THANK YOU for that, because I need it!  We are reading a chapter a week over the summer, so feel free to grab a copy and join us! 

The Social Media Snare

socialmediasnareI open up my Instagram app and start scrolling.  I see some cute kiddo’s, some clothes I would love to buy, then I try to quickly pass up this gorgeous photo of a perfect house.  It is clean and decorated so well.  I stare for a minute and suddenly I feel less happy with my house.  There are toys everywhere.  I just mopped 2 hours ago but some how there is mud or sticky juice all over it.  I fluffed the couch pillows and straightened the blankets but one of my kids came in and decided it looked more like a trampoline.  I had actually given up on my house looking together during the day….. until I saw that post on IG.

I was content with my life until I saw that person I follow on IG has started a new campaign to do something awesome! Now suddenly my life feels like it needs more of something.  I thought I was a good mom yesterday, but today I find myself feeling like we don’t do enough fun stuff.  My husband brought me a magazine home and I thought it was the sweetest thing, but then I saw that someone else’s husband surprised them with a weekend getaway full of planned surprises and gifts.  I read my devotional and wanted to share some inspiration, but now after reading someone elses post, mine doesn’t seem worthy any more.

Suddenly I am wondering why everyone else’s pictures look so much better then mine and I have decided that it is probably because they have more natural light in every room of their house.  I start plotting a way to take all the sheetrock out and replace it with windows so I can always have pretty light. I decide more windows is what I need and I will just carry my big girl camera around my neck all day.  Baby on the hip, camera around my neck, more windows.  This MUST be what they do.  Then I see that they are hosting a workshop to tell me all their photography tips and secrets to perfect pictures every time.  I am a photographer for goodness sake, but suddenly I am feeling like I don’t know anything about the subject, or certainly not enough.

The truth is, there is always someone I can compare myself to on social media (and in real life for that matter).  There is always going to be something I see that makes me feel like I should do something different.  I see what others are doing or not doing and I start second guessing myself (I should not be eating gluten, sugar, or any of the other junk I slip up and eat!).  Don’t get me wrong, I think we can easily let others inspire us to do better, but we have to be careful not to let what others are doing dictate what we choose to do.

“I have compared myself to you and felt like I could never measure up” “you really are super mom, really” In the last few weeks I have been told those things.  It honestly didn’t feel great.  I try really hard to be honest with my life and be upfront about my shortcomings and struggles.  I want to be honest because I feel like it is the only way to cultivate true relationships.  Pretending or sugarcoating our lives for social media only complicates things.  BUT, after reflecting on how others view me, I decided to really take a look at my posts.

I love to share and so I share moments or cute pictures that make me happy.  I get all of my IG feed printed in books so I like to make sure my favorites make it into the book.  I post things to encourage others and myself.  I try to post trials and struggles, but I see that I only post the hard things when I am finally at a point to get to the other side of it.  This is hard for me to admit but I have found myself wanting to post just because I think the picture will probably be well liked….. Why do I do that? Compliments feel good and everyone wants people to like their posts.

I’m not perfect or a supermom.  I am real.  I mess up all the time.  I get in ruts and can’t seem to get out. I don’t post all the yuck.  I don’t want to paint a picture of perfection for everyone to see. I allow my own insecurities to run my life most days.  This has become very obvious to me when I look at social media.  I don’t want to post things that make others feel inadequate but I also don’t want to stop sharing my life.  I am trying to find a balance and figure out how to share appropriately for myself.

I have decided to try hard (I’m not perfect so don’t expect this to be either) to post intentionally.  I want to make sure that the heart of the post is good.  That I am not seeking attention through my post.  That I am not fabricating things to make them look better then they are.  I know that I am not responsible for the way others perceive me, but I can be intentional about what and how I post things.  So what if my house is a complete mess in a photo, you may see it any way!  I want to find that balance of being honest and open without being negative and whiney.  I want to post things that bring me joy and at the same time make sure they are real.

I want to encourage you to step away from social media for a minute and evaluate how it makes you feel.  What are your true motives when you post and how do you allow what you are viewing to affect you?  Maybe you are like me and need to take a minute to remember that those who are posting are not perfect, even if they appear to be.  Most of all, to remember no one else is walking in my shoes and no ones journey looks just like mine- so I shouldn’t expect mine to look like theirs either.  I need to be able to focus on being thankful for what I have and where I am currently, and not so focused on what I am not.

Much love sweet friends!

Perception: a mess or a blessing?

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Perception is a funny thing.  Have you ever looked at something and saw it completely different then someone else?  I often see how different perception is when I hear my kids talk. They see the world so differently then we do.  I also hear it when others talk about themselves, situations, opinions.  I have really started seeing how powerful perception is and how different it can be.  

Last week I was getting ready for life group and I was busy getting the house ready.  Cleaning, putting things away, making sure we had everything we needed and so on.  I looked around and felt really good about everything.  I started preparing my portion of our meal and before I know it, I look around around me and in the floor there are toys all over the place, some “crunchy” which is just G’s cereal she likes to eat, and I suddenly felt the need to sigh and be a little irritated.  I had just spent a lot of time cleaning and preparing.  I had already swept the floors and the toys had been put back into their places.  

Perception……. Sometimes I think it is a choice.  How we choose to view situations is up to us.  Times like these are the ones I would struggle with (and still do).  I would immediately come a little unravelled (sometimes a lot), and I would begin to allow my emotions to just take over.  Cereal and toys in the floor would become “no one ever listens” “you guys never” or “you always!”  and then I would start remembering every single thing that drove me nuts.  

In that moment, after I sighed, I smiled.  I looked at my kids who love me so very much, and I said out loud “I think that this small mess could have easily thrown off my mood, but I am choosing to see if differently.  You know what I see?  A blessing!  I am a blessed momma to have these kids and this mess.”  And that was it.  We stopped, and cleaned up the mess and there was nothing more.  Well except for maybe a small victory for me!  

To some reading this, it might seem very silly, but maybe there are other areas in your life where you are struggling to see positive.  I am working hard to change my perception of things.  One thing that is helping me is to gain biblical perspective on my life.  Often times, the reactions that seem to be most natural and justified, are actually destructive and harmful.  

Perception is a very powerful choice.  How we choose to see things can effect every aspect of our life.  We have a choice in how we perceive situations, circumstances, ourselves….  I have found that a lot of my reaction comes from my perception of what is going on.  These choices aren’t easy, but I find when I choose to see things in a positive light, I feel so much better! 

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