Sunday, January 20, 2013

I got called fat in a Kroger parking lot...

Recently Jeff Goins blogged about writing the "dark side" of life...letting the world know the bad as well as the good, your dark spots, your weaknesses. I thought about how God has taken me on a journey to be more transparent but while reading Goins' comments, I thought "I'd never be that transparent with that many people at one time"

Never say never.

I've made a few remarks about 2012 and some of you have been surprised. If the most you see of me is on my blog or Facebook, you should be. I tell my kids all the time that Facebook was not meant to be your journal and I believe it. Nor is this blog...most of the time.

But I think that some of the things I have to say might be to someone's benefit.
Or something...all I know is I'm compelled to write...and make it public.

2012 had a lot of great times but in the day to day...basically it sucked.
I lost my Dad and I've had a hard time grieving over that. Partly because of my kids. My moods affect them and they weren't comfortable with my grief and so I swallowed it. Made it private. They didn't ask me to do this, I just did it. The other was because the loss of my Dad opened up an entire can of worms about childhood stuff, our relationship, his struggles, my struggles...

I struggled with being a mother. I fear I am failing in some way to teach Bree and Trey what they need to know to be successful. I think they have everything they need to be successful...I just wonder if they will be responsible on a day to day basis in order to achieve their dreams. I was too responsible at too young an age so their entire life I've struggled with how much responsibility to give them. Even now, it is entirely possible they are as responsible as the next teenager but I've never really talked to other parents for fear they'd make the "single mom" comment or think I was a failure.

You know...the "single mom" comment that pretends to give you some grace for your failings but just makes you feel worse? Condemned. Judged.

I've struggled at the work place. The vision for the job and the reality of the job are not the same thing and growing apart even faster. I'm not sure I fit in with my team and those insecurities almost guarantee that I don't. Or even if I do, I don't trust it.

I've struggled to leave OM. I wrote once that it was like leaving home and even now I'd say it was similar to leaving a safe house. Everything you learned about recovery and relationships feels different in the "real" world. It's not as safe or comfortable. While I've looked back and wanted to wonder, I can't tell you that I've ever honestly doubted that God's will was for me to leave OM and work at Wellspring but the question changed to "why?"

I've struggled financially as all single moms do but this year, it felt worse. Maybe it was the fact that I did have to act like an adult about it. For the five years we lived on OM property, my rent and utilities came out of my check. I got comfortable with it. There were just a lot of unusual hits to the budget this year as well. In fact, it felt like every time I turned around something was happening. Including moving twice in one year. I knew I had a raise coming up and sort of held onto this "It's going to get better" mentality. And then I found out that it's likely I'm not going to be getting the raise after all. It's not going to get better. I had to tell my kids that. I went to file my W-2s, excited because we'd gotten them early, thinking how much earlier we'd get our refund...only to find out Congress' woes mean they aren't accepting any tax returns till the end of the month (which means getting return mid-Feb).

I somehow thought 2013 was going to be like my fairy god mother and make all my dreams come true...or something like that, but it is starting out rough. And I find myself struggling with depression for the first time since before my kids were born. And it's scaring me.

This morning I got up wishing I didn't have to go to church. I had a hard time sleeping last night. I was feeling lazy. My body hurt. I was feeling...well, depressed. But I have a job to do. Bree has a job to do. So I got up.

The first song was a reminder to me. God is in control. And because He lives in me, I'm not as powerless as I had let myself think the past few days. As a matter of fact, allowing myself to feel that could be described as sinful because I'm not allowing God to be-God.

Depression feels like that monster under your bed. It's going to sneak out and grab you and wrap you up and smother you and there's nothing you can do about it. And for thousands of people, they don't have as much control over it because there is a chemical imbalance or something that causes it. Or because they haven't been able to walk the journey of healing as far as I have. But for me, right now, depression is something I would have to choose. Seriously. I would have to literally throw off everything God has done in my life and choose to wrap myself in the darkness.

I hate to be blunt. But that would be quite stupid of me.

You think at that moment I'd be better. But I wasn't. Someone walked past me and didn't acknowledge my existence and while that someone was totally distracted and I knew it rationally...I still struggled with hurt feelings. Trey did something goofy and I got hurt and he got mad because I got mad and then I went off about the dirty house and them leaving the kitchen in a mess after I begged them not to and I remembered the money problems and the work problems and the "woe is me" and I was immediately in a bad mood.

Then we went to Kroger to pick up spaghetti sauce because that's all I can really afford and thank God I already have spaghetti noodles but Trey doesn't like spaghetti and he isn't going to eat it and I'm guilty and mad at the same time...guilty because I can't feed him what he likes and mad because he's picky. And Bree is trying to have a conversation with me and "Oh no, she's not getting off that easy" and then we are in the parking lot and this woman isn't paying attention and starts backing up and almost hits us and I am already in a bad mood and I yell "THAT'S MY DAUGHTER!!!"

Turns out the woman in the car was in a bad mood too.

She put her car in park. Got out. And proceeded to cuss me out in a two minute diatribe that as horrible as it was, I have to admit was pretty impressive. I won't repeat it verbatim but to give you a clue, the nicest part about it was when she explained to me what a blind spot was and that it was impossible to see me, even as big as I was. In other words, on top of everything else, I'm fat.

I didn't say a word. I actually couldn't say a word. I don't know if it was shock or the Holy Spirit. I knew that the moment I opened my mouth, it would have turned physical. And Bree would have seen it. And I've been in fights before. And won. But I'm honest to goodness not that person. And I would never want my kids to grow up seeing that like I did and that is one promise, with one exception, that I've kept as a Mom.

With a parting shot, she got in her car and drove away.

And I sobbed all the way home. At first I was crying because I felt so belittled and hurt. How could God let this happen when I was already so fragile? And why, why, why? And then I remembered, I had lashed out. And she had lashed out. And God suddenly gave me just enough insight. I thought about all the times I had imaginary conversations in my head and how I would give someone a piece of my mind and let them have it and they'd be sorry. That woman is angry about something. And I was the last straw. So then I realized I was crying for her and me.

And then I came home, decided I was going to go to bed and cry. And feel sorry for myself. After all, I'd felt sorry for it was my time. And I got to do it too!

For about three minutes.

There have been very few times that I've been able to almost audibly hear God in my head. And if you are more comfortable with it, call it the Holy's the same. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom and that's definitely what I was getting...the "get up and put your big girl panties on" kind.

"What are you going to choose?"
Seriously...I can't even have a good cry first? We have to do this now???
"What are you going to choose?"
I'm going to choose to sob my heart out and maybe take a nap. Then read a novel...maybe some Jane Austen since she always makes me feel better. And then I'm going to watch Downton. After that, we can do this...okay?
"Trust? Forgiveness?"
Okay...I forgave her in the car. You made sure of that. Now can I wallow in my low self image?
"What are you going to choose?"
I'd like to say I got up and accepted truth graciously...but I more or less stomped to the kitchen and started washing the dishes. The kids-in their wisdom-took the dogs for a walk to give me space.

So many times in life, our struggles aren't defined by our circumstances but our reaction to them.

Once upon a time, someone told me that my childhood had been defined by people making me a victim. But that as an adult, I had to choose whether I was going to be a victim or a survivor. It took me a few days to get over my pout but her words have impacted my life in amazing ways. As a matter of fact, it impacted my life so much that my Aunt uses both my story and those words to motivate people she sees on a regular basis (my Aunt is a magistrate judge...just to put this in perspective).

The reality of my life's not better or worse than most people I know. In truth, my life is better than most people on the planet could ever dream. But that doesn't mean it isn't hard. And I have to choose what my reaction is going to be to that.

And don't get me wrong...I'm not saying I have to be happy all the time. That's not authentic and it's a little creepy. What I'm saying is we can wallow or we can keep going. We can be survivors or victim. Life can completely undo us or make us.

And sometimes it the small steps that make the victory. I got out of bed. I did the dishes. I wrote this. I'm still praying for the woman in the parking lot. That might be it for today.

Everything else just kind of feels like too much to deal with right now. So maybe next I'll clean the living room. I'll cook the spaghetti. Maybe I'll go sit outside since it feels so nice. Maybe not.

But, I'll choose. To accept His strength is made perfect in my weakness. To accept that I'm going to fail at times but that doesn't mean I'm worthless. I'll choose to accept the parts that are my responsibility (yelling at strangers in cars) and let go of the parts that aren't (strangers who lose their temper). To trust that as shaky as everything feels right now, that we are going to make it.

2013 has started out rough...but I trust, no matter what else it brings, that God is always good. And I will keep living life like an adventure. And I'll walk the firm path He has set me on rather than jumping back in the mire...even when it feels like the mire is actually easier and makes more sense. (I know, I don't get it either...but if you are honest, you know sometimes it's true)

And...I'll keep doing my weight loss plan. Because, let's face it...being called fat in the parking lot just makes you want a cookie.


  1. I appreciate your transparency. We've all been there, but few of us have the boldness to share it. It'll minister to people more than you know. Praying for you friend.

  2. Good for you girl! You are obviously a strong woman and good mama! I'll be praying for you:)