Saturday, November 3, 2012
A CODEPENDENT, AN ENABLER, AND A RESCUER OF ALL THINGS PUPPIES, KITTENS, KIDS AND HUSBANDS
It has been well over a year since I last wrote. I have great reason for that. I have been on a journey that I never dreamed I would be on. Places that I never imagined God would want to use me in. I have been in RECOVERY. I have spent the last year and few months behind closed doors with my Jesus, discovering who I am in HIM. I had the privilege of sharing my testimony at our Celebrate Recovery this past Thursday. I will warn that some of this testimony may be information you may already know, but I want to portray this "story" in its entirety. I feel led to share my story here, as well, because my story is not mine, but God's. His story of faithfulness in storms, love beyond measure, and beauty amidst the ashes......
Let's talk about islands.....
When I picture an island, I picture the cartoon version with a mound of sand and one solitary palm tree. I find myself on this island more than I would care to be. A lot of times it is because of my life experiences and circumstances that I am lead there.
The first island I found myself on was when I was a child. I was adopted as an infant into a very loving home. My parents were the best parents a girl could ask for. They told my brother and I how special we were because we were adopted.
When I became school aged, I quickly learned that not every child was adopted. I was alone on that island. Although I was told over and over again how wanted and special I was, I could not shake the feeling that I was not good enough. No one seemed to be able to relate to me, so at a very young age, I learned to turn to God because He HAD to understand the shear emptiness I felt at being given away.
It's funny how that one mind set that I was "not good enough" would set the stage for my life.
So here I sit on the island of "Not Good Enough".... What else was I to do, but push that feeling away from me and persevere? I pulled out my perseverance card every morning, just to make it through the day. I would work so hard to prove that I was good enough. I got good grades in school, I was good at sports, I practiced very hard on the piano (had no talent, but I practiced). I became "Miss Goody Two Shoes". I was VERY conscious of right and wrong and did everything in my power to always do right so as not to disappoint anyone in my life be it Mom, Dad, Teachers, Friends...etc. I failed miserably, yet I still fought for right in my mind. Because of this drive of not wanting to disappoint anyone, I would only allow people to get to know me at the surface level.
This led me to the next island of "I can do it on my own". On this island, I would allow people to see me from a distance, but I would never allow them to see the depth of me. I made it through high school by flying below the radar for the most part. Oh, I had the typical teenage dramas, but for the most part, I went unnoticed. I was always ready to move on to the next step in life because that next step had to not be located on an island.
Along came college.....This is where my independence would be challenged beyond anything I would have ever imagined.
All through life I felt that my parents had sheltered me too much. It wasn't until much later that I realized that my self worth and thoughts of "I'm not good enough" were the truth to my sheltering.
My first week at college, my roommate talked me into going to a frat party. Now I was the girl who was president of "Students Against Alcohol and Drugs" and the girl who ALWAYS did what I could to do right and as little wrong as possible....BUT...... I went
That night caused my world to shift on its axis. That night unleashed the "wrong" I fought so hard to avoid all of my life. That night caused me to let the "Not Good Enough" take control.....
I met a guy that was completely wrong for me. He had issues much like mine, but neither of us were able to recognize that. I fell into all of the temptation I swore I would never do. I did everything to prove to him that I was good enough and that I was worth something.
Two years later, the relationship ended and I found myself back on the island of "Not Good Enough". only this time, I brought some friends in the form of worldly temptations to where my island got very crowded with all of the wrong things and yet I still felt alone.
One day, I woke up and realized that my God whom I have known all of my life, but just placed in the trunk of my car was still there. I was so desperate to have Him back that I went to the local church pastor who helped me to come off of the island of all the wrong things.
I moved on with my life having a new focus of finishing my degree and moving on to the next step in life.....but what was that step??? God was still tucked away in the trunk of my car and I certainly wasn't focused on Him. So I did the only thing I knew to do at that time.....
I went to the bar.
And that is where I met Rob. He was the bartender and I was the "drunk college girl"....but that night I had something happen that shook me to the depth of my being.
A slow song came on and Rob slapped his hands on the bar and stared so deep into my eyes that I was sure he could see every ugly detail of the horrible person I was. It was as if he unlocked the door to my being. Of course, his only intent was to ask me to dance :-). But that lock being broken was a "next step" I didn't see coming.
Rob and I had a whirlwind romance and 9 months after we met, we found ourselves at the altar.
That was the next step....Right????
One week after our wedding, I pulled God out of my trunk and dedicated my life to Him. He was now driving my car, however, the bridge is quite long off of the island of "Not Good Enough", which is where I still lived.
Rob was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 16 years old. I was convinced that I could love him healthy. I wanted to do everything I could to take care of him. Just like when I was young, I wanted everyone around us to see that I was a good wife and doing everything I could to take care of him.
I buried myself into his medical issues. I would call all of the best doctors, do research about new medicines among many other things. I poured so much of myself into his "condition' that I ignored what God designed a marriage to be.
Rob's condition only worsened over the years. We knew that we would not be able to bear our own children, so we looked into adoption. I always wanted to provide for a child the same gift I was granted in a loving family. We ended up adopting 3 beautiful children within 18 months ranging in ages at the time of 3 - 15.
I felt whole being a Mom and a caretaker to Rob. But that "whole feeling" was short lived and had many valleys amidst the peaks. I was on top of the world while taking care of Rob or the kids, but I still kept even them at the surface level. I wanted them to only see the "good Mom" or "good Wife".
These peaks and valleys continued for many years until I became only what people saw on the outside.
A caretaker; A wife; A Corporate Sales Advisor; A provider; A daughter; A sibling....I could go on and on.
Last year, after Rob had his leg amputated and we were falling into our new "normal", I was approached by someone after church one day who said "You always look so put together". I smiled and thanked them, but what they didn't know is that their comment stirred so deep inside me and sparked a journey I didn't see coming.
I started to thinking "WOW!, I've really fooled people into thinking I've got it all together". I never wanted to fool people, but it happened. I was hiding my hurts behind my Sunday best. For me, I felt like a dead plant that I just kept putting pretty bows on to cover up the hurts.
So as I stirred over this comment for a couple of months, I slowly found myself withdrawing and becoming angry, bitter , and resentful. Not only toward those around me whom I felt were causing my pain, but also toward God.
I attended the Women of Faith conference in hopes of finding amends with God and then hopefully with those around me. I did come home from the conference a changed woman, however, I was nowhere near being healed of my anger, resentment and bitterness. I did know peace at that point and I knew then that God was about to take me on another journey.
Our marriage had taken a toll over the years as we struggled with role reversal due to Rob's medical issues among various other hurts, habits, and hangups within the marriage. Rob and I dealt with things very differently and we found ourselves struggling to just co-exist especially when his health was good. In crisis, we have always functioned best as our adrenaline would keep us going and we always seem to seek God in a more rigorous way. Then in the "normal" life, we did not know how to just be a good husband and wife.
During all of this, God had plans for me that I couldn't even see. He had placed a woman in my path that had been praying for a true friend. I was so busy on my island caught up in my many identities that the thought of a friend never crossed my mind. Never mind the fact that if I let someone onto this island with me, they would see the dead plant below the pretty bows.
God, however, used our sons being best friends to bring us together.
She mentioned to me that Celebrate Recovery was having a step study. I had heard of it before, but was apprehensive because I wasn't "one of those people". I liked my island of "I can do it on my own".....or so I thought. She suggested we go together. I just told her I would think about it.
That week as I was getting ready for work, I looked in the mirror and had no idea who the woman was staring back at me. i was lost in so many identities that I knew at that moment if I did not find me within this mess, that devastation would come not only to me, but also to my family.
So....I reluctantly agreed to go to the step study. My new friend and I decided to ride together for accountability every week. The study was so individualized. The questions allowed me to seek God's guidance to peel back the layers of caretaker, wife, mom, corporate sales advisor, codependent, enabler, and rescuer (of all things puppies, kittens, kids, and husbands)....
And beneath it all, I found JANINE.
I found myself opening up in ways that I never imagined I could or would. These women in the group were (and still are) faithful in praying for me and I have now become faithful in praying for them as well.
I am here now a year later and I can tell you with absolute confidence that I know the woman who smiles back in the mirror. I know who I am in Christ and who He has created me to be. I never dreamed the path God would have me on, but I would not change one thing about it. I know that this "plant" is blooming and firmly rooted in God's Word - no more bows needed to hide the pain, just a pair of shears in my Savior's hands that He can prune me as I need it.
I encourage you to take steps to dig deep within yourself to unleash what God has in store for you DESPITE what hurts, hangups and habits you face.
I know that this was long and I thank you for bearing with me as God's story of my life unfolds. I hope you recognize His story in your life :-)