A Hint of Spring

scenic view of landscape against sky

Photo by Nikolai Ulltang on Pexels.com

There was something on the air that early February day.  It was a whisper of Spring despite the day being buried in an enduring and harsh winter.  There was a gentle hint of a new beginning, of fresh life, of a healing heart choosing to look up to the sun and no longer remaining frozen like the snow that buried the world that cold, dead season.

For the first time in months she wore a smile that she discovered was genuine, having unknowingly set aside the painted mask of happiness needed for daily survival over the past months.  For the first time in years she laid down the smothering baggage of a broken friendship, a relationship that she had felt defined her for so long.  That broken friendship had become an identity she wore as a shield against life, as mourning clothes, as an epitaph on her heart.  Yet for a brief moment on that chilly, sunny day she saw a life beyond the past, she saw the possibility of tomorrow, she saw hope.  For a brief moment she thought of friendship and did not mourn.

The bright sun shone on a new day, a turned page in the book of life.  She knew, in the few simple moments that he was before her, that a new chapter had begun to be written in her life.  Like the sunflowers she planted each May, she saw the possibility of a friendship growing strong and blossoming quickly.  She saw all of this as he walked across the rocky parking lot, get into his truck, and drive away.  She took a deep breath, the first breath of newborn life, for that day felt like she was born again, born out of years of blind sadness and into possibility.

He was not the one who had broken her heart in the cobweb-covered past.  He was not the one who had stolen her voice, and cast a deep shadow over her spirit.  He was not the man who had shredded the very heart that she had given him.  This man was the one that unexpectedly reopened her eyes to the future.  He was the one who had reawakened her voice.

Over the following days and weeks, she reveled in her freshly reborn smile.  She sought out again the connection of friendship that she had, for so long, fearfully shied away from.  She opened her heart again after thinking for years that an open heart would never be possible again.  She opened he heart to him.  She fearlessly made herself vulnerable to this man who had brought the Spring back to her years of Winter.  Like a child jumping into a fresh rain puddle, she jumped into his life blindly with both feet.  In return, she was rewarded by the sight of him dancing with her in that puddle.

Their connection was immediate and strong.  They were both surprised at how comfortable their friendship felt, as safe and welcoming as a soft and well-worn blanket comforting a child in a storm.  Dark clouds would try to roll into her heart and convince her that he would break her heart just as it had happened in the long-gone dusty past.  She would mutter to herself that they could not remain friends.  But the fright she experienced in dark solitude was burned away by the sunshine he flooded her life with each day.

And it all began on the February day that whispered a secret on the breeze, a secret they would both quickly learn.  It all began the day that he fell into her life, and she leaped into his.  It all began the day that Spring was a hint in the chilly winter air.

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Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

Heather L. Flood
07.05.2018

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Changling (poem)

Changling, changling,
who are you
replacement for the past
the future gifted anew
What promise do you carry
What tomorrow do you hold
Are you someone different
than your predecessor of old
Changling, changling,
are you a threat
opening yourself so easily
to lonely brokenness you just met
Can you piece together the puzzle
of a shattered yesterday
though the mess is ages old
and still can’t find it’s way
Changling, changling,
how scary you seem
Your vulnerability and humility
are a reoccurring scene
Years passed, spent with someone like you
Someone with a connection that clicked
But the connection snapped too easily
Excruciating, deadly, and quick
Changling, changling,
trust can’t be given to you
Punishing you for history not yours
is the only way to be safe from you
You may be perfect
You may never cause a tear
but changling, changling,
I thought that about another for many years.

Heather L. Flood
05.02.18

Fear(less) (poem)

Don’t ever tell me, “You can’t”

Don’t ever tell me, “You won’t”

Don’t ever tell me, “You shouldn’t”

Don’t ever tell me, “Don’t”

Don’t ever tell me, “You might look stupid”

Don’t ever tell me, “You dream too much”

Don’t ever tell me, “You might fail”

Don’t ever tell me, “That’s good for someone else, but . . . ”

Don’t ever tell me, “Just try to fit in”

Don’t ever tell me, “Don’t stand out”

Don’t ever tell me, “You’re not good enough”

Don’t ever mould me with your doubts

Don’t hold me back from your own fears

Don’t try to protect me from what scares you

Don’t try to shelter or silence my spirit

Don’t make me be afraid to live, like you

Don’t stop me from making big mistakes

Don’t stop me from finding me

Don’t laugh if I don’t look just like you

Let me explore, and live, and breathe

Let me find out who I am

Let me see the world through my eyes

Let me love, and laugh, and rage

Let me live fearlessly in this life

Heather L. Flood

03.29.18

Ocean (poem)

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So deep are you, Ocean
A blue that never ends
Depths that can’t measured
Moved by turbulent winds
What have you seen, what have you done,
endless Ocean, as you reach so far
Where do you go to find your rest
when your waves are at war
What is there to embrace you
when the wind kicks too hard
What is there to comfort you
as you lie beneath the stars
Ocean, as you ebb and flow,
where is your home
Where do you hang your hat
Where are you alone
What is there beneath your surface
Your depths, has anyone seen
What have you buried
What have you given up to be free
Are you raging against the shoreline
as your waves come crashing down
Or are you reaching for something unknown
even if the shoreline might drown
Ocean, your depths no one will know
Though some may search but fail
Your endless blue will forever go on
as against the shoreline you rail

Heather L. Flood
03.25.18

 

Endings and Beginnings

October 21, 2017 . . . that was the last time I posted anything of substance.  I posted a random poem in January, but other than that, nothing since last October.  Maybe I’ve had nothing to say.  Maybe I’ve had too much to say.  Maybe I didn’t know how to say whatever it was that wanted to come out.  Who knows?  So let’s see what comes out of these fingers today . . .

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See that board above the keyboard?  Yes, I’m back at the radio station.  The same radio station that my last post wax poetic on having left.  I tried a life beyond radio for two weeks.  I couldn’t do it.  I spent two weeks working for a company that was screening potential customers during health care open enrollment.  People are crazy and mean sometimes.  I will never be mean to a customer service representative ever again.  In the end though, talking to people was too much for me and I went back to the safety of sitting in a room by myself and talking to a microphone.

Right now my heart is sad.  I am the kind of person that when I make a friend then I am in with my whole heart.  I have people in my life who are acquaintances.  We may laugh and joke and maybe even share a touching story with each other.  But the people with whom I develop a true friendship . . . I am all in.  My heart is on my sleeve with those people.  So when one of those people leaves my life then my heart breaks.  That is what I am dealing with right now.

I understand that not all people are meant to be in your life forever.  People come into your life for a season.  Maybe their season is meant to change your life, or maybe their season is so that you can change theirs.  But their departure at the end of their season still hurts.  I get invested in people.  I give them a part of myself, a part that I can’t ever get back.  Often times I am left asking myself why they left or examining my part of the friendship to see if I did something wrong.  Ultimately, though, I feel emptier.  There is a space in my heart that was once occupied by that person, and often times that space will never be filled back up again.

Life for me beyond those people could go one of two ways.  I could turn angry and bitter.  I could live a jaded life where I stop letting people into my heart and resign myself to loneliness as a form of protection.  Or I could live as I do now.  I choose to try to understand that those people did what they thought was best for them and their future.  I choose to hope that I had a positive impact on their life, and I choose to be thankful that they shared a small part of their life with me.

You see, bitterness and anger don’t fill the heart.  As a matter of fact, those things only harden the heart.  Being jaded is not a badge of honor.  It is a sign of weakness.  A person who lives a jaded life full of anger and bitterness is too scared and weak to take another chance on something or someone after they have been hurt.  A jaded person lives in fear of getting hurt again, so they wrap themselves in armor to keep everything out.  But armor doesn’t just keep out some people or experiences.  Armor keeps out ALL people and experiences.  A jaded person misses opportunities for joy and happiness, because armor is not a filter that keeps out the bad and lets in the good.  Armor is a wall that nothing can get through.  Nothing!

I know I sound like I am lecturing on how to be a healthy person.  Maybe I am lecturing.  Maybe there is a person reading this right now that needs to hear what I am saying.  Or maybe I need to hear what I am saying.  Maybe I need the reminder, because if you are honest with yourself then you will be able to admit that sometimes a person can forget what they know.

I can’t control what others do.  I can only control how I react to what they do.  My life is a little dimmer without the light that former friends once added to my life.  But maybe my life only has room for so many people.  Maybe people are removed from my life to make room for new people.  That doesn’t mean I will forget those people who helped create my past.  It just means that their chapter in the book of my life said its final words, and it’s time to start a new chapter.  Memories can take me back to those people as new words are written with a new cast of characters.

The loss of a friend takes a little bit of my heart, but I have a big heart with a lot of love to give and a lot of smiles to share.  I look forward to the next person that will come into my life that I will get to call “friend.”

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Until next time . . .

That day is not today

Abusive relationships . . . when most people think of them they immediately think of domestic violence.  But that is not always the definition of an abusive relationship.

One year ago I sat on my couch and wrote a letter.  I placed the letter in a stamped and addressed envelope.  That envelope went into the mailbox, and a few days letter found its way into the hands of the addressee.  That letter told the recipient that in no uncertain terms was she ever welcome to contact me again.  She is my husband’s ex-wife.

She and I had been friends.  Then she started taking advantage of me, and of things I would do for her and her children.  She is a narcissist.  She suffers from a severe sense of entitlement, and feels she is always the victim.  I wanted to help her.  All I did was enable her behavior.  She also has an explosive temper that would put Mt. Vesuvius to shame.  People like her will take and take and take.  Eventually the more they take the more they want, the more they expect.  There were times when I was unable to do whatever it was she claimed to need.  That’s when I became like the village of Pompeii buried, unexpectedly, under ash and suffocated by toxic fumes.  Later she would cool off and come begging for forgiveness.  She would tell me how important I was to her, and that she valued our friendship so much, that she didn’t deserve a friend like me, and that I was such a blessing to her.

It was the cycle of abuse.  I experienced the exact same thing with my former step-father when I was a child.  He was an abusive alcoholic.  The worst event ended with his offering me a new, pretty pair of socks as a peace offering.

This friendship had me in knots.  I couldn’t express my frustration with her because to do so would ignite her temper.  So I took my anger and frustration out on the closest person . . . my husband.  A year ago my marriage was on the verge of falling apart.  I was miserable.  My husband was miserable.  I blamed her for making me so unhappy.  I blamed him for allowing her to control so much of our life.  I blamed myself for allowing the friendship to dissolve into what it had become.  But I thought, “if I do enough for her, if I help her enough, then she will see that there is good in the world and she will turn around.  It is my duty as a Christian to help those around me, and the Lord put her in my life for that reason.  She never means what she says.  She always apologizes.  She isn’t really a mean person.  She just needs me to fix her, if I can care about her enough.”

Eventually she threw some extremely ludicrous accusations at my husband and then got angry at me for taking his side.  In her anger she threw the same accusations at me.  She screamed.  She yelled.  She made threats.  She called and texted to the point where I had to block her on Facebook, and through my phone provider.  I also had to block every member of her family because I knew that she would use their phones or Facebook pages to try to contact me.  She contacted my friends, and even my pastor, and plied them for information or tried to fill them with the perceived awful things I said or did to her.  When confronted by all those people I told my side of the story and showed them her text messages.

A few months later, under the mentality of forgive and forget, I made up with her.  I can look back now though and see that the truth was that I was weak and didn’t know how to function without that dynamic in my life, as twisted as that my sound.  I told myself that it would be different.  People can change.  A few months should have given us both time to see the errors of our ways.

I set a line in the sand and expressed to her my limits for our continued friendship.  Red flags should have started going up in my head at that moment.  You should not have to say to a friend, “alright, here are the rules if we are going to be friends.”  That is what I had to do though.  Things were peachy for a few weeks, but over the following four months things eventually went back to where they had been, ending with the night she called my husband demanding that I unblock her from Facebook and my cell phone (which I had never gotten around to doing, because my gut told me it was a bad idea . . . should have been yet another red flag!).  That was the night I sat down and wrote the letter to her.  It was a year ago, almost exactly one year ago to the day.

That was an abusive relationship.  It was mentally and verbally abusive.  She ran me down to make herself feel better.  She berated me when she didn’t get her way.  She made terrible accusations when she had no other ammunition.  And then her skies would clear, the hurricane of her anger would roll out, and she would come crawling back, begging for forgiveness.  And the cycle would go on.  Yes, I enabled her behavior.  I needed to do it.  I thought I was doing a good thing for her.  I thought I was helping her.  What I was really doing was looking for validation.  If she told me that I was a good person then that meant I must be a good person.  If she told me that I was a selfish bitch who cared about nobody and nothing, then she must be right about that, too.  So I did whatever I had to do to keep her happy and thinking I was good.  It was safer than the alternative.

I have spent the last year in Celebrate Recovery, predominantly because of her.  I have not spoken to her in a year.  I have forgiven myself for my behavior during that period of my life.  My husband has also forgiven me for the way I treated him during that period.  Our marriage is doing much better, but I am still working on letting go of the anger and resentment I have toward her.  I wear it like a shield, and shield that I want to get rid of, but I am so afraid to.  I am still afraid of her.

Tonight she texted my husband.  She does that occasionally because the have a daughter together from their marriage.  In her text she said that she would like to talk to me so that she can apologize.  My heart immediately began to race.  The thought of facing her still clenches ever muscle in my body.  I told my husband to not even acknowledge that portion of her text, because I know what will happen.  She will apologize and I will tell her that I appreciate the apology but still wish to not continue our friendship and then she will flip her lid.  OR the worst case scenario . . . she will apologize, and the cycle will start all over again.  Because that is how abusers operate.

I have enjoyed this year of my life free of her drama and toxicity, and I don’t want to go back to where I was.  I am still working on healing from what I allowed her to do to me, and I can not compromise myself for her.  She will have to find from another source the forgiveness she seeks.  One day I hope to be able to look at the past and say that I forgive her, but that day is not today.

So, see?  Abusive relationships can happen between anyone . . . even friends.  One beats the other down so much that the weaker one is incapable of walking away.  Like an abused dog always going back to it’s abusive master.  “Maybe tomorrow will be different, because I know they really do care about me.”

Until next time . . .

Struggling with fear

I am having another night where finding sleep will be a battle.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am exhausted.  I could close my eyes and be asleep right now.  My problem lies in the fact that I am afraid to go to sleep.

Next month will be the two year anniversary of my husband deciding to quit drinking.  It had become a problem.  It had gotten out of his control.  After two rather frightening incidents, I have him an ultimatum . . . the alcohol went, or he went.  That afternoon every drop of alcohol was removed from our house, and he began attending a recovery program the following Friday.

Last night there was an incident that was eerily reminiscent of the alcohol- induced incidents from two years ago.  I know, without a doubt, that my husband has not had a drink since the night before I made him choose between the alcohol and his family.  He has come too far, an has too much to lose.  Last night was just a sleepwalking trip gone bad.  But it reminded me of those two nights two years ago.  Now I am afraid to go to sleep.  What if it happens again?  What if he gets hurt and I sleep through it?  What if I can prevent a repeat incident?

I am afraid.  I am too afraid to sleep.  I am too afraid to not keep an eye on him.

I am trying to give this to God.  I have prayed for a hedge of protection around my husband, and for God to ease my fears.  After all, fear is a lack of faith.

Sleep will come when I finally give this all to God and trust that He will keep my family safe

Until next time . . . 

Sometimes you have to . . .

I am just going to say this . . .

Sometimes you have to act before you think.  Sometimes you have to jump before your fears talk you out of it.  Sometimes you have to believe in yourself because you know God believes in you.  Sometimes you have to have faith in yourself because God has faith in you.  Sometimes you have to put yourself on the line.  Sometimes you have to be your own biggest cheerleader.  Sometimes you have to focus on right now and trust that God really will take care of tomorrow.  Sometimes you have to ignore what everyone has told you about yourself and listen to what you know about yourself.

Comfort Zone

Sometimes you just have to take the risk.

Take The Risk

Until next time . . .

May Scripture Writing Plan: Day 31 – Psalm 91:13-16

May Scritpure Writing Plan English

13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he[a] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

(Psalm 91:13-16, NIV)

(Text courtesy of biblegateway.com)

(Writing plan and image courtesy of swtblessings.com)

May Scripture Writing Plan: Day 30 – Psalm 91:7-12

May Scritpure Writing Plan English

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

(Psalm 91:7-12, NIV)

(Text courtesy of biblegateway.com)

(Writing plan and image courtesy of swtblessings.com)