Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Box of Crushing Grief

I haven't given you the prologue to Take This and Eat yet. I pretty much know what I want to say, but it's not here for a reason.

Every day I walk. I never take a day off. Most of this week was spent fending off headaches because my sugar intake fell of so sharply, but by the end of this week, five pounds were gone. Really gone. Already my clothes are looser. Lisa said my face is a little leaner. You could say I'm doing this. I'm doing something. Right?

But I find it interesting that I'm only taking sips from the deep well of spirituality I'm finding is available on this path I'm journeying on. Oh sure, every Wednesday and Sunday I show up at the feast, partaking of the tender lamb of God who takes away the sins of the whole world, and every time I eat of him, he nourishes me. This is the truth. But I've found that God always asks me to give him a little more than I want to. I rarely giving all I can, but I want to.

The thing Jesus seems to be wanting from me now is a box I've stored away so deep within myself, I almost convinced myself it wasn't there. But it is, and the effects it has on me, body and soul, have been toxic to say the least. Within this box are four terrible years, in which I was abused in ways I find unimaginable, and cannot bear to write about, nor even think about. I've bound the box with chains. I've locked it with locks. Spray painted a skull and crossbones on it to indicate to anyone who might stumble upon it, this is poison. Do not touch.

And now he wants it, this Lover of my soul. He's wanted it for a long time, but I kept making excuses. "I don't know exactly where I put it." Or, "It's hard to get to." Or my favorite, "What box?" And he's been very patient, as he seems to be with me.

I'm going to be as honest as I can with you, because that's part of my recovery. I know where the box is. And I still don't want to touch it. Last night I was talking to my sissie, Carly, and she said something sobering. "You didn't have all these eating problems before Raphael. And now it's critical that you deal with this stuff. You left him so he wouldn't kill you. Don't let him kill you twenty years later." He beat me, fractured my bones, starved me, and choked me until I collapsed in a heap on the floor several times, but I lived. Am I going to let the eating habits I developed during that time destroy this life God has so kindly given me?

The box.


Before we get to that one day, I'm going to share a little bit more than I'm comfortable with. I'm scared, so bear with me. Okay?

This is what I looked like in 1981 or so. That's me at the bottom on the left.

Oh my gosh. What was I wearing??? Is that a tie? And Lawd, Lawd, Lawd! Could my hair be any worse? Not to mention I look I'm trying to make the photography burst into flames with my mind. Be that as it may, I was not an eating disordered person. I was small, a mere 98 lbs, and that weight stayed consistent despite being able to eat like a typical active teenager. Back then I never worried about food. I never hoarded it. I never binged or purged. Food was just food. It was energy. Not comfort or shield.

The only reason I can show you that is because a friend posted it on Facebook. I don't have any pictures of me from this time, or my childhood. There isn't a single baby picture of me in my home. I'm not sure why this is. I think I some part of me was trying to erase my entire past. I guess I put more in that box than I intended to. Or maybe my childhood has it's own box. Sigh. We'll just take this thing one box at a time, if it's all the same to you. And that isn't the box Jesus is asking for. Not right now.

I may not have pictures from my childhood and teen years, but I do have a few from the time that I was abused. Raphael took lots of pictures, especially of himself flexing his muscles. He took pictures of the children, too. But I tried to stay away from cameras. You'll see why in a few moments.

This is me at 25 or so. Raphael didn't take this one.  I'd left him, because of his constant abuse, and stayed in a friends house in Cass Corridor in Detroit. I think I weighed 93 pounds here. My friend was in labor that day, having a home birth. The photographer wanted to take my picture, but notice I didn't look at her, but at my sweet baby boy. 93 pounds. Raphael thought I was too heavy, even though I'd just had a baby less than a year before. The dress is too big. He always made me wear clothes that were too big because he didn't want me to look good. No that he ever thought I looked good. He was never pleased with me, no matter what. I didn't end up staying with my friend long. She asked me to leave because Raphael would call and harass me several times a day. It brought chaos to her home. I went back to him shortly after this picture was taken. I thought it was my duty to keep my family together despite the pain he was inflicting on me. I thought I should be love's martyr, until I realized he wasn't worth dying for. But that was a long time coming. I stayed with him three more years.

This is me at 28.

I weighed 89 lbs. Raphael used to tell me my perfect weight would be 87, but I couldn't lose those other two pounds to literally save my life. I think he wanted my body to look like a prepubescent girl's. I was breastfeeding that fat pretty girl on my lap. I breastfeed the boy, too, but he was done (mostly) by that time. Every day Raphael weighed me. Every damned day. I wish that was all he did every day. It doesn't even scratch the surface of the horrors.

I'm finishing my ninth book this week, but I have no words to express this picture makes me feel. It's hard for me to breathe when I see it. I fight to keep from crying, and then I put it away, like I did the box that holds the crushing grief of that time, the box that Jesus is asking for. I wouldn't mind giving it to him, but I know he's going to want to open it. And I can't right now. I just can't. I'm sorry. I don't want to think about it. I don't want to write about it. I wish it never happened. I can't believe I let all that stuff--things too horrible to put words too-- happen to me.

So that's why I'm stalled, and in fact, I want to quit the whole project. I want to curl up somewhere with some SWEETS and eat when I see this. But I can't let him kill me with diabetes. He's done enough.


But I will say this, I don't care how fat I am, I DON'T EVER WANT TO LOOK LIKE THAT AGAIN!!!! EVER!!!!!

That's all I got today. Not sure I'll be back her tomorrow, or maybe the next few days. It's really hard to face you after this. Really, really hard.


Heidi Renee said...

I like the bottom picture the best Mare - the lost look of that skinny child trying her hardest not to shatter into a million little pieces. is it any wonder we who struggle with food need to pack and insulate ourselves just to make it through the day with horrible memories like those?

You are voluptuous, rubenesque, and vulnerable in this bottom picture mare - look at the wisdom those eyes hold - look at all of the places that head has called home. You can do it Mare - just for today! I love you and you are NOT ALONE!

Alison Strobel Morrow said...

I'm going to go out on a limb and speak for everyone who reads your blog, Mair.

We love you. We are amazed by your strength in the face of such oppression. We ache to see such a beautiful young woman tormented to skin and bones. We are angry on your behalf, and we are honored that you are willing to allow us into your grief so that we can pray for you as you heal.

God is moving in your life. God is preparing you to come out of the shadows and into the light. It might be a painful rebirth, but you will survive, and you will be stronger for it. GOD LOVES YOU, Mair.

Heidi Renee said...

okay - now I've had time to read the post :D wanted you not to float out there in blogland w/ out a comment!

"You left him so he wouldn't kill you. Don't let him kill you twenty years later." Your Carley is a dear friend indeed. The problem with boxes Mare is that we think they still have power over us - I kept one shut tight for so long it nearly killed me too.

What I didn't realize was that I lived through the worst that was done to me - remembering it made me realize how very strong I was - not how very weak. I thought it was going to shatter me to remember - I thought I would have a nervous break down - but in truth it set me free. I PROMISE this box is not stronger, better, or more powerful than you are.

You are strong enough to open that box, tear it to shreds and kick it to the curb where it belongs. I thought that by remembering it would make it all happen again somehow - but it was a lie, straight from the pit of hell. I was stronger than I ever imagined - and so are you - that 28 year old has a fierceness to her that he just couldn't stomp out - you did it woman - you survived - and thrived and he couldn't steal your soul Mare - he lost. The bastard lost.

YOU HAVE WON - you just don't know it yet. Give that lover of your soul that box so he can show you just how incredible you are dear friend. You are not alone.

MaryAnn M said...

i love you. really. you have a story to tell...and your healing will come with the telling. we, who read your blog, are cheering you on...and holding you up...and standing with you.

hooray for 5 pounds.
hooray for your strength...hooray for your humility and vulnerability.

you are the beloved.

Kay Day said...

I wept at your pictures. I wept with you. You were breathtakingly beautiful and he was a fool. If you had weighed 97, he would have said 95.

You are breathtakingly beautiful now.

I want to say that the shame is not yours. It is his. You have been lied to--by him and by the devil.

Jesus loves you so tenderly. So completely. Don't you know He is going to wrap His arms around you as you go through that box? He's going to whisper truth into your ears and heart and mind. He is going to caress away your shame.

I've seen enough to know how frightening it must be. You can do it. You are strong. I can see that just in the small way that I know you. I will be talking to our Father about you, Mair.

Don't be afraid to talk to us tomorrow. I know that I miss you when you aren't around.

MaryAnn M said... hours later...still prayin and holding your precious heart in prayer...i came back and read Heidi Renee's comments....she is true.

its time to hand the box to Jesus have lived thru the pain and became a beautiful strong woman who loves are LIVING..

still prayin...thinkin of you walkin with your fingerless gloves and new shoes...

Jean Moon said...

My heart, I cannot put into words what my heart feels at reading about the abuse you have suffered.
Sorrow grips me. I am so sorry. You have always been beautiful, even when you could not believe it.

Somehow, we who have been abused believe that if we open the box, we will be destroyed. We are afraid to let ourselves cry, afraid we will not be able to stop crying.

My dear, dear precious Mair, Jesus came for so much more than just to save us from sin so we could go to heaven. In Isaiah 61: 1-3, it is prophesied about Jesus. In Luke 4, Jesus reads that scripture in the synagogue and then says, "This day is that scripture fulfilled."

He came to heal the broken hearted, to set the prisoner free! He came to heal us from the inside out - take away our shame, take away our pain, take away the depression and sadness, take away the feeling of worthlessness. And he came to give us healed hearts, to turn the ashes of our lives into something beautiful - a crown of beauty, to give us a garment of praise in exchange for the garment of depression and despair. He came to give us honor - double honor - for our shame, and double joy for our grief. For as much as you have suffered, so much will be your joy.

Let Jesus open the box and go through it with you. Accept his healing love. HE LOVES YOU SO MUCH!

You are his beautiful daughter!

I can identify with you in so many ways. I think that reading your story almost took my breath away, because I could so identify!

Healing can come, my dear. Trust Jesus to get you through. You can do it. You are in my prayers.

Much love,

Nedra said...

Sending up a prayer, sister...

Brenda said...

With tears in my eyes, I am typing this. You are a brave strong woman. I agree with Alison Morrow, I do love you! We all have boxes, and we may not think we have the boxes because we have hid them so well, we don't even think we have any to open. But we do.
My Beloved, the new day is at hand, the birds are awakening, the air is soft and sweet, and for you also a new day is dawning. You feel that you have lived, have loved, have rejoiced and sorrowed; but I say to you, that which has seemed of such importance was only as the threads of silken web drawing you up to Me.

Your life shall unfold. You are, as it were, but at the beginning of that which never began. The page lies fresh and white before you even as does the new day. Old things shall rule you no more. Old ways shall tempt you no more. You shall go on and up the sunlit path with Me.

If at times you seem to be back again and the old familiar ways seem to take possession of you, only turn within and know that the One who dwells on the throne of your heart is after all that which is eternal.

As you do your work, as you meet My children on the path, you will be love-filled and understanding, for it shall be the Christ in you who sees and works. All things shall be done with Me and by Me, and all your day shall be made a thing of beauty. Never shall you want, and never shall you lack, flor I know not either state. When we function as ONE you cannot experience that which I do not know."

This is from Quiet Talks with the Master, one of my morning meditations. I am glad I have got you to share this with. Walk On! The water is still fine!

Jennifer McDaniel said...

I've lost track of all the comments I've agreed with, Mair. Come back when you're ready, but do come back. Your honesty inspires us and in my case compels me to reclaim the health I once had.

I like the bottom picture best as well. That's the Mair I discovered this past Advent and she's amazing!

Erin Wilson said...

You are already doing it.
As has already been said... you are stronger, wiser, and more beautiful than you know. I'm grateful for the opportunity to tell you.


GailNHB said...

Here's what is making me smile right now: you said that you wouldn't be back here for a few days. But you keep coming back to read and approve these comments! SO you are here. You are reading and listening and receiving our love and support.

Take some time off if you need to, but don't forget - this is the easy part. You may not believe us yet, but I agree with all the women who have said that the writing about it is so much easier than the living through it. Back there, you suffered unspeakable horror and felt unfathomable sorrow. Here you are free to tell your story to people who love and support you. Here you know that you are surrounded by grace and mercy and outstretched arms.

The only weight that we notice here and now is the weight of your beautiful and contrite and heavy heart. But it is safe and it is good and it is right to lay down the burdens and receive The Rest of your true Lover. Let Him carry all that you are carrying - and let Him carry you as well!!!

Heather Diane Tipton said...

I love you so much. You're the friend of my soul.

You are an incredibly beautiful woman. The longer I've known you, the more beautiful you are.

beauty from ashes keeps coming to mind here... look where the Father has brought you from... and out of... beauty from ashes.

You can do this, Mair. Bring that box out into the light completely. You can do it. I'll be right here with you every step of the way... as I'm sure others in your life will be too. Nothing you can say will make us not love you. Let us love you. Let us clothe the naked vulnerable girl with our love.

You are loved. You are beautiful.

Sarah@EmergingMummy said...

I don't feel I can say anything more true than all of the 13 comments above me. I feel the truth of it in my heart - sorrow, grief, love, admiration. I can only say that my prayers have been with you all day, ever since I read this earlier this morning.

Paula said...

My sweet, beautiful, abundantly loving Mair,

We believe in you. We believe in the amazing woman you have been, are, and are becoming. We see your strength even when you don't. We see your courage even when you don't. We see your beauty every minute of every day. It shines out so brightly that nothing can push it down. It cannot be hidden. It cannot be crushed. It is purified gold.

And while we believe so fully in you, there is Someone we believe in even more. HE can be trusted. He is the reason you are strong enough for all HE asked. His strength is perfected in your weakness. His resurrection power overcomes every grave, every obstacle, every lie, every insidious, grievous, aching thing. He is peace. He is Truth. He is healing. He is in you, with you, for you, through you. Holding you. Hold you up. Never letting go.

You're my dear Sistie, my Mair refined by fire, my friend who sees and believes and loves and showers grace on the world. HE pours through you, He has brought you forward to this day and will not forsake you know.

You can trust. Him. And Him in you.

And we're here. We love you. We're praying. You are never alone.

Rehoboth said...

O, Mair. My dear sister. You are in my prayers. Gentle hugs, and love coming your way.

Joe said...

OK, so I don't have the Net at home right now for my own reasons. I have not come across this post on your blog until today. I want to say something really fucking intelligent, brilliant, smart and biblical to you (pardon me and my F-word ... you know that's just me, mair, and me being me) ... and I just don't have anything there. Except that I love and accept you as my friend, raga-sistah and all that good stuff.
I feel grateful that you are part of my big family. What you don't know about me is how many years I spent closely emotionally attached to 3 old, dysfunctional, emotionally crippled women who looked to me for their emotional and spiritual support. Now I'm healing from it ... STILL. Yet I'm healing and not still there ... and I can't write anymore right now because I ... well ... am wordless.

Grace and peace -- Joe

Brian Kirk said...

Your courage humbles me.