Crazy has an Itchy Trigger Finger

You’ve already gotten the true Naked confession that returning to Columbus, GA, the scene of my relapse into anorexia 6 years ago, has huge potential to be triggering for me.

Now the second Naked truth: I was kinda hoping that walking in recovery meant I wouldn’t have anymore triggers. An excerpt from my journal this morning:

My heart is bowed low in humility or embarrassment, pain or fear, I’m really not sure which of these it is or might be. In spite of all my words and plans for preparedness, Crazy is trying to kick in. Almost quite literally, Crazy (the compulsions I obeyed and my behavior while under the influence of an eating disorder) is trying to kick down the door and all of my defenses, the things I propped against the door are shaking, quaking, threatening to collapse around me, crush me and all my valiant efforts to “stay well”.

I admit (Naked truth here) that I have wondered if it might require less energy to drop my resistance. To just slip back into the habits, routines and culture of my “former Columbus”. Just let it take me under. But what of the next move, what then? Would I ever, ever be able to resurface again? I fear that if I let anorexia take me under one more time, I’d never breathe again.

So, as I am leaning into my One Word 2013, Naked, and bearing my soul to you here, I wonder:

How does Crazy kick in?

Few people actually think they’re Crazy, how does it sneak into my life and habits?

How do I slam the door since I already know what Crazy looks like?

How do I get away?

I’m in a position right now to be staring Crazy in the face, let me tell you how he got here, what he looks like and how I will banish him.

Crazy always walks in with a trigger. From a place of recovery, that looks like something you did or someone you knew before when you were still acting Crazy. And while you are chatting with this person, or considering this behavior, a flood of optimism comes over you. Crazy tells you, “We had good times. You don’t want to lose this relationship. You can keep it under control this time. You can find balance even while flirting with this behavior.

On a personal level, my trigger is all the familiar streets in Columbus, the sweet friends who are still running and competing in triathlons. The friends who somehow are able to contain Crazy without letting him take them over. I’d like to think I could do that, too. But I recognize this trigger, if I start extreme exercising again, I’ll flip the switch for Crazy.

But perhaps what Crazy looks like and even how he got here aren’t all that important relative to how to get away from him. Praise the Lord, who through Jesus, has finished all the work for me.

“LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” Is. 26:12

As I prayed and continued writing in my journal, the Lord spoke to me.

Beloved, all your defenses, the plans you stacked against the door of possible relapse, are pointless without me. No good intention will ever succeed without me. It is not only someday in Heaven that you are safe from fears, secure and protected from your enemies. Darling, you have me, The One True God, now, and forever. And it is not only eternity or only your spirit that I love and care for. I am intimately invested in you. Trust me with your recovery.

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure…You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Ps. 16:9, 11

August

It’s time to plot another month of lies. Oh that sounds bad!

Honestly, in real-life, I’m a wanna-be organized individual. The queen of sticky notes, legal pad lists, spiral notebooks, white boards and owner of multiple calendars – and I’m still confused. Thanks for keeping me accountable here.

I like the variety of posts that pepper the week when the topic changes each day. To that end, I’m going to do another month of one topic each for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Also, I’m stepping up my goals again of writing more purposefully. I love writing here. I love sharing the truth of Jesus Christ. I love proclaiming the truth that counters body image issues and eating disorders. I love writing my way through the ponderings of my spirit as I wrestle with a new question. And I love the feedback, wisdom and advice you all share with me.

Blog writing, however, is really sheltered writing. No gremlin is going to pop up on my screen and write “rejected” across the page in blood red ink. Blog writing involves very little leg work. I don’t have to meet a deadline, apply a topic, or follow writer’s guidelines. As I amp up my publication efforts, may I share some of my articles, contest entries and short stories here with you for feedback?

OK, on to the schedule:

Mondays we’re going to continue to counter the lies about pain. Is privilege afforded to those who avoid pain most of their lives? Or does the privilege belong to the ones who suffer, learn, stretch, grow and share from their pain?

Wednesdays we will look at the very pith of a lie: words. We use words to weave our lies and words to unravel deception with truth. Jesus was called the Word in the first chapter of John. How valuable are our words – are they dispensable and insignificant? Do we want them to be that way?

From a wise mind comes wise speech;
the words of the wise are persuasive.
Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:23-24

Fridays I will share poetry with you. No promises on the content, but poetry is the native language of my journal and prayers. So these poems will share the truths that I am learning through prayer and quiet time with my Father.

Thank you so much for following and reading Predatory Lies. I treasure your friendship.

Want To Read Someone’s Diary?

Most of you may not realize that each time you read this blog, you are flipping through the pages of my journal. Have you ever wondered where Scripture came from? Particularly, the Pentateuch? In the New Testament, on several occasions, God instructs the authors to “write this down.” Peter even refers to Paul’s writing as scripture. It seems clear that most of the New Testament authors knew what they were writing and why.

Outside of the Gospels, the New Testament reads a little like a sermon. It’s full of instruction, admonition, encouragement. It’s the correspondence between itinerant pastors and their churches. But what about the Old Testament? This week we are taking a close look at Moses: the friend of God, the most humble man that ever lived, the stutterer, the shepherd of God’s people, the son of a Hebrew, the son of an Egyptian princess.

I am plodding through the Bible in a year, this time chronologically. As I skip between chapters of the Old Testament, most of the first 5 books are written cohesively, each episode in order. Episode, maybe I mean “entry.” I think the Pentateuch reads like Moses’s journal. Think of it, Moses writes about:

1. What God is doing

2. What his fellow Israelites are doing

3. What he is learning

4. His failures

5. His triumphs

6. His prayers

7. His complaints

8. His travels

9. Illness and miracles

10. His siblings, his in-laws and his wife

I wonder if God told Moses that one day the world would have the opportunity to read his journal?

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Being a journaler, I submit to you that we are not the only benefactors of Moses’s journal. It’s obvious in Deuteronomy 1, that Moses is beginning to read out loud his journal entries from past decades. “At that time I said to you…” (Duet. 1: 9) Throughout the Old Testament, God instructed His people to erect monuments, altars, tell their children, remember…

Do I learn from my past? Do I consider the mistakes of my predecessors and learn from them? Moses went from being a murderer and a liar, to being called the “most humble man that ever lived.” He talked with God face-to-face. He was a friend of God.  Moses certainly wasn’t perfect, but how was he perfected?

Doubly Adopted

I was adopted at the age of 24. Oddly enough, that’s the same time that I adopted my little sister. Confused yet?

The Brewers were a kind family of three that I met at church. I had married about six months earlier and my husband had immediately deployed to Iraq, leaving me family-less on the east coast. I snuggled in at church, feeling loved by the crowd of people. I joined the choir, I helped with kids’ classes and attended every service. But being a part of a church family isn’t the same as having a sister or a mother.

Kaitlin Brewer was 15, about the age of my sister living in Kansas. She was bubbly and talkative. When the congregation stood to shake hands or mingled in the foyer I spoke briefly to Kaitlin and discovered small things we had in common. I knew she loved to read. She was growing up in a conservative Christian home; she had a crush on a guy in the youth group. I knew how much I missed my sisters.

One Sunday after the service, I stopped her, “Kaitlin, would you go to Barnes and Noble with me this afternoon? I just want to browse, flip though magazines and get a coffee. It’s something my sister and I love to do together, but she’s not here and I really miss her and… I’d love to ‘adopt’ you.”

Kaitlin’s eyes glittered with enthusiasm. “I’d love to! I’ve never had a sister. That sounds like so much fun!” A few hours later, I drove up the Brewer’s driveway and Kaitlin climbed into my passenger seat.

I didn’t spend a profound afternoon advising Kaitlin in the ways of a godly woman. Instead, we sang at the top of our lungs with the radio. We shared our favorite books. I felt sheepish at her detailed memory of every book she had ever read – many more that me. It was a priceless afternoon that filled a growing void in my heart.

The holidays were fast approaching and Kaitlin went Christmas shopping with me. She helped me lug them into Quik Pack’n’Ship as I tearfully mailed all the gifts to my family. I refused to go home for Christmas while my husband was “celebrating” in the desert.

On Christmas Eve, I got a phone call from Mrs. Brewer. “Abby, Kaitlin has really enjoyed having a sister. Would you be my ‘daughter,’ and spend Christmas with our family?”

The next morning, I joined the Brewers for coffee cake, French roast and the reading of The Christmas Story. Mr. Brewer intoned Luke 2, just like my own daddy. I sat on their living room floor and took a nap in the study as the joyful day wore on.

The Brewers entered my life in an informal way, but they became my family. I adopted Kaitlin and their whole family adopted me. With no effort at all, I mentored, encouraged and came alongside Kaitlin, and benefited enormously at the same time. Mrs. Brewer began to email me about once a week, teaching me in an unconscious way to honor my parents, respect and submit to my husband, love unconditionally and rejoice in my role as a godly woman.

It’s been almost seven years since I’ve seen the Brewers. Kaitlin’s has gotten married. We’ve moved about three times and they’ve probably moved just as many. Once in a while, I’ll open my email to find a well-crafted devotional titled “As God Pleases, Dispose the Day.” Mrs. Brewer continues to teach me.

My relationships with Kaitlin and Mrs. Brewer were never sanctioned “mentorships.” We slowly started to do life together. As we each personally continued to submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s leading, He led us in obedience to Titus 2:3-4.

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

Absolute Me

It is the best of time and the worst of times.  The best of places, the worst of places. The best of me, the worst of me.

I guess that’s what family brings out of us.

I’m spending a couple weeks in Indian territory (Oklahoma and Kansas).  I probably already told you that.  Before I left, I was counting days.  The best memories have been made in my parents’ home. The back porch, the basement bedroom, the kitchen table, the coffee pot…beckon me to relive old memories, embellish treasured moments and create new experiences.

This trip also took me back to my grandparents’ home.  I haven’t been there since December 2006.  It smelled the same.   Most of the same people were there.  The only changes were a few more clocks, ticking with their own rhythms and their own special celebrations of every hour.  New pictures of weddings and babies fill new frames.  Grandma never seems to replace a picture, only add to them.  The only change – Granddad wasn’t there.

On the last day there, I laid on my back on the floor in coolness of Granddad’s room.  I stared at the ceiling and admired the sameness of the the wall ornaments, law books and old VHS movies.  I lost a few tears as they slipped into my ears.

That’s where the best and worst met.  The best memories and worst finale – death.  You can’t have one without the other.  The biggest hugs and funniest conversations around the table with loved ones, inevitably must end with goodbye kisses and sad farewells.

I love being here, but I also seem to lose a bit of myself.  It began in the airport.  Surrounded by thousands of other people with their own agendas – each as important as and independent from my own, I began to feel as if I was watching myself meander through the terminals.  Now, I’m surrounded by my favorite people but I can’t carve out silent moments with Jesus or two uninterrupted hours with my journal.  So, which is the real me?

You’re commissioned: start journaling!!

“I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.” 1 Thessalonians 5:27

 

I bumped into this verse for the millionth time the other day.  But that’s when it struck

me – Paul, Peter, John and the other apostles did much of their preaching through letters to the churches.  These letters were then passed around, essentially making the apostles the first “circuit preachers.”

 

The Old Testament is replete with commandments to “write this down.”  Moses (Exodus 34:27,) Isaiah (Is. 8:1,) and Jeremiah (Jer. 30:2) each obeyed God’s explicit instruction to record what He said or what was happening.  Do you think God was making a point?

 

Patrick and I wrote to each other nearly every day during that first deployment.  Whether they are backed-up emails or carefully preserved notebook paper – or the one letter that he wrote on the scraps of an MRE box – those letters remind me of who my husband is and was.  Sometimes, it is critical to remember the past.  When I am disillusioned with my marriage, a quick reminder of how we felt before and will feel again can smother my anger.

 

 

 

The week’s conclusion:

 

Many people find the pasty, white page crossed with harsh black lines to be a cruel dictator.  Like a starving animal, it feeds on your creativity and leaves you empty and thoughtless.  Fight back!

 

Give your journal five minutes, no more.  Whatever is legible when the time is up, is all the starving journal can have for one day.  Pretty soon, you’ll find his appetite insatiable and you more than able to fill it.

 

Plagiarize!  Who’s going to know?  I promise God doesn’t mind.  Write your favorite Scripture verse over and over.  Not only will you fill a page, you will come to know God’s word better than ever before.

 

A friend of mine, Fred, introduced me to art journaling.  Grab a crayon, how intimidating can “Cornflower Blue” be?

 

Please, please, please – do not relegate journaling to the “I don’t have enough time” category.  I hovered in mid-recovery from anorexia for years.  Counselors got me part way and dietitians kept me from relapsing to square one.  I had quit journaling about three years into my eating disorder.  Maybe it was too revealing of what was inside me and pushed me toward a change in my habits that I wasn’t ready for.

 

In 2007, I was working the closing shift at Barnes and Noble.  The headline on Writer’s Digest caught my eye.  It was something about the value of writing, from a personal perspective.  It was as if the light came on.  The next morning, I was giddy, as if seeing an old friend again after being ostracized for 13 years.

 

Now it is documented.  When I began writing again, just for myself, in my own spiral Mead notebook, anorexia slowly began to shrink and lose it’s grip on me.

 

God wrote.  God told men to write.  If you don’t write, what are you missing?

Finally, now is the day for the giveaway. If you haven’t commented yet – start typing!! I will draw the name first thing tomorrow.  Good luck!!

Prove God

Journaling – heals human relationships

My dear mother-in-law wrote several journals for each of her children, recording the good, bad, the ugly and the wonderful.  When Patrick and I got married, she copied every page and bound them for me.  Patrick deployed two months after our wedding, so I opened those spirals and got to know my husband in a deeper way than I might have if we had simply carried on daily conversations.

 

I have come to know myself in my journals.  Crawling out of the dregs of an eating disorder, I credit my recovery to journaling as much as to any counselor.  I go back and read about the pain that I survived before – I find strength to face today’s battle.

 

Journaling has proved God’s word to me.

 

“And we know that all things work together for good, for those that love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

 

Some of my journals are from the months that I spent at Remuda Ranch.  I wrote angrily about being forced to eat foods that I hadn’t touched in years.  I fussed about not being allowed to simply walk down the path to my counselor’s office – exercise restriction.  In my journal, I cursed the dietician who refused to let me see the hideous numbers on the condemning scale.  Now when I read those entries, I see that I not only survived, but that I am happier and healthier.  Surely, I can face today’s obstacles and trust that ultimately they are from a loving God for my good.

An excellent journaling resource that I stumbled upon is Create Write Now.

Journal like God

It’s at the top of the list in a string of 20 questions: If your home was burning to the ground, and all of your family and pets were safe, what is the one thing you would want to rescue?

 

That’s easy, but do 11 journals count as 11 things?  Not to me.  They are the chronicles of one life, one story, the cumulative personalities of one person: me.  At first, I thought I should grab my Bible, but then I remembered I can get another one.  There is no way to reproduce the the contents of my journals.  Even if I could remember every thought, every moment recorded, I couldn’t put tear drops on the right pages.

 

There is intrinsic value in the written word.  I imagine the Bible is God’s journal.  It records His thoughts, His movements, His plans, His anguish and joy.  Then, He gave it to us, His children, so that we can know Him.  What better way to know God than to read His journal?  And if God journaled, should we?

[Join me this week as we take a look at the value of journaling both for today and the future. We won’t be looking at journaling everyday (I have a short attention span) but today, Thursday and Friday will focus on this topic.  At the end of the week, I am going to give away a beautiful, leather journal, so make sure that you comment on one, or all three days for your chance to win.]

There’s Nothing Like King Street

After a delightful morning of wandering down King Street and through the farmer’s market with Stephanie, I got home feeling unexplainable sacked – exhausted.

Rejuvenation was found in a page, as it often is.  But this time, in an exploratory mood, and under the injunction of Fred and Leslie, I chose to journal with watercolors and pencils.  I began sketching, in poor imitation, the flowers from the market.  I scribbled the word “friend” between the flowers and a “V” bird that I drew above – so many friends have flown away as time demands.  Without my intention, the word “END” rose out of its enclosure in “friend,” a different font, a larger point.

I think that even in the midst of spending time with a new friend – doing my favorite things – walking along a waterfront in the sunshine, perusing a farmer’s market and nursing a cup of coffee…

I couldn’t help but recall the deliciously, lingering memories of the ends of Olympia’s Farmer’s Market, living life and getting drunk on coffee with Dana, sniffing smoked pepper at Burt’s Spice Emporium… so that even in the body of new experiences, flows the life blood of old and precious memories.

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