Trauma is No Joke #Confessions #NotAnAprilFoolsJoke #FaithThroughDarkness

This past week has been one where I’ve really had to fight the demons of doubt and fear. It been difficult and I’ve felt myself retreating. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before. It’s just been a while since I’ve been on a cycle this rough. (Thank God for that!) Once I realized what I was doing I became frustrated. I don’t want to pull inward and away from everyone. My goal has been to find ways to be more vulnerable and honest. I don’t like to go in the opposite direction of my goals. It irritates me.

Regardless, I spent Thursday this week wanting to do nothing but lie on my couch and do nothing. (Which is NOT me at all.) And then the tears started. I cried Thursday morning went out and forced myself to get some work done and then returned home to find myself crying again. *insert eye roll*

Yesterday I woke up in a much better place and had a good day until I didn’t. Sometimes unexpected things happen (or don’t happen) and it tips the scale you’ve been working so hard to keep balanced.

Trauma. Sometimes things get thrown into your path and that trauma trigger flips your switch. It flipped mine, and in the moment it completely shut me down. From the outside, it’s not too noticeable but on the inside nothing but empty. It’s like someone hit the pause button on me. No thoughts. No feelings. Nothing. While a part of me knew this was happening, that voice of reason wasn’t strong enough to formulate a reaction. It shut down my ability to cope in that moment. Shock had wrapped me up again in its tight grip.

As my world slowly rebooted hours later, I started to realize what was happening to me. As understanding unraveled, those old feelings of dread, those fears, the realities I’ve experienced settled in. The tears came once again. And I was frustrated because again I was wounded. When you’re in pain, it’s difficult to be reasonable. It’s hard to see the light. It’s even harder to have faith. And then come the wicked thoughts. In the midst of loneliness, dread, and fear, I tried to pray again.

When shock had set in earlier, I couldn’t pray. That scared me. Thankfully, later on I was able to pray again but it felt flat and whiny but I tried to talk to God anyway. I resorted to praying for those I love instead of for myself because I had no idea what to ask for or what I needed to help myself but praying for others was much easier.

After a phone call with a good friend and a few more prayers I went to sleep. I woke up at 4:00 am in tears. Once they’d ran their course and sleep wasn’t returning, I picked up my notebook hoping writing words on the page would settle myself enough to sleep again.

I wrote, “I try my best not to dwell in the past. Obviously, I know what I’ve lived—the hardships and the victories. Sometimes it’s hard to swallow the trauma…waking up at 4:00 am in the same dark room I’ve faced many demons in, the same dark room my heart bled night after night in, it’s hard to ignore that ‘muscle memory.’”

There’s this part of me that was disappointed in myself for my reaction. Because I had it in my head that after writing Shine, I’d found a place to capture those demons. I didn’t need to relive their darkness anymore. I thought I’d successfully put that part of me up on the shelf. It’s true that book has allowed me to heal and move forward beyond my expectations. It just sucks when the trauma resurfaces. That loss of self-control and the shock in that moment yesterday, it wounded me again. By hurting me again, it was as if a voice shouted, “You’re not as free as you think you are. I still have power over you.”

In the darkness of night and early morning, I felt disappointed in myself. Irritated that I was human. But this morning, writing this post it reminds me of how wrong that wicked voice is. Because if my trauma still had power over me, I wouldn’t be able to get up and write a blog post for the world to read. I wouldn’t be able to click share and let you see all my vulnerable pieces.

People often wonder how I can be so happy especially when I don’t have “everything I want.” Believe me, sometimes I question my peace and joy. How can I be so happy when there are still so many things I want for my life? I’ve got a two part answer for you—it’s God and it’s faith. God grants me this peace and the more I seek Him the greater it becomes. And faith is all about hoping and believing for what is unseen. It’s not just sitting in “happy imagination land” but about putting into action the good things you are believing for. Faith without works is dead. This blog post is my work, because I know God is making a way where were I don’t see one. He’s growing me and cleaning up the rough edges so I can be ready for the next level.

Last night in my tearful darkness I said, “I know this isn’t going to last forever. I know there’s a purpose. It just doesn’t feel so great right now but I know you are taking care of this.” Years ago I wouldn’t never been able to utter those words. So that experience tells me that years from now I’ll be even better at coping with these rough patches, because He’s strengthened and equipped me to do so.

Have a good weekend, my friends! And remember it’s not failure unless you decide to settle. It really is darkest before the dawn. Don’t give up. And NEVER give up on your always and forever, no matter what that might be. <3

My Confessions: Fighting the “Impossible” and Danny Gokey Fangirling #MondayMotivation #DontGiveUp

Confession. Sometimes I feel like a lone soldier fighting for “impossible” dreams. I’m constantly battling the world I see with my eyes and the world I see with my heart. It’s a relentless war of trying to share, prove, and show to others and myself that there’s more beneath the surface. There’s great hope in our future.

When I was awakened by my adorable yet persistent dog at some ridiculous hour this morning, between the whining (from both him and myself) I climbed out of bed with a consistent thought on repeat in my sleepy head, “I know the plans of I have for you, plans for hope and a future.” Now that’s not the exact verse verbatim from the Bible, you can read the whole verse in Jeremiah 29:11 if you’re interested.

First of all, when I wake up in the wee hours of the morning my brain typically is not filled with thoughts other than, “if I don’t move maybe he’ll stop whining and go back to sleep.” (By the way, that rarely ever happens. He knows when I’m awake.) As I stood at the door waiting for my old pup to do his business and come back in side, the thought kept repeating in my brain like a broken record, “I know the plans I have for you, plans for hope and a future.” Well that’s all fine and wonderful but why do I keep hearing this? Especially at four o’clock in the morning when I should be sleeping.

After waking up at a more suitable hour that included coffee and breakfast, I finished reading an amazing book and I think I’m starting to get the message.

Since hitting publish on How I Learned to Shine Again, I’ve been pulled back into the not so fun places of sadness and loneliness. Also, all of the little issues with getting the paperbacks out (to no fault of my designers or my own) has been incredibly frustrating. (And I’m still fighting that battle.) I’ve come to learn when I get in those low places, I have to reach out and find ways to help myself work through the feelings and re-ignite my fire again. Sometimes it involves spending time with my peoples, reading the Bible, listening to music, taking a walk, or writing, but it always includes lots and lots of prayer. This time I think I prayed so much God had to be thinking, “I know, I know. Chill out.” Okay so He probably wasn’t thinking that but I’m telling you if I wasn’t sleeping, I was praying.

I went through my usual “How to Make Michelle Feel Better” checklist but still the funk held on. Every time I’d get close to kicking it, it would return at full force. When this happens it steals my focus from my work and throws it back to my obstacles. It’s difficult to be creative and to move forward when you’re stuck on the negative. And I was really stuck, but I was trying. I still am.

The Friday after my book released I had the wonderful opportunity to see Danny Gokey in concert and even got to meet him! It was just this last spring that I even “discovered” him and his music. (I know. I’m totally late to the party.) His song, “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” came on one of my Pandora stations and left me in tears–the emotions, the words, the music–everything about it felt like me. I downloaded his albums and realized his music is the soundtrack to my heart. It perfectly captures the feelings of my life since losing Chris–the pain and the hope. In writing my book, those songs allowed me to transport myself back and forth from the tough memories to the hope in my heart. And while wrapping up final edits, his latest song, “Rise” gave me the extra push I needed to kick the self-doubt and rally to finish it.

In case you want to check out the songs…

Also, I started following him on social media. I cannot tell you how much his posts with his beautiful wife and adorable children remind me to not give up on the dreams in my heart, to not give up on my always and forever. As humans we need to see real life moments and victories to help strengthen our hope and faith for our future.

While at the concert I realized he wrote a book so of course I HAD to buy it. Again totally late to the game here. I was disappointed that I didn’t have a copy of my book to give him because I’d written about how his music helped me. I’d planned all along to give him a copy, but you know life–things don’t always go as planned. Regardless, I was still super excited to meet him!

14915210_10100263470694919_6084696830045117188_nThis morning, I finished his book, Hope in Front of Me. I read about his struggles, his loss of his wife, and his journey. The love and respect I already carried for him grew even deeper while at the same time it felt as if I was reading my own words–my own story from a different view. I had several, Holy crap! I talk about that in my book, too kind of moments. It wasn’t until the end of the book–those last few chapters the tears hit me.

I was reminded I’m not the lone soldier fighting the good fight of “impossible” dreams, trying to find ways to instill hope, comfort, and healing in the hands of those who need it most. I’m not the only person who’s endured these struggles.

Of course I know that. I know I’m not the only one who has suffered but in reading his victories–personal and professional and the “real life” obstacles that accompany them it allowed me to push away the barrier of isolation again. It allowed my heart to believe it.

I know I’m not the only one with a mission in my heart that people don’t always understand. I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t feel ready for what my heart is calling me to do. I know all of these things and more but just like seeing your life in black and white makes the pain and loss undeniably real it also makes the love, hope, and healing incredibly real. It reminds us what seems impossible isn’t always the case.

I needed to read that book just like I needed to wake up with that broken record thought spouting hope for my future. I don’t understand how or when but I know the dreams in my heart will happen. I’m not stuck, I’m still moving forward even if I don’t always know where the next step is going to land me.

And so are you. Sometimes it feels like nothing is happening and we’re stuck in the troubles of today while worrying that the what if’s of tomorrow are only going to make things worse. I know how hard it is to put faith and hope into the good possibilities of our future and I’ve seen and felt first hand miracles in my own life. How easily we forget miracles. How quickly we believe we’ve already received our life allotment of magical moments. I’m going to keep believing in my always and forever’s (that’s right I’ve got more than one dream.) I hope you find it in your heart to keep hoping and moving towards yours.

If you’re interested in Danny Gokey’s book, here’s the Amazon link–> Hope in Front of Me

And remember never give up on your always and forever.

#MondayMotivation #DontGiveUp #BookLove #MyConfessions