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Regrets

I often hear people proclaim, “I have no regrets!” or, “I live life without regrets.” As if having regrets is a bad thing, a disappointment, something to be ashamed of. When I looked up the word regret here is what I found:

v. to feel sorry, repentant or upset about
v. to bemoan or grieve the death or loss of
n. a sense of repentance, guilt or sorrow, as over some wrong done or unfulfilled ambition
n. a sense of loss or grief

I have grown up thinking regrets were bad, something to be ashamed of. If you have regrets you’ve made a lot of mistakes, bad choices, wrong decisions. We look in awe and wonder at the person who proudly proclaims, “I have no regrets! I live in the moment. What’s past is past.” They have something we long for. The ability to move forward with a positive attitude and outlook no matter or in spite of past circumstances. The strength and conviction they exude is captivating, enviable.

In taking a close look at the above definitions I see something different. Regret is described as feeling sorry, either by owning your part in whatever happened, whether done by you, to you, because of you or in spite of you, or simply because someone other than you is hurting. In raising my children I have taught them, sometimes we are sorry, not because we did anything wrong, but because the other person is hurting.

“I’m sorry you didn’t win your match today.”

“I’m sorry you missed out on the family trip to Venezuala.”

“I’m sorry your cat died.”

I may have had nothing to do with what caused the pain, and yet there is pain. Feeling sorry doesn’t always mean we did something bad.

Repentant, on the other hand, is feeling sorry or regret for something you did (or didn’t do). This does require ownership in having done something that resulted in a negative outcome, whether to yourself or someone else.

“I’m sorry I hit your car when I swerved to miss the baby ducks crossing the road. I feel terrible about it.”

“I’m sorry my being late to pick you up caused you to miss your flight home. I really screwed up this time.”

Even in being repentant, accepting my part in making a mistake which had a poor outcome for myself or others, does not equal the gravity of what I thought a life of regret held. Instead, by owning my part, I become aware of my human nature, my selfish desires, my character defects. As I recognize my defects I have a choice, I can work on them or I can make excuses for them and continue living the same as I always have. Some defects may get better in time, others may never go away. If that’s the case, why would I work on them? Why do we work at anything? If we have a job, why do we work towards a promotion? If we have money, why do we invest it for it to grow providing a greater return? If we can eat raw food, why do we learn how to cook food? Why not? You might think, all of those examples were taking something you have that is good and making it better. A defect on the other hand is something bad, negative. It’s different. That’s true. If we can work at good things and make them even better, why not try working at ‘bad’ things and see if we can’t make them better as well?

For example, one of my character defects, which has caused me regret on more than one occasion, is my tongue. My sharp tongue, to be more exact. I have a way with slinging words at someone when I feel afraid, offended, backed into a corner, questioned or judged. I could write it off as a coping mechanism which became a necessary tool during my upbringing. Or I could say it is a side effect of the verbal, emotional, mental and physical abuse I endured in my first marriage. Both are understandable and both are an excuse for something I do that hurts others. My first step was recognizing it. Then I determined I didn’t like it and wasn’t willing to just live behind my excuses or reasons. Now I am working on noticing when I am doing it, about to do it, in an effort to find alternative actions to alleviate what is causing me to feel the need to lash out and change my action. Have I mastered it? Heck, no! Not yet, but I am working on it.

Lastly, a sense of sorrow over missed opportunity or unfulfilled ambition. I have a feeling this is the one most people are referring to when they state they have no regrets. I would question just how honest they are being, with themselves more so than with me. What would life be without any regrets? Don’t we all grow up with dreams, ambitions, grandiose plans of what we will do, who we will become, where we will go? Only to find not all of it comes to pass. If you are at all like me, you found yourself pregnant at the young age of seventeen, long before going to college. Even before graduating high school. Do I regret it? Yes. I regret not graduating high school. I regret giving myself heart, mind and body to someone who turned out not to love me the way I thought he did. I regret disappointing people who loved me and had hopes and dreams for how my life would go. I regret what my life could have been had I made different choices.

If I said, I didn’t have regrets, I wouldn’t be being honest. I made choices that affected so much, for myself and for others around me. There is one part I do not regret, and that is keeping my daughter. Choosing to not have an abortion, choosing to raise my child, was the right choice for me. It wasn’t easy, not in the beginning and not for a very long time. It was hard work and came with a string of regrets as I muddled my way through it. Every one of those regrets were an opportunity for me to own my part or turn the other way, blaming someone or something else. I did my fair share of turning the other way. blaming others for my actions and my circumstances.

Feeling sorrow for missed opportunities allows me to see what I did, what I could have done differently, or what I simply have to accept did not turn out the way I had hoped it would. I don’t want to ignore or dismiss instances in my past which may not have had the outcome I desired simply so I can live ‘without regret’ or feel good about myself.

A wise uncle of mine said, “For me regrets occur when looking back at things I cannot change…. lessons on the other hand occur when I look ahead and see things I can hope to do better.”

In that regard, I would say I look back at my regrets and contemplate how I might do things differently going forward. Whether given the same opportunity again, or a completely different circumstance where what I learn from my past regret can help guide a better outcome.

Uncategorized

Put On Notice 4-24-21

I’m just going to put this right here. On March 29, 2019, I went to court and successfully obtained a Protection/No Contact Order against my ex-husband who continued to harass myself, my husband and my children through Facebook posts, comments on my blog (here), through Private Messages on Facebook and voicemails on my and my husband’s phone.

Let it be known, There is a Protection Order in Place for Kristina Lyn Reddy, her husband and her children. James D. Carroll II, aka Don Carroll Jr. may NOT be in person within 100 ft of the aforementioned individuals, AND he may NOT contact the aforementioned individuals in any way, shape or form, this includes all types of social media, email, voice and text contact. Violation of this Order will result in arrest and potential jail time.

Any and all violations including posts, replies, message are printed and kept on file.

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Enlightenment

“Enlighten me”, something said with a tinge of sarcasm when in the middle of a disagreement. Spoken to one with an opposing view. Spoken by one who desires less to be enlightened and more to prove the other view wrong.

And yet, rewind. Try again. Say it one more time, only this time, remove the tinge of sarcasm and replace it with desire. The desire to learn, to grow, to listen with the intent to understand, to grow in knowledge.

I, like most, find myself listening with the intent to respond. Each word spoken, falling up my ears while my mind is actively searching for my response. Unfortunately the result is hearing less the longer this transpires as our brain is only able to focus, truly focus, on one thing at a time. We either focus on what we are hearing, or we focus on what we are creating to say in return. Being the selfish human beings we are, our focus slowly (or quickly) begins to tune out what we are hearing and delve into what we are planning to say.

Defeating the purpose of enlightenment, and seeking instead the self serving activity of formulating a response, an argument.

Meditation, for me, when I choose to partake, has become a source of enlightenment. I have found it difficult to quiet my mind. Turning my thoughts off does not come naturally to me. Instead of giving up on meditation altogether, I have chosen to meditate on what I would like to be enlightened by. Listening to prayer, followed by scripture from the Bible, with a background of soothing music and timely prompts to focus on my breathing, helps me meditate of words I would normally let pass into and out of my consciousness with little thought.

Rather than chastising me for trailing thoughts, I am encouraged to accept them and come back to the word or prayer I was focusing on. Instead of feeling as though I have failed, I am encouraged to once again listen to the scripture and allow it or God to speak to me.

The more I do this, the more I find my trailing thoughts become prayers to God. Accepting the words I have listened to, praying they become a part of my life, my daily activities, how I interact with and treat those around me. And at times, prayer for others who I know are struggling.

Enlightenment feels like the joy, love, peace, gentleness, patience, kindness and truth of the holy spirit flowing gently through my veins, one with my physical body as my spirit communes with God. His peace, the peace that surpasses all human understanding, covers, removes my anxieties, my pain, my hurts – physical, mental and emotional, as I release them all to Him. Replaced with the Word, the living, breathing, Son of God who has the power to take it all upon himself, bear it, die for it and break the chains that bind it to me.

One day I will see enlightenment. It will surpass the human imagination. Grander than any painting created, any sculpture formed, any building designed, it will shatter our hopes, dreams and desires for perfection. To see enlightenment will require the removal of all inadequacies, all imperfections, all distractions, all evil, all wrong-doing past, present and future. It will be heavenly.

Uncategorized, Warrior's Voice

Temporary Relief

I entered the court house my daughter now a grown woman, at my side. The bursting file I held in my hand, evidence. What was supposed to empower me hindered by my thoughts of doubt. Were his words harsh enough? Would the judge read between the lines and hear the threatening tone ringing in my ears? Was the one threat against my husband enough? Had I filled the papers out correctly.

Certain I would be turned away, again, my hands began to quiver. My stomach all a flutter, not in the good way as is when anticipating a date’s arrival or the phone to ring when your lover calls. The slight flutter before the churning begins. My spirit trying to tell my mind to remain calm, stick to the facts. Trust the process. Trust the system.

I assured myself I had done things right this time around. Eighteen years later, each time the verbal harassment ensued, I wrote it down, printed it out, and called the police to file a report. Each incident a separate packet complete with the officer’s card and incident number. And yet, doubt filled my mind. My heart torn between beating fast and holding its breath, waiting.. My body, fight or flight, on high alert. One moment the urge to flee out the courthouse door before the judge could say the words I dreaded to hear. The words condoning his actions and making a mockery of my fear.

By the time I filed the papers with the clerk, court was in recess. We were asked to return to the courthouse at 1:30 PM for the afternoon session. Two hours to kill. We, my daughter and I, left the building. Now 27 years old, she was here to help me, strengthen me. Eighteen years ago, I took her and ran in the night. I was protecting her then. I went to court then as well, in hopes of obtaining a Protection Order. It was denied. Having never called the Police, it was his word against mine. Not once had I so much as lifted the phone when he destroyed our home, barraged me with verbal insults, nor the times that he hit me so hard and told me I was lucky to be alive. Too afraid to call, ashamed to call, embarrassed of my life, my marriage, my failures. And confused, always so confused. His words of condemnation swarming my brain, blaming me. Followed by acceptance when I resorted to apologizing for my behavior, my lack of submission.

“We’ll be back.” The security guard was less than amused by my lame attempt of Arnold Schwarzenegger impression.

We contemplated lunch knowing full well what we both wanted to do. Drive to the neighborhood my ex had been parked in the night before to see if he was still there. Not in hopes of seeing him, just to make certain he was not somewhere else. Somewhere we couldn’t find him. If we couldn’t find him, how would the police find him? How could he be served if I obtained a Protection Order?. Without service the order was moot.

“I want to drive by where his van was parked. As much as I want him gone, I want him there so I know where he is. If I get this order, I want to be sure he can be served.” Laurie nodded at my words, she had known, expected them.

She drove. I focused on my breathing pressing out my thoughts of doubt and rejection. Court houses still fill me with fear. The day my divorce was final, I fully believed until the judge hit his gavel of decision, he would deny my divorce and make me stay married to Don. Divorce was wrong. I had been told this since I was a small child. A wife is to cling to her husband. Honor him. Obey him. Follow his leadership as he is the head of the home as Christ is the head of the church.

Oh, the crazy insane things my husband had made me do in honor of his leadership In the name of submission. The sins he justified as long as they stayed in the marital bedroom. The abuse he claimed was his ‘right to lead’ and my ‘duty to submit’ to. The blame ever ending on my shoulders when choices turned out bad and life as we knew it fell apart. If only….. If only I would try harder, be a better wife, love him, honor him, be more submissive, not question his authority, believe in him as my husband. If only, then we would have a successful marriage and life. God would be pleased.

Laurie and I drove around Ravenna. Street by street. Looking for the van Seattle Police had confirmed was registered to him. Our hope dwindling, stomachs growling, we gave in and headed north for sustenance.

“It’s such a sunny day, he probably went to Green Lake or something.” Laurie steered the car towards the lake. We would drive by on the way home. Just in case.

We sat on her front porch and ate our lunch. The sun soaked into our winter clothes warming our bodies. Laurie shed her sweatshirt as I unzipped my black coat to let the breeze in. The tension in my body reminding me I was on high alert. The sound of tires bringing my gaze to the street. A car, not a van, passed by.

The minutes ticked off my watch. Time to head back to the court house.

I wish I could say when I sat down in Court Room 1 I felt certain the order would be accepted. I didn’t. As much as logic supported the motion, at least a temporary order, my experience did not. I quickly realized we were in Traffic Court, we werethe only non traffic related order.

‘Ms Reddy, are you in the court room?” The judge scanned the nearly full benches.

“Yes”, I raised my hand as his eyes followed my voice.

“Okay, I have a fairly full docket today which I will start with, but I will get to you soon. I will not make you wait until the end.”

“Thank you, your honor.” I massaged my hands, twisting my ring. A reminder I am happily married now. I am not alone in this.

A little more than an hour passed. the judge explained that he had finished the 1:30 docket and would begin the 2:30 docket shortly. He let us know he had online court from 3:00 PM to 3:30 PM. Due to the nature being an attorney and clients in jail it was a set time and no matter what he was doing at 2:59 PM he had to log-in to the online court at 3:00 PM. He thanked us for our patience.

“At this time I would like to call Ms. Reddy up. I will begin with your order and see how far we get before 3:00 PM. I highly doubt we will finish, so I may need to ask you to wait and we will finish as soon as the online court is complete. I apologize.”

I nodded and headed up to the table and two seats where I had seen others contesting their traffic ticket sit when representing themselves.

I was sworn in and the judge proceeded.

“First I want you to know I have reviewed your Petition for a Protection Order. And – “

He paused to make eye contact with me. His eyes held my gaze as I held my breath. The compassion in his eyes sent a flutter of hope through me.

“And, as difficult as it was, I read all of the documentation that you provided. All of it.” Tears welled up in my eyes at his words. I heard them correctly and yet, this is what I actually heard.

‘I believe you. I read the papers you submitted. I read the words your ex husband wrote to you. I believe he did it. I believe it is NOT OKAY that he did this to you and to your family. I believe that what he has done, and is doing, is wrong. I believe you.’

He didn’t say those words, but I heard them. My shoulders relaxed. My chin lifted.

For the record he read my petition and then told me he would have to ask me a few questions. My full name, my date of birth, my relationship to the respondent. He asked me about the timeline of the incidents that I had documented.

“It does appear his behavour is escalating.” The judge confirmed it was getting worse, not better.

He glanced at the clock on the wall.

“You have my full attention. My apologies for looking at the clock. I do not want you to think in any way what we are looking at is not serious or does not have my attention. I just cannot miss online court.” Again, the judge look directly into my eyes.

‘I hear you. I see you. Your abuse is valid’, His words, the ones said and the ones I interpreted, causing a flooding sensation through my body.

I wanted to cry, full on, shed the tears welling up inside me. For years held back knowing I needed to remain strong. Unable, un-allowed by myself, to give in. I would carry on. I would live my life. His words, the Judge’s words, opening a crack in the dam I had built to protect my spirit, that his words, my abuser’s, sought to destroy. Words past and present spewed at me through the waves of technology, hit upon hit, blow upon blow, attacking when I least expected it, when vulnerability left me susceptible. Once again be pulled back into the depths of his rage. His manipulation powerful, threatened to strip me of who I had become, my growth.

Not today. Today, I was heard. Today, I was believed.

“My apologies, I must set this aside and log-in to the online court system for the jail. I sincerely apologize. Please take your seat and we will continue with your Order upon my completion. I do not want to rush and make any errors on your Order. Again, I am sorry.” His words exemplified the compassion seen in his eyes. As much as he hated to make me wait, he also hated to rush something of great importance.

That’s what I heard. My Order was of great importance. My request deserved to be heard. I deserved to be protected. He, my abuser, deserved to be stopped.

I took my seat and waited. I half listened to the online court. Case after case of request for bail or for charges to be dropped. My thoughts trailed off, I couldn’t help but wish for every woman, everywhere who has experienced or was currently being abused to be me in that moment. I knew, the Protection Order would not in fact completely protect me from potential harm from my ex husband. I knew it was an Order, one like any other boundary, rule, law, only works if it is in fact obeyed. One that if broken comes with legal ramifications, but also great risk for the victim as the result of it being broken could bring physical pain or even death. Even with that knowledge, the joy of being heard, in this moment, out weighed the impending possibility that my Protection Order could be ignored.

“Okay, Ms Reddy, let’s continue your Order for Protection. Thank you for your patience.”

He continued asking questions to clarify locations where we worked, went to church, etc. to indicate in the Order location where Don would not be allowed to come within 500 feet of. The judge went to the extent of hand writing the address of our home, the schools of my children, each place of employment and our church. He added ‘anywhere any person listed in this Order works, attends school, plays sports or worships’ to the hand written details.

“I know this is taking a lot of time, but I want to be certain I leave no detail to misinterpretation. Please bare with me.” He continued writing on the Order.

Bare with you? If ever I questioned my hearing, it was now. If ever I felt more validated, it was now. If ever I wanted to jump up, run over and hug a judge, it was now. My heart was bursting with joy rather than squeezed with anguish.

“Okay, I believe I have all of the pertinent details of the locations. Just so you know in the legal realm I could just have wrote ‘schools’ and ‘ church’ in general and all schools and churches you attend going forward will in fact be covered, but for the sake of expressing my sincere agreement that you are to be protected, I wanted to be specific.” The length of which he was going to make me feel heard was more than I could absorb. Every nerve of my body was tingling.

“Thank you Your Honor. I can’t express what this means to me. Thank you, for everything, from the bottom of my heart.”

“You are welcome. Okay, two more things. One is to determine the length of the Protection Order. And the other, well it is the more difficult one.” Tension crept back in as I felt the hesitation in his voice.

“In as much as I fully believe you have a right to this Protection Order, and I have written all of this out, what I have written is only temporary.” He paused, letting it sink in, or to gather his thoughts. Likely that latter, but it did sink in, to the pit of my stomach. I nodded my understanding.

“These documents, which include all of the pages you submitted, will need to be served to him in person. My understanding is he lives in a van, correct?” He rifled through the pages to find the one with the street coordinates penciled in the place requesting a Physical Address for the Defendant.

“Yes, he does.” I confirmed.

The judge cleared his throat and shuffled the pages back into order before looking at me.

“I will sign this Temporary Order of Protection. In doing so, the local Police will received instructions to serve the defendant with the order and a date of appearance which you will set with the clerk. Detectives will do their best to find him and serve him, however, all they will be able to go off of are these cross streets.” Once again he paused before continuing.

“It will be difficult at best, and quite honestly highly unlikely they will find him. As much as I hate to say that, it is true. It is doubtful the police will in fact be able to serve him.” Silence filled the courthouse. The others awaiting their turn with the judge gripped by the motion at hand, sat intently listening.

“I’m going to tell you what some have done to help the service be successful. It may not be something you can or are willing to do, but well, who knows. Some people drive around and locate the automobile and once having found it they call 9-1-1 and let them know they have found an individual that has an Order to be Served. They then request an officer come to the location and provide that officer with the papers to be served. I am going to give you extra copies of the paperwork and the court for the officer would need to fill out upon serving the packet.” Once again, he paused in the silence.

“I have to warn you, you might call 9-1-1 only to find they are experiencing a busy time and be unable to send an officer for an hour or two or more. Or while you are waiting, he may drive away at which time you would need to call 9-1-1 back and cancel the request. It’s definitely not easy or convenient, but some individuals have had success with service this way. You may want to consider it.”

“Thank you Your Honor. I appreciate the advice.” The tension returning to my body battled with the sense of peace pushing back.

“Okay, now for the duration of the Order. Today I will sign a Temporary Order into effect. You will then have 2 weeks to have him served. Now, I know 2 weeks is a very short period of time and it is very unlikely to happen. I will set your return date for 3 weeks out so the temporary will hold until then. When you return and in the event he has not been served I will extend the Temporary for an additional 30 days. Hopefully in that time, with some luck, you will be able to have him served. Okay?” I nodded my understanding once again.

The judge signed the Temporary Order and handed it to the clerk. I was instructed to proceed to the clerk’s desk for my documents and to set my date of return.

A battle raged within, each emotion fighting for Alpha position. I had been heard, believed, confirmed, validated, and empowered. And then I been heeded, cautioned, more was yet to come. More was needed to finalize what I had set out to obtain. For today I would take hold of the strengthening sense of success, even if it was only Temporary.

Kristi Lyn Reddy, Author, published in True Stories Volume 1 is in the process of writing her Memior (Untitled). Through trauma, uncertainty and the burden of secrets, Kristi Lyn found the strength to carry her towards her ultimate redemption, Living Loved – beyond and in spite of ongoing fear.

Uncategorized, Warrior's Voice

Grieving in Silence

I attended a Zoom conference today with the author of, ‘Motherless Daughters’, Hope Edelman. I wasn’t exactly sure of what to expect from the conversation as I have not yet read her book. As I logged in, others were logging in as well. Women from all over the world. Many from the United States, others from India, UK, Singapore, and other countries. Women of all ages raging from early 20’s to late 80’s joined the Zoom connection to hear what Hope had to say.

Hope shared a brief synopsis of her story in how she lost her mom when she was quite young and how she has found the process of grief varies in many ways. Whether due to the age you are when you lose your mother, the circumstances around her passing, how you, your father, and other family members processed or didn’t process the loss, all may effect how you have grieved and continue to grieve. She also introduced an online course she will be launching in January for a fee of $197.

What stood out to me the most was actually my lack of grief in the loss of my mother comparatively to the comments being typed into the chat portion of the Zoom conversation. I was devastated when my mother died suddenly after a very short battle with breast cancer. One that we thought she was actually winning. I can still see, feel and hear conversations in her hospital room in the couple days before her vocal chords were paralyzed. The day she gave her last breath will never leave my memory. I cried, long and hard. I spent the entire summer focused on my nieces and nephews, to surround myself with what mattered most to my mother.

And yet, as summer came to a close, it was back to life as it was. While sitting and listening to the women on this conference video still grieving, I connected to my lack of long term grief. Not lack of love for my mother, but lack off allowing myself the space and ability to continue to bring her memory with me today.

I am an ‘out of sight out of mind’ kind of person. It became evident to me when I traveled with a girlfriend to visit another girlfriend who was battling cancer in 2017. We had all been through our own battle with breast cancer around the same time with varied diagnosis. Now this friend was fighting colon cancer, stage IV. While I was away from my family, I noticed my friend calling home a few times each day to say hi to her husband and her daughters. It was then I realized I don’t do that. Have never done that. I thought long and hard about all the times Tom and I had gone away on a overnight getaway and determined I never once called to say goodnight to my children while I was away.

It’s not that I didn’t miss them. Many moments I would think, “Oh, I wish Tom was here to walk on this beach with me.” Or, “I wish M was here to play in the pool, he would love this!” Or, “Laurie and I should go here some time.’ And upon returning home, I would grab hold of them, give them hugs and kisses, and say, “I missed you so much!” I was very happy to see them indeed. It just never occurred to me to call them while I was away. (On another note, I also have not been prone to bring home gifts/souvenirs when I have been away.)

In giving this more thought I noticed this to be true in other areas of my life as well. If I left a job, I did not keep in touch with co-workers. When a friend has moved away, I have easily lost contact with that friend. Facebook has allowed for the most recent friendships to remain superficially connected, yet without it the relationship would be lost.

I did not grieve when my father passed shortly after my mother. I felt the lack of grief in his passing was for very different reasons. The zoom meeting today touched on how grief or lack thereof can vary based on the relationship you had with the loved one before their passing. This has always made sense to me. With a tumultuous at best relationship with m y father, a heart of pain, misunderstanding, memories of physical and emotional abuse over shadowed his death.

Today I found myself pondering about my childhood and how our family functioned in high stress times. Times, where I believe now, a therapist would say were traumatic, life altering moments. What I can recall is a great deal of silence. Our home became full of silence. Rooms that were meant to be shared, living spaces designed for the family to gather, empty. Each person went to their private space, including our mother, closed the door, creating a sea of silence throughout the home.

I spent a large amount of time at home, seemingly alone, even though others were there. And when our mother left for work, to visit our father who was living elsewhere at the time, the phone never rang. She didn’t call to check on me, to see how we were doing, to say good night. I don’t recall waiting for a phone call, or wishing I had received a phone call. It just didn’t happen. Not from her, not from friends, not from anyone. This was my normal.

After my trip to CA with my girlfriends, I began making a point of calling home or sending photos to my son with a text letting him know I missed him. I have even called my adult daughter and my best friend a couple times recently to check-in. It feels odd, and yet oddly right. I am beginning to acknowledge I have been trapped living a life of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for a very long time. It was and is my coping mechanism to loss. Whether that be grief for loss, or guilt for being away and thus causing my children a sense of loss, or guilt for being away from my partner and leaving them alone taking care of everything. It seems as though it all connects back to how I felt as a child, but was unable to voice it. No one voiced it.

We grieved in silence. All we were going through. All we were battling in our minds and our hearts. All of the pain, hurt, fear, worry, was held in silence. I carried this into my abusive marriage. It was furthered by the notion that our problems were private and thus should not be discussed with others. Furthered still by the belief wherein all of our cares should be taken to the Lord in prayer. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in prayer. I believe in a God who heals and provides and loves me, for me. I also believe in a God who wants us to carry each others burdens, love one another, and care for and grieve with one another. It has taken years to get past, to get over, to forgive and heal from what was taught to me for decades. To break through the silence I was held captive in.

I am uncertain of how to grieve in a healthy way, one that will hold the love I have for who or what I have lost, without holding me in a space of sadness or pain. I desire to incorporate sharing memories of the good times along with expressing the pain and hurt in a way of processing through all which was lost before my parents died and after. With the inability to share what was lost before, due to the learned nature of holding it all in silence, I have developed the habit of doing nothing rather than something.

And I believe I have continued this method of living in silence in other areas of my adult life. The uncertainty of what can and cannot be spoken about. The idea of if I do not talk about it, do not call home while I am away, then being away will have been okay and will not have caused any harm (real or imagined). My child, my spouse, my relationship will not be changed, altered or affected, as long as the time away (and fear of what being away may have done to those I left) is kept in silence.

If I call, then I am acknowledging that I am away, that I have left them, that I am having fun without them. For some reason, that has always felt wrong. Thinking back to when my mom would go away in the evenings to see my dad, that is exactly what it felt like. I was abandoned. Left alone, to fend for myself, tuck myself in bed, say my prayers in silence. We didn’t ever talk about it. And as long as we didn’t talk about it, it was okay. Without realizing it, I carried this with me as I grew, developing a part of my character. Silence became my grieving process and silence expanded and grew into many areas of my life in which I felt uncertain whether or not should be spoken of. I have kept myself from truly experiencing grief, rest, pleasure, fear, joy, separation, instead remaining silent.

Silence became something I dreaded. I found ways to not be in silence whenever possible, not knowing all I was doing was covering up what I needed to hear, feel, say. I have come to a place in my life where I rejoice in silence. I long for silence and cherish moments, if not hours in silence. And it is in this silence where I am hearing my grief, feeling my hurts, gaining understanding and the strength to voice it all.