Leaving the Nest

By Shawna Ervin

I stand here, my toes dangling off the edge and I cringe. I cringe into the breeze, feel myself sway into its promises, then stand on my own again. I back away. Dare I leap? Dare I even lean?

In the nest I’m alone, huddled and scared. I’ve been abandoned. Again. Did I wait too long? Should I have leapt long ago? If I jump will anyone be at the bottom for me? Do I need them? I’m not sure. I only know alone is not where I want to be.

I creep to the edge again, look down, up, then out. I close my eyes, let the breeze hold me, find it stronger than I knew. I give in and give up my strength and my need to the wind. I feel the tears slip down my cheeks and don’t bother to wipe them away. I let the wind gently take them, take my needs and wants, and all I think isn’t mine. I let it move me. I feel a bit of lift as I stretch out my arms.

I begin to trust this wind, this breeze I can’t see. I don’t bother to explain, to write it down, or understand. I keep my eyes closed, turn around with my feet secure on the edge. I look into the nest, the place I’ve nestled snug in shame and loneliness. I feel the pull of familiar, then lean. I lean gently, gently back not strong enough to make the leap. I lean slowly, slowly until I am not leaning but falling. I close my eyes. I turn over as if I’ve always known how to fly, stretch my arms wide. The wind quickens; freedom and hope rush past my fingertips against my open palms.

I open my eyes, see the brightness of the sun, feel its warmth on my face and I smile. Then, all at once I land softly, gently into the only arms strong enough to catch me. They are mine.

Thanksgiving in the Midst of Overwhelming Pain

By Pamela Roberts

They are all around us — the walking wounded. This year I join the ranks after two months of hell including legal separation, suicides, domestic violence, natural death, restraining orders, children recovering from past sexual abuse plus living with the “normal” stress of continuous sickness, finals, teenagers, and finances. Others might add things like sexual assault, divorce, debilitating accidents, terminal illness, chronic pain, homelessness, or death of a child. It is difficult to emotionally process any of these life events whether you are experiencing them directly or watching from a distance. Thanksgiving adds incredible pressure to the hurting when they are not offered loving and appropriate support.

I cannot think of anything worse (for me) than being around a group of people that know I am going through an incredibly difficult time but completely avoid any acknowledgement or discussion of my pain. Small talk is miserable for me regardless of the situation! Unfortunately, we all find ourselves feeling isolated by our troubles in a crowded room at some point. Those around us don’t know what to say or don’t want to upset us. We experience the same lack of words plus the added guilt of potentially “ruining” the celebration. The superficial conversations continue. I would guess that deep down we all crave to be known and heard. We certainly all have pain.

What is the point of gathering if this is how we live life together? I challenge you to be brave this Thanksgiving and start real conversations, ask deep questions, and be authentic with those around you. Leave all criticism at home and listen for the story behind the situation. Pay attention to the blessings that happen in the midst of tragedy and take time to celebrate them. Allow yourself to enter into the journey emotionally. I believe that we each have the opportunity to make this holiday life-changing for someone else and ultimately for ourselves. Thanksgiving started out as a celebration of community, let’s agree to make it authentic community.

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Amy

By Joel Moore, author of www.perpetuallyhealing.com

It was my wife’s birthday last week. I am so very grateful for her. If it wasn’t for her endless patience and love toward me I wouldn’t be alive today. Three years ago I took her aside into our bedroom while she was preparing our Sunday dinner. “Amy,” I said as I closed the door behind me. There was nervousness and fear in my voice, “I think I was, Ummmm” I paused, if I said the next few words would she love me? Would she still want to be with me? Would she believe me when I didn’t even believe me? I wanted to turn around and not say anything. Perhaps its just something made up, a way to manipulate or create chaos out of calm. If I could just turn around and not speak the next two words. Perhaps the scalding thunderbolt of the first recovered memory would fade into the distance of illusion and nightmarish fantasy.

I was frozen in place, as if my feet were nailed to the floor. She looked at me with those beautiful soft azure and golden eyes, anticipating, yet already knowing, what I was going to say next. I regretted calling her away from the kitchen. It felt as if a puppeteer’s hand had violently thrust itself through my spine and I became a mannequin to inevitability. My mouth opened and sound emerged without my permission.

“I think I was sexually abused,” I finally finished my sentence.

She took a long moment to process what I had just said, those kind eyes never wavering. I backed up a half step expecting her to slap my face and call me a liar. Her next words to a divorce lawyer. Or any number of disbelieving scenarios ran through my whirling mind. Yet, what she had to say next was just as devastating.

“I suspected all along, Do you know who did this to you?”

She believed me. Her words were like healing salve on my burning skin. With that one simple sentence she told me that I was going to be ok, that I would survive this; it was going to get better. Over the next three years she has been my anchor among the tempest of recovering memories, raging emotions, and deep unending grieving. She has given wisdom when I needed it. She has given me encouragement, love, and support when others have called me a liar, a monster, or a perpetrator upon my own children. At the same time she has pushed me when all I wanted to do was wallow in self pity and cry.

The last three years she has listened to me tell the same story over and over again, each time she has always had the right thing to say to comfort my mournful soul. She has said things like:

I am so sorry this happened, what can I do to help?

I believe you.

This sucks, I wish I could do something to make you feel better.

He had no right to do that. You are justified to feel angry about it.

Why are you accepting his shame? Put that shame back onto him.

Where are you right now? Come back to me.

Did you write today?

It is worth it, You can do it.

You aren’t breathing, Slow down and refocus your breath.

Go meditate.

Go get a beer and come back when you are calm.

Come here, you need a hug.

I like new husband better.

Be angry at him, not me.

These are a few words out of the many I have heard over the past few years as I have begun to become the man she sees when she looks at me. As a result of her inspiration and patience I am becoming a whole person, capable of emotions other than anger or deep sadness. She has inspired me to be better, to seek help when I was unable to find a solution on my own.