Sep 19, 2014

On Problems

When I post from this blog on twitter, it always ends up on facebook with a giant picture of my face. Which I hate. I realized recently (when I posed a blog with pictures) that twitter just wants a picture from my post--any picture--and it will choose my face if I don't find something else to give it. So, from now on I'm including at least one picture in every post. One, possibly random, but still nice picture that twitter can decide to use instead of my face.

Random Birdwing Butterfly

Actually, that picture might get me in trouble because look, it has a logo. So it's not in the public domain. It was, however, one of a few I have saved on my laptop. The reason why I had this is I was talking with a good friend (whom I have talked about several times on this blog, who also happens to be my bishop) about random things and occasionally I will send him a picture of something we both like. We both like this butterfly because it has his favorite color in it and also my favorite color in it, and I love butterflies, and he has come to like butterflies because I love them. Anyway, I sent him this butterfly several days ago. So it's on my desktop. Random explanation for random picture.

And really what I'm doing now is stalling, because I don't want to write this post. But I kind of have to. It's one of those prompting things, and on facebook this meme came up--the Thomas S. Monson quote of "Never, ever ever postpone a prompting." Heavenly Father is telling me something this morning.

So, yeah. I'm about to get painfully vulnerable. Sorry, or you're welcome, or whatever it is I need to say to you about that.

This is a hard time of year for me. It's, as I've stated in previous years, the time that evokes my feelings in an anniversary reaction. People who've gone through trauma might know what I'm talking about--that around the same time of year, or on an anniversary, of something really difficult that has happened to you, you start feeling cruddy. Or sad. Or just, your feelings are really intense and they burden you and make it harder to cope.

I have been, this year, more unapologetic about it, and my needs during this time, which I think has allowed me to feel the full scope of emotions and deal with them, which is what needs to happen. I think anniversary reactions are there because it gives you a chance to sort through emotions--they're intense enough and are on the surface where other times they might be buried pretty deep. So I'm working on that right now.

I have spent a lot of time, this time, talking to my husband. And also talking to my bishop, he's found time each day to see me for around half an hour, and it has been very helpful. I just feel very, very grateful for such a good priesthood leader and friend. Have I said that before? Yes I have. But I need to say it again.

I have also spent a lot of time being emotional around my husband. Which is very difficult for me, but which I am grateful I'm actually capable of right now. Have I said what a miracle Jeffrey is in my life before? Yes I have, but it needs to be said over and over. He is the singular most miraculous thing that has ever happened or ever will happen to me.

Last night. It was actually a pretty terrible night--lots of feelings as I came away from the business of the day that keeps me occupied and paying less attention. Just really, really difficult feelings. And last night the smoke detector went off randomly and I woke up to some really difficult feelings, too--like an anxiety attack. I struggle with that. If I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep quickly, the racing, distorted thoughts take over and not only do I not get the rest I need, my mind basically is hurting itself. It makes me wonder if somehow my mind addresses lots of issues and concerns and stuff while I am sleeping so that I don't have to deal with it when I'm awake. I don't know. It's possible.

Anyway, I woke up all the way and had to deal with that.

And then when I finally fell back asleep, I had a very strange dream. I dreamed that someone in my family--an in-law--was talking with me and as they talked, I realized they were really struggling. And as we continued the conversation, I realized that, in fact, they were really, really, really struggling emotionally. Terrible struggles. Finally this person kind of threw out her hands and said, "Sarah, I don't understand. With everything you went through, how come you don't have big, big problems?"

And I thought about it. It kind of hit hard. I realized that to her, I seem like I'm awesome or strong or really functional or something and that she was feeling sort of crushed by her own comparison, because it seemed I was not struggling as she was, and why was she struggling when she didn't have an event like mine (few people do, let's face it) to pin struggles on?

So I told her, in my dream.

I do. I really, really really struggle. Life is not easy. It feels crushing, sometimes. But I think two things are what has saved me, and saved the emotional well-being of my family as we struggle. I decided, a long time ago, that I will never, ever do two things. No matter how bad things get, I will never do two things. I will never

1) Leave my family.

That means I will never physically leave them, but it also means I will never do anything that is tantamount to leaving them. Like leaving the church, because that is leaving the covenant I made with them--that is leaving them in the eternity, in a way. It also means I will never commit sins that will keep me from being with them, or will break our family apart.

and I will never:

2) take my own life.

When I was young, my mother told me the story of her cousin. His dad (my great uncle) drank. He was not a good person to be around when he drank. My cousin felt like his life was pretty terrible and so at age twelve, he took his father's shotgun into the barn and shot himself.

I think that this, and also my grandmother's death at a young age, put the fear of God in my mother at the thought of this happening--to anyone she loved, to herself. She sees life as a precious and priceless gift, not one you should ever throw away. And as she reiterated to me and my siblings, like a mantra, growing up, "it always, always, always gets better. Always. Don't do something stupid because of a bad moment."

So even though I really do struggle, and I sometimes fall into a really deep pit of negative emotions--life is worthless, I am worthless, nobody loves me, this world would be better if I'm gone, etc; I know that ending it's not the answer. I know that what would happen in that case is, I would wake up on the other side and immediately think "what a stupid thing I did," and then I'd have to watch my family mourn and struggle and be betrayed and traumatized and then, eventually, move on.

Sorry. This is pretty gritty. I warned you, though.

So I want to tell the internets, and whomever I'm supposed to be writing to right now that, yes, I struggle. I struggle to the point, on occasion, where I can't get out of bed. I struggle to the point where I don't react well to my family--I have to isolate so I don't do damage because I know I'm not reacting correctly. I have to bite my lip or bite my tongue and not. say. a word. Because I know that the feelings I'm having and the words that would come out of my mouth would not be words I'd say if I were in my right mind.

I struggle with intense feelings of anxiety, paranoia, self-loathing. And there are some situations (like at church, unfortunately) when the negative emotions are just an assault at times--like being caught in a tornado, all I can do is let it pass and sort of wait. And hopefully not do any damage in the meantime by reacting inappropriately.

Yeah. I have big problems, guys. I really am pretty messed up. And I feel it, in full measure, at this time of the year when the leaves change and the air gets cold and instead of getting excited for school starting and apple cider and fall colors and Halloween and staying inside in the warm and looking out at the cold and all those wonderful things that used to fill my emotional experience during this time, I feel like the world is falling apart. And what I do to cope is, I hug my babies. I hug my kids. I hug my husband. I hug my bishop, I hug my young women, I hug my friends. I stay quiet except to those who I know I can talk to about it without destabilizing them (and hopefully nobody reading this blog falls into that category), who want me to talk about it because they love me and they just want me to talk to them about stuff I'm feeling.

OK. I'll leave this post on that note:

you need to know, person struggling. The people who love you, love you. Talk to them. They want you to--even if your mind is telling you they don't, that you shouldn't because you shouldn't burden people with the pain inside.... it is a lot more pain for them to know you're struggling, and to not have you trust and talk to them and let them help you feel better. OK? OK.

--and yes, I am fine. No need to send me texts or messages or anything else. LIke I said, I'm just writing this because I feel like I'm supposed to. Why am I fine? Read numbers 1 and 2 above.

Love you all.

Sep 6, 2014

Gratitude (to restore Balance to the universe and to this blog)

Title is self explanatory.
I want everybody to know that I do realize, life is actually good. Even if there is difficulty, and struggle and all that. I feel like yesterday's post was necessary. Honestly. I didn't get that urge to remove it like I have a couple times in the past, talking about struggles with what is happening in my little town. So, I guess I leave it, this time.

BUT I feel a need to make a big, picture-crammed list of the things that I am very very grateful for, because otherwise I would be ungrateful and people might not know how much I love them and appreciate them. A lot. Anyway. Here goes.

I am grateful for:

Beautiful daughters.

Squirt and his doll. (clearly labeled.)

Polar bears who hug.

The three Bastianna sisters: Virginia, Mary, and my great-great Grandmother Silver. She gave birth to 21 children, including 2 sets of twins and a set of triplets, twelve of whom survived to adulthood, but who were all sealed together in the temple last year.

Another Mary, and a Martha, who did the work with me in the temple for two of the ladies pictured above.

A beloved old tree, and those who I played with on said tree. And also, all siblings and my dad whom I couldn't find a picture for. Give me more pictures, siblings and Dad.

Eliza Roxcy Snow, for being so awesome. And for having the middle name "Roxcy."

The fact that bunnies don't have fangs, because, you know. Bunnies are pretty fast. And sneaky.

Old Friends, and the fact that I now know what knee length shorts are.

My new sister.

My grandmother who I've never met, but whose smile I inherited.

Delicious recipes on pinterest which I never have time to make but sometimes gaze at longingly and feel calm afterward.

This baby.

Who is becoming amazing

and incredibly spunky in her older age.

The fact that I do not have this in my house to dust.

Two muddy boys.

my beautiful mother and sister. And a pretty great childhood.

These. Man. Worth it, right?

The fact that Dylan and Tyler are people that my kids will forever remember fondly and aspire to be like.

This sister, who will be horrified I put her between these other two pictures. But who goes on hikes and also thinks about stuff in facebook memes to try to understand crazy people she is related to.

Breasts, because you know they are actually useful for a lot of things.

Diana Fritillaries.

A girl who makes me happy just by being alive, and also when she takes beautiful pictures of my other favorite people.

This one.

Grandma Pat and her come-hither gaze, which I did not inherit.

This man, who I still can't believe isn't around anymore, and this woman, who I love getting recipies in the mail from (which I never make them, but do gaze at longingly and feel calm afterward.)


Satanic Leaftail Geckoes, because they look like leaves until you pick them up and then they lick their eyeballs and climb up your arm. (I assume. I've never held one... it's all a fantasy so far.)

Modest mermaids, because yes, thank you. but honestly, actually you missed a spot.

A sister and a swimming hole and lots of memories.

Sweet people.

Someone who wouldn't want his picture on my blog, but who is an amazing photographer and can make my kids smile.

Holy places.

Someone really great and wonderful, who has been teaching me to make bread lately.

This dude.

Yeah, this dude...

Also a sister who expertly and unashamedly tatooes her feet in henna.

But mostly, this dude, and

the fact that he laid the last block in the foundation for our greenhouse today.

Sep 5, 2014

People Just Don't Understand

I'm sorry, but I can't do this anymore. I need to explode all over the place. It is time.
Regular readers, this is not directed at you, and I apologize in advance for drama and negativity. ANd also what will maybe seem to be an adolescent rehearsal of wrongs.

Recently my therapist (yes, I see one) (in fact, I see two if you count my bishop, who is more like a best-friend and Dad-figure but he's pretty much a therapist) told me something significant.

I really have struggled in my ward. OK. Full disclosure. I've tried not to write much about it, because even hinting at struggles with neighbors has caused some backlash and drama. But I'm at a sort of breaking point, now. I need to talk about it. So if you're reading this and embarrassed i would talk about something, maybe there's a reason. That's all I can come up with right now.

Since I came here, I have loved so many things about this place. There are great, great people in my town. SO many great people. More than I've ever seen collected in one place--down-to-earth, willing-to-serve, head-screwed-on-correctly people.

There's also this handful of people who enjoy drama, enjoy talking about others, and enjoy making others' life hard. You know those groups... mostly women, who function as a sort of hive, with a queen bee (or perhaps two, constantly engaged in a power struggle) and a bunch of satellites? Bees are actually not dangerous creatures. When there's one of them. But a whole hive can kill you with a hundred little stings.

One of my young women gave a very up-front, frank talk in Sacrament meeting on Sunday. She basically said, "you guys have a problem. IT's gossip and judging others. Stop it." She basically gave the distilled version of this talk, which I have, in the past year, been tempted multiple times to print off, roll up, and stick in certain doorways in our ward. And not just because of me. Because of what I've heard said about others, ranging from negative and snide speculation over a very tragic and painful divorce that occurred to condescending remarks about how a few young mothers are parenting their children, to discussion of mistakes people have made, to facebook conversations accusing people of dishonesty that involved several members of the ward.

So, to take things back several years. I went through something terrible when myfirst husband's confession became a matter of public record. What happened was, suddenly everybody was talking about me. Not just in the ward, not just in the stake... the entire state of Utah. In the newspaper. On the radio. On the television. And at school, too... I heard conversations, behind me in class, speculating on the tragedy that had just struck in my life. ANd speculating in joking, not-too sympathetic ways.

People failed me. Let's just say that. Even really, really nice christlike people judged me, and treated me like part of this was somehow my fault. And I realize that is just human nature--it's a way of them feeling safe, feeling like it can't happen to them, that they assume I did something to bring it on myself--I was a cold wife, perhaps. Maybe I wasn't accommodating in bed. Maybe I wasn't attractive.... that was the tenor of several comments on the article that appeared in the daily universe (and then was recanted when my picture was posted above the next article.) Maybe I knew about my husband's habit and gave him an ultimatum. Maybe I was emotionally abusing him. Maybe..... there's lots of maybe.

That's why tragedy should remain private, why you should be able to choose who to counsel with, who to trust with what you are going through. Groups of people can be cruel, and often are. Even nice BYU students.... the need to joke about something horrible, I understand that.

This is why gossip is such a bad thing. It hurts those already hurting. It makes their burden much bigger, and the burden's already too much. It spreads, and infects even those who have good intentions, and separate those hurting from their natural support group, from the sympathy of those around them.

Lies hurt.

And gossip, guys. Gossip is always a lie. Because you never know what someone is going through. You never know what's in their heart. You never know the real details of their situation and even if you did, you aren't putting yourself in a place to understand if your intent is to spread ill-feeling, or spread excitement about detailing the difficulties and mistakes others are going through.

So, to the person who is constantly calling different city departments about any and everything they've decided we aren't doing right, from deciding to irrigate our lot to having a dog that barks too much to building an attached greenhouse to not being able to mow our lawn as often as you'd like--

Stop it.

To the person who eviscerated me on facebook, and stalked out of meetings, and basically made me feel like crap for just imperfectly trying to do a job that is very hard, and who talked to several in my ward about how you thought my book had exploited details of your own personal tragedy (when I gave it to you as a peace offering, trying to reconcile and help you understand I am a good person)--

Stop it.

To the person who served with me and expected me to be perfect, and when I failed inevitably at being perfect, took advantage of that, worked around me, decided not to listen to me, and when I snapped and said something out of frustration, came over to my house and verbally eviscerated me for an hour and a half, and never responded to my attempts to reconcile afterward--

Stop it.

To the person who I reached out to because we were serving together, who I needed support from both in the calling and as a friend, and who rejected all attempts at friendship, made their distaste very clear and then, on top of that, accused me of "harassing" them for texting them a handful of times over the period of two years--

You hurt me. You were perfectly within your right to say and do what you did, but I don't think it's what Heavenly Father wanted. I'm still hurt by you.

Going back to the beginning. I have gone through a lot. And I'm trying, right now, to recover. That means I am visibly struggling at times... I can't always smile. I can't always function. I am trying *so hard*. And I feel judged for breaking, as I'm breaking.

People don't understand that.

I have had to seek a great deal of counsel from my bishop in order to restore a lot of my trust in priesthood leaders, and my relationship with him has developed into something like father and daughter.

People don't understand that, either, and have accused me of being selfish, using up too much of my bishop's time, and being inappropriate. One in particular yelled at me, "Go see a therapist."

You know what? I AM seeing a therapist. Thank you very much. I'm sorry that the fact that I was married to a porn addict who tried to kill me and my unborn child three times, and my story ended up in the newspaper, and my priesthood leaders failed me (not intentionally, it was hard for them, too), and people betrayed me, and I lived in a state of stress and blocked emotion for ten years, and am only just now recovering and a lot of times it ain't pretty, is a problem for you. Have you considered the fact that it's an even bigger problem for me? That faith is what I'm clinging to? That my husband and bishop are basically keeping me alive right now? That often, the fact that I've shown up on Sunday with a smile on my face, ready to plan a pile of things and invite a ton of people and coordinate the conflicting desires of several leaders, is an impossible achievement for me, made possible only by the antonement and the *support and counsel* of said bishop?

Do you see how hard I'm trying?

NO, because people don't understand. NOt even if they know my entire story, will they understand. SOme people just enjoy eating drama for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and in order to make their own difficult lives worth living, they stand on the tragedy and difficulty of others and find comfort in looking down on them.

The thing my therapist said to me: Even if they know everything, Sarah. Even if they knew every little detail--they still aren't in your shoes. They still don't feel what you're feeling. They still don't KNOW. And some, won't understand, and won't care.

The thing is... it shouldn't matter. We should all be giving each other the benefit of the doubt. We should all be reaching out to each other in love. We should all be proffering forgiveness.

So.... please, everbody. Person calling the city. Girl who ripped me apart. Girl who accused me of harassment. People who speculate about my divorce, my greenhouse, my lawn, my close relationship with my bishop....

Please stop it.


i will try to forgive you. But I am not perfect.