When the Crisis Doesn’t End


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This was a heart-broken day.  It was my youngest daughter’s twentieth birthday, but I didn’t get to spend it with her.  Her father picked her up at school and took her to Ohio, and she won’t be home until tomorrow night.  She went to a basketball game and out to dinner, and will stay at a hotel tonight.  She is having the time of her life, and I wouldn’t take it from her for the world.  He can more than afford it, and I can’t compete with NBA games, and Universal studios, or condos on the beach.  I, however, am having a hard time buying her a card and a gift.  I knew this was going to happen, but I had set my mind to be okay, and I was (kind of) until someone reminded me this afternoon that the girlfriend went along with them.

And, I confess, I think I have hate in my heart tonight, Lord.  A bag of candy and a lot of tears later, I believe there’s some intense dislike and resentment there.

I don’t want to be the kind of person who hates, or dislikes anyone.  I usually don’t, but this one is hard.  Always.  So please, God, guard my heart against bitterness.  And hopelessness.  Hopeless is a horrible feeling, but it can be so hard to fight it, and some days I just don’t feel like fighting.

Sometimes I feel that there is no corner of my life untouched by sadness.

I have not heard from my landlord yet regarding the house;  I owe them money, and am not sure [again] if we’re coming or going.  I am so very tired of moving.  If I had a million dollars, I would buy a place of rest and refuge.  (With roses.)  Somewhere peaceful, private, quiet and safe.  It would be nice to be able to go to sleep for one night and not have to worry about money, or bills, or being homeless, or having the utilities shut off.  It’s not that I’m not grateful for what I have (and I have a lot) but the financial and emotional fallout from divorce and domestic violence is huge.

I had written last time about I book I had found, about False Memory Syndrome.  The book has been enormously helpful, but healing from misguided therapy has taken a backseat to all of the financial worries and health problems.  I will write more about it, because writing helps, but not tonight.

Tonight all I will do is trust God, and pray that tomorrow will be a better day.

(And try to beat my daughter at Trivia Crack.  Or maybe I will let her win, just for tonight.  After all, it is her birthday.)


Buying Grace


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On March 28, 1997, someone in Syracuse, N.Y. went into a Media Play store in Shoppingtown Mall and bought a book.  I know, because a few weeks ago, I went into a thrift store in North Syracuse and picked it up for a dollar.  It is in like-new condition, and inside the front cover is a light blue post-it note filled with hand-written notes and page numbers. Whoever bought it had also left the receipt in it.  I have been trying to picture who this person could be, and what compelled them to buy it in the first place, and then get rid of it?  Client or clinician?  Someone I’ve sat next to in church, or worked with?

The book is Understanding the False Memory Crisis and How It Could Affect You, by Dr. Paul Simpson.  To someone who has lost a large piece of my life to False Memory Syndrome, this book was a God-send. Unless you’ve been through it, it’s impossible to describe, much less explain, leaving virtually no one to talk to who can understand or help.  In fact, until I bought the book, I had felt completely alone with all of this.  I have no idea how many other people in Syracuse have been through anything similar, or who have had a problem after going to counseling, either to the church or to a professional in the community.

What I like about the book is that Dr. Simpson writes with both humility and grace, towards both counselor and client.  He also used to be one of those who not only helped people recover from ‘memories’ that they had ‘repressed’ but trained others how to do it, too. Until, like I did, he noticed things just didn’t seem right, and the stories weren’t lining up with reality.  This is the beginning of the way out.

And, as he states in the book, once he realized that he was unintentionally contributing to the problem, he called his former clients and invited them to come back at no expense to them in order to unravel and clear up the mess, and help them heal.  This, to me, is the epitome of professionalism.  It takes a great deal of humility to do this, not to mention compassion.  It takes grace.

It’s a very well written book, and I’m grateful to have found it.  I truly believe God led me to it, as part of my own healing, which has been a slow and solitary journey, due to the fact that we seem to have quite a few counselors in Onondaga county who still practice some type of ‘recovered memory’ therapy.  Most people don’t know what I’m talking about, and can’t help.  Some of our local Christian therapists and counselors still believe in repressed memories, dissociative disorders, and/or Satanic Ritual Abuse. Quite a few of the churches and para-church ministries in the area practice ‘deliverance’ counseling, or Theophostics, and some still use books and practices found in Neil T. Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker.  (The original book I finally objected to at the Chapel, thus ending my ‘counseling’ with the elder’s wife there.)

I don’t believe anyone intentionally caused harm, including my pastoral counselor.  She did not (in my own personal experience with her) practice the kind of therapy Dr. Simpson describes in the book.  All she did – unintentionally and sincerely (I believe) – was to build on a foundation that had already been laid, long before I met her, in counseling I had received from others since high school.  My own confusion and exhaustion at the time didn’t help.

So, we’ll see where it leads.  All I know is that on a recent snowy day in Syracuse, I walked into a store and bought grace.

Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers:  the snare is broken, and we are escaped.  Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  ~ Psalm 124:7-8

A Grief of Mind


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Heavy-hearted tonight.  This has been a not-so-very-good day.  Opportunities for hurt feelings were multitudinous, for some reason, all the way to the end.  There are days I would rather I had not got out of bed, and this was one of them.

This is the farthest I have ever gone into the month without being able to pay my rent, and it feels surreal.  I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re short.  Inundated with medical bills, out-of-pocket prescription payments and a host of other things, and it is just not going to happen.  We never get to settle anywhere and feel safe.  I feel like I never get to breathe, or have five minutes of relief from the pressure of it all.  It is mind-bending.  And unending.  Like trying to dig your way out of a pit with a dessert spoon.

So, today didn’t help.  I don’t know what I would, or could have done differently,  I only know that it hurts.  Like hell.

One thing I am sure of:  I refuse to be bitter.  If we can’t walk in love, and grace, and mercy and forgiveness, then we have no right claiming the name of Christ for our own, or pretending to be His disciples.

My heart is both heavy, and hopeful.  It’s a whole new year;  anything can happen.  Good can happen.  All I know is, I refuse to quit.

Wait on the Lord:  be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.  Psalm 27:14


Originally posted on Stacey L. Lacik:

Photo of the Book of Isaiah page of the Bible ...

“And there shall be stability in your times, and abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the reverent fear and worship of the Lord is your treasure and His.”              Isaiah 33:6

What is stability?  It is defined as “the strength to stand or endure”.  To be stable is to be “fixed, steadfast, and firmly established, steady in purpose; firm in resolution.”

One of the definitions I like is “designed so as to develop forces that restore the original condition when disturbed from a condition of equilibrium or steady motion.”  (Webster’s)

No matter what happens in our lives, the Word assures us that we can be restored to a place of stability; that we can have an unshakable peace in the midst of any storm or trial, and that everything will work out for our good.  God is in control.  It helps if we have already developed a habit of reading, studying…

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Fret Not


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imageI think I killed our tree.  Last year was not my fault (the apartment was too hot) but this year I did it.  I don’t know what’s wrong;  I went to put the lights on it, and it sounds like it’s raining.  Needles everywhere.

It is the week before Christmas, and there is no money for gifts.  It’s the most horrible, nauseating, dead-in-the-very-bottom-of-your-gut type of feeling a single mom can have.  Most of the time, I feel sick.  No matter where I am, or what I am doing, I can’t fully enjoy it.  We are in pretty much the same boat we were in last year, and I haven’t yet recovered from last year.  Same scenario, different location.

Constant worry.   

So many bills are unpaid;  there are piles of medical bills, utilities, my daughter’s tuition for spring.  Everything is past due, so late fees keep piling up.  The car needs repairs, or it won’t pass inspection next week.  If I buy gifts for my daughters, or for anyone else for Christmas, even a few, there will be no way to pay the rent next month.  I’m preparing myself now for the annual January shut-off:  no internet, television, or phone.  It seems to be a new and unwanted tradition – dead silence.  Not good for those already struggling with depression.  I know my girls have bought gifts for me already;  we went to the mall yesterday.  Walking along behind them, I thought, they are so beautiful.  I don’t know if they realize that they themselves are my gifts.  Probably not, because they aren’t parents themselves yet (thank God) but like most parents, I want to be able to give them something to open on Christmas morning.  There is a little girl in all of us, no matter how old we are, who wants to come down to a sparkling tree with beautiful packages, and bows, and pretty things picked out by people we love.  People who love us.

I don’t feel merry, I feel grim.  The kind of grim determination you need when you have to head out into a storm, and there’s no getting around it, so you set your face like flint and go forward.  But it is definitely not fun.

We don’t need a small miracle, we need a large one.  Maybe several.  I have mustard-seed-sized faith.  You can see it with a magnifying glass, but it’s there.

If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, … nothing shall be impossible unto you. – Matthew 17:20

Of Mice and Money


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Shortly after signing the lease for this house, and when I had only made a dent in the sea of boxes in the garage, all of my money was stolen.  By a stranger;  someone standing at an ATM in Atlanta, Georgia.  They just helped themselves to everything, and added fees along the way on top of it.

I had gone to Home Depot to buy mouse traps (of all things) a couple of days before, and I believe it was there that my account was compromised.  Not quite sure, as I also went to Target right after, but I believe it’s one of the two.  I got a call from the card company saying that there had been some ‘unusual activity’ on my account, and that someone had just changed my pin number and withdrawn everything I had set aside for bills.  Several hundred dollars, all of which is needed by Saturday in order to pay the rent for November.

The thief comes only to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  Indeed.

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

Nothing like a good, old-fashioned attack of the enemy to make you wake up and put your armor on.  That, and the quiet observation of a nineteen year-old passenger that you sound more like a nihilist lately than a Christian.  (These are long car rides.)  I have already been through so much that I’m determined not to let this one get to me.  God has been faithful, always, and has helped me and strengthened me through everything.  I know God brought us here.  I believe we’re supposed to be here.  I believe He has a plan and a purpose for us in this place. He is who He says He is, and will do what He has promised to do.  I am not going to let depression and fear win this time.

With God’s help.

 Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.  Never yield to force;  never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.  – Sir Winston Churchill

The Shadow Side of Truth


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I spent most of this summer looking for a place to live.  For some reason, I also spent it re-reading a book by Robert M. Pirsig: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; a book that was assigned in an English class my husband and I took years ago, before we were married.  This is one of my all-time favorite books, not just because of the memories of my relationship with my husband, before everything went so horribly wrong, but because it’s probably one of the best philosophy books I’ve ever read.  It was around that same time, that first semester of college, that I dug a used copy of Francis A. Schaeffer’s The God Who Is There out of a bin in the college bookstore.  Although Pirsig circles spiritual truths and poignant realities without ever coming to actually know God in a personal way, and Schaeffer’s book argues from the other side, both books shaped much of my young-adult thinking.  Anyway, I thought I was so desperately searching for Zen because I missed my husband, but I think I was really just looking for me.  (The old pink copy from Mr. Baldwin’s English class was buried somewhere deep in a storage unit, so I finally went to Barnes and Noble and bought myself a new copy, which I liked much better anyway.)

I don’t actually read books, I ‘eat’ them, so to speak, and so I wandered pretty far off the path this summer in my thinking.  Stress does this to me;  I can think myself into a hole so deep only God can find me.  He always does, but not without considerable grief on my part, usually ending in some kind of confused fog that no amount of therapy or medication can dissipate. I went all the way to Is there really a God, and do we even exist, and if we don’t, then what’s the point of it all anyway? full circle back to There is a God, and these are real tears, so I must exist, and therefore, there must be a point out there somewhere.  The real value of a book like Pirsig’s is that while truth is approached but never arrived at, it gives you something to measure truth by.  A theoretical plumb line.  As in, okay, if I do not believe this to be truth, then what is?  Or, more accurately, what exactly do I believe?  “Truth is arrived at by the painstaking process of eliminating the untrue.” And while the Lord was more than patient with all of my midsummer wanderings, now it’s time to put things back in order and get back to work.


An irritatingly re-occurring, and always traumatic reality in my life, they seem to have moved in to this place sometime before we did, and I can’t quite wrap my head around how to deal with them.  I don’t want to;  I want them gone.  Can’t get a cat, either, because I’m as allergic to them as I am afraid of mice.  Besides, a sign saying “This house is guarded by a kitten” is something only a real blond would put in the window.  I had just been thinking, too, that I don’t actually meet the DSM criteria for PTSD anymore (said criteria having been obliterated by all of the ones required for a major depressive disorder) and haven’t for some time, but no, no such luck.  Back with a vengeance, which is so humiliating, because this house was supposed to be both a blessing and a place of refuge.  And so many, many people bent over backwards trying to help me, and are now so happy and relieved that my summer of homelessness is over, that I don’t have the heart to tell them how upset I am with where I am.

The proper response to “Blessed and highly favored;  how are you?”  is not “Stressed and suicidal, thank you.” (“Blessed and highly medicated” doesn’t go over so well, either, unless you actually like being obviously and hyper-actively avoided by other well-dressed, seemingly healthy, adults.)  At least, not at our church.  Our poor staff is just not prepared to deal with such disturbingly raw honesty, so out of kindness and consideration for them, from the goodness of my heart, I give the appropriate response, knowing full well that I’m lying through my teeth the whole time.  God forgive me.

I really am grateful.  Grateful for a place to think, to write, to sleep and study.  I missed my bed.  And my coffee maker.

It’s good to be back.

Over the Falls, by Hugo First


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profile_236971163_75sq_1350264225I feel like my daughter and I have just been drifting alone in a tiny boat for the last year, knowing the edge was getting closer, and we were going to go over, but I was completely unable to do anything about it.  And go over we did, in July, because there was nothing to hold onto, and nobody was watching.

It’s amazing how your life can just quietly come to a complete stop- can end-  while the rest of the world just goes on without you.  We went over the edge, and nobody noticed.  Everything just disappeared.

I’m not who I was before this all happened.  I feel it when I sit down to work and don’t know what to write, or when I pick up a pencil and don’t remember how to draw, or a paintbrush and can’t paint.  Or play the piano.

I see neither pillar nor cloud.  Just unending darkness.

The God that I have created in my head is not the God of the Bible.  This thought occurred to me the other night when I was out walking.  The God in my head is impersonal, detached. Critical, and somewhat harsh;  usually irritated, if not angry. Punitive.  I don’t even know how or when everything changed, I only know that it has.  I see Him as another person to whom I don’t measure up;  another place where I am not wanted, or am no longer free to go.  I don’t see Him (in my mind) as the loving, gentle, forgiving God of mercy I read about in scripture.

I cannot serve both.

Forgiveness is hard work.  Not impossible, but hard.



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800px-The_Subsiding_of_the_Waters_of_the_Deluge,_1829,_Thomas_Cole_-_SAAM_-_DSC00868My daughter is getting impatient with this whole unable-to-find-a-place-to-live thing again.  On the way to pick up her medicine this afternoon (she came back from Florida not feeling very well) she expressed some of her frustration in the car.  Specifically, her frustration with me.

“Why don’t you do something, for once, about our situation?  Why do you just keep trusting God to fix everything, every single time, when clearly, He isn’t doing anything?”

I didn’t have an answer, so I just kept driving.  Besides, I keep having the same thoughts myself lately.  Trying not to, but there they are.

I honestly don’t know.

I briefly contemplated running the car into the next telephone pole, but abandoned the thought as soon as it came.  (Although I have had that thought quite frequently lately, too.)

I don’t believe that being depressed also means you are mentally ill, any more than being mentally ill means you are, by default, depressed.  I’ve worked with quite a few truly mentally ill people who aren’t depressed at all;  in fact, many of them are far more cheerful than I am.   However, I will be the first to admit that I am emotionally ill.  Semantics?  Maybe.  Maybe we could make a religion out of it;  I’m sure we could, if we tried.  The Church of Semanticism.  You say mental illness, I say emotional illness.  You say prosperity, I say greed.  You say faith, I say apathy.  It could be a whole religious movement.  (Don’t all email at once please;  I’m being facetious.)

I’m sure my counselor has told her friends and colleagues, or whomever she has talked all of this over with, that I am mentally ill, simply because it would serve her purposes to do so.


She sure isn’t telling people that all I did was send an email, and she read it, or read into it, rather, and got angry and said I couldn’t come back.  What should have resulted in communication ended instead in excommunication.  I could see if I were actually mentally ill, not just depressed, or had in some weird way threatened her, or, say, stole a coaster from her desk or something.  I don’t see why everyone else can go to their appointments except me.  What in the world is the big deal about a depressed woman trying to heal from a divorce?  Pastoral counseling is for situations like mine.  There is simply no ethical, professional, or moral reason for what she is doing.  She’s doing it simply because she has the power to do so.

I don’t know how to answer my daughter.  I really do believe God is going to work this all out, somehow.  Both situations.

We don’t have a place to live.   We have a pile of boxes.  I’m as frustrated, upset,  and worried as my daughter is.  Time is running out.

Cole,Thomas.  The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge.  1829.  oil on canvas.  Smithsonian.


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