Friday, May 28, 2010

When Life & Scrapbooking Gets Too Hard

This photo of  the awesome
beauty of God's creation in my own back yard
whispers to me that I am loved.
I'm working on my next guest blog on Women' Memoirs, to go live on June 10th.  It will focus on scrapbooking and writing about illness and the healing that comes through the process of story.  Your story.  My own illness, severe clinical depression lasting for years, has not yet been written.  I will tell that story in my guest blog, along with the journey to daylight and peace.

Today, however, in this "Journey to Faith" blog that you care now readinng, I focus on the times when hurt and tragedy invade your life and you're just too overwhelmed to even think of doing anything positive.  If you're like me, your emotions take over and even everyday tasks and priorities become impossible.  I am going through one of those periods now as a mother of a grown child who has caused my heart to break.

Again.  It's happened before, several years ago, and before that too, when I wanted to give up.

But how does a mom ever give up?  I don't know how.  I continue to grieve, and I continue to try.  Even when I can't make it right.  Once again I am up against a stone wall.

Two years ago, when my heart was broken, I didn't even want to try again to make it better.  The assault was so bitter, so damning, that there were no words to offer, no ways to defend myself against the attack.  I didn't even know what I'd done to deserve it.  My pastor said, "You've done everything you can.  The ball is in her court."

I waited.  But the ball was never served back.

My incredible husband felt like our pastor.  "Let it go.  It's all you can do.  You can't fix her problems."  I knew deep down that she had issues far more greater than I'd realized, but, still, I couldn't handle just waiting.   A mother never stops waiting.

One day I decided to pull some of  the old scrapbooks I'd created off the shelves and revisit the photos of the children when they were young.  When the problems were minor.  I often tell young moms, "The problems are small when your children are small.  When they get bigger, the problems are bigger."  This is so true.  When they are little, they can't hurt you psychologically.  When they are adults, they can carve out your heart and let it lay bleeding on the floor.

Not all children of course, but one every now and then.  And you will never understand why.

If I could go back and raise the children all over again, I would do so many things differently.  Wouldn't we all?  But it is what it is.  And you just try your best in the present.

That day several years ago, gazing at the pictures in my albums, remembering the sweet little faces on the pages.  Some of the happy things we did.  Some of the funny memories I have carried in my heart.  I guess I've chosen to remember more of the good rather than the bad.

In my own family, growing up, I had a vault of anguish that had impeded my emotional growth.  My parents loved us, but it wasn't shown so much.  My father was an alcoholic.  He was not a mean alcoholic, but the constant arguing between my parents left a deep, festering wound inside me. My mother suffered one "nervous breakdown" after another (as the doctors called them at the time), usually after the birth of each of my five younger siblings. As the oldest, I had a heavy burden.  I resented the loss of a normal life like all of my friends.

When I grew up--really grew up, physically and mentally--I realized my parents did the best they could, and our lives weren't nearly as bad as a lot of others I'd seen and heard about.  No matter how awful you think your situation is, or was, there is always someone else who has suffered way more than you.

My scrapbook albums told stories of how hard I'd tried during my child-rearing years.  Not perfect, not even close.  But I had tried.  I stayed in the first marriage longer than I should have, always hoping it would get better, that I could "fix" a dysfunctional man.  I wanted a father for my children.  And I remembered the bitterness I'd felt toward my mother for not leaving my own father.

This is a Happy memory of the very
best thing that every happened to me--My marriage to the
man who loves me unconditionally and never stops
believing in my goodness.  My protector and best friend
My scrapbooks provide a series of slices from my life that have the power to heal my wounds.  I didn't know, when I started this incredible art form, that this would be an outcome.  Never, never.  But I am here to say to you that this is a very good thing to do.

Today, with my broken spirit, I will scrapbook.  I will record the events shown in the recent photos in my storage binder.  I will select uplifting pictures of good things about my life today.  My youngest son's graduation last year, a birthday party for my niece, my two little granddaughters' last visit, our last beach vacation.  Because I know someday these albums will be important, maybe to me and maybe to someone else in my family during a difficult time who "needs" the photos and the words I write.

I suffer from clinical depression, like my mother.  But, unlike my mother, I have a positive force in my life to help counter the dark days.  It is called scrapbooking.  I am hoping someone else reading this will identify with my story and I have managed to help you.  And I'm available to help.  Leave a
comment or send an email.

My healing "art."  I can't believe how much this
has added to my life.  This was taken at one of
my girls' scrapbook retreats.  An event I can look forward
to every six months.  A VERY healing time away
with friends.

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