Just Breathe

Written December 6, 2015

I am not perfect, I am far from the ideal Christian. I struggle every day with allowing God to lead my heart, emotions, thoughts, and life in general. I fight with depression, PSTD, anxiety, and panic disorder every day. This in turn, only compounds the problem that I face daily to relinquish and turn my life over to God. I am always bombarded with the comments, “just breath” and “you’re too sensitive”. This only further compounds my fear of being a failure, a screw-up, and a NOBODY.. and this is why I felt the need to write today.

I grew up in a Christian home. My grandpa was a Quaker preacher, my mother and grandmother modeled how to be a Christian woman. I grew up with the love of Jesus in my heart. On the surface, I seemed fine. It is hard for me to talk about my childhood. I don’t remember much about it. I don’t think it was too traumatic, I just floated through it. I knew that my life was different than others. For one, my grandpa was a preacher, and for two my father was an alcoholic. I didn’t realize this was a big deal until I went to school. I also didn’t realize that my family was poorer than most, and this was also a problem for other kids. I went from being loved at my grandpa’s church and thinking everything was normal… to going to school, changing churches, and realizing I didn’t fit in at all. I wish that I had been a strong kid, but I wasn’t. I cared too much about fitting in and pleasing people. I cried almost every day. My anxiety started at a very early age.

I have really been struggling with Satan’s lies about being a failure for a long time. First, why is it that I can’t keep a man? Maybe having a cheating husband was because I wasn’t this or that? .. And then I think, you tried this and tried that to try to “please” him, that you in a sense forgot or never figured out who you were. Even as a kid I always felt not good enough; not pretty enough, not smart enough, not talent enough, not ANYTHING. I lived in this empty space of existence. I just knew that Jesus loved me, and that was enough. Then I grew up and married the first guy that gave me any attention. I didn’t know who I wanted to be, I didn’t know anything. I just knew he was nice and I adored HIM. I soon forgot about leaning on Jesus, and spent every waking moment trying to understand why he had grown to hate me, and why he wanted someone else. I became so obsessed with it, that it consumed me. He became verbally abusive.. the words that he would say to me still haunt me, ‘why did I marry you? you are so stupid!’ He cheated on me and would hide things behind my back. I became depressed to the point of trying to kill myself, I tried understanding the future through psychics & tarot … I tried drinking with him to see if he would enjoy my company more, I even tried bringing another woman in the picture so I would appear less of a prude. I just didn’t understand why I wasn’t good enough anymore.

Despite my efforts, and many prayers for things to change, he left. Looking back, I don’t blame him. I had a closed heart. My spirit, my mind, my emotions had closed on him because of all the verbal abuse and the infidelity. His constant stay and go, living with other women had made me turn into a zombie who trusted no one. I was so full of hate and afraid to express it, that I was in utter hell… a black hole. So when he left me, yet again, for another woman, I decided I wasn’t going to fight it… I wasn’t going to pray about it, I was just going to let it be what it was. I started going to church again. I listened to Christian music, and I could feel my spirit-lifting. I heard this song, “Motions” on the radio and remember praying… “Yes, this is me, I don’t want to live in the daze anymore!”.

After a year, I gave up on my husband returning and turned to the attention of a coworker. He made me smile again, and it was nice not feeling so empty. I thought because I was feeling less sad, maybe this was God’s answer. I didn’t really ask him, I just assumed. Unfortunately, I stopped going to church and started hanging out with this man. I didn’t do things right by all means. I slept with him the first night, was ashamed to learn later that he had a girlfriend… yet I continued to see him. I wanted to believe his lies. Everything that I had known had changed. The love of my life betrayed me. I felt HOPELESS and UNLOVED. I didn’t care who I was with, I just wanted the way I felt to end. I also was worried that after an eleven-year marriage nobody would want me… and I feared NEVER having kids. This was something that I knew for sure that I wanted. I feared that I was getting too old for either. This man offered to have kids with me, and I took it as a sign that maybe this was the real deal. He was a train wreck, to say the least. He yet again made me feel bad about myself. I still felt the pain of “not being good enough” from my ex-husband… so I wanted to please this new person, I feared getting left again. I also thought, or rationalized in my head, that my ex-husband left me because I wasn’t fun enough, and was a prude. So I started experimenting with drugs at the age of 30 years old. I used meth for 5 months until I prayed for GOD to save me. That same day I became pregnant. I stopped using meth after I found out, and still thank GOD to this day for answering my prayers.

My kid’s dad never quit using… I wanted so badly to help him, but I couldn’t. He was narcissistic, controlling, a liar, a thief, and verbally/physically abusive. I often wonder if he had a split personality, but it was probably the drugs. I would hear him arguing to himself about killing me. I prayed for help on this as well, I prayed for help to leave the situation because I felt trapped and ashamed. I didn’t know how to escape or where to go. GOD answered my prayers. After getting raped, beaten, and the constant fear of losing my kids that lingered over my head … I finally decided to make a police report and escaped to a domestic violence shelter. Now my kid’s dad sits in jail, facing prison.

Thanks to God and my therapist, I realized that I need to work on boundaries. THEY are so important to have for yourself… One of my biggest challenges in life has been letting go of people; Even if they hurt me. I’m so thankful that God has been healing me, and making me stronger.

I often wonder if I am a failure, a failure for my choices in life. A failure for not being good at anything. A failure for not doing anything, even after going to a good college. A failure as a mother, a housekeeper, a daughter. I especially feel these burdens now that I’m a single mom. The job of motherhood is so much more than I ever could have imagined. Especially after leaving the kids dad, and I’m having to fill two roles… the stresses of finances, and the lack of time that I now spend with my kids. All this adds to my feelings of being a failure. I suffer from PTSD, panic attacks, depression, and anxiety. All these things make my job as a mother, and even living day to day so much HARDER! I hate it when women say their house is perfect, or they never yell at their kids. I hear this SOOOOO much… and I wonder, what is wrong with me!? Why can’t you get it together?

Anyways, I’m not the best writer. I’m not even sure why I’m writing this. Except for the fact that I may give someone out there hope. Life requires guts, bravery, and vulnerability. Sometimes it’s nice knowing that you are not alone. I want someone who is reading this to know, you are not alone. I have been there. I have been in the dark hole, I have been in the lost space, I have been stuck in addiction or relationship that you wished you could quit, I have been searching for answers, I have been clammering and struggling to make it through. You are not alone. You are not a failure, you are LOVED, WANTED, BEAUTIFUL, and SPECIAL.

If I have learned anything through my struggles it is this… God allows us to pass through troubles to refine us, to purify us, to makes us dependent on HIM. I also believe that we sometimes go through trouble because we just aren’t doing what we are supposed to be doing! Thank you, Lord, that you’ve never left me, and you’re constantly bringing me back to where I need to be!

I now laugh and smile when people tell me to just breathe. Why? Because peace and comfort displace the worry at the center of our lives. Stop worrying, He will provide, He has a plan. Listen and Obey. Stop grasping for security. Stop grasping for air. Stop grasping for answers. When we are free of worry we can breathe, we can lighten up, and live. Wait on Him.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Isaiah 53:5, John 14:27

I’m learning how to grow strong in my weakness. I believe I have been given the gift of frailty, of being sensitive! I don’t think it is a punishment, and it doesn’t indicate my lack of faith. On the contrary, because of my weaknesses I have grown more in my faith, I must live in my faith, depending on Him to get me through the day. I believe He is developing my ability to trust Him, lean on Him, and not worry about my understanding. Trust the process, trust Him. I pray that every day I will continue to trust in Him, and pray that the seeds that grow in my heart will mature and not fall away as they previously have in the past. I hope that His words are finally resting in my heart as it heals.

My heart finally has peace with God, I have found forgiveness in Jesus. He is all the love that I will ever need. I hope that one day a genuine smile will return to my face. But for now, my joy lives in my heart, it radiates my soul, and with healing hopefully, his light will grow brighter and brighter so others can see. Recently I felt the Lord telling me, “let them see the brokenness, let them see the cracks in your armor… that is how the light gets out! Where you are weak, I am strong!”

I am a work in progress… and I am proud to say, I am okay with that… and I know I’m not the only one that doesn’t have it all together!

I am victorious in CHRIST JESUS, thank you for your GRACE.

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My name is Elizabeth. I'm a single mom raising my 2 daughters Althea and Cordelia in Kansas

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