Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Choosing a Part with Light

On Sunday it was the Webster Family Spectacular in church. As in we all gave talks and sat on the stand. And off. And on. And off. And on.( the girls couldn't decide where to sit after they were done speaking) Katie spoke about how the missionaries helped us and showed Gods love to us. Kotah was taken aback by how scary public speaking is and ended up in my arms as I read her talk for her. Ty talked about faith and his experience with Gracie. It always tugs at my heartstrings how much he loves her. I talked about Gods love. I did try to warn the counselor who asked us to speak that it would not be a good idea. At least 4 times I told him it was a bad idea to put me at the pulpit. I'm blunt. I'm more than a little sarcastic (after the joke about dressing in drag on the Vegas strip I have 95% assurance that I wont be asked to speak again) I wont be fake. All laughs aside, I thought I was farthest from who should be speaking in church. I didn't even want to be there.

When we were planning to move, I had a few in depth conversations with some friends. One of the questions I was asked more than once was if I would stop going to church once we moved. I didn't have an answer. Going to church is hard for me. I have panic attacks once the girls leave my sight. Maybe they aren't noticeable, but my heart races. I get tunnel vision. Everything sound is slowed down and muffled as I frantically scan the area to make sure they are safe. I fight back screams and tears. Maybe it looks like I have it all together or I am just pissed off at the mess of crackers I am cleaning up. I honestly wish that we'd stopped going a year ago. Before this ever happened, but obviously right after. In speaking with a therapist, we may have added trauma by continuing to go after. The meltdowns were so draining. We took turns staying home with her. Walking the halls. And then came the baby who picked up on the intense emotions and screamed her guts out the first 5 months of her life anytime we tried to go into the chapel.

But we kept going because that is all I know. I don't know a life without the church. Yet as the months dragged on, I was willing to find out. Can you imagine if the abuse had happened at a large chain store that I wont even try to name for fear of slander charges? Would you understand if I said I never wanted to step foot in any of those stores again? I was torn. I have questions and doubts. Oh boy do I have doubts. And anger. Lots of that. Lets just say that the church doesn't make it easy to get help when something like this happens. There is nothing in the handbook about what to do should abuse happen on church property. And the what to do if law enforcement is involved is laughably unethical in my book.

So the idea that a move could provide a perfect opportunity to fade out seemed agreeable. But I was afraid. Afraid of a God that would punish me for making a bad decision. And honestly, I just didn't want to find out what that punishment would be. My family suffered while I struggled inwardly with my anger, my fear, my indecision. I searched for answers to how I was feeling. For peace. I met up with some friends and one of them taught me a valuable lesson that God can not help us if we do not exercise our agency. Its like if I ask Katie what she wants for lunch and stand in front of the fridge with her. I can't help her get anything if she wont make a choice. Similarly, God can not help me if I don't tell choose what I want. And, in another lesson, its like an ice cream shop- no one choice is bad, but you have to make a choice to actually have the ice cream. So I made a choice. We would go to sacrament meeting, but we would skip primary. Then I wouldn't panic and I could still hopefully stave off a punishment.

We had visited a ward a month before we moved. Even though this house would not be our "dream house", Ty and I both felt that the ward was where we were supposed to be. But when we visited I had to laugh. The ward we visited would not be what we needed as a family. But we still felt to go forward with the house. Interestingly enough, it was the wrong ward. As we went to the RIGHT new ward for the first time, everything felt better. But I still was certain we would head home after sacrament. The prayer ended and we were descended upon by half the ward. In a good way. And one sister asked if Kotah was a sunbeam as she was the teacher. Well yes, but I bluntly explained to her what had happened and that we would not be participating in primary. She said "Well, if it helps, I'm a nurse." And then went on to talk about some background she had with mental health and abuse. As I struggled to pick my jaw up off the floor, Kotah warmed up to her and asked if she could go to her class. With simple boundaries in place, she took her teachers hand and went. Katie, not wanting to be left behind, insisted that she be allowed to go as well.

To say that it has been amazing almost does it injustice. Nothing short of a miracle could have set in motion what was needed. And I found out this week that her teacher has also instructed her substitutes on the boundaries and how to approach different situations. We truly are lucky.

And yet, as I was asked to speak on Gods love, I felt so inadequate. I have to not think about the past 11 months or my doubts and questions and anger surface quickly. I have to be present or I am quick to notice every flaw, every wrong in the church. How can I speak on a subject I question? How can I communicate to others a perfect love from a perfect being, when I have felt the heavens are silent to my cries? Nephi says that " I know that He loveth his children, nevertheless I do not know the meaning of all things" but I cant even say that. I think God loves his children. I hope He does. Conditionally maybe? One every other day? When He has the time? Because I can not see how any part of my little girl being abused in His house is Gods love. Where was His love then?

But still I spoke. In 1 Corinthians 13 vs 9 Paul says "For I know in part and I prophecy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away with". So I spoke the part I know. I can recognize when I see Gods hand in my life. I don't know why He allowed Kotah to be hurt. I wish I had answers. I wish the justice system was faster. I wish the church was better able to know what to do in these situations (I wish they were non existent). I wish it wasn't so damn hard to get mental health help. The mental health insurance nightmare is worth swearing over. It should never be this hard for a child to receive therapy from a good therapist.

I can choose to look at the darkness. Its in front of my face. I have to wade through it as I seek help, healing and justice for my child. But it can engulf me so quickly. So I struggle to see the light. To look for it. I find it in the Primary teacher prepared by God. In the neighbors that open their homes to us. In the family that comes to visit and help. In the little fun things I get to do with my kids, even if I royally suck at making taffy. In the music we dance and sing to. In the weekly visits I have with friends. I can choose what I see. And however dim it glimmers in my sight, to live- I must see the light.

Monday, May 15, 2017

What support looks like

It is really easy to know what support isn't. Since my last post, I have had many conversations where people who have experienced their own or a family members abuse and there are multiple, heart-breaking stories of what hasn't happened in the form of support. Ours, unfortunately, is no different. When I began telling a potential new therapist what we were looking for and what we had been through to try and help our daughter, she looked as if she might breath fire from how angry she was. While validating that this shouldn't be the norm, it has been very easy the past few months to be hurt and angry over what hasn't happened or what has gone horribly wrong in the way of support. 
Yesterday, a friend asked me "What would support look like to you?" In the heat of the moment I couldn't say. I didn't know. All I could feel was the hurt and the injustice. I could make an extremely long list of what support isn't. It would be well written, citing actual what not to do situations. But I was reminded today of the ways that we have been supported and I am grateful for and want to remember those. 

Support is being able to walk out the door and ask neighbors to come within a moments notice to give blessings. 
Support is when I need to get to the doctor and my car engine is taken apart and they cant put the old piece back in because they broke it so I call a friend and she shows up with her baby to drive us to Bountiful and back.
Support is my mom showing up late one night, way out of her way, to bring flowers and love and cry with me.
Support is our home ward nursery leaders who loved our daughter and were patient and devoted as it took a long time for her to be able to even try to set foot in nursery again.
And support for my girl is when her friend comes and puts her arms around her as she cries on my lap in nursery.
Support is a school teacher and councilor that worked with our other daughter to help her have a safe place to process emotions.
Support is a friend picking that daughter up from school on the days that I sat in the waiting room while my 3 year old was interviewed. 
Support is a friend getting out of her sick bed on a rainy day to take me to get a sick from emotions kiddo because I didn't have a car that day.
Support is not questioning my frantic, anxiety attack driven self showing up in the middle of a play date with extra kids.
Support is being able to frantically message 3 friends for help and prayers and receive immediate responses and love.
Support is the friends that have written beautifully worded messages and continued a conversation, even when my skills at the written word have sucked. 
Support is friends that have and continue to listen to my anger and hurt spewing forth and haven't run away. 
Support is late into the night talks that aren't always pleasant, but help me process.
Support is family allowing a safe place to talk and recognizing triggers and helping us walk through them.
Support is all the offers that I don't know how to accept, but are still there.

When I stop to look at it, I feel very blessed for the support we have received. It doesn't negate the negative, but it does remind me how much good there is in the world. In my world. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

7 months later.

If you've ever watched Law and Order SVU, from the time a victim reports a crime to the time an interview is conducted with the alleged perp, to the court date, it’s all over in 1 hour. Yet as the scenes change, at the bottom of the screen, there is a notation of how much time has passed. 48 hours later. 2 weeks later. 3 months later. They don't show how agonizing waiting is. I don't think they can.

7 months ago, we were visiting a different ward. We sent our girls to their classes and went to ours, never imagining that choice would change our world. As we held family council that night, we discovered that one of the nursery leaders had sexually molested our daughter.

7 months later and I am just beginning to process my own emotions. 7 months later and the justice system seems to have disappeared. 7 months later and for the first time last night, my little girl vocalized to me her fear and pain from that fateful Sunday.

I have tried to write this blog multiple times over the past few months. Starting and stopping. I’ve realized I don’t want to, or at least I’m not ready to get super emotional about it online. To share the details. But I do want to share because the less it's talked about, the more it happens. It is an uncomfortable topic, but it happens so frequently we have got to get past skirting about or shying away from speaking about rape, or sexual molesting, abuse or assault. I also want to share what you can do if, heaven forbid, you find yourself in the type of hell where your child tells you they’ve been hurt.

First, don’t panic. When she told us what happened, I immediately pulled her into a hug and promised her that she was safe, that we would never go back and that I loved her. Despite my own intense emotions, I remained calm so that she knew she was safe. That is saying nothing of what I did once the girls went to bed.
Second, unless they want to talk about it, don’t ask more questions or discuss anything with them. They need you to be their safe spot, not the interrogator- that unfortunately is the job for the case worker/police/nurses. They will have to explain it all to them. You be their safe spot.
Third, don’t give up in getting help. It took dozens of phone calls to finally get the right place. In Weber County, there is a Child’s Justice Center. But her doctor didn’t have that number. Primary Children’s didn’t have that number. The sheriff’s department recommended the ER. Don’t assume that those you ask for help will have the answers just because they are required by law to report abuse.
Fourth, be prepared to wait for answers. Because it had been recent, and there was a possibility of other children in harm’s way, the initial interview with the case worker and trained nurses took place the next morning. But after that it was as if time no longer mattered. She was safe. It wasn’t an urgent case. We are still waiting.
Fifth, be prepared for the small and the extreme changes in behavior and remember that this will affect the whole family. I recommend finding a good therapist that specializes with sexual abuse of children. One that specifically works with kids. Don't be afraid to keep looking if the first one ( or second or third) doesn't click with your kid or you.

As I said, I am just beginning to look my own emotions in the eye. My number one priority through this has been my daughter. But ignoring my own emotions has taken it’s toll. I think there was an expectation that we would get though it. That everything would be okay. After all, we’d been through so much already. And with that expectation, I felt like I had to fix it all on my own. Other issues resulting as a fall out from the sexual molesting seemed to prove me right, that if anything was going to be done, I had to do it myself. In all respects I was wrong. I can’t fix this.

7 months later and everything is not okay.

Friday, January 20, 2017

4 a.m.

It's 4 a.m. and I'm trying to figure out why I am awake. It takes a minute. But it hits me suddenly.

Yes 4 a.m., I remember you. I remember the pain, intense and constant. I refused meds, because I believed I needed to be punished, because somehow it was my fault.

4 a.m., you came and I paged a nurse. The nurse who's only patient was me. The nurse who worryingly sat outside my door because I wanted to be alone, the nurse who checked in more than needed because I was alone.

4 a.m., you didn't give much warning. Suddenly, I wasn't so strong. Suddenly I panicked. Suddenly all I wanted was to be asleep, to ignore this nightmare.

4 a.m. plus a few, you were a time that would not be slowed. The nurse stepped out to call the doctor and I was alone. So frighteningly alone.

And then, suddenly, I wasn't. But I was. But this was worse.

4 a.m., I didn't think my heart could break anymore. It did. I sat still, in shock, with the fragments of my heart. That dear nurse ran back in and sat there, holding me, (for I must not move from fear of infection) sobbing, and somehow it opened the floodgates.

4 a.m., the flurry of activity in you second half was quiet. No other noise filled the air but that of the few professionals, for I had the entire floor to myself. I finally asked for meds so that I could stop feeling, this pain was so much worse, but I didn't receive them until 5, so 4, I remember you best. You and your glaring red numbers on the wall.

4 a.m., I sit here now, and two years have washed over you. The minutes don't stand out quite like they did last year. The pain, not quite as sharp. My arms are filled, not with replacement, but with love. Yet you still sting with a heavy weight. I have not forgotten you. I am grateful for you, for your quiet hour, yet obviously I still have healing, for I am bitter with you. On any other day we greet each other as friends, but today we are the uncomfortable in-laws sitting together at a party and I know that I at least do not want to be here. So I have passed the time airing out the closet, bringing up the past. And now, 5 comes to relieve you.

Goodbye 4am, until next year.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Happy It Should Be Your Birthday to You.

It should be your birthday,
little one now gone.
I should be baking you a smash cake,
we should be singing you a song.

I should be hollering at your sisters
to leave your presents be.
Pretty typical for siblings
who are 6 and 3.

There should be balloons
to play with and pop.
Some type of summer party,
some sort of mess to mop.

A cute birthday dress,
sweet baby hair.
Spoiling galore
without any care.

But should be's are wishes
that dance on by.
Pieces of my heart
that misses you while you fly.

I know it is senseless.
I know I'm off base.
I know its not real.
Maybe I'm a basket case.

But I should be doing laundry,
yet I'm reading Dr Seuss instead.
I should be out gardening,
yet I lay in my bed.

So I'll go on with my day
(crying tears though I try not to look blue)
Sweet angel:
Happy It Should Be Your Birthday to You!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Gweecie's shoes revisited

When I first posted about the shoes, I had a tiny pair I said I would be using for another project this year. Well, the year got away from me. After my first donation, it became difficult to do any more. I would start, only to have to stop due to intense pain in my hands or a migraine. I made a few for people that needed them for friends or family members that had lost a baby, but even doing that was rough. So I took a break. Well, now, here I am at the almost end of the year and I am finally getting around to telling you what the project is.

I am making little glass ornaments! The shoes for them are super tiny. Tinier than Gweecie shoes. So they look better in a ornamental setting. I am also making little elf boots. Mostly I'm doing it for fun because I haven't figured out a pay pal account yet and don't want to worry about shipping right now, but my goal for next year is to have either a Facebook page or website or esty store for these and other crafting adventures. :)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Scary Honest Rawness- the not pretty part that got turned beautiful

When I got pregnant with Gracie, I was not in a good place. The year and a half of not sleeping with Kotah had caught up. We were dealing with housing issues. I was dealing with some past issues. Trying to keep my kids safe. I was worn out in all ways. Physically, spiritually, emotionally. Most days I felt so much hurt and pain. It came out in different ways. I was in therapy, trying to work through everything. And then, I got pregnant.
Gracie was not planned. At least, not by me. God knew what he was doing though. Pregnancy is not an easy thing for my body, especially when I am in a very low emotional place. I had extreme weight loss. I had to get IVs multiple times as everything came up.
When we found out that Gracie was not going to make it, someone made the comment to me that "well, you didn't want another one anyways, did you?" (not the best thing to say, but it was truth) For the first 10 weeks, no. I was mad that I was pregnant. I didn't want to be. I didn't want to have to worry about ruining another child by not being a good enough mom. There were multiple people I thought would make a better mom than me. Pretty much that included everyone. While I try to be open, there are some things I do not share, but there were other reasons I was angry about being pregnant. All part of a perfect storm.
Finally, around week 10, I started accepting that I was pregnant. As I got over the bump of intense depression, things seemed brighter. I picked out names. I slept with my hand on my belly. And then there was my 12 week appointment. My midwife knew that I had been having a rough go and I talked about how I was accepting and grateful for the tiny life that grew inside of me. Which is probably why she didn't say that the heart rate was to high, but I knew. It was not my first rodeo. I pointed it out and asked her what was wrong and she looked down and said "Oh, this early they can always be high." There are times when I can tell someone is lying. That was one.
All of a sudden a bunch of emotions set in. Panic and fear over what could be wrong. Shame and guilt for once hating that which was pure that I could now loose. Determination to fight to do whatever I could for my baby. Those 4 weeks between the next ultra sound were super long. But I started to worry. What if I wasn't a righteous enough momma and not worthy to have this baby? What if, because of my actions over the past months, my baby would be taken from me? What if I hadn't prepared my body well enough with supplements and exercise and it wouldn't be able to carry the baby full term? Would my selfish actions cause the death of an innocent being? For the most part, I silently carried these fears to myself. Continually working to heal, to change. I sought a second opinion who also said that my baby would be fine, they were sure of it. But sometimes moms just know. More than any other professional person. Moms know. 
And so, when I watched the picture on the screen at the 16 week ultrasound and knew that something was definitely wrong, my brain went into hyper drive, bargaining with God, planning what doctors to call for help which the separate diagnosis, asking for every option. My fears were becoming a reality. 
The multiple specialist visits the following weeks did little to help. The one doctor said "well, you can always hope." But his eyes held none for Gracie. As we reached the point where there was not going to be a turn around, they responded beautifully to our emotional needs. 3D images, longer recordings of her heartbeat. My midwife made it known to me and her nurses that though there was nothing they could do for Gracie, they would do everything they could for me. If that meant I came in everyday for an ultrasound, then it was instructed that I was to be fit in (she is a VERY busy woman so that was generous of her). 
In a few months I had gone from not feeling as if I had a heart to feeling it break more and more everyday. I never prayed for her to heal, I only prayed that God would perform the miracles as fitted His purpose and design. I knew she wouldn't live and I didn't want her to suffer (they said she wasn't in pain but if my heart was stop and go, my body wasn't built right, I had excess weight attached to my neck and head and everywhere else, I am pretty sure I would be in pain) but I also knew God had a plan. 
I was a different person than I had been, but something had still not changed. I had not yet started going to the temple. I had an anxiety over the temple. My first time through I was scared so bad I was shaking. This was due to some things I had gone through in my past. After Kotah was born, I had stopped going. It just got easy not to go. And the more I didn't go, the worse the anxiety got, to the point I couldn't even have Ty talk about when he would go. I almost didn't even go to the dedication of the Ogden temple being broadcast to my church building. That is how bad it was. I knew it was unfounded. Logically I knew. But by this time, my body was having physical reactions of fear, it was so easy to not even think about it.
It was a Wednesday when I went in for the last ultrasound of Gracie when she was alive. I watched her struggle. I saw her heart stop and go. I pleaded with my midwife that they could somehow do an operation to help her. To fix her one sided, miniature heart, to drain the excess fluid and allow her relief. But of course, there was nothing that could be done. There would be to many things to fix, that fixing alone would also kill her. We had prepared for this. We had already picked out a grave site. We had her clothes made, volunteer organizations contacted. An amazing and in high demand but came anyways photographer. We spent each day letting the girls play with her. We did so many things, but it couldn't fix it. It wasn't enough to do that. As I prayed that night, I pondered on what Gracie would do if she had just one day here on earth. Just one day. Not as a baby, but as an adult. For her to have that mortal experience, what would she choose to do. Her answer was so strong, she would spend her day in the temple. It knocked the wind out of me and yet I knew with every fiber of my being that is what she would do. The next day was hard. We knew we were spending our last moments with her. It might seem strange, talking about spending time with her while she was still a "fetus" and yet she was every much a part of what we did as Katie or Kotah was. That night, I struggled, but I got out the door and went to the temple. It was one of those have no regrets moments. As I was there, I was given the beautiful experience of seeing her pass on. To witness her progression and her mission in becoming more like God. The next day, the ultrasound and other tests confirmed what I already knew, that she had passed at the time I was in the temple. Her body seemed so peace and calm, no longer fighting the trials of mortality that had been placed upon her. 
I wish I could say that it completely changed me and I became a regular temple attender because of that experience, but it took many months and more healing. Yet, it started me on a path of healing and joy I didn't think possible. For the past few months I have been going weekly. I wish it didn't have to be that way. I wish I could have had a different experience to do so. Some days I am so grateful for what loosing Gracie did for me and some days I hate that it happened the way it did, but I know that God knows it all. I may not get it. I may not see or understand. But I know He does, and I just have to trust and follow Him.

That was long and very open and raw. And I will probably hit post before re-reading it over and over and chickening out. But I do so because I want to be. I want people to realize that just because someone looks like they have it all together while in a trial doesn't mean they do. I had someone tell me the other day that they never noticed I was struggling last year. And so many times I have people say that I am so strong. I don't feel that I deserve that praise. Any strength that got me through my trials, that comes from the Lord. Someone may look like they don't need help, but they probably do. There are hard things in life. And maybe if we talk about them more, others won't feel like they have to have it all together. I didn't. I don't, but from my trials I have learned to turn to God more. And that is what I hope to be able to express by being so open. I know that others have trials that I am not aware of. So I am not sharing to say "look at me", but rather to say "God gets it." That there is hope. Hope requires action. I could have continued to sit with my experience with Gracie in the temple and not returned and allowed the fear to set back in. And for a while, I did. But I needed healing and healing comes through the Lord. And in order to hope for that healing, I have to do my part. Struggling is a part of life, but so is healing. I invite you to turn to the Lord with whatever it is you may be struggling with right now. Because I know that He is there. No matter what.